One of the big lies demographics experts tell sports media machines is that that sports fans want a player that is all flash, no substance. These marketeers tell oblivious programming heads that the public wants sound bites, not hard-bitten play on the field. The more scandalous, extreme, and tawdry, the better. Twenty-four hour non-stop coverage in every conceivable mode of communication predicates the constant prowl for the next greatest, biggest, shiniest thing to catch the ever-more-distracted viewer’s eye and ear.
The truth is, sports fans probably want a mixture of both outrageous plays and extravagant sayings. Which might be why Nomar Garciaparra seems globally misunderstood and underappreciated.
Nomar is the epitome of throwback baseball. He doesn’t rehearse speeches, cares not a whit about which lighting angle flatters him most. His postgame interviews are a litany of clichés and platitudes. He is a tremendous baseball talent in a market that craves, nay, demands to have its every whim catered. Not just plain catering from the local restaurant, either: full spreads with Cristal champagne fountains, ice sculptures of Versailles, and entrées (yes, “entrées,” not plain old “entrees”) comprised of the meat of endangered game.
No, Nomar will not be your server for this evening.
Garciaparra began his first season as the Dodgers’ first baseman on April 22nd. Since that day, he has a .341 batting average, a .418 OBP, and .647 slugging percentage, with five home runs in 85 at bats.
Slowly but surely, salvos that Nomar could have released in the public relations war with certain parties of the Red Sox front office are coming to light, as this quote from Nick Cafardo’s recent article in the Boston Globe illustrates:
One of Garciaparra’s ex-teammates in Boston said the Dodgers and Yankees made the same offer, but Garciaparra chose LA because, “He always considers himself a Red Sox. That’s one thing people don’t understand about Nomar. He would have never signed with the Yankees because he always thought of himself as a Red Sox player.”
Everyone’s clamoring for Roger Clemens to come back. But I wouldn’t mind seeing Nomar return for his final seasons as a designated hitter for the Red Sox. Like Nomar himself, I will always think of him as a Red Sox player.