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  Mon, October 11, 2004


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Hate affair burns hot
By BOB ELLIOTT, TORONTO SUN

A year ago it was the fiercest rivalry in baseball. This October?

How do the Boston Red Sox feel about the New York Yankees, and vice versa?

Well, outside of the managers there won't be any shaking of hands before Game 1 of the ALCS here in New York tomorrow. There will be brush-back pitches; NFL Films-style takeouts at second; and veiled (and not-so-veiled) shots.

Remember a year ago when Manny Ramirez stepped toward the mound and Pedro Martinez slammed Yanks coach Don Zimmer to the grass?

And the fans from each city know so many filthy chants they could be standing outside an American embassy somewhere.

The Sox hated the Yankees before Game 7 of last year's matchup, before Martinez took a 5-2 lead into the eighth, before the Yanks rallied, before Aaron Boone homered in the 11th off Tim Wakefield.

The hate affair hasn't mellowed.

The Sox wanted Alex Rodriguez and spent months attempting to work out a deal. The Yanks released Boone, who blew out his knee playing hoops, swept in and did the deal in four days to address a need at third and usurp the Sox.

Rodriguez and Boston catcher Jason Varitek fought in July.

Boston twice beat Mariano Rivera.

With the Yanks visiting the Sox in Fort Myers this spring, more than 200 media members showed. Rivera referred to the exhibition meeting as a "big game" as did all the Yankees regulars. Tickets were scalped.

Martinez called the Yanks his "daddy" after a 6-4 loss Sept. 24.

"I can't find a way to beat them at this point, they beat me, they didn't beat my team," Martinez said. "They're that hot right now, at least against me. I wish they'd disappear and never come back. All I can do is tip my cap and call the Yankees my daddy."

Speaking of fathers, it's like when second baseman Bobby Richardson snared a liner by San Francisco Giants slugger Willie McCovey. Moments before a Willie Mays double chased Matty Alou to third, some said Alou should have been waved home.

"Not only are they good, they are so lucky, they play with horseshoes in each pocket and it never slows them down."

In the moments after Richardson's catch, ending the game with a 1-0 Yanks win and the 1962 World Series title, it was the first time we ever saw our father cry.

The Yanks won Saturday's Game 4 over the Twins when they rallied from a 5-1 deficit and scored the winner in the 11th when Canuck third baseman Corey Koskie -- told to guard the line -- moved off it and Rodriguez pulled a ball inches fair for a double.

They won when Kyle Lohse didn't pay attention to Rodriguez and he stole third without a throw. They won when Pat Borders, 41, who blocked maybe 1,500 pitches in the dirt from Jack Morris, David Cone and Juan Guzman, boxed a ball to allow Rodriguez, horseshoes and all, to score the winner.

The Sox were 11-8 against the Yanks this year, but that includes a 6-1 record in April before the Yanks got their act together.

DON'T LIKE IT

Mike Mussina and Jon Lieber will likely to pitch the first two games for the Yanks, while the Sox will go with Schilling and Martinez.

The Yanks don't like it when people tell them the Sox are better than they are, especially since they've finished ahead of Boston in the standings for nine years in a row.

With this matchup, fans of the Sox and Yanks get what they want, the networks get what they want, the Yanks get what they want and the Sox get what they want.

Only one team will go home happy.

Will it be the Yanks or the cursed Sox?