Ex-mates vote Garciaparra in
ST. LOUIS -- In some ways, he is the 26th man. Nomar Garciaparra played such an integral role in helping the Red Sox become a championship-caliber franchise that his former teammates have not forgotten him even as they approach the threshold of a dream.
When the Sox huddled last month to allocate the windfall they would reap in the postseason, they made sure to award Garciaparra a full share of their playoff cash. The Marlins last year divided a $14.9 million playoff pool after they won the World Series, awarding 37 full shares of $306,000, 29 partial shares, and 11 cash awards. The runner-up Yankees split nearly $10 million, handing out 39 full shares of $181,000 and 45 partial shares.
Garciaparra also hasn't forgotten the Sox. He recently called Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon, his closest friends on the team.
"Being the class act that Nomar is, he wished us well," Varitek said. "He's been a tremendous part of this organization through the years, even this year. He's as deserving as all of us to be here."
The Sox ended Garciaparra's 10-year relationship with the team at the July trading deadline, sending him to the Cubs in a four-way deal in which they acquired Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz. Garciaparra's days in Boston did not end happily amid friction with management, but no one has questioned his contributions to the franchise or the community during his lengthy tenure with the team.
"He wished us well and told me to tell the guys he was thinking about them and was happy for us," Nixon said. "We all understand that certain things happen in baseball you can't control, but for as long as he was with the team and for everything he did, it doesn't feel right that he's not here."
The Sox have welcomed Cabrera, Garciaparra's replacement, who played a pivotal role in helping them reach the World Series. But Nixon, Varitek, and many of their teammates continue to honor Garciaparra's legacy as well.
"Nomar was such a big part of getting us to this point and helping this organization," Varitek said. "I'm not taking anything away from the job Orlando has done. I love everything about him. I just wish we could have both of them here."
The Sox decided to be as generous as they were last year when they divided nearly $5 million in playoff shares and awarded 51 full shares of nearly $90,000, 21 partial shares, and 10 cash awards. No breakdown was immediately available for this postseason.
"Mike Timlin brought it up," Nixon said. "He said, `You can look at it as money or you can look at it as a gift from God.' I'm not interested in the money. The championship is what I'm interested in. The prize is what every professional athlete strives for."
The Sox took care of everyone who contributed in any way this year to helping them reach the postseason.
"Anybody who spills their blood in the field out there one time helping a club win a ballgame deserves as much as anyone else, in my opinion," Nixon said.
The last nine teams with the home-field advantage that won the first two games of a World Series, as the Sox have, have captured the championship. The last team to fall short was the 1981 Yankees against the Dodgers . . . Tim Wakefield is a finalist for the Roberto Clemente Award for community service that will be presented before tonight's game . . . Varitek, who caught Matt Morris of the Cardinals for Hyannis in the Cape Cod League, also could join Jason Marquis of the Cardinals as the first former players who made it to a Little League World Series to face each other in the Fall Classic . . . Bronson Arroyo will be poised in the pen if necessary to help Pedro Martinez tonight, Derek Lowe tomorrow, and Wakefield Thursday. Arroyo also could get the nod if Curt Schilling is unable to pitch a potential Game 6 Saturday. Francona on whether Schilling has raised the bar of expectations for Martinez, who turned 33 yesterday: "I think Pedro had that bar up there long before he was with Schill. Pedro has his own bar."
With Sunday's victory, Schilling became the first pitcher to win World Series starts for three teams (the Sox, Diamondbacks, and Phillies) . . . Manny Ramirez said the Sox have not necessarily missed Martinez's little friend, 29-inch-tall Nelson de la Rosa, who became a quasi-mascot before he dropped off the team's radar. "We don't need him," Ramirez said. "We're playing great without him." Though Ramirez has hit safely in all 12 postseason games (and 15 straight playoff games dating to last year), he has not homered since Oct. 5 in Game 1 against the Angels. Ramirez's 15-game streak is the fourth-longest in postseason history. Hank Bauer and Derek Jeter of the Yankees share the record with 17-game streaks . . . In a show of unity, the Sox, their wives, and team officials gathered last night for dinner at Morton's . . . Nikco Sports is offering a two-baseball collectible set, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the Red Sox Foundation. It includes a ball identical to the ones being used in the World Series, and one that has team and Series logos and an account of ALDS and ALCS games. Only 5,000 will be produced, and they are $59.95 apiece. For information, call 1-800-345-2868 or visit www.nikcosports.com.