Johnny Damon Loves The Rays

ST PETERSBURG FL - FEBRUARY 01: Johnny Damon #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays talks with reports during a press conference at Tropicana Field on February 1 2011 in St. Petersburg Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Singing the unsung accomplishment again.

It was no secret this off season that Johnny Damon wanted to play for the Rays. Born and raised in Central Florida, Damon loves living at home and playing baseball for all his family and friends. 

Last week Damon hit a double that put him in an unsuspecting elite club with some of the best hitters in baseball history, just the 11th player all-time to have 500 doubles, 100 triples, 200 homers, and 2,500 hits. Below is a smiling Johnny talking about reaching the milestone after the game:

(via wwwtampabaycom)

What can we learn about Johnny from this clip:

  • He's grinning like a cheshire cat. Johnny knows exactly what milestone he was trying to reach.
  • He's humble. Johnny knows he only reached this club by "running hard" and swinging a big bat. Statistically he is no where close to Ruth or Musial, and he doesn't claim to be. He's honored to have reached a status in terms of his accomplishment, but he also knows where he stands. 
  • He knows the fans care. Johnny simply loves Tampa Bay fans. He knows the fan base cares about him, wants him to do well, and respects his accomplishment. While many former Rays and ignorant sports commentators have talked down the fan base, it's refreshing to here a veteran talk about his love for the fans, and his desire to be one!

    "I will be rooting for the team for a very, very long time after my career is over."

  • He's already a Rays legend. I'm reminded of Wade Boggs joining the Devil Rays at their inception in 1999. He hit a milestone in his career with the Rays (3,000 hits) and stuck with the team for his final years before retiring to the Hall of Fame on a knee injury. Boggs loved the Rays too, the Red Sox were furious when Boggs tried to make his HoF hat a Tampa Bay one - and the hall changed it for them. Damon could see his career go out in a similar style.
  • He's a great addition to this team. As of that accomplishment, Johnny is already the second best DH the team has ever had, and he did it without steroids... 

    Rk Player WAR/pos From To Age G PA HR SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS
    1 Jose Canseco 3.3 1999 2000 34-35 174 766 43 5 0 .272 .373 .525 .898
    2 Johnny Damon 1.2 2011 2011 37-37 68 296 8 7 4 .274 .323 .423 .746
    3 Cliff Floyd 0.7 2008 2008 35-35 80 284 11 1 0 .268 .349 .455 .804
    4 Josh Phelps -0.1 2005 2005 27-27 47 177 5 0 0 .266 .328 .424 .752
    5 Randall Simon -0.2 2004 2004 29-29 8 21 0 0 0 .118 .286 .118 .403
    6 Manny Ramirez -0.3 2011 2011 39-39 5 17 0 0 0 .059 .059 .059 .118
    7 Pat Burrell -1.2 2009 2010 32-33 146 572 16 2 0 .218 .311 .361 .672

    The milestone has gone unsung at most Rays blogs you read. The Rays have a decently smart fan base and know it's only numbers that have got him there, and that statistically Johnny is far and away from the "club." But that doesn't mean we don't tip our hats as Rays fans. Johnny, we love what you do, and we love you too.

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