By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Dr. Shaughnessy diagnoses Nomar

The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy writes an absolutely toxic column on Nomar Garciaparra, and I can’t say I disagree with all of it. But then there’s this, about the 2004 injury that contributed to his being shipped out of town several months later:

He developed Achilles’ tendinitis, allegedly after a ball hit him in the batting cage (nobody witnessed this).

There’s only one way to read that: Shaughnessy thinks Nomar might have been faking it. Why? Garciaparra was always hurt. There’s no reason to think that particular injury was any different. But Dr. Dan knows better, I guess.

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  1. This is nothing new. The CHB has always hated Nomar. He was calling him a cancer in the clubhouse his last half year here, and I’m sure Shaughnessy danced the tarantella when Nomar was finally traded.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Brian: In fairness to Shaughnessy, he has pointed out that he has never referred to anyone as “a cancer,” given his daughter’s battle with leukemia. He has, though, used just about every other phrase imaginable.

  2. Steve Stein

    Shaughnessy has a long history of Nomar-hatin’.

    Someone (Mike B? paging Mike B?) will dig out the June 2004 Shaughnessy column saying Nomar was “sticking it to the Sox” by sitting out the first part of that season, hoping to go to the Yankees the next year.

  3. Mike Benedict

    Hehe. That Shaughnessy still has a job writing for the Globe is all the evidence I need to be convinced he has inflammatory photos of someone important.

    We knew this column was coming. The facts are these:
    1. Garciaparra has long been acknowledged as a difficult media subject.
    2. Garciaparra was the object of some amount of scorn by the local media because he would not go out of his way to help them do their jobs. However, he was, for most of his time in Boston, the Golden Boy, the heir to Ted Williams (The Kid himself anointed Nomar as such, and the affection between the two was obvious). Thus, the local “knights” couldn’t touch him, which rankled them even more.
    3. To his credit, Garciaparra recognized the situation he was part of. I’m not going to dig up the quote now, but he said, early in 2004 if memory serves, that he had a job to do — playing baseball — and he understood that by focusing exclusively on that, it didn’t make the media’s job easier. That’s a level of insight no one (Peter Gammons excepted) locally seemed to appreciate. There is no hypocrisy involved in him going to the other side of the microphone because he never said he didn’t *like* or appreciate the press, but that helping them do their job got in the way of him doing his.
    4. Garciaparra was one of many, many Sox players whose private clubhouse conversations or comments were overheard and repeated by the local media. The practice was such a widespread problem, as I understand it the Henry group has taken certain steps to try to mitigate it.
    5. Garciaparra, as DK points out, had a long history of injuries. Athletes and injuries are a Catch-22. Manny Delcarmen was hurt most of last year, doesn’t tell anyone, and pitches, well, not exactly like crap but certainly not to his potential. Nomar gets hurt, tells people, and the media call him a liar.
    6. As contract negotiations between Boston and Garciaparra dragged on during 2003-04, Garciaparra said he wanted to stay in Boston, and that any suggestion to the contrary was false. To my knowledge, he never has publicly said anything dismissive or negative about his career here. Yet some of the local media — with The CHB leading the charge — simply refused to believe him. Now, I’m not about to try to contemplate what kind of deep, emotional scars some of those media types must be carrying through life, but their actions were childish and shameful. And it must be hell on those same persons that Nomar is back, proving them wrong yet again.

    About baseball, we like to ask, in what other line of work could someone fail seven times out of 10 and still get a raise? Answer: Sportswriting in Boston.

  4. BP Myers

    A truly despicable column.

    In terms of the Achilles injury, I recall some suspicions that he may have come into camp with the injury, and further suspicions that he injured it playing soccer (a non-baseball, extracurricular activity that would not have gone down well in his ongoing contract negotiations.)

    Regardless, Shaugnessey’s “Best before date” has long since passed. Even worse to see young columnists such as Chris Gaspar latching on to Shaugnessey’s cynical schtick, a cynicism that at least on Shaugnessey’s part was well-earned. All Gaspar has seen in his short time here is championship after championship after championship.

  5. BP Myers

    And it’s time for Eric Wilbur (the best sportswriter you’re probably not reading) to take a much larger role at the paper.

  6. It’s always interesting how these caricatures develop and stick.

    1997-2003= Wonderful
    2004-March 10, 2010= Jerk
    March 11, 2010-Forever= Wonderful

    Ted Williams
    1939-42= young Jerk
    1943-45= Hero
    1946-51= Maturing Jerk
    1951-53= Hero
    1954-60= Aging Jerk
    #521-Forever= Hero

    Larry Bird
    1979-Forever= God

    Hey they all hated the media and had their perfectionist flaws…doesn’t make them bad people;-).

  7. BP Myers

    @Dan. Done. She does a terrific job, both at the paper and on NESN.

    Speaking of NESN, as was referenced in Shaugnessey’s article today recounting the “Nomar in the dugout while Jeter breaks his face” incident, they don’t get enough credit for maintaining independance from the Sox, showing things that (perhaps) the Sox brass is less than comfortable with.

    They were all over the Manny-Youk shoving incident the night it happened, showing it immediately after coming out of commercial break and again and again throughout the broadcast.

    And if you saw it, you won’t forget the night in 2005 they kept returning to Foulke and Papelbon sitting silently (and awkwardly) in the bullpen, until the call finally came summoning Papelbon, acknowledging for all the world that the torch had been passed. It was truly compelling television.

  8. Davio Van Lombirk

    Yeah, it’s always a winning strategy for a star player to fake an injury during a contract season. That way, his club will be extra motivated to resign him, and suitors will come knocking from all quarters. Makes perfect sense to me.

    Nomar went even further than most, though – he very convincingly continued to fake his Achilles problem after being traded to the Cubs. Thank goodness we have Dan Shaughnessy to explain things to us.

  9. The Shaughnessy piece was obviously paired with Bob Ryan’s more sympathetic take on Nomar’s career as a point-counterpoint. The two columns were placed side by side in the print edition and on I assume it was over the top by design.

    As for the references to the fake injury, there was a lot of speculation in the press and on talk radio around that time as to whether Nomar was faking it, but I think CHB is referencing another rumor that went around back then that Nomar was not injured on the ball field but in another venue. For example, I remember hearing he hurt himself playing soccer with his wife, Mia Hamm (not sure if they were yet married at that time).

  10. Davio Van Lombirk

    Mike Coughlin, I believe it’s safe to assume the point-counterpoint effect did not have to be arranged, but was simply preordained by Shaughnessy’s passionate and enduring hatred of Nomar. They knew Ryan would be reasonable and Shaughnessy would trash him – instant point-counterpoint.

    And I recall that Shaughnessy did cast doubt at the time as to whether Nomar was really even injured, and I believe he is doing so again now.

  11. Frank Binder

    DS’s job is to have a point of view; to be controversial. I’ve not always agreed with him. In fact, sometimes he’s infuriating. But he is always interesting. With regard to Nomar. Nomar’s sullen attitude and clubhouse demeanor with both the press and with his teammates was widely reported the year he left. He was a great player and given the trajectory of his early years, was on track to be one of the 3 greatest players ever in a Red Sox uniform. But his 2004 behavior and demeanor and it’s effect on the team wasn’t a press fabrication. The proof is in the pudding. Once he left, the club took flight and won the World Series.

  12. Mike Benedict

    Shaughnessy, July 3, 2004:
    “Garciaparra battled back from an Achilles’ injury and always gives 100 percent on the field.”

    Shaughnessy, March 11, 2010:
    “Total fraud.”

    (Not to mention his subtle attempt not to be libelous: “[I]t’s natural to wonder whether he succumbed to the temptation of steroids.”)

    Honestly, at what point do the powers that be at the Globe realize that the laughter that follows The CHB is at him, not with him?

  13. Davio Van Lombirk

    Frank Binder, really? Just how widely reported and well sourced was it?

    Did you see Varitek’s and Wakefield’s comments the other day? Would they say those things if Nomar had been bringing the whole team down as you suggest?

  14. BP Myers

    @Mike: Shaugnessey was for the Achilles injury, before he was against it.

  15. Mike Benedict

    @Frank Binder: “DS’s job is to have a point of view; to be controversial. I’ve not always agreed with him. In fact, sometimes he’s infuriating. But he is always interesting.”

    Oh really? Like when he penned three columns in two weeks about how boring this Red Sox spring training has been?

    Which, btw, he also said last year?

  16. BP Myers

    @Mike said: Oh really? Like when he penned three columns in two weeks about how boring this Red Sox spring training has been?

    Shaugnessey claimed there was “no buzz” this spring, and then Pete Abraham tweeted the first two exhibition games against the Rays in Port Charlotte and the Blue Jays in Dunedin set all-time attendance records for both those venues.

    And if Shaugnessey wants “buzz,” he oughta stop trying to drive all the colorful players out of town.

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