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He's Baaaaaack

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“I can’t wait to get to the field,” Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez said of his 50-game suspension. “I miss the game the game that I love.”

And with that Manny being Manny returns three-ring style in Petco Park in San Diego.

Throughout the day walking around my hotel in the Gaslamp District in Downtown San Diego, it looked like Dodger fans outnumbered Padres fans. You could see the natives leering at those wearing their Dodger jerseys.

As game time grew closer Dodger fans could be seen congregating in the outlying parking lots.

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“There are going to be more Dodger fans than Padres fans tonight,” Omar Franco from Los Angeles told me in one of those outlying parking lots.

And there were. As I stepped through the turnstiles all I saw were Dodger fans. I really tried to look for Padre fans, but looking for them was like searching for Waldo.

“As you can see [the Padres] don’t have a fan base,” said San Diego resident Drew Lang who was wearing his Padres gear. Apparently so since it took me fifteen minutes to find him.

But when I asked him if he was a true Padre fan he responded, “No, I’m a Yankee fan.”

“I just came to boo Manny,” Lang continued. “I’ve always disliked him, but I’ve always respected him as a player. Now I have to question him.”

Fair enough, even though he was rooting for the Dodgers to win a Dodgers-Yankees World Series because of his admiration of Joe Torre. But that’s neither here nor there.

As I settled in my seat for the game, it really did feel like a Dodger home game. Boos for the Padres, cheers for the Dodgers. The “Let’s Go Dodgers” cheer being heard as clear as day. If I had to hazard a guess, I would have to say it was a 70-30 Dodger crowd.

Then Manny came to the plate. While boos and jeers could be heard, it was dueling with the cheers from the Dodger fans. In the end Manny would go 0-for-3 with a walk, but the Dodgers would win 6-3 thanks to a five run first inning that lasted nearly 30 minutes.

“We’re not expecting him to hit a home run tonight,” Franco said. “We’re expecting him to just add to the lineup.”

The rust showed in Manny’s swings, and predictably he was taken out after his fourth plate appearance in the sixth inning. He probably won’t be in the lineup Saturday afternoon.

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Regardless, LA has its Manny back and from the sound of it LA couldn’t be happier.