In the time since Johnny Damon won one World Series apiece with the Yankees and Red Sox, both franchises have seen a changing of the guard and a focus on youth. And he likes what the young guys have brought to the table.
“These young kids are going to make baseball very exciting for many years,” Damon told amNewYork on Wednesday during a meet and greet for fans at Lord & Taylor’s flagship midtown store. “Especially with Big Papi [David Ortiz] gone for Boston and [Derek] Jeter being gone for New York — there’s a new sense of rivalry that’s going to start.”
The Yankees entered Thursday with a two-game lead on Boston in the AL East, evidence that one of baseball’s greatest rivalries remains one of its most relevant.
Along with the rest of the baseball world, Damon has been awestruck by the performance of rookie Aaron Judge, whose 22 home runs led the majors through Wednesday’s games. Judge’s graceful handling of superstardom at such a young age prompted manager Joe Giradi to compare his 25-year-old slugger to Jeter, whom Damon played four seasons alongside after his four-year tenure in Boston.
“I can see the comparison,” Damon said. “Judge is going to be the guy that the fans look at for hopefully the next 10 to 15 years as the Yankees superstar. I think he’s ready to embrace it.”
While Judge has seemingly accepted the baton from Jeter as face of the franchise, the former Yankees captain has set his sights on ownership of the Miami Marlins. Although his partnership with Jeb Bush fizzled, Jeter reportedly remains interested in rallying investors to his bid for the franchise.
Damon said he believes his former teammate would make a “great” owner.
“He knows about the game and knows a lot of people,” Damon said. “I’d much rather see him own a team up in this area than down there, but we’ll see what happens in the future.”