IS THIS INSIDIOUS RED SOX-YANKEES RIVALRY GOOD FOR BASEBALL ... AND AMERICA?
Less than two months after the New Yorkers eliminated Pedro & Co. -- with a Little help from their friends -- they are at it again. The BoSox sign Schilling, the Yankees raise them a Sheffield. Now, relief pitchers everywhere -- not to mention Andy Pettitte and Bartolo Colon -- are smiling. Today, the Writers' Bloc takes a look at a war without casualties (if you can put aside all those suicidal New Englanders).
Spoken like a true New Yorker | From Robert Lipsyte
New York-Boston is more like the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union, a psycho-political construct that gave both countries a reason to impose economic and social controls on its people. As it turned out, the Reds were the Red Sox, dogma without bite. Someday, a betrayed people will tear down the Green Monster.
Boston is a boutique city, racist, class-whipped, whose primary legacy is the invention of arrogance, at Harvard. The Red Sox have been favored with gifted literary fans who can cream over Ted Williams' contempt for them and find in losing an almost sensual agony that lasts longer than mere winning.
The Red Sox lose because, if they didn't, their fans could never live with their own mediocrity. If a team does not satisfy the need of its fans, it will not survive. The lesson of the standings is this: It's OK to be not-quite.
When minor Yankees excel (Dent, Boone, etc.), it is not because the gods are whimsical, but because the players were briefly ennobled by pinstripes. When heroic Red Sox falter (Buckner, Little, etc.) it is not because they failed their team, but because they were over-burdened with their team's failure.
Poor Schilling, another Babe in Boston. Had the Bambino stayed, the curse would have been worse -- we would never have heard of him.
Come into the 21st century | From Eric Adelson
Congrats to my man Theo for getting Schilling, but I'll take the Marlins' rotation of Beckett, Penny, Burnett (healthy), Willis and Pavano over a combination of the best five Sox and Yanks starters. In fact, I'll take the Cubs' Prior/Wood duo over Pedro and Curt or Andy and, uh, help me out here, Moose? Let's give the obligatory nod to the rich past, but sadly the Sox vs. Yanks battle is much like the Britney vs. Xtina affair: Interesting, annoyingly overfunded, and no longer relevant.
Ah, a real romantic | From David Schoenfield
And, someday, the Red Sox will pull out their slingshot and slay the arrogant beast Goliath, and those writers will really have a story to tell ...
Now showing on ESPN Classic ... | From Gerri Hirshey
You remember the sides: wimpy, aesthete-ridden Athens (read: Boston). And the bloody-minded warrior state Sparta (Noo Yawk). Now the Peloponnesian War raged only from 431 to 404 BC, but it had chilling parallels: At one point, the proceedings were overseen by some dudes called "The Thirty Tyrants." (Does that sound like major-league owners to you?) Another dip into the history books says that Spartan mothers would say to their sons, "Either come back with your shield or on it." Doesn't that sound like a Steinbrenner maxim? On the other hand, Athenians -- like so many of those Boston Brahmin intellectuals, couched military defeat with apologias like this one: "We hold contests and offer sacrifices year round, and the elegance of our private establishments ... helps to drive away sorrow."
I'm still looking for an apt Hellenic version of The Curse of the Bambino. But for now we'll made do with a description of Spartan Broth, which consisted of "pork, blood, salt and vinegar."
In short, a Yankee Stadium Sabrett dawg.
Please, no one wake me! | From Steve Wulf
But this could put us over the top. By us, I mean the legion of Red Sox fans. I am one by marriage, but I have the zealotry of the converted and don't even try to maintain journalistic objectivity. I also live behind enemy lines, deep in Yankee country, and that just adds to the romantic attachment. I am Bogie, living in Paris during the occupation. And the fact that the GM's grandfather wrote "Casablanca" makes it even better.
Doesn't matter if the Yankees sign Sheffield, Vasquez, Colon and Gordon. The Red Sox already have the jump on the Yanks. And George has to play catch-up.
I'm singing the Marseillaise right now.
And I'm from California! | From Eric Neel
We need generations bound by suffering and instant friendships born of loss. We need to know a guy with a red B on his cap, wherever you find him, is a guy who could use a drink and a hug. We need that Bucky-to-Boone sting that lets you know you're alive. We need to know the simple truths -- sun up in the East, Sox lose to the Yanks -- are solid and enduring. You know we don't need? Theo Epstein coming along with his sabermetric savvy and bulldog tenacity, and Curt Schilling coming along with his heavy fastball and fearlessness. These guys ... they're gonna make a game of this thing. They're gonna muck things up.
Never a dull moment | From Dan Shanoff
Here's hoping they take it to the next level: If the two teams started making midseason moves based on their rival's upcoming schedule: The Yankees have K.C. next week? Let's temporarily trade our lineup to the Royals during our day off ... Boston is playing Milwaukee? Mariano Rivera can be available to the Brewers on loaner.
And now representing Middle America ... | From Tom Friend
Hey, lay off Ben Affleck | From Patrick Hruby
I, for one, eagerly await the pending release of "Paycheck," a fasten-your-seat-belt action extravaganza that is sure to be the the most explosive holiday thrill ride since "Reindeer Games."
Look, I understand that not everyone in sportswriting can win an Oscar, date Jennifer Lopez and make it through rehab. Especially not the last part. But still, that's no reason to be so catty. If and when a giant meteor threatens to blow up the Earth, I know who I want riding the intercept rocket. And it ain't Matt Damon.
True revisionist history | From Jim Caple
Jan. 21: Unbeknownst to Red Sox fans, George Steinbrenner secretly trademarks the phrase "Yankees Suck." Steinbrenner will use the royalties from T-shirt and bumper sticker sales to offset his entire payroll.
May 19: Mimicking the bleacher fans at Yankee Stadium, Red Sox fans hold a roll call before the season's first New York-Boston game at Fenway Park. Manny Ramirez is marked absent.
May 20: As Roger Clemens goes for his 300th career victory, the Red Sox object to the patch on his glove that reads, "300 Wins -- 102 and counting since you losers let me go."
May 26: Prior to a game in the Bronx, Boston closer Byung-Hyun Kim gives Yankees fans the bird. Reliever Jeff Nelson, outfielder Karim Garcia and bench coach Don Zimmer beat him up.
July 4: A sellout crowd fills Yankee Stadium to see the Red Sox-Yankees game and watch the annual postgame fireworks shot into the Boston team bus.
July 5: The Yankees counter the Kevin Millar "Born in the USA" karaoke rally video with one of their own. This one shows clips from the Bucky Dent game. while Steinbrenner hums "Ride of the Valkyries."
Aug. 29: Prior to the final regular season Sox-Yankees series at Fenway, Yankees infielder Enrique Wilson slips a tranquilizer powerful enough to knock out two horses into Manny Ramirez's drink. No one notices a difference in Manny's effort when the two teams play a couple hours later.
Aug. 31: Manny misses the final game of the series at Fenway so he can sit in the Yankees dugout.
Sept. 6: Karim Garcia misses the Yankees-Red Sox game while going to the dentist to have Bill James' teeth removed from his fist.
Oct. 7: On the off-day before the American League championship series, Derek Jeter asks Nomar Garciaparra if he has any naked photos of Mia Hamm. When Garciaparra replies no, Jeter offers to sell him some.
Oct. 11: Jeff Nelson and Karim Garcia jump into the stands and beat up Bobby Doerr and Johnny Pesky, enraging Boston fans.
Oct. 12: Nelson and Garcia jump into the stands and beat up Jimmy Fund patients, enraging Boston fans.
Oct. 13: Nelson and Garcia jump into the stands and beat up Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, delighting Boston fans.
Oct. 14: Don Zimmer is suspended for the rest of the playoffs after testing positive for THG.
Oct. 15: When Phil Rizzuto approaches Pedro Martinez to shake his hand behind the batting cage before Game 6, Pedro kicks away his cane and knocks him to the ground, then points to P.A. announcer Bob Sheppard and warns, "You're next, old man."
Oct. 16: Grady Little is late for Game 7 of the series when he stays on the 4 train too long and doesn't get off until he's all the way to Woodlawn.
Nov. 2: After Manny says he would rather play for the Yankees, the Red Sox leave him on the doorstep of a local orphanage. The orphanage refuses to take him in.
Nov. 28: Theo Epstein spends Thanksgiving dinner with Curt Schilling and, after long and occasionally angry negotiations, convinces the pitcher to pass the cranberry sauce.
Dec. 1: The Yankees counter Boston's trade for Schilling by signing the entire Red Sox team.