Last week, I wrote about how I sometimes miss Nomar. Denton saw the post and called me an idiot. I said, “screw you.” He paid a coupla Chelsea goons to kick my ass. So the Red Sox Throwdown was most definitely on!
Red: Garciaparra should have finished his career with the Red Sox. I’m just sayin’.
Denton: Huh? Trading Garciaparra in the middle of the 2004 pennant race was as brilliant as it was necessary. It put a fresh coat of brass on Theo’s balls, at the same time helped rid us of the Debbie Downer of baseball.
Red: I don’t know. I’m not hatin’ on OC, but I think 2004 might have been even cooler if Nomar was there when it all ended.
Denton: Here’s the thing. The guy we traded was not the Nomah we waited patiently for in the minors, the Rookie of the Year in 1997, or the guy who hit 30 home runs in his first full season. The guy we traded was a bitter shell of that guy, looking only to score a big contract. He lost his heart.
Red: I don’t think so. I remember the way he came out of the dugout to applaud the last Sox batters in the bottom of the ninth of what would be the last game of the 1998 ALDS. Manny and the Indians had squashed our asses to paste, but Nomar was there, looking as desperate for a rally, for any kind of spark, as any of the fans in the stands or in their living rooms. When the final out was made, he turned and applauded the fans while Mo Vaughn and Scott Hatteberg were probably back in the clubhouse arguing over the last deli platter. This was a guy who was trying to deliver. Who desperately wanted to live up to the hype and pomp and bring us the title we were dying for.
Denton: Or the Nomar of 1999 at the Ted Williams tribute at Fenway during the All Star game. Who can forget seeing Nomar listening intently as Williams told him, “You’re the one, you’re who they’ll be talking about for years.” Pardon me if the words aren’t exact, but it was easy to see that love of the game was still in him that night.
Red: See? Now you’re arguing my point. Have another sip of the Kool Aid and join me in a hymn to the glory of Nomar.
Denton: No thanks. See, that Nomar was gone from Boston long before the trade. Also, remember Nomar in game seven of the 2003 ALCS disaster? Sitting in the dugout, smiling and laughing and carefree as the season came to a horrific end. Like he was happy to see it over. The passion, gone. The love, gone. I don’t think it was a sudden thing, more of a gradual fade, when the magic of being a big-league ballplayer slips into routine. When talking to the media becomes part of the job instead of an outlet for your passion. When you’d rather wait until the season starts to deal with a wrist injury that could have been taken care of over the long winter.
Red: Well, at that point, we’d crushed all the joy out of him, really. The media was on his ass, calling him a faker and a whiner. Following him and Mia around town as they shopped for condos and airplanes and teenage maids and fully-functional sex robots. Like the best local idols, we built him up and took immense pleasure in tearing him down. If Nomar stayed, he may have proven a postseason hero in 2004, rediscovered his groove, and joined Yaz and Teddy Ballgame as part of Boston’s Holy Trinity. We let him down, and had the nerve to kick his ass on the way out the door.
Denton: I disagree. He wanted out so bad he could taste it. He went the way of so many others, who had Red Sox Nation eating out of his palm, and let it slip away. It was his team and he gave it away.
Red: Great ass on that Mia, though.
Denton: Oh, no question.
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