Sitting with Jason Varitek for nearly an hour last week was an eye-opening experience in a lot of ways and hopefully the feature story I wrote portrayed that.
What really stayed with me after talking to Jason and several teammates was how much he cares about the team and the guys who play for it. When players as divergent as Darnell McDonald and Josh Beckett tell you how much Varitek means to then personally, that tells you what kind of teammate he is.
• Yes, Carl Crawford has been awful so far. But Jayson Werth (.233/.310/.444) hasn't been much better for the Nationals.
• April is over for Jon Lester and he was 3-1, 2.52. Given his history of slow starts, it's fair to say he's going to make a serious run at the Cy Young Award.
• I would love to see a study of how much money the Red Sox and Yankees make for other teams when they're on the road. Having covered both teams, it's amazing how 40-60 percent of the fans in places like Baltimore, Oakland, Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Toronto are rooting for the visitors.
Oakland's souvenir stands were selling Dustin Pedroia t-shirts last week.
• The Rays are 14-5 since Manny Ramirez retired. They were 0-6 with him.
• Red Sox fans should say a little prayer of thanks than Frank McCourt was unsuccessful in his attempt to buy the team back in 2001. That guy makes train wrecks look good.
• If there's an ownership stake involved, doesn't Larry Luchhino make sense to help rescue the Dodgers from their morass? I've been told his name comes up a lot in the commissioner's office.
• The new Gate D concourse at Fenway Park is beautiful. Now finish it off and move the Ted Williams statue over there. It is senseless to have two statues on Van Ness Street and none on Yawkey Way.
• Speaking of Van Ness Street, there's an unfinished Puma store that has been sitting there since last year. Word is they're going to clear it out of within a few weeks.
Update: The Puma Store is gone! They finished hauling it away today.
• The last catcher drafted by the Red Sox to play a meaningful role on the team was Scott Hatteberg and that was back in 2001.
• Yamaico Navarro (.324/.448/.535 ) is making a case for himself at Pawtucket and is playing some outfield, too. More impressive: 13 walks, 12 strikeouts. If Marco Scutaro gets traded, he will slide into the utility role.
• Hideki Okajima has pitched twice in 10 games since being called up on April 18, facing six batters. Neither appearance was a high-leverage situation. So far the situational lefty thing has not really worked out for the Sox.
• The most remarkable statistic of the season might be that the Red Sox have played their last five games in less than three hours.
• Phil Hughes of the Yankees is thought to have the same throwing problem Jarrod Saltalamacchia had last season, something called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
• Mike Cameron has not had much of a role so far. That is a surprise given all the lefties the Sox have faced. He has just 26 plate appearances and has played in eight games, the fewest on the team.
• You knew Crawford had lost his confidence when he put down a sac bunt in the first game of the Angels series last week. When you think making an out is the best way you can help the team, that's not good.
• Wait until you see the commercial with Jonathan Papelbon and Nick Swisher for an electric razor. It's not exactly DeNiro and Pacino at the diner in "Heat."
• If Rick Dempsey is his replacement, Jerry Remy has to promise never to get sick in Baltimore ever again. Never ever.
A few non-baseball thoughts:
• Given that he left Florida under a cloud and played at Auburn amid controversy, isn't Cam Newton a huge risk as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft? You need a ton of character to succeed in a spotlight like he will under with the Panthers.
• "Friday Night Lights" is far and away the best show on network television in my opinion. But it's silly that every single game comes down to the last second.
• I know nothing whatsoever about the NHL. Zippo. But it sure is fun to watch in the postseason. However I nearly choked on my beer when some screaming guy on NESN said Bruins vs. Canadiens were the best rivalry in pro sports. In Boston alone, Sox-Yanks and Celtics-Lakers are better.
• So if John Henry and Tom Werner go to a Celtics-Heat game at the Garden, will they root for the Green or their new business partner LeBron James? I get that James is a money-maker. But partnering with him was a tone-deaf move.
• Drafting offensive linemen high helps ensure long-term success, so welcome aboard Nate Solder. But the Patriots need to find a player or two today who can put the quarterback on his ass. Hope they get Sam Acho from Texas at some point.
• Two shows I'd like to see at the Bank of America Pavilion this summer: The Flaming Lips on July 30 and Derek Trucks with the Susan Tedeschi Band on Aug. 17.
• Anybody have a good movie suggestion? Haven't seen anything since February.
• Reading "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand right now.
OK, off to the park. Back soon with the lineups.