Bird's words apply as Red Sox cry foul

February 19, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

I'm not exactly sure which year it was, but it was one of the Pistons-Celtics playoff series of the late-1980s. Larry Bird had just lit up Detroit for another obscene stat line, after which Isiah Thomas - who really should have just shut his mouth and moved on to the next game - put his foot in his mouth instead by claiming if Bird were black, he'd just be another good NBA player.

When reporters predictably converged on Bird to inform him of Thomas' statement and ask for a response, Bird gave what is, in my opinion, the greatest two-word quote in history: "They lost."

Concise. Accurate. Perfect.

When reporters walked up to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner this week to get his response to whining, sniveling Red Sox owner John Henry's assertion that a salary cap should be implemented in baseball - only, of course, after Henry's beloved Sox dropped the ball on a deal for Alex Rodriguez, after which the Yankees rightfully swooped in for the kill - I wish Steinbrenner would have uttered the same two words.


Now, Henry is absolutely correct in that baseball should have a salary cap. But he's absolutely, pathetically wrong in crying foul.

The rules, whether you like them or not, are the rules, and the Yankees, like it or not, didn't break them. It's not the Yankees' fault that A) they have more money to spend than the other teams, and B) are willing to spend it, no matter how much they have to pay in luxury taxes.

Besides, Henry isn't really complaining about the Yankees' bloated $185 million payroll (The Red Sox have baseball's second highest payroll at about $125 million). Had the Yankees spent all that money on anyone but A-Rod, Henry wouldn't have said a peep.

No, Henry's whining because he got beat at his own game and can't handle it. In December it became obvious that the story of baseball's off-season would be the duel between New York and Boston to land the most and best big-name players. Henry had a shot to land the biggest of them all - had two or three shots, actually - but he couldn't land the knockout punch. Now that Steinbrenner's "Evil Empire" has dropped Henry's Sox to the canvas, he's pouting like a schoolgirl trying to get everyone to sympathize with him over the whole A-Rod mess.

Here's the facts, folks. Henry swung and missed. Steinbrenner swung and launched one into the third deck.

It's simple, John Henry. You lost.

Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7520, or by e-mail at

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