This time of year, when the nights are long and there's little doing besides college hoops and Super Bowl hype, it's nice to gather round a heated exchange and dream of spring. Last week Yankees shortstop Alex Rodriguez and Red Sox ace Curt Schilling obliged us by continuing a spat that began during the ALCS with Schilling calling Rodriguez "bush league." A-Rod taunted Schilling for "crying on the bench" and said he and his Yankees teammates now have sufficient motivation to "beat [Schilling] up in the future." A few more back-and-forths and those guys might ratchet themselves up to the level of these Hatfields and McCoys.
Kobe Bryant vs. Shaquille O'Neal
The problem: Two egos. One ball.
Calling Dr. Phil: The Lakers won three titles with Bryant and O'Neal bickering about the former's shot selection and the latter's waistline. But last year, after Kobe won the battle for the heart of owner Jerry Buss, O'Neal was traded to Miami. ( Shaq responded by dissing Kobe in a rap song.) Last September it was reported that when Bryant was interrogated by police investigating an allegation of sexual assault, he told them that O'Neal had paid women "up to a million" to keep mum about similar affairs.
Status: When they finally faced each other on Christmas, O'Neal refused to make eye contact during the pregame fist bump, saying, "I don't believe in having foreplay or interplay with men." They meet again on March 17.
Barry Bonds vs. Jeff Kent
Why they don't get along: Not many people get along with Barry Bonds.
Bad blood: In 2001 Kent ripped Bonds for not doing his share of press. "He palms everybody off on us, so we have to do his talking for him," Kent said. "Barry does a lot of questionable things." After a June 2002 dugout shoving match, Kent said, "Add this to the half-dozen times we've done it before." And when Bonds's name came up in the BALCO steroids scandal, Kent said, "Barry chose to do the things that he did, and now there's a cloud of embarrassment over him."
Since then: In 2003 Kent left the Giants for Houston; in December he signed with the Giants' archrival, the Dodgers.
Tiger Woods vs. Vijay Singh