Friday, April 24, 2009

Teixeira takes high road in first Fenway visit as Yankee

Someone might start some drama this weekend as the Red Sox host the Yankees at Fenway Park.

Don't expect that someone to be Mark Teixeira.

The slugging first baseman, meeting with the media before his first game at Fenway Park since he chose the Yankees over the Red Sox this offseason, went out of his way to praise pretty much everything about Boston and the Red Sox -- including the fans who will almost certainly be booing him throughout the weekend.

"It's passionate fans," he said. "These people in Boston are great baseball fans. They know the game. They're knowledgable. They love the Red Sox. They live and die with every pitch. And when a Yankee comes into town, especially a Yankee who could have been a Red Sox, they're going to boo. They're going to be into the game. ...

"These people are great people. They just want to beat the Yankees. I would hope they don't want any physical harm for me and my family -- they just want me to to go 0-for-4 with four strikeouts."

And when a reporter pressed Teixeira for a pre-emptive response to the boos he'll receive, he said this: "I would say, 'Thanks for coming out. Thanks for supporting this rivalry.' I'm much more concerned with going to ballparks and there not being anybody there. I hope this economy turns around; I hope there's thousands of people at every single game. If they want to boo me, great. But just show up -- just support your team and support baseball. I'd thank them for coming, and, hopefully, they'll be nice to me after the game, after it's all said and done."

Teixeira, clearly, has no illusions about the reception he'll receive on the field. But that shouldn't be surprising; this is a guy who has as good a grasp of the business of baseball and the precious nature of image as anyone in the game.

He smiled broadly and answered every question. He declined several opportunities to go into specifics about his negotiations with the Red Sox -- especially when he probably would have had to say something negative to be truthful. He used well-worn code phrases like "better fit for my family" in place of words like "$180 million" and "more money than I could spend in a lifetime."

That's the funny part of this whole thing: Teixeira had a choice of perhaps the two pre-eminent franchises in the game, and he chose one over the other. He didn't owe one any more loyalty than the other. But fans tonight will boo him for accepting an offer that not a single one of them would have turned down.

No one knows that better than he does.

"If we were in New York right now and I was a Red Sox, we'd be having these same conversations," he said.

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