The Cubs and the Red Sox both have a new look. A superstar boards a plane for Chicago to don a funny-looking uniform with a number 8 on the back, and another player walks across the field from one dugout to the other. Sox fans, Twins fans, teammates and families – what must be going through their minds? We can only comment on what we know. The Nomar Garciaparra era is officially over in Boston. At the time the trade was announced, we thought it best to simply post a picture with a goodbye – what else was there to say? How did we really feel about the trade? The comments received ran from one end of the spectrum to the other – and thank you all for the thoughts over the weekend. There seem to be three sides to this story that we can figure – the business side, the reality and the emotion.
The business side is simple, it is also cold and dark. Get something in return for Nomar before he walks away. Although productive since returning from his latest injury, there are concerns that he has never been the same since the wrist injury. And his power numbers back that argument. Instead of a multi-million dollar hole in the roster and a couple of draft picks, the Red Sox now sport two additional gold-glove infielders. They have significantly shored up some holes, and with a healthy Pokey hopefully on the horizon, the team is much improved defensively.
The reality is almost as simple and a little colder and darker. Nomar was not happy and was not coming back next year. After turning down a seemingly fair 4-year, $60 million deal, things began to go sour between Sox brass and Nomar. Either he felt he was worth more, as in Jeter money, or he had already decided Boston was not in his long term plans. Then the Sox attempted an off-season history-making trade which would rid them of Manny’s contract by including Nomar in a deal that would ultimately result in A-Rod and Magglio Ordonez playing in Fenway. When that failed, the term “irreconcilable differences” took on a harsh new meaning. Both Nomar and the Sox would continue to say the right things – “its a business”, “we’ve moved on” -but this was for the benefit of the fans and the media. Neither had moved on – yet.
Emotionally – this sucks. Since joining the big club, Nomar has been the man that people identify with the Boston Red Sox. You think of Fenway or the Sox, you picture number five – Nomah. Well, now he’s number 8 and wears pinstripes, not those pinstripes, but still…it sucks. His on-field accomplishments speak for themselves, but there was more than just a great player in that uniform, there was a great human being. He was the guy that bought the big-screen TV for the homeless men at the Pine Street Inn who loved to watch the Sox games. He was the guy that went out of his way to talk to so many kids at Jimmy Fund events – not pose for a photo op or scrawl a quick autograph on a baseball – actually talk to the kids. He was the guy that Ted Williams told the world was going to be the next big thing during the unforgettable ’99 All-Star celebration.
As Red Sox Nation prepares to move forward in the post-Nomar era (which has started out 0-2 thanks to the bullpen), it will be with mixed feelings. Most fans will eventually understand that the reality of the situation led to the business decision, but who knows how it will end up? It was a career-defining move for Theo – one way or the other. For Nomar, will he be happy, will he stay with the Cubs, will he ever get a ring, or will he be the next on the list of players who leave Boston and never find what they thought they didn’t have (see Bruce Hurst, Mo Vaughn, etc)? Time will tell.
One final comment on the situation. Regardless of how you have decided to view this trade, does anybody see a side where Nomar should be sent off with anything other than cheers and thanks? To my knowledge there is only one – the CHB in Sunday’s Globe decided to take a few parting shots at Nomar – why?
Nomar said it best this weekend “you can take the shirt off my back but you can’t take away the memories”.