I'm not going to overreact to Johnny Damon's defection to the Yankees. That feeling isn't universal, however. Check out these Damon-related e-mails that floated into my mailbox this week ... I'm so distraught after hearing the news of Johnny Damon going to the Yankees, I don't know what to think. Until now the Red Sox/Yankees and Star Wars comparisons have always been thin, but when I read the news I felt like Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode IV when Alderaan was destroyed.
-- Mike Kmiec, Phillipsburg, N.J. Personally, I have not been this shocked and angered by a change of allegiance since Sgt. Slaughter teamed up with Colonel Mustafa and supported Iraq during the Persian Gulf War.
-- Brenda, Washington Johnny, you're nothing to me now. You're not a brother, you're not a friend. I don't want to know you or what you do. I don't want to see you at the hotels, I don't want you near my house. When you see our mother, I want to know a day in advance, so I won't be there. You understand?
-- Kevin Juica, Boston Is it truly just about the money for every single athlete? Why do we pour our hearts into a team and its players just to get stabbed in the back by the team and the players? After all that Damon went through in Boston ... the clutch guy in Game 7 to beat the Yankees, the face of the Red Sox when they broke the curse ... why the hell would he sign with the Yankees less than two years later? He's an icon, a Red Sox legend ... until now. Now he's just another baseball player who will go down as a guy whose true team color came out in the end ... green.
-- Chad Stewart, Raleigh, N.C. What do you feel the reaction is going to be like at Fenway when he returns for this first game as a Yankee? I mean, he helped us win a World Series, and now sells out for the Furcal-esque price of $52 mill. I'd say the best response would be dead silent ... 33,000-plus saying nothing. Now THAT would bug the hell out of anyone.
-- Brez, Pittsfield, Mass. In what has become a sports rivalry of biblical proportions, do you find it ironic that Johnny Damon, a.k.a Jesus, turned out to be, in fact, Judas? Can this rivalry between New York and Boston get any bigger? I know you can't bear to think of it but the only logical countermove by Red Sox management is to sign Clemens and instigate a brawl by having him bean Damon.
-- J. Wood, Natick, Mass. As a lifelong Red Sox fan, I was completely mortified when I heard Johnny Damon had sold his soul to the devil. He was my favorite player, and although I want to shove hot pokers in his eyes, who would you blame in this situation: Damon, Boras, or Lucchino? MLB has lost a fan today. And although I'll always love the Sox, I feel sick to my stomach. I really thought Johnny D was a ballplayer and loved the game, but he just showed us his true nature. The dollar signs.
-- John, Columbus, Ohio If the Yankees are the Evil Empire, and the Red Sox are the Jedi, undoubtedly Johnny Damon is Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader. The only quetion left is who is Luke?
-- Ted Simmons, New City, N.Y. Johnny Damon just stole Christmas.
-- MF, Los Angeles Johnny Damon. Johnny Bleeping Damon. Johnny Benedict Arnold Damon. Johnny Baseball-Jesus-Turned-Baseball-Antichrist Damon. Johnny Traitor. Demon Damon. Johnny All-About-The Cash. Johnny Roger Clemens Damon. Johnny Rocket. Johnny No-arm Damon. Johnny Foulball-into-fans-heart Damon. Johnny No-Loyalty Damon. Johnny the Commie. Johnny Money-Grubbing-Bastard Damon. Johnny Back-Stabbing Damon. Johnny Steinbrenner. T.O. Damon. Johnny Unfrozen-caveman-"I-Don't-understand-team-loyalty"-lawyer Damon.
-- Jeremy, Albany, N.Y. Remember the SNL skit from the '90s labeled "Steroid Olympics" and that guy tries to dead lift 900 pounds and as he jerks up, both arms rip clean off his shoulders and are still attached to the barbell on the floor and blood is spurting out everywhere from his shoulder sockets. ... I hope Damon's arm comes flying off while he is trying to make a throw home and his hand and arm are still attached to the ball as it weekly lands in front of A-Rods foot and then A-Rod vomits and passes out, and Joe Torre has to come out and give mouth to mouth to A-Rods bloated purple lips ... That would ease the pain of this trade
-- Mark Faselle, Dallas So, how do you feel right now, just hours after the Damon debacle? I feel like I just found out Princess Leia is my sister, only it's to little to late because I made out with her last week. I'm gonna go stick my finger down my throat again.
-- Dana, Whitman, Mass. When we signed A-Rod, I felt sick like Richard Gere before he whacked that French guy with the snowglobe in "Unfaithful." For any true Yankee fan (as I am), signing Johnny Damon is like asking the last guy who nailed your new wife (prior to getting married to her of course) to come and live with you.
-- Jason, Phoenix Johnny Damon: looks like Jesus, throws like Mary, and betrays like Judas ... (And that just came out of the mouth of a Jewish girl. What do I do with my No. 18 Red Sox jersey now?)
-- Lindsey, Boston A brief highlight real of Johnny Damon's telephone interview after signing with the New York Yankees: "We know George Steinbrenner's reputation. He always wants to have the best players, and I think he showed that tonight." "A good leadoff man is tough to find, and I think that New York just found the best leadoff hitter in the game." "Hopefully now they (the Red Sox) can go off and get one of the center fielders they've been courting for the past month or so." Am I a terrible person for wishing bodily harm on an individual who helped my team to the World Series but now seems bent on some kind of celebrity power trip?
-- Chris, Boston My husband did this to me. Three years ago he made me believe. I kept the Faith, and I became a cap-wearing, Sports-Guy-lovin', J.-Damon-jersey-toting, "Idiot"-reading member of the Red Sox Nation. I have never felt so betrayed. I have lost my last scrap of faith in humanity. This could turn me off to sports forever, and cause a real problem with my marriage. How can I cope?
-- Shelley Thompson, Oak Park, Calif. Look at it this way: from now on, any time you see a replay of Jonny Damon getting his face caved in by Damian Jackson, it'll be as funny to you as it has always been to the rest of us.
-- Brian Pierce, Bowling Green, Ohio Don't you miss New England during this time of year? The weather here is crisp but not paralyzingly cold. There's snow, but it's more "decorative" snow than the typical February "shovelling" snow. Sweaters, cocoa, egg nog, peace on earth and goodwill toward men -- there's not a better time to be a New Englander. Wait ... What??? JOHNNY DAMON IS NOW A YANKEE!?!?! I WILL NOW GO SCOOP OUT MY EYESBALLS WITH A RUSTY MELON BALLER AND ROAST MY CHESTNUTS IN AN OPEN FIRE!
-- Tom, Mystic, Conn. If there's a silver lining on Johnny leaving the Idiots, it's that maybe I will be able to go to Fenway without having to sit next to That Girl. You know her. She's the one wearing her pink Sox hat and pink Sox shirt, whose only commentary on the game consists of, "Is that Johnny? He's like soooo hot," followed by a comment on his obscenely shiny hair. This not only makes for an annoying game, but it makes the rest of us girls look bad. Can it, That Girl. I expect you will all relocate to Gillette Stadium, where you can talk about Tom Brady's butt in those pants all you want. Besides, who'd want to go home with Scrawny Johnny when you could have a Big Papi?
-- Emily, Charlotte, N.C. All right, I am sick and tired of sports broadcasters who talk about great rivalries and how "These two teams really hate each other." With Damon signing with the Yankees, I now know that it is all lies. There are no rivalries, there is no hatred. There are just bank accounts.
-- Jason Gilman, Toronto, Ontario To say Johnny Damon has sold his soul to the devil is a complete and utter understatement. I skipped studying for my final last night to walk around my house intermittently cursing him and the Evil Empire. I feel like a jilted girlfriend who has just been dumped for no reason and then finds out that my ex-boyfriend is now dating the biggest skank in school. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
-- Erin, Norwell, Mass. Where does the defection of Johnny Damon to the Yankees rank on the stomach punch scale? Is this akin to Paul Orndorff clotheslining and piledriving Hulk Hogan out of nowhere? Or is this more of a Steve Austin slowly allies himself with Vince McMahon moment?
-- Adam G., Dallas Top 10 reasons to love the Johnny Damon signing: 10. Watching him throw goes from tragedy to comedy overnight
9. No longer confused Christians in Boston asking what the extra D in "WWJDDD?" is for
8. Thirty percent chance he gets career-ending disease from a NY stripper
7. Being able to say "hey, almost reached second base with that throw, Johnny!" and not cry afterwards
6. $52 million will weigh down his pockets, reduce range in the outfield
5. Hoping the prospect of a locker room full of "Coco Crisp" jokes is enough to make Manny happy in Boston again
4. Did I mention he throws like a girl? A girl-throwing lefty
3. No longer having to defend his abhorrid personality
2. Yankees-Sox rivalry was wearing down. "bloated payroll" now a valid argument again
1. No longer have to listen to girls argue the relative physical merits of Johnny vs. Gabe Kapler
-- Corey Zue, Boston In the words of Mike McDermott: "That turncoat mother ..." I have printed out a picture of Derek Lowe to replace the Johnny Damon feature on my "World Series '04" poster. I was at Game 7, and this has taken something away from one of the greatest nights of my life. There will now always be an asterisk next to the quote "grand slam Johnny Damon." What a rat bastard.
-- Ben K., Newport, R.I. As a Red Sox fan, does Johnny Damon signing with the Yanks tick you off as much as it ticks me off as a Yankee fan? I hate Johnny Damon. There are members of the Red Sox I would love to have in pinstripes, but not Damon. He has this unnerving effect on me, because whenever I see him, I have this dire need to hit someone with my '99 All Star Game souvenir bat. The much-loathed Damon is replacing our beloved Bernie in center field, and Yanks fans are split on the Damon signing, which will cause Yankee fan in-fighting for the whole season. Do those facts at least give you a sick little sense of satisfaction?
-- Geoff, Albany, N.Y. I woke up this morning to my girlfriend reading a text message from a friend about Johnny Demon going to the Yanks. I said "(bleeping bleep)" and then went back to sleep. Damon really is an idiot. Seriously, he's just plain stupid. I think he sits at home with a Hooked on Phonics set every night and learns how to read with his pinup Michelle. He had it made here. He wasn't just Jesus, he was God. He flew around the city in his Harley, had 75 percent of the female population that is remotely into the Red Sox drooling over him, and was getting endorsments up to wazzoo (I've always wanted to say wazzoo because it's just so ridiculous when I hear it). In N.Y., he will be a NOBODY. Jeter, A-Rod, Sheffield, Mo. The only reason he came to cult status was his crazy look and now that will be gone. He'll be what he was in K.C. and Oaktown; A great leadoff man with great range in center with no arm. Yeah he's in a bigger market, but he could not possibly get bigger than he was here, just smaller. The only logical move he could have made besides Boston would be L.A. At least there, he could live it up with the other former Sox players/managers and then could have dumped his wife for a Playboy bunny or movie star. Now he's a nobody who will get booed to its greatest extent next year ... for an extra $3 mil a year. That money means nothing to him, but I don't think he knows that, he's just an idiot.
-- Chris Catena, Somerville, Mass. Damon left because the Sox didn't counter. How could they not counter? Lucchino -- "I think it's fair to say that we left the door ajar for a subsequent formal offer." Could he qualify that statement any further? Some negotiator. I'm sure Theo would not have allowed this thing to sit on the back burner. Remember the Schilling negotiations? Theo flying out to Arizona ... management with urgency. The new management structure is doomed to fail, it emasculates both of the non-GMs. So here's the real question: the Sox are doomed as long as Lucchino is here, right?
-- Mo Green, Hartford, Conn. Hey Bill, I think we need to look a little closer at what transpired this week ... Johnny Damon now says he was offered more to play elsewhere for six years (not four) by a team other than the Yankees -- yet he conveniently won't reveal the source of that offer. He also says he turned the larger offer down because he's really just a gamer and wanted to play for a contender -- so he was really just forced to go to New York. So basically this sheepish little tramp is trying to get the best of both worlds -- making it look like a.) he wasn't really disloyal -- because the Sox dropped the ball in negotiations and b.) a money grubber because he accepted less money to play in New York. It's an impressive alibi but I don't believe it for a second. After all, in the spirit of negotiations, wouldn't it be to his benefit to reveal that there was a six-year deal on the table? Of course, it would! I think we also have to recognize his agent is Scott Boras -- no stranger to spin. In addition, we all know Johnny is a sucker for the spotlight! So I say good for the Sox to play hardball with these guys. It is clear to me that Johnny's ultimate goal was to play baseball under the bright lights in the big city ... and to see just how far he could take his celebrity. In short, he is a major league tramp and a traitor of the highest order. Sayonara, Johnny!
-- P. Baldwin, Boston Damon signing with the Yankees only reinforces that today's athletes DO NOT CARE about the fans and a city that has grown to love them. Damon owned Boston, he was a Rock Star and Idiot. What is he now? He's nothing but another mercenary who went for top dollar. Boston fans, DAMON COULD CARE LESS ABOUT YOU!!! No, today's athletes ONLY care about how much they are getting paid. Didn't Damon say back in May that he would never play for the Yankees and that getting top dollar on the free-agent market wasn't a top priority? What crap!! Fans and the media like to hype up the Yanks/Sox matchup as a heated rivalry. They like to romanticize playing baseball for these organizations and the love players must feels for fans or a city. The fact of the matter is that players (guys like Damon) do not feel the hatred between the organizations that fans do. They play the game not because they love it or love a particular city, they play the game to get the most money that they can. This desire will make players do unspeakable things like sign with the Devil (Damon, Giambi, Randy Johnson, Clemens, Boggs, Sheffield, Mussina, etc) or they will even sign with a last place team (A-Rod, Pudge Rodriguez). The desire for the best deal outweighs any loyalty a player feels. That lack of a soul is why a guy like Damon would sign with the Devil.
-- Mike Walsh, Fort Myers, Fla