The Patriots are beating the Red Sox at their own game.
There was a time, remember, when the Olde Towne Team was the one that reveled in kicking the football team off the sports pages, but more often than not lately, it has been the Patriots that have dominated the headlines in moments normally reserved for everything Red Sox. What gives?
Consider, as the Red Sox kicked off their first official day of spring training, the story that everyone in Fort Myers, Fla., was buzzing about wasnít the amazing contingent following new pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, but the revelation that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had impregnated former girlfriend Bridget Moynihan.
Yesterday, as the Red Sox finished taking the first five of six from the Yankees, a feat that would normally have all of Boston making plans for October, the Patriots go out and grab Randy Moss, which has everyone skipping right over autumn and making reservations for Arizona in February.
The Red Sox have clinched the best record in the American League for the month, but letís not assume everything is rosy over on 1 Yawkey Way, where nobody is satisfied unless they are THE talk of the town. And right now, they have been usurped by the Foxborough football squad. In April. While playing the Yankees.
I think itís safe to say we can expect retaliation to be swift and encompassing.
What is it going to take? A $30 million offer to Roger Clemens? When the Patriots open training camp at the end of July, it seems a perfect time to acquire Andruw Jones from the Braves, no? Maybe theyíll just stick to the old standby of keeping the Patriots out of the news in December, and make another drawn-out, complicated push for Alex Rodriguez.
Itís certainly not a revelation to understand that there are four tiers in the local pro sports fandom. At the top are the Patriots and Red Sox, lagged far behind by the Bruins and Celtics, then the Revolution somewhere in a floating third layer. The fourth tier is sort of like the last line on the eye doctor chart, containing the Boston Cannons and soon-to-return Boston Breakers.
As for whoís 1A and 1B, itís debatable at any given time throughout the year. There are those of us who would rather do nothing but talk hot stove all year long, no matter what kind of January the Pats put together, and there are those of us who bunkered down this weekend to catch Roger Goodell and company, without the slightest idea that the Red Sox were playing just a few miles to the north of the Radio City Music Hall proceedings.
Right now, 1A is the New England Patriots. And the Red Sox just nearly swept the Yankees.
This is all, of course, a small taste of the Red Sox's own medicine. Last year, while the Patriots were charging to yet another AFC title game with a 4-1 December, the Sox actually dominated the headlines with their pursuit of Matsuzaka. In 2005, the team seemingly tried to overshadow Tedy Bruschiís return to the field by timing the re-signing of GM Theo Epstein, a plan that blew up in their faces. Most famously in this practice is how the franchise took pride in keeping the Super Bowl-bound Pats off the focus of the New England sports psyche with the A-Rod sweepstakes. It wasnít until mid-January when the dust cleared and we all, whoa, realized the Patriots were creating history, in the midst of a win streak for the ages.
The Red Sox miss the playoffs for the first time since 2002, and itís spend, spend, spend, in an apparent signal that the franchise did not like the feeling of there being no October baseball played in Fenway. The Patriots miss the Super Bowl for the second straight year, and itís spend, spend, spend, in an apparent signal that the franchise does not like an NFL season coming to a close without them being announced as the champions of the world.
And they especially do not like it when itís instead the Indianapolis Colts.
Anyone talking baseball in your office this morning? Didnít think so. How likely did you think that would be when you left Friday afternoon to go catch Matsuzaka start on the tele? The Patriots have taken over all sports talk with their major and controversial acquisition. A 16-0 season isnít out of the question. Even the most ardent Jets or Colts fan has to look over the roster in New England and agree with that statement.
Itís all about the Patriots for the time being, which means we should see an offer that Clemens canít refuse at any moment now. And boy, the Celtics are hoping more than ever that Greg Oden miraculously ends up here, becauseÖwell, good luck otherwise.