As Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton go to war in Texas and Ohio, it’s only fitting to examine an even bigger rivalry.
That is the Hatfield and McCoy relationship between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Some had worried that an edge to the fabled blood feud would be lost with the fading of Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, 77. Fear not. George’s son, Hank, is more than equal to the task of raising the blood pressure of all New England.
Younger Steinbrenner got to the heart of the matter with a blast at the mythical “Red Sox Nation,” where all kneel at the shrine of Fenway Park. [Full disclosure: As a New York Mets fan, I typically root for the BoSox against the Yanks.]
“What a bunch of [expletive] that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”
Bravo to Hank. Those are fighting words especially from a guy whose team hasn’t won anything in eight years [FD II: the Mets lost to the Yankees in the `00 Series], while the Sox have won two of the four last World Series contests.
Red Sox principal owner John Henry lamely responded to Steinbrenner, promising Hank a membership card in RSN and a raft of special offers. ESPN, the Sox’ house organ, reported that Henry had extended an “olive branch” to Steinbrenner. On the contrary, Henry literally provided fuel to the fire. Hank told the Boston Globe that he is going to give his RSN stuff to Yankee fans. The fate of the RSN material could rely on the tender mercies of the rightfield “Bleacher Creatures.” There is sure to be a bonfire alert on opening day at Yankee Stadium.
The emergence of Hank is good news for Yankee/Red Sox baseball, but bad news for PR guru Howard Rubenstein, George Steinbrenner’s mouthpiece. The elder Steinbrenner was not available for an interview with Jonathan Mahler, who wrote the piece for Play, the Times' magazine. Rubenstein did offer to retrieve a written statement from George. That’s not needed with "Hank the Mouth" around. Rubenstein's future duties with the Bronx Bombers may be trying to persuade Hank to put a lid on it every now and then.
It's safe to say there will be another eruption from Hank if Mets pitcher Johan Santana turns out to the National League ace. The Yankee braintrust overruled Hank who desperately wanted to add Santana to the starting rotation.