Well, Red Sox Nation was pleasantly surprised to learn today that Jonathan Papelbon will return to his role as the team’s closer. Last season, Papelbon had saved 35 games and looked like a potential lock for Cy Young considerations and even Rookie of the Year accolades but ended up on the disabled list in early September. That was enough to concern the Red Sox at the time to consider moving him into the starting rotation, where they had intended to place him for the 2006 season. However, with none of the candidates for the role impressing the coaching staff this spring, Papelbon apparently went to manager Terry Francona looking for his old job back. In Papelbon’s own words:
For me, it’s been a thing that I’ve been thinking about all spring. I hadn’t been sleeping well since [it] started. I felt that there was always that feeling deep down in my heart that I wanted to close…. Finally I went to our captain [Jason Varitek] one day and I said, “Tek, I’m not sleeping good at night. I’ve got to do something about it.” Basically, I told him: “Man, I think I want to close — that’s what I want to do.”
Tito happened to be walking by. We came in and I told Tito, “If you want to give me the ball in the ninth inning, I want it,” and that’s basically it.
Right now, the only question mark that remains might be the strength of the rest of the bullpen but knowing that the team has a legitimate closer ready to make the walk to the mound in the ninth with the game on the line ready to close the door will make all of us sleep better at night.
Well, the original reason for this post was actually to recommend a great movie that we just finished watching the other night: The Seven Samurai. It’s a Japanese film from 1954 that ranks as one of the best foreign films, if not one of the best films, of all time. The storyline goes that a farming village has been plagued by bandits and, with knowledge that they will return once the wheat is soon harvested, the village elder sends a few select men to find a half-dozen or so samurai swordsmen to help defend the village. In seeking out such men, they witness an elder samurai save the life of a child being held captive by a bandit, and the farmers plead with him to take on the noble task of saving their village. With the offer of three square meals a day, he in turn goes and recruits six others to join his small army; together, they return with the farmers to the village to start assembling a strategy against the bandits.
When we first looked at the jacket from Netflix and saw that the movie was over 200 minutes in length, we were a little unsure whether it would hold our interest; surprisingly, those three-plus hours seem to go by in an instant as the story moves along quickly and the action sequences keep you pinned to the screen. The dialogue is somewhat crude and often times it seems like some of the extras are overacting, but the central characters are well-developed and we found it to be a great film. Next to The Usual Suspects, this has to be one of the best surprises that we’ve enjoyed since we started our Netflix subscription. Seriously, watch it over two nights (there is a force five-minute intermission) and you will be anxious to return to the story the second night.
Oh, and a belated Happy Vernal Equinox to everyone!