Farewell Doug Mirabelli

mirabelli.jpgDougMirabelli had the best timing of any backup catcher in the history of
major league baseball. He joined the Sox in the middle of the 2001
season, as the team hurtled towards its 83rd straight year of
unfulfilled hopes, then celebrated a joyfully apocalyptic championship
in 2004 and another for good measure in 2007. Upon his release
yesterday, he left the Red Sox as one of only eight players who played on both championship clubs.

I’m a sentimental baseball fan, so I was truly saddened to hear the
Sox had let Mirabelli go. But I trust Theo and Terry and I’m sure it
was the right thing for the team.

What never ceases to surprise me, however, is how easily fans and
media let someone like Doug Mirabelli just slide out of sight. He’ll
get a short article in the Herald and Globe that will be
primarily about how important Varitek is to the team, and the callers
to our sports talk show radio stations today will say, "Doug was overweight and slow, and he couldn’t hit a lick, good riddance!" We
obsess over these players and cheer for them like crazy, then when
their usefulness is spent, we discard them like old cell phones.

I realize that every professional baseball player’s career must come
to an end, and that they always come to an end while the player is
relatively young (Doug is 37, and in the whole scheme of
things, that is young). I realize that turnover in baseball is
inevitable – and, ultimately, desirable. I realize that Mirabelli’s
batting average dipped to .202 last season and would probably have
dipped below the Mendoza Line this season. I’m not saying that
releasing him was not a smart move.

But let’s give the guy his due. He was the only player capable of
catching Wakefield’s wicked knuckleballs. He hit some dramatic, key
home runs as a member of the Red Sox. He accepted his backup role with
grace and appeared to be a good teammate, too. And most importantly, he
was our backup catcher during the greatest era in Boston Red Sox
history since the early 20th Century.

The former baseball commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti once wrote, "The
game breaks my heart because it was meant to, because it was meant to
foster in me again the illusion that there was something abiding, some
pattern and some impulse that could come together to make a reality
that would resist the corrosion…"

"Of course, there are those who were born with the wisdom to know
that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough among us, the ones who
can live without illusion, or without even the hope of illusion. I am
not that grown-up or up-to-date. I am a simpler creature, tied to more
primitive patterns and cycles. I need to think something lasts forever."

mirabelli-and-kapler-on-duck-boat-2004.jpgI’m
like Bart. There’s a part of me that wants to believe the illusion that
that 2004 team can last forever; that the Wake and Dougie battery will
be there every fifth day for eternity. And that part of me died a small
death yesterday with the news of Mirabelli’s release. Of course, for
Doug Mirabelli himself, the news has to be its own unique form of
dying. It’s the end of the most magical period of his life. "Not a lot
of fun for anybody," said Terry Francona about breaking the news to
Mirabelli prior to yesterday’s game.

Fireworks aren’t necessary, nor is the cover of Sports Illustrated.
I get it. He’s not Brett Favre. But how about a heartfelt "standing O"
for our #28? Those members of Red Sox Nation who have the good fortune
of attending the Red Sox’ home opener, on April 8, will get their
chance to applaud Mirabelli’s contributions to this franchise as he is
introduced to receive his 2007 World Series ring (unless he’s playing
for another team by then). Maybe we’ll get to hear Tim McGraw’s "Live Like You Were Dying"
one last time (the poignant song about making the most of every moment
that Mirabelli chose to blare from Fenway’s loudspeakers every time he
came to the plate). If you’re there that day, I hope you’ll cheer long
and loud. Not just for Doug Mirabelli, but for all members of that
great 2004 team who have slipped away silently from baseball; who, in
the end, could not "resist the corrosion."

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5 Comments

Hey Mr. VP,
A very nice tribute to Doug Mirabelli! He was an important contributor to two World Championship teams!

I really enjoyed getting caught up on your blog! You have had some amazing experiences as the VP of Red Sox Nation and as someone who understands deeply your passion for this game and for everything associated with the Red Sox I am very proud of you and happy that you have been blessed with this new and exciting role in your life!

Yesterday, we celebrated the 12th anniversary of our mad dash to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the middle of the night to welcome Daniel into our lives!

I am honored each day to be his father, but I love watching his love of baseball and everything Red Sox in a big way!

Keep up the great work on your blog and go SOX 2008!!!

Murphdawg

Thank you. For once someone honored one of the most subtle performers on the team. Doug was great and to let him go like that was both cruel and inappropriate. In essence he was fired and fired with a callous edge to it.

He connected with the players, was quite smart and worked hard at the game. Any fan who does not see that is missing the point. Doug got a lot of friends on the team and to fire him like that — after signing him was disgusting.

Theo has made some brilliant moves and some dumb ones (Gagne). Hopefully he’ll soon realize that he’s only HURT the team not helped it by this move.

wow!!that was a really good tribute to our 28,he was a excelent part of our team and he will be remembered,thanks for your post and continue your good job,im proud of my vp.

Doug and I joined the Nation at the same time–I moved to Boston in the summer of 2001 and fell in love with the team during his first season here. Back then, I rarely got to Fenway, but it seemed like every time I did, it was a Wake night, and every time, Dougie would wake up from a slump and hit a homer.

I have three Red Sox autographs, and two of them are from #28. (The other is from an ’04 spring training invitee who ended up with another team.) Mirabelli seems to be one of those guys who knows how lucky he is to have the experiences he’s had, and will always be willing–and happy–to take the time to make a fan’s day.

If you read Schilling’s blog, you’ll find out that he’s also a true clubhouse guy. Here’s hoping that the Sox make another “emergency recall” and he gets another triumphal re-entry to Boston.

THANKS TO #28 WE WENT TO THE WORLD SERIES BY BEING BEHIND THAT HUGE PLATE FOR TIM WAKEFIELD.We as RED SOX NATIONERS should give him what he diserves,a DOUG DAY AFTERNOON !!! Without him we would not have those two rings that our great players won with BLOOD,SWEAT AND TEARS !!!Those long days behind the plate,where the catcher is the boss of the 8 other players.He made Tim Wakefield what he is today and gave the Sox a chance to play in many big games with the big W next to them.GOD BLESS YOU DOUG MIRABELLI AND YOUR NOBLE HEART AND
LOVE FOR THE GAME AND OUR RED SOX .

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