Buck: Weekend Wrap-Up
What a weekend! This is it, folks. This is the biggest rivalry in sports, played right here on the most sacred soil in all of baseball. The Yankees and Red Sox.
Baseball fans don't need to hear the story. They booked their tickets for this one a long time ago, and out there in the center field bleachers some enterprising young men have taken advantage of the nice spring weather by painting an interlocking N-Y on their bare chests. Lookin' good, fellas! I'm not sure how the Yankees legal department would feel about that one, but you really have to admire the great legacy of possibly the most recognizable logo in all of pro sports.
But if you haven't been following along, let's point out that the games between Boston and New York have become known more for their senseless brutality over the past few years than their hard-nosed, gutsy baseball. The Yankees are Red Sox are like a couple of live wires out there, just lying around for somebody to step on and get zapped. There's no doubt in anyone's mind that when you put two electrifying lineups like these on one field, some sparks are going to be sparked. But nobody said anything about tension!
You had that idiot groundskeeper attacking those defenseless Yankee pitchers. You had that drunken Red Sox fan trying to attack Gary Sheffield. You even had the Red Sox' own captain, Jason Varitek, throwing punches at Alex Rodriguez.
I'll tell you, A-Rod was only wearing a batting helmet that day, and it's a miracle he didn't get hurt. Varitek should ask his new teammate John Olerud a thing or two about batting helmets!
And then you've got Derek Jeter. If you're wondering what separates Jeter from Varitek, besides all those intangibles that people like to read off in an ordered list, it's this: Varitek has that C on his chest, reminding people that he's in charge. Jeter doesn't need a C. He's his team's emotional leader as much as he is the anchor of its defense. If you'll let me paraphrase Richard Wagner here - Tim, I know how much you love Richard Wagner - to be a Yankee is to play baseball for its own sake. You'll never see a better Yankee than Derek Jeter.
And then there's Carl Pavano. What you may not know about him is that every time he goes out there and gets smacked around like my first wife - ha, I'm kidding, honey! - he takes a deep breath, looks at all the living history around him, and remembers that playing in pinstripes is the culmination of a life's dream. He grew up in a family of Yankee fans not far away in Connecticut. Every single night, he's pitching like he's twelve years old.
Here's the thing about Yankee baseball. You have to have a lot of heart to be a Yankee, and it shows every time they play ball. They hit the ball hard. They run fast. They clean up nicely, and they're the kind of young men you wouldn't mind taking home to dinner. In baseball, you can get a long way on charisma alone - like these Red Sox, with their rock and roll haircuts and radical new wave music. But millions of boys and girls all around the country - the world! - go to bed every night dreaming of being a Yankee. Just like Jeanne Zelasko, those girls' futures are in the kitchen, where they belong, and God bless them for that. But when you see those Yankees take the field, there's no doubt that the childhood dream is still alive in each and every one of them.