Wednesday, December 21, 2005


WWJDD? Take the money and strike a deal with the Devil, apparently.

I don't begrudge Johnny Damon his hard-earned right to make as much money as he possibly can during an elite professional athlete's limited window - hell, I may well have done the same thing as the erstwhile Sox center-fielder did yesterday, signing a 4-year, $52m deal with the Yankees. (I do take a bit of offense at his CYA press conference and at the fact that as recently as a year ago he publicly stated that he'd never take the money and go to New York.)

And I don't blame the Sox for not following the Yankees over that financial precipice - their 4-year, $40m offer was fair, if not truly market value in this Furcal-inflated spending season. They looked at Johnny Rockstar and saw a 32 year-old with an awful throwing arm and a more than passing resemblance to Bernie Williams and didn't want to be carting that corpse around Fenway in 3 years.

Neither of those things make this news any easier to take - I saw it last night on the ESPNews ticker and sat bolt upright in bed, exclaiming, "No!". I love(d) Johnny Damon. I loved his happy-go-lucky approach, his slaphappy little swing, the way he could just as easily bloop a ball over short as rocket one into the right-field bleachers in Yankee Stadium, the way he tracked fly balls and got to nearly everything - even if he had to use Manny Ramirez as a cutoff man, the way he stole bases efficiently and effectively, and far more importantly, the way he got my daughter interested in baseball.

My oldest daughter is 4 years old, and this morning I had to tell her that Johnny Damon plays for the Yankees now. "Why, Daddy? Why?", she asked me several times during breakfast. The whole $12m difference in salary is hard to explain to a kid, especially during The Wiggles. This evening, we renamed her pink Sox cap (the cap formerly known as her Johnny Damon Hat) - it's now her Trot Nixon Hat, at least until the Sox' right fielder gets traded this offseason. (I pushed for the Tizzle Hat, for what it's worth.)

In the parlance of SOSH, Johnny was 1 of the 25, and for that he'll always own a special place in my heart.

But Johnny Damon is also the first man to break my daughter's heart, and for that I hope he takes his $52m and makes Yankee fans longingly recall Bernie Williams' 2005 season. Enjoy your corporate haircut, Johnny - you're dead to me.

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