September 26, 2008

The Tao of Fred McGriff - Day 10

Back in 2003, the popular rumor in Boston was that the Red Sox, White Sox, and Rangers were going to put together a three-team trade that would send Manny Ramirez to Texas, Nomar Garciaparra to Chicago, and Magglio Ordonez and Alex Rodriguez to Boston. Nobody knows for sure what would've happened had that trade gone through, but for a minute or two there I could see A-Rod and Ordonez in Sox uniforms.

There have been other players whom I thought would end up on the Sox one way or another (Todd Helton is at the top of that list), but one guy I never saw on the Red Sox was Fred McGriff. Maybe it's because I was raised on the Lou Gorman-led Sox ("What would we do with Willie McGee?"), but the Sox already had Mo Vaughn at first. What would we have done with Fred McGriff?

My grandfather grew up in a small town in South Dakota. His sisters were the switchboard operators for the town, and his father the postman and local semi-pro baseball team manager. He likes to tell the story of how, towards the end of one season, his father lured a star pitcher away from a rival team. And then, instead of pitching him in the big games that followed, kept him on the bench. When asked why he would do that, my grandfather laughs and says that his dad had the luxury of not using the star pitcher--as long as he wasn't pitching for the other team.

And when the A-Rod and Ordonez trades fell through, what did the Yankees do? Did they say "Why do we need A-Rod when we already have Derek Jeter?"

This is one of those little things that we with the Lou Gorman mindset never figure out: having Mo Vaughn at first and Fred McGriff, be it at DH or lounging on the bench, perhaps could've pushed the Sox closer to the pennant. Instead we defensively scoff at even considering the possibility.

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