Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Johnny Damon

In case you missed this, Johnny Damon was arrested yesterday for drunk driving. The details are here.

Portions of social media took great delight in the news, especially two details: A. Damon’s blood alcohol level was allegedly .30, which is insanely high; B. Damon’s wife was also arrested and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence.

It hardly helps Damon’s (public) case that he was a hard-core MAGA guy who was vocally all in on Donald Trump.

But here’s the thing …

I take no joy in Johnny Damon’s arrest. I am not happy looking at his pathetic mug shot; at the receding hairline, the thatches of gray, the neck lines. I’m not happy with any of it.

Why? Because guys like Johnny Damon made deals with the devil. They didn’t know it at the time, but they did. Basically, the contract read like this:

You will be gifted with an ability to hit a round object with a wood stick. You will be gifted with the ability to run swiftly around four planted objects. As a result of this ability, you will achieve tremendous fame. You will have lots of sex with gorgeous women. You will make millions of dollars.

But, when it ends—it ends hard.

Johnny Damon’s last Major League game was played nine years ago, when he hit .222 in limited time with Cleveland. Since then, he’s done … little. A lot of golf. A ton of public appearances and speeches. More golf. Then more golf. And … more golf. He’s surely recognized every day (“Hey, I was at that game in …”) and simultaneously reminded every day that he’s now Superman without the cape, Batman without the car, a lifetime .284 hitter who, were he given 500 Major League at-bats right now, would probably chime in at about .120.

I’m not saying he deserves a ton of sympathy, but being an ex-athlete is (unless you’re prepared—and probably one in 100 are truly prepared) an awful existence—far worse than most people seem to understand. You spend your days frozen in the past, both by the fans who remember you 50 pounds lighter and by yourself, dreaming of sunny afternoons at Fenway Park, when your days were planned and your future seemed limitless.

Alas, the devil always collects.

As he has with Johnny Damon.