Red Sox relish 'hungry underdog' role

Updated: February 16, 2004, 11:36 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

BOSTON -- Alex Rodriguez is going to the Yankees, who have a knack for sticking it to the Red Sox.

New York are closing in on a deal with the Texas Rangers for the AL MVP, and it's hurting the Red Sox more than the prospect of another season in second place.

Boston nearly landed Rodriguez themselves this winter before talks fell apart when the sides couldn't agree on how to split up the $179 million left on his contract. The trade would have sent Manny Ramirez -- the second-highest paid player in baseball -- to the Rangers.

"You can't (complain) about the lack of effort on the Red Sox end," Curt Schilling wrote to a fan Web site he has posted on frequently, using a screen name he has identified as his own.

"They reached for the stars on this, and it didn't fit."

Even after adding Schilling and Keith Foulke to a roster that was five outs from the World Series, the Boston Red Sox had no illusions about the balance of power in the AL East.

"We've long maintained that we are the hungry underdog," Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said Sunday. "So now we are a little bit more hungry and a little bit more of an underdog. They still have to beat us on the field."

It's a common thread through history: In 1920, in need of money to pay for Fenway Park and the Broadway musical "No, No, Nanette," Boston owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Since then, New York has won 26 World Series -- and the Red Sox have not won one.

The Yankees seem to get the better of the Red Sox on the field and off it, whether it's last season's head-to-head seven-game AL championship series or winning World Series with former Boston ace Roger Clemens.

"It's another challenge, but after 85 years, did any of you think that getting over this final hurdle and winning it all was gonna be a cakewalk? No, it'll be more fun this way," Schilling wrote.

"So let's move on, let whatever happens happen, and focus on the fact that the best Boston Red Sox team in the last 100 years takes the field in 7 days, for a ride that is guaranteed to be the most memorable of any of our lives over the next 8 months."

New York's 2004 payroll could be as high as $190 million; Boston will probably be second in the majors at about $125 million.

"The Yankees' resources gave them the capability to do what no one else could do," Lucchino said. "But you have to give them credit for their aggressiveness and for going out and making it happen."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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