Johnny Damon insists he never touched a performance-enhancing drug during his 18-year MLB career. Unlike many others, Damon says he made his living without cheating. On Thursday, the two-time World Series champion told our friends David Baumann and Big Joe on 810 CBS Sports in Orlando that he has been thinking about his Hall of Fame chances.
“I played it clean,” Damon said. “That’s what everybody’s going to be looking at. I think I’m one of the only players to come out and say, ‘I guarantee you there is nothing I’ve done that enhanced my baseball career.’”
Damon said that players receive a “slap on the wrist” for cheating today, which he believes sends a bad message to kids. He also said staying away from steroids and other PEDs forced him out of the game.
“You can’t fault someone who has a chance to make $20 million, 50$ million, $100 million for going against the system to get to where they are. You can’t fault them, but I’m as clean as they came and I got booted out of the game because I’m clean,” Damon said. “I sound a little bitter, but I’m not. I have six great kids and I get to be around them every day now. But there are certain guys who cheated the system and they’re still being patted on the back. That’s not great for our kids.”
Damon played his last season in 2012 and turned 39 shortly after it ended. He batted .222 in 64 games with the Cleveland Indians that year, so it’s probably safe to say his career was over even if other guys weren’t abusing PEDs and being rewarded for it.
Still, I see his point. Guys like Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz and Ryan Braun are known cheaters who fattened their bank accounts with PEDs. After being busted for using steroids, Cruz still inked an $8 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles. Cabrera did the same with the Toronto Blue Jays to the tune of two years and $16 million. You can understand how that would annoy someone who played the game right.
Here is Damon’s full interview with Baumann and Big Joe: