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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Curse This Whole Damn Situation

The latest battle in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry was not fought between the foul lines, but beneath the ground.

And all it took for the media to create another contrived curse was a jersey, some cement and a frantic franchise scrambling to justify their over-the-top reaction. Only this time, the worried ball club wasn’t the Red Sox.

The story has been well documented in recent weeks. A David Ortiz jersey was set into cement at the new Yankee Stadium, due to open next year. The jersey was placed into 2 feet of concrete by Bronx construction worker Gino Castignoli last summer, who said it was his duty to Red Sox Nation to “curse” the Yankees. For those that create curses to help their careers, it was a banner day. Somewhere, Dan Shaughnessy is smiling.

I’m not shocked that a member of Red Sox Nation would pull such a stunt. It does take some courage to secretly entomb a rival jersey in a new ballpark that will stand for decades. However, maybe the jersey has cursed its owner; Ortiz started the year hitting only .070 with 3 hits.

The craziest part about the story is how dogged in determination the Yankees were in pursuing the jersey, and then their subsequent justification (and contradictory denial) regarding their actions.

According to bNet.com, the average hourly wage for a construction worker is over $24. Multiplying a few workers’ wages by the five hours needed in the excavation on a Sunday (when union wages pay double), and you begin to get an idea at how expensive this process became. It also gives a frame of reference as to how desperate the Yankees were to retrieve a jersey valued at under $100.

Yankees President Randy Levine seemed to feel violated by the whole situation, as if a Red Sox fan had buried something inside of him. “Why reward somebody who had really bad motives and was trying to do a really bad thing?” he said in a New York Post story. It’s as if Levine believes someone was wearing the jersey when it was buried.

Levine was so incensed by the egregious act that he took time out of his busy schedule to stand and watch as construction workers pounded through the cement to remove the jersey.

The Yankees have had internal discussions regarding pressing charges against Castignoli. And if the legal system doesn’t strike Castignoli down, maybe new owner Hank Steinbrenner will. “I hope his co-workers kick the [expletive] out of him,” said the always-classy boss.

This whole thing leaves me confused. While some of the Yankees brass want to press charges, Steinbrenner said that fans shouldn’t be worried because “it’s all a bunch of bull[expletive].” So which is it?

At any rate, the whole idea that war is being waged between the Bronx and Beantown is reaching a new level of hysteria. The Yankees aren’t the only ones to blame, however. Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that Red Sox Nation was dragging Babe Ruth’s alleged piano out of a lake, all in the name of removing a curse.

This whole situation goes to show what a couple of titles will do for a franchise. After years of being treated like an annoying little brother, the Sox’ antagonistic methods are finally finding cracks in the Yankee façade. Before 2004 (and 2007), it would have been the Sox drilling into the ground to unearth a Paul O’Neill jersey.

Maybe the Yankees will come to their senses and realize that they wasted a bunch of time and money on a shirt. And maybe Castignoli will go down in Red Sox lore as a legendary foot soldier for the Red Sox Nation army.

But eventually the pianos and jerseys will fade away and concrete will begin to crack. As James Earl Jones said in Field of Dreams, the one constant will be baseball. The Red Sox and Yankees will continue to clash, and if fans are lucky, the battlefields will be on the diamond and not in the press.