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To boo, or not to boo? That is the question Boston Red Sox fans are presented with as Jacoby Ellsbury makes his return to Fenway Park adorned in the pinstripes of the New York Yankees.
On the one hand, he’s a Yankee. On the other, he helped bring two World Series trophies to Boston in ’07 and, of course, last year. What’s a fan to do?
As much as I love a good Boston Boo Bird — the shower of booooooos that rained down on Ryan Braun at the home opener was particularly satisfying to hear — I sadly don’t think I can bring myself to jeer Ellsbury. Yes, he’s a Yankee, which should be reason enough to break out the boos. But it’s not like Ellsbury turned his back on the Red Sox; the Yankees ponied up the lucrative, long-term contract
Scott Boras he was looking for, and the Red Sox didn’t. GM Ben Cherington and the Red Sox front office didn’t even come close to those years and dollars, so can you really blame him for switching sides?
(Side note: If we’re honest, he looks much better as a clean shaven Yankee than with the scraggle of a beard he grew last year. But I digress.)
More importantly, Ellsbury was a crucial centerpiece of two World Series teams. As a rookie in 2007, Ellsbury came on strong for the postseason, particularly in the World Series when he collected 7 hits (4 of them doubles) in 18 at bats, scoring 4 runs and driving in 3 more. Last year, he was the straw that stirred the bearded drink that was the Red Sox offense, with a slash line of .298/.355/.426 and 52 stolen bases. And that’s without mentioning his defensive contributions in center field.
I should probably mention his MVP-worthy performance in 2011, when he hit .321/.376/.552 with 32 home runs, 105 RBIs, 119 runs scored, and 39 stolen bases (and still finished second the Justin Verlander in the MVP race). But I don’t like to talk about 2011, so let’s just move on.
After seven seasons with the Red Sox, Ellsbury is hitting .338/.395/.441 with 10 runs, 6 RBIs, and 8 stolen bases in his first year in the Big Apple. Just because he’s raking at the plate for Boston’s arch nemesis in the AL East shouldn’t supplant his accomplishments with a “B” on the front of his hat.
Then again, Red Sox leadoff hitters seem unable to hit even if you placed the ball knee-high on a tee for them, batting an appalling .190 with a paltry .250 on-base percentage at the top of the lineup.
Screw it, Red Sox fans. Let him have it, Fenway. I’ll be with you in spirit, gathering up all the spite I can muster and booing right alongside you from my couch.