Our Own "Captain Intangibles"
On a coffee break from work today I heard a couple of callers to the Dale and Numie show on WEEI grousing about Kevin Millar. I guess since the Sox are making off like bandits this month, we have to start digging for stuff to complain about.
But, really, how can you complain about this guy? I mean, sure, he's kind of a dork, and every time I hear him speak, all I can think is, "Well, shucks, Darlene, git mah shotgun." And yeah, his OBP isn't enough to send a sabermetrics geek into spasms of joy. He's been hitting in the low .200's, according to the caller who was ripping him on the radio, since mid-last season.
All of that is well and good. But would we have gotten to the postseason last year without Kevin Millar? Maybe. Would we have gotten as far without him? I don't think so.
On the dreary flight back from Oakland after dropping the first two games of the Division Series, it was Millar who started rallying the troops. It was Millar who held an impromptu prep talk that made a trip that started off like a funeral turn into, in Millar's words last night, "all of us walking off the plane happy, drunk and bald."
You can't put a number on a contribution like that. You can't put a number on team unity, happiness, grit and determination. That's what Kevin Millar brings to the table.
"This guy's been given a free ride because he's a nice guy," was the caller's contention. I disagree completely. I think it goes beyond being a nice guy. I think Kevin Millar has been the heart and soul of the Red Sox since he arrived here, and continues to contribute in ways you can't measure. Such as helping a public ready to surround Manny Ramirez's house with torches understand one of the best hitters in baseball. Such as helping a team rebound mentally--if not statistically--from the crushing loss of Game 7.
Kevin Millar is the closest you're going to get to a Red Sox fan on the field. So he's not Barry Bonds. When did he ever claim to be? It's up to the prodigies of the team--the Dominican Triumvurate, Schilling, Nomar--to make the "wow" plays. Millar, meanwhile, a Dirt Dog from way back, is the "Cowboy Up!" glue that holds all that talent together.
You want an example of how talent with no guts and no soul gets you nowhere? Just look at the Yankees.
The talent will get you to the doorstep. But it takes a brave dreamer to reach for that brass ring and capture it. It takes more than batting average. If we win it all this year, we will have Kevin Millar to thank, whether or not he ever gets on base again.