26 June 2007

Nomar Garciaparra, Prince of Baseball

by Joshua Worley

There was never an option to bench Nomar. It's fame. It's fate. It's the name. The cheers. A prince of baseball on our team.

There's nothing to analyze. Performance doesn't matter. Nomar performs merely by inhabiting his own body, his own mannerisms, his own name. There is the excitement of a home run in hearing his name announced. All those rolling R's! He is ours. There is the anticipation of a runner from first rounding third on a double in seeing him flash his mannerisms and fidgets before every pitch. Tap touch, tap adjust. Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle.

It's a team game. We are his team. Our memories of what he was sustain the glory of Nomar. He is the beloved superstar of the Red Sox, the 0.350 hitter, the man linked with Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. And he has chosen the Dodgers. He has returned to his roots. He has chosen us! Why wouldn't we love him?

Nomar needs us to remember his past glory. He needs his Dodger teammates to produce his current glory. He has just one RBI this year when he comes up without a runner in scoring position. But when his teammates can get themselves to second or third, he's batting 0.423, with 37 RBIs. Those are the only at bats that matter. They are the only ones we should remember. Nomar Garciaparra, 0.400 hitter.

In just 11 games James Loney already has 4 RBIs when he comes up without a runner in scoring position. In less than half the at bats of Nomar, Wilson Betemit has 8 home runs. Both players are driving in runs at a higher rate than Nomar. But Loney and Betemit aren't princes of baseball. They have to wait for their time, if it ever comes.

It is Loney's time now, and not Betemit's. This is the fate of the game for lesser players. Nomar is graciously moving to third base so that it may be Loney's time. But let us not forget, it is always Nomar's time. He is the face of the Dodgers, a master of clutch, a prince of baseball.

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