Saturday, December 19, 2009

Damon, Yankees marriage ends badly

Now here comes the spin. With both sides acknowledging that Johnny Damon's tenure with the New York Yankees is over, it's time for the sportswriters to dissect how the breakup of such a good relationship came to be.

Damon has been in almost daily contact with the New York Post to give his side of the story. The latest report has Damon talking about how these things just happen and that he significantly lowered his demands from a three or four-year deal at roughly the same $13 million he made this year to a two-year deal worth about $10 million per year. His account portrays the Yankees as completely inflexible, unwilling to move off their two-year offer that would have cut his pay almost in half.

The team's version of the story, meanwhile, has agent Scott Boras asking for two years at $13 million as recently as Wednesday when the Yanks were already closing in on hiring Nick Johnson to replace Hideki Matsui as the designated hitter for a lot less money than Damon supposedly wanted.

It's hard to know who to believe in this drama. I have no problem accepting that the Yanks were completely rigid in their contract demands (remember they put Andy Pettitte through the same situation last year). But Boras does have a well-known propensity to exaggerate details to create illusions that benefit his clients. Like most disputes, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

But who's right or wrong doesn't even matter now. The Yankees are losing a player who they acknowledge was a perfect fit for the number #2 spot in their lineup and a popular guy both in and outside the clubhouse. That's the biggest shame.
Thanks to Ken N via Wikipedia for the photo.

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