FIRE JOE MORGAN: The Two Sides of Jim Armstrong


Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

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Friday, December 23, 2005


The Two Sides of Jim Armstrong

Have you ever heard of this character Two-Face? He's from the Batman comic books, and he has two sides to his personality. Originally, he was good-hearted District Attorney Harvey Dent, a close friend of Bruce Wayne, but then someone threw acid on him and disfigured half of his face, causing him to become an insane supervillain named Two-Face. Frank Miller rewrote his origin to make him a victim of bipolar disorder in the 1980's. And in the movie Batman Forever, he was portrayed rather poorly by Tommy Lee Jones.

If Jim Armstrong, some guy who writes for the Denver Post, were Two-Face, his two faces would both be awful sports writers. One face would be the kind of awful sports writer who makes awful, awful hacky jokes that embarrass the reader to read. The other face would be the kind of awful sports writer who is wrong about everything, and hysterical (not the funny kind of hysterical) to boot.

Accordingly, I'd like to address his recent analysis of the Johnny Damon signing, a proud AOL Exclusive, in two parts: one part Bad Comedy, the other part Bad Sports.


I. Bad Comedy

Johnny Damon leaving the Sox for the Yankees? That's like Al Franken marrying Rush Limbaugh's sister.

This joke isn't particularly egregious, but it does set the tone for the piece. That tone being: I am the kind of person who thinks references to pop culture are in and of themselves jokes.

Johnny Damon in Yankee pinstripes. What's next? Jen laying a Madonna French kiss on Angelina?

Case in point. This material is too unoriginal for a Leno-logue, something heretofore thought impossible. Also, what is a Madonna French kiss? Is he referring to the Madonna-Britney Spears kiss from two years ago?

The Boston front office, needless to say, has spent the past few days in full-scale damage control. The spin is that Damon's defection is a bump in the road, a bad day at the office, a temporary setback. Uh-huh. And George Wendt is two stalks of celery away from being George Clooney.

Does anyone notice a pattern in Jim Armstrong's joke construction? Yes, I see it too: [CELEBRITY NAME] BLANK [CELEBRITY NAME]. Congratulations, Jim Armstrong. You've solved comedy forever.

Luchino might as well move to Baghdad after the holidays. Because, trust me, he'll never live this down in Boston, where they take their baseball as seriously as Chicago politicians take bribes. His only solace is that he has a couple of newly hired co-GMs to absorb some of the heat. I forget their names, but, at the moment, Beavis and Butthead will do.

This time the two celebrities are characters who no one has thought about in nearly a decade!

Johnny Damon in Yankee pinstripes. That's worse than those holiday fruitcakes your mother made you eat as a kid.

Oh, thank God. No celebrities. But wait -- fruitcake humor? I believe Jim Armstrong may be the oldest man on Earth. I think he's that Japanese guy who is 118 or whatever.

Now that it's too little, too late, the Sox plan on spending some money. Good thing. They've got more holes than Augusta National. Their lineup sounds like an Abbott-and-Costello comedy bit.

Somewhere, a comedy club in the Catskills is missing Jim Armstrong and they're extremely worried.


II. Bad Sports

The Sox didn't just lose their center fielder and the best leadoff hitter in baseball.

Johnny Damon isn't the best leadoff hitter on his own team. His career OBP is .353, or .011 higher than the league average OBP for the years he's played. Derek Jeter's career OBP? .386.

They didn't just shed a few pounds of whiskers and a few feet of hair. They lost their heart and soul. They lost their swagger, their panache, that certain something they had with Damon atop their batting order.

They lost an .805 OPS. Kevin Youkilis' OPS (in 79 AB) last year was .805. He earned $323,125. And check this out:

Player A
Heart and Soul: .480
Swagger: 9
Panache: 3.92
That Certain Something: 0.03 (!!!)

Player B
Heart and Soul: .517
Swagger: 18
Panache: 2.03
That Certain Something: 0.01

Do you know who Player A and Player B are? That's right: they're both meaningless sets of numbers that I made up for meaningless categories that Jim Armstrong made up.

Doesn't matter who they sign to replace him. The Red Sox are just another team now.

You're saying Johnny Damon made the Red Sox something other than "just another team"? They still have David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, Jason Varitek, and Keith Foulke. Some of those guys will probably be pretty good next year. Plus they added Jermaine Van Buren and John Flaherty, who probably won't be good at all.

The Yankees, meanwhile, are a world championship waiting to happen.

I don't even disagree with this that much. The Yankees improved a lot by adding Damon. He's a huge upgrade over Bubba Crosby. There's no debate over that. For 2006, signing Damon helps the Yankees immensely. They're still not guaranteed the championship, of course. Tomorrow A-Rod could decide to recreate the Benjamin Franklin kite-flying experiment and electrocute himself into a sad but still slightly humorous state of paralysis.

Who gets the blame? Red Sox president Larry Luchino (sic) for starters. He was the one asleep at the controls during the team's negotiations with Boras. He was the one who found out after the fact that Damon had bolted, and for a four-year, $52-million contract - chump change for a player of Damon's caliber.

Four years and $52 million is not an outstanding deal for a player with Johnny Damon's record in the major leagues. Far from it. It might make sense for the Yankees, given that they simply don't care about overpaying Damon in 2009, but for the vast majority of teams, it's actually a bad deal. David Ortiz' contract is an example of chump change for an extremely valuable player.

For Sox fans, the toughest part of all is knowing that it didn't have to happen. It would have been one thing if the Yankees had blown him away with a ridiculous six- or seven-year deal. But four? For the same money the immortal Rafael Furcal got from the Dodgers? That's highway robbery.

Johnny Damon 2005 WARP3: 6.9
Rafael Furcal 2005 WARP3: 9.1

Johnny Damon is more famous, and I suppose more "immortal."

Who's at shortstop? Beats me. The Sox traded away Edgar Renteria, leaving them in a desperate hunt for a glove in the middle of the infield. There's been speculation that they'll try to land Julio Lugo. Great. The once-proud Red Sox are looking to the dog-butt Devil Rays for players.

Dog-butt? Dog-butt? I thought I could count on AOL Exclusive articles to provide me with classy, insightful, original sports commentary. I trust AOL to be on the cutting edge of original content in all fields. They truly are a company with a bright, bright future.

Edgar Renteria 2005 WARP3: 3.4
Julio Lugo 2005 WARP3: 8.7

Who's in center field? Speculation mostly. Every able-bodied center fielder in the business is rumored to be headed for Fenway Park. Trouble is, not a one could give the Sox anything close to what they had in Damon.

Johnny Damon 2005 WARP3: 6.9
Coco Crisp 2005 WARP3: 6.9

The Red Sox are exceedingly unlikely to get Crisp from the Indians (especially in light of the Jason Johnson signing), but Damon is far from impossible to replace.

It took the Red Sox 86 years to win their last World Series. At the rate they're going, it will take them longer to win their next one.


There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Jim Armstrong. One man, two ways to insult your intelligence.

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posted by Junior  # 7:20 PM
Hey Junior -- your FJM commentary is about as funny as Dr. Boswell commenting on the agrarian revolution of the 1740's. Ya burnt!

Jim Armstrong
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