Friday, July 31, 2009

They will never beat us

This is a column from AOL FANHOUSE. It just made me laugh when I read it and I know it will piss off a lot of people in New England.

When it comes to the sham that is the Boston Red Sox's championship legacy during the 21st century, it's about the New York Yankees.

It's always been about the Yankees with the Red Sox.

More specifically, it's always been about Yogi Berra's quote for the ages regarding the Red Sox toward his Yankees: "They'll never beat us."

And they haven't. Not legitimately. Especially not given the latest news that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez formed an artificially inflated duo to slug the Red Sox to those World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.

Mariotti: Big Fraud, Big Stench | Whitley: Titles Not Tainted
Blackistone: Keep Names Coming

Ortiz confirmed through the players' association that he tested positive for drug use in 2003, and sources told the New York Times' Web site that Ramirez did the same. So Ramirez is at least a two-time loser. He served a 50-game suspension earlier this year for violating baseball's drug policy.

All of this means several things. It means the Bloody Sock becomes just a bloody sock. It means Theo Epstein looks more like an opportunist than a whiz kid (in addition to acquiring Ortiz, he grabbed reliever Eric Gagne, another steroid guy). It means those contributing to Fenway Park's record for consecutive sellouts at home are among the bamboozled. It means the rise of the Red Sox Nation is headed for a dramatic collapse, even sooner than I predicted in this space a few weeks ago.

Mostly, it means Bill Buckner's little gaffe, those Game 7 home chokes during the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1967 and to the Cincinnati Reds in 1975, Bucky Dent, Aaron Bleeping Boone, the Curse of the Bambino -- those things still live for the Red Sox, almost as much as Berra's quote.

Now about that quote...

You remember Berra's other ones, ranging from "It ain't over until it's over" to "I really didn't say what I said" to "When you come to the fork in the road, take it." You would think this one -- "They'll never beat us" -- came during the late 1940s and early 1960s, when Berra used his Hall of Fame bat and glove to help the Yankees smack the Red Sox along the way to winning 10 out of 14 World Series trips.

"His saying of that quote actually started long after his playing career and since his triumphant return to the Yankees after being fired," said Dale Berra, 51, referring to his father's self-imposed exile from the Bronx after George Steinbrenner reneged on his word to retain Yogi as Yankee manager through the 1985 season.

Yogi stayed away from the Yankee Nation until Steinbrenner apologized. That was 15 years later. That also was in the midst of the Yankees' new dynasty, featuring four world championships in five years and more than a few defeats of the Red Sox, often in agonizing (see Aaron Bleeping Boone) fashion. Yogi eventually delivered his quote for those times involving the rivalry, but it really was his quote for all times.

According to Dale Berra, speaking from Mountclair, N.J., where he joins his brothers Larry and Timmy in running the Yogi Berra Museum, his now 84-year-old father always thought the Red Sox grabbed their throats at the sight of pinstripes.

Yogi just never got around to saying it until 2000 or so.

"In fact, way before then, he always talked about how the Red Sox had a great, great team on the field back when he played during the 1950s, but that they could never beat the Yankees, whether it was because of a team chemistry thing or something else," Dale Berra said. "Ted Williams used to tell folks that it was just a guy like Phil Rizzuto that made the Yankees win. Not Mantle or Berra or the big guys. He said it was the little things that the Yankees did, and that the Red Sox were always jealous of the Yankees, because the Red Sox had as good a team on the field as the Yankees did.

"They just couldn't put it together the way the Yankees did."

Then, courtesy of that Bronx-inspired desperation, stretching from the Red Sox front office to the playing field, Boston's two biggest stars discovered a Yankee-killer called steroids. For instance: Ortiz went from a part-time guy with limited power for the Minnesota Twins to Big Papi with 41, 47 and 54 home runs during his first three full seasons in Boston after his arrival in the middle of 2003.

The Red Sox Nation shrugged, then cheered.

It should have screamed over the illegitimacy of it all.

Still, Dale Berra suggested that neither he nor his father sees much Yankee redemption with these revelations regarding Ramirez and Ortiz. When the Mitchell Report gave its finding on baseball's Steroid Era, Yankee players were mentioned early and often.

"Don't forget that when the Red Sox were beating the Yankees [after 2003], they were playing against [former Yankee players] Jason Giambi and Roger Clemens who were all admitted users," Dale Berra said. "Even Andy Pettitte was involved, and who knows about the other guys that they had on those Yankee teams? They all could have been using it, too, and we just don't know about it.

"It was almost an even playing field with the amount of guys using it. I don't think one team can be singled out over another.

Well, you can finger the Red Sox. While the Yankees proved they can whip Boston by pitching, hitting, fielding and running, the Red Sox proved they can whip New York only by juicing.

Terence Moore is a national columnist and commentator for FanHouse. He is a frequent panelist on "Rome Is Burning," an ESPN show hosted by Jim Rome, that is seen Monday through Friday at 4:30 PM ET. Moore spent more than three decades working for major newspapers, including 26 years as an award-winning sports columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He resides in Atlanta.

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