I would happily volunteer to be Madonna's personal sponge bather for eternity before I would even dream of dreaming of accidentally undoing the Boston Red Sox' historic World Series victory in 2004 (or, for that matter, their subsequent 2007 championship and any more that may take place in my lifetime)...but that's not to say that my formerly-famous-for-failing team's rise to dominance in the first decade of the 21st century has come without a personal toll: mainly, the bandwagon fans. They wear pink hats, they couldn't spell "Yastrzemski" if their lives depended on it, and--as any supporter of any Major League Baseball team whose home park is not located on Yawkey Way will bitterly attest to--they are everywhere.
Having reluctantly accepted, to the best of my ability, these deplorable peoples' putrid existence as a necessary downside of the excellence of the modern-era Red Sox, I am nonetheless dumbfounded to have discovered that the Boston-bandwagon culture has grown so powerful that it has actually permeated the players in the American League.
Does David Ortiz deserve a spot on the 2008 MLB All-Star team, even though he's currently on the DL? Without question. Same goes for Manny Ramirez, even though he's as likely to participate in the event as he is to abruptly retire and take a job as a hot dog vendor at Yankee Stadium--which is to say, there's a 50/50 chance. Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis each embody the ideal of a player whose tireless dedication enhances his talent; both of them deserve to be All-Stars as much as--if not more than--any household name. Those are the four Boston Red Sox who were voted as starters on the 2008 AL squad, and they were selected by the fans.
Fan voting ended last Wednesday, and the remainder of the selections were made by the players in each league. In the American League, three more Red Sox were added to the All-Star roster, including closer Jonathan Papelbon--all but a lock to begin with--and outfielder J.D. Drew--a more questionable choice, though he did raise his game significantly after Ortiz went down. I wouldn't have thought twice about the matter (it's possible that in place of this post would have been a rant against the raw deals Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell received) were it not for the third and final Red Sox voted to the 2008 All-Star team by his fellow players throughout the league:
Catcher Jason Varitek, who--at the time of this writing--is batting .219 with 7 home runs and 27 RBI.
You've shown your hand, Major League Baseball players. I love Jason Varitek and I hope that he keeps playing for the Red Sox until both of his knees explode, but I can state without hesitation that the man has no business on the All-Star team this year. Try as you might to defend your decision by referring to Varitek's less tangible "leadership" qualities and how he "contributes to wins even when he's not hitting", the underlying message is loud and clear: All of you are only pretending to like Jason Varitek because he plays for a winning team, and everybody loves a winner whether or not they know anything about them.
Care to dispute that charge? Without Googling, (1) name Jerry Remy's hometown, (2) name the Red Sox pitcher who would have been the 1986 World Series MVP (hint: it's not Roger Clemens), and (3) acknowledge the fact that Fever Pitch is a shit movie...then maybe we can talk.
After you get rid of that pink hat.