BOSTON — While it's been eight years since Derek Lowe last wore a Red Sox uniform and led Boston to postseason greatness, he still remembers the hype of a big series and what it was like to play in such a sports-crazed city.
That's partly because he's wearing pinstripes now, meaning he is again getting the packed clubhouses and media attention that come with being an American League East team with a great baseball tradition.
While Lowe was slow to compare what it's like playing for the Red Sox versus suiting up with the Yankees, seeing as Thursday will mark his one-month anniversary with his new team, he has had enough experience around Major League Baseball to know that the mad rush that surrounds Boston and New York sports is not so normal.
Lowe played four seasons in Los Angeles with the Dodgers and three years in Atlanta before starting this season with the Cleveland Indians.
"You can't really compare the two," Lowe said of competing in the big markets of Boston and New York as opposed to the other franchises with which he's played. "Even in L.A. or Atlanta, which are winning organizations, it's just — the bottom line, it comes down to East Coast baseball. There's a lot more media, a lot more attention. People live more day-to-day with it than L.A."
In Los Angeles, he said, people can concern themselves with going to the beach, keeping up with the local celebrity scene or following the many college sports. In Boston, the pro sports are of chief importance — and people care very much about them.
"Boston's a small town," he said, "and you live and die sports."
With New York, he's definitely noticed the same amount of attention, but he hasn't drawn any connections between the way his teammates handle it and the degree of success the team has had. After playing in Boston for eight seasons, Lowe could tell how the Red Sox managed the attention, but with the Yankees, he's still a newcomer.
"It's hard to get a pulse of the team when you're just trying to come and blend in, do your little thing, sit in your locker and pitch when they ask you to," he said.
The Yankees are in the thick of the pennant race right now, tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the AL East lead heading into Thursday's game. They've had to swallow losing a 10-game lead in the division and are now fighting for their lives with every pitching change and pitch hitter.
By the time this season wraps up, Lowe may be the definitive source on what it takes to play championship ball in media-hungry cities.