Idiot: Beating The Curse And Enjoying The Game Of Life

Idiot: Beating The Curse And Enjoying The Game Of Life

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Dear Baseball Fan:

I know what youre thinking: Couldnt he have come up with a better title? My mother agrees with you, but unfortunately Genius just doesnt have the same ring.

Lets get something straight right away. I may be an idiot, but Ive tried to do more in this book than just revisit the Red Soxs Miracle Season. I want to give you a sense of what its like to grow up with baseball dreams, to spend long years climbing the ladder, and then over the course of three years to see the building blocks of those dreams fall into place.

In this book, youll be reading about the son of an Army staff sergeanta thrill-seeking Orlando kid who at age thirteen was gifted with a mans body, including rare speed and reflexes. It was some straight talk from my brother that kept me from abandoning that talent, which led to my eventually catching on with the Kansas City Royals and later the Oakland As.

Starting in 2002 with the Red Sox, I got to see what can happen when a determined front office decides to roll the dice and acquire players who, like me, leave the thinking out of itwho trust their instincts and play team baseball.

Forget what youve read about the posse of long-haired rebels who eventually made up the 2004 Red Sox. Ill give you the straight dope, including whos got the biggest mouth (hint: his first name is Kevin); what Pedro Martinez was doing all those times when you couldnt find him on the bench; what game David Ortiz should never play; and why I sometimes question Curt Schillings sanity. Memo to Curt: the statue of you is being erected.

Whats it like being responsible for the hopes of millions? In the fall of 2004 my teammates and I got to find out. What Ive tried to do in these pages is bring you inside, show you the black humor that erupted when it seemed we could do nothing right, and the immense joy that followed when 25 guys took turns picking each other up, and by sheer force of will reached baseballs summit.

Red Sox Nation (both natives and new arrivals), this ones for you.

From Idiot by Johnny Damon

On what it takes to make the majors Its never about your talent. Everybody in the minor leagues has talent. If youre planning on building a career in baseball on just talent alone, youve got no chance. Most important, you need will. Youve got to work harder than the next guy, and you have to want it more than the next guy. Guys who make it do so with their heart and mind.

On NomarIt was virtually impossible for Nomar to go out in public. If he went, he needed a private room or he had to be shielded by the other players so the public wouldnt get to him. Nomar had to deal with his superstar status every day. If one fan wanted an autograph, thered be a hundred behind him. Nomar spent much of his time in his room getting food delivered. It was the only way he could get to eat.

On The CurseWhen you got down toward the end of the season, thats all you heard aboutDo you believe in the curse? Is the curse overtaking the team?Since Dan Shaughnessy is the guy who invented this curse nonsense in the first place, I find it kind of odd that he keeps talking about it. Hes a bright guy. I cant believe he actually believes it. I guess the Curse of the Bambino has a better ring to it than the Curse of Dan Shaughnessy.

On getting support from the fans during the ALCS slumpI went out into the field, expecting to hear it from the Fenway Fans. But we have some really great fans there in center field. Johnny, were all right, they said. Just get the job done next time. Come on, lets go, John. The games not over. Make something happen.I didnt hear one nasty commentI was pumped. They were rooting us on.

On valuing the gameI think back to that day Damian Jackson and I collided in Oakland. Before thatI said I was going to retire if I won a World Series. But now, having had that experience and almost having the game taken away from me, when I think about it, I cry, because I dont ever want to leave this game. I know the day will come and I wont be ready. This game is so precious and meaningful to me.

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