Call the barber: Damon to don pinstripes
Dec. 21, 2005
By Scott Miller
CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer
Talk about sleeping with the enemy. Geez. Johnny Damon cashed in so quickly he's even going to have to get a new hairstyle.
Johnny Damon will have to wave goodbye to his long locks. (AP)
That will be among the weirder parts of this shotgun marriage, Damon and the New York Yankees. It's four years and $52 million worth of Bronx Zoo-ness, bitterness, pinstripes, crimson-with-anger Sox fans and hair gel, and let's not underestimate that trip to the barber in the big-picture scheme of things.
Word of warning to Damon: Ask Jason Giambi about the Samson thing he had going with his hair. Clip, clip, Jason went button-down in the land where George Steinbrenner issues edicts -- no long hair, no beards, no frat house living. And so much of both Giambi's game and personality disappeared with his locks.
Fun With Hair 101 isn't the hard-boiled Sabermeticians' take, but it's as good a place as any to start. Damon isn't Babe Ruth or even Carl Yastrzemski, but his defection leaves a Big Dig-like void in a weaker-by-the-day Red Sox lineup and delivers the Yankees exactly what they need.
The only way the Yankees could hurt the Red Sox worse this winter is if they had secretly petitioned the Hall of Fame to change the logo on Ted Williams' plaque to "NY."
In Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui and Giambi, the Yankees have more than enough boppers. What they needed was more on-base guys, guys who could reach first or second by hook or by crook and then let the big boys knock them in.
Damon reached base nearly 37 percent of the time in 2005 and, lifetime, his on-base percentage is .353. He's a solid center fielder, gets terrific jumps on most fly balls, though too many of his throws home are lollipops. But what do you want? You didn't stay glued to Farrah Fawcett all those years for her IQ, did you?
Damon gives the Yankees a solid center fielder -- unquestionably an upgrade from an aging Bernie Williams -- and one gorgeous leadoff hitter.
The news struck like a thunderbolt late Tuesday night, going coast-to-coast like a Jet Blue airliner, complete with DirecTV and tail winds.
It is Boston's worst nightmare because, with one stroke of the pen, the Yankees become significantly better and the Red Sox significantly worse.
Just as the Yankees struck hard to address their biggest shortcoming, the Red Sox are left gaping without a center fielder or leadoff hitter themselves.
Suddenly, all the angst over the resignation of former Boston general manager Theo Epstein seems quaint. It's the players, stupid. And yes, Boston did itself a huge favor in obtaining pitcher Josh Beckett last month, but the Sox currently are without a shortstop as well as a leadoff hitter and center fielder after dealing Edgar Renteria to Atlanta earlier this month.
The infield has been completely revamped, and Manny Ramirez wants out.