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Sunday, May 07, 2006


Last Monday night, Johnny Damon came and went. The Boston Red Sox superstar who ditched the fans who worshiped him for four years to go play for the archest of rivals, the New York Yankees, made his prickly return to Boston's Fenway Park. It was an ugly scene.

To say he was booed resoundingly does not come close to describing the level of hatred that poured from the Boston grandstands, bleachers and box seats directly on Damon's lobey head. Former Sox Jerry Remy and Fred Lynn independently claimed to have never in their lives seen such a vehement display of animosity or heard that level of booing for a player returning to a former ball park. Unprecendented. Ugly.

Unwarranted? Absolutely not.

Here are some facts. In 2004, the Red Sox won their first World Championship in 86 years due greatly to Damon's remarkable effort and achievements. For this he received a level of adoration from the fans rarely enjoyed by even the most elite celebrities. At the end of 2005, Damon's contract with Boston expired, leaving him free to join any team that offered him a deal. The Red Sox offer was $40 million. The Yankees offered him $52 million.

The life of a professional athlete, like the life of anyone who attains celebrity and fame is hard if not damned impossible for us little people to comprehend. So we grapple for understanding however we can, often utilizing metaphor and analogy. Here's the one I came up with after discussing the fans' reaction with wife Cindy and friend Chris, who felt at least somewhat disappointed in the fans' brutal treatment of Damon upon his return to Fenway.

Let's say you meet a woman. You start dating. Pretty soon you're in that happy place where everything seems better than it ever did before. Maybe you don't have a fancy car or fancy clothes but you're happy. You buy her Hershey's Kisses all the time and hide them in places where you know she'll find them. You're in love. And she seems happy, too. Then you wake up one day to find out not only has she left you, but she's banging Rick, that asshole from work who always parks his fucking Xterra in your space and steals food from the fridge in the break room.

Accepting this situation is bad enough, but are you then obligated to be all nice to her when you see the two of them canoodling at Mission Impossible III? Are you supposed to reach over the seats and congratulate her and tell her that you understand why she did what she did and that you're happy for her and her new prick boyfriend who incidentally passed right over the Hershey's at the snack bar and bought her two large Toblerones instead?

To me the answer is clear. As Paulie from the Sopranos would say, fuck that.

By the way, on Monday night the Red Sox beat the Yankees 7-3. Damon went 0 for 4.



At 5/08/2006 6:06 PM, Randy said...

You're not quite right. There were actually lots of people cheering or clapping for Johnny. You could hear it on the tv at home. He heard enough there to have the courage to tip his hat to them. This sure seems to be the overriding story that he was booed 100% but that is not even close to being the truth. Many, many people clapped for him, and many more at home did. The churlish boors made sure that they got to that game so they could make fools of themselves and have their say, but.. that is not what everyone feels. Not by a long shot.


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