One needs to listen to only a few hours of sports radio or peruse through several cyber-stacks of Twitter feeds to realize how much anger, frustration and hate is spewed out into society. Squashed between clever quips are hateful comments laced with ego, avarice and spite. No one knows this better than a Yankees fan.
Despite the geographical divide, the ‘International Spit Fest” makes it’s way onto my feet via the Internet. Simply because I choose to root for my home team, I am accosted in public places by total strangers for wearing my Yankees Championship shirt.
Things would be different if I had my jacket zipped closed and was accompanied by a cute, furry dog. People would fight for a lick on the face and a free handful of ALPO-laced drool. Instead, men who would normally hit on me prefer to hit me. I remind them nicely that my team has won 27 World Series Championships, but that only causes them to seize up with anger.
All the facts and statistics in the world cannot do anything to stem the tide of bashes. Like a seasoned prize fighter, I block their jabs, but refrain from finishing them off with my left hook. Like Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman, I prefer to play a little “rope-a-dope” and leave my opponent responsible for his own undoing. With confidence, I turn away and put my faith in “My Boys in Blue,” who rarely let me down, only to see a rash of pompous below-the-belt punches thrown by my fellow NY fans in defense. I wonder, “Where does it end?”
Ignorance breeds contempt. Jealousy merely breeds more jealously. With the understanding that baseball is an extremely competitive sport that examines every player, every play and every decision under a microscope for a new stat, it’s no wonder so much venom flies.
I can’t help to be reminded of post-9/11, when kinder words graced New York’s doorstep. When strangers from across the country and around the world sent caring words of encouragement to these parts. It was a simpler time when IDs were not requested to move about society, people still wore their shoes to board an airplane, Lady Gaga was an innocent, drooling baby in diapers, and “bird-flipping” was not considered a sport.
It is apparent the support net has dropped out. I pause and wonder what happened. Perhaps, I should look at it in a positive lite – as a sign of the times and a testament to the fact that life does go on and, eventually, returns to a semi-normal state, for what it’s worth.
The Yankees didn’t win the World Series in 2001. In a scenario similar to this season, Andy Pettitte was suffering from an elbow injury and there were questions regarding the roster. Regardless, they had some of the most amazing moments in baseball history, despite uncertain times. My favorite was Jeter’s tumbling catch into the third base seats (which I was lucky to witness in person), followed by the birth of “Mr. November.”
Also, that was the year I was blessed to be in the presence of Yankees legend Yogi Berra one dismal, rainy September night while working at a fundraiser in northern New Jersey. Sadly, I had been called to fill a gap – more like a gaping wound – as a last-minute replacement for staff members who had just lost their lives on 9/11 while working at Windows on the World. I felt very uncomfortable playing second string and hoped the night would go by quickly.
Time dragged on. I found myself pretending to be happy to be there. I couldn’t let anyone in on my true state of mind. My job was to cheer up the guests, to allow them to live in a fantasy world for several hours before having to return to a grim reality.
Finally, the event came to a close. I was about to pack it in for the night when I looked across the room and noticed a celebrity impersonator, a common sight at special events. With bleary eyes, I gazed through the thinning crowd at this short, old guy in sheer amazement as to how good he was. He had to be a seasoned pro because he really had his character nailed. I found myself staring at him. Suddenly, he turned around to face me. He was no actor. For Pete’s sake, it was the legend himself, the King of Quips, the Master of all Yogi-isms, Mr. Yogi Berra!
Rubbing my eyes, I approached him in utter disbelief. I spoke to him and he actually spoke back. I sat down at his table as one of my co-workers jammed a cell phone in his face for a
quick “Hello” to his son. Then, he signed a baseball for me. We talked for what seemed like an eternity, in slo-mo fantasy dream time. He was so cool.
Had I died and gone to Heaven?? With just a few words and the stroke of a pen, all the world’s problems magically vanished, even if only for a few minutes. It made my night, my week, month, year, and now, my blog. A simple act of selflessness humanity was all it took. I can only imagine how many other people who met the legendary Yankees catcher felt the same after that night.
So, here’s your first assignment…
The Beatles were dead-on when they performed “All You Need is Love” at that other NY team’s Shea Stadium. Those simple four letters L-O-V-E are very powerful when put together. They have the ability to overcome all negativity.
So, Yankees fans, with that in mind, I dare you to be different. Let’s all try a little experiment to keep our beloved Yankees on track. Be Seinfield’s George Costanza and do the opposite! That’s right. Instead of focusing on the negative, like how disgusted you are with Joe Gerardi’s end-of-season roster decisions, or a certain pitcher’s rotten ERA, let it go. Get a fresh start and a new perspective of the game, and of life, and focus on the positive.
Instead of engaging in endless banter about how much better the Yanks are than everyone else (we already know that’s a fact), from now on, try to concentrate on the positive by sending out good vibes, not only to Gerardi, who obviously isn’t trying to lose (Geeze, he’s been wearing #28 all season!), but to all of our cherished and maybe not so cherished members of the pinstriped NY clan who have hit the emerald green nearly every day since early Spring to bring us, their LOYAL fans, another Championship.
Think about your favorite Yankees player and send positive energy his way. Meditate over your least favorite player who may have screwed up royally and try to feel his pain. He is the one who needs our support the most. Imagine him pitching that perfect game of every pitcher’s dreams, making the perfect catch or clobbering the ball over the stadium facade. (Think Aaron Boone moment.) Try it just once. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and envision that perfect moment in time – your ultimate fantasy baseball. Take it in, Play it over and over again in your head like you would your favorite baseball movie. Savor it like the perfect dessert. Hear “Theeee Yankees Win!” Don’t you feel better now?
Remember that vision and hold it close to your heart. Feel your heart beat as it pumps your Yankee Blue blood through every fiber of your being. That is where you’ll hold the World Series Trophy. Use your Jedi mind powers to send that beautiful, shiny trophy to your team, OUR team, both present and past. Deliver it to the ghosts of Yankee Stadium as their wake-up call. Tell them, “It’s time!” Time for #28. Be your own magician. You are a powerful being. Experience the MAGIC of baseball!
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