Baseball’s Day of Reflection

July 13, 2011

This day, the quietest of the baseball season, always makes me reflect.

I don’t get to Yankee Stadium as often as I would like. But this week, I realized I’ve been there on three amazing occasions.

It was frustrating at the time, but in hindsight, it’s kind of apt that I was in the bathroom when Roger Clemons came out of the game in the seventh inning on the day he notched his 300th win. Because, well, Roger, it’s hard to support you wholeheartedly right now. But I seem to recall that he also registered his 4000th strikeout in that game, a kind of nifty double-play.

Watching Robinson Cano’s performance in the Home Run Derby on Monday reminded me of that amazing performance by Josh Hamilton in the 2008 Home Run Derby in the Bronx. The unlikelihood of 50K+ of us all standing and shouting our heads off FOR A TEXAS RANGER is something I will never forget. All those moon shots! The house was rocking.

And then there was Saturday. Derek Jeter Day. Oh my goodness. We approached the stadium hopeful, but not terribly hopeful—when the pressure’s on, it can’t be easy to get two hits, right? It’s been well documented, Jeter’s five hits, his 3000th hit being a home run, his five for five day, his game-winning single. But what a day at the stadium.

The new stadium doesn’t seem to rock the way the old one did, but we sure brought it close with De-rek Je-ter chants for every at bat, the crowd growing almost unbearably excited as he worked the count—it was full and then some for his first two at-bats. The elevator operator told us it was going to happen that day. “He’s put it off long enough,” he said.

And that at-bat: pure magic of the most electric kind. The ball didn’t seem like it was going out, though it sure seemed like a good hit. And then it took our brains a moment to register—not only did he do it; he did it with a home run. Everyone was screaming with insane abandon. Old ladies were high fiving each other. The roar seemed destined to keep the game from ever resuming.

But the game must go on. And how great that the Yankees—against David Price!—found a way to win.

We stayed until the very end–including the on-the-big-screen press conference with now-famous home run ball catcher Christian Lopez. It’s worth noting that on all three occasions, I was there with my son, my Yankee good luck charm.

Here’s to the second half.

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Three Thousand

July 8, 2011

Yeah, I know. For someone who loves baseball, I sure do go quiet during baseball season. For explanation/justification, please see my other blog.

My son and I are going to the Yankees game tomorrow. Which means I’m only half-heartedly rooting for Derek Jeter today. Because we all know he’ll reach this milestone—he’s only two hits away. He’ll likely do it this weekend. And selfishly, I want to be there.

Jeter started playing when I was pregnant with this very same son, and so it seems right to me that we should be in the house.

I understand that is not logical.

I have a similar problem with fantasy baseball. I will almost never draft a Met or a Red Sox player. As a self-respecting Yankees fan, how could I? But I’ve had other AL East players on my team. And I’ve wished well for them. It feels wrong. It makes me feel dirty.

Baseball fandom: it’s complicated.


The Jeter Negotiations

December 8, 2010

Sometimes, if you look closely enough, you can find connections among all that’s going in your life and in the world around you. And sometimes all that searching just makes the wires spark and burn out from the effort.

In the interest of preserving my wires, I’m not looking too hard, but a lot’s going on.

I’ve been really intrigued by the Jeter negotiations.

Many sports radio jocks have been bashing Derek Jeter as just another greedy rich player. If you use a real-world lens to look at professional baseball contracts, I could almost see that argument. But it’s the wrong lens. You have to find your Professional Athlete Rules You Can’t Even Imagine Lens. You cannot pull him out of context to examine him. It is wholly unfair to expect Jeter not to negotiate for the best terms he can get just because he’s a good guy. (Believe me: Elmo doesn’t offer photo ops to just anyone. )

For me, this is the bottom line: after all these radio guys are finished whining, there’s always a caller—I was especially moved by one yesterday with a thick Middle Eastern accent—who phones in to say, “Yeah, but I tell my kid every day, you want to grow up to be like Jeter.”

I don’t know why baseball is the sport—the only one—that calls me. But I suspect it’s because of these stories. The stories of inspiring lives lived with dignity and integrity—against all odds—in a world of Professional Athlete Rules.