Rear Window Ethics Rear Window Ethics: Nomar

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Nomar

NOMAR IS GONE.

I actually didn't find out for a while. I was in Providence with Jocelyn, out of communication and ignoring all print, radio and television media outlets, when my phone showed two new voicemails. One was from BJ, telling me that Nomar had been traded. His voice had a strange tone to it, like he was half happy and half sad. Maybe he was just in shock. The next message, however, had a distinctly different tone. It was from my sister, Phoebe, who is a lifelong, diehard Nomar fan. Her room in New Haven is one enormous collage of Nomar magazine covers, Boston Globe pictures, articles, interviews, and other paraphernalia. She has been known to refer to herself as Phoebe Garciaparra at times. Needless to say, her message was an almost indecipherable series of sobs and attempted sentences interrupted by more sobs.

When I found out, I was, for the most part, glad. Nomar has never been what I would consider a real Red Sox player. He was a professional who put on the uniform, worked hard and wanted to win, but he never had the spirit that defines the fan favorites. He, like Ted Williams in his day, had trouble talking to the media and trouble talking to the fans. He played hard on the field, but when the game was over you got the sense, especially later in his career with the organization, that he just didn't care that much.

After a series of injuries in the past few years, it's become apparent that he is never going to be the same player he was when he was winning batting titles and hitting home runs like a champ. Perhaps it's because of these nagging injuries, perhaps it's because of Mia Hamm, but he just isn't the same. His previous aloofness has turned into an apparent disregard for the team and the game. Read Sportsguy's article here for more on this.

I was not sad when I heard the news of Nomar going to the Cubs. I do have to admit, however, that after I heard Phoebe's lachrymose message I felt a tinge of regret. Not for the Nomar of today, but for the Nomar of the late 1990s. When the ball was hit into the hole and he barely gloved it, but somehow turned around mid-air and threw a rocket to first base to get the runner, it was spectacular. When he was hitting well and could seemingly drop a hit anywhere on the field or off the wall, usually on the first pitch, it was beautiful. And when he still had discernible affection for the Boston fans, saluting them and throwing balls and bats into the crowd on the last day of the season, it was memorable.

Who knows what will happen now. Perhaps he'll waste away in the National League, lasting another few years in mediocrity. Or perhaps he'll be part of that long and unending horror story that is Red Sox history and enjoy a renaissance, having the best years of his career somewhere else only to return and beat the Sox when it really counts.

I'll miss the old Nomar, but I'm pretty sure I won't have another thought about sulky, distant, apathetic Nomar. Happy trails, sir.

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