Why�d ya do it, Johnny? How could ya? Was it something I said?
That�s the natural reaction when any Red Sox fan heard the news about Damon going to the Yankees. It�s impossible not to feel that way. Everyone knows what he means to the Sox, and everyone knows he couldn�t have made more of an impact by going over to the Dark Side. And it happened so fast, and it seems to be all about money. No need to get into this � there�s no end to the reaction from both sides in the press and on the Net.
In IP land, it�s somewhat akin to Vint Cerf going over to Google from MCI. But this is much worse, and Google does not conjure up the Evil Empire � at least yet. Microsoft gained that distinction in its own way (I�m not in that camp, btw) years ago. OK, so it�s a weak analogy, but I had to put it in there if you�re not a Sox watcher!
The next reaction from the Nation flows effortlessly from here � this would never have happened if Theo was still in charge, and the Sox have already imploded, long before spring training even begins. On top of this, the infield has almost completely turned over, with holes to fill, Mirabelli is gone, some pitchers are gone, no GM, millions of shellshocked fans, Nomar has signed with the Dodgers, and Manny is probably not going anywhere. Oh, there is one ray of hope � Clemens could be lured back. Oh boy. Thank God we�ve still got Tek and Papi. There�s a reason we went 86 years without a World Series � Sox fans invented gloom, and nobody does it better.
Ok, now let�s calm down. We need to accelerate the cycle of denial, anger and acceptance to move on. It�s not hard to conclude that the Yankees, as always, overpaid -and offered too long of a contract. Of course Damon must have felt it was time to move anyhow � he probably saw too many signs of doubt, disarray and disharmony in the clubhouse - and with management - to feel good enough about sticking around.
The Yanks have overspent for lots of players and didn�t win, so let�s take solace that this trend will continue. They�ll have an interesting dilemma in the leadoff hitter department � it�s a nice problem to have, but a dilemma nonetheless. Mind you, they had a similar dilemma with A-Rod, but to his credit, he�s made an incredible transition to 3B. I never doubted he was the MVP this year, despite all of my Papi�s heroics.
No doubt the Sox have lost a lot in Damon � as much off the field as on. For sure, now this is Tek�s team, so there�s still a solid figure to keep this unit functioning. On the plus side, this frees up some salary they can use to sign other players (even though they�re probably still in luxury tax territory). Of course it hurts to get nothing in return for Johnny.
I think the best way to look at this is to say that Damon is past his peak, and maybe the Sox are better off replacing him with a younger player. Life goes on, and the Nation can only hope he�ll be a shadow of his former self when he loses the beard and long hair as per the Boss�s orders. Boston fans are certainly used to losing their franchise players, and we�ll recover sooner or later. I think it will be much later for the Bruins (Thornton) and Celtics (Walker � maybe), but the expectations aren�t as high with these teams right now. So, we�ll miss you Johnny � this will take some time to get over, and we can only hope that the Sox make the right moves in center. We've survived losing guys like Pedro, Nomar, the Rocket, big Mo, and Yankees are still an old team, right?
To look a little deeper into the bright side of things, Kevin Hench of Fox Sports posted a great piece yesterday. I think he�s bang on � it�s a great read.
Oh, I have one parting memory to share of JD. Only a true Nation devotee would see this as an "aha!" moment. During 2004, my son and I were at the SkyDome (it wasn't yet the Rogers Center!) here in Toronto watching the Sox play the Jays. We were sitting out in right center field, and we saw the most bizarre image you could imagine if you believed in the Curse. During a pitching change, JD was standing next to Gabe Kapler chatting away. Gabe was playing right that day. As you know, Damon is #18. Well guess what number Kapler had? ....Right.... 19. With their backs to us the two of them together
were unwittingly flashing the dreaded year, 1918 back to us. How bizarre is that? It sure was a good omen though, since the Curse is no more. Oh, if I only had my Nokia N90 then - that was truly a Nokia moment. I've never seen that alignment of numbers since, and probably won't ever again.
Keeping on the bright side, I�m going to shift gears slightly and go out on a limb � the Patriots will defend their title this year � they will win the Super Bowl. The tide has turned � they are healthier, they�re playing defence and they�re in playoff form now.