Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Fiction Can Be Fun...Johnny Damon

Alright. I hate to do this but I'm starting to get a little annoyed. When Johnny Damon was in Boston, I really liked him. He played hard, played well, and helped bring us a championship. After the Red Sox won the World Series, I thought that everyone on that team, all the way from Ortiz down to Leskanic, had a free pass in Boston. Going out for dinner? The restaurant will pick up that tab. No, no Mr. Cabrera, the drinks are on the house. The team of players who finally delivered the championship to Boston are immortalized around here. There would be only one thing that I could think of that would spoil that for a player from that team: Going to the Yankees. Good thing last May our friend Johnny Damon put to rest the thought of seeing him in pinstripes...

"There's no way I can go play for the Yankees, but I know they are going to come after me hard," Damon said. "It's definitely not the most important thing to go out there for the top dollar, which the Yankees are going to offer me. It's not what I need." -Johnny Damon, May 2005

So, things changed, as they usually do in life. The Red Sox went on to have a tough season, and even though they made the playoffs, you could tell it was a matter of time before the wheels fell off. Damon played well, hitting over .330 for most of the season, but by the end of September his average was down to .316. Then, he helped El Duque put the nail in the Sox playoff coffin by striking out late in game 3 with the go ahead runs on base. Compared to the 2004 team, this one didn't have a chance. This playoff loss was easier to take than most, because we had the title. So Sox fans could feel good going into the offseason knowing that the Sox would be back next year, and probably with Damon in center and leading off.

Little did anyone know that the Red Sox really didn't intend to keep him. Damon said that the money wasn't the issue...but the money is almost always the issue in pro sports. I think to a certain degree Damon was telling the truth. But the Sox first offer of 3 years and $27 million doesn't constitute a hometown discount. That offer, in this sport during this offseason, was an insult to Damon. I don't believe he was worth much more per season, but he is in great shape and has earned more than a 3 year deal. The Sox next move was to blow him away with a 4 year $40 million contract. That was more like it, but not to Damon. In my opinion, it is the Red Sox fault that they didn't re-sign him, BUT, Damon could have signed with any other team and it wouldn't have been a big deal. Instead he chose the Yankees. Instead, he sold out. According to Out is a common slang phrase. Broadly speaking, it refers to the compromising of one's integrity in exchange for money or other personal gain. It is commonly associated with attempts to increase mass appeal or acceptability to mainstream society. A person who does this is labelled a sellout. You can decide if Damon fits this description.

"I know fans are upset. I’m sorry. It wasn’t even close and obviously the money looks like a huge factor. There was a 6-year offer for more money than the Yankees. I’m walking away from $25 million from another team, so I can play for four years in New York... I was just trying to get the best offer," Damon said. With this logic, shouldn't he have been saying "I'm walking away from $13 million from the Yankees so that I can play for four years in Boston." So, contrary to what he said, the money was important. That is why I don't believe any team ever offered him 6 years or $75 million...he never would have walked away from it.

Since signing with the Yankees, Damon has done everything he can to make it seem like he loves being on the Yankees and doesn't feel weird about it at all. I disagree. I keep seeing quotes from him where he is still talking about Boston. For someone who plays for the Yankees, he seems to be very concerned with the goings on at Fenway, and not just because he has to show up there next year and get booed. For instance...

"'Manny really wants out of Boston, just so he can relax and chill,' Damon told Kay. 'If he played for the Mets, he probably wouldn't be able to chill much. But I think the Yankees would be a perfect fit for him, as well as for David Ortiz.'"

Wow Johnny, now your talking. That makes sense. You can't even decide how you dress or act as part of the Yankees, but Manny would be a perfect fit. Ya? Ortiz can't wait to get out of his contract so he can sign with the Yankees. What's wrong with you, do you miss Boston already? Why don't you ask if they can build a Blue Monster for you in left field. How bout buying a Cask n' Flagon franchise with the extra money that you didn't need(but your wife probably did), and put it outside the Stadium. We want to make sure your comfortable Johnny, but you just left the last place on earth that you would be comfortable in. How bout another quote from Bizarro Johnny Damon?

"Everything feels right about being a Yankee, about the tradition, about my new teammates. It feels pretty special." -- Johnny Damon, New York Yankees CF

Awww how cute. You feel special being part of something you hated and were against for the best 4 years of your career. Boston made you a star as much as you helped the Red Sox win. Would any other city embrace someone who shows up to spring training looking like a 30 year old Teen Wolf? I appreciate the way you played and your honesty in interviews and so forth, but now you can't be honest, you can't have an opinion. You can't even decide the length of your hair. If you haven't realized it yet, you will soon. You fucked up. But hey, at least you went out classy so that your replacement in Boston will feel welcome.

"'I wish (Crisp) the best. I don't hope negative things on anybody, but just hope that Boston fans can embrace him and make him feel as special as they made me over the four years I played there.'" "'He is a guy they wanted. It was clear in the papers they were wanting other center fielders as soon as the season was over. The fact that my jersey went for half price after the season, that kind of tells you something. They got the guy they wanted, so I hope he enjoys it."Sounds bitter doesn't he? He doesn't hope negative things on people, but he hopes the Red Sox fans can just let Coco Crisp play and not remind him who was in centerfield before he got there. Maybe the Sox starting looking for a new centerfielder the minute your agent said he wanted a 7 year deal for you. Seriously, what did you expect..."Ya lets lock this guy up till he's 40, and pay him like he's still 32 the whole time." Sorry Champ...not happening.

But alas, Johnny is gone but not forgotten. We will see him 19 times at least this year, and may a plague come upon him and his teammates each time he does. If he thought Boston was 25 players and 25 cabs when he got to town,I can only assume he will love playing on the Yankees. Do you think A-Rod and Damon are gonna hang out after games and play xbox? A-Rod goes home, puts on a striped one-piece swimming suit and dives into his Scrooge McDuck money chamber. Jeter goes home, looks out the window of his penthouse overlooking the city and laughs to himself while some exotic woman gets undressed in the other room. Jason Giambi goes to the nearest club, mixes the clear with some Patron, then sexual humiliates himself and the woman he tricked into coming home with him (more on that in the future). I think the one consoling thought that Sox fans is the message Damon wanted to get through before he left: he tried.

“My message to Red Sox fans is I tried, I tried everything in my power to try to come back. Unfortunately I know they are going to be upset but I'm always going to have a strong feeling about them. I'm always going to remember the great times. The World Series. The three out of four years we made the playoffs. I just want them to know that I appreciate them and I tried and that's the least I can do." I disagree. The least you could do is sign with a team other than the Yankees.

This year we 'll see Damon in a Yankee uniform, and as sad as that is, it wouldn't be half as sad if he had signed with the Dodgers or Diamondbacks. But he signed with the Yankees, the team he said he wouldn't go to, for the reason he said he wouldn't base his decision on: money. So now he has an extra few million to play with (which will be spent on living in NY and his wife's collagen habit.) I think Johnny Damon is about to find out that, indeed, money can but you many things, but not happiness. And certainly not a World Championship. All he has to do is look around the locker room to realize that.

In closing, I would like to leave you with two recent quotes from Mr. Damon, to show how confused he is with being a Yankee. These quotes reference an upcoming meeting between Damon and George Steinbrenner, their first face to face since Damon signed there. "We're just going to talk, kick back and crack some jokes," Damon said."It's great to be on his side, so now we can talk about the Yankee way." I don't personally know George Steinbrenner, but he doesn't strike me as the type to share some jokes and stories over a glass of scotch. And as far as the Yankee way, whoever that guy is impersonating Johnny Damon can have it.


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