That is the question.
I was lucky enough to attend The Return of Johnny Damon to Fenway Park earlier this year. Great game. Big Papi blasted a monster home run into a fierce wind to put the Sox up 7-3, and Jonathan Papelbon slammed the door for another save during his amazing streak.
I was among those who raucously and lustily booed and taunted Damon, the Benedict Arnold of major league baseball. We blasted him the way Papi blasted that fastball. And it was good.
This, I tell you, is different. Adam Vinatieri is not Johnny Damon.
Yes, he's a hired gun. Yes, he left for the money. Yes, he showed all the loyalty of Marcus Brutus. Yes, he screwed some person who paid $10 a chance to win that No. 4 licence plate. And, yes, when he left, he went to the last place his fans would have wanted.
But Adam Vinatieri never appeared on TV and radio spouting insipid drivel, making himself and his team look ridiculous. He was lovable and goofy with those utterly lame pizza commericals. ("It's goooood!") And, word has it, he was a pretty key player for a while.
Anyone more than 5 years old can relay to you very specifically the deeds of Adam Vinatieri. I'd say none, and few people who even follow the Red Sox closely, can give you specific instances of Damon's heroics. Ever.
I never liked Damon, before or after the 2004 World Series. He's always seemed like a jerk, and there's plenty of evidence there. Vinatieri was like the underachieving little brother you always rooted for and felt ecstatic when he succeeded.
But now the shoe is on the other foot. (Honestly, did you see that one coming?)
Still, I'm torn.
I think Vinatieri deserves much better than Damon. You can make an argument that Vinatieri made the move because kicking indoors will make him more successful and lengthen his career, so it could be about more than just money.
On one hand, it still stings that he turned his back on us, and I have the urge to express my displeasure. On the other, I wish to proclaim my gratitude for the joy and thrills we collectively shared.
Your opinions, please?