I took in all the festivities of the Johnny Damon/Doug Mirabelli Fenway returns at Professor Thom's in Greenwich Village on Monday night. The bar was packed, and the crowd was as big for a sporting event as I have seen since it opened back in December. The crowd was overwhelmingly against Damon and really happy that Mirabelli was back with the Red Sox. One of my friends brought in a Johnny Damon/Yankees bobblehead doll (that was quick), and my friend Chris did some "alterations"to it. He put a dollar sign of the doll's chest, changed the letter "a" to an "e" on the bottom of it (hence "Damon" became "Demon"). Chris also put a dollar bill on the back of the dollar, like the cape Superman wears. My other friend Leah, who originally brought in the doll, made up signs to put next to the doll, like "Show Me The Money" and "Traitor". The finished product was really funny, and it sat at the front of the bar all night. A few people even pulled out there cell phones and took pictures of it.
Before the game, Jason Varitek was penciled in as the Red Sox starting catcher, as it looked like Mirabelli wouldn't make it to the game in time. But as it turned out, the police gave Doug an escort to the park, and he dressed in his uniform in the car, and was shown later running into Fenway and made it onto the field just in time. (Did anyone else notice the game started nearly 10 minutes late? Hmmm...)
Well, when it got going, you could feel the anticipation in the bar. It almost felt like one of those playoff games from 2004, when we were together in "that other bar." As Damon was introduced, most of the bar booed him, but there was a smattering of applause. You could hear most of Fenway was booing him too, but many of the fans behind him were applauding. Damon handled it all with class, tipping his cap to the fans just before he entered the batter's box. I was glad his first at-bat ended with him flying out to Trot Nixon, and the bar cheered when he did.
The Fenway fans were ready for Damon, with such signs as "JUDAS DAMON" (although some fans in right field had a sign: "TRADER." Back to public school, guys!). The fans have every right to react the way they did. I was glad to see some fans applaud him on the first at-bat. As he took the field in the bottom of the first, some of the fans in the center field bleachers threw what looked like real money down on the field. That reminded me of the reaction Alex Rodriguez got when he returned to Seattle in 2001 with the Texas Rangers. The fans serenaded Damon with "trai-tor" and other chants all night, and by the end they finished with "Joh-nny." You could see Damon actually smiling out there in center, as he could clearly hear it all.
It was a tight game all the way through, but by the eighth, the Sox broke through and took charge. David Ortiz hit a monster three-run homer into a stiff wind off Mike Myers (who was signed by the Yankees to get Papi out) to put the Red Sox ahead for good, another big time clutch home run by the REAL 2005 AL MVP. Professor Thom's went absolutely bananas. Jonathan Papelbon came on for a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out The Ersatz 2005 AL MVP and Jorge Posada in an impressive inning.
The best parts of the night was the fact that Damon took the collar, went 0-for-4. Mirabelli also went 0-for-4, but the important stat of the night was that there were no passed balls. It was a big win for the Red Sox, coming off a terrible road trip where they went 3-6. The Red Sox are back in first place, but it is just May 2. But whatever time of the year it is, beating the Yankees is always special.
OK, Damon's a Yankee now. Let's move on.
After the game, Professor Thom's had their Monday "Trivia Night." My buddies Alex and John and I reclaimed out Trivia title easily, winning by six points.
It was quite the night. The Red Sox beat the Yankees, Damon does nothing, and I won Trivia for the fourth time. I need more nights in my life like this.