The Story: It is the quote that jump-started perhaps the most intense period of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry to date. It all started over little old Jose Contreras, the Cuban pitcher who was the prize horse of both organizations.
In December 2002, the Red Sox—in an effort to freeze out their rivals—bought up all the rooms in the Nicaraguan hotel in which the Cuban pitcher was staying, just so New York officials could not get close to him.
But the Yankees won the bidding war for Contreras anyway, exasperating Boston officials who felt they did everything in their power to thwart their rivals.
When asked to comment on the Feb. 2003 signing, Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino first declined, but eventually couldn't help himself. "The evil empire extends its tentacles even into Latin America," he said.
The Resolution: Contreras turned out to be much ado about nothing, lasting less than two seasons in pinstripes before being shipped to the White Sox for 10 cents on the dollar. The war of words between Yankees and Red Sox management was just warming up, however.
Just over two years later, the Yankees pulled the rug out from under the Red Sox again, acquiring Alex Rodriguez in a trade just days after Boston believed it had a deal in place. After Sox owner John Henry complained to the media about New York's financial might, Steinbrenner blasted off one of his greatest missives ever:
"We understand that John Henry must be embarrassed, frustrated and disappointed by his failure in this transaction. It is time to get a life and forget the sour grapes.''
Boss Absurdity Index Level - LOW: The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is the type of stuff that Steinbrenner lived for, and you were happy to have him on your side. He simply would not let his rivals to the northeast ever outwork him.