Ever since Johnny Demon signed up with the BoSox in 2002, I have all but despised him. His unemployment-poster-boy beard frustrated me (make an effort!), and his long Pantene Pro-V hair made me nauseous (it’s not a beauty contest!). I hated it when sportscasters compared Damon’s “popularity” and “leadership” to Jeter’s. I rooted against him each time he came up to bat, whether he was against the Yankees or the Royals. Every base he stole made me cringe; every double he hit was like a reminder for me to stay away from SportsCenter and the accompanying Damon praise.
Towards the end of the 2005 season, when the Yanks’ centerfield options were being seriously discussed, I pushed Demon out of mind. I found the idea of the Red Sox Golden Boy playing in the Bronx preposterous, and I was sure that the Yankees powers that be would feel the same way. There were Brian Giles and Juan Pierre to be discussed, and anyway, Damon had made a public declaration of his loyalty and desire to stay in Boston. I thought I was safe.
Even after the ink on the deal bringing Damon to NY was dry, I continued to hate him. I was actually half hoping he would fail, just so I could laugh in the faces of everyone who thought he would be key to the Yankees’ success. I looked forward to the day that Torre would have to bench Damon and Bernie would trot out to his rightful place in centerfield.
Now, though, just two weeks into the season, I find myself harboring a different feeling towards ol’ “Demon”. New York reporters have had nothing but good things to say about him; his attitude is positive and he is purportedly a great teammate. His relationship with Giambi is rather endearing, and his teammates—old and new—have remarked on his work ethic. I also appreciate his rapport with the fans: he is gracious, patient and generous.
There’s also his performance. He’s had 12 hits in the first 9 games, 5 of them were doubles and 1 (today) was a homer. He’s stolen a base and walked 5 times, and his weak throwing arm hasn’t even been an issue yet. His beard and hair are both looking better, so it’s not painful to watch him play anymore.
I’m definitely warming up to him, and I’m doing my best to burn the images of him in a Red Sox uniform out of my mind. It gets easier with every double he hits and with every wayward bat he lets a fan hang on to. I wouldn’t buy myself a Damon jersey quite yet, but give me a month. I have a feeling he’s going to make me want one.
"I like to make an impression."