The tale of the tape

Sports Blotter:  Red Sox-Yankees Edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  August 21, 2006

COVER BOY: While he may not have tallied up the arrests of, say, a Darryl Strawberry, Billy Martin remains the posterboy for Yankee crime.
Okay, so we know what the rivals’ all-time score is in terms of championship wins. It’s written — in hideously-stretched, mustard-stained bold face — on the reeking, pitted-out T-shirts of every 380-pound creep from the tri-state area. The same people who put “1918” hats on their till-then innocent newborn babies make sure we never forget those numbers. The act of bravely staring that score in the face is an act of the most painful religious penance, undertaken by most every native New Englander each and every year. We have to face it: 26-6.

But there’s another score to keep — the crime score. As we brace ourselves for a potentially horrifying five-game Armageddon with the Yankees, it might be time for fans in both cities to examine the respective criminal legacies of these two eternal antagonists. And if you want to compare those numbers, there’s one seemingly insignificant line score that sums up the whole story. It reads as follows:

37 111 16 27  3    0    6    19   0    0   23  37 .243 .365  .432

Those are the year 2000 statistics for New York Yankee Jose Canseco. When George Steinbrenner panicked and lunged after those six of the last home runs of Jose Canseco’s career, he snatched up the last of the great crime superstars who had been one of the Red Sox, but never a Yankee. Jose was the only guy we really ever had who could match up, arrest-wise, with rap-sheet thoroughbreds like Dwight Gooden, Daryl Strawberry, and Steve Howe. But once again it was the Yankees’ [read: George’s] insatiable lust to acquire every big-name mercenary on the market, regardless of any moral or biochemical peccadilloes they might possess, that won out. Most of the Sox bad guys were home-grown; the Yankees’ special gift is that they go looking for the worst of the worst and pay top dollar for them.

Here’s how the score reads, category by category:

Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth was never arrested while a member of the Red Sox. He was, however, arrested as a Yankee, for speeding on June 8, 1921. That same day, he played in a 4-3 Yankee win over Cleveland.
EDGE: Yankees.

Mantle v. Williams
Two 500-homer sluggers from baseball’s golden age.

Scandal: Mickey Mantle — banned from baseball for two years, starting in 1983, for doing PR for Atlantic City casinos. Ted Williams — beheaded by his own children. Presidential connection: Mantle — checked in to Betty Ford Center. Williams — awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H.W. Bush. Pastimes: Mantle — became born-again Jesus freak in the ’90s. Williams — great, great fisherman.
HUGE EDGE: Yankees.

Yankees: Dale Berra, conspiracy to buy cocaine, 1989. Red Sox: Jared Remy, domestic assault, 2005. But Dale Berra actually played for the Yankees.
EDGE: Yankees.

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