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Should Red Sox fans give Manny Ramirez a warm reception?

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red_sox_ramirez_0.jpg By Tom Verducci
June 18, 2010

Boston, MA — Red Sox fans get their first chance tonight to boo Manny Ramirez for forcing his trade out of Boston in July 2008. It's their right if they wish to ignore seven and a half years of the greatest slugging the franchise ever has known outside of what legends Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx did. They can ignore, too, the two world championships in the span of four seasons, after 85 seasons without even one. Was that one month two years ago really that heinous?

If Ramirez jogged down the line on groundballs and milked a balky knee and frustrated the manager with his day-to-day mood on whether he was good enough to play, nobody condones that as upstanding behavior. The temperament from the clubhouse when he left was "good riddance," a strong indictment from his peers. But was July 2008 so bad as to flush away the years of excitement Ramirez gave the franchise?

And this idea that Ramirez "quit" on the Red Sox or stopped trying? The guy hit .347 in July 2008 with a 1.060 OPS.

Only Williams and Foxx ever posted a better slugging percentage or OPS during their careers in a Red Sox uniform. Ramirez hit 274 homers and drove in 868 runs for Boston. In that time, only Albert Pujols gave one team more homers and only Pujols and Lance Berkman gave one team more RBIs.

In the epic eight-game postseason winning streak of 2004, when the Red Sox went from the brink of being swept by the Yankees in the ALCS to a franchise-altering world title, Ramirez hit .371 and was named the World Series MVP. When they won again in 2007 he hit .348 in the postseason.

Ramirez gave Red Sox fans excitement on a nightly basis, and the memories of a baseball fan's lifetime. He gave them smiles and laughs with the occasional goofiness of his play. Now is their chance to thank him and all it takes is one small moment of appreciation upon his first at-bat, the same way they did for Nomar Garciaparra, who had become, not wholly unlike Ramirez, such an unhappy clubhouse anchor known to miss games that Boston swept him out in a 2004 trade in order to win the World Series. The boos can come later, same as for any opponent at Fenway. But there is one moment tonight for Boston fans to get it right.

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