For better or worse, this is Jim Rice's moment in the sun. The former Red Sox outfielder was elected to the Hall of Fame in his final try last week, and now everyone wants to hear what he has to say about anything and everything, no matter how misguided it is.
Enter intrepid Newsday reporter David Lennon, who asked Rice about failing to win a World Series during his playing career and got an answer that seems both faulty and unbecoming of a guy about to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
When asked about Boston's failure to win a World Series during his career - 1975 to 1989 - up to the Bambino-busting 2004 season, Rice pointed directly to the Bronx.
"During that time, [George] Steinbrenner spent more money than the Red Sox," Rice said. "He had more free agents. So when you get the best free agents, and you get the superstars from other ballclubs, that's what made you have a better team. The more money you can spend, the better you should get."
Just in case you were wondering, Jim Ed still doesn't approve of the Yankees' free-spending ways.
Even now, Rice remains annoyed by the Yankees' habit of throwing money at their problems. Not surprisingly, he lauds Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein for doing things the right way. "If you look at the Red Sox now, you see them bringing guys up in the organization," he said. "That's why Theo has been the person he's been over the last couple of years. He'll bring young kids up and stay within the organization.
"The Yankees haven't won in the last eight years. What do they do? They go out and buy high-priced players in the hope to get back the winning percentage they had 10 years ago."
The problem here is that Rice betrays his original point by noting that New York's free-agent binge hasn't really led to a bunch of titles. The Yankees have spent wildly in the 2000s, but been unable to recapture the heights of the dynasty teams of the late 1990s, a significant portion of which was homegrown.
The Yankees went to the World Series four times during Rice's 16-year career, but it's not like the Red Sox didn't have their chances. They went to the World Series twice during the same span (though Rice missed the 1975 Series with an injury) and for the second half of the slugger's career, the Bronx Bombers posed little obstacle, failing to qualify for the playoffs once from 1982-89.
The Steinbrenner family and the Yankees have never made life easy on the Red Sox, but they're hardly the biggest reason Boston couldn't get over the hump during Rice's playing career. Bill Lee's eephus pitch, Bill Buckner, Calvin Schiraldi and Bob Stanley jump to mind first.
As for Rice himself, well, he's hardly the first soon-to-be Hall of Famer to sound more like an old man telling those damn kids to get off his lawn than one of the best baseball players who ever lived. Just askGoose Gossage.