Makes it easy..
Comments like this make it easy to understand, from an athletes standpoint, why and how the media, no matter how good, can never fully grasp what you do, and how hard what you do is for a living.
“Please, spare me the Dr. Phil nonsense that Varitek’s personal problems somehow affected his performance this season. If anything, they would affect his mental preparation, not his ability to connect with a fastball traveling above 87 mph.”
In talking about Jason, much has obviously been said and he has a pretty passionate group of supporters on the staff. But to imply the above is a borderline admission of ignorance. To say that there is little to no connection with your mental state of mind, and your physical performance, tells me the person talking has never been asked to, or able to, perform a physical activity at a level few others in the world can.
Jason would be the last, and likely never would, to make any excuses for the poor offensive year and a half he has had. I will tell you that what he had to endure physically and mentally absolutely impacted him in a negative way performance wise. People don’t know that he twice last year had a serious viral sickness. He was completely wiped out on two different occasions. Both times he lost significant weight and strength and he did so in the midst of playing. Back on the field in a time frame I would guess was NOT in his best health interest. The other ‘stuff’ are a very big deal here because regardless of what tabloid journalism might have said this guy lived for his children and was and always will be the best father he can be, of that I have no doubt. I’ve lockered next to him for 5 years, he’s as good a man and human as I’ve known. Sure that paints severe bias into the picture but that doesn’t make it false either.
The more important piece to this, and one that was in full view for the pitchers, was the fact that never once did he allow his offensive woes to follow him behind the plate or affect his pre-game preparation, and planning, two crucial elements we as ‘his staff’ valued so highly. The reason I make that statement is that over 20 years of playing at this level that makes him incredibly rare at his position. Few catchers, well none really, that I ever played with put the initial time and effort into game prep he did, but fewer still ever had the ability to separate their offensive woes from their defensive responsibility. As their average went, so did their defensive commitment.
I know the ‘anti’ Tek camp is big, and that’s fine, but at the end of the day his value is far beyond a measurable statistic and I think that’s what rubs so many wrong. You’ll know it when it’s gone, it will be a visibly absent thing.
Do you pay him 15 a year for 4 years, I don’t know but who gives a 36 year old catcher a 4 year deal? If there was ever a guy to get that deal you could argue this was the guy because you know beyond a shadow of a doubt he’ll be in better shape than any catcher in the game for however many years he gets. It really comes down to someone understanding how much of his contract is being paid for those ‘intangibles’ so many argue for, or against.
This guy is the consummate team first, play the game right 24/7 pro. Many don’t care about that aspect, and that’s fine too, there are a ton of utility players that play the same way, but they aren’t worth 15×4 or whatever. But those things matter inside a clubhouse where you inherit a family for 9 months a year. Those things, when absent, can wear a team down fast, but when present they are the things that help a team over the hump as well. This clubhouse has gained, in addition to immense young talent, an incredibly good and deep roster of players with many of those same traits. That bodes well for the coming years, and I would argue Jason is a huge part of that.
I am not saying sign him regardless, or let him walk at a certain price, what I am saying is that there is value here beyond AVG/OPS/HR/RBI that writers like the one quoted above will never comprehend, appreciate or acknowledge.