You’re Lyle Overbay and you’re watching the glorious ring ceremony at Fenway Park before Friday’s game. You’re thinking, “I could have been on this team. I could have had a ring.”
Overbay was brought into camp last season by Ben Cherington along with Mike Carp as insurance for Mike Napoli, after the Sox discovered Napoli’s overdramatized double hip condition.
Despite having a poor spring training, Carp made the Opening Day roster and Overbay, who was a nonroster player, was set free.
A couple of days later, Overbay signed with the Yankees and wound up being a big part of their offense, though he faded by season’s end and finished at .240 with 14 homers and 59 RBIs. Overbay played in 142 games — 130 at first base, with Mark Teixeira missing all but 15 games with a wrist injury.
It all worked out for both Carp and Overbay. Carp, however, got the ring and a $307,322 share for winning the World Series. Overbay was not re-signed by the Yankees. He signed with his former team, the Brewers, in January.
After all the glitz and glamour Friday, when the game was finally played for real, it was Overbay who spoiled the party. He doubled in two runs off Edward Mujica in the ninth inning to break open a game that had been deadlocked at 2-2 since the third inning.
“Yeah, I’ll take that,” said the veteran first baseman, who entered the day a career .297 hitter at Fenway.
“I realize how close I came to being with that team and in that ceremony. It was between Carp and I. That’s how close it was for me being on a championship team.”
Was this Overbay’s Revenge?
“I tried to,” he joked. “I tried to make everybody as miserable as I can be. Brought them down to my level.”
Overbay, 37, said that during his brief time with the Red Sox, he knew they were the team to beat. He told his Yankee teammates that.
He noticed that the Red Sox had “it,” whatever “it” was. He just felt that he was in the middle of something special. And no, he didn’t want to leave.
“I knew just the way whole spring training was going that they came together,” Overbay said. “Look at some of the things those guys did. Like [Daniel] Nava, put in situations like that and embracing it.
“As a team they were jelling. I was with the Yankees and I was saying to the guys, this is the team to beat.
“Guys knew what their job was, what their role was. Everyone was fine with that. When you look at guys like Jonny Gomes getting big hits, that’s what he did. He wasn’t playing every day, but you never heard anything. Those are the guys you need on a championship team who are going to be supportive of everything.
“It seems like they were going about their business. It didn’t matter who it was that day, just that they were going to get it done.”
Overbay was one of the veterans Cherington brought in last season.
“A lot of new guys, but you have a guy, David Ross, a great guy, great catcher, great guy in the clubhouse,” said Overbay. “You can’t put on paper what someone like him or Gomes means to a team.
“When things are tough, those are the guys you want in the clubhouse to say, ‘We’re going to be OK, we’re going to stick together, we’ll get through this.’ That’s what they had.”
The first few games of this season had been frustrating for him. His first hit was Friday’s two-run double.
“The first few games we had a lot of chances,” Overbay said. “It’s not going to work out every time, but you get one hit and now we can all do it. The big thing is we need to make sure we don’t press.”
With runners on first and third with nobody out, Overbay sent Mujica’s second offering into right field. He took third on the throw to the plate, and scored when Carlos Gomez followed with a single.
“Got just enough off the end and got it up over Napoli’s head,” he said.
Overbay got a kick out of the day. He felt good for his former teammates. He loved the ceremony. He said he called John McDonald to ask if he could have his ring.
“I tried to steal his, but he wouldn’t let me,” Overbay said.
“I mean, it was disappointing. I knew they had a pretty good chance. I knew it would work out for both of us. Carp has potential and they wanted young and potential. I don’t blame them. They were a class-act organization.
“I just squeaked in there for a couple of weeks, but it was a great time. At least I experienced something. Maybe I caught it when it was all developing, but it’s amazing to watch that unfold and then see it all happen.
“Good for them.”Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.