Jacoby Ellsbury is a "trader" sign at last nights Astros/Yankees game pic.twitter.com/t5Kasa6YGx— Ollie Connolly (@OllieUKEZ) April 2, 2014
Jacoby Ellsbury returns to Fenway Park Tuesday night.
Playing center field for the Yankees.
[Unless the Yankees bring their home uniforms to Fenway Tuesday, he won't be in pinstripes.]
Should be booed, cheered or both?
Adults are free to make up their minds. Children usually follow their parents' lead until they are 13, then they do the opposite until further notice.
But before you make up your mind, just Google "Doc Rivers Return."
Your screen will fill up with links to raucous crowd videos and sycophantic stories about how former the former Celtics coach, who eventually admitted to bailing on Boston, was hailed upon his return to the TD Garden this past December.
Videos like this:
Rivers had three years remaining on his contract when he flirted with the Clippers. He initially bristled at claims that he bailed on Boston, but eventually reconciled with the truth.
"I did at the end of the day," he told 98.5 The Sports Hub on the eve of the Celtics-Clippers game in December. "You make choices in your life, it happens. It was a very difficult decision for me to make, whether to walk away and sit a couple of years, which was another way I was leaning, or if the right job presented itself to walk away and do that. I was afforded a great opportunity here with the Clippers."
Rivers left the Celtics, eventually with their blessing, when the team was approaching its lowest point in nearly a decade. He did all the things Bostonians usually loathe in a player or a coach. He went back on his word [see that five-year deal] and went to Los Angeles, of all places. At least he didn't go to the Lakers, or worse, the Brooklyn Nets or New York Knicks.
On the plus side of the ledger, Rivers coached the Celtics to a championship, balanced the immense egos and talents of the the Big Three Plus One and made sure the world knew that he was initially opposed to the Kendrick Perkins trade. Rivers was brilliant at his job and remains so. That's a trait shared by many Marquette graduates.
Doc was loved in Boston and he loved Boston back, until it was time to hop off the S.S. Danny Ainge before it sank to the bowels of Tankapalooza.
This brings us to Ellsbury. Jacoby literally led the Red Sox to a pair of World Series Cups given his spot in the batting order. In 2007, he took over center field from Coco Crisp in Game 6 of the ALCS and never gave it back. In 11 postseason games that year, he hit .360 and had two steals, including one that gave millions of Americans, including a few likely named Ronald McDonald, a free taco.
Ellsbury was even more critical to Boston's 2013 championship.
In Game 6, the Cardinals couldn't get Ellsbury off the bases, even when Ellsbury tried his best to help them.
Ellsbury got Boston's three-run, third inning started in Game 6 with a base-hit. In the game that clinched Boston's first championship at Fenway Park in 95 years, Ellsbury went 2-for-4 with a walk and scored twice. That's exactly what a leadoff hitter is supposed to do. During the 2013 playoffs, he hit .500 in the ALDS and .318 in the ALCS.
This year, the Red Sox have used five different leadoff batters in their first 20 games. Boston sits uncomfortably in fifth place in the A.L. East at 9-11, 2.5 games behind New York. The Red Sox might want to call "9-1-1" the next time Clay Buchholz pitches.
Even more distressing, Ellsbury hit .357 as the Yankees took three out of four against the Red Sox two weekends ago in New York.
Ellsbury, of course, never displayed any of the open emotion or off-the-field passion that Rivers did during his time in Boston. Since Doc loved us and we loved Doc, it was cool that he did a Celtics a solid by leaving town with the team on the brink of rooting for Ping-Pong balls instead of playoff seeding.
And Rivers didn't go to the Yankees.
For millions of Red Sox fans. Jacoby Ellsbury is now Jacoby F. Ellsbury until his grotesque 7-year, $153 million deal in New York expires after the 2020 season. His exit from Boston was given, for some us, back as far as 2012. And so was his ultimate destination. There was no way, many of us reasoned, the Yankees would not drop a boatload of cash on the oft-injured Ellsbury given his integral role on their biggest and most-hated rival.
They did, with brutal efficiency.
All Yankees suck, we were once taught from birth. This was before Mariano Rivera Appreciation Day and the Derek Jeter Season-Long Farewell Tour. Reggie sucked. Thurman Munson definitely sucked. Jeter did lots more than suck.
As a teen during the heyday of the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry in the late 1970s, single-finger salutes to the Yankees outfield were commonplace from the bleachers, as was the occasional fistfulof loose change thrown in the direction of Mickey Rivers. I never threw batteries, that was someone else.
It wasn't pretty, and neither were our clothes.
Ten years ago, the Red Sox and Yankees were locked in mortal combat and on path to meet for the second straight time in the ALCS. They have not met in the playoffs since and the team's fortunes have pretty much reversed each other's since.
Johnny "Looks Like Jesus Acts Like Judas" Damon found out all about what happens when a center fielder jumps ship from Boston to the Bronx. He went from beloved idiot to friggin' idiot once he happily accepted George Steinbrenner's millions. Of course, there was plenty of passion between Boston's fans and their center field who did resemble certain depictions of Christ.
Since we're dealing with sports and not nuclear physics, math or emergency surgery, going with emotion is just fine. It's usually a lot more fun, too.
There's no right or wrong here, just options.
Head over heart, giving Ellsbury an appreciative round of applause in person or through TV tonight before getting on with the required hate would be a no-brainer. Ellsbury never said much about wanting to stay in Boston ahead of his departure. He gave the same canned answers anyone Scott Boras-controlled puppet would. State Run Media propagated the myth that the Red Sox offered Ellsbury a 6-year, $120 million deal. That's one email I'd have to see to believe. Thanks to the disaster that was Carl Crawford, Ellsbury was allowed to not only walk, but was figuratively driven to the airport by nearly every sports columnist and talk show host in Boston, and about five million Red Sox fans across New England.
Does anyone doubt the Red Sox would be better off right now with Ellsbury? And who among us would pass on $21.8 million a year, even if it meant wearing pinstripes and that hideous NY during home games? The New York Post can have me for a mere $2.1 million.
Any doubts surrounding Ellsbury always centered around his ability to avoid injury rather than his ability, effort, skill and production once he was deemed "100 percent." Ellsbury was a terrific player for the Red Sox during his seven years with the team, when he was healthy.
He played a pivotal role in helping Boston win two championships.
That's twice as many as the City of Boston won with Rivers.
Different sport. Player vs. Coach. Yes. For sure.
But the numbers don't lie.
2 is always bigger than 1.
Even if it doesn't feel that way.
The OBF Blog is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Got a news tip, want to let him know directly what you think, have a complaint or compliment about his "aggressively relevant" content or hate people who speak about themselves in the third person, hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or hit him on at his
Obnoxious Boston Fan Email Address . Thanks always for reading and pass the clicker.
More from this blog on: Red Sox