There is one moment from the 2013 postseason that stands out to me above all others. And as the Red Sox slide further from relevancy with each day, my mind has wandered back to this memory a lot recently. It’s of a massively important grand slam against a Tigers reliever, one that sent Fenway into a frenzy. But it isn’t the one you’re thinking of. I think not of David Ortiz sending Torii Hunter into the bullpen, but instead of Shane Victorino bounding his chest and leaping into the air as he rounded first base, the ball landing in the monster. It was passion and triumph on full display.
Shane Victorino in many ways represented the essence of the 2013 Red Sox. He, like many others, had a chip on his shoulder, written off by nearly everyone after a severe decline in play. And he, like the city of Boston, wanted to believe that every little thing was going to be all right. Armed with a golden glove and a walk-up song that made Fenway Park a choir of songbirds, he embraced the city that came to love him as one of their own.
Since 2013, things haven’t gone as well for Victorino in Boston. Muscle injuries have kept him off the field for the majority of the last two seasons, and as a result he became an unreliable option in right field. It’s been sad watching him in the dugout night after night as the parade of right fielders have struggled to fill his void. For 3 years and $39 million, many will say the production the Red Sox got out of him wasn’t enough, given that he has only played a combined 63 times over the last two seasons.
But I’m confident in saying that without him, there would have been no World Series. And in my book, that makes him worth all the time spent hoping he might return to form these last two years. As evidenced by the tears in his press conference last night, Boston and its people clearly meant something to him. This was more than just about baseball. And to me, that is the mark of a player worth celebrating. So as we bid farewell to another stalwart of the 2013 Red Sox, let’s all give one last look at Shane’s grand slam (click here to watch). I will miss that passion.
Switching to soccer, transfer rumors have become increasingly ridiculous in recent days. From conflicting reports of Angel Di Maria’s whereabouts to Arsene Wenger’s supposed courting of Sergio Busquets, very little is credible when it comes to transfer season. But one item stood out this afternoon as it made the rounds. Karim Benzema tweeted a picture of himself on a private plane as his teammates were on their way elsewhere, with the cryptic message, “Leave the past in the past.” Is he on his way to London? Is he the world-class striker Wenger has been hinting at? We will soon know, though I’m inclined to believe this too is a transfer window farce.
Regardless, he would be a sensational signing, and one that would not only make Arsenal title contenders, but in my view, title favorites. It can be hard to judge a forward that gets to play with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, but the reality is that Benzema gets goals, and he does so in a variety of ways. Unlike Giroud, he is not a one-trick pony. He is physical enough to hold up play, but has the mobility and vision to make runs in behind. Plus, he’s clinical.
I still believe Olivier Giroud has tremendous value in a Premier League title contending side. People say he isn’t good enough, but he’s improved every year he’s been at Arsenal and proved last year he could score against the big clubs. Against certain teams, his physicality is needed. But in other games, he seems to clog the space that the midfielders need. Ideally, he’d be your second option, a player capable of starting at a moment’s notice, but also one who can come on off the bench late on. However, this is all speculation about Benzema, who could just be having some fun messing with Arsenal fans, so I’m expecting Giroud to be option number one for better or for worse.
Going back to baseball, the Troy Tulowitzki trade is an interesting one. The Blue Jays didn’t need a right-handed power bat, but when the opportunity came knocking for taking on arguably the best shortstop in the game, and one locked down for the foreseeable future, I admire them for doing so. Their lineup was scary before. Now, it’s just not fair. However, I’m worried about his knees. An injury-prone player doesn’t want to play on turf as he ages. That could prove disastrous in a few years. And then there’s the fact that Toronto needs pitching right now if they hope to make a late run up the standings.
And lastly, I just saw breaking news on Twitter that Tom Brady’s suspension was upheld. This is getting ridiculous. Although I must admit, if he did destroy his phone in early March, that doesn’t look so good. However, it’s worth fighting. Bring it on, NFL. We’ll see you in court.