"Schill of Beans" screamed the back page of Saturday's New York Post.
"Your Move" blared the New York Daily News to Yankee brass.
When was the last time media in the self-proclaimed "Capital of the World" were so obsessed with the doings in another town? When was the last time baseball dominated the discussion over Thanksgiving, a traditional football weekend if ever there was one?
How hot is baseball's Cold War?
For once it appears New York is as obsessed with Boston as the Red Sox always have been with the Yankees. This is becoming like college football, where recruiting wars take on a life of their own.
It also defies the old saying that there is no rivalry between the hammer and the nail. And with a 26-0 World Series advantage over the past 85 years there is no question the hammer lives in the Bronx.
But it was the nail that made the first strike this offseason, acquiring Schilling, a power right-hander, in a four-player trade on Friday.
So now "Your Move" shifts back to Sox general manager Theo Epstein, who no doubt is currently crunching numbers to get Alex Rodriguez to Fenway.
Although it is unlikely he'll get that done before George Steinbrenner grabs Bartolo Colon.
The reality is that Epstein already has become a Yankee obsession. The 29-year-old Ivy League-educated sabermetrics disciple has proven to be a quick study in assembling talent and irking the Boss.
You have to figure that if Steinbrenner could wave a wand and acquire one member of the Sox organization he'd grab Epstein, not Pedro.
Last winter Epstein signed a bunch of no-nonsense hitters who gave the Sox a better lineup than not just the current Yankees but, at least by slugging percentage, the 1927 team too. During the season he assembled a bullpen good enough to win the Series, but was stuck with a manager who didn't know how to use it.
Now by spending Thanksgiving at the Schilling home – where he came armed with a contract extension, a sweet potato pie (what, no Boston Cream?) and his trademark intensity – Epstein convinced the 37-year-old to wave his no-trade clause and join the Sox. Now Boston's starting rotation also is at least the Yanks' equal.
You can't blame Schilling, Sheffield or A-Rod for wanting into this war of wills. Neither New York nor Boston won the World Series last year, but no two teams are as determined to do it next season. And both know they have to go through the other to do so.
Who wouldn't want to be involved in this?
Schilling found out firsthand just how serious Red Sox fans are when he logged onto a fan message board late Thanksgiving night and chatted with no less than 24 people.
"They all had their motives [of why he should come to Boston]," Schilling says. "Most of them being screwing the Yankees."
Isn't that beautifully ironic. There are few things sports teams hate more than the Internet – especially chat rooms – but the Sox may not have Schilling without it. Welcome to the future.
All of this just increases the determination in New York. There is nothing Steinbrenner hates more than losing baseball games that matter. But losing the hot stove league to the Red Sox is a close second, and the Boss wanted Schilling for his own.
A year ago the Yankees outbid Boston for pitcher Jose Contreras prompting Sox CEO Larry Lucchino to dub New York "The Evil Empire," an insult that at some level must have delighted Steinbrenner.
That the Yankees were boxed out of the Schilling derby and had to watch Epstein carving turkey while their noses were pressed against the window couldn't have sat well.
Which is why Sheffield is just the start. The Boss will get more All-Stars – luxury tax or $200 salary barrier be damned.
And the Sox? Hardly done. They care about just one thing: winning it all. They can't match New York dollar for dollar, but they ain't Pittsburgh either.
The nail got in the first blow this offseason.
The empire has just begun to strike back.
- New York
- Theo Epstein