This is the first year I am old enough to watch baseball games at a bar. Wings and dollar drafts and televisions and mirrors are strategically positioned to allow you to see the game regardless of where you stand are unique to the bar scene. Drunk, obnoxious fans are not, but it’s great that the bartenders, the regulars, the diehards, the casual fans, and a few of your friends gather in one, loud, cramped space to cheer on the Yankees. It is an ideal way to spend the evening.
On occasion I have thought to myself that the game is secondary, that the score doesn’t matter, that we could be watching Charlie Rose interview Timothy Geithner about mortgage backed securities and it would stay so crazy it would be, or at least I would be, b’seder. But the truth is that this couldn’t happen; the event wouldn’t be without the game of baseball and without the Yankees.
Those who care about America’s pastime don’t think if it as something connected solely with the Major Leagues nor do we think of it as some bygone era in our history, when fat men with tiny legs could belt homers and build houses. We are thinking about the sport today with a reverence for baseball’s place in the American home and on her streets.
We are thinking of fathers and mothers taking their sons and daughters out into the backyard to throw around a ball and those kids growing up to do the same with their children. We are thinking of trading cards with your picture and statistics listed (“Adam Hirst, 4’8”, 90 pounds, Second base”). We are thinking of middle school kids going to the Park to play baseball, day after day, trash talking, keeping statistics. We are talking about stickball. We are thinking of failing, something inherent in baseball, and getting back on the mound and stepping back into the batters’ box. We are thinking of teamwork and opportunity for individual achievement. We are thinking of civility in an indecent world. We are thinking of a couple of kids with navy blue caps spending recess learning to throw a curveball. We are remembering summers spent at Mott Leeney baseball camp. And, yes, Allen Iverson, we’re talking about (batting) practice.
When we talk about baseball we’re talking about a game, a beautiful game that has marked the time as America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. The field is a part of our past. It reminds us of what was once good and could be again.
My love of the New York Yankees follows from my love of the game. I root for the Nets and Jets and Giants and Devils and Yankees and Mets; I root for my hometown teams.
Many complain that the Yankees simply buy World Series championships. It is for this reason Larry Lucchino called the team the “Evil Empire” and others revile it. The crux of their argument is an attack on the excesses of capitalism. I agree that such excesses exist but not in the Yankee clubhouse. The ballpark is over-the-top, but the diehards only go there occasionally. For them and for me, the love comes from somewhere else.
Generations of American — and international — ballplayers from around the country have dreamed of donning Joe Dimaggio’s pinstripes, swinging the Babe’s bat, and suiting up in Thurmon Munson’s catcher’s gear. Oklahoma’s Mickey Mantle, South Dakota’s Roger Maris, Michigan’s Derek Jeter, Puerto Rico’s Jorge Posada and Panama’s Mariano Rivera have made their way to the same city and done so for the same reasons as artists, businessmen, and writers: To be in the world’s most exciting city and to compete at the highest level.
Today, in bars, in houses, at playgrounds, on this campus we celebrate the 27th championship of a team that represents more than a city, but a nation— her traditions, her exceptionalism and even her faults.
Adam Lior Hirst is a senior in Branford College.