Thursday, July 23, 2009

Happy 36th!

Today, we wish a Happy 36th Birthday to Nomar Garciaparra!

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!


  1. Even at the cost of the 2004 World Series victory?

    To be fair, Nomar did plenty to turn fans against him that last season with the team. That one game against the Yankees where Jeter was diving into the stands to make plays and Nomar was sulking on the bench was the last straw for many fans and that was the game that opened the door for the trade to happen.

    Nomar is also a name that I woudn't be surprised to one day be linked to steroids. That SI cover and the string of injuries make things suspicious. He got big really quickly.

    He was great for a few years, but it was also more than management and a couple of guys on the radio that turned fans against him.

  2. You'll never convince me that the Sox don't win in 2004 with Nomar at short.

    I'd be more likely to believe Nomar had some fault in his exit if the exact same script wasn't used for Manny. It was startling to see the Sox brass slander another player using almost the exact same lines. You ean to tell me TWO hall of fame type players went to Francona and actually said "my fake injury may make me miss a few games this season, wink"

    It was a shame the way it all played out.

  3. The main thing that I think puts the 2004 Sox over the top without Nomar is the boost to defense. Nomar has a habit of airmailing throws into the first row and it became more and more frequent with each new injury. He was also never great at turning double plays and that was something that declined with injuries as well.

    There wasn't nearly as much out there to force a Nomar trade as there was with Manny. The Nomar trade took a heck of a lot of people by surprise even after the sulking and complete change in attitude that last season. Nomar wasn't beating up elderly staff and had nowhere hear the history of problems both on and off the field that Manny did. In the end, I was relieved to see Manny go.


What people are reading this week