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The Red Sox seemed to have all the components they needed. First names alone sufficed for Nomar and Pedro, who’d each won the batting title and Cy Young for two years running. Now Manny Ramirez was in the mix; he’d averaged .313 in his eight years with the Indians and already had 236 home runs. And they signed up two pitchers with strong resumes in David Cone and Hideo Nomo. But Nomar was out of it from the start, He’d known he had a serious problem – it was a split tendon in his right wrist – but he’d relied on time and hope instead of surgery. A team can’t force a player to undergo any particular kind of medical treatment, but it was an example of very poor timing that Nomar underwent surgery on Opening Day instead of months earlier. The first game he played was not until July 29 (he drove in three runs in the day’s 4-3 win), but he only appeared in 21 games all year long, and rarely excelled.) Pedro missed almost half the season, starting only 18 games. He was 7-3, though with a solid 2.39 ERA. Cone’s 9-7 season didn’t help much. Nomo, though, came through. In the second game of the season, at Camden Yards, he pitched the first no-hitter any Red Sox pitcher had thrown since Dave Morehead in 1965, and won, 2-0. On May 25, he threw a one-hitter, the one hit being a leadoff double, which the New York Times dubbed a “questionable” call by the official scorer. He won more games than any other Boston pitcher, but that being only 13 indicates that it was hardly the year of the pitcher in Boston. Nomo’s 220 strikeouts led the league. Manny Ramirez was all they’d hoped for. He hit a home run on the first pitch he saw in the home opener, and ended the year with 41 homers and 125 RBIs. Trot Nixon was the Red Sox runner-up with 27 HRs and 88 RBIS. The saying was “from the outhouse to the penthouse” – on August 6, Scott Hatteberg lined into a triple play in one at-bat, then hit a grand slam his next time up. The Sox were only 2 ½ games out of first place at the time, behind New York. Ten days later, Jimy Williams was fired and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan took over as manager. Kerrigan had won plaudits as pitching coach, but couldn’t hold the team together as skipper. There was plenty of infighting, and too much was aired in public. On September 2, Mike Mussina had a perfect game going through 8 2/3 innings, and was one strike from perfection when Carl Everett singled to center. The Yankees swept all three games in Boston, however, despite not having scored in the first seven innings in any game in the series - and the following weekend took three more in the Bronx. Not long after the Sox flew from New York to St. Petersburg, terrorist attacks took down the “twin towers” of the World Trade Center, and the Sox were stranded. It took them 28 hours on train, bus, and air before they arrived back in Boston, with all of baseball uncertain as to the rest of the season. The Sox had begun to wilt from August 25 on, and lost 23 of their next 29 games. Though they rallied and won their last five games, the Sox finished second to the Yankees (and nowhere near the wild card), 13 games out of first place at 82-79 – and leaving a very sour taste in everyone’s mouth at the way the whole team had unraveled in mutual recrimination. The following January, at the baseball writers dinner in Boston, GM Dan Duquette came across as an out-of-touch executive when he said, “We spent more days in first place than any year since '95." Though perhaps true, fans wanted to win – not know how many games the team was in first place but still failed to win.

By Bill Nowlin
 

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Tagged:
Dave Morehead, David Cone, Hideo Nomo, Jimy Williams, Joe Kerrigan, Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, Scott Hatteberg, Trot Nixon

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