Baseball Season Winds Down…or Up For Those Who Only Watch Post-Season Games
I never thought I’d utter such heresy, but for the New York Yankees the 2013 season was the worst in recent memory, and stats will no doubt prove it. Talk about injuries! The dugout in the Bronx was like the Emergency Room at Bellevue. Every time a supposedly healed player returned, another one went down—and sometimes, as in the case of Captain Jeter and his stubborn ankle, the same guy came and went the same day. These guys probably had more emotional pain than physical. I sure did.
When the Mets swept the Yanks in a four-game series, they had the grace and humility to recognize they hadn’t actually swept the Yankees, but, as I came to call them, a bunch of Strangers on the Field. In fact, the thrown-together, ragtag, rotating players did pretty well considering their experience and team cohesion, or lack of both. They fought bravely to the last, nearly making it to the playoffs as a wild card—but didn’t.
And now the Playoffs. As noted up above, some people don’t even watch baseball until things heat up for the post-season. Players pull out all the stops come October, and the games are their most exciting. Each year, it seems, more and more teams compete to get into the World Series, as MLB comes up with more new ideas to make it happen, crowding the field with more wild cards than a poker game among six-year-olds.
Now we’re down to just four teams, two from each league, both in the midst of the semi-final battle. In the National League it’s the LA Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals, while in the American League it’s the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. I care more about the American League, given who’s playing, but I don’t care so much who wins as I do who should not win. Which is obvious: as a Yankee fan I’m fervently hoping the Sox go down soon with as much humiliation as possible (with the exception of Big Papi–one of my favorite players, he’s allowed to do well as long as he doesn’t win it for them). This year in particular, after what the Yankees and their fans have been through, it will be devastating if the Sox take the WS title. Besides, the only bright spot in the whole of a bankrupt, dying Detroit is their baseball team. So go Tigers! Whip their butts! Whip ’em good!
As for the National League, I’m not fond of the Dodgers and their violent fans, one or more (the perpetrator still hasn’t been caught) of whom severely beat up a Giants fan on opening day two years ago, compromising the workings of his brain. Before an LA fan jumps in here to deliver the news that a Dodger fan was recently murdered on a San Francisco street—I know this. So? It doesn’t lessen the vileness of the first incident or make it right. Let’s hope these crazy morons call it even, and the guy didn’t die entirely for nothing.
The other 2013 story, in the Bronx if not in all of MLB—no, it isn’t A-Rod and his steroids and lawsuit–it’s Mariano Rivera’s season-long farewell. It was such a heartwarming event, or series of events, it almost made us forget what else was going on. Rivera is probably the only player in all of baseball who’s respected and even loved universally. The gifts, the accolades, the notes, the speeches, the donations to Rivera’s charity—every time the Yanks showed up in another city, we got another wonderful story, like the Chair of Broken Dreams or Mariano as Pizza Man delivering to stadium staff. What a trip! What a guy! This is one player who is irreplaceable, and will be greatly missed. So will Andy Pettite, who only announced his retirement a few days before the season closed. Maybe he didn’t want to steal Mariano’s thunder…but Pettite’s also well regarded throughout baseball. Remember the Core Four? Jeter, Posada, Pettite and Rivera—they played together for something like 18 years. And now there is one. I sure hope his ankle heals by next season!
As my son, a diehard Mets fan says every October, Wait until next year! This is the first time I’ve been forced to say it. Come on, all you broken-hearted Yankee fans. Take a deep breath. Repeat after me:
WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR!
People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball.
I’ll tell you what I do.
I stare out the window and wait for spring. ~Rogers Hornsby