Johnny Damon wishes he were more selfish

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Johnny Damon got his 2,500th hit last night. After the game he talked a lot about it. The takeaway: There’s no “i” in “team,” but there is in “Johnny Damon:”

Prior to the game, Damon was asked what that hit would
mean to him.

“It is another stepping stone to getting to the ultimate place,” he
said.

Asked if he was referring to the Baseball Hall of Fame in
Cooperstown, Damon nodded, adding he hopes to reach 3,000 hits.

“You get that total or 500 homers and it would be something that
normally gets you in,” Damon said.

…He is a career .288 batter and has reached .300 five times with a
career-best of .327 with Kansas City in 2000, when he also had a
career-high 214 hits.

“I wished I’d thought of this earlier in my career,” Damon said of
the hit total. “I was never as greedy as maybe I should’ve been.”

Damon went on to talk about all those days off he took after the Yankees and Red Sox clinched and how they likely deprived him of hits.

It’s impossible tell from the text of the article if Damon was actually regretting those days off and those hits-not-achieved or if it was merely a casual observation, but either way it is unusual for the starting left fielder of a team in a playoff race talking about that kind of stuff.

This doesn’t bother me, really — I hate the canned “only winning matters” rebop, because I think it’s silly to assume that guys don’t think about their stats and milestones — but you certainly don’t see it every day.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.