Tuesday, August 24, 2010
JOHNNY ON THE SPOT
By Tony Mangia
DAMON PICKED UP ON WAIVERS BY RED SOX
Two weeks ago, Johnny Damon stepped onto the Yankee Stadium turf to a deafening returning conqueror's welcome. Now, after being picked up on waivers by the Boston Red Sox, the next time Damon digs into a Yankee Stadium batter's box, the ex-Yankee left fielder could be hearing Bronx cheers instead. If Damon decides to rejoin the Idiots (or what's left of them) in Boston, pinstripe fans should give spurned Yankee a key to the city for for a couple of reasons--one which could save the season.
First, Damon in Boston II will add a little excitement to the AL Division race. No matter how good the Tampa Bay Rays have been playing and how close the race is, it isn't New York-Boston. It's hard to hate the few fair-weather fans from Florida. They don't have their own bars in New York and any Yankee fan (worth his Yankee Universe shirt) can spot a Red Sox cap approaching from three blocks. I've never seen a Tampa fan in the city. Why would they leave their beaches--oil slicks and all?
Secondly, if Damon decides to go back to the Sox, it helps the Yankees. Boston already has a DH--David Ortiz--so where is Damon going to fit in. Sure he could fill in right field and, even though his stats are decent (.272 avg., 7 HRs, 41 RBI's), he's not going to replace the numbers put up by the injured Dustin Pedroia or Jacoby Ellsbury. Damon has been nagged by injuries all season and started only on two games in the outfield. Going to Tampa would be a different story.
DAMON IS A PROVEN WINNER
The Rays are in desperate need of a DH. It is one of the few weaknesses on their team and their power outages at the plate confirm this. They've been no hit once and came close two other times. The 36 year-old Damon could bring a championship veteran leadership to the swaddled Tampa squad. Damon has already proven his likability wherever he has suited up and, during his short stay in Detroit, demonstrated an ability to work with young players. This could be Tampa Bay's last chance for a championship. They have a long list of upcoming free agents, a short list of loyal fans and a lean bankroll. Something will have to give in the off-season.
Red Sox Nation may welcome one of their favorite Idiots with open arms and high hopes but Damon has a couple of days to give a thumbs up to the team or flip them the bird. He left Boston with hard feelings after helping them win the 2004 World Series. Damon felt slighted by not being picked up and signed with the Red Sox nemesis Yankees in 2005. He currently has a specific "no-trade" clause to Boston. Damon has stated that he is still leaning towards staying with the Tigers.
Personally, I hope Damon goes back to Beantown. The past two seasons have the rivalry in a lull. No Schilling mouthing off, Pedro beating down Don "The Gerbil" Zimmer or Manny being Manny. Damon--one of the game's most popular players--could end up being cheered and jeered in Boston, Detroit and New York--simultaneously.