The Isotopes, a team that averages 7,715 per game is expecting 14,000 or more Tuesday night, including thousands sitting in an outfield grass lawn. Same thing will happen for the rest of the week, even though the notoriously fickle Ramirez may or may not play any of those games.
The two games Ramirez may play in the Inland Empire Sunday and Monday also are sold out.
This really shouldn’t be a shock. Baseball fans have been quick to forgive their own for steroid use — Barry Bonds was public enemy number one everywhere but San Francisco, where he was and still is adored. Yankee fans still love Alex Rodriguez… okay, that may be a bad example. But the point still stands.
In the minors, when a big-time star comes to a minor league ballpark everyone wants to see it. Why he is playing there is irrelevant. Who cares about a suspension? They are gobbling up tickets that for games Manny may or may not play in. After Tuesday night in New Mexico, everything is a crapshoot. But people are rolling the dice with their money in a recession on this.
The Isotopes will be ready — there will be Manny merchandise for sale, more places to buy beer in the stadium and more police officers on hand.
How well Manny will do going back to hitting live pitching is uncertain. The only thing that may be certain is that the Albuquerque fans will give him a standing ovation when he steps to the plate.
The same thing will happen at Dodger Stadium when he returns there. Los Angeles loves Manny Ramirez.