I make it a point to ignore everything Dan Shaughnessy writes because that is truly the path to sanity. If I could do the same for Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, I'd be a much better person. But I had to read his piece in this morning's Globe about the Nomar Garciaparra retirement, and Dan did not disappoint.
After all, who else would have the audacity to open a column about yesterday's emotional, widely loved and approved press conference like this?
Welcome home, Nomie.
I hate to be the fly in the punch bowl here, but yesterday’s lovefest involving Nomar Garciaparra and the Red Sox was truly nauseating.
Of course, we all know Dan looooves to be the fly in the punch bowl; it's apparently what he considers his life's mission. Shortly after this energetic opening, Dan throws the obvious rejoinder — dude, that was six years ago — a bone:
Life is long and people change. There is certainly every possibility that Nomar has matured and will henceforth pledge allegiance to Boston and spread the Gospel of the Red Sox. But it’s downright fraudulent to deny or ignore how bad this relationship was at the end.
Of course, no one has denied it. Terry Francona, who was manager at the time of the messy split-up, explicitly acknowledged it yesterday. But here's the thing. That was six years ago. Life is long, and people change. Wait, who said that?
In fact, Nomar and Theo Epstein aren't the only people who have changed in six years. Let's make some comparisons. Here's what a columnist wrote for the Globe in 2004, before the shocking trade, in a column arguing that the Sox should indeed trade Garciaparra:
This is no attempt to bash a guy when he's hurt and struggling defensively and at the plate. Garciaparra battled back from an Achilles' injury and always gives 100 percent on the field.
Flash forward, and that same columnist — Dan Shaughnessy, natch — has a different take on that Achilles injury.
He developed Achilles’ tendinitis, allegedly after a ball hit him in the batting cage (nobody witnessed this).
Hmm, that's not quite the same story, is it? Well, surely, Dan's take on the infamous extra-inning game in which Jeter dove into the stands and Nomar sat on the bench hasn't changed, has it?
Both Francona and Garciaparra tried to put a better face on the decision after the 13-inning epic — a game punctuated by Derek Jeter's game-saving catch and stage dive into the seats. But the damage is done. The manager and the shortstop made hollow statements about Nomie wanting to play and working to get loose when the game went into extra innings.
So it's a problem. And Dan doesn't believe Francona's and Nomar's protestations that Nomar tried to get loose when the game went into extras. Jeter's play "punctuated" the game (semicolon? interrobang?), but the Dan dismisses the ending as a "stage dive," which as I recall was a common thought around Boston immediately afterward.
Then came the nationally televised midsummer game at Yankee Stadium, when Nomar refused to play while Derek Jeter saved the game with a face-first plunge into the stands behind third base.
Woah, woah, woah. Jeter goes from punctuating the game to saving the game, and that "stage dive" is now a "face-first plunge into the stands." It's not a big difference, but it's there, isn't it? The ramifications of the game have changed a bit. So who's right? 2004 Dan or 2010 Dan?
Well, the July 1 game took place in Yankee Stadium, which would make it difficult for a defensive play by the home team to literally save the game. After Jeter's play in the top of the 12th, Miguel Cairo tripled to open the bottom half yet couldn't score, then the Sox actually took the lead on a Manny Ramirez home run in the top of the 13th, only for Leskanic to blow it by giving up three straight hits with two outs in the bottom of the inning. After Jeter's play, which increased the Yankees' chances of winning by 15 percent, six more plays took place that swung the game further in one direction or the other. I'll give this one to 2004 Dan. An important play, a symbolic play, a seemingly crucial play at that stage of the game, but if Leskanic gets that third out in the 13th, does anyone even remember the dive today?
The rest of the 2010 column is pretty typical. Dan mentions steroids in passing — why let that opportunity slide, right? — and then slips in what is known in the poker world as a tell:
In good times and bad, Garciaparra was unnecessarily difficult in all interactions with the media.
The unforgivable sin.