Sunday, August 01, 2004

There is no "I" in team

In case you haven't heard the news - and if you haven't heard, you must be living in a shack in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, or perhaps under Beacon Hill in the subway tunnels - Nomar Garciaparra has left the building. As we speak, the semi-retarded contingent of Red Sox Nation is busy crowing over Theo Epstein's inexplicable decision to trade away one of the club's best and most beloved ballplayers for two mediocre utility infielders (neither of which is batting above .300 this season), hailing it as an act of genius - a deft bit of surgery to remove a "cancer" from the Sox clubhouse. This is the same group of people who called for Grady Little's head after Game 7 for the crime of getting the Sox closer to the World Series than they'd been in twenty years. These are the folks who decried then-batting champion Mo Vaughn for daring to ask to be paid what he was worth, who ran successful manager Jimy Williams out on a rail, and who still think that the club is better off without Roger "Let Me Set a Few More Records Before I Retire For Real" Clemens.

If Nomar was deliberately dragging ass this season, can anyone in his or her right mind blame the man? The brain trust at Yawkey Way was so obsessed with landing Alex Rodriguez over last Winter that they attempted to deal their star player away unawares, while he was on his honeymoon no less! They were prepared not only to give up Nomar but Manny Ramirez - who despite incurring my wrath last season has really turned things around this year - and God knows who else in order to sign A-Rod, but then the Yankees stepped in and we all know what happened next. Now there's no doubt in my mind that the Sox still could have sealed the deal with Rodriguez, had they committed themselves to seeing through the process they had set into motion and spending whatever it would take to beat Brian Cashman's best offer. But after going behind Garciaparra's back and making a fool of him publicly, Theo Epstein decided that A-Rod was suddenly too rich for their blood and tried to go into Spring Training as if nothing had happened. No hard feelings, Nomar, right?


This is a textbook example of Sox mismanagement: remember back when Mo Vaughn was Public Enemy Number One and everyone used to wish out loud how much they wished the whole team could be like Nomar? Well here at Fenway Park today's paragon of baseball virtue is tomorrow's cancer, so let that be a lesson to the Millars and Muellers and Mientkiewiczs of the Brave New BoSox. It doesn't matter how hard you hit, how well you field, or how much you're loved by the fans of Red Sox Nation - once you show the slightest bit of backbone ("How dare he be indignant that we tried to trade him without telling him?"), you're gone, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Unless, of course, your name is Pedro.

So long, Nomar. Thanks for all the great baseball memories. It shouldn't have ended this way. Yes, we know that baseball is "just a business," but people who like to invoke that phrase often do so in order to justify acting like pricks. This is one of those occasions. There were a million professional and businesslike ways to handle the situation, and Theo Epstein chose none of the them. In all fairness they should have let you go over the Winter, A-Rod or no A-Rod, because how can you violate an employee's trust like that and expect him to give 110% afterwards? But no, they fucked that up as well, and left you and the club in silent limbo as they did everything in their power to dump you in time for the trade deadline. Classy.

Best of luck to you in your future with the Chicago Cubs. I hope their front office treats you with the dignity and respect you deserve as a future Hall of Famer - I know the fans there sure will. And if when that happy day arrives you choose not to go to Cooperstown wearing a Red Sox uniform, I don't think anyone (save for perhaps the above-mentioned morons) will blame you for it. Now go give that "Curse of the Billy-Goat" a run for its money!

p.s., the Sox lost this afternoon against the Twins (3-4), and it appears that the Cubbies are about to win their first game with Nomar on the team against the Phillies, leading 6-3 going into the eighth inning. Read into that what you will. Garciaparra went 1 for 4 in his Chicago debut, with an RBI single.

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