The Red Sox never forget

I know this one went around a few days ago, but with my finals schedule, I’ve had this tab open and no time to post it. Since we’re whiling away the hours until a 7 p.m. start time tonight, let’s get to some good ol’ fashioned mocking of the Boston Red Sox.

Earlier this week, with the Yanks trailing by a run and a runner already on base, Joba Chamberlain hit Jason Bay with an 0-0 fastball. At the time, I thought nothing of it and was more dismayed that the Red Sox had two runners on than anything else. Boston, apparently, thought otherwise.

As Rob Bradford detailed on WEEI’s Full Count blog this week, the Red Sox won’t forget that HBP. Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell had quite the rant too:

“Typically, we let the game play out itself because I think our guys have each others backs and they are certainly going to be supportive if a situation like that were to arise. Speaking specifically about last night, he strikes out 12 guys, doesn’t seem to have too many command issues, and if there was a purpose or intent to throw up and in you can disguise it a little bit more than making it very obvious with the first pitch in the middle of the back to Jason Bay. Those things aren’t forgotten. We know there is a history there between the pitcher in New York and our guys here and not to say that he was specifically out to do that but I think history speaks for itself and we’ve got a number of games left with these guys.”

To which I say: Give me a break. The last thing Joba wanted to do was risk falling further behind. That was probably one of Chamberlain’s least intentional HBPs, and it pales in comparison the Joba-Youkilis drama that gets played out every time the two teams meet. Maybe Josh Beckett will throw up and in to A-Rod or Hideki Matsui when these two teams next month, but that would just be blatant retribution for a meaningless hit batter. Let it go, Boston. Let it go.

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Same rivalry, new faces

When David Ortiz takes to the field plate later tonight, it will mark his 101st regular season game as a member of the Red Sox facing the Yankees. Since 2003, no one on Boston has faced the Yankees more often than Ortiz has, and he knows the rivalry quite well.

Lately, though, Ortiz has been a shell of the player who killed the Yankees in 2003 and 2004. As Alan Schwarz detailed yesterday, Ortiz is an out-of-shape DH-only player, and those do not age gracefully. While his bat has shown signs of life over the last few games, he is hitting .220/.294/.322 with no home runs in the early going. He’s either primed for a breakout or has entered what we’ll diplomatically call the “decline” phase of his career.

Yesterday, in preparation for this weekend’s big series against the Yankees, the Red Sox vet offered up some unsolicited advice to the Yankees. Particularly, Ortiz decided to warn Joba Chamberlain about his past headhunting. “None of that, man — just play the game the way it’s supposed to be, and that’s about it,” Ortiz said “This is a guy, as good as he is, the next step for him will be to earn respect from everybody in the league. He’s not a bad guy, but when things like that happen, people get the wrong idea.”

Apparently, Kevin Youkilis can’t speak up for himself.

Anyway, when Joba takes the mound tonight, he’ll get the hero’s welcome in Boston, but he has a game to win. He has to keep his emotions — and his fastball — under control, and he will have to go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox ace. Last year, he outdueled Josh Beckett in Boston to announce his arrival as a Major League starter. This year, he’ll have to go toe-to-toe with Jon Lester, arguably a better pitcher than Beckett. It is no small task, and with boos raining down, it won’t be the easiest environment in which Joba must pitch.

But Chamberlain isn’t the only player due for some Boston scorn. While A-Rod, the object of New England’s collective affection, won’t be there, Mark Teixeira will, and you know what they say about a lover scorned. As the Yanks’ first baseman said to The Star-Ledger, he expects a hostile crowd tonight. “I’m sure they’ll be heavy boos,” Teixeira said. “I would expect nothing less from those fans. I would expect nothing less than tons of boos and tons of energy in the stadium. This is a great rivalry. It’s going to be a fun weekend.”

The Red Sox will be booing at Teixeira because he had the audacity to take a better offer in New York when the team’s owner refused to up his deal by another $10 million. Teixeira reminded anyone listening of that fact yesterday. “I enjoyed talking with the Red Sox all offseason,” he said. “There’s no question why the Red Sox are in the position they are. Because he’s an incredible GM and they have a great organization. There were opportunities for every team that I dealt with. Every team had a chance. Every team was given an opportunity to make their best offer. In the end, the Yankees made the best and it was a great fit for me.”

And so it goes. It’s the same game with new faces, and those new faces are fitting in off the field quite nicely. Welcome to the Red Sox/Yankees Rivalry 2009.

VP of RSN: Teixeira will ‘get booed as much as A-Rod’

Just to round off the early Sunday morning, Ken Davidoff caught up with Rob Crawford, elementary school teacher and vice president of Red Sox Nation. Whatever that means. Davidoff wanted get an idea of Fenway’s eventual reaction to A-Rod on April 24, but Crawford thinks they’ll hold just as much for Mark Teixeira, the one who got away. It will make for an interesting atmosphere when the Yankees send up their three and four hitters. Both were rumored to be Red Sox, but both ended up in pinstripes. “We really thought we had him,” said Crawford.

Hank responds to Boston salary cap jabs

When the Red Sox leadership blamed the Yanks and called for a salary cap yesterday, it was really only a matter of time before Yankee attack dog Hank Steinbrenner got in on the action. While Hank’s comments were not up to their usual biting self and generally pale in comparison to anything George used to unleash, the Steinbrenner son did not disappoint.

In his response, he defended the Yanks’ spending on revenue sharing grounds. “Along with a few other teams, we’re basically baseball’s stimulus package,” he said. “As long as we’re..giving all this money to other teams in revenue sharing, a staggering amount, we should be able to spend on salaries what we want to. Because of revenue sharing and because of the popularity nationwide, the Yankees are critical to baseball.” Amen, Hank. Amen.

Red Sox officials renew salary cap calls

After suffering through an off-season of Yankee spending and losing out on Mark Teixeira at the last minute, Red Sox owner John Henry and team president/CEO Larry Lucchino have renewed their calls for a salary cap. Henry last called for a cap following the 2004 trade of Alex Rodriguez from the Rangers to the Yankees, and while the Boston officials feel that support may be growing among other owners for an “enlightened” cap, the Yankees are sure to oppose a firm spending limit.

“I think you have to make an intelligent, persuasive case for it,” Lucchino said to MLB.com’s Ian Browne. “I do look around and I see a hockey league, a basketball league, a football league, all with forms of a salary cap or payroll system, and I think it’s as inevitable as tomorrow that there will be some kind of system like that in baseball. It’s just not as imminent as tomorrow.”

According to Lucchino, the owners are already doing what Browne termed their “due diligence” in advance of the 2011 expiration date for the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. Obviously, the Yanks’ off-season spending has spurred on the dissent from Boston despite the fact that the Red Sox consistently are among the game’s top spenders. Lucchino slammed the Yanks’ winter spree despite the fact that the team’s Opening Day payroll will be on par with 2008’s. “I think we’ve seen when the Yankees have spent like the U.S. congress,” Lucchino said. “I agree whole-heartedly with John, that an examination of a salary cap, an enlightened approach to a salary cap, could make sense for the game. I think people in baseball are examining that possibility.”

Clearly, the next few years will be telling. If the Yanks continue to spend as they have, teams will band against them. However, the owners may be spoiling for a fight they can’t win right now. The Players Association will probably not support a salary cap, firm or otherwise, and the PA leaders aren’t too happy with the way they have been portrayed during the recent PED scandals. With the Red Sox on board, though, we’re just getting a glimpse of labor fights to come.