"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Johnny Be Good

There was a press conference at Yankee Stadium yesterday welcoming Johnny Damon to the Bronx. The day before, Damon got a new look at a chi-chi hair salon in Manhattan. I wouldn’t exactly call it a buzz cut, but when in Manhattan…Damon’s hair is still very stylized, he’s still sporting the trendy (for ballplayers, anyway) side burns–though he did get a shave. With his cutsie wife standing by his side, a bottle of evian in his hand, I couldn’t tell who is prettier: Damon or his old lady. Not for nothing, but the Bombers have some kind of Tiger Beat Beefcake at the top of the order, with Damon followed by Jeter and Rodriguez.

Murray Chass writes:

The Red Sox had wanted to re-sign Damon, but John Henry, the principal owner, said this week that they weren’t prepared to pay him $13 million a year, which is what the Yankees gave him for four years. To hear Damon tell it, though, the Red Sox might not have lured him back even if they had matched the Yankees’ offer.

Asked if he had been influenced by the Red Sox front-office shuffling and the player exodus, he said, “It’s something I definitely thought about, but what really opened my eyes was their first initial offer a month after the season.”

In the Daily News, John Harper opines:

That may sound simplistic, and as Damon, the self-proclaimed “idiot,” is the first to admit, he is not a deep thinker. But as he pointed out indirectly, part of having fun as a team is coming to grips with the responsibility of dealing with the media – a task the Yankees liken to prison detail.

“We made everyone (in Boston) realize they had a responsibility,” Damon said. “I made myself very accessible to the media.”

There is a fine line in the clubhouse in that regard. Often players who give too much time to the media are judged and resented by teammates as self-promoters, but Damon has an innocence about him – in addition to a well-earned reputation as a gamer – that made him as popular with his Red Sox teammates as he was with the fans in Boston.

Yes, it seems that everybody likes Johnny Damon, and it wasn’t hard to see why yesterday, as he handled the big-event press conference with an ease and friendliness that clearly wasn’t staged. He played to the media, rubbing his hairless chin while asking how everyone liked his new look. He responded to the blinding flash of cameras in his face by saying, “Thank you, and obviously, keep on snapping away.”

The reaction to the Damon signing has been mixed. Regardless, the Yankees have a new center fielder, just in time for Christmas. This has been a very active off-season, and there will continue to be changes around and about before Opening Day rolls around. Anyhow, hope everyone enjoys and/or survives the holidays with their loved and/or related ones.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver