Thanks To Mike Napoli

Today, Mike Napoli was traded back to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later or cash ending his more than 2.5 years in Boston.
I don’t think anyone is shedding any tears over Napoli’s departure given how he performed this year, but he loved Boston and deserved any love that he gets from the fans. Remember when he partied shirtless downtown after they won in 2013, or partied this past February when the Pats won the Super Bowl? He totally bought into everything that the city was about, and he felt like a local. His beard, which he wanted to keep going into 2014 even when Jonny Gomes said that the beards theme was over after 2013, was a huge part of his time here, especially during the magical run.
And while he struggled massively during parts of those playoffs in that magical run, he was also as clutch as can be at other times. My favorite Nap moment was Game 3 of the ALCS vs. the Tigers. John Lackey was locked into a pitchers’ duel with Justin Verlander, a sentence which would have sounded like a joke to many MLB fans in 2010-2012 before Lackey completely turned around his legacy in Boston with his 2013 season and especially postseason. Neither side was giving an inch… until the top of the 7th. Napoli had been garbage at the plate in the series before he came up with no one on and 1 out, and he worked a full count against one of the best pitchers in the league at the time. We all thought he was gonna strike out of roll over a grounder to short at best, but Verlander made the mistake of throwing Napoli a knee high fastball middle in. I will never understand whether or not Verlander’s pitch simply didn’t have any movement or whether he just had a bigger brain cramp than when he let Kate Upton take away his pitching ability, but he made the one mistake he couldn’t make, and Napoli didn’t miss. Joe Buck, who doesn’t deserve nearly all of the flack he receives, made a perfect call when Napoli’s homer barely cleared the wall that I still love to play over and over in my mind: “Napoli gets Verlander, here in the 7th!!!
Later in the series, Nap hit a 470 foot bomb in Game 5 in Detroit that rolled over the Canadian border (approximately) and he had a bases clearing double in Game 1 of the World Series that opened the floodgates Randy Moss style.
Napoli’s story when he started with the Sox was pretty interesting as well. He originally singed a 3 year $39 million deal that matched Shane Victorino’s, (I wasn’t able to write a blog when Victorino was traded, but farewell to him too and thanks for 2013 as well), but then his hip condition acted up and instead signed a 1 year $5 million deal with incentives that could bring the year’s value to $13 mil. Nap hit the incentives and performed so well that he earned a 2 year $32 million deal after the World Series win, so his strange contract details actually played to his advantage. Just another reason that I’ll look back on the Mike Napoli era interestingly. He had 1 great season and then wasn’t worth it after, but Boston should and always will remember how he did in 2013. Farewell, Mike Napoli.

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