Nomar Garciaparra has been a steady player for the Boston Red Sox. Over the past eight years, his work ethic, gritty style of play and hitting in the clutch have enamored him to Red Sox Nation. He has won a Rookie of the Year, has been a multiple All Star and led the balloting this season despite not playing most of the season.
The week before he returned to the lineup, he took a lot of time rehabilitating a heel injury suffered in the first days of Spring Training this year. As Nomar spent day after day in the Red Sox Minor League affiliate in Pawtucket, fans began to wonder why he could not spend that time with the parent club.
Callers to WEEI wondered if Nomar was trying to stick it to the Red Sox for their offseason attempts to acquire Alex Rodriguez from Texas. Remember, Nomar went on the record stating that his feelings were hurt and he was never called by the Red Sox to explain their position.
So as Nomar rehabbed in Pawtucket, he took a minor drubbing from the fans, but overall, he has remained a popular figure in Red Sox Nation. But things might be turning the other way.
This week, Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra complained to Boston Herald writer Michael Silverman that he didn’t understand why the fans were criticizing his play based on one month instead of a whole body of work.
Nomar told the Herald, “I’ve been judged on one month – I’ve got eight years. Think about what I’ve done. What would you rather have: eight great years and one bad month or eight bad months and one good year? I think those eight years count – they will somewhere, to somebody.”
He added, “…so apparently what I’ve done over the past eight years obviously means nothing. What counts is the end of last year or the offseason. Apparently eight years don’t count, but I think they count – they count somewhere”
And he also railed on fans who thought he was sticking it to the Red Sox. “I can’t win – 21 ABs (while rehabbing in the Minors) but no, `You’re faking it’ and `Cmon, what are you waiting for?’ Then I come back, they are still going to say `See – he sucks. He’s not good. You were bad last year, you’re bad this year.’ It’s a no-win situation. They should just be glad I’m back.”
That may be true and we don’t know his tone of voice in his answers to Silverman, but when one reads this off the written page or computer screen, it come off like a whiny millionaire who seems to have lost touch with the fans. And no matter how hard Nomar may try to explain his position in the next few days, it will ring hollow.
Nomar has made it known that he has never liked dealing with the media, but he has talked to WEEI when it is to his benefit. In addition, when he has spoken out, he is quick to backtrack, either to claim he was misquoted or taken out of context.
There is no doubt that Nomar’s abilities are among the best in the American League. His numbers speak for themselves, but he has also must realize that in a last year of a contract, every move will be magnified, every quote becomes news, every play will be scrutinized. Also, the New England region has a large fan base and the Red Sox are number one.
Nomar can become a free agent at the end of this season. The Red Sox have said they will not be able to sign all of their free agents once the World Series is over. If Nomar continues to complain after bad days in the field, he might get what he wishes for: to be signed by a team in a market where baseball is just an afterthought. And he may wonder where all the attention has gone.