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NY fans offer Sox 'fatherly' advice
10/12/2004 8:03 PM ET
NEW YORK -- Last year, it was "Cowboy Up." This year, it's "Who's your daddy?"

After hundreds upon hundreds of games against each other throughout a century's worth of a storied, bitter -- and some claim cursed -- history, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are still coming up with terrifically creative ways to taunt each other.

In 2003, Boston slugger Kevin Millar somehow managed to fire up a city with decidedly colonial sensibilities by conjuring visions of Merle Haggard concerts, all-terrain vehicles and bull riding by urging his team to "Cowboy Up," whatever that meant.

And Boston and the Red Sox bought it, until Tim Wakefield served Aaron Boone a knuckleball that didn't knuckle in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. That extended Boston's streak of years without a World Series title to 85.

This year it's the phrase "Who's your daddy," New York's spin on Boston ace Pedro Martinez's frustrated comments following a disappointing performance against the Yankees on Sept. 24 in Fenway Park.

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Pedro's lifetime record against the Yanks fell to 9-10 that night after he suffered a 7 1/3-inning, five-run pounding in a 6-4 loss.

"I can't find a way to beat them at this point," Martinez said before eventually arriving at the new insta-classic, "What can I say? I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy."

About one hour before Mike Mussina was set to throw the first pitch of the 2004 Yankees-Red Sox ALCS renewal, an entirely unscientific investigation of the latest phenomenon had to be conducted.

And what better place than in Section 39, the right-field home of the Yankees' boisterous and happily belligerent "Bleacher Creatures"?

"We own Pedro and we own the Red Sox," offered John Kisty, a college student from Glassboro, N.J., who held up his glove to try to catch a batting practice homer.

"So it's nice to hear him admit it and get it out in the open."

Bobby Vito, a Portchester, N.Y., business owner wearing a sweatshirt with the Yankees' trademark NY logo and "The Bleachers" embroidered on top of it, wasn't so sure about that line of thinking.

"I think Pedro said that because he wants to earn his stripes," Vito said. "Pinstripes."

But when Wall Street man Bob Lucente of Gillette, N.J., overheard Vito's prediction, which alluded to Martinez's potential free agent status at the end of the year, he scoffed.

"Nah," Lucente said. "He won't look good in pinstripes."

Lucente, of course, might not be the best source of information. He proudly pointed out numerous times that he brought his two 12-year-old boys and their friends to the game and that they would attend school Wednesday, no matter how late the game dragged on.

"They know who their daddy is," Lucente cracked.

Everybody was getting in their daddy digs, especially vendors outside the Stadium.

T-shirts, placards and who knows what else were being churned out by the dozen by some of New York's most low-budget manufacturers.

Kisty, a marketing major, said he's learned plenty at Rowan College about making the most of a fad, and he said he proudly shelled out 15 clams for an extremely poor quality "Who's your daddy" T-shirt.

"It's not about the quality of the shirt," Kisty said. "It's about finding new and exciting ways to make fun of the Red Sox."

One thing all of these Creatures agreed on was that Pedro's the one who ultimately has to wear his comments.

"He can't beat us, but he beats everybody else," Vito said. "But it's not all about Pedro. It's more about the Red Sox. They can't beat us. That's the only reason I'm here -- to find out how they can possibly lose to us again."

Vito pulled up his sweatshirt to reveal the "Babe (Ruth), Bucky (Dent), (Bill) Buckner, Boone, any questions?" T-shirt that's been another hot item.

"Who's it gonna be this year?" chimed in Vito's buddy, Andy LaBella, a resident storage manager from New Rochelle, N.Y.

"It's gotta be a 'B.' Maybe Bernie (Williams). Or Bubba (Crosby). Even better."

Vito laughed.

"Or maybe it'll be another Red Sox error. Maybe Bill Mueller."

Maybe so, according to Pat Carney, a Daddy-T-wielding Creature who works as a prison guard in Middletown, N.Y., and admits that his surroundings in Section 39 can occasionally resemble what he sees at work.

"There's really no mystery here," Carney says. "Pedro's no dummy. How many rings do we have and how many do they have?

"We are their daddies."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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