It is certainly odd timing, to say the least.
Former Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon took out a full-page ad in today's Boston Globe thanking the fans whom he played in front of for four seasons. However, the gesture comes almost two months following his defection to the Yankees, which, while not technically an etiquette calamity, is a bit perplexing.
Again, how can we miss him if he won't go away?
Dated Feb. 8, his letter reads: "Many thanks to the fans of New England and the city of Boston. It was an honor and a privilege."
That's it. Damon is not the first athlete to publish such an ad, of course. Most notably, Drew Bledsoe and Mo Vaughn made similar gestures on their way out of town. But those were submitted the same week as their departure, not 10 days before spring training with their new teams.
Let's not forget this "honor and privilege" comes a week after he told the press in New York how unhappy Manny Ramirez is playing in Boston. He wants the slugger join him with the Yankees. David Ortiz, too.
It also comes a week after he said was starting to feel "like a Yankee" and was looking forward to discussing "the Yankee way" with team owner George Steinbrenner. It comes a week after he told radio host David Lee Roth how he and his kids shared a cry after he told them the Red Sox didn't want him.
Johnny Damon has spent all his time lately convincing himself and the world what a great decision it was to move on to the Yankees. If this is his desperate attempt at making sure he doesn't completely destroy his legacy in Boston -- a motion that would have been an act of class on Dec. 21 -- is today far too little, and much too late.
Hawking the blame
People really need to stop whining about the officiating in Sunday's Super Bowl. Was it great? Not by any means, but that doesn't mean anyone in their right mind should be insinuating that the game was fixed. Fixed? I mean, does anyone really believe that?
As for Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, this man needs to get a clue. I've often maintained the thought that Holmgren is one of the most overrated coaches in the NFL today. After all, how many more Super Bowls should the man have won with that dominant Green Bay team of the mid-'90s, only to pull a Tony Dungy year in and year out? What other coach shows such a lack of trust in his defense that he allows the opposition to score in the Super Bowl's final minutes so his team can get the ball back as he did against the Broncos in 1998? Who does that outside of high school?
On Monday, at Seattle's embarrassing "We lost" rally -- which now tops Mayor Menino's Ray Bourque celebration as lamest public sports gathering ever -- Holmgren told the crowd, "We knew it was going to be tough against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn't know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well."
Sorry, it's flat out wrong. For Holmgren to seriously believe that the Seahawks lost to Pittsburgh because of the refs, it only solidifies the fact that Seattle will never win the Super Bowl as long as its coach does not own up to his team's mistakes. As the Pittsburgh Tribune Review's Mike Prisuta points out:
Not to mention Holmgren's pathetic ball management at the end of the first and second halves.
It was a terrible game, and poorly officiated. But let's please stop with the notion that the blame should lie on the side of the referees when it's the Seahawks' coach who indeed should be shouldering the blame in lieu of dishing it out.
Boy, the NHL commissioner is going to wish he'd legally changed his name during the lockout.
Gary Bettman has got a big ol' gambling scandal on his hands. Yesterday, New Jersey charged Phoenix assistant -- and former Bruin -- Rick Tocchet with financing a betting ring. To make matters worse, Wayne Gretzky's wife, Janet Jones, allegedly placed bets. The Arizona Republic's Dan Bickley writes that it's difficult to not think of Pete Rose at a time like this.
"You also want to believe that Jones, the first lady of hockey, is really a huge sports fan capable of taking the Steelers and giving the points," he writes. "Or that her name has leaked out mistakenly, that her involvement is some innocent mistake. But you can't help but think of how the ground might shake if her husband -- hockey's Prince Charming -- is somehow involved. And it's hard to believe that one of his best friends could be taking bets from his wife without Gretzky having a clue."
As for the scandal's timing ... well, not good. We're less than a week from the NHL players arriving in Turin for the Winter Olympics (an event in which the Americans have a reputation for trashing their rooms in Nagano in 1998), and with the lockout finally in the rearview mirror, Bettman can ill afford another blow to his sport.
Prospects are thin
Which is the worst team in baseball, the Royals or the Devil Rays?
Neither. Not by a long shot.
No team has shown more ineptitude in recent years than the Colorado Rockies, a squad destined to finish in last place in the NL West this season. The Denver Post's Jim Armstrong has had enough, and calls out owner Charlie Monfort for continuing to run what was once a supremely successful expansion franchise directly into the mile high ground:
"Now for the good news: There will be no public outrage, no hue and cry from the peanut gallery, no revolt among the masses. Why? Because that would imply that all kinds of people around here still care about the Rockies, still have passion for the Rockies, still live and die with the Rockies. Some do, no doubt, but all too many have moved on. The Rockies have killed off even die-hard fans. They haven't just turned them off, frustrated them, left them scratching their heads. They've alienated them to the point of no return trips through the turnstiles."
Mind you, GM Dan O'Dowd, he of the Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton blunders, is still in power. Still in power. And yet he has failed to build any sort of contender in each of his six seasons in Denver. At the very least, in KC and Tampa there is some semblance of young talent. At Coors Field, all you get are second-tier prospects year-in and year-out who find their game all messed up thanks to the thin air of Colorado.