Nomar’s career in Boston was interesting, to say the least. I don’t think I’ll get much argument when I say he’s the best shortstop the Red Sox have ever had. For a while there, he may have been the best shortstop in the game. (At the very least, the best one east of the Mississippi.) It all started to go downhill, thanks in large part to injuries and contract squabbles. Finally he was unceremoniously shipped west just before the Sox ended their championship drought. It was an unfair ending to a spectacular Red Sox career.
When Nomar joined the team, he was the lone bright spot on a 1997 team that finished in fourth place, 20 games out of first. Nomar won the unanimous Rookie of the Year award that year, and put up numbers you’d never expect out of a shortstop. The next Year, Nomar teamed with Pedro Martinez to lead the Sox to the second best record in the American League (although, oddly enough, they finished 22 games out of first). That continues for another five years or so. Nomar was the star of the team…at least four out of five games. He won a couple batting titles along the way to a sure-fire Hall of Fame career.
Then, the wheels came off. Injuries robbed him of most of the 2001 season, and he was never really the same again. A nasty contract dispute took some of the luster off his star. He wanted to be paid as an elite player, and the Red Sox just don’t like spending that kind of money…even when it’s deserved. When it leaked that he was practically on his way out of town to make room for ARod, there was no turning back. The EEIdiots did their best to turn public opinion against Nomar. This allowed Theo to ship him off for a bag of balls, and the shortstop position in Boston has never been the same.
Nomar was king, as far as I was concerned. Any day that Pedro wasn’t pitching, he was my favorite player on the team for a long time. Nobody looked as menacing at the plate. He was like a wound spring ready to strike. I loved that he took his cuts at the plate and tried to get things done. I still wish Theo would take a do-over and put him back at short.
Happy Birthday Nomar!