Regardless of what happens during the following week, he has won.
And I, once again, have lost.
That's because Carl is a Yankees fan, proud and boastful, while I am a Red Sox fan, disgusted and inconsolable.
I met Carl at my internship this summer at the sports desk of a small daily newspaper in central Connecticut, an area that serves as a buffer zone between Red Sox fandom and the sprawling NYC mindset that has swallowed up the southeast corner of the Nutmeg State.
Many a night Carl and I worked together. In an attempt to escape the calls of local Little League coaches eager to phone in game results, we frequently switched the TV to NESN to watch the Sox or MSG to see the Yanks.
The nights were filled with insults, with challenges, with statistical banter. While Carl dropped the names of Sox ghosts past, from Bill Buckner to Larry Andersen, I, like any good Red Sox fan, took the high road.
That is, I muttered incoherent prayers to an almighty, Yankee-hating god who could somehow sabotage the Bombers' season long enough to keep them out of the playoffs.
Needless to say, my imaginary deity failed me.
Thus, Carl is smirking these days.
And I am hating life.
Throughout the year, I clung to the oh-so-delusional thought that the Sox could continue to stay near the top of the AL East and maybe, just maybe, win the division.
But this is not the time to talk about how the Red Sox have failed me year in and year out. It is especially not the time to talk about the fact that Boston fell into such a tailspin at the end of the year that the team needed to win five straight just to finish three games over .500.
Again, I digress.
It is time to curse the realism with which Yankee fans like Carl view the baseball world. It is time to call out the unabashed calm most Yankee fans feel during the regular season while most of New England is living and dying with every sigh breathed in the forever-cramped Red Sox clubhouse.
Yankee fans don't need to be that worried. They know that if their team can get into the playoffs, they'll most likely be berating Sox fans once again come November.
Why? Because the Yankees know how to win in the postseason, plain and simple.
Sure, I hate the Yankees. But not because I think they have all the best talent in the major leagues and don't play on a level field with small-market clubs around the league.
I hate them because even in a year when they struggled to put away a team as mediocre as the 2001 Red Sox, they still are favorites to win the World Series.
What happened to the Oakland Athletics, who boasted some of the best young arms in baseball? What happened to the Seattle Mariners, who won an amazing 116 games during the regular season?
They ran into the Yankees, an experienced team made for the playoffs.
The Yanks can hit when they need to. They have a good set of starting pitchers and a nasty closer in Mariano Rivera. Joe Torre is, admittedly, a great manager.
Although New York is not the best team in baseball, at least not on paper, I doubt the Arizona Diamondbacks are excited to be playing the Yankees for a championship ring.
In a word, the Bombers are clutch. In a hyphenated set of words, they are the anti-Red Sox.
There is an impulse deep inside me that envies the Yankee fan, who knows not only what it's like to celebrate a World Series victory or two (or 26 and counting), but who also can go through the summer knowing that even if they don't win, the Red Sox surely aren't going to take their place as champs.
That impulse haunts me as I try to be secure in my blind faith for the Beantowners.
But back in Connecticut, Carl Adamec will soon sit down before his television and gleefully prepare to kick one more mound of sand in the eyes of Red Sox Nation -- until next year, that is.
As much as I try to resist it, and as much as I want to believe the D'Backs will take the Series, I can't.
And that's why I hate the Yankees.
Ian Gordon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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