When George Steinbrenner and Peter Angelos get mad, they both try to get even. But they do it in exactly opposite ways.
In October, the Red Sox inflicted the worst postseason humiliation in history on the Yankees. Nothing approaches the Yankees' collapse with a three-game lead, plus a ninth-inning lead in Mariano Rivera's hands. In less than 72 hours, the Red Sox unraveled the last remnants of a Yankees "mystique" that took 80 years to weave but, in the last four years, has been shredded.
George Steinbrenner has taken out his checkbook for a team that will cost over $200 million in 2005.
(Ed Reinke -- AP)
Yankee Stadium ghosts? All exorcised. October magic? Debunked.
Since then, a furious Steinbrenner has tried to get revenge by spending even more incredible sums than usual. He's desperate to recast the shattered Yankees spell. Get me Jaret Wright. Buy Carl Pavano. Bring back Tino Martinez. Grab a Tony Womack.
The Boss doesn't care how much he mortgages the Yankees' future or how foolish and greedy he may look. Steinbrenner doesn't even realize that, by acting like a caricature of himself, he is merely reminding fans everywhere of why they loved the Red Sox's world title so much and why they hope so devoutly that, next October, the Boss's astronomical payroll gags again (for the fifth straight season).
If it takes $57 million to sign an ancient pitcher for the next three years, then George says, "So be it." Thus, after a contract extension yesterday, Randy Johnson, 41, is on the brink of being a Yankee. Don't whisper, "He has no cartilage in his right knee."
Much luck the money will do Johnson. Mike Mussina, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Kevin Brown, Hideki Matsui and Alex Rodriguez have all made their Devil's Bargain to help George buy back his glory. Do any of them have a single ring wearing the pinstripes? Not one.
Why, so many Boss Bucks have been spent that it now seems probable that not enough dollars remain to sign free agent Carlos Beltran, 27, the swift switch-hitting center fielder who'd have replaced aging Bernie Williams.
Beltran, the last trophy left in the auction when George finally folded his checkbook, may well have proved to be the proper heir to Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle long after the Big Unit is retired. Pour on the irony, ye gods of the game.
The story in Baltimore, where every drama is played on a small stage, appears shabbier and sadder. For 11 years, Angelos has been consigned to the role of a Steinbrenner wannabe who's always a third-banana Boss-on-a-budget in the big-spending American League East.
To compete equally, Angelos needs a vast regional TV network like those of the Yankees and Red Sox. For that, he needs Washington -- all of it -- as part of his territory. That was his long-term dream for the Orioles.
Now, it looks very dead. The Orioles' CSI team thinks the fingerprints on the murder weapon belong to Bud Selig and his 29 co-conspirator owners. For 10 weeks, since the ultimate betrayal of letting the Nation's Capital dare to reclaim a baseball team of its own, a cloud of righteous indignation has hung over Camden Yards.
Angelos has been in as fierce a temper as Steinbrenner, according to sources, threatening lawsuits against baseball, though on grounds which many see as ephemeral at best and mere nuisance at worst. What to do to even the score?
So far, Angelos's revenge, if it is such, has been to do absolutely nothing. To improve his team, that is.