|Cody Ross returns to the city that hates him||05.18.12 at 2:23 pm ET|
City of Brotherly Love? To Cody Ross, that sort of title for Philadelphia would be laughable.
Ross is returning to a city and ballpark that he demolished two postseasons ago. As such, at Citizens Bank Ballpark, he will almost assuredly be given a welcome reserved for the most infamous villains.
And in a way, he qualifies for the designation, thanks to a 2010 playoff series in which he pulverized Phillies pitching and played an immense role in leading the Giants to an NLCS triumph over Philadelphia and an eventual World Series title.
Ross was locked in during that series. He jumpstarted the Giants by slamming a pair of solo homers against Roy Halladay in San Francisco’s Game 1 victory, and he went on to go 7-for-20 with three homers, three doubles and a .350/.435/.950/1.385 line en route to NLCS MVP honors.
Yet with that honor came outrage from the fans of the team that he beat.
One publication called him “the worst thing to happen to this country since Lee Harvey Oswald.” Enmity towards the outfielder inspired the manufacture and sale of a T-shirt to publicize the sentiment.
And then, of course, there was the Facebook page called simply, ‘I Hate Cody Ross.’
“I didn’t know about it until my mom brought it up,” Ross recounted of the Facebook page. “I was like, wow, that’s pretty interesting that somebody would go out of their way to make an I hate Cody Ross Facebook page, to take some time.
“It’s understandable,” he added. “They are passionate about their team. They want their team to win. They don’t like to see them lose. That year that we beat them, they were supposed to run away with it. It ended up going the other way. You can understand why they got so upset about it. But to have a Facebook page, that may be going a little far.”
Of course, the fact that Ross became the target of fan ire in Philadelphia could do little to dampen his spirits about what he accomplished. After all, heroism and villainy are relative terms; typically, villain status in one city means that a player is deified in another. And that was the case for Ross, who had an improbable journey to postseason glory in 2010.
He had been waived by the Marlins in the middle of that season after Florida could not find a trade partner for him prior to the July 31 trade deadline. The Fish cut bait in order to save money on Ross’ salary, and when the Giants claimed him, the move was an afterthought.
Yet there he was, a little more than two months later, being feted in San Francisco as a conquering hero. He played a central part in the Giants’ first title in San Francisco, and the adulation he encountered in the Giants’ city was even more extreme than the hostility directed at him in Philadelphia.
“Going from the regular season, [when] people in San Francisco [said], ‘Hey, Cody, glad to have you,’ to, ‘Thank you. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done. You’re a hero.’ People [were] just constantly coming up to me. It was different. It was night and day.
“I was playing games, doing things that I’ve done in the past. I guess it didn’t really register how important it was for not only the city but I guess for me, too,” Ross said. “It was an incredible experience, not only the playoffs and all that, but just hearing the reaction of the fans and people around the city that were just so excited. It’s something that I’ll never forget.”
It was an experience that drew him to Boston, as Ross wanted to be on a team for whom he could make an impact while also seeking another shot at October. Now, 36 games into his Red Sox career, he has been a central contributor to his new club’s efforts to claw into contention.
After his 2-for-3 performance with a homer and four RBI on Thursday, Ross is hitting .262 with a .338 OBP, .500 slugging mark, .838 OPS, seven homers (second on the Sox) and 27 RBI (tied for first on the club). It is the sort of performance that has endeared the outfielder to his new fan base and team.
“Cody will give you everything he has,” manager Bobby Valentine told reporters in St. Petersburg on Thursday night. “It’s enough for me — good player.”
The reception that Ross is likely to get in Philadelphia — a baseball city that resents him as a Viking conqueror — will likely further underscore the point.
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