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Posts Tagged ‘Nomar Garciaparra Mia Hamm’

Shed no tears for Nomar the fraud

Posted by Bill Koch on March 10, 2010

Nomar Garciaparra

Spare me the outpouring of affection that will sweep through New England today over the retirement of Nomar Garciaparra.

The former Boston Red Sox star will add one more line to his résumé of hypocrisy today when he signs with the club that drafted him out of Georgia Tech, coddled him throughout his trip through the minor leagues and bent over backwards to accommodate him during his years at Fenway Park. Garciaparra rewarded the Red Sox and the city that adored him by turning into a pouting, surly, childish, spoiled superstar who all but forced his way out of town in a 2004 trade that paved the way for Boston to break its 86-year World Series drought.

Nomar will join the ESPN baseball crew after failing to find a taker for his services this spring. I guess the free agent market is a little soft for under-performing, 36-year-old baseball players who don’t have a clear position in the field and don’t produce enough at the plate to justify a role as a designated hitter in the American League. Nomar’s final years were a constant struggle to stay healthy – wrist, groin and hamstring injuries kept him off the field for the bulk of the time after he left the Red Sox.

Nomar’s prime started during his rookie season in 1997, where he slugged 30 home runs and started a career that netted batting titles in 1999 and 2000, five All-Star selections and comparisons with Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez as the best shortstop in the Major Leagues. Relations started to cool between Nomar, the Boston front office and the media despite all of those good times when his body began to break down and he rejected a four-year, $60-million contract offer before the start of his final season with the Red Sox. Nomar called Boston’s bid to extend him an insult and was gone just four months later, shipped to the Chicago Cubs in a four-team deal that brought Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz to Boston.

Speculation swirled around Nomar after he appeared shirtless on the cover of Sports Illustrated in February 2001. His bulging lats and ripped physique provided a sharp contrast to the skinny kid who exploded onto the scene during his rookie year in Boston, and the steroid allegations began to fly in his direction. Nomar’s wrist injury, a split tendon, is common among steroid users, and he didn’t like the speculation about how his body could have blown up and broken down seemingly overnight like so many others did during one of baseball’s dirtiest eras. Nomar was even less entertained when the Red Sox boldly tried to trade for Rodriguez after the 2003 season, and he had nobody to blame but himself. It was his refusal to sign a contract extension that forced Boston’s hand – the lack of a shortstop in the Red Sox minor league system behind him and Rodriguez’s 10-year deal that the Texas Rangers could no longer afford created a perfect storm that started the wheels in motion.

Nomar’s final act of betrayal comes by joining the media that he loathed during his playing days. The navy-blue carpet in the Red Sox clubhouse famously featured a red line stitched three feet in front of the players’ lockers, a strip that was commonly referred to by club employees and other Boston players as the “Nomar Line.” Needless to say, Nomar’s teammates didn’t exactly find this ridiculous bit of immaturity all that entertaining. They saw him as the baby that he was, the quitter who sat on the bench and refused to pinch hit because he “couldn’t get loose,” while Derek Jeter flew into the stands along the left field line and busted up his cover-boy face on a warm July night in Yankee Stadium in 2004. That was the beginning of the end for Nomar as a noteworthy Major League player. Let’s leave the ballwashing that is certain to start today and continue on during his television career exactly where that famous night already is – in the past.

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