FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The rivarly between the players on the field -- save for an occasional Ryan Dempster target practice at A-Rod -- has cooled. But as long as Larry Lucchino and Randy Levine are around, the Red Sox and Yankees will always be the Hatfields and the McCoys.
In his annual spring-training meeting with the media on Friday, Lucchino seemed to take more than a little satisfaction in watching the Yankees spend more than a half-billion
dollars this winter on free agents Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka, trying to play catch-up to the world champion Red Sox.
"We’re very different animals,'' the Red Sox CEO said of the Sox and Yanks. "I’m proud of that difference. I always cringe when people lump us together."
By contrast, the Sox continued the philosophy that brought them a championship, signing complementary players -- like catcher A.J. Pierzynski and pitcher Chris Capuano -- to cheaper, shorter-term deals.
The Yankees, said Lucchino, "are still, this year at least, relying heavily on their inimitable old-fashioned Yankees style of high-priced, long-term free agents. And I can’t say that I wish them well, but I think that we’ve taken a different approach.”
Well, you knew Levine -- the Yankees' president and CEO, who has tangled with Lucchino in the past -- wouldn't take that lying down.
“I feel bad for Larry; he constantly sees ghosts and is spooked by the Yankees," Levine said. "But I can understand why, because under his and Bobby Valentine’s plan two years ago, the Red Sox were in last place."
"[Boston general manager] Ben Cherington and the Red Sox did a great job last year winning the World Series," continued Levine, "but I’m confident [Yankee GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi] and our players will compete with a great Red Sox team to win a world championship this year.”