Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Thanks Beautiful.....

Nationally, the LA Dodgers have a dedicated fanbase. From their Brooklyn days, their LA Tommy Lasorda days and their days at their spring trianing location in Vero Beach, FL. They have been training there in the spring for more than a half century. They have dedicated old timers that have retired to Vero Beach from Brooklyn just to be close to their team. There is no denying that the Dodgers fanbase, no matter how late they show up to a game and how early they leave from the game, are VERY dedicated and diverse. Unfortunately, some players don't respect that and that's why I have lost ALL respect for him. Fuck you Nomar... This year will be the last year Dodgertown will be in Vero Beach for spring training. They will be following almost all other west coast teams to Arizona for their spring festivities. There is no doubt that they will be leaving a huge fanbase in Florida. This story has been followed by the national media because of the bredth of the Dodgers fanbase. The Dodger organization has been trying to be a PR friendly as they can to help the fans through this change. The following is from ESPN's Jeff Pearman:

If there is one way to slightly numb the pain, it is via player kindness. More so than their peers in Los Angeles, the fans here view the Dodgers as family members. They present the young men with cookies and pies and, in the case of a 67-year-old uberfanatic known as "Dodger Bob" (aka Bob Scholl), homemade figurines. In return, all they ask for is a smile here, a "hello" there. Really, all they ask for is Autograph Day.
Most players seem to understand this. With the sun shining and a soft breeze coming in from the north, reliever Mike Koplove gladly took a 5-year-old girl's baseball and signed it with a smile. Catcher Russell Martin stood and affixed his name to seemingly hundreds of objects.

Derek Lowe, Scott Proctor, Matt Kemp, Juan Pierre -- they all got the drill.

But not Nomar.

In one of the least fan-friendly displays I've ever witnessed as a baseball writer, Garciaparra spent the absolute minimum amount of time signing. He never looked up. He never said a word. When fans offered a hearty "Good luck!" or said "You've always been my favorite!" he either grunted or pretended the sentiment was never expressed. If someone made the "mistake" of requesting that he sign a ball on the sweet spot, Garciaparra actually went out of his way not to. Though the rope between Garciaparra and the fans was no more than half-an-inch thick, it felt like the Great Wall of China. All attempts at small talk began with a Dodger loyalist's enthusiasm and ended with the Dodger third baseman's body language, which screamed "I'm Nomar, you're not -- please don't touch me.”
I loved Nomar. I remember my father telling me at my grandmother's in 1995 about a shortstop that would allow a baseball team to play without a 3rd baseman. I kept that memory because of the way Nomar broke into the Boston baseball scene. He was rookie of the year in 1997. He was top 11 in AL MVP voting from 1997-2000 and in 2002 & 2003. He was the heart and soul of the Boston Red Sox. His ability and dedication were to be envied. He was the favorite Red Sox player to every white suburban Boston kid under 15 years old. He could do no wrong.

We forgave him for posing on the cover of Sports Illustrated before the 2001 season. We forgave him for not apologizing that he took steroids. We forgave him for not signing that 4 yr/ $60 million contract before 2004. We all went to bat for him in the Nomar vs. Jeter debate (and for the record, Jeter has always been better, Nomar was just OUR guy.)

No more my friends. I should have realized this on July 31st 2004 when he was traded to the Cubs for, essentially, Orlando Cabrera. I wasn't mad. Not a little upset that one of my favorite Red Sox was leaving our town in the middle of an historic run for it's first World Series title in 86 years. I think the turning point for my not caring about this prima donna anymore was July 1st 2004. While Nomar sat on the bench pouting about a minor injury, Derek Jeter made one of the most sensational plays July baseball has ever seen. In the 12th inning of a tied game (3-3), runners on second and third, Jeter sprinted for a ball that appeared headed to the third base grandstands. Jeter dove into the stands and busted up his face to get the third out. The Yankees shortstop was adding to his highlight reel while the Red Sox shortstop was sitting on the bench, unable to play hurt.

Nomar, obviously, we never really knew ya. We brought you into our lives. We cheered for you when you were at your best. We sympathized for you when you were down. Now, you're too good for a young kid looking to get his baseball signed by a "legend".....People in Boston refer to Edgar Renteria more than they refer to you these days.....If all of Boston's pink hats haven't forgotten about you, the diehards certainly have. Have fun passing through waivers at the end of March.

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