BY PATRICK BERKERY Name-dropping: it isn’t just for sycophant promo-sexuals anymore. (I’m not naming names, but if you’re feeling a little hot in your complimentary My Morning Jacket fleece pullover, as your Shins advance plays in the background and you’re meeting Irv Fucknut from Suck My Dick records for dinner at the Tin Angel tonight before some emerging singer-songwriter’s 7:30 set, then, yeah, I’m looking right at you.) So humor me, and my little brush with baseball genius. I participated in the annual Hot Stove Cool Music benefit concerts in Boston last weekend. Lots of baseball dignitaries like ESPN’s Peter Gammons are involved (a total gentleman and a very good singer and guitarist, by the by), and the weekend’s festivities benefit a foundation established by Red Sox wunderkind general manager Theo Epstein. Like Gammons, Theo is also a total gentleman and a damn good guitarist.
After Sunday’s show, Theo and I get to talking, mostly about rock and that afternoon’s Eagles and Pats playoff games. Just a couple guys having a couple of beers, really. Then, out of nowhere, he asks, “Man, why’s everyone so down on Pat Burrell?” I give him the usual litany: “He stays out late, he whisky-dicks it in the clutch, his swing has more holes than Rafael Robb’s alibi, he makes too much money, he’s untradeable, he’s not media-friendly.”
Then I add, “But, heck, the guy’s had a bum foot for three years now and he’s still putting up decent enough numbers. If that foot ever fully heals, he could surprise a lot of people.”
Theo nods in agreement and says, with what I took as total sincerity, “You’re absolutely right about that. Maybe he just needs a situation where he could DH and play first occasionally, to take the stress off his foot.”
Suddenly the dimly-lit dressing room is illuminated by the light bulb that just went off over my head: Theo’s involved in a lingering contract language barrier with Philly faves J.D. Drew and his pock-faced agent Scott Boras. Maybe the Sox will have to find another power hitting outfielder. Maybe they’re secretly still sick of Manny being Manny and would move him in the right deal. Maybe Pat Gillick was just calling Manny “a headache we don’t need” to downplay his interest.
Sensing a Manny Ramirez-and-cash-for-Burrell-and-prospects trade proposal any second, he says it’s been nice talking to me, thanks me for playing the show, gives me a firm Ivy League handshake and seeks out a less delusional person. I know, it’s probably nothing, but with the hot stove barely flickering in these parts right now, why not start some outlandish rumor? How do you think those gavones at WIP fill airtime?