Friday, November 27, 2009

The Cult of Lucy Ricardo

Maybe you were like me on that weekday afternoon a month ago, watching President Barack Obama on TV answering serious questions from real Americans at a town hall meeting in New Orleans when suddenly the picture shifted to an object resembling a bag of Jiffy Pop floating through the air.

“There is believed to be a 6-year-old boy inside that balloon,” the CNN anchorwoman said breathlessly.

How is that possible? I wondered.

This can’t be true.

I switched to MSNBC and saw the same giant popcorn bag.

I put on Headline News.

Jiffy Pop.

As a last resort, I switched to Fox News Channel.

Jiffy Pop.

Everybody’s showing the Jiffy Pop bag and talking about “Balloon Boy.”

This kid is so big he bumped the president off every network!

We know by now the story was a hoax and the so-called “Balloon Boy” was honest enough to call out his scheming parents, telling reporters, “They told me to stay in the attic because they were doing something for a show.”

For this and other similarly impudent acts, I blame Lucy.

Lucy Ricardo. The original Desperate Housewife.

Through reruns shown for more than a half-century in every conceivable language, Lucy has taught the world that everybody should be in the show, and needs to be in the show.

Lucy's goal, back in the quaint 19'50s, was stardom at the Tropicana, the nightclub where her bandleader-husband held sway.

Today, in the multimedia age, the cultists’ goal is to get their own show.

A so-called “reality” show, just like the erstwhile rapper with the oversized clock around his neck, or the stripper who says she got sacked by the football player, or the single mother of six with no source of income who proudly popped out eight more.

Heck, she’s her own brand now.

Octomom ®.

It’s all Lucy’s fault.

Yesterday’s Vitameatavegamin pitchgirl is tonight’s prime-time player on Bravo.

Lucy once rode the New York City subway with a loving cup stuck on her head, a cup that was supposed to be presented to famed jockey Johnny Longden at the Tropicana.

And when Lucy presented it—with her head still attached to it—we laughed.

She was funny. She was adorable.

Unfortunately, she inspired a cult.

This week, the Cult of Lucy gave us two married Washington, D.C.-area residents who crashed Barack Obama’s first state dinner at the White House.

Upstaging the president again?

On their Facebook page (a prerequisite for all Lucy cultists), we see the couple in formal wear greeting the president on the receiving line and smiling with Vice President Joe Biden and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

“They could have had anthrax on them," Congressman Peter King of New York told The New York Times. “They could have grabbed a knife from the dining room table.”

That’s coming next, if these cultists aren’t stopped.

The D.C. cultists lied about being invited to the dinner, and got a camera crew to follow their high-society trespassing in the hopes of landing a gig on “The Real Housewives of D.C.”

Why, of course.

And they’ve already been booked on CNN's “Larry King Live” next week.

Oh, sure. Had to happen.

And the female cultist says she wants to be a host on the “Today” show.

She would probably be an improvement over Kathie Lee Gifford, but that’s beside the point.

Starstruck Lucy was a problem only for Ricky, but her cultists have raised her naked ambition to the 10th power. Their obsessive desire to be in the show has become dangerous—and criminal.

So let’s give them all a show of their own.

The network and time slot are already available.


Saturday nights, 6pm to midnight.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What if Tarantino had directed Precious?

If you intend to see Precious, a manipulative attempt to condemn society for generations of personal irresponsibility, don’t read this.

The billboard reads: “Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry Present Precious, Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.”

If the film is nominated for an Oscar, I wonder if the title will be read that way on awards night in March 2010.

What I also wonder is would Precious be considered racist were it directed not by Lee Daniels, an African-American, but by a white director, say, Quentin Tarantino?

We are supposed to believe Precious is different because Winfrey and Perry have placed their pop-culture imprimaturs upon it.

And because the film is based on a book written by a black woman.

Well, I don’t buy it.

In 1997, Tarantino directed Jackie Brown, a film adapted from a book by Elmore Leonard. Jackie Brown featured Pam Grier in her first major-studio starring role in nearly a quarter-century, since the days of Coffy and Foxy Brown.

A controversy arose because in Jackie Brown, some characters had a seemingly obsessive compulsion to say “nigger.”

Spike Lee even accused his fellow auteur of racism.

That’s how these characters talk, Tarantino replied.

That’s how a lot of black people talk, he added.

Lee and other blacks disagreed.

Apparently, only black artists should be allowed to degrade black life.

I have never subscribed to that notion.

That is why the sounds and imagery and blatant emotional manipulation in Precious annoy me as much as the slur-fest in Jackie Brown.

Precious includes a scene showing the morbidly obese title character stealing a bucket of fried chicken, and another scene in which Precious’s mother throws a baby to the floor.

Another scene depicts a knock-down, drag-out fight between Precious and her mom.

Another scene shows the incestuous rape that produced both of Precious’s children, and refers to her first delivery, which occurred at home while mom kicked Precious in the head.

In yet another scene, mom demands Precious please her sexually.

Somewhere, D.W. Griffith is smiling.

These Precious scenes are from a decade-old book adapted just in time for the administration of the first African-American president.

“We’ll teach you darkies not to get all proud and uppity.”

– The Man

There’s no doubt in my mind we would hear certain black ministers call for marches on studio corporate headquarters and Birth of a Nation-type boycotts outside theaters if

Precious had been directed by a white person.

While I don’t consider Precious a contemporary version of 1918’s Birth of a Nation, Precious contains enough racist imagery to hinder rather than enhance the storytelling.

We don’t need to see Precious running down the street with a stolen bucket of fried chicken to know that her parents do not value her.

We don’t need to see her mother throw her newborn grandson to the floor to know that this woman is severely damaged.

Precious needed not a hammer, but a more subtle approach to telling the story of poor, ignorant black folks in 1987 Harlem who do not value themselves, and one girl’s struggle to break that cycle.

Spike Lee made a similar error in his 2000 film, Bamboozled, in which the call for an end to the negative imagery of blacks on television was blunted by his heavy-handed approach.

Precious is an interesting story not well-told.

Would Tarantino have done a better job?

Who knows? But given his ear for dialogue, the melodrama might have been leavened with some much-needed humor.

Precious has a hopeful ending, not a happy one.

We hope Precious breaks the cycle of ignorance and poverty in her family, but we don’t know. The single teen mother of two is just beginning to understand the value of education.

Now I wonder, and worry about, what Hollywood will learn from this film.

If Precious does well at the box office and wins an Oscar, there are bound to be other adaptations of ghetto-themed literature.

Alas, your neighborhood bookstores are full of them.

Full of books plumbing the depths of African-American ignorance and immorality that if adapted for the big screen would make the “blaxploitation” era of the 1970s look like the Golden Age of Cinema.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Does Mark Mangino Eat His Players?

The cult of the dictatorial football coach goes back as far as the game itself.

There’s nothing new about a coach using any available tactic to try to motivate his players.

Take, for example, Vince Lombardi, the coach whose name graces the National Football League’s championship trophy.

Lombardi (a fellow graduate of my alma mater, Fordham University), transformed the Green Bay Packers from perennial door mats into NFL champions in the 1960s by any means necessary.

As Packers guard Jerry Kramer wrote of Lombardi in the book, Instant Replay, “He treated us all the same…like dogs.”

Lombardi is probably an icon to Mark Mangino, the 450-pound head coach at Kansas University.

But it is likely that Mangino’s means of motivating players through fear and intimidation sorely lacks Lombardi’s well-known compassion for those who turned his teachings into victories on autumn Sundays.

Beneath Lombardi’s crusty exterior was said to be a fatherly figure who loved his players unconditionally.

Beneath Mangino’s crusty exterior appears to be an overabundance of girth and mean-spiritedness.

Current and former players—each of whom is African-American—are speaking out about cruel, despicable remarks allegedly made by Mangino.

Why now?

Kansas is losing, 1-6 in the Big 12 Conference, two years after winning the Big 12 and representing the conference in a BCS game, the Orange Bowl.

Players who have long incurred the wrath of Mangino now see blood in the water and want nothing better than to harpoon him.

Former player Raymond Brown, whose brother had been shot and wounded, said Mangino told him, “I’ll send you back to St. Louis where you can get shot by your homies.”

Former linebacker and team captain Joe Mortensen said Mangino threatened him by saying, “I’ll send you back to the ghetto. You can stand on the corner and drink out of a paper bag.”

Former Kansas wide receiver Dexton Fields said he heard Mangino tell another player, “You want to be a lawyer? You’re going to be an alcoholic just like your dad.”

For a college student of limited means on an athletic scholarship, the threat of having that scholarship revoked creates a chilling effect.

It is nothing short of psychological torture.

My attempts to reach former Kansas All-America Aqib Talib, now a rookie cornerback with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have been unsuccessful.

But I’ll keep trying.

Mangino brought his demoralized Jayhawks to Texas last Saturday night, where they were slaughtered by the Longhorns 51-20.

One Texas fan brought the following sign to the game:

“Mark Mangino Eats His Players.”

Whether the players’ allegations are spot-on or exaggerated, Mangino appears to be a goner at KU.

How can he (or any assistant) walk into the home of an African-American recruit whose background approximates those of the players assailing Mangino and convince a parent that their son would be in good hands?

That Coach Mangino would care for their son as if he were his own?

Too many players, past and present, are making too many of the same allegations about Mangino for them to be purely coincidental.

On a radio show last week, Mangino claimed “99 percent” of his players at Kansas have had no problem with him.

Well, where are they?

So far, I have heard just two Kansas players defend Mangino.

Quarterback Todd Reesing told the Associated Press, “He came here to a team that was undisciplined and a program that lacked it and he established discipline and got guys to work hard and believe in themselves.”

Reesing may be accurate in describing his relationship with Mangino.

But it’s worth noting that Reesing is not African-American.

Nor is he from a family of limited means or a hardscrabble neighborhood.

Mangino probably has never spoken to Reesing in the same disrespectful tone he is alleged to have used with the black players.

Perhaps Mangino bullies players without displaying any tough love to try to compensate for his own shortcomings.

The unmistakable fact is when Mangino stands on the sideline he resembles a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float at rest.

Clearly, this morbidly obese man is not able to manage his own body, which would make it impossible for me to entrust him with my progeny.

While Mangino does not literally eat football players, he also does not seem to nurture their spirit or teach them anything that will make them better men.

A Lombardi he most certainly is not.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Putting the Ire in Ireland

American sports fans almost got to know Thierry Henry because of a Gillette commercial in which he appeared in 2007 with Tiger Woods and Roger Federer.

Almost, but not quite.

Henry was replaced in the Gillette spot last year by New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter.


American audiences did not recognize Henry, a black French soccer star.

Outside of the U.S. and Canada, Henry still appears in the Gillette spot.

Anonymity is something Henry (pronounced AHN-ree) might prefer today.

Instead, he is Public Enemy No. 1 in Ireland because of a hand-aided goal in a World Cup qualifying match yesterday that will send France to the world’s biggest sporting event instead of Ireland.

“Yes, the ball touched my hand,” Henry admitted to reporters. “But I’m not the ref.”

Henry is right. The referee should have disallowed the goal.

But Henry’s answer will never sit well with the Irish, or with anyone who wants athletes to be sportsmen.

Henry cheated. The ball didn’t hit his hand by mistake.

That Henry got away with it does not justify the act.

The ball went from Henry’s left hand to his right foot and across the goalmouth to teammate William Gallas who scored to give France a 1-1 tie—and a 2-1 edge in goal differential in the two matches against Ireland.

That is why France, the 2002 World Cup champions, is going to South Africa for the 2010 Cup and Ireland is going home kicking and screaming.

“Outrageous!” “Disgraceful!” “Cheat!”

Those are the some of nicer headlines in the international media because of L’Affaire Henry.

This is, quite simply, the biggest sports story in the world outside of North America.

Here, we call the sport soccer. The rest of civilization calls it football.

Ireland’s justice minister is calling on FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, to replay the match.

To do otherwise, he argues, is to officially sanction cheating.

A replay would be the fairest way to decide matters. Either that, or resume the match with France throwing in the ball in Ireland’s end at roughly the point when the tainted goal occurred.

But don’t expect either to happen.

Germany didn’t get a do-over in the 1986 World Cup final after losing to Argentina on Diego Maradona’s infamous “Hand of God” goal.

That Henry readily admitted touching the ball yesterday doesn’t make him a better sportsman than Maradona.

Henry had little choice. Sports fans around the globe have seen Henry’s sleight-of-hand frame by frame, in super-slow motion, from multiple angles.

Now, FIFA has no choice but to use video replay technology in the World Cup.

But only for goals, as the National Hockey League does.

Not for offside calls. Not to hand out yellow cards or red cards retroactively for infractions missed by the referee.

But there’s no way TV viewers should know more about what’s happening in a World Cup match than the referee on the field.

Can you imagine the international outcry if the World Cup was awarded on a goal that would have been overturned by video replay?

Given the outsized passion of soccer fans, lives could be lost.

At least some good should come out of L’Affaire Henry…albeit not for Ireland. Alas, the luck of the Irish has run out.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In New York, NBA Season Is Over

For the first time in New York sports history, the Major League Baseball season and NBA season both ended in November.

Not until November 5, the day after the New York Yankees won Game 6 against Philadelphia to clinch their 27th World Series title, did people in the metropolitan New York area fully comprehend how hideous the local NBA teams are.

Autopsies were being performed on the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets while 3 million people at a victory parade showered the Yankees with confetti (and personal financial records carelessly flung by Wall Street employees).

Now, the Yankees’ brilliance is being obscured by the gloom and doom of the Knicks and Nets.

Knicks fans hope LeBron James will leave Cleveland after this season and lure another marquee free agent, like Raptors forward Chris Bosh.

But LeBron to New York seems more like a pipe dream.

What is real is the egregiousness of that collection of expiring contracts in Knicks uniforms.

President Donnie Walsh and Coach Mike D’Antoni have largely escaped public criticism because Isiah Thomas, their predecessor, was so awful.

Give Walsh credit for extricating the Knicks from salary cap purgatory.

But give Walsh hell for not drafting angelic point guard Brandon Jennings.

Jennings, taken one pick later by Milwaukee, lit up Golden State for 55 points last Saturday—the most points scored by a rookie in an NBA game since Earl “The Pearl” Monroe hit 56 for the Bullets.

Meanwhile, forward Jordan Hill, the Knicks’ first-round pick, has not earned significant playing time.

Thomas can’t be blamed for that.

Start hanging around Madison Square Garden to get your comp Knicks tickets—the way I used to in the early 1980s, the pre-Patrick Ewing era.

The 2-9 Knicks would be eligible for disaster aid from FEMA, except that the Nets are even worse.

The Nets, who may relocate to Brooklyn, or Newark, actually appeared in the NBA Finals twice in this decade.

The only problem facing those Nets was the animus between All-Star point guard Jason Kidd and his wife, Joumana.

Those were salad days compared to what’s happening now at Izod Center.

The Nets’ organization knows its product isn’t good enough to draw fans. That’s why they are using ineptitude as a selling point.

Tuesday’s game against Indiana was “10 Is Enough Night.”

Why? The Nets were a league-worst 0-10. Hence, an upper-deck ticket or lower-deck end zone seat sold for $10.

Before an announced crowd of 11,332, the Nets fell to 0-11.

Nets fans might be able to spend 70 cents for a “70 Is Enough” ticket to watch the team in April.

Seriously, the Nets are selling tickets for five designated games in which every fan gets a reversible jersey—a Nets player’s name and number on one side, and that of an opposing team’s star, e.g., LeBron, on the other.

Fans at this Saturday’s game will get two tickets for the price of one.

Who are the Nets playing?

The Knicks.

It figures.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stop Feeding the LeBron Monster

I grew up rooting for the New York Knicks, so you would think I’d be excited that NBA All-Star LeBron James could join the team next year as a free agent.

Well, I hope he doesn’t.

I’ve had it up to here (put your hand at neck level) with LeBron coverage and hyperbole, and a New York platform for this player would only make him more insufferable.

So arrogant is LeBron that he failed to congratulate the Orlando Magic after they outplayed his Cleveland Cavaliers in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals, and then he failed to talk to the media after the final game.

Sports don’t build character, sports reveal character.

LeBron’s arrogance on a big stage last summer revealed a lack of character.

An earlier episode revealed his ignorance and apathy.

When then-teammate Ira Newble circulated a petition in the Cavaliers’ clubhouse condemning the genocide to which Africans are subjected in Darfur, LeBron refused to sign it.

LeBron told reporters he didn’t know enough about the issue to add his voice to the global outcry.

How about putting down your iPod long enough to read up on the subject, LeBron?

When Newble offered to share such reading material, LeBron couldn’t be bothered.

LeBron had time to strike a “King Kong” pose while clutching supermodel Gisele Bundchen (now Mrs. Tom Brady) on the April 2008 cover of Vogue.

But, apparently, he still does not have time to educate himself about the atrocities in Darfur—or anything else more important than basketball.

Now, LeBron says he wants to circulate his own petition. He wants every NBA player wearing No. 23 to give it up in tribute to Michael Jordan.

“If I’m not going to wear No. 23 [next season], then nobody else should be able to wear it,” LeBron told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Talk about being full of yourself.

I’m surprised he didn’t say it in his usual third-person style:

“If LeBron James isn’t gonna wear No. 23, then LeBron don’t want nobody else wearing it either.”

It’s laughable that he believes he can tell all other NBA players wearing No. 23 what they should do.

Kudos to any NBA player who tells LeBron to mind his own business.

Here’s what LeBron says about Jordan, the Chicago Bulls legend:

“I just think what Michael Jordan has done for the game has to be recognized in some way—soon. There would be no LeBron James [there he goes in third person again], no Kobe Bryant, no Dwyane Wade, you name all the best players in the league right now and in the last 10 years. There would be none of us without Michael Jordan.”

So only the last 10 years of NBA history matter to LeBron?

Why, because that’s all he knows?

Darfur is not the only subject about which LeBron needs to be educated.

One could make a powerful argument that there would have been no Michael Jordan if not for Elgin Baylor, Julius Erving, Connie Hawkins, David Thompson or any other player who defied gravity in the years before Jordan got cut from his 8th-grade team.

One could also argue forcefully that the number LeBron wants to wear next season—6—is the number that should be retired league-wide.

LeBron may not know this, or care, but Bill Russell wore No. 6.

Russell, now 75, was the NBA’s first African-American superstar with the Boston Celtics, with whom he won 11 league championships in 13 seasons.

Russell won two NCAA championships at the University of San Francisco and an Olympic gold medal in 1956.

Russell also was the first African-American coach in NBA history.

As a player-coach, Russell led the Celtics to NBA titles in 1966, ’68 and ’69.

There has been no greater champion in basketball history than Bill Russell.

But LeBron wants to wear No. 6 next season because:

· it was his number on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team;

· he wears No. 6 sometimes in practice; and

· Erving wore No. 6 as a Philadelphia 76er.

LeBron is a case study in arrogance, and no student of basketball history.

No wonder he identifies so strongly with Jordan, a man whose endorsement could have sent a black man named Harvey Gantt to the U.S. Senate representing North Carolina instead of arch-racist Jesse Helms.

But Jordan did not endorse Gantt, and Gantt lost, because Jordan thought it would hurt his status as a commercial pitchman.

“Republicans wear Nikes too,” Jordan said.

LeBron is truly Jordan’s heir—philosophically, apathetically and arrogantly.

I hope he stays in Cleveland.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Want My N-F-L Network

I’m a big pro football fan, which means I’m a pawn.

I’m a pawn because I would love to have NFL Network in my home but can’t get it.

I would love to watch my San Francisco 49ers play (beat?) the Chicago Bears tonight on NFL Network without being surrounded by vile, loudmouthed drunks at a sports bar.

But I can’t do it.

Why not?

My local cable supplier, Cablevision of Westchester (New York), does not offer NFL Network.

Why not?

Cablevision and NFL Network have never been able to agree on an annual rights fee per subscriber, which is how cable networks make money.

Sports cable networks command more money per subscriber than general interest cable networks because sports networks deliver to advertisers the coveted 18-to-49 male demographic.

ESPN, for example, can get $2.80 per subscriber per year from Cablevision while CNN gets about 70 cents per subscriber per year.

Sports networks call the tune.

And sports fans get the shaft.

Since Cablevision refuses to pay what NFL Network wants per subscriber per year, pawns like me cannot get NFL Network.

Other football fans with different cable subscribers (e.g., Comcast) or satellite TV (e.g., Dish Network or DirecTV) can watch 49ers vs. Bears at home.

I can’t.

So why don’t I just get satellite TV?

I live in a Yonkers co-op that doesn’t allow satellite dishes.

“They’re ugly,” the co-op board says. “Dishes detract from the aesthetic beauty of the building.”

(Actually, there’s nothing aesthetically beautiful about my building, but that’s another issue.)

Fans are pawns because the major sports leagues know they can increase their revenues and exercise greater control over their message and image by creating their own networks.

That’s why we have NFL Network, NBA TV, NHL Network, MLB Network, Golf Channel and Tennis Channel.

And some of North America’s most popular teams have their own networks showing content or games you can’t see anywhere else.

The list includes YES (Yankees Entertainment and Sports), Dallas Cowboys TV and Toronto Maple Leafs TV.

The problem occurs whenever fans of these leagues or teams can’t watch a game because the league-owned or team-owned network is in a dispute with a cable network or satellite company.

And this happens far more often than it should.

When YES debuted in 2002, New York Yankees fans missed more than 100 games that year because of disputes between YES and various cable/satellite networks.

Hockey fans with DirecTV can't watch NHL games on Versus because DirecTV and Comcast (which owns Versus) are in a snit over money.

Pawns like me can’t watch Tennis Channel on Cablevision because the two sides can’t agree on subscriber-rights fee.

This isn’t just a rant. I have a solution:

Any sports league that doesn’t have clearance on every cable or satellite network should offer the games on its Web site for free.

For example, I should be able to watch 49ers vs. Bears tonight online at or

I’m not talking about game highlights. I’m talking about the entire game.

Other leagues, less greedy than the NFL, are already doing this.

During the 2009 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, fans who couldn’t watch a desired game on their local CBS station watched that game free online.

Also, fans who didn’t have Tennis Channel watched U.S. Open matches free at

If the NFL weren’t so greedy—and, unfortunately, the NFL has turned greed into an art form—NFL Network games would not be offered to only a select few living rooms.

And if sports fans were not already used to being treated like pawns, they would be demanding a change.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hey, Johnny Damon, Curb Your Agent

For Johnny Damon to return as a New York Yankee in 2010, he will need to take a page from the Alex Rodriguez playbook.

And I don’t mean Damon needs to divorce his wife and then cavort with an aging rocker followed by a comely blonde actress in her early thirties.

What Damon needs to do is tell agent Scott Boras to curb the rhetoric because the Yankees can win in 2010 and beyond without him.

A-Rod nearly played his way out of New York after the 2007 season.

Taking Boras’s advice, he exercised his contractual option and announced, during Game 4 of the Red Sox-Rockies World Series, that he had become a free agent.

Only after A-Rod muzzled Boras and contacted the Yankees himself did he and the club work out the 10-year deal that allowed A-Rod to finally win his first World Series title.

Damon needs to borrow the Boras muzzle from A-Rod before it’s too late.

Clearly, Boras loves to use the media to negotiate contracts for his clients.

But his strategy often succeeds only in making a client a better-paid loser in a new city while alienating the fans in the city that player left behind.

Case in point: Former Seattle Mariner Alex Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers.

Another case in point: Former Los Angeles Dodger Chan-Ho Park of the Texas Rangers.

Yet another: Former Texas Ranger Pudge Rodriguez of the Detroit Tigers.

Damon turned 36 on November 3, the day before the left fielder helped the Yankees win their 27th league championship — a pro sports record.

Actually, November 3 was the day before Damon limped off the Yankee Stadium turf during Game 6 with a hamstring injury so severe he would have had to sit out Game 7, had there been one.

That is part of the problem: The Yankees need to get younger and more athletic in the outfield, and Boras’s rhetoric could compel the team to look elsewhere for a left fielder.

According to Boras, Damon’s durability is “off the charts.”

Yes, Damon has played in at least 140 games in 14 big-league seasons. But he played hurt more often than he should have to achieve that streak, and he has the weakest throwing arm of any starting outfielder in baseball.

According to Boras, the Yankees should pay Damon “market value” for a player of his age and track record.

Clearly, Boras is suggesting the Yankees offer Damon a multi-year deal commensurate with the four-year, $52 million contract signed by catcher Jorge Posada who was 36 at the time, or the three-year, $45 million contract signed by relief ace Mariano Rivera who was about to turn 38, or the multi-year deal that shortstop Derek Jeter will sign to remain in pinstripes as a 36-year-old.

The Yankees won’t do that. Nor should they.

Damon, however important he was to the Yankees’ championship season, is not remotely as vital to the team as Posada — a switch-hitting catcher with power from both sides and a team leader — or Rivera — the finest relief pitcher in major league history.

The Yankees should offer Damon a two-year contract worth between $20 million-$22 million.

If Boras convinces Damon the offer isn’t good enough…Sayonara.

The Yankees could then pursue Los Angeles Angels free agent Chone Figgins, who is 31 and faster than Damon with a better arm.

The Yankees could also hope World Series Most Valuable Player Hideki Matsui recovers well enough from knee surgery to play 40-50 games in left field in 2010. Figgins, or a rotating group of players, could man the position the rest of the season.

If that happens, it would be, as Yankees legend Yogi Berra would say, “déjà vu all over again” for Damon.

The Boston Red Sox let Damon walk after their 2004 world championship when he rejected their four-year, $40 million offer.

The Yankees came to the rescue with a four-year, $52 million deal.

That won’t happen this time.

Boras seems blissfully unaware of that. It is up to Damon to muzzle his media-loving agent while explaining it.