Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oh Yeah!

The conclusion of the Johnny Damon story was an interesting one, specifically in terms of the general reaction to his ultimate F-you to Ace Ticket, the Red Sox' organization, and the Boston Red Sox fans who booed him. I am somewhat surprised to hear the general backlash against the Red Sox organization. Those of you familiar with How Youz Doin Baseball might not know this, but I am pretty critical of some of the moves pulled by this organization, specifically in terms of player evaluation and in terms of how they've treated players.

Johnny Damon wasn't one of them. The way they treated Bronson Arroyo, Nomar, Manny, Mike Lowell and (yes) various injured players has been botched at best, unconscionable at worst. But the case of Damon, they set a value for the player and the player disagreed with them. That's his prerogative. And that's why he chased the extra $12 million. That was not a problem with me, nor has it ever been. You know what my beef has been. But he left in a way similar to the way the Colts left Baltimore and the way my grandmother left Massachusetts for North Carolina - in the middle of the night and without much notice. The Red Sox expressed their surprise at this result, but never really traded much ill will.

The ill will has only gone one way. The Red Sox did not trash the player at all. Their hand-picked media members almost unanimously endorsed cheering the guy. The Red Sox didn't commit any "disrespect" except for the following:

4 years, $40 million.

That's not disrespect. That's a business decision just as cold and rational as Damon's to take the extra $12 million. And good for him for playing up to that contract. He exceeded all expectations, including mine, the Red Sox' (given their offer), and probably even the Yankees'.

It seems like the majority of the Red Sox fans, at least those who are calling into sports radio, are hating on the guy because he pulled the "I have more sense than that" on the Red Sox after saying he wasn't going to play for that other team. I guess it's rare to see an athlete like Pedro say that he was going to go after the money. My beef only comes from reading the words in between the quotation fingers.

But what's weird is that those who aren't hating on Damon, including much of the media, is both crushing fans for hating on him, but they are ALSO saying that the Red Sox' organization really did disrespect him, and treat him the same way they treated guys like Arroyo. Really?

Because that's revisionist history. Did they laugh at his ultimatum? Probably not. Their "disrespect" is seriously just that year and dollar figure. Nothing more, nothing less. But it's like they're drinking the "I got disrespected" Kool-Aid the player has been broadcasting for the last nearly five years. I thought Felger was better than that.

Seriously, if your boy was still talking non-stop about how much he hates his ex-girlfriend, you'd tell him to shut the f*** up. But for some reason, people are okay - and receptive - to Damon's story.

Good for him for vindicating himself by exercising his no-trade. I am serious about that. It's a spite move that even the most spiteful (such as myself) can be proud of. But he has no ground. The only ground he has is 4 years, $40 million. I think given his performance, he can view that as disrespect. But after a while, you gotta shut up about it.

I really am curious to know what you guys think about this. Obviously the team screwed up evaluating his durability past 2005. But what about the other stuff? Why do you think fans hate on the guy so much? I feel like very few hate him for the same reasons I hate him. I feel like many, and rightfully so, don't like the "I have more sense than that" move. But do people crush the guy just because of the uniform or chasing money?

And the most interesting part - are you guys drinking the Kool-Aid? Do you really think the team ran Damon out of town? Do you really think they disrespected him? I could go over all the things said to run Damon out of town and remind you that they all came out of Damon's mouth - but I don't want to skew the results. What's the story over here?

4 comments:

TimC said...

The biggest problem is that sports fans in general are just never as well-informed as they act. It might be easy for me to accuse others of that since I am relatively much better informed and have a much better memory for things than the average sports fan. But the countless hours I have wasted talking about sports, any sport, with folks who present themselves as knowledgeable or die-hards only to then reveal themselves as casual fans are hours I probably could have better spent elsewhere. I think a lot of fans and writers put down their opinions despite having not nearly enough information to do so.

That is pretty much the reason why I make certain comments here and withhold on making others. I watch a lot of Dice's starts, so I comment. I do not watch Lackey's starts and did not watch them when he was in California, so I do not comment. It is really simple. But in this day and age everyone has to have a hard opinion on everything and the end result is people writing columns, going on the radio, and booing or cheering players in the stadium without fully remembering anything that happened five years ago.

In this specific case, it is very easy for a fan to remember three things:

1. Red Sox hate Yankees
2. Damon played for the Red Sox
3. Damon signed with the Yankees

Using just these three basic facts, fans might go out and boo. Others might call in to the radio and call him a traitor or wear their "Looks like Jesus, acts like Judas, throws like Mary" t-shirts. Then, the backlash comes from those who say things like, "If you had $12 million extra on the table, you would do that too!" or "Players are mercenaries who do not care about franchise rivalries."

But those arguments, from both sides, miss the point. Like DV says, Damon has a very weak starting point for his argument. A raise of around $2 million annually is not disrespectful for a guy whose OPS was about the same in the first and last year of the contract (with fewer steals and a poor arm). His mouth, not his uniform, hair, arm, bat, wife, ex-wife, beard, contract, or anything else is the issue here for me. And if fans and writers came here and either remembered the facts or were reminded of the facts they would be able to figure this one out for themselves.

Anonymous said...

DV

I don't think the Red Sox can be criticized too much for the contract they offered Damon in 2005. Hindsight being what it is, you have to look at things from the perspective of November, 2005. He was a guy with an OPS+ of 108 in his four years in Boston. At the time he was 31. He'd played a ton of games in CF and had put a lot of miles on his body. It wasn't unreasonable to think he would be dead weight by the end of another four year deal--that he'd be a part time left-fielder, part time DH, who didn't hit for enough pop to warrant either of those positions or a 12-15 million dollar salary.

And in hindsight, the Sox were kind of right about all of that. He became a part time DH/left fielder for the Yankees. But here's the thing: he signed with the absolute perfect team for his new deal. He would not have been as productive in Boston as he was in New York because it's not 300 feet to right field in Boston. The short right field in New York was a HUGE thing for Damon and ultimately he ended up being worth more to the Yankees than he ever could have been to anyone else. The only fault the Sox have there is that they probably should have known this and consequently signed him; not only to keep their own line-up together but to keep him from giving New York such a marked upgrade.

At the end of the day though, had the Sox signed him we wouldn't have had JD Drew around for the past four years. That may be something you want to chew on DV.

Lastly, for all his talk and bluster about how poorly he was treated by the Red Sox, I never paid it much mind because I just think he's so stupid that I really wouldn't expect anything more from him.

--the Gunn

PF said...

Dv -

You essentially made my point for me with your last comment yesterday. Yes, I'm emotional. But I'm emotional about wins and losses. I don't break swiffers because of some off the field drama. I break swiffers because the yankees left the tying run on 3rd with one out in the 9th. Emotion is obviously a GREAT thing when it comes to winning and losing. We all want athletes who want to win and can't stand losing because we as fans can relate to that. This is one of the reasons why paul o'neill is so loved in new york. You took my usage of the word emotion and tried to catch me in a double standard by making it a term with only one meaning. Obviously, that is not the case. Yesterday I was referring to emotion in the context of the soap opera that happens off the field and the emotion this elicits from fans like you and to a lesser extent timc. I have no time for it, I only care about winning and losing, not all that other noise. You were referring to emotion that relates to winning and losing. I have all sorts of time for this, as this is what I care about. Yesterday timc said my derek jeter example didn't work because it was unrealistic. Ok, one, pretend it was, my point was that in the most extreme circumstance I wouldn't care about any emotional stuff like trust and loyalty, just winning and losing. Two, if you can't be that imaginative, pick a yankee that is realistic or comparable to what damon is to boston, have the exact same situation that happened with damon and boston happen with this player and the yankees, and I just wouldn't care. Not if that player helped win a world series especially. That was my point.

the gm at work said...

Pat,

Glad to see you're commenting from the undisclosed location. All I care about is results, too. That's why I am using this comments section to commend you for showing up to twice as many posts this year as 46 has shown up for baseball games. I can talk as much petty vitriolic garbage in this comment section as I want though, as long as I produce a quality post tonight. Cool.

On a serious note, though, part of following baseball in 2010 is reading the extra stuff if you want to. Reading the blogs all spring training? Part of the fan experience. You know this. You read Joel Sherman all the time, and you used to read Pete Abraham all the time. The way you're talking basically says to me that all that extra stuff - which is half the fun of being a fan - is just wasting your time. Just JD out, sit on the couch for three hours, smile if they win, break Swiffers if they lose. As cold, calculated, and Borassian as you may have become since graduation, even you have to admit you care about more than just that.

Tim C,

It's shocking that journalists very well might not read anyone else's articles.

Gunn,

As I have said many times, I also do not disagree with the Red Sox' valuation/"disrespect" of Damon. I thought he was worth 4/$40, too.

The debate on whether December 6, 2006's baseball events were on the aggregate a good or a bad thing for me personally and emotionally as a baseball fan is a completely different issue. But an interesting one.