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Home » July 2009 Game CommentsJuly 2009 » High-Five


Game 82: July 6, 2009
W: Brett Anderson (5-7)
35-46, 2 game winning streak
Red Sox0
L: John Smoltz (0-2)
49-33, 1 game losing streak
Highlights: Rookie Anderson went the distance against makeshift lineup, allowing just two singles and two bases on balls while striking out nine. The Athletics’ premier southpaw prospect called to mind Jon Lester with his poise and repertoire. The Athletics seem to have a Big Four the making with Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Vin Mazzaro on the cusp of domination.

When is a win a loss?

When a town has the chance to say “welcome back” to a homegrown superstar it never had the chance to say “goodbye” to.

When that superstar was traded in a deadline deal to remedy the fatal flaw that kept his team from playoff contention.

When a heart-breaking loss set the front office on a course to continually evaluate its team with steely reserve and make those gut-wrenching moves that pay off in a championship.

If the Red Sox had won it all in 2003, it’s possible that today I would be bickering about Pedro Martinez sitting on the disabled list in the last year of his five-year, $60M contract. Or I would be bemoaning the loss of Derek Lowe in 2008, my clamoring for Theo Epstein to have given the sinkerballer a five-year deal instead of Martinez having fallen on deaf ears. Instead of writing of Nomar Garciaparra’s five-year absence from Boston, I would be complaining about him sucking up a roster spot with Kevin Youkilis or Hanley Ramirez or Jed Lowrie losing time.

The ALCS Game 7 loss in 2003 was a cataclysmic event that a forced the baseball operations team to unflinchingly assess its managers and players. With preternatural determination Epstein sought out the materials to rebuild his team. He brought in the bricks that bolstered the pitching staff, Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke, and the mortar to fill in the holes, Mark Bellhorn, Pokey Reese, and David McCarty.

The off-season tinkering wasn’t enough. In July, a massive rebuilding of the team happened in a matter of hours. With the Red Sox on the road in Minnesota word came that Epstein engineered a four-way trade that sent the face of the franchise to the Cubs and brought Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz to the Hub. It was a loss that led to monumental, historic wins.

Garciaparra is a ballplayer with a soul of a poet. He talked about the left field wall and how it is dimpled like a golf ball. He has dents there along with other baseball greats and he wistfully wondered whose impressions are next to his. There’s a place in Fenway where a hitter’s impact is signified by absence.

Along with the deep appreciation by the fans, perhaps that is why Garciaparra felt, still feels, such a part of Boston. Fenway is a throwback ballpark and the former shortstop is a throwback player, more comfortable with a bat in his hand than a microphone in his face. Despite all the renovations, the park still has spots where it is run down, and goodness knows Garciaparra has had more than his share of injuries. Four Yawkey Way is not the place for niceties as Nomar is not a man for soundbites. But nowhere else does a prolonged ovation mean more, especially for Number Five.

Nomar won last night, not just because his team won.

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