Since I became interested in English soccer, I have taken to using the term "football supporters" use for their arch-rivals: "The Scum."
Usually, it's just banter. Or "taking the mickey." Which originates from "Cockney Rhyming Slang." "Mickey" is short for "Mickey Bliss," which is what they say when they'd rather say, "taking the piss." Which is not the same as taking a piss. Or "slipping someone a mickey." Of course, they are usually willing to say "take the piss" or "pisstake" in public anyway.
But I do use "The Scum" to refer to my rivals, especially the Boston Red Sox (when I'm talking about the Yankees) and the New York Rangers (when I'm talking about the New Jersey Devils).
Usually, the players on said rival teams aren't such bad guys. There are exceptions... ex-Ranger Sean Avery, for one. But for the most part, they don't deserve to be called Scum, and I'm just taking the piss.
But the Red Sox... Whether it's steroids or headhunting or just talking smack (which is not necessarily the same thing as taking the piss), a lot of these guys really are bad people.
I shouldn't say that about management. But owner John Henry, team president Larry Lucchino, and general managers Theo Epstein and his recent successor Ben Cherington have allowed such things to happen, and are thus complicit, whether they realize it or not.
The latest episode came out of this past weekend's series at Fenway Park, when the Yankees took 3 out of 4 from the Sox.
Vicente Padilla, a pitcher who failed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Texas Rangers, and appeared in 3 postseason games with the Los Angeles Dodgers (losing those series to the Phillies, something the Dodgers used to be known for not doing), and was previously best known for... for... somebody want to help me out here? Oh yeah: He was one of the 4 guys the Diamondbacks sent to the Phillies for Curt Schilling. (Speaking of classless Red Sox... )
To be fair, Padilla has been a starting pitcher who has won over 100 games in the major leagues, and is above .500 for his career: 106-90. But his ERA is 4.30, his ERA+ is 100 (making him exactly average among major league pitchers when it comes to giving up earned runs), and his WHIP is 1.373. For this season, now half-over, he has pitched 33 games, all in relief, has a record of 2-0, but has an ERA of 3.94 and a WHIP of 1.394 -- neither good for a reliever.
Doesn't sound like a guy who should be talking much smack. Yet he talked smack about Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira, who complained about getting hit by pitches.
For the record, in 363 career appearances over 14 seasons, Padilla has hit 107 batters, including an American League-leading 17 in 2006, and at least 15 in 3 other seasons. This year, he's hit only one, Teixeira.
It's gone on for a while. In an Interleague game played on June 9, 2005, when Teixeira was with the Rangers and Padilla was pitching for the Phillies, Teix hit 2 homers, then Padilla plunked him. In the interim between that game and the one this weekend, Padilla hit him 2 other times, despite having held him hitless (albeit with 2 walks over that span.
“Game-winning hits always feel good,” Teix said, “but that one definitely felt good. He doesn’t have too many friends in the game. Guy throws at people. Fact of the matter, I’m not saying anything that’s news. In the NFL, he’d probably be suspended by (commissioner) Roger Goodell eight games or a whole season.”
So, yes, Teix complained. But is it whining if it's the truth?
But Padilla said this:
We are all men here playing baseball. We don't need no women playing baseball. He is always crying and complaining. If he has a base hit, he cries, if he doesn't, he cries. I just meant that not even women complain as much as him.
Considering how many Red Sox pitchers have hit how many Yankee batters the last few years, Padilla's not the one who has a case here.
And I'm not even going back to 1967, and the beanball brawl between Jim Lonborg and the late Thad Tillotson. Nor to the 1970s, when Dick Drago was a Sox headhunter against the Yankees. I'm not even going to the late 1980s or early 1990s, when it was Roger Clemens. I'm just talking about since 1998, in the Nomar/Pedro/Papi era. These are things that, had they occurred outside, on Lansdowne Street, would have been felonious assault. Possibly even attempted murder.
Padilla also said this:
The problem is he talks about all the wrong things that others have done, but the things he’s done — against the Latinos [on the Rangers] — he doesn’t open his mouth about... He once threatened me and said he was going to hit me with a bat, and that’s when we were playing on the same team. And then, he also had problems with Frank Francisco. ... But he doesn’t talk about that, does he? Then, of course, he goes on and makes those comments about me.
Those comments about you were true, Vicente. Have you got any evidence that Teixeira has a problem with Latinos? Or should we just take your word for it?
As the today's entry in the blog Bleeding Yankee Blue (see link to the right -- this particular post doesn't have an author's name on it) put it, "Damn, reading that NESN interview it seemed like Padilla was upset...almost like he was going to breakdown like a "woman" and cry about it. Ironic... isn’t it?"
Considering the current trial of English soccer legend/slimeball John Terry, an accusation of racism is pretty serious.
For the record, Teixeira is of Portuguese descent. That's not the same thing as "Latino," and the Portuguese haven't faced a level of discrimination in this country nearly to the level of the various Latino/Hispanic groups. But they haven't had it easy, either. So, while Teixeira is very light-skinned (not all Portuguese are), he should, at the least, be sensitive to racism, whether directed at him, or anyone else, and certainly should not be guilty of it himself -- nor should anyone, but especially someone who could well have faced it. As could Padilla, who is from Nicaragua.
Teix played on the Texas Rangers, with, among others, Sandy Alomar Jr., Alfonso Soriano, Rod Barajas, Pedro Astacio, Edinson Volquez, Francisco Cordero and... current Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
He played on the Atlanta Braves, with, among others, Julio Franco, Edgar Renteria, Matt Diaz, Yunel Escobar, Octavio Dotel,Manny Acosta, and current Yankee teammate Rafael Soriano.
He played on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, with, among others, Vladimir Guerrero, Ervin Santana, Juan Rivera, Maicer Izturis, Kendrys Morales, Freddy Sandoval, Erick Aybar, and the mercurial Francisco Rodriguez. If any of his current or former teammates would seem like the kind of man who would suggest Teix has problems with Latinos, K-Rod seems like he'd be the one.
And he's played on the Yankees, with, among others, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera, Damaso Marte, Sergio Mitre, Jesus Montero, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Eduardo Nunez and... current Red Sox pitchers Alfredo Aceves and Mark Melancon.
Remember: Included among those names are THREE players now on the Red Sox, who should be inclined to back up their teammate Padilla.
Not one of them has ever publicly suggested that Mark Teixeira was not a good teammate. Not one. That includes A-Gon, Ace and Melancon.
You say three teams have gotten rid of Teix? This is true. Does this suggest that he might not have been a good teammate? That's a reasonable question to ask. So let's look at how he left those three teams:
At the 2007 trading deadline, the Rangers traded him to the Braves, because the Braves made them an offer they couldn't refuse. This offer included 2 players who were instrumental in their 2010 and '11 Pennants: Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz. And also current Red Sox player Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but that's merely an interesting footnote, not really relevant to this discussion. This trade was about the Rangers improving their team, not because of Teixeira's character. And it worked.
Just before the 2008 trading deadline, figuring they wouldn't be able to re-sign him as his contract was running out, the Braves traded him to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and a minor leaguer. This trade was about money, not Teixeira's character.
After that season, it was the Angels who had to decide whether to sign him to an extension before the contract ran out, or risk someone else signing him. They decided not to, and the Yankees pounced. It almost worked: The Angels did cut their payroll, and they did reach the AL Championship Series. But they lost it... to the Yankees. They never said anything about Teixeira's character.
And whatever flaws of character Teix has -- I've seen suggestions that he's a Republican, but that, by itself, is not a character flaw -- the Yankees seem to have overlooked them. And he's played 3 completed seasons here, and been a key cog in all 3, getting them to the postseason, including the 2009 World Championship.
I know who I'd rather have on my team, out of Teixeira and Padilla.
And yet, Padilla calls Teixeira a bigot, and questions his manhood.
As Lisa Swan says in Subway Squawkers (see link to the right), "And you thought Josh Beckett and John Lackey were jerks! What is it with the Red Sox? They are even more unlikeable than usual. Other than the injured Carl Crawford, who I feel sorry for, there isn't a single Boston player I can even tolerate." Which means Lisa tolerates one more than I do.
We move on from Padilla, and on to the fat face of the Sox since 2003, David Ortiz, Big Papi, the big fat lying cheating bastard.
Former Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon -- who isn't exactly doing well with the Phillies -- has weighed in on the current controversy over the fact that Ortiz got a one-year, $15 million contract. Papelbum says the Sox ought to pay him "whatever makes him happy," and says that "in my opinion, he's bigger than Ted."
In other words, Ortiz means more to the Sox franchise than their most honored player, Ted Williams.
Well, Ted never won a World Series. Ortiz has won 2.
But the, Ted didn't use steroids. Ortiz did. He used them. He got caught. He lied about it. And he got exposed as a user and a liar.
Also, Ted flew combat missions for the Marine Corps in the Korean War. Ortiz couldn't even get into the plane. Gee, maybe he is "bigger."
Ted Williams certainly had his flaws -- which I won't get into here. But who's kidding who? He wasn't just one of the best players of his generation, and one of the greatest hitters who ever lived -- if not the greatest, as is often alleged. More than that, he was one of a very few players ever who elevated the game, who made it better. Through his mentoring of younger players, through his charitable activities, and through his authorship of The Science of Hitting -- that's right, he literally wrote the book on hitting, or at least the defining book on how to hit a baseball -- he was one of a very few players ever who did as much for baseball as the sport did for him.
David Ortiz disgraced the game. And then acted like he didn't. And then was exposed as one who did. And still acts like he didn't.
Squawker Lisa continues:
By the way, why doesn't Ortiz testing positive for PEDs in 2003 ever get brought up whenever we talk about him? This summer marks the third anniversary since Sherlock Ortiz announced that he would figure out why he failed that test. Shockingly, he never has, and just as shockingly, which is to say not shocking at all, sportswriters completely lost interest in exposing juicers once Red Sox players (Manny Ramirez also failed that test) were named.Why is it that A-Rod always gets reminded about doing steroids, but Ortiz never is? Why hasn't any reporter ever even asked Sherlock Ortiz why he tested positive?
Maybe he needs to "pull an O.J. Simpson" and get out on the golf course to find "the real steroid user." Or "the real urine sample." (Now I'm back to the "taking the piss" analogy.)
Maybe Lisa is right about her "Sherlock Holmes" analogy, and in a way she hasn't even considered: Reporters who don't ask Ortiz about being a big fat lying cheating bastard = "the dog that didn't bark," which helped Holmes solve the case in the story "Silver Blaze": The dog didn't bark because he recognized the guilty party, and didn't think his presence was out of the ordinary. In other words, just like the dog to the criminal, they think a Red Sox player using steroids is no big deal.
Just as it's no big deal when a Red Sox pitcher purposely hits a Yankee batter with a pitch.
Ah, but let a Yankee even have the appearance of impropriety, be it performance-enhancing drugs or purpose pitches, arguing an umpire's call or being abused by opposing fans -- and it's open season on said Yankee, be he player or manager or executive. I call it the Yankee Doodle Double Standard.
The Mitchell Report was damning. It basically ensured that Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and a few others connected with the Yankees would be forever labeled "cheaters" by the baseball public. And this was before we knew that Alex Rodriguez had used steroids while with the Texas Rangers -- not, as far as anyone has yet proven, with the Yankees.
Yet that Report, written by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, a member of the Red Sox' board of directors, said nothing about Ortiz. Or Ramirez. Or several other Red Sox who've been accused, including Bronson Arroyo, who confessed.
And now, Clemens has been acquitted -- of perjury, of lying under oath when he said he never used steroids or any other PED. That doesn't mean he didn't use them, only that, at the moment, it hasn't been proven that he did. Which is more than can be said for Ortiz and Ramirez, the two biggest reasons why the Red Sox won the 2004 and 2007 World Series.
So how can we take the Mitchell Report seriously?
It's time to tell the truth: While there were cheaters on both the Yankees and the Red Sox, no team was helped more by that cheating than the Red Sox, and no team was hurt more by cheating -- others', and (in the case of Jason Giambi) their own -- than the Yankees.
So let's drop the myth that the Red Sox are the good guys and the Yankees are the Evil Empire. Let's tell the truth: The Red Sox have been, baseball-speaking, criminals. What the Yankees have done is the equivalent of illegal parking; the Red Sox, armed robbery -- and, in some cases, quite literally, felonious assault.
It is time to cut the crap. And to admit that the Boston Red Sox are scum.
Capitalized, or otherwise.
Does this mean I hate the Red Sox more than I hate the Mets? For the moment, yes. The Mets' status as a threat to the Yankees, either on the field or in public opinion, is gone, and it looks like it is not coming back anytime soon. I pity the Mets; I hate the Red Sox.
These teams came by these statuses (statii?) the old-fashioned way: They earned them.
One more thing: In 1998, Mark Teixeira was taken in the baseball draft by... the Boston Red Sox. He chose not to sign, instead completing his college work at Georgia Tech. He was drafted again in 2001, that time by the Rangers, and did sign.
The Red Sox could have avoided all this by finding a way to get him to sign. After all, there are a few colleges in and around Boston. An arrangement could have been made.