Friday, November 6, 2009

It's Midnight in Manhattan

Actually it was 11:52 E.S.T. in the Bronx on Wednesday night when the Yankees - after nine years that included two unsuccessful trips to the World Series - vanquished the Phillies in the sixth and final game of the '09 World Series and captured the 27th World Championship in franchise history. A practical application of Einstein's theory of relativity is found within the white lines of Abner Doubleday's creation (well - "alleged" creation). In the Yankee Universe, nine years between titles felt like forty years in the desert. Imagine therefore if you can how pervasively the taste of sand fills the throats of loyal fans of the Cubs, the Giants and the Indians.

Wednesday night however the Yankees put an end to their dry spell. On the arms and backs of the most successful starter/closer combination in Major League history, with Rivera finishing what Pettitte started, the Yankees closed out the Phillies' hope of repeating as champions by defeating them 7-3. In between Pettitte's first pitch to Jimmy Rollins and Rivera's final one to Shane Victorino, there was quite a bit of action. The overwhelming majority of it was provided by the always steady, never flashy Hideki Matsui. Matsui drove in six runs - including four in the first four innings - off of long-time Yankee nemesis Pedro Martinez. On a night when the home team's Designated Hitter (get me that Shakespeare fellow on the phone please as I want to probe further his "what's in a name" hypothesis) produced twice the offensive firepower of their opponent's entire lineup, the good people of New York City discovered that Godzilla is not content to wreak havoc solely upon Tokyo.

It is naive to think that professional athletes do not play the sports they play in significant part because of the extraordinary sums of money they get paid to play them. I am many things - a considerable portion of them are not good - but naive I am not. Yet I am also not quite so jaded (not just yet) so as to be incapable of recognizing genuine emotion when I see it. At the end of Game 6 on Wednesday night, the Yankee players reacted as they did to what they had just achieved not with the calculated nonchalance of mercenaries but rather with the unbridled enthusiasm of little boys. Full-sized frames protecting the hearts and souls of children.

And as I sat up Wednesday night with one eye open (although I think in the 8th inning for a while anyway neither one was), I paid particular attention to the reaction of the Core of Four - Jeter, Pettitte, Posada and Rivera - and the way in which they sought out each other on the field to hug and to share this moment with. This particular quartet of millionaires had been through four similar celebrations together. Yet, for each of them it appeared as if they were experiencing something new. I heard Jeter tell a reporter on the field after the game that given how long had passed since he had last been part of a World Series-winning team he had forgotten just how great it felt to win the World Series. See - if you do not do something for an extended period of time, then eventually everything old becomes new again.

This day, I am doing something I rarely do - and never do unless there is a Springsteen concert on tap somewhere - I am playing hooky from work. OK, I am not technically playing hooky. I have a considerable number of vacation days to which I am entitled and I am taking one of them. I am crossing the river from the Jersey side and hopping the PATH downtown to the Canyon of Heroes. My gut tells me that this just might have been the final ride for the Four Horsemen of East 161st Street. And if I am right, then today presents a last chance to salute them and to celebrate with them all that they have accomplished.

One final boogaloo down Broadway. And a final opporunity to be serenaded by New York City......or at least several hundred thousand of its inhabitants.

-AK

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