To quote the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy: "Bottom line: The Yankees just got better and more interesting, and the Red Sox just got worse and more boring."
There's no more ringing endorsement for a move (or lack of a move, in this case) than Dan Shaughnessy condemning it. Danny Boy, despite his Steve Forbes-esque good looks, tends to be a bit irrational and overexuberant (too bad we can't raise interest rates to keep him in check).
Thus, Ben Cherington, Jed Hoyer, Larry Lucchino: sleep well tonight, you made the right move. To re-sign J.D. would have cost upwards of $13 million a year, a number so astounding I had to check again to make sure that is really what the Yankees are going to pay him. He really must be Jesus, cause it is an f'ing miracle anyone would pay close to that amount for him. Manny's contract ($20 mil per year), in comparison, looks like a downright steal.
There's really two reasons I don't like Johnny Damon: he's a jerk and he's a mediocre baseball player.
With regards to argument # 1, the evidence is indisputable. Behind that sly smile lies an immature, selfish, imp of a human being---that is why kids tend to gravitate to him. Do you remember when Fox cut to a shot of him clipping his toe nails during the ALCS (the results of his efforts coming to an eBay auction near you any day now)? I still remember that taste of pizza as it returned up my asophygus before I choked it back down. The guy also has an insatiable lust for women, especially ones that aren't his wife. There was even a rumor that he claimed to have slept with nurses while his wife was giving birth to their twin daughters. Just a rumor, but the fact that it is even plausible makes you take pause.
JD's book, Idiot: Beating The Curse and Enjoying the Game of Life, is a must read for any aspiring jerk. He uses much of the book to denigrate his first wife, the mother of his two daughters, who he admittedly cheated on while they were stil married. He apparently told his wife to go to Orlando with the daughters shortly after their divorce, and was angry when she returned north, saying "I was with three more girls while you were gone." Classy.
Another great excerpt: "I had some one-nighters that I had never gotten to experience before. It was fun. I ended up having to carry around a separate cell phone. I didn’t want them to have my main number because my phone would have been ringing off the hook." Even Classier. You gotta wonder with all that hair if there is a brain underneath there.
But JD's biggest sin is his inability to play good baseball. To recap, in 2005 Johnny Damon had 624 at-bats, ending the season with an OBP of .366, a slugging percentage of .439 and 18 stolen bases. Paging Dr. Mendoza Line. Not exactly what you'd expect from a guy that made $8.25 million last year. You could have gotten similar production from any number of players at a fraction of the price. For instance, Dave Roberts in only 411 at-bats had an OBP of .356, 2 less home runs than JD, and five more stolen bases. All for the princely sum of $1.35 million. I'm guessing Bill James didn't cry himself to sleep last night. And for all those diving catches we see Johnny Damon make, did you ever notice how weak his southpaw throws are? The reason you see so many plays at the plate against the Red Sox is because every third base coach in the AL knows the book says send the runner when the hairy one will be throwing home. Let's be happy for Johnny Damon though...he'll finally be in a city big enough to accomodate his ego.
There is a term in sports called "addition by subtraction." While the Red Sox lost their link to prehistoric man (Thog from SNL looked more evolved), what they gained is the opportunity to finally have a smart, strong-armed centerfielder/leadoff hitter who can get on base on a regular basis. They might as well give a contract to Rickey Henderson and his crouch...all you need is a warm body on first base for Big Papi and Manny.
WWJDD? What Will Johnny Damon Do...sleep with Derek Jeter's girlfriend of the moment, clip his nails during the sixth inning, throw a quacking duck from centerfield that still can't reach the catcher on the fly, ground out to third base many times on ill-advised swings, and ultimately quash any hopes you have of making it to the World Series. Congratulations, Yankees. The Evil Empire just got a little eviler...
Random Comment: Belated thank you to Drew Barrymore and "Fever Pitch" for ruining the Red Sox's 2004 World Series Championship.