Nomah is back!!! Well, not exactly. The Red Sox are going to hold a press conference today in which they will announce that they have signed Nomar Garciaparra to a one-day contract so that he can announce his retirement as a member of the Red Sox. Despite the acrimony that preceded his trade in 2004, Garciaparra was a big part of the Red Sox for so many years and is one of the better SS’s the team has ever had. From his signature pre-pitch routine, to his presence in the community, to the debates about which SS was better (Jeter, A-Rod or Nomah) to the SNL parodies, it was great to have been able to root for him for so many years and I wish him nothing but the best. Thanks for the memories Nomah, and I’m so happy you’re still a part of the Red Sox family.
Lots of big political stories that we’ll get to later. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the retirement of the greatest left-handed pitcher of all time, Randy Johnson. Tim Marchman, over at cnnsi, has a great summary of his career that is worth reading. Beyond the stats (which were incredible), beyond the terror that he struck in opposing batters (remember when he threw over John Kruk’s head in the all-star game), beyond the imposing figure on the mound (6’10”) and beyond the death (that poor bird), Johnson was a great ambassador for the game and MLB will miss him.
I’ll never forget meeting him in 1999 at the all-star game in Boston. I was on the field with my Dad prior to the game (during batting practice) and was in heaven. Getting a high-five from Nomah. Meeting Stuart Scott and Chris Berman from ESPN. Having a conversation with Trevor Hoffman. Watching Griffey and Manny joking around and take batting practice. Being in awe as McGwire, and Sosa ambled by. But the highlight, without question, was when Randy Johnson emerged from the dugout. As he walked towards us, I quickly took off the Red Sox hat I’d been wearing (I’m no fool) and hid it behind my back. He walked right up to us, reached around me, took my hat and put it back on my head. “Kid” he said to me. “Kid, don’t ever be ashamed of who you root for. Root with pride.” With a laugh he added “unless it’s the Yankees of course.” (ironic because he later played for them) Then he signed an autograph for me, took pictures with my dad and me, chatted with us for a while and then went out to the field to warm up for the game. From that moment forward (except for that brief stint when he wore pinstripes), he was always my favorite non-Red Sox player.