New York Yankees new bosses Hank and Hal Steinbrenner added fuel to the rivalry with the Boston Red Sox with some verbal torpedoes aimed at the world champs."Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of [expletive] that is," Hank said in an interview with The New York Times' Play magazine. "That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans." Also in reference to the Yankee brand name he said "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."
Hank's younger sibling, Hal Steinbrenner, who runs the business side of the Yankees, also made comments in an interview with GQ.com on Feb. 19. "The defending World Series champions have "a lot of talent, and [have] done very well the past few years, but let me put it this way: I don't think [they] wanted to play us in the ALCS," Hal Steinbrenner said. "So I will concede nothing. I think we're better than [them]."
With the Major League Baseball season less than a month away anticipation awaits. It seems that not only are George's kids ready, but they are also getting sick of all the love the Red Sox are getting. The business as usual approach has gone out the window or maybe just to the west coast with Joe Torre. The Steinbrenner kids seem intent on lighting a fire in the organization. Why else would they give the defending champs bulletin board material?
Maybe the Hank and Hal have figured something out? Maybe the veteran lineup filled with past and present M V P's need to come out the gate this spring as the hunters instead of the hunted. Without a worlds championship to show for itself since the 2000 season, maybe they realize cruise control through the regular season is not an option anymore.
Make no mistake the Red Sox are the favorites as much as it pains me to say it. With arguably one subtraction in the rotation (Curt Shilling starting on the D.L) they will still trot out Beckett, Dice K, Wakefield, Lester, and Buchholz this season. They also signed former Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon to minor league contract as an insurance policy. They will also have intact the same lineup with an upgrade at leadoff in spark plug rookie Jacoby Ellsbury.
The New York Yankees will have their work cut out for them this season. No longer will a wild card be an automatic fall back option with the upgrades of Detroit and Seattle this season. They will need to set their sites on a division they have captured 10 out of the last 12 years. The battle lines have been drawn and round 1 is set for April 11, 2008.