Friday, June 27, 2014

Remember when a Redsock-Yankees series actually involved two power teams?

Yesterday, Mustang and I were chewing the ol' lard, jawboning about those 16-year-old, barefoot Latino boys who Hal Steinbrenner next week will turn into future Wall Street one-percenters. (Hopefully, the Yankees measured the ears, so we can know how big they'll get.) Those kids never saw Tino Martinez play first base for the Yankees. They were six years old when the Curse crashed in 2004, leading to The Great Abyss. They were 11 when NY won the World Series, the only Yankee championship those boys can remember.

They have seen mighty Boston, the new milenium's most storied franchise, win three World Series rings. And surely, they must snicker when they hear all that fuss about a big Boston-New York series, because basically, all they've ever seen was one good team whipping the bloody crap out of a bad one.

It's been five years - 2009 - since the Yankees and Redsocks sent powerhouse lineups crashing into each other in September. That year, Boston finished eight games out, with the third best record in the AL. Ever since, the two clubs have taken turns collapsing at midnight into toads. Last year, the Yankees' embarrassing final gasp came at the hands of Boston - remember Soriano trying to steal third?, Preston Claiborne getting torched?, the sweep? "The Rivalry" is merely an excuse to watch one good team go medieval on a bad one.

That is, until this year.

Tonight, we see another eternal sports rivalry: Wretched v. Mediocre. Certainly, either team can still get hot and salvage its season. Let's face it: Bud Selig finally turned MLB into an NFL clone: Parity instead of dynasty, with no franchise able to keep its players. The list of lame teams far outnumbers that of solid ones. Right now, MLB's two best clubs are Oakland and Milwaukee. That's an epic World Series, eh? Obama should go ahead and designate October as "National Netflix Month."

Tonight, Boston and New York will pay homage to that age-old rivalry - like Harvard vs. Yale. (In that regard, it's time for the Yankees and Redsocks to find an icon - and old jug or jock strap - which changes hands whenever a team wins the latest series.) We will hearken back to the era when these were not only baseball's best teams, but they hated each other. Not like today, when Big Papi is usually defending the Yankees, and Jeter receives warm Fenway ovations. Want a brawl? Check out the Redsocks in Tampa. Good grief, these teams send each other Christmas cards. After Boston challenged Michael Pineda's pine tar use, the Redsocks were almost apologetic; considering how that clown slathered junk all over his neck, they had no choice.

But to us, the sad cases, it's still the Redsocks and the Yankees. This weekend, the Yankees could put Boston out of its misery, or bring the '14 Zombie Socks back to life. More than likely, neither will happen. These old and plodding teams will trade a win and a loss, and fans will have to close their eyes to remember when Papi wasn't hitting .256 and Jeter was - well - simply the greatest human being in John Sterling's memory. It's like watching a Neil Diamond oldies concert. Wait a minute: Didn't the Yankees last year salute Boston by playing "Sweet Caroline?" Maybe the two teams should share a group hug.

As for those new, future Yankee immortals - (Remember: Every 15 seconds, a new Yankee Stadium center field monument takes shape) - the boys from Brazil, or the D.R., or Venezuela., I wonder what they're thinking? I wonder if they'll ever know a time like when the Yankee bullpen fought Boston's security guards, or their pitcher pointed to his head and said, here's where the next one is going, or our Gerbil came charging out of the dugout... Ah, those were the days... Harvard vs. Yale, the two best teams in college football.

Glory days. Well, they'll pass you by. Hey, Bud, how's that epic World Series shaping up? A's vs Brewers! Think ESPN-2 will have an opening?


JM said...

Kyle Farnsworth is available!! Kyle Farnsworth is available!!

Local Bargain Jerk said...

I live and work in New England. The day after that 2003 playoff game where Jeff Nelson and Karim Garcia beat the piss out of that Boston Red Sox employee who was standing in the Yankees' bullpen, I was riding on a commuter train to Boston. All the riders on the train car had already arrested, tried, and convicted both Yankee players and were in the process of debating how long their sentences should be.

We were sitting in one of those sets of facing seats at the center of the car with a table between them. I said to the guys in my seat, 2 of whom I was traveling with, "Do you really think that, as a case, this will ever see the light of day?" They all made those squeaking and beeping noises that Boston fans make when they're outraged, and said "No waaaaay" in that sneering "you're clueless and I'm not and you're from out of town" Boston way they have about them. Then they started in with, "You CAN'T tell me you DON'T think those guys are guilty as SIN. I. Mean. COME. ONnnnnn!" Then they'd shift abruptly in their seats, and look out the window, thinking in their small-town hubris that someone from New York might not have a reply.

I said, "Not only do I think they're not guilty, but, in the highly unlikely event this ever goes to a courtroom, I think the first lawyer who takes the case is going to advise them to sue the piss out of the Red Sox organization for endangering their safety. Putting a Red Sox employee -- someone on the Red Sox payroll -- into the opposing team's bullpen and having the employee incite the crowd to violence makes the Red Sox at least partially liable for everything that happened."

They continued shooting their frightened little looks of Bostonian outrage and disbelief at each other, snapping their heads back and forth, looking for reassurance that I was the one who was crazy, not them. They were simply incapable -- in their pathetic, homer fervor -- of seeing the reasoning and logic behind what I had said.

One of them let loose with a "I, mean, COME, ON, no fuckin' waaaaaaaaaaaayy" and I knew there was no further point in continuing.

My partner at the time was from Baltimore. He didn't have a dog in the fight, so he followed my comment with, "Don't you guys think it's possible for someone else to have a different viewpoint?"

But at this point they were all whipped up into a like-minded frenzy and weren't inclined to start listening to reason.

I decided to end it by sitting up straight in my seat and saying: "Mark my words: This will NEVER reach a courtroom much less a conviction. The Red Sox organization ITSELF will see to it that doesn't happen because THEY'RE as vulnerable as anyone else." (I stabbed my index finger into the table top to emphasize the words.)

I sat there on the train lamenting that I would never be able to stick the actual non-outcome of the non-incident up the collective nose of these douchebags. The Nelson-Garcia brouhaha, of course, never, ever went anywhere. I still think to myself to this very day, "I'm not even a fucking lawyer. Fuck them all."

[I will admit privately among sober Yankee fans that, once, while trading insults with a Red Sox fan who's a friend and a good guy, I conceded the point that Karim Garcia looked very much like someone who might someday hold up a 7-11. But that's another story.]

el duque said...

That day, you provided a victory for Yankee fans everywhere.

Local Bargain Jerk said...

Thanks, El Duque. I'm not sure where that tirade came from, but obviously it's been simmering for a long time.

Perhaps I'm just out of sorts concerning the 2014 season, and the fact that it feels like 1988 all over again...

If we had an Al Leiter, we'd trade him. If we had a Jay Buhner, we'd trade him. And Steve Balboni and Ken Phelps would walk through the door arm in arm to replace them and all I'd have to look forward to would be the day, 15 years in the future, where I'd be arguing with clueless Red Sox fans on a morning train into Boston.

Guys, we're staring into the abyss. See you in 2029.

We shouldn't have torn the stadium down.