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Charles Pierce is not moved

Charles Pierce, Party Pooper:

I am not opposed to Nice Happy Time Moments, per se. But that whole Nomar Garciaparra comedy show this morning stretches my inner Fred Rogers to the breaking point. Here's a guy, coming back for a one-day dumbshow so that he "can retire as a Red Sock," because that, apparently, has been a dream of his since shortly after he realized he couldn't get around on a major-league fastball any more. This is a guy whose presence in the Red Sox clubhouse lingered like a case of cholera for two years before they finally shipped him out of town, who openly loathed the team, but who, apparently having been visited last night by his Guardian Angel Clarence, now has decided that, glorioski, this was the bestest place he ever played.

I sincerely hope that, one day, Manny Ramirez, with whom the Red Sox won two more World Series championships than they did with Garciaparra, is struck by a similar revelation. If it happens, I'm sure the Red Sox will indulge him the same way. Yes, and I am the Tsar of all the Russias.

Hell hath no fury like a Boston sportswriter scorned. Fans, on the other hand, are easy. I'd bet a lot of money  that most Sox fans would welcome a Manny retirement presser in Boston. Perhaps it's an issue of access. Beat writers and their ilk cover the team and get to know these people a lot better than we do. In many cases, that's not a good thing for the writers.

As to Pierce's point about Manny: Are their situations comparable? Maybe, but probably not. As an observer from the other side of the Rivalry, one of the lasting images I have of Garciaparra is of him sitting passively on the bench during that Jeter-Jumps-In-The-Stands-Bloodies-Face-We-All-Are-Saved! game in 2004. The rumors then were that he could play if he had wanted to. The trade that sent him to Chicago would not have happened if everything was good in the clubhouse. Manny's "antics", on the other hand, took place over a longer period and seemed a little more notable. There was even a shove or two, trade requests, accusations of fake injuries, and pissing in the Green Monster. The acrimony between player and members of the front office was and is probably more intense in the case of Manny probably because the history was longer. The Sox front office put up with Manny longer than they did with Nomar because they needed Manny a lot more, and Nomar's contract was a lot easier to move. Also, the feeling between Sox management and Nomar might be different from the feeling between front office and Manny because, well, Nomar and Manny are different people. And different people interact with other people in different ways. In other words, these things are personal.

12 replies on “Charles Pierce is not moved”

What a jackass.
As you note, Nick, Nomar’s time had clearly run its course by the time he was traded. The Jeter game was big. Even Francona today said Nomar had gotten “Boston-ed out.” Boston before the 2004 World Series was a vicious, mean-spirited place. Think of hacks like Shaughnessy and Masarotti, but with decades of futility to fuel their bitterness and cynicism. It’s not the most pleasant media atmosphere for players now, never mind when you’re still getting asinine questions about the Curse every spring.
Nomar let it get to him, and it affected his attitude. It probably didn’t help that he never seemed to fully recover after being hit by that pitch in 2001, nor that the Sox had a deal set that would have traded him to Chicago for Magglio Ordonez (and Manny and Jon Lester to Texas for A-Rod) during the 2003-04 offseason.
But let’s not forget this: When Garciaparra missed 50-plus games in 2004 with an Achilles injury that was only supposed to take a week to heal (one of several injuries that year that didn’t quite go the way the medical staff expected, by the way, which is probably why said medical staff didn’t last very much longer after 2004), he returned in June to a series of standing ovations from the fans. The Jeter game was July 1 or thereabouts. He was gone July 31. That’s a month of truly bad relations between Nomar and the fans, and a whopping six or seven months of bad relations between Nomar and the front office (“two years of cholera” is as inaccurate as it is unfunny).
Compare that to Manny’s years of issues, capped by a truly maddening series of events that included shoving an old man to the ground, slapping a teammate in the dugout, and forgetting which knee was supposed to be injured when the Sox called his bluff. If Charles Pierce can’t understand the difference, then he is an idiot. But I really think he does. It’s just cool and contrarian and oh-so-Boston-sportswriter to piss on the parade. Puh-leeze.
Oh, and if the reference to Manny’s ringzz is supposed to mean something, maybe Pierce should refresh himself on why exactly Nomar didn’t get a ring in 2003. Chances are pretty good that this story has a whole different ending if Nomar Garciaparra helps deliver a World Championship after 85 years of futility.

I am not going to defend (or attack) Pierce’s opinions quite yet, but I am going to call out Paul for his silly (and childish) dismissal of Pierce as just another “Boston sportswriter scorned” and the stupid name-calling that starts the comment. Pierce, whatever you think of this post, is not another Dan Shaughnessy. He’s not a Sox beat writer who became an habitual complainer and an entrenched fixture of the Boston sports scene. He’s nothing at all like that. He’s someone started as a sportswriter who went national and became a far more broad talent than the stereotypical curmudgeons with whom you lump him in.
You can disagree with Pierce all you want (I am not sure I agree with him here, need to think about this one) but calling him a name and failing to understand who he is as a writer does you no great service and sullies any future reference to Pierce that might be made, by you or anyone else. This is patently unfair to Pierce, who is an excellent and generally insightful writer.

My mistake above: Nick refers to the “Boston sportswriter scorned”, not Paul.
I stand by my comments regarding Paul’s dismissal of Pierce, though. This is throwing the baby out with the bathwater – Pierce misremembers things in my opinion, but to sully him as a writer in such broad strokes is completely unfair.

Wait, suddenly labelling a writer a “Bostonian” is an insult?! The greatest work in American literature was the creation of a New England writer. The American publishing industry began there for crissakes! :)
I used the line as a transitional sentence. It might have been a little cheap and silly, I guess. I didn’t put much thought into it. It helps that Pierce is a writer who is widely known for his sportswriting and is from Boston (or at least began his career there), thereby fulfilling the two categories of identification. His blog is on also. I’m aware of his national rep, have enjoyed some articles by him, read a book of his I didn’t exactly enjoy since it felt like preaching to the choir and I thought his thesis was too wide-sweeping and overly simplistic, but yeah, he’s generally good. This little reaction of his struck me (and this is purely speculative) as being very much informed by the fact that he’s a Boston sportswriter. That’s not always an insult. There are many good sportswriters from Boston. The flawed but often insightful Bob Ryan is one such person. Peter Gammons, who is obviously national at this point, still sometimes writes and opines as a Boston sportswriter. This is the place where the phrase “all politics is local” was coined. I think it applies doubly to the sportswriters. You can’t take the Boston out the sportswriter…at least not all the time. I’m guessing Pierce has a certain strong reaction to Nomar because of his position in the local sports scene. he might be more privy to stories told about Nomar during the 2004 (and it seems 2003) season. So his reaction is different from the standard fan. It still seems a little unforgiving, and the Manny analogy doesn’t quite work for me. Anyway, I didn’t mean to insult him. I disagree. I also liked the scorned line.

Sorry, SF, I know you like Pierce, and granted I am infrequent reader, but I have yet to read something from him that did not read just like typical sports columnist tripe — generally uninformed or misinformed or both. The fact that he clearly thinks himself a great wit doesn’t help things either. Compare this column with Dan Shaughnessy’s this morning. Shaughnessy is definitely more bitter, but just by a little. By taking the same rhetorical tack as Shaughnessy, Pierce invites the comparisons.
Maybe there’s a great wealth of Pierce writing that I have missed and would change my opinion of him. But he’s not doing himself any favors from what I’ve read in his writing about the Red Sox.

Also, I’m curious what about being a talented former national columnist inoculates someone from turning into a bitter scold? My experience has been that the longer a sports columnist stays in the biz, the more bitter and scolding they become. (Bob Ryan, Mike Lupica, Peter Gammons, Shaugnessy, heck, it’s even happening to Rob Neyer a bit). It doesn’t appear, at least from this and other pieces I’ve read, that Pierce is following a different path.

Also, I’m curious what about being a talented former national columnist inoculates someone from turning into a bitter scold?
Nothing. But it bears mentioning that Pierce is more than a beat writer, more than an entrenched press box guy.
And I want to be careful to not come off as a scold myself, so I apologize for that. But I do think it is important to be careful not to damn a writer, almost in whole, for a piece that seems a bit misremembered.
Moving back to Nomar, I think Pierce’s “two years” is off. It may be that many months transpired between when he rejected the Sox’ $15M a year offer and when he was dumped to the Cubs, but Garciaparra’s “ire” was subtle, more transported to the public via gossip-y missives than, like Manny, by the players’ actions themselves. And, the big thing is that the Sox actively tried to trade for A-Rod and move Nomar, very publicly, while Nomar was still something of a Boston icon. So I think Pierce unfairly maligns Nomar here. I went back to the Globe’s archives this morning and scanned those “two years” that Pierce refers to and couldn’t find evidence that Garciaparra was anything but a player with contract uncertainties – there was nothing like what happened with Manny. So I agree with that criticism, the comparison is shoddy. This article, in particular, sheds some light on Nomar, not an easy thing to do back then:
Still, Pierce writes, and has written, many insightful things in the past and as part of his new blog, and I want to keep that in mind before anyone casts him aside.

Glad to join the conversation here. I’ve been reading for a while. I wish I had known earlier that we can use Google to sign in. Is there any way to make that more obvious?
Any case, I don’t see how Nomar and the Sox playing nice isn’t more a publicity play for both than some actual reconciliation. Nomar basically forced his way out of town and in a way that I see no difference with Manny. Epstein had to trade one of his best players as they were making another run at a championship. It goes down in lore because the GM thought that player and his attitude were holding the team back. He was right. Now it’s time to celebrate the player?
On the same logic, I’m looking forward to Roger Clemens day at Fenway…have they given out his number yet? Manny will have to wait to step over Epstein’s dead body.

Let me correct myself. Clemens obviously isn’t the same as Nomar. He didn’t force his way out of town, but was pushed. Who here can see him being welcomed back?

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