It's odd. Perhaps the only team in Major League Baseball that has shown absolutely zero interest in Nomar Garciaparra is his former club, its fans already clamoring for his return to the Fenway diamond with a collective delusion rivaling Jack Torrance.
And the Red Sox are the ones that actually need a shortstop.
That being the case, it would appear a re-marriage of Nomar and the Red Sox should be a perfect match, the ultimate Christmas present for Red Sox Nation. Since trading Edgar Renteria to the Braves last week, names such as Alex Gonzalez, Pokey Reese, and Royce Clayton have been proposed to man shortstop for the Red Sox in 2006, resulting in about as much buzz as a sip of Malibu and Coke.
But while the Astros, Orioles, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Indians, Pirates, Twins, A's, and Yankees have all shown serious interest in the one-time Boston icon, the phones over on Yawkey Way aren't exactly burning with desire to see Garciaparra back in his familiar No. 5.
Even if some fans are.
As long as the hole at short remains vacant, or Garciaparra signs with another team, there will be vacuous hope among those who apparently forgot reasons why he isn't here in the first place. Let's not forget he could be in the midst of a four-year, $60 million deal with Boston had he signed way back when. Despite his facade, it was evident Garciaparra hated the attention and pressure of playing in a city like Boston.
Yes, reconciliation is always possible, but it seems so much less so in the world of multi-million dollar sports. The bad blood remains on both sides, a direct result of the team's pursuit of Alex Rodriguez two winters ago, culminating in the now legendary extra-inning game in Yankee Stadium in which Garciaparra sat on the bench and sulked like a 3-year-old whose parents had just mercifully outlawed any more of The Wiggles in the family living room. Within weeks, the man Ted Williams likened to DiMaggio was on his way out the door, dealt to Chicago, in only the most important move of the team's championship run.
Garciaparra, in those final days, was miserable in Boston, giving his team some of the worst defense up the middle this side of Edgar Renteria. And the more he grumbled, the more popular he remained with a certain fan base, who would allow him to scream obscenities in their ear and they would label it genius.
Garciaparra hasn't played a full season since 2003, when he hit .301, with 28 home runs and 105 runs batted in, numbers that whichever team signs him this offseason can only dream he'll amass. In three years since then, Garciaparra has combined to hit just 18 homers and drive in 71 over 143 games. He's certainly a risk, but one that comes with enormous upside at the price, thus the vast interest in his services. Heck, the Indians' went and signed Lou Merloni to help persuade Garciaparra to sign in Cleveland.
Yankees manager Joe Torre called Garciaparra yesterday with his customary recruiting call, a process he also extended to free agent outfielder Johnny Damon. According to Newsday, "The Dodgers and Cleveland Indians are considered the Yankees' prime competition, and the Yankees aren't certain whether Garciaparra -- a West Coast native who didn't enjoy the Boston media scrutiny -- wants to play for them."
Still, the Yankees' offer to have Garciaparra play first base, a position he has never played, and be what is being referred to as a "super utility" player, is the one generating the most talk. It would mean the GQ trio of shortstops, the one-time best group to ever play at the same time -- Garciaparra, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez -- would all be in the same infield, a novelty everyone would have scoffed at as some Steinbrenner-esque erotic fantasy a six-pack of years ago. Maybe Schilling-Clemens-Beckett isn't so outrageous after all.
It's at least less so that a Nomar return to Boston. That is not happening.
But the movement presses on. Former Napster founder Shawn Fanning, mimicking the Save Manny folks, has created Garciaparra.com, a minimal web site that asks the user to sign a petition to bring back Nomar. It's an objective bringbacknomar.com has as well, but they might want to worry about bringing a book on FrontPage back from Border's first. Countless e-mails poured in last week when yours truly simply said to forget about Nomar replacing Renteria. Yesterday, I received dual letters in the mail from a father and son in Leander, Tex, pleading for a Nomar return. Garciaparra continues to remain an idol with some members of Red Sox Nation, a title he more than likely would love to have disbanded from his name here.
Oh sure, he might be a better option than the likes of Reese or Clayton, dependant on how long it takes him to break down. But even if they wanted to, the Red Sox would have to overpay for his services now, or at least a lot more than they are willing, with so many other in the hunt as well. If my memory serves me correctly, they already tried to vastly overpay him.
Something to the tune of four years, $60 million? Ring a bell?
"Mets may trade for Miguel to get Manny," touted the story written by Adam Rubin. Really? No, not really. "Minaya was in meetings yesterday and did not return a call, but a Mets insider labeled such a three-way scenario unlikely and said all appeared quiet in the team's offices."
In other developments likely to be reported by the Daily News, Apocalypse may come next Tuesday at noon. Despite all being quiet in offices of the Higher Power.
In other efforts of hallucination, Jack McCaffrey of the Philly Daily Times ponders that the Phillies should go get Manny AND Tejada. Sure.
Meanwhile, the US Ski Team is in preparation for the Turin Games in February, and according to Filip Bondy, that is the only gauge for their success. Not the World Cup Bode Miller won last year. It means nothing unless he wins a medal on tape on NBC.
It seems a ridiculous conclusion, but Bondy is right. Unfair as it is, it has a ring of truth to it. Heck, Tommy Moe is still a skiing icon in the general public's mind because he had a good downhill run in 1994. It was also the only time millions actually saw Moe ski on TV. If Miller is good enough to win gold in February, there's no doubt some NBC tool, in between endless figure skating presentations, will tell us it is the greatest accomplishment of Miller's career.
Bet on it.