Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Damon's decision applauded in Detroit, but it is being booed in Boston

    Remember when nobody wanted to come to Detroit to play baseball?
    Now, nobody wants to leave.
    Not Johnny Damon, not Brandon Inge, not Magglio Ordonez, not Jeremy Bonderman, not newcomer Jhonny Peralta.
    What has changed?
    The biggest differences, I believe, have been owner Mike Ilitch's willingness to spend and the presence of Jim Leyland, who had modified the mind-set in the locker room.
    The clubhouse bickering and backstabbing has become a thing of the past.
    In addition, behind the scenes, Dave Dombrowski has overhauled the organization, upgrading the Tigers' scouting, drafting, and player development.
    Having said all of that, how many other big league ballplayers would have done what Damon did, turning down a chance to return to the big stage of a pennant chase to finish out this season as an also-ran?
    So much for the theory, so prevalent  last spring, that Damon and his wife enjoyed the bright lights of Broadway and Boston and maybe Chicago too much to ever agree to come to dingy, depressed Detroit.
    "I love Detroit," Damon declared in announcing his decision to veto a possible trade to the Boston Red Sox.
    It may not be obvious in the standings or on the stat sheet, but Damon has meant more to the Tigers this season than Mohawk haircuts and monogrammed bathrobes.
    And is desire to stay here has been loudly applauded.
    But whether Damon intended it that way or not, his decision came as a slap in the face to the Red Sox and their rabid fans..
    Columnist Dan Shaughnessy, writing in the Boston Globe, declared, "His decision to stay with the Tigers is downright idiotic.
    "Why would Damon want to stay with the moribund Tigers when he had a chance to join the Red Sox for 5 1/2 weeks of stretch-run fun?" Shaughnessy asked. "Why try to keep hitting at cavernous Comerica  Park when he could return to friendly Fenway? Why play games that don't matter when you can play games that still matter.
    "Think about it: For the next five weeks, you could live in downtown Boston and your wife could shop on Newbury Street. Or you could live in downtown Detroit, amid the boarded-up buildings and the proverbial skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets. Is this really a tough call?"
    I must admit, I, too, was surprised by Damon's veto.
    Both Damon and Dombrowski insist no decision has been reached regarding next season. No promises have been made. "There is no guarantee where I'll be next year," Damon admitted. "I hope I'm back."    What are the chances Damon, Inge, Ordonez, Bonderman and Peralta will get their wish and be invited  back next season?
    I rank them this way, from Most Likely to Return, to Least Likely:
    1. Inge
    2. Bonderman
    3. Ordonez
    4. Damon
    5. Peralta



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