I am not one who usually throws praise in the direction of Jon Lester, but he gets props today for not only pitching a great game but, in not yet picking up a win, for not throwing his team under the bus. * One would not have blamed him had he busted out with “Good GOD why can’t these guys score some freaking RUNS?!?” in last night’s post-game press conference. I have no doubt Crabby’s good pitching will be rewarded this season but it has to be frustrating to watch good outings go for naught.
Goodness knows we’re all frustrated.
I had an conversation with someone last night who told me that I was lying to myself and those around me when I say that I’m not worried about this team. I’m not lying…I’m not worried. But as I posted online earlier, this team is wearing me out. Although, that’s probably not entirely accurate. The reaction to this team are what is wearing me out. While I completely understand frustration I don’t understand blaming one or two people for the failings of an entire team. (The next “get rid of so and so” message I read will be my millionth.)
If you believe the team is going to go 2-160, I suggest you find another team to root for or another sport to enjoy. There are rough patches in every season for every team. It really is difficult watching the team struggle so early and for so long but the team is not going to lose every game for the rest of the season so, no, I’m not lying when I say I’m not worried. (But man, a couple of wins in a row…wouldn’t that be nice?)
As I often do when I need to ignore what is going on with my own team, I look to the rest of the league. Last night, Josh Hamilton broke his arm while sliding into home. Here’s what he said about it:
“It was a stupid play,” Hamilton told The Associated Press. “The whole time the ball was in the air, [third base coach Dave Anderson] was yelling, ‘Go, there’s no one at home,’ and I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to do this, something is going to happen.’ But I listened to my coach.”
Much like I had to admit sympathy for Lester, I feel some for Hamilton. While not my favorite player, breaking your arm in April and putting yourself out of commission for a couple of months is a lousy way to being the season and I wish him a speedy recovery. What I don’t like is how quickly he took to placing the blame somewhere else. I wasn’t watching the game but I know third base coaches will make as many bad decisions as good when it comes to sending a runner. So if people want to criticize Dave Anderson for his decision to send Hamilton, I take no issue with that. My problem comes when you, as a member of the same team as your coach, decide it’s okay to go public with your displeasure in his decision and, essentially, blame him for the fact that you got injured. Dave Anderson didn’t make a head-first slide into home, Josh Hamilton did. The only one responsible for that decision is Hamilton. Quotes like this one, when given a chance to say something like “I blurted that out in the heat of my frustration” do nothing to endear Hamilton to me:
I threw him under the bus by telling the truth about what happened.
What? Does Hamilton remember how many people had his back not only when he was trying to come back from his addiction trouble but when he relapsed? “Telling the truth” is no excuse for being an ass, Josh. You weren’t telling the truth, you were placing blame on someone else because YOU made a dumb decision.
Ron Washington, someone I have criticized in the past as well and who happens to be the manager of the Rangers, isn’t blaming his third base coach and had some words for his outfielder:
“He’s got a right to feel what he feels, but I’m certainly not going to blame David,” Washington said. “I think Josh has to live with what he said.”
Well said, Ron.
And, finally, another installment of “WHY WON’T YOU LOVE ME? ~ The Johnny Damon Story:
This comes from the Sporting News (prepare for many blockquotes):
Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Johnny Damon admitted his only chance to reach the Hall of Fame is to reach the 3,000-hit plateau. And if that happens, he told the Boston Herald that he won’t don a Boston Red Sox hat on his Cooperstown plaque
“(Ending the curse) was big,” Damon told the Boston Herald. “I loved every minute of my time in Boston, but how things went down at the end definitely left sour feelings, and that’s why I can’t really embrace that.”
In reality, a player doesn’t choose his Hall of Fame cap. If called to the Hall, Damon almost certainly would go in as a Royal because he played there longer (six seasons) than with any other team.
So Johnny wants to make it clear that he doesn’t choo, choo, choose us even though he doesn’t have the option. If you don’t stop texting us, Johnny, we’re going to change our phone number.
Random stat that doesn’t mean anything but sounds great: in 1991, the Minnesota Twins won the World Series after a 2-9 start to their season.
Blog suggestion for the day: The above stat comes courtesy of Ted’s Army who gives us hope today when all things seem hopeless.
I have so much I plan to write about. I still have to share my “Welcome Home Red Sox” event experience with you as well as my thoughts on the new video boards and Manny Ramirez (that last one might have to include copious amounts of wine). But time is short today and I’m being bombarded, yet again, with “Don’t boo Johnny Damon” pleas and orders and I can’t let it go because people won’t let me.
If my memory serves, I have booed Johnny Damon on one occasion…the first time I saw him with the Yankees in Fenway Park (it wasn’t the first game but it was that first series). I’d do it again in an instant. There might have been other times but I don’t recall them, especially not them in any serious way (heck, I don’t even boo Derek Jeter most of the time). But that first time? You bet your ass I booed him.
I have mapped out in great detail how strongly I feel about Johnny Damon. (And those posts only cover 2010 and 2011…dig through the archives and you’ll find many more.) SO this entry isn’t to rehash my belief that he’s a liar who only cares about how much money he makes and how he “looks” to the fans. Regardless of how he turned his back on the fans of the Red Sox, he still shows up like a bad penny begging us to love him again.
Now I couldn’t care less if you are at Fenway tonight and decide to cheer for Johnny. Have at it. But I will also be at Fenway tonight and won’t be joining you. I have no idea if I’ll boo. It’s something that will either come naturally or won’t happen at all, but there is no way I will be cheering him. I did my cheering for him. Plenty of it as a matter of fact. And that is kind of where my issue is.
I, and every other living Red Sox fan, gave Johnny Damon his propers when he was in Boston. There is no obligation to give the man another ovation. Absolutely none. Not only did he flat-out lie when he said he wouldn’t be swayed by the Yankees going after him, but he never shut his trap after that. He said he was “always a Yankee” and winning a World Series with the Yankees was “the most amazing thing <he> experienced.” I won’t rehash it all again. Check out the above links.
Now, sure, you can argue that players say things in the moment of excitement and we shouldn’t hold them to what they say and I will say good for you for being that kind of person but I’m not and many others aren’t and to be told we need to “get a life” and are “angry and bitter” by the likes of Peter Abraham (who gets paid to insult his readers) is preposterous. You can’t make your living off the passion of sports fans and then insult them when their passions show through. If we didn’t care about the Red Sox Peter Abraham and others of his ilk would be out of work.
Me? I don’t get paid. If people stopped visiting my blog I’d still be here talking to myself just like I was in the beginning. But I like the traffic and the readers and the kind folks who visit my blog so I try, very much, to not insult them when they express their opinions, even if they differ with mine. All I have riding on the blog is the enjoyment I get out of it. It boggles my mind that professional sports writers think they should be able to tell fans what to do and insult them if they don’t do it.
The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if you boo or cheer Johnny Damon this week so don’t let people intimidate you or embarrass you to go one way or the other. The Red Sox don’t care what you do, Johnny will still get paid by the Rays either way, and NO ONE IN THE FREE WORLD GIVES A RAT’S HINEY IF YOU CHOOSE TO BOO HIM (except him, Peter Abraham and a handful of others).
I do have a suggestion, though, since you didn’t ask. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: How about neither? How about cheering your own team and supporting them through their struggles and just ignoring the fact that Johnny Damon even exists for these next three days? No cheering, no booing, just silence. If you ask me, that’s what he really deserves.
I’m not one who complains about Daylight Savings; I dig it being light out at 7, 8pm. But, apparently, it has been messing with my sleep patterns because this week I have gotten up every day at least an hour later than I usually do. So, once again, my post today is late and, this time, more of just a bit of rambling than any one cohesive thought. How about some confessions that you might or might now already know about me?
* I like Daisuke Matsuzaka. Sure it’s convenient for me to say that after he pitched so well yesterday, but I do. I’ve liked him from the beginning. I don’t fret over the money the Red Sox put out just to bid on him and I think, as far as making money in the bubble of the world known as MLB, he has been worth the money he’s being paid.
* I don’t like Jon Lester. I have my reasons just like everyone has their reasons for liking or not liking a player. Having written that, if he isn’t the starting pitcher for Opening Day, I will suspect Terry Francona was dropped on his head just before making the announcement. While I could also see Tito starting Clay Buchholz and being more than happy with that, I think Crabcakes has earned getting the nod first (and next).
* Ever since Mike Timlin left the Red Sox I haven’t developed a deep down, true favorite player. The seasons between 2002-2008 were magical for many reasons not the least of for me was the abundance of players to fall for. Kyle Snyder and Mike Timlin are the remnants of those years – both my last “favorite” players who are both no longer playing (hopefully that won’t be the case for Kyle much longer but who knows). I love the team and if I had to quickly pick the one whose being traded or DFA’d would rip my heart out I guess I’m looking at either JD Drew or Clay Buchholz. But it still isn’t the same. Ask anyone who went to a game with me while Mike Timlin was active and they’ll tell you how physically and emotionally involved I got in his appearances. You can also ask the handful of friends who spent the day texting me to find out if I was all right the Saturday Kyle was designated for assignment (yes, without looking I remembered it was a Saturday and they were in Toronto. The pain is burned into my memory). There’s no one on the team I feel that deeply for. Maybe that’s a good thing? I do know it changes the way I watch the games just a little bit.+
* I’ve never not had Bronson Arroyo on a fantasy baseball team and this year he’s on my team in two different leagues. So, in reference to the confession above this one, were he still on the Red Sox HE’D be the favorite. (I also still hold out the unrealistic hope of his returning to the Red Sox some day. I’m an optimist.)
* I’ve discovered (or maybe RE-discovered) that if I have any hard feelings for ex-Red Sox players (and goodness knows I do) they are stronger for Johnny Damon than they are for Manny Ramirez. I know the Yankees thing and the out and out lying thing are big parts of that but it struck me odd that I watched Manny and had NO feelings about how he did at bat (I felt “meh”) but just seeing Johnny holding a baseball bat my first thought was “I hope you strike out”. In real life, I’m a fairly rational person. Obviously this doesn’t translate well to my baseball fandom.
+If the Red Sox trade or DFA Tim Wakefield this year, I have no idea how I will handle it. They can only trade him with his approval because of his time in the league and on the Sox, so I guess I’d be more okay with that than with them just dumping him. He’s on a different level than a “favorite” player; he’s Tim Freaking Wakefield. I can’t write any more about it because it’s upsetting me just to think about it.
Right now, all I have to say about the Tampa Bay Rays signing Johnny Damon AND Manny Ramirez is this:
You will not catch me within 100 yards of Fenway Park any time the Rays are in town this year. I refuse to be a witness to the media circus/fan bashing that will go on. It is my hope that they both end up on the DL for every visit to Boston. I know I won’t get that lucky.
So it’s 3am and I’m wide awake thanks to this stupid cold I have (and the fact that I took the non-drowsy cold medicine instead of the one that would knock me out). PBS is hooking me up, though, because they’re showing the bottom half of The Tenth Inning and I turned it on just as they were going over the 2003 Sox season. As I type this, they’re finishing up the 2004 World Championship.
It has been said many times and it still stands true: this will never get old.
Something that struck me while watching the Red Sox celebrating at Yankee Stadium. They were so emotional. They weren’t just laughing and smiling but some of them looked just like the fans did. Tears in their eyes, looks of almost disbelief. They showed Mike Timlin burying his face in the shoulders of more than one of his teammates and Kevin Millar, of all people, looked just about speechless. It is so obvious watching this that it means SO much more to them than just winning a game. I started thinking about how much I love, yes LOVE, that team and then it got me thinking about Johnny Damon.
No one will argue that Johnny wasn’t important to that team. Sure he was quiet in the ALCS up until game 7, but he was a huge part of the reason the Sox got to the playoffs. I’ll never deny that. When he hit that grand slam in game 7, I was one of millions of Red Sox fans screaming with joy at my television. Not only happy that the Red Sox were putting the hurt on the Yankees but thrilled that Johnny finally broke out of his slump and made his mark on the ALCS.
As I watched the replay of his grand slam on PBS a few moments ago, I blurted out “We didn’t leave you, Johnny, you left us”. It surprised me because you have to believe that you’re over things like that, right? Sox won in 2007 without him and he isn’t even a Yankee anymore. So why do I have these lingering emotions about him?
Sure he lied. He mapped out what he thought the Yankees would do to get him and said he wouldn’t fall for it…and then the exact scenario he predicted happened and he said THAT was why he went with them. But at some point you get past that, no? When I was watching him run those bases during the documentary I remembered something he said in 2009. Something that, in my opinion, speaks to the fact that he did, indeed, turn his back on us so we just followed suit:
“This is the greatest organization I’ve ever played for.” “Winning a world championship in New York is the most amazing thing I’ve experienced.” “I’ve always been a Yankee.” “No matter what happens in my career, I’ll always have this.”
Damon was on a team that was the first in baseball HISTORY to come back from a 3-0 deficit and win the series and then went on to win the World Series for the first time in 86 years. People who aren’t Red Sox fans, hell people who aren’t BASEBALL fans get how important 2004 was. No matter what happens in his career he’ll always have the Yankees winning their 27th championship? Listen, I get that he has a hair across his ass because he has actually convinced himself that somehow the Red Sox dissed him in 2005, but he doesn’t just insult the team with the crap he says, he insults the fans. And he’s done it ever since the night it was announced that he signed with the Yankees. So I will never cry for poor Johnny and what he’s gone through since he left the Red Sox. But it surprised me that I had such a visceral reaction to seeing him hit that home run. I’ve maintained for a while that I consider there to be two Johnny Damons. The one who looked like Jesus in 2004 and the one who chopped his hair off and turned his back on an adoring fanbase.
But it was the “good” Johnny who hit that grand slam and still I yelled at him. (Sure I could blame the cold medicine and the fact that I’m wide awake at 3:30am but I don’t think it would be fair.) It seems to me that it’s time I genuinely admitted to myself that Johnny Damon broke my heart. Stuck a knife in it and chopped it into a million pieces, actually. Maybe it’s petty and many fans, Red Sox and non-Red Sox fans alike, will tell me that I’m being spiteful and over-emotional and that I should focus on the good he did for the team. Those people could be right. But I’m through apologizing for it. (But seemingly not through writing about it!)
You all have PBS to thank for yet another of my Johnny Damon rants. It’s ten minutes to four, maybe I should try and get some sleep?
(This is long and rambling because I’m just so freaking annoyed by all the “Johnny Damon was so wronged by Boston and that’s why he isn’t going back” talk. Fair warning to those of you who don’t want to read about Damon or anything long and rambling.)
Before I focus on them, I want to say this: It’s easy for people, especially those in the media, to take the high road in situations like this. I think sports writers wait for moments like this all year long so they can trot out the tired discussion about how bad sports fans, in this case BOSTON sports fans, are. I used to think Peter Gammons was better than that. Now it seems he’s actually worse than most. Here’s Gammons’ unedited tweet:
Damon’s return to Boston was ugly,unfair, vulgar. Louts who think public obscenity is their right should about 1 reason he declined.
I feel like I’m missing something. That’s a common feeling when reading some tweets but in this case I need more information. Was he talking about Johnny’s return as a Yankee? We’ll get to that. Was he talking about his return as a Tiger? The return that never happened? The man feigned an injury and, essentially, never showed his face while he was here with Detroit. We never heard one story about him being harassed outside the ballpark and we didn’t get any “the fans reminded Damon that they haven’t forgotten his time in pinstripes” articles. So if Johnny was abused during his last trip to Boston, he made a good effort to keep it a secret.
* First things first: Definitely will be a live chat tonight! (Well “definitely” resting on Mother Nature’s shoulders. If there is a game, there’s definitely a live chat!) Josh Beckett is pitching against old friend David Pauley. Beckett needs the mojo, so join us at 7pm, won’t you?
* As I wrote in the comments section of yesterday’s post: NESN gets kudos for showing us the National Anthem being sung, first pitch being thrown and the kids saying “Play Ball”. They get the raspberry for subjecting us to Ernie Boch Jr and his female football team. While I get that I’m being myopic by writing yesterday that NESN should just cover baseball and hockey, do they have to thrust the other sports on us WHILE THE DAMN GAME IS BEING PLAYED? And if they do, can they give us Kevin Garnett or David Krejci? Ernie Boch, Jr and his five minute long commercial during the game was unnecessary and annoying.
Yankees lost last night. Sox are 5.5 games back. It might be gray and rainy out but things look pretty bright right now.
Wrote this post on February 8, 2006 when Johnny’s ad to the Red Sox fans came out. It is STILL the most viewed entry I’ve ever written on either the Red Sox Chick or Toeing the Rubber blogs. The entry’s title? “Just SHUT UP JOHNNY!!!” Which, pretty much, says it all (and still applies).
Shut up! SHUT UP! God, please, just SHUT HIM UP!!!
How can we miss you if you won’t go AWAY?????
If this ad was ANYWHERE NEAR sincere, it would have been in the Boston Globe on December 22, 2005, not February 8, 2006.
Johnny seems to be pulling out all the stops to ensure that the Red Sox fans don’t boo him when he comes back to town. And, by all accounts, it seems to be backfiring. Every time this guy opens his mouth a member of Red Sox Nation sets another number 18 jersey on fire. WHY DOESN’T HE GET IT?
He’s a Yankee now. If he still wanted Red Sox fans to like him, he should have 1) signed with the freaking Red Sox or 2) signed with ANY OTHER TEAM IN MLB!
This isn’t rocket science, John.
So, please, I’m begging you. Shut the he11 up. For your own dignity, my sanity and the poor children of the world. Just SHUT UP JOHNNY!
Ian Browne and Peter Abraham both think that Red Sox fans “owe” Johnny Damon a standing ovation this weekend. I won’t link to their articles, you can find them easily enough, and they are both absolutely ridiculous.
Earlier this year I looked up some quotes because Nick Cafardo wrote a piece trying to guilt fans into loving Johnny again. I think now is a great time to remind folks that Johnny doesn’t deserve a standing ovation.
From March 2010:
For your amusement today, check out Nick Cafardo’s article about Johnny Damon. You know how I loathe to link to most of the writers over there but I really did get a few chuckles out of Cafardo’s story. Now, I don’t “hate” Damon. I think he followed the money and then pretended that he went to New York because Boston didn’t want him enough. THEN he spent his years in New York talking about how he was with the team he always wanted to be with and winning a championship with them is what he always wanted to do. Now that they have no use for him and he’s digging in with the Tigers, he tells Nick Cafardo that leaving Boston was more difficult than leaving New York and that he hopes there are no hard feelings with Red Sox fans.
So I wrote this as one of the two pieces I needed to write for the WEEI blogger contest (I was looking for the original piece I wrote that got me into the contest and can’t find it. It’s floating around here somewhere!). My final entry had photos for each item but I’m not posting them this time. I enjoy these kinds of entries and need to get back to writing more of them! (And, once again, a long entry awaits you. It seems MY personal favorite entries are usually of the long-winded kind!)
An off night is a great time to reflect on the sports moments of the past. So, because I’m nothing if not specific, I give you five favorite moments and five least favorite moments in New England sports history and how they affected me. Moments that I was alive (and old enough) to witness (not necessarily in person). What this means is no Fisk’s home run (which I was alive for but, alas, have no memory of), no Impossible Dream team of 1967 (predates me), no Ted Williams. You get the point.
Also, I’m purposely leaving out the 2004 and 2007 post-seasons of the Red Sox. Because, truly, I could write a book about them both and we really don’t have that kind of space right now.
Let’s start with the good and countdown since that’s so darned popular these days: