When Interleague play commences next summer, Manny Ramirez will have more than enough reason to look over his shoulder.
Come June 18, Manny will make his return to Fenway—assuming that Boston and L.A. don't somehow meet in this year's World Series—since his contentious exit last season.
For all the things said and written about Boston fans, they have a history of being magnanimous where returning "heroes" are concerned. Just this season, Nomar Garciaparra made his first appearance in Fenway since his 2004 trade.
Garciaparra had played with the Chicago Cubs and L.A. Dodgers until this season when his spot on the Oakland A's roster brought him back to Beantown.
Some pundits questioned before hand how the reception would be. The fans welcomed him home, giving him a standing ovation before his first at-bat.
Will the air be filled with a warm feeling in June if Manny takes the field? Probably not.
The departure of Ramirez from Boston was markedly different from that of Garciaparra.
While it's generally assumed that Garciaparra wanted to be traded, he was nursing injuries that season. Manny, who faked nothing other than scruples, simply made himself a pariah in the club house. During the 2008 season, he had decked an aging staffer in an argument over comp tickets.
Manny also had gotten into a fight with Keven Youkilis during a game, reportedly annoyed by Youk's constant intensity. It would be easy to believe that motive since Ramirez was the opposite of intensity over his last weeks in a Red Sox uniform.
Even for a player like Ramirez, who had never been considered "a gamer", the total lack of effort—including a three pitch strikeout against the New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera, where the bat never left his shoulder—was shocking to Boston, both fans, front office, and teammates alike.
At the 11th hour, just before the July 31 deadline, Manny was moved to L.A. in a trade that brought Jason Bay to his current spot in front of the Green Monster. Most fans agree that while Bay is not the interstellar hitting talent that Manny can be (when he swings), he was an awesome addition to the Red Sox.
By the time the Dodgers roll into Fenway next summer, most minds will be consumed with the impending All-Star break and the usual combination of standings and stats.
But should Manny still be playing with the Dodgers (because nothing is ever sure where Manny Ramirez is concerned), that Friday in Boston will be one for the scrapbook!
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