Not to give Blue Jay Junkies and/or Yankee Haters false hope or anything, but it’s easy to anticipate adversity for the Evil Empire this season.

You can quickly sense the Yanks’ demise at their training site here in Tampa.

For starters, they’re old now. They’re geezers in pinstripes.


And the sane Yankee, the most sensible voice in the Evil Empire over the years, is no longer in sight. Joe Torre manages the Los Angeles Dodgers now.

And the new chief, The Baby Boss, is a clone of his father, only with more acid on his tongue and with less fear of reprisal. George Steinbrenner, The Ex-Boss, was pretty nutty before he went catatonic back in 2004, but Hank Steinbrenner is more volatile and more vociferous than George ever was.

Yesterday, the Yanks’ arch-rivals, the Boston Red Sox, were here for a meaningless spring training game, but Hank wasn’t exactly chilling. He openly loathes the Red Sox, who won the World Series last year.

“We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order,” Hank insisted. “I’ll do everything I can to ensure that.”

So Hank takes shots at the Sox. He’s been doing this, actually, since he and kid brother Hal (who stays silent) took over from their ailing dad after last season.

“Go anywhere in America,” he said, “and you won’t see Boston hats and jackets. You’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country.”

The other day, Boston reliever Jonathan Papelbon was irked enough that he advised The Baby Boss to “shut up and push pencils,” provoking this response from Hank: “Being insulted by Papelbon is like being attacked by a mouse.”

Hank isn’t picking only on the Sox, though. He ripped MLB’s small-market teams after the Tampa Bay Rays had some dustups with the Yanks earlier in spring training.

“Let’s remember who subsidizes these teams,” he said. “I would prefer if teams want to target the Yankees that they at least start giving back some of that revenue-sharing and luxury-tax money.”

Hank even attacks Torre. When asked whether the absence of the longtime manager may hurt the Yanks, Hank said: “Where was Joe’s career in ’95 when my dad hired him? My dad was crucified for hiring him. Let’s not forget the great team my dad handed him.”

Torre’s successor is Joe Girardi, who couldn’t stomach ownership interference from the Florida Marlins’ Jeffrey Loria two years ago. A Girardi-Baby Boss clash seems inevitable, too. Problems seem probable for the Yanks. Lunacy is lingering.

The Evil Empire is deranged, and maybe even more evil.

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