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Johnny Damon Can Take His Whining and Lying to Another Town

By Joseph Delgrippo ~ February 18th, 2012. Filed under: Outside the Apple.

Johnny Damon has been pining for the phone call, a call that hasn’t yet been made. The fact that no team, not the Rays who Damon played for last season, or the Yankees, the team which Damon WANTS to play for in 2012.

This whining was put forth through Jon Heyman’s recent piece on CBSSports.com.   This piece came two weeks after another “Damon is best for the Yankees” piece written by Heyman.These articles are standard operating procedure for Scott Boras to pump his clients, and especially pump them with the Yankees.

Damon was whining why his phone has not rung. He was pretty good for the Rays last season, a good clubhouse guy who was always ready with a quote to take the pressure off other players. He provided some power, clutch hitting and speed, and more importantly, knowledge of the base paths.

But his phone number has not been called. Johnny didn’t even get an offer from the Rays, who instead signed Luke Scott (off a down year) for $5 million. Rather than have Damon back for what Damon is asking for a year of his services, the Rays signed a lefty DH off a down season.

What does THAT tell you? It tells you that maybe Damon isn’t the great clubhouse guy everyone thinks he is. This leads us to another reason for why Damon’s phone isn’t ringing.

Put forth by Joel Sherman in his recent NY Post article,  Sherman reported that teams have some concern over Damon’s march towards getting 3,000 hits, putting the milestone ahead of his team’s best interests. He points out that Damon’s OBP in 2011 (.326) was much lower than his OBP in 2010 (.355), which was also his career mark entering 2011.  Usually a disciplined hitter, Sherman pointed out that Damon also swung at a much higher percentage of pitches out of the strike zone (31.3%) than he had in the past.

Damon said it was not his desire for reaching 3,000 hits, but that he was frustrated by umpires expanding strike zones for his reason for swinging at more pitches. Damon also said, “…I was a little more aggressive. I liked the results with production better because of it.”

That was what Damon said to Sherman, but I don’t believe anything Damon says…ever.

Actually, Damon’s production was worse by being a different hitter, not better.

Despite the perception of being such a good teammate, Damon has always been about himself. Every time he became a free agent, he always said the right things about his current team, about how he “enjoyed playing with these guys” and “really like the city and its fans.” But, as a free agent, Damon ALWAYS signed for the most money offered.

In late 2001, Damon, who was a free agent after that season, said of his Oakland A’s teammates, “I’m hoping this isn’t the last couple weeks with them because I like these guys a lot.”

Regarding his desire to stay in Oakland, Damon reiterated what he always says, “I want to see how the A’s owners are committed to winning.”

However, Damon always left his team and took the most money offered him via free agency.  Since the A’s made the playoffs in 2001 (and lost to the Yankees, remember Jeter’s flip?), then won 103 games in 2002 and 96 in 2003 (winning the AL West in both seasons), it was never about winning, or his teammates, or the city, or the fans.

It was always about Damon and his bank account.

There is nothing wrong with taking the most money, but DO NOT try and appear the good guy by saying the right things for the press, when you (and your agents) only concern is money.

Then Damon was a free agent after the 2005 season. The day after losing the ALDS to the Chicago White Sox, Damon said, “I fell in love with Boston, so hopefully, I’ll be here a long time.”   This was after saying he wanted a six year deal to stay, then said five would be fine, before he “settled” for a four-year, $52 million deal…to leave the Red Sox for their rival New York Yankees.

Yeah, Damon really loved Boston. Appearing with Michael Kay on the show “CenterStage” in January, 2006, Damon said he could have stayed in Boston, but “they (Red Sox) never really made a strong attempt to keep me.”

Since the Red Sox offered a four-year, $40 million dollar deal (a pretty good “attempt” if you ask me), Damon was once again all about the money. It was a similar deal the Red Sox made to Jason Varitek a few years earlier; to keep Varitek in the city he said he truly never wanted to leave.

I believe Varitek. I can never believe Damon.

Since the Red Sox won another World Series two years after Damon signed with the Yankees, once again, it wasn’t about winning for Damon. As I mentioned above, Damon is only about Damon and nothing (or nobody) else.

Then, in his most recent tired act of, “I love this place and never want to leave,” Johnny became a free agent after helping the Yankees win the 2009 World Series.

At that time, Damon wanted to “be a Yankee again,” and wanted to “end my career in New York.” He said these things during the Canyon of Heroes parade. Later in the off season Damon said, “I want to continue to be on a team that can win and to play in front of great fans - and we know that the Yankees fill both of those.”

I knew Damon was lying (again!) and wrote this piece.

In it, I said it would be foolish if he leaves the Yankees, as the only things he needed to concentrate on was his legacy. He already had money, two World Series rings, but needed to boost his counting stats to gain that coveted 3,000 hit plateau and also increase his runs scored, doubles and RBI totals. His best bet to improve those numbers was to hit behind Jeter, and in front of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano.

But Johnny and his agent played hardball with the Yankees. All the while Damon and Boras were saying they wanted to play no place else, Damon began talking about not giving the Yankees home team discount and how there were plenty of teams wanting his services.

While a free agent, Damon continuously went out to the press, discussing the back and forth with himself, his agent and Yankees GM Brian Cashman. Several times it was insinuated by the Damon camp that Cashman was not being truthful during negotiations.

Damon even confirmed the Yankees GM offered a two-year $14 million deal, even after Cashman traded for Curtis Granderson. But Damon wanted four years, and when the Yankees also signed 1B/DH Nick Johnson and OF Randy Winn, the money reserved for Damon dried up. It was at that point Damon lowered his demands for the Yankees to two years.

But the damage had been done with Cashman.

And those other big offers dried up which Damon and Boras has said were “out there.” Damon was out there (like Estelle Costanza on Seinfeld), and settled for a one-year $7 million deal with the Detroit Tigers for 2010, and their cavernous Comerica Park. Damon had a much reduced power season at the plate in Detroit, and followed that up with another low slugging percentage in Tampa during 2011, in addition to the almost 30 point reduction in OBP.

Funny thing is the Yankees two-year offer for $14 million after the 2009 season was $750,000 MORE than what Damon earned in 2010 and 2011 combined. By playing hardball with Cashman and losing out by being a Yankee, Damon not only cost himself his precious cash, but also better stats than what he actually put up.

And without those higher counting stats, Damon does not get a sniff of the Hall of Fame. He has only led his league three times in various categories, one each in stolen bases, runs scored and triples. Wow! Start making the plaque now.

In that Heyman piece, he says Damon is a good clubhouse guy, who even had a better year than the left handed hitter the Yankees are seeking, Raul Ibanez. But with Jeter, CC Sabathia, Teixeira and Cano in the clubhouse, Damon isn’t needed for that role.

The Yankees are seeking a part-time DH to play against right handed pitchers. When a left-handed pitcher starts against New York, manager Joe Girardi will likely give a half-day off to Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter to help them through the long season. I don’t believe Damon will be happy with being a part-time player and would cause some issues.

Despite everyone saying there are no hard feelings about the messy divorce a few years ago, I have to believe that the Yankees GM holds a small grudge towards Damon and his agent. In fact, Cashman has only worked two deals with Boras clients since then, both small one-year deals with Andruw Jones.

Damon thinks very highly of himself, almost to the point where he believes teams can’t get along without him. But as I said in my piece two years ago, Damon needed the Yankees more than the Yankees needed him. Damon is only about the money and nothing else.

He needed the Yankees to boost his image and stats for the Hall of Fame as a New York Yankee. Damon called himself and idiot in Boston. By leaving the Yankees in 2009, Damon was not only an idiot, but also a moron. He cost himself money and status.

Now, Damon says the Yankees are the one team he wants to play for in 2012, saying the Yankees are a “perfect fit.” But not one team, especially the Yankees, have called him. I see no way the Yankees ever call Damon back. I don’t even believe Cashman would call if Damon said he would play for the minimum salary, which Damon would never do.

Johnny Damon has lied throughout his career regarding his free agent status. Why should we believe him now?

I say let Damon sit by the phone and continue his whining. Maybe if no one calls, he can retire and just fall short of the Hall.

That would be great to see.

Joseph Delgrippo is an aspiring sportswriter and TV baseball analyst. He played NCAA baseball, at tiny Marietta (OH) College, participating in the Division 3 World Series. In addition, he's coached baseball at the high school level. His knowledge of this game goes far beyond what is shown on television.
Joseph Delgrippo
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14 Responses to Johnny Damon Can Take His Whining and Lying to Another Town

  1. BrooklynPaulie

    Good piece but I think the last couple of sentences were a bit harsh. I share your sentiment on Johnny being vain and selfish. And I often get a kick out of the dumb things that spill out when he opens his pie hole. However, I can’t dispute that this guy was a quality player for many years in the league. He’s brought “that thing” to whatever team he plays for and even if he hasn’t been the most important ingredient in the winning formula (as he seems to believe), he’s certainly contributed to the success of the teams he’s been a part of.

    I’ve always kind of thought of Damon as an idiot savant. He doesn’t seem too bright in life away from the diamond but on the field he shows a real aptitude for how to play the game. I think he’s painted himself into the corner where he currently stands, but he is standing at the threshold of that magical 3,000 hit plateau and he does have two championship rings. It seems to me there are less deserving players who have floated through a Hall Of Fame conversation or two. I think Johnny deserves a shot, but if he doesn’t get one, he really has no one to blame but himself.

  2. Steve

    Your story reminds me of a jealous child that’s been hurt! It seems like your winning to. Always someone writing something negative about someone! You probably don’t like our president ether.

  3. Mister D

    Damon deserves criticism, and there is reason to question why his last 3 teams didn’t want him back. But I think it unprofessional to yank out the “pants on fire” argument when a) it is not needed, and b) there isn’t clear evidence that is a liar.

  4. Galen

    I take issue with the argument that Damon should have taken $40 million to stay in Boston versus $52 million to go to New York. That is a HUGE difference. I can’t think of any player that would take that big of a discount!

  5. Mike

    Wow harsh but I like it

  6. Stu B

    “You probably don’t like our president ether.”

    Steve, a lot of people don’t like the president, no matter who’s in office. They don’t like Obama, they didn’t like Bush 43, they didn’t like Clinton, they didn’t like Bush 41, they didn’t like Reagan, they didn’t like Carter, etc. etc. But what does that have to do with this discussion?

    Oh, and I think you were trying to say whining too, not winning to.

  7. Joseph DelGrippo


    Thank God! Looks like Johnny changed his tune, or actually had his tune changed for him by Brian Cashman.

    Good job Cash.

  8. Mike Silva

    it’s very clear that there is no skin in the game for Boras anymore and that Damon is now doing his own bidding- this is what happens when you are a Boras client and don’t have top value anymore

  9. carmen finestra

    Much as you dislike Johnny Damon, he possesses something that season long statistics don’t tell you. He’s a big game player, that quality the Yankees always say they want. Isn’t it interesting that two of the moments Yankee fans will never forget are the grand slam he hit against Vazquez to put a nail in the Yankees chances in the 7th game of the 2004 ACLS, and the double steal in Game 6 against the Phillies, which completely changed the dynamics of the game, including the pitching.

    Does Tex have that quality? Except for 2009, does ARod? Frankly, CC has not been that great a post-season warrior for us, either.

  10. Joe O'Quinn

    Well, he may be all of that or his agent may be all of that, who knows, what I do know is that when I asked him for a photograph for my my Mom, who loves the guy, he walked right over, tipped his batting helmet with his bat and gave me a great big smile.

    I find that Damon is just a big kid who has a lot of fun playing a game and doesn’t really take himself too seriously. Then again what do I know.

    I like Johhny Damon, no matter what you may think of him dear sir, I have never seen it fit to call anybody names or wish bad things on anyone.

    Just my opinion.

  11. Dom

    Seriously? This is the biggest bunch of crap I have read in a while. Since you are an “aspiring sportswriter” you need to get a grip on the game of baseball and the business behind the scenes. If you hold a job as a writer with ESPN and MLB offers you a job with a salary 30% higher (which is the difference between the Redsox and Yankee’s offers), wouldn’t you take it?

    If you want to be a real sportswriter or baseball analyst remove yourself from what you are writing because it is not about you. Also who are you to suggest that someone is lying when he says that he wanted to return to the Sox or Yankees? Finally, you accuse him of whining and submit a whiny

  12. Joseph DelGrippo

    No one is saying that taking the most money is not the best thing to do in any instance, but don’t portray yourself as a team guy time and time again, then leave for strictly the most money.

    There is a major reason why Damon needed one year deals the last two years, and why, thus far, he has not received a cal yet for the 2012 season.

    And I point out those reasons in the piece.

    Damon’s statement about Boston not making a strong attempt to keep him is stupid. Even thought it was much less then what the Yankees ultimately offered, a $40 million offer is a pretty good attempt at trying to keep a player on your team.

  13. jeff

    I am not a Damon fan at all, and have always thought the same things that you have wrote here

  14. jtt

    Finally! Someone gets it, and gets it right. I was a huge JD fan in Boston, and what I thought was genuine, I soon realized was exactly what you have portrayed here. And what is it with Jon Heyman? Is he secretly in love with Johnny - EVERY YEAR its a new “Johnny Damon is the great clubhouse guy” article. Is he on Boras’ payroll for sure? Because it sure seems like it.

    Sorry Johnny. Still wish you could come back to Boston and get that 3,000th hit but I think you’re afraid of Boston now and fans’ reaction. Maybe the wife can get a job now to keep up that lavish lifestyle.

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