Johnny Damon: I got booted from baseball because I was clean

Johnny-Damon-Would-Enter-Hall-of-Fame-as-a-RoyalJohnny 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:

Johnny Damon on Jacoby Ellsbury signing with Yankees: ‘It’s pretty crazy’

Jacoby EllsburyJacoby Ellsbury has been compared to Johnny Damon throughout his career for obvious reasons, and now he’s replicating Damon’s career path by leaving the Boston Red Sox to sign a big free agent contract with the New York Yankees.

Ellsbury and the Yankees agreed on a 7-year, $156 million deal Tuesday that includes an option for an eighth year. The option would bring the total value of the contract to $169 million.

Ellsbury has led the league in stolen bases three times, nearly won AL MVP in 2011, and he has a .789 career OPS, which is pretty darn good for a center fielder. He and Damon are similar players — they’re both lefties, somewhat on the smaller side, and they both have power and speed. Damon probably had more power, while Ellsbury probably has more speed.

Ellsbury was drafted by the Red Sox in 2005, made his debut in 2007, won two World Series with Boston, and now he’s going to the Bronx. Damon played for the Red Sox from 2002-2005, won a World Series with them and then signed a 4-year, $52 million deal with the Yankees. Ellsbury was drafted by the Sox in Damon’s last year with the team.

The parallels between the two are pretty incredible, so who better to comment on the signing than Damon? MLB.com writer Ian Browne spoke with Damon to get his thoughts on the deal.

“Jacoby has always been compared to me, in a way, since he was signed. So this is just that other comparison. I wish him the best and, yeah, it’s pretty crazy,” Damon told Browne.

Damon thinks Yankee Stadium will work well for Ellsbury’s left-handed swing, and he also thinks the signing makes the Yankees contenders again in the AL. Damon also was asked to compare Yankees and Red Sox fans. He told Browne that he felt New York was easier to deal with than Boston because Yankees fans are less consumed with their baseball team than Red Sox fans. And what kind of reception will Ellsbury receive from Boston?

Damon believes Red Sox fans will be harsh on Ellsbury, but he thinks it helps that Ellsbury just won a World Series with the team and that he plays the game the way Sox fans like.

“Yeah, it’s going to be tough at times but he’s a good enough player that the fans are still going to respect what he gave to Boston and what he’s going to give to New York,” Damon told Browne.

If Ellsbury was able to succeed in a difficult city like Boston, he should do fine in New York. He’s familiar with the media coverage, pressure, and intensity of playing for a big-market team. The Yankees just have to hope he stays healthy so that their investment pays off.

Johnny Damon: 2009 World Series tainted if A-Rod used

Johnny Damon Alex Rodriguez

Johnny Damon believes the World Series he and his New York Yankees teammates won in 2009 would be tainted if Alex Rodriguez used steroids that year, as MLB suggests.

Damon joined Jim Memolo and Todd Hollandsworth on “First Pitch” on MLB Network Radio Wednesday and was asked if he felt A-Rod using PEDs diminished the team’s World Series crown.

“I really haven’t sat down and thought that far,” Damon said, “but if that’s how he was able to hit in the postseason like he did that year, then yeah, absolutely. Then you start going and saying was anybody (else) on their team cheating.”

Damon pointed out that Rodriguez had a monster postseason that year. A-Rod went 19-for-52 (.365) with five doubles, six home runs, and 18 RBIs.

“There’s just so many different factors that determine if a team wins and A-Rod was a huge determining factor. He was the MVP of the ALCS. He played a pretty huge part.

“Unfortunately, through the years a lot of guys winning awards, they’re linked to something.”

MLB struck a deal with former Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch, who supplied them with information about the PED use of A-Rod and others. MLB has information from Bosch proving that Rodriguez used PEDs since at least 2009.

It’s pretty shocking that Damon would actually go in this direction. He knows just as well as everyone else that A-Rod wasn’t the only player in the league juicing. And if he’s willing to say the Yankees’ 2009 World Series might be tainted, then wouldn’t that call into question the 2004 World Series won by Damon’s Boston Red Sox, which were led by juicers Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz? I just don’t think you can play this game of picking and choosing whose World Series counts and whose is diminished based on who got caught and who didn’t.

Damon hit .281 with a .755 OPS that postseason for the Yanks. You can hear the clip from his interview with “First Pitch” below:

If Elected to the Hall of Fame, Johnny Damon Would Like to Go as a Royal

Johnny Damon is the perfect example of a player who will be on the bubble for Hall of Fame voting.  If someone told you he got into the Hall of Fame, you probably would not be surprised.  If he were left out, that likely wouldn’t shock you either.  In the event that Damon does become a Hall of Famer, he would have a tough decision to make regarding what uniform to wear.

Now in his 17th season as a Major Leaguer, Damon is playing for his sixth different ball club.  He has a career batting average of .287, has stolen nearly 400 bases, belted over 200 homers, has more than 1,000 RBI, and is 331 hits shy of 3,000.  Aside from the actual numbers, Damon has won a World Series with arguably the two most storied franchises in baseball history — the Red Sox and Yankees.  Having spent four years in the prime of his career with Boston and New York, one would think his decision would come down to which superpower he would want to be forever associated with.  Not so fast.

According to Royals Review via Hardball Talk, Damon would like to enter the Hall of Fame — if chosen — as a member of the storied Kansas City Royals.

“Well, it’s a tough decision,” he explained. “Four years in Boston, four years in New York, five and a half years in Kansas City. And if you go by the numbers, that’s where my best years were. So if they’d have me…”

As Hardball Talk pointed out, it’s possible Damon was just trying to avoid starting a debate between Red Sox and Yankee Nation when he is far from a lock for the Hall to begin with.  As for whether or not he’s serious: use your head.  Do you really think he would ignore the fact that he won a World Series ring with the two teams every kid dreams of playing for? Not a chance.

Johnny Damon, David Price Rock the Super Sam Fuld Cape (Pictures)

Last month we told you that the Rays were planning to replace Manny Ramirez’s bobblehead day with a Super Sam Fuld cape giveaway. Fuld is in his first season with the Rays since being traded from Cubs in the Matt Garza deal. He started off the season scorching hot, batting .396 over the first 16 games of the year. His hot start plus his superb defense in the outfield earned him cult-hero status amongst Rays fans. A twitter hashtag called “legend of Sam Fuld” was born where folks shared stories about Fuld’s accomplishments. The Rays recognized how popular he was and acted swiftly by creating the giveaway.

Though Fuld’s bat has quieted down, the giveaway was no less fun on Sunday. Check out Johnny Damon and David Price both wearing the cape on Sunday prior to the game:

Damon wore the cape as he presented the lineup while Price sported his during warmups. Sam Gardner says many of the players also wore the cape on Friday during warmups. The cool thing about the cape is that it appealed to folks of all ages. Check out the pics:

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