While Rays phenom David Price so memorably put the 2008 Red Sox in the past tense Sunday night, the franchise officially closed the book on the season only after manager Terry Francona conducted exit interviews with his players the past several days.
(C’mon, just play along.)
(Playing along? Sweet. As always, we appreciate your tolerance.)
You see, we just happened to have a world-class secret agent in the room — he ducked behind the 47 cases of Dubble-Bubble in Tito’s quarters and went undetected — and our guy dutifully jotted down every word.
And so we gladly give you the one-sided transcripts from Tito’s conversations with . . .
David Ortiz: “David — have you noticed I’m the only one in America who calls you David? — I know this season was a real grind for you. First the slow start, then the knee, then the wrist — you just were never quite right, and when the old magic wasn’t there in the playoffs, you seemed . . . well, kinda sad. And we all hated seeing you like that, David — it affected everyone, because everyone looks to you to set the tone. So here’s my advice. Get whatever you need repaired — your wrist, your knee, your pride — and spend the rest of the winter clearing your head. Also — and I mean no offense by this — maybe add a little cardio to the menu, if you know what I’m getting at. I know you will be a 40-130 guy again, David. I’ve never believed in a player more.”
Josh Beckett: “Becks, your performance in Game 6 — beating the Rays despite your screwed-up oblique and a repertoire John Burkett would be ashamed of — should only enhance your reputation as a postseason legend. It was downright gutty. But, you know, that last word there, it kinda brings me to my point here today. You never really hit your stride this season — first it was your back, then your elbow, then the oblique — and I think deep down, we both know the reason for that. You didn’t exactly come to camp in tip-top shape. Remember when you told me about your great hunting trip with Timlin? Well, it just looked to me like you were back at the lodge devouring all the deer jerky and pounding all the Bud while Timmer was out assassinating the elk and mooses and whatnot. I know you like people to be blunt, so I’ll put it this way: I don’t want you coming into camp looking like this [holds up a picture] again. ”
Mike Timlin: “Timmer, if there were a wing in the Hall of Fame for middle relievers and set-up men, you’d be a first-ballot lock. It’s been one heckuva ride. But you made your big league debut in ’91, the year after my run in The Show ended, and you know what that means? You’re old, Timmer. In fact, I’m pretty sure I could take you deep right now, and I can’t even feel my %*$** arms. It’s time. Now if you don’t mind, please put down the crossbow. You’re frightening Millsy.”
Alex Cora: “Yeah, I know — Lowrie, Lowrie, Lowrie. Don’t worry, AC. I won’t allow Theo to let you go. You complete me.”
Jason Varitek: “Tek, I know you were ticked off the first time I pinch hit for you, and the second time I did it, well, you looked like you wanted to take a crack at me with your Louisville Slugger. But let’s be honest: Had you tried it, chances are you would have missed my head by a foot . . . maybe a foot and a half. It’s hard to admit the truth, but deep down, we both know it, Tek — you’re not the hitter you were, and you never will be again. But believe me when I say I can’t emphasize enough how much you mean to us. The Jonny Lesters and Justin Mastersons look up to you, and the veterans swear you’re the best catcher they’ve ever thrown to; the numbers next to your picture on the scoreboard don’t matter to them. I hope you come back, Tek. You mean more to us than you would to any other team — your legacy is here. You belong here, and you should end your career here. But just remember this — you ever try that passive-aggressive, I’m-a-selfless-guy-so-I’m-not-going-to-complain-even-though-I’m-complaining routine again, and I’m going to send Magadan up to hit for you. Or worse, Casey. You may be the captain. But I’m the boss.”
Julio Lugo: “Hey, Loogie! Good to see you, ol’ buddy! Lookin’ good. What brings you around here? Retirement going okay?”
Jacoby Ellsbury: “Here’s what you need to do, Ells. Buy a batting cage. Change the setting on the pitching machine to ‘low inside fastballs.’ Don’t leave the cage until it’s time to report to Ft. Myers. You do that, and your sophomore season should go just fine, kid.”
Jason Bay: “Baysie, what can we say? You made it easy to love the new guy. Steady defense, timely hitting, that aw-shucks manner — in my experience, you Canadians are really, really good people — and most important, a postseason performance that almost made me forget you-know-who in Los Ang . . . [Tito begins to twitch uncontrollably, takes a quick swig from a flask.] Anyway, job well-done, Baysie, though I gotta to be honest here: You could have batted .000 and I would have considered it a good deal just to get rid of the headache. I even think my hair is beginning to grow back.”
Jon Lester: [Looks at him like a proud father, gives him a hug.]
Kevin Youkilis: “Youkie, you made the majors as a doughy, one-dimensional walk machine whose greatest claim to fame was having a restraining order against Billy Beane. And now, four years later, by sheer will and dedication, you’ve made yourself into a four-tool force, an irreplaceable member of this ball club. You’ve earned this, Youk, and I’m just so impressed by the player you’ve become. Just one piece of advice: Lose the brillo beard, will ya? You’re terrifying the small children and some medium-sized ones, too. . . well, at least the ones who don’t think you’re Yukon Cornelius.”
J.D. Drew: “You thought you had a back problem, David Jonathan? YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD A BACK PROBLEM?!?! I HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO FEEL MY FOREARMS SINCE MAY!!!! I’M ADDICTED TO ADVIL WRAPPED IN DUBBLE-BUBBLE AND SKOAL!!! AND YET I WOULDN’T EVEN CONSIDER GETTING AN EPIDURAL EVEN IF I WAS DROPPING QUINTUPLETS TOMORROW!!! [Takes a deep breath.] All right, son, I’ll give you this: I may never figure you out, but you are usually one bloodless sucker in the clutch. Hey, Babe Ruth himself couldn’t have hit Price in Game 7.”
Dustin Pedroia: “Pedey, I couldn’t be prouder of you. You’ve become the player . . . aw, man, what’s that smell? Did something die in here? Aw, Pedey, get the hell out of here, you disgusting little runt.” [Tito to self: “Man, I love that kid. He’s just . . . he’s the funnest.”]
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As for today’s Completely Random Baseball Card:
Well, he was a career .288 hitter.