Friday, August 07, 2009

Decline of the Sox? Rise of the Yankees? [J. Mark English]

For the first time all season, the New York Yankees beat their rival, the Boston Redsox. The win cushioned their division lead to 3 1/2 games in the AL East. In the beginning of the season, few might have expected this reversal of fortunes. We look at a perspective of the Bosox from the Boston papers, and a perspective of the Yankees from NY papers:

Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe: Billy Traber on the mound. Kevin Youkilis in left. John Smoltz in the showers, possibly contemplating retirement.

And the Red Sox sinking like a stone in the American League East.

Not exactly what you had in mind for Boston’s big August series at the new Yankee Stadium, is it?

The Yankees presented Muhammad Ali with an award before last night’s game, and if the champ stuck around, he was probably reminded of his bloodbath victory over Ernie Terrell in the Astrodome in 1967.

Zero for 8 against their division brethren this year, the Yankees pummeled Smoltz and broke through with a 13-6 victory over the unraveling Sox.

Josh Beckett will be asked to stop the madness tonight. The Sons of Tito are 3 1/2 games behind the Bombers and only 2 1/2 ahead of Tampa Bay. Pass the brown paper bags. The Hub is on the brink of panic.

“We’re playing like [expletive] right now, that’s obvious,’’ said AL MVP Dustin Pedroia. “We’ve got to play better.’’

Clearly it’s time for Theo and the minions to Just Say No to the admirable Smoltz experiment. We’ve seen eight starts and Smoltz is 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA. The Yankees roughed him up for eight runs on nine hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings. Lefty batters went 9 for 13 against Smoltz with three walks.

It doesn’t sound as if Smoltz is going to make it easy for the brass.

“It’s correctable,’’ said the 42-year-old righty, while admitting, “Time may not be on my side if this continues.’’

Continues? That would indicate that he’s getting another start. Though the alternatives are not good (Michael Bowden?), it’s hard to imagine the Sox sending Smoltz back to the mound Tuesday at Fenway against Detroit.

“We have a lot of things to talk about,’’ said Terry Francona. “I don’t think five minutes after a game we need to come to a conclusion.’’


George Vecsey, New York Times: It was a great day for the Bronx. A Yankee fan from the borough, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, was confirmed for the Supreme Court by a 68-31 vote in the Senate. Whatever else transpired in her hometown on this day would surely be secondary.

Then, on a soft summer evening, the borough that gave the world the Bronx cheer greeted a citizen of the world, Muhammad Ali, making his first appearance in the House That Cable Built.

In his old age, and stricken with a form of Parkinson’s disease, Ali is an icon, the old divisions long forgotten by most. The fans applauded respectfully as he was driven in from the outfield in a golf cart, and Jorge Posada of the Yankees shook his hand on the outfield warning track.

As Ali walked slowly toward home plate, a few in the crowd chanted the familiar “Ah-LEE! Ah-LEE!” that used to rock boxing arenas and spontaneous street appearances by the champ in the old days.

The cheer in the new stadium was definitely not of the Bronx variety as Ali, 67, accepted something called the Six Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Service. Derek Jeter gave him a cap and the Yankees posed around him for a group photograph.

Then the game began. That’s right. The game. The Yankees were playing their rivals, the Red Sox, on the first visit by David Ortiz since recent revelations that he was on a list of ball players who tested positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.

Yankee fans have been saying, Nyah, nyah, I told you so, since the news was revealed in The New York Times. Many of them had been convinced Ortiz had to be doping because of the ridges on his head, or the home runs he was suddenly smiting.

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