Tag Archives: Nomar Garciaparra

Oh, God, No. Not Pedroia.

This place is supposed to be relaxing.

All I want out of spring training is the ability to feel the anticipation that comes with a new season while not having to completely launch myself into the day to day rollercoaster that is being a Sox fan. I restart my Extra Bases addiction, prepare my liver for the long months ahead and kiss my family and friends goodbye. What I don’t do is get hugely caught up in records, stats, or even performance in general for anyone other than the new guys. It’s completely unnecessary and saves me a lot of headaches when looking at boxscores to see that our minor league pitchers gave up another six runs to the Cardinals or Pirates. Who cares? I will go into complete and total freakout mode twelve days from now when Josh Beckett throws the first pitch of the 2010 season, but until then I try to keep an even keel. I just ask that the guys stay healthy.

This was the only O.K. part of last night's game, and it was a groundout.

When I woke up this morning to check the score of last night’s game (I didn’t focus on it through EB as usual because of the best episode of Lost in the past two seasons), I was horrified to find that not only has the Sox lost their ninth out of ten and Buck had looked like it was still 2008, but that the heart of the team had left the game with a wrist issue. No matter what has happened in the past decade, I still went straight to the old stand by: “holy hell, he’s done for the season, I might as well just hibernate for the next seven months to spare myself the pain.” Pedroia going down is a worst case scenario, a la Nomar’s wrist in 2001. I fear anything attached to the idea of a wrist injury, having dealt with Nomar’s, Lowrie’s and Ortiz’ I know that they are often not as simple as we might think.

There have been no announcements about the X-Rays yet, but this would be a good time to shut the kid down for a week. Pedroia is a slow starter anyways and pushing anything at this point makes me just about ready to crap myself. Let’s wrap him in bubble wrap, keep him away from any dangers for a while and make sure that this thing goes away right quick, and we don’t have to flush all our hopes down the tubes quite yet.

Go Sox.

Done.

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Welcome Back Nomar, and Goodbye.

I wrote last summer that we, as Red Sox fans, should have a somewhat love hate relationship with Nomar Garciaparra. He was once our savior, our link to the new generation of shortstops who could field their positions like they needed to and also be offensive powers instead of liabilities. He was also once the bitter embattled superstar sulking in the dugout in a key game against our biggest rivals. Yesterday, when he returned to the Red Sox on a one day minor league contract so that he could retire in the only uniform he ever really belonged in, I found myself to be very conflicted.

The real question is how Nomar ‘s equation (as introduced last year when steroids happened to the Red Sox) works out.

Over six healthy seasons (in eight years) Nomar was the one thing that Sox fans could count on, one of the guys that made SMC and I dumb enough to believe that the Sox actually would someday win a World Series (I guess in retrospect that it’s not that dumb). He was our hope. I remember his rookie season, when one of those prospects which we heard mentioned on the radio or TV from time to time (before the internet and hype that bombards kids like Nomar today) finally came up and played as advertised. Nomar could do anything. He made kids like me life time members of Red Sox nation, even before Pedro changed everything. This brings the equation up big time.

But you also have his hatred of the Boston media, a bunch of guys who hound these players like horny prom dates, always in the name of getting the real stories to the fans. If you ask him, it was the media (of which he is now a member due to his signing with ESPN) that made him so reclusive to the public and annoyed when fans would approach him. He was never comfortable in the spotlight that came with being the (huge nosed) face of the Boston Red Sox, or the pressure that people placed upon him to end the curse. So the equation goes down, a little.

The Good Old Days

Another big swing in his favor comes from what he actually did on the field. The 1999 team that made the ALCS was quite literally Pedro, Nomar and 23 other guys. In the playoffs that year he was a terror, hitting.406 with four home runs and 9 RBI in nine games. After he hit a two run shot in the first inning of game 5, Mike Hargrove (Cleveland’s Manager) was so afraid of Nomar that he intentionally walked him twice. Both times Troy O’Leary came up after him and hit a three run shot and a grand slam. That’s how awesome he was, that Hargrove would walk him the second time to get to a guy who had already hit one out that day.

There is also some speculation that the jacked up Nomar on the cover of the 2001 SI baseball preview, and the swift breakdown of his body soon after, serves as evidence of steroid use. Nobody really knows about Nomar and any supplements he has taken (other than Framingham Lou, who may or may not have “injected” him at one time), though Bob Ryan did make a decent argument after Nomar’s groin pulled away from the bone. Nothing is conclusive, but even the speculation does bring the equation down a bit.

Of course, this is also the guy whose swing was so sweet that Ted Williams once said that he would be next to hit .400. The Splendid Splinter also compared Nomar to Joe Dimaggio. Not bad.

The big downswing comes when talking about the end of his time here. It was a sad way to see one of the greats in the history of the team go, but when Nomar was traded on July 31, 2004, it was the right thing to do. He had sulked his way through most of a lost season (he had only played 38 games, though he had hit .321 when he was out there), and when the brass gave him a chance to talk it out, he railed against not the team, or the fans, but the media who he thought was after him (according to Tony Massaroti yesterday on the Sports Hub). It was the end of the line, and the last impression that we got was the sad sack of shit, sitting in the corner of the dugout while his teammates battled through 14 innings in Yankee Stadium. It should have ended better.

At this point I see it just about even. Nomar was a great player who did many great things for the Red Sox and made a ton of local kids into die hard fans. He was also a whiny bitch at the end of his time here who added to the team most when he left, taking a sourpuss and a bad attitude with him. His legacy may never be truly one way or the other, but the real tipping point in his favor is this lasting image that I will always have of him.

Click here for a good time.

Goodbye Nomar, I’ll see you on Baseball Tonight.

Go Sox.

Done.

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Nomar Retires a Red Sox

Nomahhh. Gahhhcia... PAAARRRRAAAAAA.

The rumors are true. And so is Sports Center, USA Today and every single Boston-based sports page known to the net. Nomar Garciaparra signed a one-day minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox and then retired. This likely being somehow associated with the criteria to have your number retired at Fenway… but I call that a long shot…

In a vacuum, I think it’s pretty cool. He always said, during all his years in Boston, that he wanted to retire as a Sox. He was really welcomed back to Boston with open arms in his A’s debut at Fenway after a turbulent divorce during the 2004 season which lead to the acquisition of Orlando Cabrera and a World Series Championship shortly thereafter. The only person still mad about shipping Nomar has been exiled to Michigan.

I would expect some more commentary on the topic from the Ballpark’s own overtime baseball analyst, Done.

But, in the meantime, Good luck to Nomar, the man who broke the curse, in his next venture as a talking head for with ESPN. And just for now… lets forget the fact that he probably juiced, like everybody else in the Red Sox clubhouse.

StartMattCassel

Post Script: Happy Birthday, StartMattCassel’s Mommy!

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Nobody Expects the Curse of Nomar.

Don't you hate it when your groin muscle pulls away from the bone?

When I awoke/stopped vomiting (due to being full of pre Thanksgiving travel food) this morning, I was planning to write about my thoughts on the various trade rumors surrounding the Boston Red Sox and Clay Buchholz. For the second off season in the past four years, one of the best pitchers in the AL is available on the trade market and numerous other players are within the realm of possibility.

But then I checked Extra Bases and found that the Curse of Nomar had struck again. I know we (Red Sox fans) are thought to be overly willing to call any amount of bad luck (or pure suckitude) a curse (like Shaughnessy’s made up Curse of the Bambino), but this time it really is a Billy Goat level curse. When Nomar Garciaparra was traded away from the Red Sox on July 31st 2004, he struck the team with a curse, not to have a successful shortstop (meaning one who didn’t make us want to swallow a winchester) while he was still in the league.

Today that curse came back to get us just when we thought things might be a little bit more settled. Alex Gonzalez, the Sox starting shortstop in 2006 and the guy who gave us some type of stability last August and September, was thought to be an option to come back. The team had declined a $6 million option on Gonzo a few weeks ago, but was still planning on offering him a one year $3 million deal, especially after he hit .280 down the stretch with an unexpected burst of power.

Then came this morning’s report that Gonzo had signed with the Toronto BJs for a one year deal worth $2.75 Mil. The Curse has struck again. The Sox will need another new shortstop.

So who will be the next bearer of the curse? The options are Marco Scutaro, a versatile guy who is coming off a career year, and, um, …. …. yeah. Adam Everett, Khalil Greene (best white guy name ever, it just makes me want to make jihad jokes) and Miguel Tejada are also options, but this is not 2006 and this is also not the NL West. The Sox need to get this settled, and a one year stopgap measure is not going to make it.

The other option that everyone is always mentioning is Orlando Cabrera, who took over for Nomar in 2004, but he has worn out his welcome on for other ballclubs since then, and was not resigned by the Sox for “Off-Field Issues,” which means that dudes boof him. Of course, I can’t confirm that, but since 2004, everybody who has been asked in public and may actually know has refused to answer for fear of being sued for libel.

More soon on all of the trade speculation, unless something went down at dinner tonight, Schilling style.

Happy Thanksgiving, Go Sox.

84 Days.

Done.

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Who The Hell is Oakland and Why Do They Deserve A Baseball Team?

Eff Oakland. Eff Alameda County. Eff  The Colors Green and Gold. Eff the Letter A.

This is now last night's game made me feel.

This is now last night's game made me feel.

What started out as a great night at the old ballyard in the Fens turned out to be a four hour suckfest which drained all hope from my body. I blame it on Nomar. For the last two months he was here he took just about everything cool and made it suck with his angry face (no seriously, the guy kind of always looks angry, even when he’s smiling. I think it has something to do with the fact that his nose makes him look like the witch in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, just not green), and now he is doing the same with special events that his awful team just happens to be in town for.

You Are Welcome, Jim.

You Are Welcome, Jim.

Jim Rice Night was awesome. The number got unveiled on the right  field facade, Jims family and friends were on the field to salute him, along with many of the guys he played with. He was relaxed, eloquent and happy in his speech, more so than at Cooperstown on Sunday. The Sox banged out 5 runs in the third to give their young starter (some guy who’s going to end up as a Blue Jay) a lead that they should never have relinquished. Everybody was hitting, Ellsbury was stealing bases, it was a good night.

Yeah, that sucked, we know.

Yeah, that sucked, we know.

And then a shaky Papelbon (if you didn’t see this coming eventually, you are crazy, he’s been rocky for a few weeks now), two errors from Nick Green (a career backup who hasn’t played like it for the past two months) and a breakdown in the rest of the pen doomed me to an extra hour of sitting on the couch, sweating like Rich Garces at a rib eating contest, and cringing with every pitch. I just knew that this one wouldn’t be pretty from Paps, and he’s allowed a shitty night every now and then, but this wasn’t just another night, it was a chance to take a game back from the Pinstriped Assholes (who lost to the Rays).

I really don’t know who to blame for this one. The bullpen, the defense (O.K. only Nick Green, because Pedroia and Lowell both made sick plays in the 11th), Pedroia for not being able to get the two out hit in the 11th to score Kottaras from third, or the entire city of Oakland.

I choose Oakland. I can’t see a reason for their city to have a baseball team, football team or modern plumbing. Aren’t all of those things available just across the Bay in San Fransisco? Either way we’ve got two more nights of shitkicking to put on these guys heads before spending the weekend at Fenway South (possibly with some Canadian guy pitching for us, or not).

Go Sox.

Done.

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Can You Say Anti-Climax: Sox Get Shut Out in Nomar’s Return.

Nomar signing for fans.Well, at least we got one thing right. If the fans of Fenway were going to cheer Nomar last night (against my wishes) they did it the right way. One minute and ten seconds. He stood there at the plate, tears welling up in his eyes, for one minute and ten seconds as the Sox crowd showered him with the adulation that they wished they could have given him as he raised the trophy above his head five years ago. He tried to step into the box a few times, and had to hold up, partially because he was to faklempt to handle batting at that moment, and partially because the crowd would not let up. And then he stepped in.

And promptly stepped out to adjust his helmet, cup and batting gloves.

Enjoy:

After that it was a game to forget. Brett Anderson, who had a fine performance wasted earlier this season when Tim Wakefield, All Star, flirted with a No-No, shut out the Sox on two hits. The lack of Clutchitude® not only led to us losing (the Yanks lost too, so we are still in first by a game), but dropped every single member of the Sox starting nine under the .300 avg mark.

Hopefully Beckett can go out there tonight and set shit straight. What I’d really like to see, which we haven’t seen all year, is a fight. That is what this team needs. Aaron Bates, I know you just debuted last night, and don’t want to give your self a bad reputation, but this may be your opportunity to take one for the team and make people hurt. It seems like the team could use it.

Go Sox.

Done.

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Boo Nomar Tonight, Cheer Him Tomorrow.

 

This is how it ended.

This is how it ended.

I used to love Nomar Garciaparra. He was everything I wanted the Sox’ biggest star to be. He was a shortstop (as I imagined myself to be), was home grown and looked like he was going to be the face of the franchise for the forseeable future. He even wore my number, 5. And he could hit. Ted Williams once compared him to Joe Dimaggio, which is like having Superman compare you to Batman. He was going to be the guy to break .400. More importantly he was going to be the guy to get us that ring we had been waiting for and struggling for our entire lives.

Nomar Garciaparra was good for the Red Sox and the city of Boston. I still remember going to a game against the Braves during his 30 game hit streak when he had to wear a throwback uni, but wore his lucky regular one under it. I learned all of his quirks when he was in the batters box, as did thousands of other kids in the area, and I loved him for what he could have become. He was supersitious like us, he wanted it bad and worked hard like us and he seemed to be happiest when he was playing. Nomar was the spark that started the fire. He was the guy that gave us the hope that we could actually win something. He was really really good, and all we needed was to put the pieces in place around him.

Now, it seems like an eternity ago.

But, after Pedro had arrived and then Schiiling, after Ortiz became a force and Manny was Manny, on one sweltering July night at camp, I lost my faith in Nomar, and, in Boston, before the greatest comeback and the bloody sock, faith was all that we had to go on.

Everyone remembers the game. It was another marathon against the Yanks. Thirteen innings. Nomar had just come off the DL and was sitting the game out due to the fabled “sore knee” (the same one that some steroid using douche used to get his ass out of town four years later). I had just graduated from college and was spending the summer at camp before coming home and attempting to become a real person (look how well that turned out). I was in the head counselor’s cabin with about 15 of my campers watching the game as the night, and the small room, seemed to grow hotter and hotter. Guys from both teams made great plays but the true images that will linger with me of that game are of three shortstops. One was Derek Jeter (a guy who you can’t hate just because you respect him too much) who leapt into the stands head first to make a catch, risking his “beautiful face” to get the out. Another was Pokey Reece, who dove into the photographers well to make a catch of his own early in the game, and had been out there working through injury and pain to get on the field all season. The third was Nomar, who sat on the bench, and refused to pinch hit in a key divisional game. The Sox lost.

I remember the day that Nomar was traded. I was standing in the middle of boys area when the head counselor came outside and yelled to the assembled masses what had been done. Nomar was no longer one of us. He’d been sent to the Cubbies for Orlando Cabrera (who I knew was good, but did not know had “off field issues”), Doug Mientkewitz, and spare parts.

It was, for a few seconds, a sad moment. He had been, before the injuries and the struggles, the embodyment of hope for a fan base that had nothing else to go on. But then I remembered the night, just a few weeks before, when I had personally said goodbye to the Nomar that I had Idolized for so long.

Just like Manny, when he was traded it was more of a relief than anything. It got us better defense, and eventually a ring (smile), but at the moment it was a chance to rid ourselves of a clubhouse cancer, a guy who had turned down an overly generaous contract and was pissed when they took it off the table when he was hurt. Nomar wasn’t ready for the spotlight that came with being the face of the Boston Red Sox when he came up, and he never truly got used to it. He didn’t like the media, only liked the fans when he was on the field and was never happy about being approached in public.

Boo Nomar tonight, because he cost us our faith and gave up on his team, because he was never one of us and never wanted to be, and because he should have been the guy holding the trophy, not the angry guy who left the party two hours early.

But tomorrow, you can cheer him, for all the good he did while he was here.

Go Sox.

Done.

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