This handsome bastard is moving up in the world.

This is one that’s going to get personal.

At some point between 11 p.m. and midnight tonight, the sports section of The Standard-Times will be put to bed, the stories prepped for the Web, the lights will go off, and the (mostly) thankless work of editors and paginators will be complete. Another day, another edition, until they’re all swallowed whole by the vast expanse of the internet.

And, after eight years, it will be the last time a certain Assistant Sports Editor and Red Sox beat writer will walk out the employee exit onto the cobblestone-packed streets that line downtown New Bedford.

Jon Couture is leaving the paper, moving up the chain to the Boston Herald. Mr. Couture (also known affectionately as “Cooch” by everyone who has ever spoken to him for more than five seconds) happens to be a very good friend of mine. In fact, I live two floors above him in New Beige. In fact, he helped me find this apartment after I moved back to Massachusetts, the daunting task of rebuilding a scattered life made much easier for his efforts.

For Red Sox fans, his blog Better Red Than Dead has been essential, rounding up everything from the press to the pitch counts, quotes, individual feats and a plus/minus scoring system to grade the team. And his Inside Baseball column has been a weekly must since 2005 or so. In his own quiet way, he’s put his stamp on baseball coverage, always conducting himself with class, presenting new angles on the game while refusing to succumb to falsely hair-raising stances.

Outside the press box, he is the quizmaster, our bar trivia captain, ruler of the statistical spreadsheet, keeper of the flame for the Hartford Whalers and the Kids in the Hall, defender of J.D. Drew, appreciator of Oasis, rescuer of lost cats, lover of all things British, organizer of late-night escapades, giver of uncomfortable man-hugs, generous to a fault, and, basically, the best dude I know.

We started within one week of each other at the S-T in June, 2002, and after a three-year layover in Phoenix, I rejoined the staff last summer. Now it’s his turn to move on. I’ll still see him all the time, but the office is going to be emptier without him (less so since he lost so much weight, but you know what I mean).

Jon, speaking on behalf of myself and everyone else who ever had the pleasure of working with you, we wish you the best. This couldn’t have happened to a better guy. Good luck editing on the green screen, and try not to get too evil under the bright lights of Boston.

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