Stay with me here.
Johnny Damon, whose once-flowing locks ran around center field of Fenway Park in Boston, used to be one of the most endeared players on the Red Sox. Known as a great leadoff hitter and dazzling defender, one of Sawx Nation’s lasting impressions of Damon was the grand slam in Yankee Stadium that allowed Boston to complete their remarkable comeback in the 2004 ALCS and eventually win that elusive World Series.
Still with me?
Now that same person in the off-season crosses the rivalry line and inks a contract worth $52 million over four years with the dreaded New York Yankees. Then, when Damon and the Yankees made the year’s first trip to Boston of the year, the fans didn’t react so kindly.
Someone, knock me over with a feather.
And Damon saw it coming from a mile away. (Well, it was more like 190.) In fact, the ESPN announcers said that Damon asked his teammates to call him the nastiest names fathomable all day so he could prepare for the onslaught of insults. Yet I wouldn’t put it past some Sox fans to invent new swear phrases for the man.
The first at bat of Monday night’s game between the Yankees and Red Sox was that of the aforementioned prodigal center fielder. Sure enough, he received more boos than President Bush at … well, than President Bush. A muted camera, however, would have shown several front row fans clapping for him.
The Chowder Crowd got creative with their signs to commemorate Damon’s return to Fenway. Most of them were references to “Traitor,” “Johnny Demon,” and “$ellout.” One of my favorites had to be the combination “Looks Like Jesus, Acts Like Judas, Throws Like Mary.” Although I have to say that some signs didn’t make a lick of sense.
After the game it was fun to fool Chelsea — another unabashed Sox fan — for a moment when I told her that in the game Damon hit the winning grand slam and made the game saving catch. In actuality, it was Boston’s current fan favorite David Ortiz who put the nail in the coffin by crushing a ball that (fittingly?) sailed over Damon’s glove and into the center field stands for the final three runs in Boston’s 7-3 triumph.
The return was ruined, but the season is still very much intact. It’ll be one heck of a divisional battle between these two teams (this was just the first of 19 games ‘tween the two) Either way, Boston fans surely got an extra shot of pride by slapping an early “L” on the team and their “traitor demon $ellout.”
While I try my best not to take sides in this rivalry, I can’t help but wonder if the New York fans would be as prickly to Derek Jeter if he were to sign with the Red Sox after his contract expires. Still, I surmise the Yankees’ faithful pray nightly for Jeter’s lifetime commitment to pinstripe servitude by muttering, “Stay with me here.”Powered by Sidelines