Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Is this goodbye?

Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com and used with permission.

With Manny Delcarmena being traded to Colorado this season, Hideki Okajima was the last remaining member of the beloved Bullpen Band (Jonathan Papelbon was never a member although he was in the bullpen…he notably would sit at the end of the bench in the bullpen looking like he was being tortured whenever the band started up).   According to Gordon Edes, the Red Sox have no plans to tender Okajima a contract.  If true, that doesn’t mean that Oki absolutely wouldn’t be back with the team, but lefties are a hot commodity, especially out of the bullpen, and chances are he’d end up signing elsewhere.  The Bullpen Band would officially be dead.

This bums me out probably more than it should.  Maybe the 2007 team wasn’t as colorful as the 2004 team (not entirely true) and they didn’t have those 86 years weighing on them, but they were a fun team to watch and I will forever be fond of them all.  (Okay, not Eric Gagne, but the rest of them absolutely.)  There are still quite a few guys on the team that were there in ’07, but not in the bullpen.  If Okajima doesn’t sign with the Red Sox, Jonathan Papelbon will be the only one left.  To state the obvious,  I’ve always been a fan of the pitchers, but in 2007 I absolutely fell in love with the bullpen.

Mike Timlin, Julian Tavarez, Javier Lopez, Kyle Snyder, Manny Delcarmen, Bryan Corey, Devern Hansack…these guys hold a huge place in my heart.  (Yes, there are pitchers missing from this list who played for the Sox in 2007…I know!) I can’t help but feel a little sentimental thinking about not one of the pitchers I’ve listed above is with the team.  Adding Okajima to that list will make me sad.

Which isn’t to say that I’m upset about the non-tendering act itself.  It’s sad to see someone dismissed but I do understand the thinking behind it if it’s true.  Doesn’t mean I won’t spend some time remembering and appreciating what Okajima did for this team.  He was a tremendous asset to the Red Sox more than he wasn’t.  It was hard watching him struggle in 2010 but his pitching in the 3 years prior, in my mind, makes up for it.  He was a great pickup for the Sox and a huge part of how they won it all in ’07.

So saying goodbye, while my rational mind understands it, will stink.

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December 2, 2010 - Posted by | 2010 | , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. If it helps any, I’d be surprised if Oki himself wanted to come back. Between his unhappiness that he wasn’t a free agent after the 2009 season (due to the apparent misunderstanding with his agent) and the fact that Boston seemed to be a bad environment for him in his struggles last year, I bet he’s looking forward to a fresh start elsewhere. I feel a little less sad in those cases, myself!

    Comment by KellyO | December 2, 2010 | Reply

  2. I will always remember Okijima-san fondly. He did crucial work for the Sox. Yah, the AL has sussed out how to cope with his stuff, so hopefully he can score a spot on an NL roster and enjoy a Renaissance. I love Kelly-o’s perfect photo of his immortal head-turned-completely away-from-home-plate delivery. The man has fortitude, folks! 🙂 I recall after 2007 he was known in Japan as the Hero Who Toils In The Shadows, or something to that effect. Makes me smile to think upon. I wish him all the best in his future adventures, and his sake is free in my bar always.

    Comment by Elaine Apthorp | December 2, 2010 | Reply

  3. I’m willing to volunteer to teach the new bullpen how to be a band

    Comment by Tex19 | December 2, 2010 | Reply


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