Boston Sports Forum Commentary
Del N. Jones
The cheers that ensue after a base hit at Fenway Park are probably now of the filtered, mono variety.
So is the sight of the famous No. 5 on thousands of jerseys and T-shirts with "Nomah" lovingly lettered on the back.
It all should feel plastic and inedible to Nomar Garciaparra in Boston these days. Whether he is dealt before the July 31 trading deadline for that Randy Johnson fella or leaves to a delayed thunder clap as an offseason free agent, the Red Sox franchise shortstop now knows that Yawkey Way is not likely to be his working address for much longer.
Boston Sports Forum is not in the cliche' business, but the adage "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." is clearly in order here. Fool could easily be replaced by "dump" in this case without the loss of much speed or understanding in the realm of bitter sports business.
Unless you were in a coma over the past 10 months, Garciappara and trades have gone together like peanut butter and jelly. First it was the blockbuster that failed when the Red Sox tried to upgrade both on the field and in the public relations department by acquiring Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers. Manny Ramirez and his big money bat and faulty hamstrings were supposed to be shipped to the Rangers with Garciaparra going elsewhere to make room for the American League MVP to play his position in the middle of the Red Sox infield.
As reports flowed in daily Garciaparra - never the friendliest media chap - called a local sports talk radio station and professed his love for the Boston community and want to be in a Red Sox uniform for life. He interrupted his honeymoon with Mia Hamm to do so, while working his own angles on the contract extension discussions that were never agreed upon to ultimately make that happen.
The trade fell through - at least for the Red Sox. A-Rod was moved to the rival New York Yankees and both Ramirez and Garciaparra remained Bostonians with instant concerns about their baseball pysches in the days prior to Spring Traning 2004.
Hard feeling? Forget about it.
Once again Garciaparra was the cordial diplomat, bringing smiles and measured statements to Fort Myers, Fla., while Ramirez brought his electric bat and new attitude - dismissing the winter as the normal functions of Major League Baseball.
The philosophy worked too, until Garciaparra took over 50 games to recover from what was supposed to be a minor Achilles injury. The growing New England anti-Garciaparra faction - that began to build after the team failed to make the playoffs in 2002 - affected the shortstop, leading to an on-the-record rant about being unappreciated for his years of Boston baseball service and the knowledge that someone will certainly appreciate him in his upcoming free agent future.
Injury frustration? Past due venom against the Sox organization? A peak inside the wounded windows of an openly shopped All-Star player?
Much more powerful than just a clubhouse slip-up to a recording scribe. More like the mentality of a former Pawtucket phenom and Cape Leaguer trying to keep himself going during uncertain times as an expendable big league part.
And then there is the most recent reports of Garciaparra being wanted by the Chicago Cubs as a possible piece in Boston's attempt to romance Johnson and his no-trade clause out of crumbling Arizona via a three-way deal.
The Big Unit wants out. The Diamondbacks want prospects for the future. The Cubs want instant production, and the Red Sox want a left-handed anchor for a shaky starting rotation to attempt to salvage this lukewarm summer.
Like the offseason, Garciaparra seems to be the biggest pawn in the Red Sox chances. Right or wrong, he must be quite fed up with being traded in the newspapers more times than a Pokemon card. First A-Rod? Now Johnson?
Those mended fences from back in the spring must be tattering. At the moment Garciaparra is forced to pay more attention to the rumors than winning baseball games in the present. That is what any human being would do - regardless of ability or salary.
Would you believe anything coming from the mouths of the Red Sox front office?
This commentator believes that a certain shortstop knows better by now.
Commentaries by Del N. Jones are posted on Boston Sports Forum every Monday. His weekend columns can also be read in the Saturday/Sunday edition of The Patriot Ledger or at patriotledger.com.