A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Derek Jeter

I know... I know... I've said it before about a great many things: A) I'm a Red Sox fan and a "Certified Yankee Hater" (I've got the t-shirt to prove it).
B) Derek Jeter's flip play is the most over-rated play this side of Willie Mays' backward catch (great play, but Mays was well known for losing his hat to make plays more theatrical and that yard was really deep - players today would watch a homer rather than get a chance to duplicate the feat) in the history of baseball.

C) Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty was a great book and an even greater feeling (though we wouldn't know for sure until the Angels in 2002 and the Marlins in 2003; Detroit in 2006 was just the icing on the cake) to know it was over... yeah!

D) I didn't watch the original single of the Luis Gonzalez game winner. All of my talk about Mariano Rivera being over-rated was shown for what it really was - knowing the truth as I went to bed after the end of the 8th inning. I did celebrate the next day, but it would be ages before I saw the video of the whole inning.

E) I have come to grudgingly respect Joe Torre since Tom Verducci's excellent Yankee Years book. In fact, some of my greatest dreams (and worst experience in the last 5 years of teaching) came from Mike Mussina and Jeter rallying the troops together in 2005 and thinking that giving my students a motivational push would make them want to do the same for me. Fat chance of that, but it's still a nice dream for a Mr. Holland moment.

F) Since the Yankees didn't make the playoffs in 2008 and since the Red Sox won in 2007, I have lost some of my hatred for the Yankees. Well, that and the fact that I don't watch full Yankees / Red Sox games religiously since I spend more time with my wife (we met at the end of 2007).

That being said...

On Saturday, I watched Nine Innings from Ground Zero, which is actually an HBO production, and let me just say...

It was the best documentary this side of Ken Burns Baseball. However, I don't think I would or even could watch it twice. Yes, there are scenes that stand out (the aforementioned flip, the George Bush first pitch, and Brielle Saracini), and those can be watched again, but even those are super emotional - especially Saracini.

When you watch Saracini, she's a tween reading a letter about being bummed out over the events of 9/11, but she's writing it to Derek Jeter and asking if he can cheer her up with a phone call. Not knowing who she is or isn't, it's at that moment that they reveal that her father was Victor Saracini, the pilot of Flight 175, which was horrifically slammed into the World Trade Center on that September morning, killing everyone aboard (for a total of 2,819 victims). And it's at this moment that the emotion of the rest of the film truly hits - it's human lives lost, stopped, and completely eliminated. It's survivers that don't know how to make sense of it. Looking at the link to all of the dead and what the stats mean (the lives, the money, the city, our America), it's just catastrophic and over-whelming and completely emotional.

I was a blubbering wreck.

Watching Jeter 10 minutes before tell Bush to throw from the mound or face being booed while giving him advice to throw a strike brings it all home... as my friend Dale said, to not include that on Ken Burns' The 10th Inning, wasn't right. It is our game and what our game can do. For all of the pro Yankee sentiment that they should have won (and while I wouldn't have wanted them to win ANY of the other 5 World Series they won since my rebirth interest in baseball after the Air Force, I don't think I would have minded that one for all of these reasons in hindsight). To understand that there was a visible presence of anti-Arizona sentiment for what this win would mean for New York... it just said everything. But we forget that... and we forget that the Mets almost went to the playoffs that year before folding as America cheered for them, too - from the moment of Mike Piazza's game winner to their last hurrah in that elongated month of baseball.

And it goes back to the event of the flip... fat ass Jeremy Giambi chugging around the base path on a shot to the corner, and somehow, some idiot decision allowed him to move around third even though he had to be gasping for air, and if only he wasn't Jeremy Giambi, but rather, someone who didn't look like a softball player from a beer league, he would have made it a half step sooner or slid to avoid the tag... but he didn't.

And for that, he was out and the New York comeback was in motion and that was it for Oakland. It was finished. Seattle was soon to be history, and it was all because some force of nature compelled Jeter to be a superhero that post season. His game winning home run in the World Series against Byung-Hyun Kim, perhaps the worst reliever this side of Joe Nathan and Rod Beck, and the set up for the second comeback the next night against Kim... it all made it seem like he really did save the day...

And then Rivera folded like an ironing board being put into storage, and it was all over. And for this new perspective... it's really there and understandable in truth and reality and perspective and sadness and nostalgia from the Yankees, their fans, and Rudy Giuliani. And perhaps, there is a lot of anti-Yankee hate in some of the Amazon reviews... and perhaps there is some for Rudy and Bush, too, but politics aside, they were the men of the hour. Bush was at his finest in that pitch and with the bullhorn. After all, this is 2 years before Iraq and in a time when people wore anti-Osama Bin Laden shirts... a time before we all took the following statement from Condoleeza Rice (as taken from CNN): Still, she disclosed that the U.S. intelligence community had intercepted communications from al Qaeda suspects during the summer of 2001 that included these words: "Unbelievable news in the coming weeks;" "Big event ... There will be a very, very, very, very big uproar;" and "There will be attacks in the near future." Rice described these interceptions as "troubling, yes." But she added, "They don't tell us when; they don't tell us where; they don't tell us who; and they don't tell us how."

to mean that America was somehow complicit in the act of 9/11 because we didn't know enough to stop it. And for this partisanship, perhaps, it's the ultimate treason in America to believe that we did this (even Bill Clinton condemned the attitude of blaming our own country for this radical act of jihad).

But alas, we have forgotten so much about that day. I remember one time in teaching 9/11, I had a video of the events from Youtube, which played the news clips and people left the room in tears. They had literally never seen it before or it was personal to them (we never know who in the room has lost a friend, neighbor, or relative), and I felt truly bad for daring to show a video so that I could make them understand the statistics and events that they were to try to write about (in part because many of their comments weren't grounded in reality - through no fault of their own, but based on how they were caught in a post Iraq / Afghanistan uprising attitude of the media and the world around them).

And yet, I knew why I did it. This was our history, and the same tears I felt at MANY times in the video were something that makes me realize that we should never forget.

And it was something that says no amount of understanding what America could have done to make someone hate us so much that they would plan out a heinous attack on this level WOULD EVER JUSTIFY their having done what they did or even TO ALLOW US TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO KEEP IT FROM HAPPENING AGAIN. And while I don't claim that America is innocent or totally happy go lucky nice to the whole world, I don't see that search for WHY as being worthwhile - only WHAT can we do to eliminate this evil from the world and make sure it never comes back again. For that, I have come to wonder that if by doing anything so rational as hunting for understanding, we are in a sense enabling the evil in the world that would seek to destroy us, and for that, I have changed from the 30 year old man that stood in front of a room slack jawed as the building came down while 9th graders looked to me for understanding and I had none - only an all too wrong idea that the only thing that mattered after 9/11 was maintaining our lives and rights as normal - when in reality, we were changing for always and needed to adjust to winning a war that we would quickly be forced into.

But all of this detracts from what is good with America, and the end result of that is baseball (amongst other things). For anything that gives us happiness in its entertainment and sense of pleasure while making our day brighter is good, and this isn't something that a cornered dog lashing out with 19 of his minions to devastate the true sense of normalcy and the world that we live in some sense of jihad purpose would ever be able to understand.

And if there are rights and truths in the nearly 10 years since this day they are that anyone can offer something, even something insignificant to a large part of the world, to make the world a better place.

For that, I love baseball, slot canyons, waterfalls, Christmas, music, the history and culture of the country I live in, my family, and especially my wife.

And for that same reason, I despise tyranny and blind partisan hatred and agression.

No comments:

Post a Comment