Should the Red Sox Name a New Captain?
The writing is on the wall for Jason Varitek and it’s obvious as the nose on your face that he likely won’t return to the Red Sox next season, at least not as a player. So with the departure of the former captain, he not only leaves a leadership hole but also a vacancy in the captain’s chair.
Varitek became only the third captain in Red Sox history, joining Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice as the only others to be appointed the honor. He was also only one of three captains amongst the other Major League clubs; Derek Jeter of the Yankees and Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox.
Now the time has come for Varitek to relinquish the “C” and pass the torch. But who is the most deserving player on the Red Sox roster to take over the captain duties? Or is it better left untouched and not name a fourth captain in club history? After all this is a new start so to speak, after a horrible ending to last year.
Dustin Pedroia instantly comes to mind as the next suitor to wear the “C” on his #15 uniform. He’s clearly a leader on the field by the way he plays the game. Pedey will sacrifice his body at any point of the game if it means making the play and preventing a base hit or taking a run away from the opposition. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he’s loved by all of Red Sox Nation. He’s the perfect example of what a baseball player should look like and how one should act. Logical choice right?
Don’t start stitching the “C” to his uniform just yet. While Pedroia is entering his sixth season with the Red Sox and while he has won a World Series title at an early point of his career, giving him the title of captain may be a little premature.
Pedroia has only played under one manager for his entire career up to this point and he had a very close relationship with Terry Francona. It was no secret that Pedey was one of Tito’s favorites and why shouldn’t he have been. Pedroia did everything that was asked of him every year, game in and game out.
But it was the tight relationship that may have rubbed a few of the other players the wrong way. Did Pedroia get special treatment? Not that we know of. But when you start dealing with people’s emotions and suddenly they start thinking and acting in funny ways. Especially when you’re talking about major league ball players. So while many would think that Pedey has the respect of all his players, I’d be willing to think he too has something to prove to his new manager and his teammates when Spring Training rolls around. Everyone will be on an even playing field (no pun intended) for Bobby V when camp opens in the middle of February, even Pedroia.
So who should be the next captain? How about no one. Why not go for a year or two and not name a captain. After all, the majority of big league clubs don’t even have a designated team captain. Pedroia will without question be a leader on this team so let him and other veterans like Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz take the reins of this fragile club and turn it around.
While I’m not taking anything away from Pedey, believe me he’s my favorite player, I own two Pedroia jerseys, I just think to name him captain would be a mistake. Give him some time to adjust to the new direction this club will be heading in before you deem it Pedroia’s team. It’s added pressure that neither Pedroia or any other player needs. There will be enough pressure to perform well and win as an account of last season’s collapse.
If a player gets named as the next captain before the start of the season, this will only continue some of the same behaviors that we saw over the past couple of seasons. Those same couple of seasons that saw the Red Sox finish in third place in the AL East. It’s time to break away from old habits and cutting ties with Varitek was a start. Now further change is needed and not naming a captain is another adjustment that will distinguish this team’s new identity that they so badly need.
Pedroia will be around for years to come and after a couple of year’s of winning and righting the Red Sox ship, it will be then that will warrant a new team captain. But please, don’t put that awful “C” on his jersey. I can’t believe I’m saying this but do what the Yankees do and have a captain with no clear designation on the uniform. It looks a tad silly.
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