Eastbay Memory Lane // Nomar Garciaparra Cover – February 2001

Eastbay Memory Lane // Nomar Garciaparra Cover – February 2001

words // Brandon Richard

Tonight is Game 2 of the 2013 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox. Behind a pitching gem from Jon Lester and an all-around great night offensively, the Sox jumped out to a 1-0 series lead with an 8-1 victory last night.

Celebrating the World Series and Boston’s early advantage, today’s Eastbay Memory Lane takes us back to February 2001, when Nomar Garciaparra was our cover athlete. Affectionately known by the Boston faithful as “Nomah,”  Garciaparra spent nine seasons at shortstop with the Red Sox, making five All-Star teams and winning two batting titles. His run with the team ended at the 2004 trade deadline, but after stint with the Cubs, Dodgers and Athletics, he signed a one-day contract in 2010 to retire as a member of the Red Sox.

Do the Red Sox have what it takes to win their third World Series of the last 10 years? Share your predictions and Nomar memories with us below.

Eastbay Memory Lane // Nomar Garciaparra Cover - February 2001

MLB Watch: Boston & Philly Build On Division Leads

MLB Watch: Boston & Philly Build On Division Leads

Jimmy Rollins continues to turn heads in his Jordan baseball cleats this season.Jimmy Rollins continues to turn heads in his Jordan baseball cleats this season.

words // Nick Engvall

The Phillies may have added former Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence to the team before the MLB trade deadline, but, for the last week or so, it’s been the club’s veteran’s Cliff Lee and Jimmy Rollins that have carried them to a 9-game lead in the National League East. Now at 77-40, the Philadelphia Phillies are hands down the best team in baseball based on their record.

The second best team in the league after a 4-game winning streak, is the Boston Red Sox. Boston struggled early in the season, with high expectations leading to even a solid winning record being a disappointment, have now seemed to have the pieces in place for a strong run into the postseason. Most importantly, closer Jonathan Papelbon, who had one of the worst cold streaks of his career early, has now run off 21 consecutive saves, and is one of the hottest pitchers in all of Major League Baseball.

Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees are also playing well and as we expect every year, the American League East will be a great race to watch for the last month of the season.

Check out photos from this week in baseball in our latest MLB Watch below.

MLB Watch: A look at what the pros are using.

The Flyin' Hawaiian Shane Victorino gets beaned but his Nike batting gloves are safe.The Flyin’ Hawaiian Shane Victorino gets beaned but his Nike batting gloves are safe.

Mariano Rivera still sticking with his Nike baseball cleats.Mariano Rivera still sticking with his Nike baseball cleats.

Derek Jeter in his latest signature cleat from Jordan.Derek Jeter in his latest signature cleat from Jordan.

Cliff Lee gets his Nike cleats some height with his signature follow through.Cliff Lee gets his Nike cleats some height with his signature follow through.

Carlos Lee prepares for the pitch wearing Franklin batting gloves.Carlos Lee prepares for the pitch wearing Franklin batting gloves.

Justin Upton connects wearing the adidas Diamond King.Justin Upton connects wearing the adidas Diamond King.

Tsuyoshi Nishioki with some nice looking adidas batting gloves.Tsuyoshi Nishioki with some nice looking adidas batting gloves.

Jonathan Papelbon is back to un-hittable form in his Under Armour baseball cleats.Jonathan Papelbon is back to un-hittable form in his Under Armour baseball cleats.

Jo-Jo Reyes wearing Reebok baseball cleats.Jo-Jo Reyes wearing Reebok baseball cleats.

A good look at A.J. Pierzynski's player exclusives from Nike.A good look at A.J. Pierzynski’s player exclusives from Nike.

MLB Watch: Boston’s Woes Continue to Cause Concern

MLB Watch: Boston’s Woes Continue to Cause Concern

David Ortiz and the Red Sox still slow-moving compared to expectations.David Ortiz and the Red Sox are still slow-moving compared to expectations despite a new colorway of his PE Reeboks.

words // Nick Engvall

Nobody is sure if the air in Beantown has been contaminated, or if the expectations were just to high, but the Boston Red Sox can’t seem to get it going on the offensive or defensive side of the diamond. Of course the season is young, but when the world is expecting one of the greatest teams of all time, anything but that can be an ugly self-defeating cycle (just ask the Miami Heat).

Josh Beckett had a strong outing this week with 8 innings of scoreless pitching. Beckett struck out 10 on the way to his first win of the season, but the team only has 2 total thus far. Nevertheless, just like the aforementioned Heat, Boston’s woes will go by the wayside eventually. Whether or not it will include the same all-star roster it started with will remain to be seen.

Boston’s division rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays, are also off to a slow start. Now, without the suddenly retired Manny Ramirez, the Rays are just one game better than the Red Sox and have quite the uphill road ahead of them. However, as you’ll see in the pictures below, they obviously enjoyed hearing the booing Red Sox fans give Johnny Damon a laugh.

Check out the latest MLB Watch below courtesy of Yahoo.


MLB Watch: A look at what baseball cleats and equipment the pros use.

David Ortiz in the Easton VRS Pro III batting gloves.David Ortiz in the Easton VRS Pro III batting gloves.

David Price in the Nike Huarache LWP90.David Price in the Nike Air Huarache LWP90.

Johnny Damon, wearing PUMA cleats, has a laugh at the expense of booing Boston fans and his teammates.Johnny Damon, wearing PUMA cleats, has a laugh at the expense of booing Boston fans and his teammates.

Jayson Werth, wearing the adidas Diamond King, continues to build hope for Nats fans.Jayson Werth, wearing the adidas Diamond King, continues to build hope for Nats fans.

Joe Mauer in the latest Nike catcher's equipment.Joe Mauer in the latest Nike catcher equipment.

Michael Pineda grabbed his first career win wearing Mizuno 9-spikes and Mizuno glove.Michael Pineda grabbed his first career win wearing Mizuno 9-spikes and Mizuno glove.

Jeff Francoeur, one of many players wearing New Balance cleats this season, can't quite make the grab.Jeff Francoeur, one of many players wearing New Balance cleats this season, can’t quite make the grab.

Albert Pujols can't seem to find his swing despite his player exclusive Nike cleats.Albert Pujols can’t seem to find his swing despite his player exclusive Nike cleats.

A good look at Miguel Cabrera's Franklin Tectonic Pro batting gloves. A good look at Miguel Cabrera’s Franklin Tectonic Pro batting gloves.

Jose Reyes applies the tag wearing Under Armour Yard cleats.Jose Reyes applies the tag wearing Under Armour Yard cleats.

Ichiro Suzuki switches up his Asics during batting practice.Ichiro Suzuki switches up his Asics during batting practice.

Brian Wilson returned with more beard and a new pair of player exclusive Air Max Diamond Elites.Brian Wilson returned with more beard and a new pair of player exclusive Air Max Diamond Elites.

 

MLB: Waivers – The Place For Washed Up Sox?

MLB: Waivers – The Place For Washed Up Sox?

words_Nick Engvall

Johnny Damon Today, the Los Angeles Dodgers placed former Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez on waivers, making him the second big-name former Beantown big hitter to find himself there this week.

Earlier this week, the Detroit Tigers placed Johnny Damon on waivers. The Boston Red Sox quickly claimed him, whether to keep the Tampa Bay Rays or New York Yankees from signing him or because they we’re legitimately interested is up for debate.

Seeing as how Damon was one of the more popular players to suit up in Boston over the last decade, leading the Red Sox to the World Series title in 2004, it seemed like a good possibility that Damon might leave the Tigers. Considering the Tigers have little-to-no shot at making the post-season this year, and the Red Sox with Damon back in Beantown could give a pretty good run at the Rays and Yankees, who are just 5.5 games ahead as of today.

Damon opted against going back to Boston, instead choosing to stay with the Tigers, a younger team where he seems to be able to be as much of an impact off the field as he is on.

As for Ramirez, it’s hard to see someone jumping on the opportunity to land someone who hasn’t had a hit in almost two months. Even more so if you consider he comes at a price of about $4.4 million. In addition, Manny has spent a good portion of this season on the injured list, not to mention the 50-game suspension he served at the start of this season.

Manny RamirezAs much as he may seem like a risk, for teams on the edge of being post-season threats – like the Chicago White Sox and ironically the Boston Red Sox who once lived on the opposite side of the Manny waivers game in 2003 – he may be worth it. I think Bostonians can agree that it was worth the risk and “fun” of “Manny being Manny” to have Ramirez there alongside Damon as the Red Sox ended “The Curse” in the 2004 season.

The thing is, like Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez can hit, and depending on who you ask, may be even better than Damon, at least for power that is.

This time of year teams need a spark to light their offensive attack, and despite Manny’s struggles this season, he is capable of putting together a surge in the batter’s box that could lift any team above what they are capable of without him. He may have only played in 63 games, but he’s hitting .306 with eight home runs and 39 RBIs.

As much as it may seem like a long shot that any team would take a chance on Ramirez, it paid off for the Red Sox in 2003, so who’s to say who the beneficiary of Manny being Manny will be in 2010. Ultimately, like it always has been, it will be up to Manny, because the no-trade clause will allow him to reject any team, whatever color Sox he chooses to reject.

images via yahoo

MLB: Waivers – The Place For Washed Up Sox?

MLB: Daniel Nava’s Journey to Big Leagues

words_Nick Engvall

Daniel Nava’s journey to the major leagues culminated in unforgettable fashion with the very first pitch he saw in the big leagues on Saturday.

However, Daniel’s story is one that is even more inspirational than that one pitch. Nava attended high school in Mountain View, California at St. Francis High School. As a teen, Nava was one of those kids that seemed to always wonder when his growth spurt would finally visit.

In high school, it never came. In fact there were times in high school that Nava wouldn’t even hit for himself due to his size.

After high school Daniel tried out for the Santa Clara University baseball team, after again finding out that he wasn’t big enough, his direction took a slight detour. After not making the team Daniel became the Santa Clara team manager, where he found himself doing laundry and planning the possibilities of a career as a baseball coach rather than a player.

Finally, as he moved into his early twenties, the growth spurt came. Daniel Nava went to school at San Mateo Junior College, and became an All American for their baseball team. Then after two years, returned to Santa Clara University with his new found size, and his updated resume which included now included All American honors. Nava would lead Santa Clara, and the West Coast Conference in batting in 2006.

Unfortunately for Daniel Nava, things still didn’t go as easy as they could have. Despite being the best hitter in the West Coast Conference, Nava still went un-drafted. Never one to give up, Nava would find a way to play the game.

Daniel Nava's Inspirational Journey to the Major LeaguesHe signed with the Chico Outlaws of the Golden Baseball League. Once again Nava led the team with his performance at the plate. He went on to be named to the Baseball America Independent League First-Team All-Star squad and also ranked as their top independent league prospect after hitting a league leading .371 batting average. He also added 12 homers and 59 RBI’s as the Outlaws went on to win the championship in the 2007 Golden Baseball League.

It was then when Daniel finally got the attention of the big leagues, well, sort of. The Boston Red Sox purchased the contract of Nava for $1. Promising to dish out the rest of the $1499, if and when Nava made it through the minor league system.

Nava, went on to be a top performing hitter for Single-A Lancaster in 2008, then followed it up with a .352 batting average over his time spent in in Double-A and Triple-A last season.

While playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox in Indianapolis last week, his parents were able to see him play for the first time in two years. It was shortly after that Nava got the call to make the last leg of his journey. The call that every minor league baseball player listens for. He was going to Boston. Finally.

Nava’s parents quickly booked flights to Bean Town to be there in the stands to watch their son make his Major League debut. Leaving their luggage at the airport for fear that they would be late for the game, Daniel’s parents were sitting in the stands when Nava came to the plate with the bases loaded in the second inning.

Daniel didn’t disappoint.

After a pre-game show with Red Sox announcers, where the last thing that was said was, “Hit that first pitch out, you only have one chance,” Daniel did exactly that. With the first pitch he saw in the major leagues, Daniel Nava crushed a grand slam home run, putting the Red Sox ahead for good, and putting the final exclamation point on his inspirational journey to the big leagues.