Everyone (in New England, at least) is pondering this burning question: Why did Johnny Damon leave the Red Sox? Sure, the Yankees coughed up the big bucks, but why did the Sox let it happen?
Sportscasters and fans alike are racing to assign blame. It's all Larry Lucchino's fault--clueless Larry, had to be told by the media that a deal with the Yankees had been reached. No, it's those hapless co-managers, Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington, galloping around like headless horsemen, ineffectual without the wise counsel of Theo Epstein. Or why not blame Theo himself? If he'd sucked it up and accepted the Red Sox offer, all would have been smooth sailing. Johnny's hair would still be waving in the Fenway breeze and the Sox could still laugh in the face of the Yankees vaunted lineup.
Sure, it's fun (in a masochistic Red-Sox-fan kind of way) to figure out who's at fault in our latest off-season fiasco. But maybe we're asking the wrong question. Face it, Johnny's gone. It's a done deal. We need to look to the future. We need to look to Johnny Damon's hair. It's all coming off! And his unshaven face will soon be baby smooth. This is the price the Philistine Steinbrenner exacts from those who would be Yankees. This is the price Johnny will so casually pay. Here's the real question we need to ask: Will Johnny be the same without his hair? Or, like the biblical Samson, will our formerly wild and crazy center fielder lose his power when he loses his locks? I'm counting on it.
This story has all the elements of a biblical tragedy. Our team's great savior, the rock star of Red Sox nation, lusts after the fame and fortune to be found in Yankee pinstripes. He betrays his team, crosses over to the dark side, sure that he'll equal in greatness those who graced Yankee center field before him--DiMaggio, Mantle, Williams. He loves his long hair, but he's willing to sacrifice it, not realizing that along with his silken tresses will go his charisma, his attitude, his baseball persona. And maybe, his talent. Imagine Damon leading off at bat, whiffing, distracted by the lack of hair under his helmet. Picture him making a sliding catch in the outfield, his unprotected cheek abraded as he slams into the ground. These things could happen and there's no telling their effect on Johnny.
Okay, so I'm just another heartbroken Red Sox fan, once again forced to watch a beloved team member join the hated Yankees. I'm reduced to grasping at straws, hoping for a miracle of biblical proportions, praying that Johnny Damon won't lead the Yankees to yet another World Series victory.
One final note: Johnny Damon is an excellent exemplar of famosity. He's a guy whose fame as an athlete has filled him with a sense of self-importance. Behold his words to sports reporter Dan Roche of CBS4 Boston: "A good leadoff hitter is tough to find, and I think that New York just found the best leadoff hitter in the game." Still, such hubris might be forgiven and even considered endearing, if only Johnny were still playing for the hometown team.
To be cont'd
2 weeks ago