A Tale of Two Dans

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?

Great player.

Total fraud.

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?

2004:

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.

2010:

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.

20 comments… add one

  • Good stuff guys… I just posted a similar anti-Dan article at TBL.
    Heaven for bid that you tell Dan when and where he stick his smelly mic in your face!
    Bottom Line: Nomar may have sulked through 2004… and maybe getting the WS ring makes it easier to forget… but I’m over it.
    Maybe some day Dan will be too.

    Robert Munstis March 11, 2010, 11:21 am
  • “Life is long, and people change.”
    Well, wrong on both accounts. Life is short, and people rarely change.
    However, it is because life is short that we need to forgive and move on. Excellent article.

    Essexjan March 11, 2010, 11:27 am
  • Before this retirement nonsense, can SFs here rank for me the following in terms of most hated?:
    a. Damon
    b. Nomar
    c. Manny
    d. Clemens
    e. Boggs
    Shouldn’t Nomar and Manny be at the top of that list, given how they actively worked against the team while they were still on it?
    I understand that Clemens is more complicated, given questions of his preparation late in his Sox career, but he didn’t force his way out of town.
    Damon and Boggs seem to be more victims than any thing. Heck, Boggs’ “sins” seem downright quaint today.

    Paul from Waltham March 11, 2010, 11:48 am
  • For me Boggs is the worst, strangely.
    Boggs was my favorite Sox position player to watch, by a million miles, when I was in my teens. I absolutely treasured watching his at-bats, it was an unmissable thing for me. And when he finally developed into a good fielder I felt like my devotion to Boggs was all justified – I had always believed he was an underappreciated and unfairly maligned fielder. So when Boggs left town, became embittered, then went to straight to the Yankees and acted like the Sox (and their fans collaterally) were evil I took it personally. Boggs became dead to me, and I haven’t yet felt inclined to feel any different.
    None of the other players are anything like Boggs. His being dead to me is why he didn’t even show up in my comment yesterday – I have almost forgotten him as a Sox icon.
    Anyway, none of this may be logical, but the other four guys listed don’t conjure up any of the animosity that Boggs does, that’s probably due to my age and perspective on baseball now. Boggs hurt me when I was younger and more impressionable and probably just beginning to come to grips with baseball being so much about business and nothing else. With Boggs it was personal – he went RIGHT to the Yankees. Maybe that was the moment that I figured it out, and which made it easier to deal with the other guys leaving.

    SF March 11, 2010, 12:16 pm
  • I find that I don’t hate any of them. I think I did at one time — certainly Clemens, maybe Damon. I was too young for Boggs, and my struggles with Manny are well documented here and elsewhere. Ultimately, I realized I can’t hate someone who was part of the 2004 club, and recently when I watched the first Clemens 20K game on TV, I concluded it’s much easier if I let go the immaturity and embrace the greatness of the players while they were here rather than focusing on the irretrievable nature of their departures.

    Paul SF March 11, 2010, 12:20 pm
  • How do you interpret how he was treated though by the Boston media? Could you have been too young to know you were being spun?
    If I’m Boggs, of course I would have been embittered by the town. He was a fantastic player and it wasn’t enough. Then his personal life was dragged over the coals and repeatedly. I’m sure not all of SFs back then were as kind as you. Seeing what’s happened to Damon, do you now think it was something Boggs did to cause the response?
    As for the Yankees, they overpaid to get him during a time when no one wanted to come to the Yankees. They were a terrible team back then and with an awful owner. River Ave Blues recently had a review, I think.

    Paul from Waltham March 11, 2010, 12:34 pm
  • Doesn’t the nature of how they left matter though? I’m thankful the Yankees haven’t had any characters recently like Manny or Nomar sabotaging the team, but Sheffield comes close. And with him it was good riddance. Damon though wanted to get paid, again. I can’t see any reason to boo him when he’s back in Yankee Stadium this year, and that’s even if he went back to the Sox.

    Paul from Waltham March 11, 2010, 12:38 pm
  • > Doesn’t the nature of how they left matter though?
    No. It’s just business, it doesn’t matter. Which is what i have to keep in mind the first time the Yankees play the Halos and I have to see Matsui in white and red.

    attackgerbil March 11, 2010, 12:42 pm
  • Manny sabotaged the team to two titles.
    If only more players were such good saboteurs…

    SF March 11, 2010, 12:53 pm
  • But Matsui wasn’t run out of town. And he’ll be cheered in the Bronx.
    If ever a player in NY has come close to getting the Boston treatment, it was and is A-Rod. On some level he deserves it, but on another it’s been the worst of what Clemens and Boggs got combined. Thankfully I have yet to see a Yankee clearly pull Manny/Nomar since Henderson in 89.

    Paul from Waltham March 11, 2010, 12:56 pm
  • Nomar was a cult hero in New England and throughout RSN. His trade also came shortly before the Red Sox one their first title in a bagillion years. If I had to guess Nomar would be the last guy on that list you posted above. Sox fans have no reason to dislike him, not in the same way they do Boggs, Damon, Manny, etc…Nomar is on line with Jeter as far as popularity at their respective peaks. I’d be shocked if you found any Sox fans who would even include him on a most hated list. Just a YF’s opinion, don’t want to speak for RSN.
    AG, I am indifferent to Matsui and Damon returning. I never really embraced either player, but I am definitely thankful for their efforts/service. We all have different attachments to different players I suppose, those 2 are not really on that list for me.

    John - YF March 11, 2010, 12:58 pm
  • You’re not claiming Manny’s beloved up here, are you?
    To put it another way, will all be forgotten if Manny decides to retire as a Sock? Do you think Epstein would ever let that happen?

    Paul from Waltham March 11, 2010, 12:59 pm
  • Nomar is a special case: drafted, signed, and developed as a Sox. He didn’t do much to piss off fans, the team traded him – he didn’t walk. Boggs was home-grown too, but he burned bridges (aided and abetted by the Yawkey Trust, most certainly) and had the “Delta Force” shenanigans that sullied his rep as a team player early on. Clemens has his own story, which now quite obviously goes beyond just his dealings with Dan Duquette. Nomar is the lightest offender, if an offender at all. Shaugnessy’s “total fraud” comment is detestable, self-serving. He may have been a fraud to Shank, but that only serves to show Nomar to be a smart person in not trusting Shaughnessy.
    Damon and Manny were not home-growners. They don’t deserve the same consideration that guys like Boggs and Clemens and Nomar deserve in the discussion of what team one might retire with. Damon and Manny made amazing contributions and will forever be associated with the Sox and the life-changing title of 2004. That should be enough and will probably be enough.

    SF March 11, 2010, 1:21 pm
  • That’s a good rundown. The only problem I see is that Nomar quit on his team in a way that Boggs and Clemens never did. The Sox had to trade Nomar and during a time when the championship drought was looking like it might fall. I’m sure they would have preferred not to. He was still productive when he was getting on the field.
    As for Boggs, can you refresh my memory? The defense was always an issue and then there was Adams. But what other fire was behind the noxious smoke?

    Paul from Waltham March 11, 2010, 1:28 pm
  • The only problem I see is that Nomar quit on his team in a way that Boggs and Clemens never did.
    That is a very generous view of Clemens, who showed up overweight to camp, who seemed to visibly dog it over the course of his last couple of seasons, and who then miraculously recovered in Toronto. Clemens’ attitude towards the team was tenuous for a while before he left, he was probably more under the microscope than Nomar ever was, he went through a number of contract negotiations and extensions, publicly, before it even came to Duquette. My mom has hated Clemens since long before he ever left the Sox, a gut response she had based on his dealings far prior to his troubled exodus.
    As for Nomar, the Yankee game in July 2004 has contributed to an exacerbation of the idea that Nomar quit on his team; I think if we look back and take a little (not all) emotion out of it we’d realize that this too was an exaggeration of the media. To follow an earlier comment, if we are going to accuse the media of trapping us in narratives, then this one certainly should come under the same scrutiny.

    SF March 11, 2010, 1:34 pm
  • Yeah, I get all that about Clemens. I guess I just didn’t see the acrimony until he left.
    I don’t know if it’s simply the media though. They weren’t the ones booing Damon and Boggs. In each case the player left because the team didn’t want them any longer.
    Manny was far worse. But Nomar wasn’t exactly a leader in 2003 and 2004 and didn’t kill himself to get on the field. That July game is actually a decent approximation. The team needed him and he didn’t show up. That may just be a fan’s perception, but the team then traded him weeks later. That’s where it starts to look like reality.

    Paul from Waltham March 11, 2010, 2:14 pm
  • > I don’t know if it’s simply the media though.
    They stoke the furnace.
    > “Matsui wasn’t run out of town”
    He was cordially handed his hat.
    > “Boston treatment”
    Oh whatever. Business.

    attackgerbil March 11, 2010, 2:30 pm
  • I guess I missed the memo where I was supposed to hate these random people whom I’ve never met, who provided me hours of enjoyment, and all left my favorite team under varied circumstances. I apologize for the lack of volatility in my emotional state, but that’s the way it is.

    Paul SF March 11, 2010, 2:42 pm
  • For me, there was an emotional connect with Nomar that I never had with any other player. He is the first player I can remember paying attention to before he entered the Red Sox organization (I think the CWS of 93′ in my junior year of college was the first i read about him in Baseball Weekly.) I then saw him play in Toledo for Pawtucket (when I lived in Cleveland.)
    The most amazing was his 3 or 4 homerun Father’s day weekend in Cleveland in 98 or 99. I had flown My Dad up for the 3 game weekend as a Father’s day gift.
    For a year or two prior to Mr. Ramirez arriving, he was the offense. I think his lineup protection consisted of Troy O’Leary and the shell of John Valentin.
    In 2004, prior to the trade, I wanted to smack Nomar’s and Theo’s heads together (just as i want to with my own kids most days.) They wouldn’t listen to me.
    Finally, to sum up my meandering, post trade, I have always had that sad and nostalgic “oh, what could have been” feeling whenever I think of Nomar and the Red Sox.

    RockyMountainSoxFan March 11, 2010, 5:51 pm
  • I keep reading how Nomar “quit”…He “quit” on his team in a season where they won there first championship since forever! I think all of that gets erased from the memory bank for most fans. If the Yankees had won a WS with malcontents like Gary Sheffield and Randy Johnson I wouldn’t give two craps how bad they were in the clubhouse and if they had quit. It only gets the pub it does/did because they lost. Winning solves everything. Fortunately for Nomar’s legacy they did just that and did it twice after he moved on.

    John - YF March 11, 2010, 8:30 pm

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