Hooray! I know you're all overjoyed I'm going to revisit this tired subject again. But after reading this article, I just can't let it go. I'm sorry. I can't let this one slide.
I first read that piece, "Damon defection talk of town", last night, and immediately my vision was overwhelmed with a terrible blinding red...I could feel my skin begin to smolder...for a while there, it was touch and go whether or not I was going to spontaneously combust.
I don't really know who I'm mad at, exactly--the MLB reporter for their lazy roundup piece encompassing only the low-hanging fruit? Or the people they quote in the article as "representative" of Sox fans, or even prevailing opinion in Boston, for misrepresenting it so terribly?
This piece just struck home for me just how divorced my reality has become from the Boston sports media's reality in my year or so of abstention from WEEI and the Globe sports page. The longer I avoid it, the more alien its content becomes.
First there's Glenn Ordway's quote:
"I think they were calling [George] Steinbrenner's bluff," said Glenn Ordway, host of the "Big Show" on WEEI. "They did not believe that the Yankees were going to come in and pay more money for him.
"Third place is ours. I think we've got Baltimore -- I think we've got 'em."
Summing up, Ordway said, "I don't think the Red Sox thought the Yankees were serious about this."
Later, he added: "It was a card game. It was a poker match and they thought the Yankees were bluffing them."
How does he know this? I didn't listen to the show, so I don't know if he cited any sources. But let's think about Glenn Ordway for a second. Do you think he has credible sources backing up his view of how the negotiations went? Or do you think he's just taking the most hysterical viewpoint possible in order to stir up callers to his show?
By the way, the callers quoted in this piece are less than credible, since everyone knows after listening to Ordway for a week that if you don't agree with everything he says, and call up and say so, you're going to get shouted down. Period. The Big O show is an echo chamber akin to Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern. It does not represent reality.
Ordway was joined by Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald.
"Now, to replace him, you have to start creating holes in other places," said Massarotti. "Now, they're going to have to overpay. Teams know they have the Red Sox over a barrel."
Wow. My blood pressure just zoomed into the red zone reading that again, even though I knew it was coming this time. I really can hardly stand it. I mean...it's bullshit. It's just bullshit. Apparently we've never lost a free agent before? Apparently there's never been a hole to fill in the off-season before? I'd like to see just how many other MLB teams "know" they have the Red Sox, with their $130 million payroll, playoffs three years in a row, among the largest sports markets in the United States, and recent World Series championship, "over a barrel."
This is not...repeat...not how most of the Sox fans I speak with now on a regular basis remotely feel. I doubt Massarotti's take has ever even crossed their minds (and let's not forget it was Massarotti that defended Grady Little before the dust had even cleared on Game 7). And yet he, along with Ordway, is being held up as representative. Nice.
Now, of course, for the piece de resistance, every national pundit's favorite Boston media "representative", Dan Shaughnessy.
"So now your Boston Red Sox have no center fielder, no shortstop, and no first baseman, to go along with no Theo Epstein and no clue," he wrote.
He also wrote: "The Red Sox won't recover from this one easily. In an already dismal offseason, they've now lost their center fielder and their leadoff hitter. They've also lost a local icon, a rare favorite of teenage girls and fanboy bloggers."
Okay. I thought I disliked the CHB before, but this...this takes it to a whole new level. Rockets it up into the stratosphere, in fact. My disgust for Dan Shaughnessy, with this quote alone, has officially entered a space normally reserved for Ann Coulter.
Let me count the ways:
The "No Theo and no clue" comment...do I really need to go into how richly ironic that is? Considering Shaughnessy is widely assigned a large portion of the credit for Theo's departure?
Having no CF, SS or 1B as of December 21 constitutes a "dismal" off-season? You know what, I think I'll refrain from storming Yawkey Way until they go into spring training with these positions unfilled--you know, about three months from now. What a maroon.
"The Red Sox won't recover from this easily"--Dan, like Ordway, apparently has a crystal ball. I must've left mine at home, but really, I think they very well could recover from it easily, by trading for Jeremy Reed, moving Pedroia to shortstop, and either plugging David Ortiz in at 1B for the time being or signing another utility player like Mientkiewicz. Regardless of what the moves are, THEY HAVE SEVERAL MORE MONTHS TO DO IT.
But it's this statement that really makes me feel as though I've swallowed a live chicken: "They've also lost a local icon, a rare favorite of teenage girls and fanboy bloggers." What a totally unecessary shot, first of all, at fans, something Dan Shaughnessy loves to do (remember his "no way to really insult Red Sox fans" during Mannygate). But what really puts a frosting of joy on this shit-cake of a sentence is, like the "no Theo" comment, the rich aura of irony. A very plausible translation (or further subordinate clause, if you will) might be "They've also lost a local icon, a rare favorite I haven't managed to find a way to destroy."
And yet, here in this MLB piece, Dan Shaughnessy, along with Ordway and Massarotti, are being held up as representative, once again, of the talk of the town in Boston.
Providence Journal sports editor Art Martone wrote, "Clearly irritated by the Sox' failure to offer him the contract he felt he deserved, Damon late last night reached preliminary agreement with the Yankees
This, too, though less irritatingly phrased, is a thread of conversation I've found disingenuous and aggravating. Johnny Damon defecting for more money is seen as a Sox failure? How do you figure? Like Pedro, they offered him what they could pay. He was greedier than that, and went elsewhere for more of the folding green. This is the first time this has ever happened in baseball, apparently. It surely is a singular failure on the part of the Sox brass that allowed this unprecedented debacle to take place.
But here's the most glaring, intelligence-insulting statement yet:
On television, Ch. 7, the local NBC affiliate, had one fan calling Damon a "traitor" and another one saying "He sold out." The station also had a report from New York, where Yankees fans were thrilled.
I'm sure there may be Yankees fans who are thrilled...but they're just not among the ones I've read / talked to, I guess. Like, for example, Jay Jaffe:
I'm pissed at the Damon signing, four years and $52 million, because it's back to business as usual for the Yanks. Damon is a 32-year-old centerfielder, A-list celebrity and Scott Boras client who was seeking a ridiculous seven-year deal that nobody was going to give him. Obviously, the Yanks called his bluff, going far beyond the Red Sox most recent four-year, $40 million offer, one the Sox never got the opportunity to match. So much for loyalty or Damon's words from last May...So now Damon will be handsomely overpaid to deteriorate right before our very eyes in Yankee Stadium. If you liked watching the decline and fall of Bernie Williams, get ready for more, because he's already as bad a thrower as Williams about five years ahead of schedule. In fact, per BP's numbers, he was at -5 runs last year, while the Yankee CFs, including Williams, were at -1. Yeesh.
Or, as referenced yesterday, YF of Yanksfan vs. Soxfan, and most of his commenters.
But, see, Red Sox fans being miserable and Yankees fans being thrilled is what some of these guys want to report, and from this piece it looks like they're going to--their minds are made up, so please don't confuse them with facts.
And finally...here, buried in the second to last graf of the story, is the following sentence:
On WEEI, some fans -- and one of the earlier hosts -- tried to put a positive spin on losing Damon.
Those words--"tried to"--it's amazing how two little words can change the entire slant of the statement, can't they?