So, I got an e-mail yesterday morning asking me if Nomar was coming back to the Red Sox. Naturally, my response was that I would love it, but can’t imagine it happening. Then I see the announcement that Nomar would be signing with the Sox so that he could retire in a Boston uniform. Wow! I never would have guessed that in a million years. I could never have imagined that Nomar would want anything to do with the Red Sox organization. Who could blame him after the way they treated him and ran him out of town? And the Red Sox agreed to this? It doesn’t look a little hypocritical? They did their best to trash the guy, and then get to have him back and celebrate him like they didn’t try to destroy his legacy? Imagine that. As for me? I couldn’t be happier.
Nomar mentioned the reaction he got as a visiting player with Oakland last year. I can see how that might have changed his mind. If you listened to the radio around here, you’d think that Nomar was a waste of a roster spot. That the Sox were instantly better once they dumped him from the locker room. Since Nomar does listen to the radio…which may have been his downfall…I can understand that he thought many fans felt that way. But, when he came back to Fenway, he got a taste of what real fans felt. He realized that the EEIdiots were on their own. Here were 30,000 people a game standing and cheering for him. So, if he was even thinking of coming back to the Sox, I bet those games sealed it. It was good to see him in the uniform again. Now, maybe, people won’t look at me funny when I wear my Nomar t-shirt. He’s one of us again. (Kind of makes me wish I hadn’t bought that Baldelli shirt on clearance not long ago) Oddly, one of the first things I thought of is that this now made him eligible to have his number 5 retired. This would have been his tenth season with the Sox. It was a minor league contract technically…but close enough. He has finished his career with the Sox. Now all he needed is to wait for his election to the Hall of Fame, and they could hang #5 off the façade. But, wait. Is it that simple anymore? Is Nomar a Hall of Famer? While I’m sure Adam_the_yankee_fan has his own opinion, I say…maybe. Probably?
There are really two questions. Would I put him in, and would he get voted in? Does he meet my requirements? In his ten full seasons, 1997-2000, 2002-3, 2006-8 he made the all-star team six times. He won two batting titles. I ask for five years of otherworldliness. I need five years where if you were starting a team, you wouldn’t be laughed at if you took him. I got those five. I ask for ten years of high quality play. I get seven pretty easy, without double-checking the numbers. I also ask not to embarrass yourself the rest of your career. Nomar didn’t really have a “rest” of his career, so he’s all set there. So, by my guidelines, he’s borderline. I could convince myself that his five years were so otherworldly he makes up for the couple years of high quality I can’t remember. I mean, as a shortstop, he was the best or second best of all-time for five or six years. So for half his career…he was beyond elite. If I sat down and thought about it, I could give him the nod. I certainly want to.
As for whether he’d get voted in? I usually look at the careers of Sandy Koufax and Kirby Puckett. Koufax was mediocre or worse for a chink of his 12-year run. But, he turned it on at the end. Isn’t his career really just the exact opposite of Nomar’s? As for Puckett, he also had a short run. It surprised me that Nomar, mostly as a shortstop, had more career homers than Kirby. Nomar was never an MVP, which certainly hurts. He only has one “ring.” He does have the two batting titles. I definitely don’t think he’d be a first ballot gut. But, could he squeak in? I could see it. And before you ask, by the numbers Nomar was better than Jeter every year he was in Boston.
That’s the difference.