Monday, August 30, 2010

Why I Love the New York Yankees

I live in an area where most of the baseball fans are Red Sox fans. So I get a lot of (mostly) good natured ribbing about those Damn Yankees.

And I get why fans of other teams hate the Yankees so much, I really do. It's easy to hate the team who dominates so much, who never seems to give anyone else a fair chance. The team that "buys its way to the top." I get it. Who wants to root for a team whose owner cares more about winning than heart?

But the Yankees represent something else entirely to me. To me, watching a Yankees game even now, puts me back in time. I'm eight years old, staying up late, watching the Yankees with my grandmother, who loved them more than anyone I know. It's part of a family tradition that reminds me of where I came from.

And Yankees history is full of the story of America. It's the story of an orphan boy named George Herman Ruth, who grew up to be loved by all of America as Babe Ruth. It's epitomizes the work ethic of the immigrant in Iron Man Lou Gehrig, whose mother wanted him to be an engineer. It's a team that boasts of greatness in men like Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. But its also the team that remembers great contributions of men like Bucky Dent, providing a key home run right when the team needed it, despite being last in the batting order.

It reminds us that hard work pays off, that if you keep at it you can celebrate another victory. Then Yankees proved to us in the Eighties that you can't take anything for granted.

It reminds us that life is full of ups and downs. The Yankees celebrate 27 World Series victories. They also mourn the loss of players like Thurmon Munson, taken before his time. Don Larson pitched his perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's single-season home run record, but never got the respect he deserved.

The Yankees have a full cast of characters, that are like the zany people in your family you tell stories about. There's "Holy Cow" Phil Rizzuto. Yogi Berra whose comments on life strike everyone with their ironic simple deepness.

When I see that classic "NY" emblem I think of all these things. When I stepped foot into the old Yankee Stadium - the House That Ruth Build - as an adult, I remembered when my parents took me there as a kid. And this year, when I visited the new stadium for the first time, I had my two kids there with me. While I hated to see the old stadium go - it was a pile of rubble then - I was reminded that life moves on, and that's not always a bad thing. We are always still connected to the past.

While things always move forward, while there are always new players and new stadiums, they are still the Yankees. Still telling the story of America. We love to see Derek Jeter play now just as much as those that came before us loved to watch the legends play. As he does so, he wears the same pinstripes, the same NY cap. And that has the power to make me eight years old again, so I can sit with my grandmother one more time, and stay up late, and watch the Yanks pull off another ninth inning win.


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