I enjoy the work of Peter Abraham who handles most of the blogging duty on the boston.com Red Sox blog, Extra Bases. He does a great job keeping us informed about the team and does so in an entertaining way. But I must raise an objection to this recent post, in which he encourages fans to give Johnny Damon an ovation when Damon returns to Fenway tomorrow night as a member of the Detroit Tigers. Pete’s point is that Damon played a key role in the Red Sox winning the World Series in ’04 by driving in six runs in the Sox seventh game victory over the Yankees in the ALCS. For that reason, we should cheer him and make him feel good.
Just once it would be refreshing to hear someone lecture the players about appreciating the fans. It is our dedication to our teams that makes it possible for players like Damon to get paid ungodly amounts of money to PLAY A GAME.
Pete says the Red Sox would not have won the World Series in ’04 without Damon. Fair enough, but you know who is even more responsible for the Sox victory? The fans who supported this team through 86 years of heartarche. Without us Damon would likely be the assistant night manager at the Piggly Wiggly.
Sure, Johnny Damon was a good player for the Red Sox, and was one of the most beloved members of those teams. Why, though, should we appreciate that he took more money to go play for someone else, especially our arch rivals? Of course it is Damon’s right to take the money and run, a strictly business decision, as Pete says. But why this double standard? The players can disregard the fans to go play for a few million dollars more than they’d be making to stay in Boston, but the fans can’t allow their emotions to enter into who they cheer for?
Emotion is all there is to being a fan. It certainly isn’t rational. Who would rationally pay hundreds of dollars (adding in tickets, transportation, parking, food and souvenirs) for the right to take their kids to spend three hours watching millionaires play a game? Seriously. We do it because we have an emotional connection to the team. Johnny Damon couldn’t care less about that, so why should we care about him?
Mike Lowell took less money to stay in Boston, where management has treated him pretty shabbily. He was the MVP of the ’07 World Series — arguably as significant in a Sox championship as Damon, yet the pundits at the Globe are continually trying to run him out of town on a rail. The fans, however, love Lowell. We love him because he showed that being in Boston and playing at Fenway was important to him.
I, like most Boston fans I believe, would take Mike Lowell over Johnny Damon any day.