As loyal Heigh-Ho readers know well, mr. rdr is a die-hard Red Sox fan, and Portia is loyal to the Evil ones who play in the Bronx. We have lots of fun ridiculing each other's teams, taking aim at current standings and best of all, throwing salt on once shining moments [read: Bucky "eff'n" Dent.] We've been following our respective teams for decades no matter where we lived, and have been more than willing to do our part to continue the ages-old rivalry between the RSN and the Bronx Bombers. Other teams may best one of us at the end of a season, and it'll hurt, maybe even hurt bad like when we lost to the Diamondbacks in 2001, but come Spring Training the slate is more or less wiped clean and we go back to worrying about the Red Sox bull pen, or Yankees line up than what's up with the team that whipped our asses in last year's match-ups.
Which is why I find it my reaction to the fact that Johnny Damon was nothing more than a "Yankee-in-waiting" all the more curious. I mean the guy played for the Red Sox! He was responsible for the grand slam in the 7th game of the 2004 series that sent the Yanks packing, and now he plays for the Evil Empire? Oh, sweet Mother of God, how rich is that? That's like hearing that R.H. Macy crossed the street to go work for Gimbel's. Doesn't get much better than that, huh? Bound to make a Yankee fan grin from ear to ear, right? Well maybe for some, but not for this Yankee fan. I think it stinks.
Sure, "landing" Damon served its purpose last year by allowing us to "stick it" to the Red Sox-- neener, neener, neener-- but in the long run--and in our cold, cynical New York hearts--most of us think it was a pretty slimy thing to do. Most of us are still scratching our heads wondering how a Red Sox becomes a Yankee. Because we know that the short, simple answer is you can't. We couldn't. Ruth tried and it took 80 plus years to unwind that mess. Clemens too, but at least he stopped in Toronto on his way to New York. Besides he's fat, and ornery.
So when Damon signed on with the Yankees last year, he did something that no Red Sox fan or Yankee fan could ever imagine doing: he left Macy's and and went to work for Gimbels. He could have signed on with any other AL or NL team, and not delivered anywhere near the blow* he did with that trade. His decision to switch camps laid bare the ugly truth that despite what may flow in our veins, and our hearts, baseball nowadays is just a Monopoly game with owners/players trading bats on Yawkey Way. All that RSN chauvinism, all that cowboy up!, all that "there's no way I can go play for the Yankees" went poof with the stroke of a pen, and a paycheck. He chose the dollars over the dugout. He sold out. We now know the answer to the question "what would Johnny Damon do?"
Yes, we understand that baseball is just a "game" blah, blah, blah but the rivalry between Red Sox and Yankees has always been much more than that. It's about good vs. evil. It's about being born a Red Sox or Yankee fan, and rooting for the same team as your father or grandfather did. It's about waking up in the morning and knowing which team you hate before you look at the box scores just as sure as you know the sun will rise tomorrow.
After Monday night's game when fans were booing Damon and throwing fake dollars at him, he glibly said "I felt like I had to salute the fans because they were always great to me here and I know now they're just booing the uniform," Wrong Johnny. They were booing the uniform, and you.
So when you play the Red Sox in New York next week Mr. Damon, stop with the "I'm so honored to wear the Pinstripes" schtick. A year ago you were honored to play for the Red Sox. We know it wasn't true then, and we know it's not true now. Mostly, we know that just wearing Pinstripes doesn't make you a Yankee, and tipping your cap to Red Sox fans doesn't make you a Ted Williams. Just shut up and play the game. Oh, sure, we'll cheer you when you're up at bat, or catch a fly ball in center field--heck, we do want to win--but don't ask us to love you along the way, and don't expect any slack when your arm gets tired. We'll trade you in a New York minute.
There's another word that we like to use in Brooklyn. It's Mensch, and in my book, Damon is no mensch.
*Pedro left for the Mets, and I bet that hurt too, but everybody knows the Mets ain't the Yankees.
(posted by Portia)