In perhaps the most insane, action-packed, gut-wrenching seven days in the history of Word Around Here, how does one choose a headliner?
There’s all the he-said, she-said soap opera insanity between Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Boston Red Sox. There’s Jim Rice entering the Hall of Fame and having his jersey retired at Fenway Park. There’s the David Ortiz PED allegations, and there’s Nomar Garciaparra’s inexplicable meltdown in the face of those allegations. There’s Brett Favre’s retirement, Michael Vick’s reinstatement and Stephon Marbury’s dive off the deep end.
But on the day of the 2009 Major League Baseball trade deadline, there is only one person truly deserving of the headliner honor. It is a person who can always be counted on for an inappropriately joyous, yet touching comment in the face of debilitating ninth-inning bullpen collapses. It is a person who has sunshine on the cloudiest days, even days when he learns he is being traded to the Cleveland Indians.
That person is Justin Masterson, former Red Sox legend and future Indians superstar.
We hardly knew him — but in honor of the flamethrowing reliever and his perpetually blissful demeanor, he bats leadoff in this week’s commemorative edition of Word Around Here. (And the epitome of class himself chose to take the high road in his post-trade comments, commending Theo Epstein for getting rid of him in order to bring in a much-needed big bat. Kudos to that.)
“For me, it will hopefully be another great opportunity going to a great organization and, you know, bringing in Victor Martinez for the Red Sox. I think that will be a big key. So it’s neat to be like, ‘Hey, I got traded for Victor Martinez.’ It’s bittersweet. It’s good and it’s bad. You don’t want to leave such an amazing organization, but I hear Cleveland is great, too.”
–Former Red Sox reliever Justin Masterson, to NESN’s Heidi Watney, after being traded to Cleveland
“I am a husband, called Rice. I am a father, called Dad. I am a brother, called Ed. I am an uncle, called Uncle Ed. I am a grandfather, called Papa. I am a friend that doesn't call — some of my friends know that — and sometimes best not call at all. Finally, I do mean finally, I am Jim Rice, called a Baseball Hall of Famer.”
–Red Sox legend Jim Rice during his Hall of Fame induction speech
"Since I've been working in the league, I don't think the best team has won the Super Bowl any year. You get a ball bouncing the wrong way, a bad call from a ref, a windy day when you plan to throw a lot … There are just too many things out of your control.''
–Eagles team president Joe Banner in the Philadelphia Inquirer
"It's just this list that was supposed to be anonymous. And if that was a mess and it's not anonymous, then how much can you believe it? It was a joke, if you really know the way we went through it. It was supposed to be anonymous, and now it's not? Then what is and what isn't? It's unfortunate."
–A’s infielder Nomar Garicaparra, to NESN’s John Chandler, on the infamous list of 104 players who reportedly tested positive for PEDs
"I hate it. I hate it. Sixteen games is already a triathlon, and they want to add two to it?''
–Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, to SI.com, on why the NFL should not expand the regular-season schedule
“After that game, I walked into that locker room and I said, ‘I can’t believe the NFL stole that game from us.’”
–Former Raiders offensive lineman Lincoln Kennedy, on ESPN, on the aftermath of New England’s “Snow Bowl” victory over Oakland in 2002
“Why is starbury cryin, what the he– is goin on, geeeez”
––Shaquille O’Neal, via Twitter, on Stephon Marbury’s 24-hour live chat
"If you're going to throw 115 pitches, you've got to go out and be effective. At some point, there's got to be some accountability and responsibility from the player."
–Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, to the Boston Globe, reacting to Dice-K’s insistence that the team is to blame for his ineffectiveness on the mound
"I really believe this is it. I truly, truly believe it's over. But if someone calls Nov. 1, who knows?''
—Brett Favre, to SI.com, after announcing his retirement from the NFL
"I found out about an hour before the game about the situation. You guys know I'm a guy who never turns my back on you guys. I've always been a true guy with you guys, and honestly, right now, I don't have any information about it. I'm going to get more info about the situation, and I'm going to honestly tell you guys what's up. But right now, I don't have no answer, no information."
–Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, to NESN, on a New York Times report suggesting he tested positive for PEDs in 2003
"THE NFL TRIPPIN THEY NEED TO LET MIKE VICK PLAY HE ALREADY BEEN IN JAIL 2 YEARS DAMN W– IM UPSET."
–Titans running back Chris Johnson, via Twitter, reacting to Michael Vick’s conditional reinstatement
“I told Tito I can’t argue with that philosophy. [Adam LaRoche has] been here three days. Not going to worry about anything right now. We’ll see how things go. The world’s not coming to an end.’’
–Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, in the Boston Globe, on splitting time in the lineup with LaRoche for one week
"I know him probably better than most people, and certainly from a different vantage point, being a teammate and playing for him. I know this guy loves the game more than himself. Whatever mistakes were made, I know this guy loves the game. I know he respects the game."
–Red Sox manager Terry Francona, to the Providence Journal, on Pete Rose
“We are totally incompatible. In the end, Armstrong will go his way, and I’ll go mine.’’
–Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, to The Associated Press, on Astana teammate Lance Armstrong
“It’s been like a rebirth. Pat will never die!”
–Cartoonist Phil Bissell, to the Boston Globe, on the upcoming resurrection of the Pat Patriot logo in honor of the 50th anniversary of the New England franchise
“You don’t have to go further than the two guys who I think are at the top — [Tom] Brady and [Peyton] Manning. You watch those guys do what they do — they do it a little differently — but at the end of the day, their feet are in the same position when they’re getting ready to deliver the ball. I’ve been really working on myself, but in order to do that, I think you need to look at what some other people do well.’’
–Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, in the Boston Globe, on learning from the NFL’s greatest