Craig Bailey/Florida Today via USA TODAY NETWORK

Johnny Damon says Boston much tougher place to play than New York

Alex Reimer
April 10, 2018 - 12:05 pm

We often like to boast about how difficult it is to play sports in this city. Athletes apparently feel so much pressure to perform, they can’t enjoy themselves if they struggle at the plate or blow a big game. This perception is worn like a badge of honor. 

Unlike other big cities –– say New York –– there aren’t a litany of other entertainment offerings. Our population tends to be more parochial, too. 

The Yankees, and Giancarlo Stanton in particular, are getting excoriated for their early-season struggles. Stanton was booed at Yankee Stadium and roundly mocked in the tabloids for his second five-strikeout performance of the year Sunday. The slugger is the first player in the live era to rack up two five-strikeout efforts in the same season. 

It is April 10.

Still, it could be worse for Stanton. He could be playing in Boston. Johnny Damon recently told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale he thinks Boston is much more demanding than New York.

“Both of those cities could be rough, but I would not go out if I was struggling in Boston –– no way," Damon said. “In Boston, you feel like you’re in everybody’s living room each night while they’re having dinner. You don’t feel that way in New York.”

The Red Sox typically perform better than the Yankees in the ratings, a reflection of how many people are watching a TV program at a given time. This season, for example, the Yankees are averaging 4.34 household ratings, per Forbes. It is their highest mark since 2012. 

The Red Sox, conversely, drew a 7.1 rating on Sunday when they were directly up against the Masters and Celtics. 

Chris Young, who also played for both the Sox and Yankees, said the two atmospheres are completely different.

“In New York, when you lost, it hurt in the clubhouse, but you didn’t hear it from the outside as much. In Boston, when things went bad, I felt like the thunderstorms came," he said. “We won the division two years in a row when I was there, and there were times it felt like we were in last place.’’

It's apparent Young is referring to the David Price incident and some other off-field episodes. The Red Sox were roundly criticized for not admonishing Price more harshly after he berated beloved Hall of Fame hurler Dennis Eckersley on the team plane. 

New York talk radio surely would have been very understanding towards Price there. 

As ludicrous as that sounds, it seems to be the prevailing wisdom. Mike Cameron also told USA Today he thinks Boston is much tougher on its athletes, including star players.

“I played in Chicago, New York and Boston, and whoa, Beantown was the roughest,” he said. “I saw Big Papi [David Ortiz] almost get run out of town. I saw them boo Pedro (Martinez), too. You’ve got to have some pretty thick skin because you’re going to get booed no matter who you are.

“It’s just a whole different experience playing in Boston. It’s almost like a family thing in Boston, they take it so personal. The big thing is how you respond to things. You’ve got to be a stand-up guy to play there. If you’re going to take the money, you better not be hiding, boy.’’

It’s worth pointing out Cameron played for the 2011 Red Sox, who went 7-20 in September and blew a nine-game lead in the AL East. Perhaps that experience plays a role into his opinion.