By hating Emmet
The thrill is gone.
If you are a New Englander, your love of baseball is a complex thing. Certainly you enjoy that warning track, leaping catch, the ninth inning strikeout, or the natural speed used to beat out an infield hit. There is nothing quite like the walk-off home run by the man that used to be David Ortiz.
But part of that baseball DNA, like a wiggling garden worm, is your deep-seated hatred of the New York Yankees.
Others don’t understand. Joe Torre, the former Yanks manager was trapped with Sox fans in an elevator once and took the usual abuse. He asked the nutjobs from Boston if they would rather see Bin Laden captured or beat the Yankees.
The Boston fans guffawed. Sure we hated Bin Laden. But we despise the Damn Yankees. Like schoolyard bullies, they beat us up and ruined once summer after another with the stars they pirated from teams with less money. Start with Babe Ruth, who they stole from the Red Sox. That set the pattern for the hated yanks. They were nothing before that heist.
You may have forgotten, but the Red Sox dominated baseball before the Ruth deal. You can look it up.
When the Red Sox finally, finally, finally beat the Yankees in that classic seven game series in 2004, most fans considered the World Series victory anticlimactic. They not only beat the Yanks, they emptied Yankee Stadium in the process. The front-running Yankee fans could not bear to watch.
Back to the dismal present. Yes the Red Sox are awful and will be lucky to win as many games as they lose. But look at the “Bronx Bombers.” They could be worse. Even the New York sports writers (ptui!) have predicted the Red Sox and Yankees will fight it out for last place in the division.
There must be a baseball god. The Red Sox tried mightily to land Alex Rodrigues and Mark Teixiera. Now they are both injured Yankees, expected to miss at least half the season while eating up the team payroll. A-Rod will be collecting $29 million this year while filing his nails and Teixiera will enjoy another $22 million. Ha, ha. Imagine if the Red Sox actually landed these two.
My favorite Yankee (there is only one) is Shortstop Derek Jeter who is 63 years old and trying to come back after suffering a broken ankle. He makes a mere $25 million. That’s more than $60 million, sitting on the bench.
The Sox opened the season (thank God) this week by pounding the Yankees, 8-2 in the hated Yankee Stadium.
I will bet that even Wizard Walter Griffin could not name the Yankees starting lineup. There was no Joe DiMaggio or Mickey Mantle in center field. It was Brett Gardner. No Phil Rizzuto at shortstop, only Eduardo Nunez. Robinson Cano, a real baseball player held down second base. Naturally the Yankees needed at least one ex-Red Sox player and had Kevin (Yoooook!) Youkilis at first.
In left field there was no Bernie Williams, only retread Vernon Wells. The designated hitter (honest to God) was Ben Francisco.
Ichiro Suzuki, now 74 years old, was in right field and someone called Jason Nix was at third. Catching was not Yogi Berra, but the immortal Francisco Cervelli.
How the mighty have fallen. According to ESPN, the Yankees still have the highest payroll at $230 million. They are still ahead of the insane Los Angeles Dodgers at $214 million, even after the Dodgers took losers Carl Crawford, Alex Rodrigues and pouting pitcher Josh Beckett off the Red Sox hands. That saved the Sox $250 million in long-term contracts.
Now, we can root against the Dodgers, too.
We will still root against and hate the New York Yankees the most, of course. It is our birthright. But it will not be the same.
The thrill is gone.