I really loved Nomar. Or, as we in Boston call him, Nomah. Or even as I sometimes call him in my dreams, Nomie. I do secretly suspect him of juicing (that SI cover bears no resemblence to the skinny prospect I first adored, and the man’s body today is basically held together with duct tape and silly putty where the connective tissue used to be). But still, I love. I love his hustle. I love his friendship with the late Ted Williams. I love that he’s married to Mia Hamm.
Then there’s Manny. While my love for Nomar was pure and trusting, my love for Manny is sick and twisted. I need him more than I like him. Why? Because without his bat—or an equivalent—protecting David Ortiz, in the words of Papi himself, “I won’t see a pitch. I wouldn’t even pitch to myself.” And while Manny—who’ll dive headfirst into a base but rarely attempts a diving catch—won’t make anyone’s list of top defensive outfielders, he does return the ball quickly from Fenway’s quirky left, barehanding the ball or transferring it from glove to hand with an infielder’s dexterity. Look, I know that he’s just not that into me, and yet I can’t let go. When Manny missed the All-Star game again this year, I excused it because I thought a) maybe he’s really hurt (yes it’s pathetic, the way we lie to ourselves) and b) so he’s skipping out on a meaningless exhibition game–he would never do that to me. Ha! Well hell hath no fury like a Sox fan scorned.
So I just have to say it: Manny, you asshole, Nomar WOULD NEVER HAVE DONE THIS TO ME! Behold Manny Ramirez, spending the stretch hitting the showers, making cryptic comments, asking for a trade and getting clean MRIs done on his knee. So much for 2004′s World Series MVP.
Meanwhile, The One That Got Away is playing hurt and hit two walkoff homers in the space of a week to keep his team in contention. The first one? Completely crazy. The second? A grand slam! Almost as if to say, “So what if I can barely hobble around the bases? If I hit it out of the park, I can limp around as slowly and painfully as I want! Take that, haters!” Can’t walk? Hit a walkoff!
Oh, Nomie. Whatever happened to us?
And you, Manuel. Next year, you can quit on somebody else’s team and somebody’s else nickel. We’re through. For good!