"A-Rod to the Yankees represents Steinbrenner at his diabolical best/worst. It's like having your best girl agree to marry you, finding out you can't get married because your church won't allow it, then watching her marry the guy you hate most in the world. Hide the sharp objects and post guards at the Zakim and Tobin bridges." --Dan Shaughnessy
The new manager of the Boston Red Sox cheated death four times during a medical odyssey that included multiple knee surgeries, blood clots, staph infections, massive internal bleeding, and a near amputation of his leg. Francona was so ill during the Christmas of 2002, the mere thought of managing a baseball team was ludicrous.
Sometime next week, the Boston tenure of Terry Francona will begin in earnest. Few will notice him wince when he ambles up those dugout steps; the burning in his legs when he climbs stairs is one of the permanent reminders of his surreal medical nightmare.
"If that's the worst of it, then I'll take it," he said. "I can still get on the treadmill. I can hit BP all day. It will not affect how I manage the team."
His team is the Boston Red Sox. His job is to win the World Series. His passion is the game of baseball, and all the sleepless nights that come with it.No Glory, Just Guts (Boston Globe)
"Well, I think we have a great team. And we can compete with them. If nothing else, God will have to be on our side."--Ben Affleck
"George Steinbrenner is the center of evil in the universe. There's no question about that.''--Ben Affleck
All right. Let's talk Sox.
As usual, nothing has been done--off-season or no off-season--halfway.
The Patriots were racking up the W's, and even fresh from the agony of Oct. 16, 2003, the news, radio and television wires of Boston were abuzz with A-Rod talk. The management of the team went out and stood on their heads to try and get the deal done. Boston even made peace with the very thought of parting with our beloved Binky, Nomar.
A cold snap, a Titans game, Schilling signed. It wasn't just a good off season. It was a great off-season. An historic off-season. With the addition of high-caliber pitching and manager Terry Francona (who I'm unspeakably, pants-wettingly excited about, and I strongly urge you to read the profile on him linked and quoted above), eggheads in Vegas were favoring the Sox.
Yep. Nothing happens halfway when we're talking about this institution of the Boston Red Sox. Whether that's good or bad isn't something I've quite reached a conclusion about, but the one thing you can say is: in the space of just two months, the Boys of Beantown had gone from the heights of destiny-fulfilling ecstasy to the depths of suicidal, railing-at the-universe agony and right back again, with no stops in between.
And then. Oh, and then. The A-Rod deal fell apart. This was bad. We needed him, and more importantly, we didn't need Manny. We didn't just not need Manny, as a matter of fact--we didn't need even the concept of Manny. The Patriots were showing by example that prima donnas don't win championships, and the baseball faction seemed to be taking notice. But then the deal fell through. On, of course, a technicality.
But--also of course--the worst was yet to come. And then came the news from New York like a flaming nuclear meteor from outer space crashing down on Yawkey Way. And I don't know what's worse--the news itself or the fact that Red Sox Nation proved its crushing gullibility yet again.
I mean, come on. In the past three generations, we've been in the basement enough times to recognize it, haven't we? So why wouldn't we see this coming?
It happened with Clemens. It happened with the Babe. It has happened, year after year after year after year after year, with all the money and the power and the glory. We've heard this giant sucking sound before, and we know where it's coming from. Why didn't we see it coming? Why are we just Charlie Brown for another year, still running our fool heads off to kick that football?
I guess the only answer is that there's something addictive in the extremes of it. There's just something about it, that dichotomy. Boston or New York. Nomar or A-Rod. Grady or Terry. Triumph and defeat. Joy and tragedy. Agony and ecstasy. And all in their purest forms.
The Sox and Yankees have been compared to the US and Russia at the height of the Cold War, but I think it's more accurate to say that the battle between the Sox and Yankees is the U.S. sporting equivalent of Israeli-Palestinian strife. Both feuds are bitter, seem to have gone on forever, and also seem insoluble. And, at least, in my personal opinion, in both of these situations, both sides are right, and both sides are wrong.
Also important is that while each battle may be unpleasant, no one can ever say it's not interesting. Few remain neutral with either conflict, especially if they're native to any of the areas where they're fought--be it Jenin or the Fenway, Jerusalem or the Bronx.
But most important is the fact that in both of these situations, at least one thing about each of them is patently clear, no matter what extremists want to argue: there needs to be a two-state solution in Israel, and baseball needs a salary cap. And these needs--on their respective scales of importance, of course--are equally dire.
The Last Word. (As usual, from Bambino's Curse)