Johnny Damon has a mohawk

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When I started this gig I was so smitten with my personal freedom and the lack of any expectation to maintain a professional appearance that I grew out a big ugly beard. After a month or two the concept of rebelling got old so I shaved it off.

Johnny Damon is going through the same thing right about now. Freed from the need to keep his hair short and shave now that he’s no longer a member of Yankees, Inc., Damon was a bit scruffy in the spring and the early regular season. But now he’s realized that one need not rebel. One can simply move on. Sort of.

If there were any Johnny Damon fans still holding onto hope that he’d
grow his hair out again now that he’s out of New York, Monday might’ve
been the final blow against that. He emerged in the visiting clubhouse
at Angel Stadium with a mohawk-style cut.

Ever since Damon signed with the Tigers in February, there’s been the
lingering question of whether he would grow out his hair or grow out a
beard now that he’s no longer under the Yankees’ rules on hair length
and facial hair.

Damon has never really gotten into the speculation, and by the sounds of
his remarks, he definitely isn’t into the long hair.
“I’ve been wanting one of these for a long time,” Damon said. “That long
hair is long gone out of my system.”

The real tragedy of this is that no one thought to snap a picture of Damon’s mohawk. If anyone sees one, please let me know.  I’m picturing a perfect cross between DeNiro during the climax of “Taxi Driver” and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).