The Boston news media and Red Sox fans are treating Johnny Damon as expected after the Tigers outfielder/DH nixed a deal to bring him back to Fenway Park.
“Johnny Rotten” is the headline on one blog. Columnists are calling him an idiot, but not in the endearing way the label was born during the Red Sox’s run to the 2004 World Series title.
From Michael Silverman in the Boston Herald:
Leave it to the original Idiot to make a decision that left nearly everyone in baseball scratching their heads. The allure of spending the rest of his summer in Detroit proved irresistible to Johnny Damon.
Or Dan Shaugnessy in the Boston Globe:
So it’s official: He really is an idiot. I say this with no malice and all due respect. “Idiot,” you must remember, was the title of Johnny Damon’s 2005 best-selling autobiography. … In Johnny’s world, “idiot” is a term of endearment. That said, his decision to stay with the Tigers is downright idiotic … or there is some larger force at work.
It seems pretty simple. Damon says he did not like the way things went down in the year after the World Series title and when he left the Red Sox as a free agent following the 2005 season.
Furthermore he wants to play next season and probably figures the Red Sox will have no interest in re-signing him. That could leave Damon where he was last winter, waiting until spring training to sign with a team. By professing his love for Detroit, Damon perhaps enhances his chances of re-signing and staying with a team he apparently enjoys playing for and sees potential in.
“I think it sends the wrong message to say, ‘Well, here’s an opportunity to jump ship,’ ” Damon said. “I’m not going to do it, not to these guys. … I love Detroit and I love the fans. The tough thing is, there’s no guarantee where I’ll be next year. As much as I’d love to be back here, that’s something the team doesn’t really decide until the offseason. And I’m OK with that.”