The early season showdown between Boston and New York yields tasty themes for fans, journalists, and columnists.
Kings of the Hill. The Bombers have reigned supreme in the AL East for about a decade, and Hub fans can only hope that karma has changed. Since 2001 however, The Rivalry has spawned but one World Series winner, and the New York no longer cloaks itself in the mantle of invincibility. The Red Sox have the better starters, and all things being equal...sans resume'...Papelbon now exceeds Rivera in the Fear Factor.
The New Guy. Admittedly, the Gothams bring their JV, without Matsui, Posada, Wang, and Mussina and and they have a fearsome lineup top to bottom. Pavano? The Connecticut Yankee has done little except draw a paycheck since moving from New England to New York. The Sox new guys, Drew, Lugo, "Darkman" Okajima, and tonight Matsuzaka have gotten their feet wet without taking on water. Okajima, content "to be a hero in the dark", threatens to take on legendary status from relatively unknown status.
He did what? Aside from participating in the bunt-to-bunt attack, Coco Crisp actually appears to be throwing the ball better than most high school softballers. While nobody will confuse him with Reggie Smith, he is reaching the cutoff man this season. Alex Cora has been kryptonite, and we can only hope he's starting in the fray tonight.
George of the Jungle. Strangely absent from the mix, tycoon Steinbrenner lies lower than a serpent's belly. Why? Tarring and feathering venerable Joe Torre with his subprime lineup both at the bat and on the mound is clearly beneath the Volatile One. We can only congratulate him on his restraint, or be thankful for an Everlast bag for him to work on.
A-Rod. Rodriguez has been A plus Rod so far this season, a Boras-induced contract year. If the Bombers were riding a tidal wave of victories, he'd be more popular than Tom Brady, although not with the ladies, of course. A-Rod has gone deep more often than Lloyd Bridges and has almost twice as many RBI this April as he's had in 9 post-season series. One can only wonder whether he'll be wear a Halo next season.
Kid Stuff. It's been almost 30 years since the Boston Massacre, highlighted by the sacrifice of Bobby Sprowl to the Gotham horde. Back in 1978, New York outscored the Sox 42-9 en route to a four game sweep during their improbable recovery from a double digit deficit. Sprowl was the victim in Game 4, as the Sox went down 6-0 after four frames and couldn't recover. Perhaps turnabout is fair play, with Karstens and now Chase Wright offered to the Baseball gods.
Just as Mark Douglas reminds us that "the market can do anything," we recognize that anything can happen in baseball, although Jeffrey Maier probably won't be there to snatch any victory from defeat. It makes for great theater; we can't ask for more.