"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice



The Yankees and the Sox rivalry is great because there is so much history, and so much emotion to invest if you happen to be a fan of either team (although I do know some Yankee fans who sincerely don’t have any special feeling for or against the Sox; I don’t know any Sox fans who don’t hate the Yankees). It’s the ultimate story of the Have’s vs. the Have Not’s. Every game adds to the story.

Since the mid to late 90s (the Mo Vaughn era), the Sox have been competitive with the Yanks. Of course, they have come up short every year, but it’s not for lack of trying. They haven’t finished fourth. They’ve finished second. They have pushed and run with the Yankees, but they haven’t pushed them over yet.

What is different now is that you don’t sense any personal feelings of antagonism between the pplayers. Manny, Sori, Pedro, Bernie these guys all know each other. With the exception of Clemens, and maybe Boomer, I don’t think there is any bad blood between these guys personally.

A good friend of mine was recently lamenting the lack of juice in the rivalry, because he thought that these Red Sox aren’t as good as the Boston teams of the late mid to late 70s, I don’t know. I think what he missed was the feeling of personalized competitiveness that used to exist between the players; everything is so darn amiable in the current game. You don’t get that same edge. Everything is so exposed, and manicured these days, he was saying, and as a result, dull. Boring.

He has a point. You don’t have Fisk vs. Munson anymore (unless you count Pedro vs. George), but what you do have is terrifically competitive ball. With lots of humorous and compelling personalities. Just not as man Red Asses. Most of the guys today are pusscats. A good Red Ass is hard to find. Sure, it might be funnier if they didn’t like each other, but that’s just the way it is these days. Why fight it?

The truth is I don’t know how many one-run games the Yankees and Sox have played in over the last six years, but I can guess it’d be a lot. They are usually tense from the first pitch, and they play a back and forth emotional slugfest throughout. You rarely feel cheated. Even an ass beating either way can be absorbing, but it depends on how into S&M you are.

Even though the Yankees always come out in front, Boston fans do have a collection of nice memories to go along with the loses over the past six, seven years. The Hillenbrand dinger against Mo early last year comes to mind first, and there are others.

You can add another photo to the album tonight. The Yankees came back from four runs down to tie the score at four. Ruben Ruben had a 2 RBI pinch-hit single in the 7th. Karim Garcia later drove Nicky Johnson home to tie the game.

Mussina pitched into the eighth and then old man Jesse strug wack-ass Gabe Kapler out on a check swing to end the inning. Boo boo Benitez blew the game in the ninth—David Ortiz hit the game winner off the green monster in left. Well, what did you expect? There is no shame in that. Let him get it out of his system. No seriously, what did you expect? The guy is going to give up runs, blow some situations. Fine. Bring him back tomorrow in the same situation and expect that he’ll get it done. That’s the only way to play it. What are you going to do? You play with the guys you have, right?

I was at work this afternoon, and I followed the game on and off through the fifth. When I left, I trooped up Broadway, from 50th street to 86th street. It’s my old man’s birthday tomorrow and I needed to get him a gift, so I hit Barnes and Noble. I already burned the old man a cd mix of comedy bits from Lenny Bruce and Nichols and May, which he’ll love, because it’s hilarious. I was looking through the baseball books when I realized I had an extra copy of the Sandy Koufax biography at my house, just waiting to be given as a gift. Bingo.

I willfully avoided the game. The 7th or 8th inning took place during my walk to the subway; I saw the Sierra hit on the computer at work. I had a Walkman with me, but I listened to an old mix tape instead.

Now the 1 and 9 local IRT trains have an issue this weekend. “A definite type of situation,” as Broadway Danny Rose would say. Between 168th street and Dykman (200th street), the train will not be running. All customers must transfer at 168th street to a shuttle bus, running up to Dykman and back. Then you get back on the train and continue your journey.

It’s a pain in the ass. It doesn’t happen often, because the 1 and 9 line is the Broadway local, which is well kept by the MTA. It is local train so is stops often, but it’s a very reliable train. If you live uptown, you have to deal with more of a headache or two, but then again, welcome to reality, man. It maybe happens twice a year, sometimes more. Weekends only.

What’s amusing about the whole deal is getting off the train and getting on a bus with everybody. It’s like a field trip with all the people in your neighborhood. I live in a predominantly Dominican neighborhood. But you also get your Irish, your Jewish, your Asian, yer Middle Eastern, a little Slavic. Mostly Spanish and Irish. I live in the land where Manny and Pedro are kings. The Red Sox hats rival the Yankee hats no problem. (They used to rock Tribe caps.)

Manhattan is very hilly between Dykman, through the heart of Washington Heights, to Columbia Pres on 168. It’s the highest land on the island. Though there is a sharp decent from 188ish and Dykman. The bus moves slowly. It trudges. People editorialize. A fat ass couple buffaloed their way onto the crowded bus I was on this morning, just as the doors were closing (never mind there was another bus right behind us). They came in through the rear door, and the driver couldn’t close the door cause the guy was in the well. He finally got his act together, and you should seen this these two. Out to lunch.
The woman was bitching about this and bitching about that. When the bus started it’s way down the hill, these two are trying to balance themselves, as the bus picks up speed.

The woman spoke in a loud, clear voice. “Hey, I know you going to be easy on the breaks cause you got passengers attempting to maintain our balance back here.” She turns to her husband, shaking her head. “I think this bitch is trying to kill us.”
On my return trip this afternoon, every cockarovich with a license was out on Broadway in Washington Heights with his car in the way of the bus. Stoopid ass traffic.

When I got out of the train at 168 I put on Sterling and Steiner and caught the post game show. It took several tense minutes before I learned who had won. I tried to figure it out through Steiner’s presentation, but they were still busy playing the Yankees comeback. I looked around at the other passengers, listening intently. When the word came down that the Yanks lost, I was bummed, but not distraught. When I heard it was Benitez, I was like ‘OK, that’s fine.’ Good for the Sox. They have to win that game. Fine.

Then the ride took forever and a day, but I thought about how my friend Johnny Red Sox actually bought a couple of tickets for the game and was there. He brought his girl, a Yankee fan up there for the day. So for what it’s worth, my level of friendship with John superseded my personal disappointment for a while. His trip was worth it. And he’ll get laid tonight and the weekend will have turned out great, and so I’m happy for his stinkin ass.

It looked like the Sox were going to lose again, but they showed true grit and banged out the win. When I got off the shuttle train at 231rst Street, I felt all right. You want to know why? Because the level of competition between the Yanks and Sox is consistently high. And if they are so many great games, well, hey, the Sox have to win some too, right?

Today was another great game, decided in the late innings. The games are almost always close. What they lack in personal venom they make up for in theater, tension, and good old fashion hardball. Both parks are great, they look great in the day and they look great at night. Both teams have great uniforms (most of the time). I think the Yankees, Sox rivalry is alive and well, even if the Yankees do hold the overall advantage, because the Sox are a good team who aren’t afraid to play with the Yankees. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Anyway, I figured Weaver would be involved in some melodrama tomorrow on Sunday Night Baseball. Unless it’s just me. But tomorrow it’s all on the line for my man. It’s actually a good match up for him, because Lowe is the pitcher that Weaver should aspire to be. Weaver is capable of being good, as he showed against the Jays before the break, but his ass is on the line here. Got to keep the ball down, meat. Leave the duce at home, bro. This is the Sox. The Red Sox do not fear Jeff Weaver. Do you?

Oh yeah, here is an e-mail I recieved this evening from my friend Shawn Clap:

Does Joe Torre not watch Met games? Does he not read the papers?

What would convince him and Mel that Armando could get 5 lefties out in one inning?

I still hate Nick Johnson, but a little less than before.


Hey, tough crowd, babe.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver