We could’ve had it all, you fucker.
In a better world, you were Johnny Damon, Red Sox legend. You finished your career here, maybe a season or two in Oakland or Kansas City at the very end for playing time. You had three Red Sox rings. You retired with millions, a legacy, a city, rings and love.
Now look at you.
Yankees traitor. Benedict Arnold. The figure who taught kids in Boston the true power of the dollar.
You could’ve been a hero. Now you’re just a man who played baseball.
I get it. The Yankees offered more money. Fine. We knew that could happen but when you make your deal with the devil you aren’t allowed to argue that the devil offers competitive rates.
I actually typed “competitive rats” there, by the way, which is a hell of a typo and epithet.
You also said this:
“There’s no way I can go play for the Yankees, but I know they’re going to come after me hard. It’s definitely not the most important thing to go out there for the top dollar, which the Yankees are going to offer me. It’s not what I need.”
That was the Johnny Damon we thought we had. Maybe that’s the man you thought you were. If that’s true, I hope you’re as heartbroken at your weakness as we were.
But fine. Let’s put aside the tens of millions you already made and the tens of millions more you could’ve had from the Red Sox regardless. Okay. Fine. People want more; that’s just the human condition right there.
But to sell your soul for millions is one thing. But to sell it for extra millions is a little wrinkle that adds, reasonably, to the disdain felt for you.
You stupid, despicable fucker.
Doesn’t destiny mean anything to you? Breaking the curse in Boston, coming back three games to none against the hated Yankees in that wildly dramatic fashion- what was that for you, work? Something you punch in and out of, something you keep your resume up for?
You stupid, wild asshole.
You could’ve been a legend here. You could’ve been responsible for a resurgence of kids names Johnny, of long hair, of weirdly expensive local ads that nobody would begrudge you. You could’ve promoted Uggs! We let Brady do it!
But no. Short sighted and spiteful, you spurned our love for the immediate. The cold bitter Yankees. They made you cut your caveman hair and shave, your signature look- isn’t that heavy-handed and obvious? If I wrote a short-story where the player had to get a haircut from his iconic and beloved shaggy look to join a hated rival, that symbolism would be derided as heavy handed.
But it happened, and you did it.
Don’t you read, Johnny Damon?
You could’ve gone out a hero. Like Jason Varitek. Heck, Tim Wakefield is lionized here. David Ortiz, living legend, lingered. You could even have left. Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez are both still honored here, despite their well documented hiccups.
But to go to the Yankees? After what we had, what you said, who you were?
In my room I have a poster of Mike Lowell, our former third baseman. He turned down millions to stay with the Red Sox. He wasn’t loved like you were. He wasn’t flashy. But he was solid, and he did the right thing. He played with character.
I hope you see this, Johnny Damon. I hope you have a Google alert set up for your name, or a friend or relative sends it with the subject line “Uhhhhh…”. I hope it nags at you. I hope you feel a pit of anxious shame in a beautiful house with a beautiful family for the one thing money can’t buy – honor, maybe, or destiny. I hope you feel something, that it comes to you in quiet days and hours for the rest of your life.
But it won’t. This was just business to you.
But it didn’t have to be.