|(Mark McGwire - Getty Images - Feb. 15, 2005)||(Mark McGwire - NBC Photo - Jan. 25, 1999)|
Baseball season's coming,
And everybody's bumming
'bout steroid use by players in the game.
Now Jose's book is finally naming names
of cheaters and all those who share the blame.
Canseco and McGwire,
Bonds says, "You're a liar."
Pudge and Rafael say "Where's the proof?"
While homerun numbers shoot straight through the roof. We're talkin' Barry, BALCO and the juice.
Oh, Sheffield was dreaming,
Didn't know what he was creaming,
And, Jason's sorry,
But, who knows for what?
McGuire's sticking needles in his butt.
Look at Barry's head,
Bud Selig says, "So what?"
Just can't put out the fire,
And Bonds says "You're a liar."
His homers will surpass the great Babe Ruth,
Hank Aaron surely wasn't this aloof,
We're talkin' BALCO, Barry and the juice.
Say-Hey … Say-Hey … Say-Hey,
Cheatin' Barry, BALCO and the juice
Go away … Go away … Go away …
By Bill Bingham (I'm a 52-year old, lifelong Yankee fan), Westerly, RI
In the Big Inning, God created the Red Sox and the Yankees...
The genesis of this book lies in our love of baseball and our fascination with the relationship that exists between its two most colorful teams. We set out to create a fair and balanced look at the Red Sox-Yankees “rivalry.” But somewhere along the way, we gave up our role as creationists and allowed the book to evolve into a different sort of animal.
Originally, we were going to serve up platitude-laden pabulum on the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two teams, always painfully careful to delineate the rich tradition of the competition and the deep and mutual respect that exists between the two great franchises. And then we sat down to write. It wasn’t long before we knew how the authors of the Bible must have felt. At some point they too must have realized that there is no way to give Good and Evil equal time and still sleep the sleep of the just.
It turns out that neither author of this book wanted to represent the Yankees point of view. In fact, neither of us could bring ourselves to write enough complimentary things about Steinbrenner’s team to fill the back of a matchbox, let alone half a book (the morning after the Red Sox lost to the Yankees in the 2003 ALCS, Jim Prime, one of this book’s authors, conducted a previously-scheduled radio interview from the ledge outside Room 745 of the Prince Edward Hotel in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; the host of the radio show eventually talked him down). It was a revelation. Besides, we rationalized, that balanced, politically correct perspective on the Red Sox-Yankees phenomenon has been given, and there are several books on the market that take the “high road.” It is a road paved with good intentions. These books speak of the “rivalry” in politically correct and antiseptic terms. We came to the realization that, for us at least, such an approach would ultimately be phony, and even hypocritical.
In fact, unless you were born in Idaho, or are currently sitting on the fence in downtown Purgatory, there is no balance to this rivalry. And that’s another thing. Who’s kidding whom? This is no rivalry. A rivalry is what happens between Pillsbury Bake-off contestants, or maybe Heinz and Campbell’s or Hertz and Avis. Or between tourist bureaus in Maine and Massachusetts arguing who has the best fall foliage. No, this is no rivalry. This is a %$&*# feud. This is a duel to the finish, a knock ’em down, drag ’em out, survival-of-the-fittest cage match full of animosity, hatred, jealousy, pettiness and rancor. (God, that felt good!)
This is the unvarnished story of two teams that are scant miles apart geographically but light years apart philosophically. It is about Red Sox Nation and The Evil Empire. It is—not to put too fine a point on it—about Good vs. Evil.
Damn Yankees was a play about a guy who made a deal with the devil to ensure that his team—the Washington Senators (ha!)—finally beat the Yankees. That notion is almost blasphemous. Devilish deals are done by the Yankees and not to them.
As young baseball fans, and certainly over the intervening years, these writers occasionally pondered whether God was a Yankees fan, maybe even whether He hated the Boston Red Sox. How else could mere mortals explain the Yankees’ miraculous success story and the Biblical proportions of the Red Sox’ ineptitude? Year after year the Bosox suffered baseball’s version of famine, plague and pestilence while the Yankees were perennial visitors to that Garden of Eden known as the World Series. By the 1960s our suspicion had hardened into deep conviction—a conviction that only very recently we have rejected. We now believe. God may have switched teams for a while, but He is now a Red Sox fan. He watches them, He roots for them, and He even occasionally intercedes on their behalf—not on the field of course. He doesn’t cause a Red Sox player to jump higher (what Manny Ramirez did to rob the Yankees’ Miguel Cairo of a home run at Yankee Stadium last year was entirely above board). That kind of divine intercession would be wrong, and God is, above all else, fair. Once in a while a Red Sox player may do something that appears miraculous, but it is not a true miracle by God’s high standards. And He would never strike a Yankee dead or anything like that. The most He would contribute would be to ask the umpires to confer on a call in order to get it right. In the past, He didn’t even intervene to do that. He allowed mortals to make mistakes that robbed us year after year. So, as you can see, our lapse of faith was understandable, and hopefully forgivable.
Nevertheless, it was His fondest wish to have His Red Sox win the World Series. He also wants world peace, universal health care, the end of reality TV, a solution to those vexing problems in the Middle East, and nuclear nonproliferation. And maybe a little more respect for His environment and the natural world He gave us. Until the fall of 2004, all of these objectives seemed equally unlikely to be achieved.
God bends over backward to be neutral, but we now know that He’s pulling for the Sox. Somewhere up there in those Sky Boxes in the clouds, he’s sitting with Cy Young and Jimmie Foxx and Joe Cronin and Ted Williams and other saintly, celestial Sox and He’s watching the innings play out. Once in awhile He even visits Fenway, sitting near the Red Sox dugout in a seat once occupied by superfan Lib Dooley. He pretty much keeps quiet, just orders a single Fenway Frank and a large Coke and observes. You can tell it’s Him because He never participates in the wave and He covers His ears during some of the ruder chants. He is uncomfortable with the presence of Wally and other graven images (although ironically, He always got a perverse kick out of the New Jersey Devils mascot). His favorite player is David Ortiz, although His Son appreciates Johnny Damon in the same way that Jimmy Stewart used to grudgingly admire the work of Rich Little.
How do we know all this? Faith mostly…
Faith? What does baseball have to do with faith? And is faith enough to endure an 86-year draught? Have the Yankees really committed all seven deadly sins? Find out next week, in our final Boston Dirt Dogs exclusive excerpt from Blood Feud: The Red Sox, the Yankees, and the Struggle of Good versus Evil. And to get the full story, pick up your copy of Blood Feud, available this March at fine bookstores everywhere and online at www.rounderbooks.com.