Saturday, October 23, 2004

The Yankees Ghosts are *Always* There...

Louie at Yankee Tradition offers some very wise words concerning the recent ALCS meltdown:

Disappointed? Yes. Devastated? No!

After Ruben Sierra ended the Yankees’ 2004 season with a ground out to second, I got up from my seat at Yankee Stadium and began to say goodbye to my seat mates in Section 21 boxes 87-91. It was quite a different scene from a year ago, when we were celebrating wildly after Aaron Boone won the pennant with a walk off homer against the same Boston Red Sox. In one short year, I had experienced the highest high and the lowest low in my home-away-from-home, Yankee Stadium...

<>Initially, I felt so disappointed. This was such a tough year for the Yankees, and everything seemed to come so hard for them. The trip to Japan , the injuries to Jason Giambi, Kevin Brown, Mike Mussina, and the early season slumps of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Somehow, the team fought through it all and won the division for the seventh straight time and was one game away from another World Series.

Unfortunately, they never won that one game, and that’s what made the loss so disappointing. <>Thinking about what just had happened gave me a sickening feeling in my stomach. As the ride went on, I thought to myself this loss wasn’t only disappointing, but it could turn out to be devastating. Once the word “devastating” entered my head, they appeared. They, you ask? Yes, they --- my Yankee “ghosts”.

My Yankee “ghosts” are different from the “ghosts” Derek Jeter talks about. Derek’s “ghosts” are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle. My “ghosts” are Horace Clark, Steve Barber, Bill Burbach, Andy Kosco, and Jimmy Lyttle –they and others, are the “ghosts” of my Yankee past. They represent a time of Yankee futility – something I knew all too well since I became a Yankee fan in 1967. They represent a time when I would be thrilled if the team just finished at .500.

<>The “ghosts” usually show up when the Yankees do something great, so I was surprised to “see” them on this night. When I’m at Yankee Stadium and the Yanks win a pennant or world series, my “ghosts” appear to just to remind me that I should embrace and appreciate the moment. I always do, for I remember what it was like to be a fan during the "lean" years.

<>Tonight, my “ghosts” were going to make sure my disappointment didn’t turn into devastation. One by one --- like students in a graduating class – they paraded by me. Jerry Kenny, Bill Sudakis, Charlie Spikes, Jake Gibbs, Ron Woods, Jim Ray Hart, and others all told me I had no right to be devastated. <>On this night, the “ghosts” reminded me what I’ve seen since 1996. Girardi’s triple against the Braves in the 1996 World Series. Tino’s grand slam against the Padres in the 1998 Fall Classic. Seeing Roger Clemens win the fourth and final game of the 1999 World Series. Seeing David Justice hit a dramatic homer that got the Yankees into the Subway Series against the Mets in 2000. The “ghosts” told me how lucky I was to witness some of the most exciting World Series finishes ever in 2001. And yes, the “ghosts” also reminded me of my most thrilling moment at Yankee Stadium – Aaron Boone’s pennant winning blast of a year ago.

As the “ghosts” went through each memorable moment (there were many more) the thought of devastation left my mind for good. Suddenly, I concluded I had no right to be devastated. What fan of any other team could boast about seeing moments like the “ghosts” were reminding me of? <>

Once the “ghosts” realized that they had “gotten to me”, they then complimented me and my seat mates in Sec 21, boxes 87 - 91. The “ghosts of Yankee futility” were pleased our group stayed and supported our team right through the last out. <> As quickly as the “ghosts” came, they started to leave. They told me they had much more work to do that night. The “ghosts” were going to “haunt” every Yankee “fan” that left Yankee Stadium early that night. They also will “haunt” every Yankee “fan” who booed one of their own that night. The “ghosts” are going to remind these “fans” that there was a time when Yankee Stadium was empty EVERY October and that’s why these “fans” should appreciate the team they have now.

For me, the disappointment still lingers. It will linger until after the World Series has finished and a new baseball off-season begins. Thanks to my “ghosts” though, the disappointment hasn’t turned into devastation. This baseball team has given me so much over the years, that I have no right to be devastated.


The background image on this page is a Hebrew translation of the verse from Bob Dylan's song  It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), from which the title of this blog is taken. Translation courtesy of Yoram Aharon of Hod-HaSharon's page--found via YudelLine-- which has many Dylan lyrics in Hebrew.