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Last rites

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  August 25, 2010 08:58 AM

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I'm just about Johnny Damon-ed out, but I couldn't let this odd tidbit go without mention.

Once you get past the GQ pose on the homepage at www.johnnydamon.com, Damon's official web site, the "about Johnny" link reads as follows:

After winning the 2004 World Series with the Boston Red Sox and achieving legendary superstar status in New England, Johnny signed with the Detroit Tigers in 2010 as one of the most highly sought-after free agents in Major League Baseball (MLB) history. An MLB star for 16 seasons, Johnny is one of the most outstanding players in the MLB and has the potential to receive Hall of Fame consideration upon retirement, as he seeks to join the illustrious 3,000 hit club in MLB

Um, something missing?

Let's disregard the laughable assertion that he was "one of the most highly sought-after free agents" last offseason if we may, and ponder why his four-year stint in New York with the Yankees, the team that means "the world" to him gets nary a mention. Of course, if you're looking for images of Damon in a Red Sox uniform in the link to the "gallery," you'll get none of those either, only more glamour poses and pictures of him wearing Yankee and Tiger colors.

UPDATE: 11:41 a.m.

As commenter "ianjackson" points out, apparently Damon's people caught wind. It now reads:

After winning the 2004 World Series with the Boston Red Sox and achieving legendary superstar status in New England, Johnny signed with the New York Yankees in 2006. In 2009, he won a World Series with the Yankees, joining Babe Ruth, to be one of just a few full-time ,every day players to achieve WS rings with both the Red Sox and Yankees. In February of 2010, he signed with the Detroit Tigers. An MLB star for 16 seasons, Johnny is one of the most outstanding, respected and durable players in the MLB and has the potential to receive Hall of Fame consideration upon retirement, as he seeks to join the illustrious 3,000 hit club in MLB

-- Quite a few commenters took issue yesterday with my thought that Damon's candidacy for the Hall of Fame was somewhat foolhardy, bringing up the fact that his most comparable player on Baseball Reference was Cesar Cedeno. "Erklie" wrote, "Cesar Cedeno had over 2,000 career hits and a career OPS+ of 123. He probably would be a Hall of Famer if he'd been able top be a full-time player past the age of 31."

Sure, so might have Rick Ankiel. The pitcher.

In fairness, here's the rest of the list:

Kenny Lofton (871) 
Marquis Grissom (869)
Tim Raines (868) 
Jimmy Ryan (866)
Jose Cruz (863)
Amos Otis (852)
Vada Pinson (852)
Willie Davis (850)
Steve Finley (849)

Of the players on that list, Tim Raines merits the most consideration, but he only received 30.4 percent of the votes in 2010, and that was a marked improvement. To get to 3,000 hits, the 36-year-old Damon would have to play at least three more seasons at an equivalent level, full-time. Only Rafael Palmeiro, Pete Rose, and Craig Biggio have 3,000 hits and are not in the Hall, and Biggio isn't yet eligible. The Houston star was 41 when he accomplished the feat three seasons ago. Damon may be able to do it at the age of 39.

If he can be more Paul Molitor at the tail end of his career and less Cedeno, then sure, he's a lock. So there. I'm wrong. For now.

-- It continues to amaze me how many sports writers are of the mindset that it's perfectly fine for million dollar athletes not to have loyalty in the business of sports, but that when fans take out their frustration on said players, they're being "ungrateful" and "childish."

It can be a cold-hearted business for the players. But when they return to their former stomping grounds to discover just as cold-hearted of a reaction from their former fans, it's the fans who are at fault? Please.

Johnny Damon helped the Red Sox win a World Series. Or, as some writers would have you believe this week, he solely won you a World Series. They tell you that your actions and feelings toward Damon are uncalled for, and that goes for Keith Foulke, Mark Bellhorn, and any other player jeered in Fenway since 2004. No negative words must be spoken.

And yet, Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling were on that team too, you know. I don't see many writers having a problem with booing them through the keyboard. Damon is a "warrior." Schilling is a "showboat."

These guys gave you something you always dreamed about having, a World Series title to treasure. Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren have two children whom I'm sure they both adore. Doesn't mean they're going to share yarns over a seafood dinner anytime soon.

Divorce can be amicable. It's usually downright ugly. The split between Damon and Boston was certainly one of the latter, mostly because that's the way Damon made it. The reaction when he returned in 2006 was one of frustration (or as Peter Gammons Tweeted this morning, "ugly, unfair, vulgar" adding " Louts who think public obscenity is their right should about 1 reason he declined."), not merely because of the uniform he returned in, but because of the way he went out. When exactly did we as a sporting society become so overly sensitive to such displays of affection anyway?

Damon was allowed to leave emotion out of the equation when it came to making his money. But he was also free to wear his heart on his sleeve upon his return to Boston. Why does he get to have it both ways and the fans don't?

"It's a business," they say. "Fans need to understand that. You would do the same." Probably. Who wouldn't?

But sometimes when you follow the money, you have to pay the price.

Sorry if Johnny is still scarred from getting booed more than four years ago, but really, what did he expect? Bouquets and love notes?

On a final note, it's 2010, and I still can't [expletive deleted] believe we're still [expletive deleted] talking about that [expletive deleted] night.

OK, now I'm Damon-ed out. Papers have been filed. The divorce is official.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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