Friday, January 29, 2010

My Take On Johnny Damon

Well, it's pretty obvious now - Johnny Damon isn't coming back to the Yankees. The Bombers tried as hard as they thought they could to get Damon back, but Johnny was just too greedy and wouldn't even accept a $6 million offer from them (see post below).

JD was one of my favorite Yankees the past four years. When he first signed in December of 2005, I hated him just as much as every other New York fan did. He hit that grand-slam in the '04 ALCS that sealed the deal for the collapse, and pretty much just didn't seem like a good fit in the Bronx. But then thanks to his 24 home-run campaign and his great clubhouse attitude, my entire family was embracing him with open arms come 2007. If there was one player I wanted to see when I went to Yankee games, it was Derek Jeter. But Johnny Damon was a strong second.

The biggest moment I remember of Damon's 2007 season was his clutch 3-run home run in Game 3 of the ALDS which kept the Yanks alive at least for another day. Since I was only 9 and didn't remember much of the late 90's dynasty, it was amazing to me to see the Yanks win a playoff game at the legendary Yankee Stadium (I wasn't there, I watched it on TV). So Damon was pretty much responsible for my first playoff memories as a Yankee fan.

2008 wasn't a great year for the Yankees, but Johnny Damon did once again deliver for me. I was at the game when he went 5 for 5 against the Royals, including a walkoff double in the 11th inning. Not only did Johnny come up big in the clutch, but it was my final game at the old Yankee Stadium, so leaving the House That Ruth Built for the final time with "New York, New York" blasting from the sterios in winning fashion was just great.

I don't need to go into specifics about last year because we all know how successful he and the Yankees were. But what I do want to point out is how JD constantly said he wanted to return to New York and didn't plan on signing elsewhere. Red Sox fans, does this remind you of anything? Let me refresh you guys if you forgot:

In the middle of the 2005 season, Damon, still the Geico caveman, said that he would never play for the Yankees after rumors came up that he may want to sign with New York. He also said that he "loved Boston" and wouldn't leave it for the world. But I'm pretty sure he signed with the Yankees and took the biggest deal possible.

Now, move ahead to 2009. Johnny constantly said that he wanted to stay with the Yanks, and that New York is a great place to play. The Yankees even said they wanted Damon back, and clearly stated that throughout the offseason. But sure enough Damon got greedy and thought he was worth $11 million per year (he said that on WFAN today), and the Yanks refused to give him more than $6 mill.

Do I hate Johnny Damon for his selfishness? No. Do I think his "loving New York" talk was garbage? Not neccissarily. But in the end, Damon will always be remembered to Yankee and Red Sox fans as a player who was well-liked, but ended up being just another player who wants nothing but the $.

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