Boston: a nest for boo birds

Published On July 18, 2012 | By Alice Cook

What’s up with Boston and bad sports breakups? The bitterness that follows players, coaches, and management types out of town is like a bad divorce. You can experience something like the following any time a popular player leaves town:

“I used to love you honey, but since you are no longer with me, I will spend the rest of my days trashing you.”

“How could you do this to me?”

“You left me for another….TEAM?”

We witnessed this phenomenon several times in recent history here in Beantown.  So, just for grins, let’s review a few.

3. Manny Ramirez

Manny’s was a bad ending with the Red Sox for sure. Popular belief is that Manny got everything he deserved when he came back to Boston wearing Dodgers blue.

Manny became a poster child for acting like a child. He was flaky, he was difficult, he was eccentric he was enigmatic. “Manny being Manny” was the only way to describe the mercurial slugger’s antics.

Yes, Manny could hit the snot out of the ball.  His bat did the talking, and his fielding was better than decent.  But in the end, Manny went from being a great hitter to becoming a major distraction.

Manny went off to La La land- and immediately became a fixture in the Boston trash heap. When he returned for the first time in a Dodger’s uniform, the boos could be heard from Boston to Bar Harbor.

2. Johnny Damon

This one I don’t get. Johnny Damon was a great player as well as a great person that overcame a speech impediment to become one of the best talkers in the clubhouse.  For God’s sake, the guy’s theme song was “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”

Selfishly, I will always like Johnny Damon. That’s because many times he was the only Red Sox player who would do a pre-game interview- something that is very important if you are doing a story for the 6 o’clock news. Props to Mike Lowell too. He always came through.

As a member of media, I wanted to hug him every time he gave us that all important ten second sound bite when everyone else was either hiding in the training room, or giving us that ‘don’t come near me now’ look.

Johnny Damon was both a good guy and an important member of the championship teams in ’04 and ’07.

His big mistake was that he moved to the dark side.  He went to the Yankees.  When Johnny Damon visited Boston in pinstripes for the first time he was booed mercilessly.

It just doesn’t seem fair.

1. Adam Vinatieri

Two words: snow game. His kick changed the course of the New England Patriots franchise.

Vinatieri made the 48-yarder that won Super Bowl XXXVI. He repeated the task to help the Patriots over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII. But just like Damon, he went to the enemy of all enemies- the Indianapolis Colts.

Upon his return to Foxboro, Vinatieri was booed.  Sorry…all wrong.

The kicker had ice in his veins when history depended on his foot and his leg.  The great Bob Lobel coined the phrase ‘Adam and Leave.’  It’s a true classic, just like my buddy Lobie.

I’m happy to report it’s not all bad though.  Kudos to the Fenway Faithful for giving former manager Terry Francona the ovation he deserved when he was introduced on the ballpark’s 100th anniversary.

Tito was kicked and slapped numerous times in those final days in Boston. The fans saw through the spin control and stood by him. Good job.

Yes, the beer and chicken in the clubhouse was a problem. But the guy led two teams to World Championships, and he handled the toughest managerial job in baseball with grace and dignity. Boston knows what they had in Francona, and it’s great to see him get the appreciation.

I  heard a discussion recently on sports talk radio about Ray Allen‘s  move to Miami. “Do we hate him now that he is playing for the enemy?” was the question.

Excuse me. Are we talking about the same Ray Allen that played with excruciating bone spurs during the playoffs, and had surgery almost immediately after the final game in Miami?

Are we talking about the same Ray Allen that never complained once after almost being traded at the deadline?

Are we talking about the same Ray Allen that never let his not-so-great relationship with Rajon Rondo ever leave the locker room or get in the way of anything they did on the court?

Are we talking about the same Ray Allen who took one for the team when Doc benched him in favor of Avery Bradley?

Please. Ray Allen had every right in the world to go play for Miami. Once the team picked up Jason Terry the writing was on the wall.

Everyone knows what the Celtics gave Boston fans down the stretch, which is about a month’s more basketball than anyone expected. Ray Allen was a huge reason why.

This guy better not get booed when on he returns to Boston in a Heat uniform. I believe Celtics fans are better and smarter than that.

I admit it. I am a softy. I felt bad for Bobby Valentine when the Red Sox had trouble getting a win early in the season. I teared up when Cam Neely cried during his retirement ceremony. I cry every time I hear Andrea Bocelli‘s ‘Time To Say Goodbye.’

And kudos to Red Sox fans who did the right thing when Kevin Youkilis returned to Fenway Park in a new uniform and was greeted with a warm and well-deserved ovation. He tipped his cap in four different directions and proceeded to get two hits in his first two at bats.  If he keeps that up, the booing is sure to follow.

The boos come with the territory, I know it. And I will say this about the fans of Boston: they are booing because they are passionate, they really care about their teams, and because everything sports-related matters to them.

It’s what makes Boston such a great sports town.  We take it personally. And that’s okay.


Comments are closed.

About The Author

is a veteran television sports reporter and Olympian. Her experience includes 25 years of sports reporting for WBZ-TV, the CBS and former NBC affiliate in Boston. Cook has worked for ESPN, Turner Sports, and WTBS. Cook is a feature writer for She's Game Sports and She is also President and Founder of She's Game Sports LLC.