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Sports fans love superlatives and Boston fans are no exception. Cruel and demeaning ones are even better. Most over rated? Derek Jeter. Most Pathetic? Lebron. Biggest sissy? A-Rod. Most in need of a weight loss program? Rex Ryan. Worst commercial actor? Peyton Manning. Most likely to be mistaken for Jar Jar Binks? Chris Bosh. You catch the drift.
But most hated? There’s a good argument for almost any of those guys. Hate is a strong word. Just being a talented athlete (or coach) who happens to be on an opposing team isn’t enough to jump to the most hated. To be the biggest villain in Boston sports you have to really hit us where it hurts. Which time and again brings us back to….
Johnny Damon. I don’t care if the dude isn’t on the Yankees anymore. If even the casual mentioning of his name doesn’t make you pop an artery, then you deserve a medal. I hate the way he throws like a penguin. I hate the way he shaved his beard like a class-act sellout. And I hate the way he acts like a stereotypical high school jock (Can’t you picture him saying “East High Football ruuuules!?”).
This is the sixth season since Damon left the Red Sox and he still cannot fail to infuriate. Damon was at the top in Boston. In reversing the curse, he was involved in one of the most compelling story lines in all of sports history. He said he’d rather die than play for the Yankees! Let me repeat that: He said he’d rather die! If that’s not enough, he actually helped them win a World Series. It would have been a little more bearable if after his second year or so he blew out a knee and sat on the DL for a few seasons. But an athlete who positively contributes after receiving a big money contract? That’s unheard of.
No one should forget that, just last year, the Red Sox claimed Damon off waivers from the Tigers. Now think about what might have happened if this had gone through. Damon would have come back to the Red Sox and received a standing ovation, the likes of which we’ve never seen. He would have been (almost) entirely forgiven for flirting with devil worship. Maybe he would have even grown the beard back. For old times sake. But because this is Johnny Damon we are talking about, he handled the situation in the most dimwitted fashion possible. He declined to drop his no-trade clause. If the Sox hadn’t been so terrible last year, and people had been paying more attention to this, it would have been 2006 all over again.
Johnny Damon may not even be on the Yankees or even play center field any more. The damage has been done, but the wounds won’t heal any time soon. He may play for Tampa with a smile and (what he thinks is) a cute little faux hawk. But everyone in Boston can still see him for what he really is. You broke our hearts Johnny. And we still won’t forget it anytime soon.