Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Tony being Tony

One of  my favorite, and many, Manny memories that I got to witness live.  Photo from Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permisson.

One of my favorite Manny memories that I got to witness live. Photo from Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

I’ve had a major case of writer’s block lately and was worrying it would lead to my shutting down the blog for a while so I could shake myself out of it.

Then I read this piece by Tony Massarotti today and suddenly was terribly inspired to write again.

My least favorite trait of many of the writers in the Boston sports community is their desire to treat the fans like their own little puppets.  Instead of straight reporting or even interesting writing, too many of them rely on the old “If you do ‘this’ it makes you a bad/good fan” crap.  It absolutely infuriated the majority of the writers who covered the Sox that the fans loved Manny Ramirez while he was here.  There was story after story about how ‘stupid’ the fans were to support him and how ‘gullible’ we all were that we were happy he was on the team.  I was one of those fans.  Until the day he was traded, my support was behind Manny.  It broke my baseball heart the way he left the team, although I do think it was time for him to go.  But I still don’t believe that how things ended up should have a negative effect on the entire time he was with Boston.  Unfortunately, Manny’s last (half) season with the Sox made all the Red Sox beat writers puff up their chests and say “I told you so”.    Massarotti, like all of them, has gotten in his jabs at Manny and the fans over the years.  So it wasn’t really a surprise to read the opening to his piece on Manny today:

Presumably, you tolerated Manny Ramirez because you had to. You needed him. So you put up with the childishness and the selfishness, the immaturity and irresponsibility. And the Red Sox won a pair of World Series because of it

We sure are martyrs in Red Sox Nation. Imagine “tolerating” Manny! I mean, really, what did he ever do for the team?  (Oh, wait, Massarotti actually answers that question in his last sentence there!)

Anyone who followed the Sox during Manny’s time with the team who says Manny wasn’t fun to watch is a flat-out liar.  I have a dear friend who lives in New Zealand.  New freaking Zealand, who was in Baltimore, wearing his #24 Red Sox jersey, to see Manny’s 500th home run.  My father, then in his mid-sixties, sat in the bleachers, in the rain on Opening Day in 2001 to watch Manny in his first game at Fenway in a Sox uniform.  In 2004 my, then, 3 year-old niece would cite Manny as one of her favorite players and had a Manny t-shirt she would constantly wear.  I once sat in the left field grandstand seats (where I sat often when Manny was with the team because watching Manny in the outfield was as much fun as any other aspect of the game) and watched Manny do the wave with the fans in the stands.

Manny certainly did things that either baffled or annoyed you but, prior to the end of his time in Boston, he never seemed  to do anything malicious.  Regardless of that, the writers tried their damnedest to get us riled up if Manny showed up “late” for Spring Training or if he refused to talk to the media.  Tim McCarver would have you believe that going into the outfield with a water bottle in your pocket was an abomination on the game of baseball and many is the writer or broadcaster who wanted us to hate Manny because he didn’t act like Tim Wakefield with the fans or in the community.  No fan will tell you that Manny was perfect but most fans will tell you that he certainly didn’t deserve “hatred”.

So here’s the thing about what Massarotti wrote:  He’s advocating the fans cheering for Manny on Friday night.  Don’t get too excited, though.  He only thinks the fans should cheer him because we cheered him while he was here.

As for you, you have your own choice to make. Most of you cheered Ramirez when he was in Boston. To boo him now would be both cowardly and fraudulent. You knew what Manny was about then just as surely as you know what he is about now, and you chose to live with it. You chose to look the other way. You chose to celebrate the man’s talents more than criticize his flaws, and you endorsed productivity at almost all costs.

Again, taking away 2008 because his actions were so un-Manny like (Openly fighting with Youk…pushing Jack McCormick…neither of these things came close to anything else that fell under the “Manny being Manny” antics that fans witnessed and “looked the other way”), someone needs to tell me what Manny did that was so terrible that WHILE HE WAS WITH THE TEAM would have or should have made the fans dislike him?

I agree with Massarotti that fans shouldn’t boo Manny.  While I’m not entirely comfortable at the idea of a Pedro or Nomar-like reception for him, I don’t want to see him get mercilessly booed either.  But, unlike Massarotti, I don’t think the fans who supported him while he was in Boston are obligated to still support him.  The gist of the article is “If you were stupid enough to cheer for him while he was here, you’re a hypocrite if you boo him on Friday”.

If cheering for possibly the best hitter I will ever see take the plate at Fenway Park makes me a blind fan, order me up a seeing-eye dog today.  Anyone who suggests that fans shouldn’t have supported Manny during his time on their team is an idiot, plain and simple.  I get why people wouldn’t want to cheer Manny this weekend (and, as Massarotti notes, he got plenty of cheers while he was here).  I think fans were terribly hurt that after all the support he did turn into “evil” Manny to ensure his release from the team.  Still, again and again I will say it, it doesn’t change what he did while he was here.  Now, I don’t think Massarotti is an idiot, I just think he’s jealous of the support Manny always got and the Dodgers coming to Boston just gives him another excuse to pull out all the old “fans are stupid/hypocritical/your favorite insult here” crap.  That and he needed something to write and it’s pretty easy to pull another “this is why you should have hated Manny” piece out of your ass.

I passed on multiple opportunities to go to Fenway this weekend because my Manny feelings are so muddled.  I know I couldn’t bear to be in the park if the majority of fans began booing him but I also know that hearing the fans giving him the heroes welcome this soon after 2008 would be a tough one to deal with as well.  Staying home and dealing with my feelings myself is the best decision for me.  For you it might be different.  Don’t let Tony Massarotti or anyone else tell you how you should feel or react.

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June 16, 2010 - Posted by | 2010 |

9 Comments »

  1. This is pretty simple. How Manny conducted himself while wearing the uniform is now behind us. He is part of Red Sox lore, being a member of the team that brought us a first championship in 86 years. He was a key piece of making that happen.

    So if you go to Fenway, you always have the option of cheering, remaining silent, or perhaps worse, booing him. It doesn’t matter, frankly.

    After all the hoopla about his return is over, there’s one thing I’d hope happens and everyone would agree with. I would hope that Manny leaves Boston going 0 for everything. He doesn’t play here anymore and while he faces the Sox, I hope the pitching shuts him and his teammates down cold.

    Comment by Tru | June 16, 2010 | Reply

  2. I agree that the Boston media really wanted us to hate Manny. Remember when he wasn’t traded that year, and got a standing ovation when he came in to pinch hit. (And got the game winning RBI) The radio the next day actually insisted Fenway was cheering the “situation”, not Manny. We couldn’t possibly be cheering for Manny. After all, he doesn’t attend photo ops at veterans hospitals. How can we like him? Oh yeah. All the rings he brought the team.

    Comment by Section 36 | June 16, 2010 | Reply

  3. As I type this I’m wearing a Manny Ramirez T shirt, have a Manny sticker on the back window of my car, and may or may not name a future pet Manny. If I remember right, the media and the fans didn’t like Ted Williams all the time, either. And while one can argue about what Ted did wasn’t what Manny did etc… I have to echo Tru. He is a part of Red Sox lore and helped bring not 1 but 2 World Titles to Boston. If I could be at Fenway friday? I’d stand and cheer. Instead I’ll do it from my living room.

    Comment by Ted | June 16, 2010 | Reply

  4. Well said!

    Comment by Kristen | June 16, 2010 | Reply

  5. What Ted and Tru said. I still have that #24 shirt and I’ll be wearing it in Denver and SF next week. Thanks for the kind words Cyn.

    Might catch Sunday’s Sox/Dodgers game on the California Zephyr which will be a first for me.

    Comment by HorshamScouse | June 17, 2010 | Reply

  6. Do people still read Massarotti?
    I always loved Manny. Anyone that says they didn’t love him is probably a liar. He hurt us really bad with his stupid antics trying to get traded.
    I won’t be cheering, but I won’t be booing. ButI will still be missing him on the Red Sox!
    Noni

    Comment by Noni | June 17, 2010 | Reply

  7. I will always, always love Manny Ramirez. I am confident that Manny loves me back.

    Remember him saying, “I want to tell all the fans, you’re the ones who make ME smile.” ? Yup.

    Comment by JS | June 17, 2010 | Reply

  8. From 2008 to the present, I’ve learned much more than I ever wanted to know about Manny Ramiriez’ capacity for behavior that goes beyond silly or bizarre (which I love, being rather silly and bizarre myself) and careens into arrogance and cruelty (which fills me with bootless rage). But I’ve always thought of him as a spiritual eighth grader, and having taught a number of eighth grade kids in my time, I know they can express all of the above in their lively and endearing if often ill-considered behavior. If nobody encourages kids to grow up, they tend not to do so. Like a LOT of exceptionally talented athletes, Manny’s had the blessing and curse of being bombarded with so much attention for his athletic gifts and so much reward for them that in all probablility he’s had way too little guidance for his growth as a man. In his positive pole he’s more than a great athlete: he’s a joyful, gregarious, warm-hearted soul. In his negative pole he’s not pretty to watch. He’d be a happier as well as a more admirable person if he’d had a little different voyage to adulthood. But the same can be said of an awful lot of us.

    In his career as a Red Sox player he did so many amazing things and gave us so much joy that I, for one, will give him the courtesy of applause if ever I’m in the stands when he is playing, with one caveat: if he ever ends up in Yankee pinstripes, all bets are off! 🙂

    Comment by Elaine Apthorp | June 17, 2010 | Reply

  9. […] Cyn says: My least favorite trait of many of the writers in the Boston sports community is their [reliance] […]

    Pingback by With Manny In Town, MUMS The Word | Baseball Bloggers Alliance | June 18, 2010 | Reply


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