The BOSTON HAIR FORCE
October 10, 2004 For many Yankee fans, serving up a syncopated 1918 or making a reference to The Curse is the same thing as being clever. Are you a Yankee fan who needs to save face while engaged in a heated debate with a Red Sox fan? Simply make a selection off the tiresome List of Two. And then look for a nearby Yankee fan to giggle with.
Lately, however, some of the truly-gifted Yankee fans have dared to venture into new territory: the state of hair among the Red Sox players. There are more than a few targets in this case, such as Johnny Damon (he looks like Jesus, Pedro Martinez (he looks like a chick, Kevin Millar (he looks like Abe Lincoln and Manny Ramirez (he looks like Buckwheat. So far, none of the Yankee fans Iâ€™ve encountered have been able to identify a look-alike subject for Bronson Arroyo. They mention the cornrows, try to think of something brilliant to say, fail, and then stand there with a constipated look on their face. You can almost see their cranial processors running through the List of Two in a loop, only to be hit with no matches found over and over again.
These are not simple questions. If you look down the Boston bench, the issue gets confused with guys like Curt Schilling (a cleancut matron appearance, along with a matron track record) and Mike Timlin (ditto). Right now, it’s probably the Cy Young candidate that New York fears the most. As USA Today columnist Ian O’Connor wrote last week: Steinbrenner has to live with a pitching staff that desperately needs a Schilling-like anchor, just like he has to live with the photo of Schilling wearing one of those Yankee Hater caps during Game 7 of the Bruins/Canadiens series. Simply put, Schilling is the matron that got away from Big George. This is a big deal in New York, where the general attitude in the Steinbrenner era has been: You can win them all.
So the Yankees though mostly surrounded by the wild coifs of the Boston Hair Force will have to stare down one of their own in Game One and perhaps in games four and seven as well. Vegas likes Schilling’s chances, having already notched him as a +130 favorite in Yankee Stadium against New York’s Mike Mussina (for the uninitiated, +130 means that you would have to wager $130 to win $100, a return that is less than an even-money coin flip). The Boston fans like his chances, too: most of Red Sox Nation coveted another Red Sox/Yankees series, presumably because such a series looks quite winnable this year. And Schilling is the most popular answer to the question: Why will the result be any different this year?
But let’s not forget the maidens. Having been to Saratoga Race Course a few times in my day, I can vouch for the ability of perennial also-rans to hit the finish line first on any given day. Nonetheless, when a horse enters a race with a lifetime record of 0-for-15 or worse, the standing rule among bettors is to let that horse beat them. As Mario Puzo author of the Godfather once wrote in one of his less-famous works, Whatever you do you in life, let percentage be your God. But who do the percentages favor in the upcoming Sox/Yanks series? Do they favor The Curse, which would be the side taken by the broken-record Yankees fans? Or do they favor the odds set by the Vegas sports-books, which are responsible for the exchange of millions of dollars and the possible livelihoods of thousands of casino managers?
It’s probably safe to say that the sports-books’ scrutiny is more reliable than an opinion derived from the List of Two. So, as the field of maidens (plus a few purebred matrons) gets set to run down the stretch with the oft-victorious thoroughbreds from the Bronx, we hope that there’s a race-caller out there who is prepared to say that the maidens have won by a hair.