Baseball is back, sports fans. Why? Not because of any grab-ass practice games being played in sunny FLA, no sir. Because Hank Steinbrenner has launched the 2008′s first salvo and where else would he aim it but at Red Sox Nation.

From ESPN.com:

Steinbrenner, apparently trying to emphasize that he has no fear of the Yankees’ American League competition, has amped up the rivalry between the two teams, intentionally or not. “Red Sox Nation?” What a bunch of [expletive] that is,” he said in an interview with The New York Times’ Play magazine. “That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans.
“Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”

Tough talk from the guy who was crying a couple of weeks ago about how the entire nation was picking on the Yankees about their steroid use. But Georgie-wannabee doesn’t stop there. He goes so far as to take aim on Joe Torre:

Not even Torre, a favorite of Yankees fans, was immune. In late October, Hank Steinbrenner had sent a verbal missile in Torre’s direction. “Where was Joe’s career in ’95 when my dad hired him?” he said to the New York Post. “My dad was crucified for hiring him … Let’s not forget what my dad did in giving him that opportunity — and the great team he was handed.”

In the March 2 magazine interview, Hank Steinbrenner was asked how he felt about new Yankees manager Joe Girardi. He responded that he was pleased to have a manager “with a little more fire in his belly” than Torre.

Wow. Sounds a bit like whistling past the graveyard with a bit of general instability thrown in. Could be a very interesting season.