The Argument for Nomar

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This past week, Derek Jeter was elected into Cooperstown.  The former Yankees shortstop received 99.7% of the vote for his first time on the ballot. 

Photo courtesy of si.com
Since his selection into Cooperstown, Red Sox fans have made the case that they would take Nomar Garciaparra in his prime over the Yankee's Captain. 

Let’s take a look at Garciaparra, shall we.  Nomar played 14 years in the majors with four different clubs.  He spent the majority of his career in Boston, but also saw time with the Cubs, Dodgers and A’s. 

In 2004, then Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein traded Garciaparra in a four team deal.  The Cubs acquired Garciaparra and OF Matt Murton, while the Red Sox acquired SS Orlando Cabrera and 1B Doug Mientkiewicz, the Expos received SS Alex Gonzalez, IF Brendan Harris and reliever Francis Beltran, and the Twins acquired minor-league pitcher Justin Jones. 

Shop for Official Game Day Gear at Fanatics!The blockbuster deal helped the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series. 

But before it got to the point that Epstein needed to trade Garciaparra, the slugger hit .325 with a .372 on base average and a .557 slugging average as a Red Sox.  He averaged 24 home runs a year from 1997-2003. 

Garciaparra was a six-time All-Star, five of those appearances while in Sox uniform. 

Over the course of his career, Garciaparra hit .313 for his career, hit 229 home runs and drove in 936 RBI.  He had an .361 OPS, .521 SLG % and an .882 OPS+. 

Besides the numbers, Garciaparra was a very likable player.  It felt like from the time he was promoted to the majors he was the perfect fit for the tough Boston market. 

The larger than life player had his share of memorable moments at Fenway.  Who can forget the game against the Mariners back in 1999?  Garciaparra hit two grand slams and had 10 RBI in that game. 

On his birthday in 2002, in a game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Garciaparra crushed three home runs. 

There has always been debate on who was better, Jeter or Garciaparra? 

I feel like that debate was put to rest in 2004.  That was the night Jeter dove into the stands while Garciaparra was on the bench looking on.  Jeter would go on to make one of the greatest catches into the stands in his career. 

At the time Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy would go on to write about Garciaparra, "Everybody's favorite Red Sox appears to have become a wildly unhappy ballplayer, struggling to return from an injury, resentful of the front office, and determined to walk at the end of the season.

“Time for everybody to move on. Time for the Red Sox to trade Nomar Garciaparra” wrote Shaughnessy. 

Jeter left the game, went to the hospital and received stitches in his chin.  The Yankees won the game in the 13th.  It was after that game where the sentiment, at least for some, changed regarding Garciaparra. 

Photo courtesy of si.com
Then there was the 2001 Sports Illustrated issue where Garciaparra was shirtless on the cover. Garciaparra looked ripped holding a bat.  He was featured in the magazine going over his routine and how he beefed up for the season.  The preparation to be great and push himself to be one of the best shortstops to play the game. 

"My very first thought when I wake up is the game that night," Garciaparra says.  "There is a feeling in my body that begins right away, knowing I have to prepare myself.  If it's an off day, my body feels totally different when I wake up."

Is Garciaparra a Hall of Fame player? 

Garciaparra’s legacy in Boston will forever be remembered.  The fact the Red Sox had a player as good as Jeter was something to feel proud of as a Sox fan. 

The fact is Garciaparra was dominant during his prime with Boston but injuries prevented him from being great. Considering he only played 506 games after the age 30 doesn’t help cement himself into Cooperstown. 

Garciaparra is a Red Sox Hall of Fame inductee and that will be the extent of that accolade.  We’ll always remember the number 5 on the back of his jersey.  In fact, every time I see a player where the number “5” it just doesn’t feel right - it belongs to Nomahhh. 

While I’m writing this, I can see him adjusting his gloves, remembering his two grand slam game and the day he was traded to the Cubs. 

I’ll remember when SNL did the skit involving Garciaparra.  I remember watching with a buddy and saying wouldn’t it be funny if Nomar was on the show for the skit. 

On October 14th, 2000, Garciaparra made an appearance on a skit.  I can still hear Zazu and Sully yell “Nomahh” during that episode.  Garciaparra was dating Sully’s sister played by host Kate Hudson that night.  It was one of my favorite SNL moments ever. 

Garciaparra will forever be one of my favorite players to wear a Red Sox uniform, but it’s time to end the debate.  Garciaparra may not be Jeter, but we never wanted that.  Red Sox Nation will always and forever be thankful for Nomar Garciaparra. 

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COMMENTS

BLOGGER: 1
  1. I absolutely love Nomar. I remember playing baseball mimicking Nomar in the batters box. I would put Nomar up against anyone while he was healthy. It's a shame that injuries ruined his career. If he was able to match Jeter's longevity, I don't think he would have been traded and there would be a very different legacy for him today.

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