Game 82 - Red Sox
A's 6, Red Sox 0
Returning to the self-referential well once again, I commend to you the words I wrote on July 31, 2004 after the trade that eventually played a major role in turning the Sox into World Series Champions.
...with all that said, all the logic expended, I still am so very
disappointed to see Nomar leave Boston. I lied a few days ago - he's my all-time
favorite Sox player, and even though I should know better, I held out hope that
he'd be on the field when the Sox finally won a title. I love the way he plays
the game - gracefully, powerfully, grittily, all-out-all-the-time. I love his
name, for Chrissakes. I love that he never seemed to be the stereotypical
superstar, that he was quiet, reserved, introspective. I love that he's better
than Derek Jeter, and that I could always shout a Yankee fan into submission
because I knew the numbers that proved it.
I'm 34 years-old, well past the age of hero-worship. I understand that
baseball is a business and that I basically root for the laundry. I do. And even
though that's true, I will feel very conflicted when the Chicago Cubs take the
field tomorrow and this big-nosed guy with an athletic gait bounds out of the
dugout, kicking the toes of his spikes into the turf, number 5 across his
pinstriped back as he sprints to his familar position on an unfamiliar diamond.
I've never had a second-favorite team before, but odds are about even that I'll
own a Cubs hat before I post again. They'll never be the Red Sox, but, then
again, they've got Nomar.
The prodigal designated hitter-cum-shortstop returned to Fenway last night for the first time as an opponent, wearing the garish green and yellow of the Oakland A's. And the home fans did us all proud, standing in unison for a 70-second ovation in honor and memory of No. 5's too-brief, transcendent time in Boston. He never won a title in Boston, but he was the first guy since the mid-80s that let any of us believe that such a thing was possible. I could try to convince myself otherwise, but he's still my favorite player.
As for the action on the field, well, Nomar got a standing ovation. Did I mention that? The Sox inexplicably fell to 6-12 on the season against the mediocre AL West, laying their bats down in quiet submission to world-beating lefty Brett Anderson (I think his name is Brett - if the Sox aren't gonna make an effort, then neither shall I).
A combination of work and evening leisure pursuits has kept me at some length from the Sox over the past few weeks, but what I've seen hasn't been very good. I confess to some lingering surprise at how a team that seems now to be unable to hit (no starter with a better than .300 average, as limited as that stat may be, and a whole lot of slumping bats), inconsistent on the mound, and indifferent in the field remains in possession of the American League's best record. I can say with some certainty that they won't hold it for long if something doesn't change.
I suppose one of the many charms of baseball is the near-certainty that slumps will both happen and end. Understanding that truth and liking the Sox' current scuffling are not the same thing.