Dear Johnny Damon:
Tonight, at 7:05, as my beloved Red Sox take the field against you and your co-workers, I will be sitting comfortably in my not-too-shabby living quarters somewhere 15 miles southwest of you.
I will likely be about six beers deep, possibly seven, and my blood Frito content will be off the charts. I will be wearing my freshly-laundered Schilling jersey. And I will be counting on the lads to erase the sick taste of this 3-7 roadtrip by levying an embarassment of a beating upon your team.
It must be a laugher, an absolute emasculation from start to finish. Because that’s the only thing that’s gonna take away the hurt. The only thing that’s gonna make me see some glimmers of hope where all I see are missed opportunities and ill-timed injuries and Julian Tavarez and chinks in a defense that was supposed to be iron-clad. The kind of defense that would let us get away with having a line-up stocked with dudes barely hitting their weight.
Oh, and when you step up to the plate, you’ll be getting a little something I call “Pressed Irish Hams.”
I know it’s a business. And you took the best offer. And the Powers That Be on Yawkey Way didn’t really want you, anyway. And it’s admirable that you’ve taken out ads in the Boston Globe and Cat Fancy and the New England Edition of The Columbia House Record and Tape Club Newsletter in what we can clearly intepret as a lame attempt to dissuade the folks in the centerfield bleachers from raining Energizer 9-volts, urine and 8×10 glossies of Al Franken onto your noggin.
But it’s not gonna win you any points. Not with me. Not in that uniform.
No one gets a free ride in the pinstripes, pally. That’s just the way it is. Put the Pope in a Yankees cap, and I guarantee there’ll be a couple dudes from Southie ready to roll his ass just for the heck of it.
Remember Roger Clemens? He came back to Fenway in a Blue Jays uni to take on Aaron Sele and by the fifth inning, there was a line of otherwise hetero accountants lined up to service him. Then he showed up with the Yankees and we delivered a full-on roasting that cracked up his game and made his kids cry.
So, dude, don’t act like you just fell off the turnip truck. You know how sick and deep this rivalry is. The second you signed on the line that is dotted you knew you’d have to pay the piper. You knew you’d have to come back and face us. And it’s great that you took out your ads and made your soliloquies and reminded anyone with a microphone or reasonable facsimile that you love Boston, want to sleep with all the fans, and hope to tongue-kiss Mayor Menino when hizzoner can find the time. Just suck it up and take your beating.
You’re still one of the 25. I spent the better part of 2005 singing your praises, and will always get that warm, gooey, fresh-from-the-oven Nestle Toll House feeling watching you go all Superman during Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. Years from now, when you lose the stripes and retire to an Adidas tracksuit or some other fetching combination, I’ll be the first guy in line for Johnny Damon Appreciation Night at the Fens. But not right now.
For what it’s worth, I’m sure your PR efforts will not go unrewarded. While I still can’t imagine a standing ovation, you’re certain to hear a hodge-podge of equal parts cheering and screaming for your head.
In my house, however, it’s gonna be all hams.
Does it matter in the big picture? Not unless you’re the person who’s gonna have to sterilize my TV set when all is said and done. But it’ll make me feel better. Especially after my recent trip to the Apple, where I got to see you mugging your way through those YES Network promos first-hand, talking about Yankee pride and how you’re thrilled to be playing for the greatest fans in the universe.
Oh, and a win would be nice, too. Especially if it’s of the dramatic, late-inning, balls-to-the-wall variety. Because, as they say, living well is the best revenge. And in a mad, late-evening blur of cheers and screams and hands stomping on the walls and Sox players rushing the plate as “Dirty Water” spills from the speakers, you may realize that Life After Johnny isn’t all that bad for us.