Nice try, Red Sox. Nice try, Larry Lucchino. Nice try, Theo Epstein. Better luck next year. Or the year after that. Or by 2018, 100 years after the last World Series you won.
The Curse Of The Bambino Lives.
The Evil Empire triumphs again.
The Yankees just got Alex Rodriguez, right from under your noses. So enjoy that Patriots' Super Bowl victory, Beantown. Because that's the only victory coming to Boston anytime soon.
Until yesterday the Red Sox looked like they were better than the Yankees. They had Curt Schilling to give them a great number two starter behind the incomparable (and inscrutable) Pedro Martinez. The Red Sox had Keith Foulke to give them the closer they desperately needed. They looked like they'd left the Yankees in the dust, especially after the Yankees lost Andy Pettitte to the Houston Astros, and Roger Clemens -- first to that phony-baloney retirement, and then the Astros! What a kick in the teeth that was to the Yankees. What an ingrate Clemens turned out to be.
But the Red Sox never landed the biggest fish they'd gone after, Alex Rodriguez. They thought they had him wired from the Texas Rangers. And they'd gone so far as to be willing to deal Manny Ramirez to Texas, and Nomar Garciaparra to the White Sox to get A-Rod. Imagine what that would have done to the Yankees. It would have buried them. Not only would the Sawx have landed Schilling, Foulke and A-Rod, but in exchange for Nomar they would have brought in Magglio Ordoñez, the most underrated power hitter in the American League. So Ramirez wouldn't even have been missed. Surely that would have doomed the Yankees. Those damn Yankees.
But the Sawx didn't corral A-Rod.
Their owner and the Texas owner couldn't come to a financial agreement about how much money the Red Sox would pay toward A-Rod's absurd contract.
And that deal died.
And now so have the Sawx.
The Yankees swooped in from nowhere and got A-Rod for a hunk of cheese. Oh, sure, Alfonso Soriano is a terrific player. He may be the best second baseman in baseball. But if you could trade Soriano and get Alex Rodriguez in return, how long would it take you to pull the trigger? How about, "not long"? How about, as they say, "a New York minute"?
Alex Rodriguez is the best player in baseball. He wanted out of Texas, where he hadn't had a single meaningful at-bat in three seasons, because his team bankrupted itself to pay him. And the Rangers accommodated him.
They sent A-Rod to the highest bidder. And the Yankees are always the highest bidder.
So we don't have to hear any more nonsense about how A-Rod could go back to the Rangers and be their captain, and all would be forgiven inside that clubhouse. And we don't have to hear any more nonsense about how the Yankees were dealt a mortal blow by the spectacularly aggressive Red Sox.
And we don't have to hear any more nonsense about how Aaron Bleepin' Boone's basketball injury left a Yankees void at third base. And we certainly don't have to hear any more nonsense about how the game had passed George Steinbrenner by.
Because here is the left side of the Yankees' infield: Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
If this was draw poker, the Yankees would be able to say: "I think we'll play these."
Not only do the Yankees now have perhaps the greatest left side of the infield in the history of baseball (and they look mah-velous), but they've also added Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez as starting pitchers, Gary Sheffield to hit in the middle of the order and Kenny Lofton to lead off. They already had Jason Giambi, Bernie Williams, Mike Mussina and the greatest closer ever, the Hammer of God, Mariano Rivera. If you are concerned that the Yankees still don't have enough starting pitching, the one thing the Yankees have always been able to buy in abundance is starting pitchers. So who's going to bet on the Red Sox now?
At a later date we can debate whether this Yankee gluttony is good for baseball. The fact is it's good for the Yankees. There's a luxury tax, and the Yankees are willing to pay it. Every other team can choose to do the same thing. If they choose not to, it's their choice. But don't hate the Yankees for playing within the rules. The object of sports is to win. Say what you will about the Yankees, but they are always trying to win.
At a later date we can debate whether A-Rod is a better defensive shortstop than Jeter, and whether Jeter should move to third to accommodate A-Rod, or even to second. The fact is that A-Rod made the sacrifice. A-Rod gave up his aspirations to be the greatest shortstop of all time, and moved to third without hesitation. He understood he was poaching on Jeter's team, and he subsumed his ego for Jeter's -- and make no mistake it is Jeter's team; it is Jeter who has those four rings, and Jeter who is Mr. Yankee. If you wondered at all whether Alex Rodriguez was a team player, you need wonder no more.
Baseball is coming out of its greatest postseason ever. TV ratings went through the roof. Three of the final four teams -- the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs -- are among the most storied franchises in the 100-year history of the sport, and they attracted casual fans the way Michael Jordan used to attract them for the NBA. This has been the most exciting, most publicized, most kinetic Hot Stove League in 50 years. Baseball is hot like it hasn't been since the days of Willie, Mickey and The Duke. If you believe in momentum, it appears to be wearing a baseball glove. Pitchers and catchers report this week, and there's palpable anticipation for the season.
The Cubs improved themselves by adding Derrek Lee from the Marlins at first base. They may yet add Greg Maddux. The Astros got Pettitte and Clemens. The Angels signed Vlad Guererro and Bartolo Colon. The Phillies got Billy Wagner to close so they wouldn't be tortured by Jose Mesa any longer.
The Orioles awoke from the dead to sign Miguel Tejada, Javy Lopez, Rafael Palmeiro and Sidney Ponson. Most of all the Red Sox gunned their engine and thought if they could pass the Yankees on the first turn, they might steal the race. But the Yankees have come out of a pit stop with a new driver. And they are on the gas again.