Back where I belong
Puffed up at winning another World Series, the owner of the New York Yankees scoffed at the suggestion that his team was too strong and that "some of their players should be handed over to the Boston Red Sox, for instance.''
"There is no charity in baseball,'' he said dismissively.
The year was 1933. The owner was Jacob Ruppert. The second-to-worst thing about baseball in the '30s, Bill James wrote, was the domination by the New York teams (the worst thing was segregation).
No charity then, less charity now, as Mark Teixeira haughtily reminded everyone earlier this month after the Yankees won Series title No. 27, saying: "To the rich go the spoils,'' which is what happens when you only half-remember something you once heard in American history class, the spoils actually going to the victor, but hey, in these days of 10½ percent unemployment, Tex may actually be closer to the truth.
But we all get it: The enduring lesson of the 2009 baseball season is that if you have an extra $423 million lying around, chances are pretty good that you'll be the last one standing in November. Yankee fans, of course, don't want to hear any of this, especially from the fans of a team whose owner can fly to Paris to buy an ice cream cone for his girl on a whim.
But enough about the Bombers. This is, after all, ESPNBoston.com, a venture designed to satisfy the biggest appetites for all things sporting in these parts. And this is what has brought me back to the neighborhood, after a year away playing a more national field for another Web site.
New England is my home, baseball remains my game, and after being away, I am even more persuaded that there is no better place to talk, write, blog, tweet, text, chat and care about baseball than right here, for this audience. Many of you already know me, from my 12 years of covering the Red Sox for the Boston Globe and from posing as Heidi Watney's favorite uncle on NESN. I hope to renew acquaintances with you, while introducing myself to many more of you through what we intend to be the go-to site for all things Red Sox. For openers, we have Peter Gammons on our side, which is like spotting us Pedro Martinez.
Peter is the grandmaster who will grace us when he has news to break or something to say, which will always be worth hearing. And, of course, ESPN already has a terrific stable of people who write and talk baseball with the best of them, including Buster Olney, Tim Kurkjian, Jayson Stark, Jerry Crasnick, Jim Caple, the Baseball Tonight crew and another New Englander of some renown, Howard Bryant, who writes big books and thinks deep thoughts and has a way of throwing life 12-to-6 curveballs.
Me? I get to do Red Sox baseball here on a daily basis for you, which you should know from the outset will be a two-way conversation from the get-go. I will fill you in on what I see and hear, and invite you to tell me what you're thinking and feeling. We aspire to be an equal-opportunity hangout for Sox fans of all persuasions: pink hats and stats geeks, the folks who don't mind a little history with their coffee, the kids who can't wait to see whether Casey Kelly arrives as a pitcher or a shortstop, and my neighbor Pete (and Deb), who have reminded me just about every day since I left that I'd never be happier than when I got back.
So here I am, you Sons of Sam Horners and RemDawg lovers and Bangor Hot Stovers, and anyone who can find Lunenburg, my hometown, on a map (That includes you, Dick Quinn, the Williams man who invited me to a re-enactment of the Williams-Amherst baseball game, on the 150th anniversary of the first college game every played). The mailbag kicks off soon (send your questions now), the chats start Monday. I can't wait to hear from those Sox fans Down Under, in Shanghai and Ojai, mis amigos Dominicanos and the Daughters of the American Revolution. Pull up a chair, drop a line.
Theo Epstein certainly hasn't been waiting around for me to get started. With free agency kicking off Friday, the hot stove season is already in full swing. Let's talk Sox, a conversation without end.
It's great to be back,