11 September 2008


Even in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001 I couldn't really make myself root for the Yankees. I don't suppose there is any reason why I should have rooted for the Yankees, but back then the often reviled city of New York had suddenly become a America's city, and I think rightly so. There was talk of having a Super Bowl in New York back then, though sadly nothing ever came of that. People started wearing NYFD and NYPD hats, in solidarity I guess. And the three-time defending champion Yankees seemed a little less objectionable. A possible fourth title in a row didn't seem quite as obnoxious in the aftermath of that dreadful September morning and the weeks of rubble and mourning that followed.

When Yankee fans talk about their recent dynasty the year 2001 is always included. They speak of the 1996-2001 years. There may be some who include 2003 in a desperate attempt to spin out the dynasty a little longer, and other might just go on playoff appearances and maintain that it has never ended ( until this year ) but I don't think they ever leave 2001 out of the dynasty years. I think those comeback wins in New York off of Byung-Hyun Kim mean too much for 2001 to be excluded. I can't put myself in that place, though. Of being a person directly and personally affected by the attacks, and returning to baseball as a kind of refuge of normalcy and hope, and seeing my heros Captain Jeter and Brosius and Tino hitting all those clutch home runs and winning those dramtic games in New York --- I don't know what those November nights were really like. It's a strange combination, really, of real life tragedy and heroism mixed in with pretend baseball heroism and tragedy. It all happened so close together. Sometimes we make sports mean too much, but maybe this was a time when sports meant more precisely because we had seen so vividly how insignificant it could be. A sobering perspective should, in time, magnify the small joys of life.

The Yankees are finished for this year. Torre escaped just in time, maybe. Even though he has a worse record with his new team than his replacement has in New York, Torre is going to come out of this looking pretty good as long as the Dodgers hang on in their awful division. I would say he's been pretty lucky. As for the team he left behind they have been unlucky, with injuries and un-clutch hitting and failing prospects and living in the toughest division and league in baseball being the main culprits. But it was also probably time for the Yankees to miss the playoffs. New York fans will be able to savor again how truly special it is to make the playoffs next year when they make it, as I expect they will.

Right now Dodger fans seem to be hooked into the "every-other-year" playoffs plan. This is not as swanky as the "every-year-dammit" plan Yankee fans had until now but it's a hell of a lot better than the plan Pirates fans have right now. I just hope Torre and Manny can upgrade the experience of the playoffs if the Dodgers make it.

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