Yankees vs. Red Sox is such an interesting thing to watch. Totally trying to one up each other. While the Jays just sit back content with third place (hey they pretty much have to ... look at the kinda cash the other two are throwing around).
I found this really interesting article on Schilling and his signing process. A message board had a lot to do with it! If you'd rather just read the original source it's here
1. The Cold War
Once Schilling signed with the Sox, you knew Steinbrenner wouldn't, um, handle it very well. You just knew. Like many Sox fans, I derived a perverse sense of pleasure from the whole thing ...
Steinbrenner hearing the news, angrily cancelling his annual eye lift, then calling Brian Cashman into his office and berating him for five straight hours. And then the thought of Cashman leaving, a crying Joe Torre coming in, and Steinbrenner spending the next 30 minutes consoling his emotional manager, telling him "It's okay, Joe, we'll overpay for Sheffield and Gordon and trade for Vasquez, and we'll do it within the next week," then sending Torre off so The Boss could call Howard Spira to dig up dirt on Andy Pettitte.
All right, maybe it didn't happen that way. Just remember, the Yankees are inherently evil, let there be no doubt. As one of my readers wrote, rooting for them is like rooting for the house in blackjack.
Still, "Sox-Yankees" is the greatest feud in sports. I'm using the word "feud" instead of "rivalry" because, in order to have a rivalry, both sides have to win. Well, the Red Sox never win. So for now, it's a feud. But watching these two teams battle for supremacy in the ridiculous sport of baseball -- which is quickly turning into English soccer before our very eyes -- has been undeniably enjoyable. At least for me. If I lived in Kansas City or Pittsburgh, I'm sure I'd feel differently.
One other note here: Peter Gammons mentioned something interesting after the ALCS, how Yankees players were just as nervous as Boston players during Game Seven, mainly because none of them wanted to play for the team that lost to the Red Sox. I've also had two Yankee fan-friends swear that, after Game Seven ended, the on-field celebration was more emotional than any of the World Series celebrations (as crazy as that sounds). This feud seems to be reaching new heights these days -- because of the events from last October, the neverending battle over quality players, the considerable history and everything else.
When you think about it, it's the last great feud in professional sports. Nothing else even comes close. It reminds me of Thomas Hauser's quote in Ali's "Sports Century," when he's talking about the third Ali-Frazier fight and says, "This wasn't for the heavyweight championship; it was for the championship of each other." That's what every baseball season is starting to feel like. And it's a good thing.
2. The Message Board
You probably heard the story by now: On Thanksgiving night, Schilling submitted a lengthy post on the Red Sox message board on MLB.com, then chatted with Sox fans until the wee hours on another Sox message board called "The Sons of Sam Horn" (SOSH).
I'm a longtime member of SOSH, a den for diehards that weeds out weaker members and has 250-post threads on subjects like "Does Casey Fossum's delivery point seem different to you?" and "One Man's Thoughts on Nomar's Last 500 At-Bats, In Order." These guys know more than me; I'll freely admit it. During this past year in California, I clicked on SOSH twice a day for breaking Sox news (if something happens, SOSH usually has a thread going within about 1.23 seconds). Believe me, I'm not defending message boards -- they can be evil places, especially in the wrong hands -- but some of them aren't that bad. And SOSH isn't that bad.
An admitted internet junkie hoping to get a handle on Sox fans, Schilling couldn't have picked a better place. He stumbled into a SOSH chat room at 2:30 in the morning and found about 20 fans in there, which is my favorite part of the story -- only the guys from SOSH would be chatting about the Sox at 2:30 A.M. on Thanksgiving night. After he introduced himself, they verified his identity with a barrage of questions, then spent the rest of their time pleading for him to come to Boston. He ended up staying in the chat room past 4 o'clock, talking about anything and everything. I'm not making this up.
The next day was even stranger: After Schilling landed a SOSH account and word spread with the members, Friday afternoon -- the deadline for Schilling to accept his Boston trade -- turned into a pitch session from the SOSH members to Schilling. Everyone had their say. Hell, I was on vacation in Santa Barbara, and I ended up posting something (much to the chagrin of the Sports Gal, and I can't emphasize this strongly enough).
Here's what I posted:
Motivated by the fans? Drops 500 large on the team's charity? Please welcome the anti-Roger Clemens.
"Thank God for Sosh. This is fantastic. I'm anxiously awaiting the official dawning of the Curt Schilling Era in Boston. Curt, if you're reading this, part of the beauty of this board is that there isn't a single person here who feels like their life would be complete until the Sox win the World Series. It's pathetic, it's endearing, and it's true. We would love to have you aboard."
I felt like I had to say something, I guess. Since Schilling solicited SOSH's input in the first place, there was a decent chance that these posts were helping him make a difficult decision -- he knows his place in history, that pitching for a Boston championship team could push him into the Hall of Fame. But he didn't know anything about the fans. So I wanted to do my part. And yes, I realize how ridiculous this sounds. But you never know.
Now here's where it gets crazy. The deadline comes ... and Schilling accepts the trade. Better yet, he specifically mentions the passion of the SOSH guys as one of the main reasons he decided to play in Boston. Unbelievable. Can you remember any other instance of fans directly influencing a player like this? Can you remember any other player seeking out the input of fans like this? I mean, unless you're a Yankees fan, how can you not root for Curt Schilling now? Shouldn't every player be like this? And if they were like this, wouldn't you like sports a little more than you already do?
Sure, it's nearly impossible to determine an athlete's character from what we read and hear. Gammons does this all the time -- according to his columns, he's apparently met more special people over the past two years than I've met in my whole life. But Schilling seems like the exception -- passionate, knowledgable, the kind of guy who just gets it. Sports fans aren't asking for much these days -- just give your best, take nothing for granted, show us some appreciation and we're happy. Schilling did all of these things, even donating $500,000 to the Jimmy Fund on the day of the trade. In many ways, he was the complete opposite of Roger Clemens, who played in Boston for 13 years, tossed on a Blue Jays cap and never looked back. I can't imagine Curt Schilling doing something like that.
I'm not sure why these things make me happy, but they do. And to think that a potential Hall of Famer could be finishing his career in Boston -- one of the better big-game pitchers of his generation, playing on the biggest possible stage, and a good guy to boot -- seems too good to be true.
It's the kind of thing that makes you post on a message board when you're supposed to be on vacation. It makes you dream about Opening Day when you're shoveling snow, or when you're stuck 3,000 miles away from your favorite team. It makes you peruse every "A-Rod might be coming to Boston" story, because you never know what can happen. It makes you think ahead to next October -- Pedro and Mussina in Game One, followed by Schilling and Vasquez in Game Two -- best of seven, winner take all, for the championship of each other.
And so it begins. Again.