I know it’s really early into Spring Training. Most position players haven’t even reported yet. There’s lots and lots of time before things really start to get serious. There’s no good reason to worry. But I’m worried. I’ll admit it. I’m worried. Even at this early point, the Yankees seem hopelessly ahead of the Red Sox…in the drama and gossip race. The Yankees seem to have arrived in Tampa with their drama engines churning at nearly full capacity. The Red Sox, on the other hand, are a little slower to churn, as it were. Being a veteran of New England winters, I understand this. It’s really wiser to start your drama engine and let it idle, warming it up for a while before going into full destructive gossip mode. All the same, unless the Sox crank it up soon, they’re going to be in the Yankees’ rear-view mirror all season long.
Consider the storylines the Sox are working with. It’s a pretty pitiable list:
- Manny may be late to report again. His mother is apparently ill, and he’s helping her out. This news comes from Julian Tavarez, which means it’s got the potential to be explosive, but then Peter Gammons comes along and confirms that he heard the same thing. Killjoy.
- How will Mike Lowell react to almost being traded for Todd Helton? What? He continues to be a consummate professional with nothing but an outstanding perspective and work ethic? Damn it.
- Dustin Pedroia insists that he’s going to keep his ridiculous uniform number? What is that? 64? Who is he, an offensive lineman?
- How is Jon Lester? Oh. Healthy. Tired of the cancer questions and ready to pitch. Oh.
- MATSUZAKA! MATSUZAKA! MATSUZAKA!
Ok, that last one is more of an uncontrollable, involuntary fanboy spasm. Hopefully that will start to subside by mid-May or so. All in all, though, that’s a pretty disappointing collection of gossip. It hardly qualifies for drama at all. We need more. Where’s Kevin Millar when you need him?
The Yankees, on the other hand, have fewer storylines (that I can tell), but the ones they do possess have some legs. They’re toolsy. They’ve got upside:
- A-Rod and Jeter don’t love each other anymore. Jeter doesn’t send A-Rod flowers. A-Rod doesn’t pat Jeter on the butt with the same warmth. It’s more of a cold, perfunctory tush-smack that makes you feel worse, even though you just scored from second on a single to right, because you remember how it used to be. Oh sure, they still like each other as teammates. They still share the desire to win a World Series together. But it’s not the same. Oh, it’s just not the same. I think A-Rod, as he was visibly uncomfortable being trapped behind dozens of parasitic microphones, also mentioned that he and Jeter both still enjoyed watching “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Personally, this bit of drama further confirms my theory that whether or not the Yankees win the Series this year, A-Rod will opt out of his contract after the season and play somewhere else next year.
- Bernie Williams still refuses to show up for Spring Training. He is doing this despite the fact that the Yankees haven’t offered him a major-league roster spot. In case anyone was wondering, this is exactly the same reason I haven’t shown up in Tampa yet. I’m not on the team? Fine. I’m not coming. Despite a minor-league offer and flowers and blown kisses from Joe Torre, Bernie’s not moving. This is both funny and sad. Bernie’s probably knocking on the door of Cooperstown- he’s just below average for HOF center fielders- and his pride is keeping him at home. He’s been a fantastic player for a number of years, but he’s been done for about three years now. There’s no place for him. Unless Josh Phelps flames out again and becomes a truly remarkable failure or Andy Phillips keys Cashman’s car, I don’t think the Yankees can carry him. Let’s be adult about this, shall we? Thanks for the great years, Bern. Here’s your pinstriped Stratocaster. Play it in good health.
Those are high-quality pieces of drama. The Sox, by all indications, are falling way behind here. And Pedro Martinez ain’t walking through that door. Nomar Garciaparra ain’t walking through that door. We need somebody to step it up. Hey, wait…J.D. Drew hasn’t reported yet, has he? All right- time for J.D. to earn his money. Let’s make it happen, surf boy. The eyes of a nation are upon you.