Why Red Sox Fans Will Cheer Manny Ramirez’s Return to Fenway Park

Why Red Sox Fans Will Cheer Manny Ramirez's Return to Fenway ParkFormer Boston Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez will be making his first return to Fenway Park since his acrimonious departure from the team in 2008. So the big talk in Beantown this week is whether fans will – or should – boo or cheer the prodigal son’s return to Boston, when Ramirez and his Los Angeles Dodgers come to town this weekend.

The Boston Globe’s Stan Grossfield speculates that Red Sox fans “will likely still be in ‘Beat LA’ mode” after the Celtics/Lakers series. The writer asked some Red Sox names what they thought would happen:

“That’s going to be an interesting one,” said Sox captain/catcher Jason Varitek. “I don’t know how this one is going to go.”

David Ortiz said:

“Let me tell you one thing,” said Ortiz. “He might get an ovation and then a boo. But he deserves an ovation to begin with because he helped this ball club to win two World Series. That’s the way I see it, man. If anyone thinks it’s something else, it’s gonna be up to them.”

Chad Finn of the Globe thinks Manny’s reception will be closer to the boos that Johnny Damon received at Fenway than the cheers Pedro Martinez received in his return. Colleague Peter Abraham thinks he will “get booed, but the suspicion here is that it won’t be all that bad.”

This Yankee fan is going to go out on a limb here and say that Manny will get a standing ovation – with most fans cheering loudly for him – at least for his first time up at bat at Fenway on Friday. As well he should. Because despite all of the “Manny being Manny” moments, I just can’t see Boston fans not giving him props for all that he did to help the Red Sox win the 2004 and 2007 World Series titles.

Yes, Ramirez eventually forced his way out of town and left fans cursing in his wake. But it’s been nearly two years now, and fans are more likely to want to remember Manny as the 2004 World Series MVP, than as the guy who knocked down the traveling secretary. Or to remember his 274 homers and .999 OPS as a Red Sox, as opposed to the player who some thought quit on his team in the summer of 2008 in order to get traded.

This isn’t a Johnny Damon situation, where Damon went to the hated New York Yankees, and got booed by many Boston fans on his first time to Fenway. Besides, Red Sox fans got some grief for looking ungrateful to Damon that night – even some of their fans thought that Fenway patrons should have given Damon a standing ovation just for that the first time up.

It seems like most fans in the Boston blogosphere seem to want to show love to Ramirez for 2004 and 2007. As Redsock of The Joy of Sox sardonically remarks about the media coverage:

Most of the chatter has been whether fans should boo or cheer one of the greatest hitters to ever wear a Boston uniform and one of the two dozen people on Earth who can boast that he helped the Red Sox win their first World Series title in 86 years. (And was on a team that went from 0-3 to 4-3.) Gee, that’s a tough one …

Boston Dirt Dogs’s creator Steve Silva thinks Manny deserves “A Standing O” from the fans.

Dan Lamothe of Red Sox Monster said he “doesn’t advocate booing Manny, but I couldn’t greet him the same way other Red Sox heroes — Dave Roberts, Kevin Millar, etc. — have returned.” The writer suggested Ramirez “will get a polite virtual golf clap from me, but there’s no way I can stomach much more.”

Red of Surviving Grady (as “seen” in the video below) will be cheering for Ramirez, and I have a feeling that his standards are pretty common among Sox fans. Here are his standards:

I hold my ballplayers to the following criteria:

1) Did he ever slap my mother?

2) Did he leave us for the Yankees?

If the answer to either of those question is “yes,” then I can’t hang. Otherwise, we’re good.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQcs-07Wl64&feature=player_embedded

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Lisa Swan, a lifelong Yankee fan, grew up in Passaic, N.J., where her favorite player was the talented but insecure Reggie Jackson. Today she lives on Staten Island, where her favorite player is the t ...read more

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