Here’s a quick roundup of what’s in the New York papers this morning as it relates to all things Sox-Yankees…
‘CLOSE’ ENCOUNTER — PAPELBON-RIVERA FLAP RE-IGNITES THE RIVALRY — Justin Terranova revisits the remarks made by Jonathan Papelbon before the All-Star Game and has former Yankee Al Leiter taking a whack at Paps:
The comments, in which Papelbon said he should be the All-Star closer, not Yankee Mariano Rivera in his home park, even lit a fuse under a former Yankee.
“Some guys, apparently Papelbon is one of them, I wish they would engage their mind before they opened their mouth,” said YES analyst Al Leiter.
“You’re in Yankee Stadium, and to insult Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in the history of the sport, is not smart.”
The Boston crowd can get some revenge on the Yanks for Papelbon and his wife feeling threatened at the All-Star parade through midtown.
YANKS CAN’T AFFORD FENWAY FLOP — George King writes that “it opens tonight with Chamberlain-Beckett, an electric crowd and on a date that is no longer early.” Some quotes from King’s piece:
“Every time we play Boston the games have implications of who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t,” said Johnny Damon, who has experienced both sides of baseball’s best rivalry. “Hopefully, they don’t play up to par and we do.” …
“The rivalry is awesome,” said [tonight’s starter Joba] Chamberlain, who gets his first taste as a starter in Fenway. “It will be fun and exciting.”…
Alex Rodriguez noted the Red Sox’s home-field advantage could be negated by the winning streak.
“It’s always a tough place to play,” Rodriguez said of Fenway. “So it’s always a good place to go with momentum. It starts with good starting pitching, good defense and timely hitting.”
JOBA AIMING FOR BEST START YET TONIGHT — Mike Puma has Joba sounding “more like a prizefighter than a pitcher.”
“It’s a good challenge to go out there and . . . not be the first one to break,” Chamberlain said. …
“You understand they’re going to be patient and take a lot of pitches,” Chamberlain said. “You’ve got to throw strike one and get ahead and try to limit your pitches and get deep in the game.”
Chamberlain dismissed the notion that starting at Fenway for the first time will be a big deal. But it should be noted that the only earned run he allowed last season (as a reliever) was at Fenway, when Mike Lowell homered against him on Sept. 16. Chamberlain did not pitch during the Yankees’ trip to Fenway in April.
TIME FOR BOMBERS TO REGAIN CONTROL OF BIGGEST RIVALRY — Mike Vaccaro writes that “the Yankees have waited for an opportunity to reassert themselves as the alpha dog in this rivalry ever since. No better time than the present.” More from Vaccaro’s piece:
“These games always mean the most when the baseball is more meaningful than the drama,” said Johnny Damon, who has seen the rivalry from both sides of the abyss, who was once the most loathsome of Red Sox as a hirsute pest, who is now hated enough in Boston to give both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez a run for their championship belts. “The manufactured stuff isn’t nearly as interesting.”
A-ROD FLEES FLIRTY FEMMES — Page Six offers up this tidbit on A-Rod’s night out in New York on Wednesday:
The divorce-bound slugger and two male buddies left the Empire Hotel rooftop bar Wednesday night because he was “being bothered,” a source reports with a laugh. “All the girls were harassing him. He spent the entire time text-messaging.”
Starters to pen, Red Sox are in for pitched battle against Yankees — Mike Lupica is pondering a Yankees sweep this morning:
You don’t announce you are back in play by beating fading teams such as the A’s and Twins. The best place for this flinty Yankee team to make that kind of announcement is Fenway, starting Friday night.
A sweep this weekend doesn’t win the Yankees the AL East or settle anything with the Red Sox and Rays, because nothing gets settled in baseball the last weekend of July. It would just feel as much of a shot as the Yankees have thrown at Boston since they swept them in that five-game series two years ago.
Lupica’s also got some interesting quotes from Larry Lucchino on the Sox trade deadline activity:
Yesterday I asked Larry Lucchino, who always sets the tone with the Red Sox, to assess where his team is right now.
“Half a game out of first place,” said Lucchino, before the Rays lost to the Royals last night to squander that margin, “in the middle of a fascinating pennant race.”
Then he said, “We are currently burning up the phone lines trying to see if there is a way we can improve our ballclub without making a foolish deal that squanders our future.”
Yankees on roll and ready to rock Red Sox at Fenway Park — Anthony McCarron writes that “a very different Yankee team than the one that played in Boston in mid-April.” Some of the improved Yankee’s numbers from McCarron:
Their second-half ERA of 1.89 is the lowest in baseball, and they have also allowed only 12 walks – the fewest in the majors – in 57 postbreak innings and haven’t given up a home run over that span. Opposing hitters have managed only a .569 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) over the last six games, tied with Milwaukee for lowest in baseball. Their strikeouts per nine innings – 9.63 – is tops, too.
Yankee starters have held opponents to three earned runs or less in 13 of their last 14 games, going 7-2 with a 2.44 ERA.
Even the bullpen, once considered a liability beyond Mariano Rivera, is thriving. The relievers have a 3.39 ERA overall, sixth-best, and are holding opponents to a .227 average, second lowest in baseball.
Odd-ly enough — Daily News blogger Mark Feinsand shares the post-All-Star break odds on the 2008 World Series according to bodog.com:
Odds to win the 2008 World Series
Boston Red Sox: 3/1
Chicago Cubs: 7/2
Tampa Bay Rays: 9/2
Los Angeles Angels 7/1
Chicago White Sox: 12/1
Milwaukee Brewers: 12/1
Philadelphia Phillies: 14/1
New York Mets: 15/1
New York Yankees: 15/1
Los Angeles Dodgers: 17/1
Detroit Tigers: 18/1
Arizona Diamondbacks: 25/1
Minnesota Twins: 25/1
St Louis Cardinals: 25/1
Yanks go off Barry Bonds market — McCarron also writes that the Yankees aren’t ready to make a move on Barry Bonds:
Barry Bonds was briefly discussed when Yankee officials gathered Thursday to brainstorm ways to improve the team, but the Yanks “aren’t ready to jump on that,” according to a baseball official familiar with the team’s thinking.
However, adding a bat is something the Yankees are exploring as Thursday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trading deadline approaches, along with a starting pitcher and perhaps a lefthanded reliever.
Sox/Yanks get ready to rumble in the Fens – Newsday’s Bronx & Beans blog has one of the Sox fans chiming in before the big series this weekend.
New York Times
— Yesterday, George Vescey nominated Jonathan Papelbon as “the man who has done the most to restore acrimony to the rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox.”:
Just when it looked as if the Yankees and Red Sox were drifting into the cozy familiarity of “Brady Bunch” reruns (four episodes you haven’t seen in at least a week), along came Papelbon, poking a sharp stick into the cage of somnolent Yankee fans.
Papelbon performed this service during the All-Star festivities last week, when he mused that he would pick himself to close the game. A posse of New York tabloids (and Papelbon’s manager, the perceptive Terry Francona) reminded Papelbon that the Yankees have a reliever named Mariano Rivera.
Vescey also writes that some Yankee fans think Papelbon may have been doing the taunting during the All-Star parade on Sixth Avenue in New York.
Let it be noted that some touchy Yankee fans on the parade route felt Papelbon was ostentatiously flashing his World Series ring, telling Yankee fans: Look what I’ve got — and your team doesn’t. Or maybe Yankee fans wanted to think he was flashing the ring.