Monday, May 01, 2006

Tie one on


The Yankees and Red Sox renew their rivalry tonight in Fenway park. They play the first of a two game series which will signal the opening salvo in a season long war. The Yankees and Sox have played to virtual standstill over the past four seasons. This season has the added flavor of the former Red Sox icon Johnny Damon now wearing the pinstripes. The fans in Boston will be very unkind to Johnny as they were to Roger Clemens when he showed up in a Yankee uniform. Yankee fans were equally unkind to one of their former favorites, David Wells, when he appeared in a Red Sox uniform.

The papers in New York are in mid season form as I'm sure the Boston papers are as well. I think there have been about one thousand stories about how Johnny Damon has brought so much fun to the Yankee clubhouse and how he's handling New York so well. I'm sick of hearing about that already. Now they head up to Boston and the stories will continue ad nauseum. The Yankees and Red Sox will end up with basically the same record. The winner of the division will be decided basically by who gets the most breaks. I'm sure most writers would like to attribute the difference to some intangible element like character or chemistry, but it mostly will come down to luck. The teams are equally talented and they both have flaws. It really will just come down to whether a short fly ball down the right field line is fair of foul or whether a ball bounces in the stands for a ground rule double or not, or whether an umpire misses a call.

As a Yankee fan, I'd love to think that Johnny Damon has brought some magic to the clubhouse that will allow them to win the division and advance to the World Series, but I know that's simply not true. He's a good player, but he's a centerfielder whose arm is actually worse than Bernie Willams' and he's not as good a lead off hitter as Derek Jeter is. He will make the Yankees offense better, but as we all know, offense alone cannot win a championship.

So all the press will be about Johnny Damon's return to Boston, but the winner of the game and ultimately the division is going to be the team that pitches better and gets the breaks. That's just the way baseball works.

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