About a year ago, I forced myself to stop listening to local sports talk radio.
For those of you who’ve never lived in Boston, it’s almost impossible to escape WEEI. It’s playing on every car radio, in every corner store, and in every backyard that’s close enough to Boston to receive its signal.
The problem with WEEI is that the vast majority of the callers are over-opinionated, sky-is-always-falling types.
You want to know where Boston fans got their negative reputation from? Just do what Rick Pitino did and listen to WEEI.
Listen to WEEI long enough and you’ll discover that everyone in Boston thinks Terry Francona is a terrible manager, David Ortiz is washed up, Manny Ramirez is the most hated baseball player in Boston, and J.D. Drew is the antichrist.
I found the constant negativity was starting to affect my own thinking, so I stopped listening.
I switched to Sirius and started listening to national shows, mostly ESPN. I’ve since discovered that national radio not only helps inform me of the world that exists outside the Boston sports bubble, but it’s also far less negative. So for me, it was a positive change.
Sports are supposed to be fun, after all. I’m sure there are those of you out there who love spending all of your time complaining about the athletes you root for, but it’s just not for me.
I’m a glass is half-full guy—or at least a glass-isn’t-completely-empty guy.
Anyway, point is, the opinions Boston Sports Fans yell and scream on their local sports talk radio often doesn’t jive with the way they actually feel in real life.
Take Manny Ramirez. A few years ago the Red Sox and Manny Ramirez had a falling out—of sorts. Manny apparently demanded a trade, and the Red Sox decided to look into what they could get for him.
The sports talk radio crowd was looking forward to seeing Manny in Baltimore, Texas, or where ever he would have ended up. One rumor had the Red Sox replacing Manny’s bat with Aubrey Huff.
The fact that this ridiculous thought wasn’t rejected out of hand only proved how far out of touch with reality the talk radio crowd was.
When you walked from bar to bar around Boston and talked to real Red Sox fans, you found a group of people who were surprisingly in Manny’s corner.
In Boston, Manny being Manny is okay with us—so long as he continues to hit home-runs and drive runners in. Baseball purists may not like some of the things Manny does on the field, but then again, we don’t like baseball purists.
So what if Manny doesn’t run after hitting a mammoth home-run off of K-Rod? He made it home before the ball landed, so what the heck was everyone complaining about?
Most of the fans in Boston have been behind Manny since the 2004 World Series—we’ve even grown to love "Manny being Manny."
But recently, I’ve sensed a change in the tune of some of the Red Sox fans I hang out with.
The dugout fight with Kevin Youkilis happened and most fans either sided with Manny or just wrote it off as an anomaly.
Then came the fight with Jack McCormick, an elderly man who works with the Red Sox as a traveling secretary. Most fans found it hard to side with Manny on this one. This is when the tide started to turn a bit.
Then Manny spoke out over the All-Star break, calling Red Sox management dishonest and basically doing his best Pedro Martinez-in-2003 impersonation: "Pick up my option, show me respect, stop lying to me, blah, blah, blah…"
We remember how the Pedro thing worked out. We’re not liking where this is going.
People have slowly become skeptical of Manny—so much so that when Bob Lobel woke up from his drunken coma and claimed Manny threw a Yankee game in retaliation for the Red Sox fining him an insane amount of money following the locker-room incident with Jack McCormick, a large group of Boston fans actually believed it.
Let me repeat, some Red Sox fans believed that Manny purposely threw away an at-bat against the Yankees because he was mad at the front office.
So I ask Red Sox Nation: have we finally begun to tire of Manny being Manny? If this is Manny’s last year with the Red Sox, are we actually okay with this? Has the best right handed hitter in baseball worn out his welcome with both Red Sox management and Red Sox Nation?
I can only speak for myself, but I’m still glad he’s the Boston Red Sox left fielder. I’ll be sad when he’s gone. I love watching Manny play and I don’t mind the fact that he’s completely insane. To me, it adds to his charm. And if he complains a little, demands to be traded, gets into fights, stops talking to the media…I really don’t care. As long as he shows up every night and hits towering home runs while doing crazy entertaining stuff out in left field, I’m happy.
But I’m pretty sure there’s a growing group of Red Sox fans who don’t feel the same way. And that’s a shame.
I’m starting to get the feeling that there are people in the Red Sox organization who will argue that Manny’s not worth another year of aggravation. I’m starting to get the feeling that there will be a contingent of Red Sox fans rooting for the team to not pick up Manny’s option.
I’m starting to worry that Manny won’t be Manny in Boston next season.
Sean Crowe is a Senior Writer and an NFL Community Leader at Bleacher Report. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His archive can be found here. You can find everything he writes, including articles for other publications, here.