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Boone Boon?

So basically Bret Boone is Andres Galarraga without the goodwill vibe. It's hard to get excited about this guy, who who will be 37 a couple of days after the season opens. You can count the number of 37-year-old second baseman who had good years on your fingers (Nap Lajoie and Eddie Collins, he's not) and the number of 37-year-olds who had good years a season after hitting a rather pathetic .221 on your toes and you'll have, at the very least, your pinkies left over. That might be one of the weirdest sentences I've written on this blog, but I like it, as I'm not feeling particularly inspired by this move.

I guess the way that Omar Minaya looks at it like this. Maybe Boone's presence will push Msrs. Kaz Matsui, Jeff Keppinger and Anderson Hernandez in spring training. Maybe Boone will turn into this year's Roberto Hernandez and be the feel-good reclamation project of the summer. At the very least, it's a favor for someone's agent, and you can never do favors for enough agents in this business. It's the kind of move that, if it doesn't work, no one will remember it (except the obsessive bloggers) and if it does, it's like hitting a grand slam.

Oh, speaking of which...The date was July 19, 2004 and the Red Sox and Mariners were engaged in baseball matters at Safeco Field. Boston threw Bronson Arroyo that day and he pitched a brilliant game, to the tune of seven innings of one-run, three-hit, 12-strikeout ball. It looked like he'd live a winner when Jason Varitek's three-run home run gave the Sox a 4-1 eighth-inning lead, but Boston's bullpen went into gag mode. The Mariners scored an unearned run in the eighth, then got back-to-back homers by Miguel Olivo and Edgar Martinez off Keith Foulke to tie the game with one out in the ninth.

The Red Sox went rather meekly in the 10th and 11th, so this one went to the last of the 11th knotted at four apiece. That frame didn't start off well for Boston, as Olivo reached on an infield single against Curt Leskanic. Dave Hansen walked and Ichiro then sacrificed both runners into scoring position. This left Terry Francona a choice. Randy Winn was at the plate and walking him seemed the logical option to set up the double play, except that doing so tempted fate, curses, and all that other stuff that everyone liked to talk about. The on-deck hitter had the last name that had haunted the Red Sox about nine months previous.

It was at that time that Bret Boone was hanging out in the FOX booth during the American League Championship Series (no offense intended, but what he was doing wasn't broadcasting) when his brother just happened to yank a knuckleball into history. The inning? It was the 11th, of course.

So now, flash forward to the 11th of this contest where Francona does call for four balls, walking Winn and bringing the other Boone to the plate. Curtis Leskanic got ahead 0-1 but Boone cranked the next one. It was high. It was far. It was gone. The ball landed in the left field bullpen for what Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus would probably call a walk-off salami.

Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon would refer to it as the worst loss of the season, which in hindsight held true, considering the way things turned out afterwards. It went all well for Boston after that, but not so much for Boone. He's still looking to recapture some of the magic from that night. You can count the good days he's had since on your fingers and toes, and still have your pinkies left over.

True Bret fans know...On May 2, 2002, Bret Boone became the 14th player to homer twice in the first inning of a game (Mike Cameron did it as well, and hit four home runs that day). The last player to do that before Boone was Von Hayes, who did so in a 26-7 win against the Mets on June 11, 1985.

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