Trotting back home
It will be a festive Memorial Day night at Fenway with Trot Nixon coming back to Fenway. It’s hard for people outside of Boston to understand, but Nixon’s return will generate much of the same emotion as when other favorites from the past have returned. Remember when Pedro came back last year?
I know Nixon isn’t in that class as a player, but they love grit in Boston, and I’m sure Nixon is going to bring down the house when he steps in for his first at-bat and public address announcer Carl Beane blurts out, "Now batting for the Indians, No. 33, Trot Nixon".
Trot’s helmet will be dirty and his hat will be soaked in pine tar. By the third or fourth inning, I’m sure his uniform will be covered in dirt. Trot’s popularity was secured in these parts long before he turned into "one of the 25" who helped this team win a championship in 2004.
Unlike when players such as Johnny Damon, Roger Clemens and Mo Vaughn returned, there will be no mixed emotions for Trot. He wanted to come back, the fans wanted him to come back (granted at short-term length for modest money), but the Red Sox opted to go with the more gifted J.D. Drew. Take away the money and it’s hard to second-guess it from a baseball standpoint. At this stage of the game, Drew is the better player. But Trot brings out the emotions from the fans and he’ll get a hero’s return Monday.
What is everyone’s favorite Nixon moment? Mine is the Labor Day Grand Slam in Philly on Sept. 1, 2003. No. 2 would be his walkoff vs. the A’s in Game 3 of ’03. No. 3 would be his diving catch off Matsui in Game 5 of the ’04 ALCS. That was the single most underrated play of that entire postseason. If Nixon doesn’t catch that sinking missile, the Yankees probably take a 6-2 lead (minimum) and the Sox would not have come back against such a big deficit.
At any rate, here are some of Nixon’s recent comments — courtesy of Indians MLB.com reporter Anthony Castrovince — about his reunion at Fenway:
ON RETURNING TO BOSTON:
"I’ve got a lot of
friends on the team that I like and a lot of the people in the city who meant a
lot to my family and I, so it will be an exciting three days. And I’m hopeful
we, as a team, win these three games. We’re obviously playing a great team in
the Red Sox."
ON FACING SCHILL, BECKETT AND DICE-K:
difficult. But I’ve gone into series and faced Clemens, Mussina and Pettitte.
I’ve gone into series and faced Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz. But it’s a good
ON PLAYING AT
My first couple
years, I don’t think they sold out every game. We had a lot of sell-outs, don’t
get me wrong. But now it’s a premium ticket. [Playing there] has never lost its
luster. People don’t realize… those fans are not just in the city. They’re in
the suburbs, they’re in the next state over, all over the northeast. They know
the players, they know what they look like with a hat on, a hat off, glasses on.
They know your numbers, your stats. They just want you to play hard and win.
That should be the goal of every player.
ON THE INDIANS
PLAYING THE TIGERS AND RED SOX FOR 10 GAMES IN 10 DAYS:
"You can learn a
lot about this team in how we play [during this stretch]. This is probably one
of the two or three tests that we’re going to have this year. The first test was
losing off days and having to make up four games against Seattle, which is Major
League Baseball’s fault. I’m sure there will be another time in the season where
we’ll run into a series or a couple series that are going to define this team.
You just have to try to relax. When I see guys all worked up or too quiet, I
start yelling at them. It’s important to relax and live in the moment. There are
times where I didn’t live in the moment, especially in some of those Yankees-Red
Sox games. You’ve got to live in those moments, because they’re not going to
happen for everybody."
I’m sure Trot will have a full-blown press conference before Monday’s game. More then!