Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Tragic Figure?

Something about Boston fans makes us cling to our past sports heroes, beyond what is 'normal'. I suppose 'tis the sports version of stalking, wanting what you cannot have, when previously you didn't always want it. Surely there are some out there even pining for Michael Bishop, despite three titles from Mr. Brady.

Nomar Garciaparra is the classic example, 'our Nomah' better than Jeter (not better than A-Rod) but feeling underloved and underpaid despite hauling down more money last year than we will make in two lifetimes. Was Nomar ever a 'happy camper?' Sources (hardly close friends) said that he was more of an isolationist than a teammate, although perhaps that was just another indispensable ritual.

All of us thought Nomar was ticketed for Cooperstown, but absent recovery and several more productive seasons, that seems unlikely. If durability hurt the Rices and Mattinglys of the world, then surely Nomar, introverted and at times surly is no different.

Does that make Nomar a tragic figure? Tragic (in baseball terms) means Tony C or Herb Score, Clemente, Dravecky, and Thurman Munson. Nomar falls into another category of star player limited by injury, not as much as a Gale Sayers, but more like Grant Hill. I prefer to reserve tragedy for those whose suffering is more universally understood.

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