Jose Offerman threatened to kill somebody. Shea Hillenbrand questioned Theo’s sexual preference. Walpole Joe Morgan told the world “this team isn’t as good as everyone thinks.”
Different people have different ways of dealing with the fact that their services are no longer needed by the Boston Red Sox. Let the record show that Kevin Millar — who just three short years ago we almost went to war with Japan to possess — is doing it the right way.
“These were the greatest three years of my entire life playing baseball. Playing for the Red Sox, playing for Boston, that city, those fans. And that’s 100 percent from my heart.
I wish I could come back and do it all again, but the past season was a stinker. My job is to get back on track and make somebody proud again.
But when all is said and done, 2004 will go down as a part of history. I’m proud that I was part of that nation, proud to have been part of Red Sox Nation while I was there.”
I’ll cop to being one of the many who lobbed daily grenades at the feet of El Bencho. Most of it was born of frustration. Here was the sort of character I’d always wanted to see in a Boston uniform: outlandish, outspoken, demolishing any last remnants of the “40 cabs for 40 players” days with his Musketeers mentality, and reminding us all that the point of the game is to have fun, so have a couple belts and whoop it up regardless of whether your team wins or takes one to the berries. Alas, the talent never quite matched the enthusiasm. Damned if he didn’t seem to be behind every third out of the 2005 season. And the invalid-level speed with which he ran the bases no doubt shaved a couple years off my life. Like the guy who meets the girl of his dreams only to discover she’s lousy in bed, I spent many a night praying to the Gods of baseball, hoping that somehow they could transform Millar into the full package: Relentless Good Time Charlie Cheerleader and RBI Machine. But it didn’t happen. And we knew around last All Star Break that it was over.
Curiously, my lasting memories of Mr. Millar won’t be the strike-outs, the weak pop flies or the ass-clown defense. It’s the way he helped take the edge off last summer’s “Manny Gate” with his priceless faux press conference ["Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce Manny Ramirez."]. It’s his alter ego, “Rally Karaoke Guy,” flexing his way through the world’s worst rendition of “Born in the USA.” It’s the way that, even as a pack of fire-breathing dragons chewed down the left field wall, he’d find a way to kick it Braveheart style, rallying the troops with such orations as his now famous “Don’t let us win tonight” bit before Game Four of the 2004 ALCS.
It was a fun couple years. Godspeed, El Bencho.
And while we’re at it, good luck to Doug Mirabelli, who’s off to SD in exchange for second baseman Mark Loretta.
Meanwhile, the Sox continue to shop Edgah with great vigor. The latest rumor has him heading to Atlanta for third baseman Andy Marte. Third baseman? What, have they already got a shortstop lined up? Someone named… I dunno… Cabrera? Or is Marte the first step in a bigger deal, as the Globe speculates, with the D-Rays for Julio Lugo and Aubrey Huff and/or Danys Baez?
With so much going on, I’m just gonna second Tim Wakefield’s sentiments: “What the heck is our team going to look like next year?”