Thursday, November 5, 2009
What It Means To Me
You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don’t know how many sharks, maybe a thousand. I know how many men, they averaged six an hour. On Thursday morning, Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boatswain’s mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. Bobbed up, down in the water just like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he’d been bitten in half below the waist. Noon, the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us. He swung in low and he saw us… he was a young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper. Anyway, he saw us and he come in low and three hours later a big fat PBY comes down and starts to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened… waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went in the water; 316 men come out and the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945.
It may not make much sense to many of you, but the above quote, delivered by none other than Robert Shaw in the 1975 film “Jaws” sums up perfectly how I’ve felt about Yankees baseball ever since Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS. It’s something that has stuck in the back of my mind for a very long time. When the lights went down in Fenway Park following that 19-8 drubbing the Yankees gave to the Red Sox in 2004, I had this sick feeling that what was so close would never be attained; that no matter how close to clinching anything, at the last moment the sharks would close in. And, unfortunately, that would be the case as the Red Sox would go on to win four straight and snatch the pennant from right under our noses. Maybe it was because I knew the Yankees were not as good as those first three games would lead us to believe. Maybe it was because I knew that the likes of Kevin Brown, Javier Vazquez, and Jon Lieber were not enough to keep the Red Sox bats at bay.
Whatever it was, I learned the hard way that an American League Pennant was not to be taken for granted.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Flashback to 1995; yours truly was but a wee youngling; a sophomore attending a prep school in southern Connecticut. On October 8th, Edgar Martinez hit a two-run double that won the ALDS for the Seattle Mariners, defeating my beloved Yankees. I remember turning to my father when it happened, tears in my eyes, asking him, “Will they be back next year?” My father looked at me and (I will never forget this) told me with an expression that could only be defined as utter sincerity, “Yes, they’ll do it next year.”
Sure enough, my pop was right. I remember jumping into his arms nearly one year later after Charlie Hayes caught that final out on October 26th, 1996 feeling pure elation. The Yankees would go on to win three more World Series Championships within four years. Those later three titles would all come as I was attending college in Rhode Island among many a Red Sox fan. And yet, I never took any one of those wins for granted. Not one.
Exactly eight years ago to the day, I was watching Mariano Rivera attempt to close out yet another New York Yankees World Series title in Arizona. But, as we all know, it was not to be. Standing outside a friends apartment in Providence, Rhode Island soon after the defeat, I recall discussing with my father over the phone, yet again, whether the Yankees would ever rebound from such a devastating loss. I was shattered. After all the pain that New York City had gone through that year, I couldn’t believe that the Yankees had lost that World Series. I attended Game 4 On October 31st under a full moon, and, without question, it was the single greatest game I have ever witnessed in person. Surely, I thought, after the heroics of Game 4 and 5 in that World Series the Yankees would go on to win it all.
But, they didn’t. And I stood outside my friend’s apartment talking with my father about what could have been. What should have been. I told him that I wanted to drive back to Connecticut and sleep for weeks. I told him I couldn’t deal with classes and all the Yankee haters that would rub that loss in my face. Of course, he told me to man up. He told me that it was not the end of the world and that the Yankees would win the World Series again one day. And as upset as I was, I believed him.
I can’t remember what brought me to this site. I’m fairly certain I stumbled upon it by accident. And I thank God that I did. Through the good and the bad, RLYW has offered me a place to vent, gloat, cheer, rage, second guess, and act as an armchair manager. And I am thankful for all of it. I’m pretty sure I advocated signing Juan Pierre in one of my first posts here. What can I say, I was a noob!
Within a few weeks of visiting this site, I was transformed. SG’s amazing work is unmatched. The contributions of all of the readers is beyond extraordinary. This place helped me get through 2004 (yes, I attended Game 7). It helped me deal with the the Crosby-Sheffield collision in 2005. It helped me deal with the foreign substance on Kenny Rogers’ hand in 2006. It helped me swat away the midges in 2007. It helped me deal with missing the postseason in 2008.
2009 has been an amazing ride. I have changed so much since the last title, and this victory means even more to me because of it. I can’t even begin to note everything that made this season great. But what the hell, here’s a taste: A-Rod’s returning first pitch HR, Jeter’s amazing season (with 25% more defense!), the Red Sox season series comeback, Cashman’s pep talk in Atlanta, Zombie Matsui (stay away from those buses!), Andy the Battle Cat, the walkoffs, the pies in the face, Yankee Stadium launching pad, Pin’s Vortex Control Panel, Thurm’s Katt, Kate Hudson, WWPTE?, and on and on and on….
And now, after the Yankees’ victory in 2009, attaining a 27th World Series title, I can’t think of a more appropriate way to express my exultation than with the following:
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