Boston It's been a quarter-century since Goose Gossage and Graig Nettles fought in the Yankees-Red Sox wars, but the years haven't softened their animosity toward the Fenway army. Ask Goose and Puff about Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez, and you might as well be talking about Carlton Fisk and Bill Lee.
"I was watching (Game 3) lying in my bed, and when Ramirez starts walking to the mound with a bat in his hand, I jumped up and started screaming at the TV set, 'Kill that (expletive),'" Gossage said Monday.
"Manny Ramirez is a (coward). I hope he reads that. If he pulled that stuff in the old days, he would've gotten back in the box, and I guarantee you he would've had the next pitch in his earlobe. The guy is a one-dimensional player. He can hit -- a little. But he can't even hit when it counts."
Nettles went even further in his indictment of the Sox slugger, flatly calling him "a dog ... who does nothing but loaf. Ramirez loafs on the bases, in the field, he loafs all the time. For all the money he makes, he should buy a book about how the game is played.
"To be honest, I hope the Yankees kill the Red Sox, embarrass them, 18-0. I hope I never have to watch Ramirez play again. That's what a dog he is."
Nettles, speaking from his home in Knoxville, Tenn., and Gossage, speaking by cell phone while driving to his house in Colorado Springs, Colo., obviously have no problem conjuring up the old hate toward the Red Sox. To them, Martinez and Ramirez are Fisk and Lee: different faces, different names, but still the enemy.
Yet, Goose and Nettles both say the Yankees-Sox war is different today -- softer, with less score-settling. Even after watching Martinez throw at Karim Garcia's head, and after Ramirez challenged Roger Clemens over a relatively benign fastball, the elder Yankees say this is Rivalry Lite.
The incidents did, indeed, make for compelling TV drama, but the benches-clearing episode -- during which Martinez flung Don Zimmer to the ground -- would have been handled differently in the 1970s.
"I can't believe no one in the bullpen went after Martinez," Gossage said. "If it was me, I would've gone right for him. We would've finished it right there. That skinny little (expletive). There's no question he threw right at Garcia's head. That's totally gutless. It's too bad he doesn't have to hit, because I guarantee you he wouldn't be throwing at hitters like that."
Gossage was so worked up that five minutes after hanging up, he called back. He wasn't finished.
"Those guys think they can intimidate the Yankees? No one does that," Goose said. "All they did was wake the Yankees up."
"We would've chased Pedro right into the stands," Nettles said in agreement. "There's no way we would've been milling around like that. Garcia should've been the first one to go after Pedro. That's how you know the game has changed today. There's no way you let a 72-year-old man do your dirty work for you."