Thursday, November 5, 2009
Yankees Win 27th World Series
Well, Arsenal smacked AZ Alkmaar of the Netherlands around in Champions League play, going up 4-0 in London before allowing a late tally. Elsewhere among British teams, both Liverpool and Glasgow Rangers choked 1-0 leads away in the waning minutes.
The New Jersey Devils remained undefeated on the road, beating the Washington Capitals 3-2 in D.C., although the Caps were playing without the injured Alexander Ovechkin.
And I think there was something else...
Oh yeah: At 11:50 PM on November 4, 2009...
Cue John Sterling: "Ballgame over! World Series over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win!"
Cue Phil Rizzuto: "Holy cow! I tell ya, these Yankees are unbelievable!"
Cue Mel Allen: "How about that!"
After leaving Nevada Smith's to watch the Champions League action, I walked over to Union Square and got on the Number 4 train, and went up to the new Yankee Stadium -- and it really does make sense to call it that now, as it is now the home of baseball's World Champions -- and wondered if there would be a miracle, if I could get in.
No chance. You know how you come out of the Subway, and you hear guys yelling, "Anybody buying? Anybody selling?" Well, tonight, there was a lot of begging for extra seats, but nobody, and I mean nobody, was selling.
I also tried a "back door" method of getting into The Stadium. Almost literally. I saw one of the guys holding up a "May I Help You?" sign and asked him if the Hard Rock Cafe and NYY Steak were open to non-season-ticketholders. They weren't. Oh well. As I told him, it was worth a shot. (At least he told me that the dress code at NYY Steak wasn't particularly strict. No jeans, and although my footwear was sneakers, they were black and he couldn't tell they weren't regular shoes, and he said they would be okay if I wanted to eat there, either during a game or on a non-game day.)
But I did get to see Freddy Schuman, the Pan Man. Freddy's Wikipedia entry says he's 84 years old. I have to say, he looked that old when I first saw him close to 20 years ago. But there's no doubt that the Yankees keep him feeling young. Lots of people wanted their picture taken with him. And I was thrilled for him when he was allowed onto one of the trucks for the 1996 World Championship parade. He deserves it.
I can't remember what his sign said tonight, but does it matter? He'll have a sign for the parade, likely saying, "FREDDY SEZ: Yankees 2009 World Champions!" Or something to that effect.
Across River Avenue from the old Stadium, which looks so sad now, were 4 former Yankees, signing autographs outside Stan's Sports World: Joe Pepitone, Fritz Peterson, Mickey Rivers and Jim Leyritz.
Peterson never played on a Yankee Pennant winner. Pepitone got a ring as a backup on the 1962 World Champions, and was a key figure on the Yankee teams that won Pennants in 1963 and 1964 before losing the World Series each time. Mick the Quick was the leadoff man for the 1976 Pennant winners and the 1977 and 1978 World Champions. Leyritz had the big hit in the 1996 World Series, left the Yanks the next year, played against them for San Diego in the 1998 World Series, and returned to the Yanks in mid-1999, and hit the last home run of the 20th Century in that year's World Series.
Leyritz has been in legal trouble lately, but so was Pepitone once, and he was able to straighten himself out and once again be "a member of the Yankee family." Then again, Leyritz is in hotter water than Pepi ever was.
So I got on the Subway and went to the Outback Steakhouse in the Chase building at 56th & 3rd. I saw the first 5 innings there, while having a nice meal, and was very pleased, particularly with the gutsy pitching of Andy Pettitte, hurling on 3 days rest at the age of 37 -- or, as it would have been said in the old days, "Yeah, so?" I was also particularly pleased with Godzilla vs. The Thing -- or, as I said it at the moment, "Hey, Pedro: Who's your Daddy? Matsui!"
(UPDATE: In 2014, that Outback closed. Bummer.)
When I got to Times Square and its big video board, I heard that Pettitte gave up a home run to Ryan Howard to cut the deficit to 7-3 in the 6th, and I got nervous. But Joba was fine in the 7th. I was glad to see Girardi bring in Damaso Marte to start the 8th, but it was only to pitch to one lefty, and then in came Mariano Rivera. Oh no, a 5-out save. Did Girardi learn nothing from Torre? And Mo did get into a little trouble, but, like Pettitte did a few times, he got out of it.
Then followed the longest bottom of the 8th of my life. I actually wanted the Yankees to make outs and get this thing over with. I knew that the Yankees had a 4-run lead, but this was the World Series: You do not take anything for granted. After all, as it turned out, there was no "unlikely hero" in this Series as I suggested there might be in my last post.
I also knew that, if this thing went to a Game 7, Girardi would have started CC Sabathia, while Phils manager Charlie Manuel would have a huge decision to make. It would not be J.A. Happ, who pitched in relief tonight. Maybe the inconsistent-this-season Cole Hamels? Maybe, in a truly desperate move, Cliff Lee on 2 days rest? (It worked for the '64 Cardinals with Bob Gibson. It worked for the '65 Dodgers with Sandy Koufax. It almost worked for the '50 Phillies with Robin Roberts. It did not work for the '67 Red Sox with Jim Lonborg.) Still, whoever Manuel chose, the Yankee starter would still have been CC on 3 days rest. Again. And that made me nervous.
No fooling around. I wanted this thing finished tonight.
It was. I wanted to be in Times Square because that's where I was when Aaron Boone hit the homer that gave the Yanks their last victory of any consequence (by Yankee standards) before the 2009 Pennant. That night, the Square was a zoo. But no damage, and as far as I know, no Red Sox fans were physically harmed.
This time, it was actually not as loud as that one, but it didn't matter: We won, and we celebrated like human beings, not like those animals in Boston do.
I don't know how many people between Times Square and Port Authority Bus Terminal were wearing Yankee caps. Thousands. I do believe, however, that only one was also wearing an Arsenal scarf. Me.
The Bronx Bombers and the Gunners? They would seem to have 3 things in common: A lot of championships (though Arsenal are 3rd all-time in their league, not 1st like the Yankees), they play in their country's biggest city, and Tottenham are the Mets of London -- or are the Mets the Tottenham of New York? I have an idea: Let's get David Wright and Robbie Keane together, and settle it with a lasagne-eating contest!
(Those of you familiar with the Arsenal-Tottenham rivalry, you know what I'm talking about. Those of you not familiar with it, Google "Tottenham lasagne." You may be disgusted, but, as did, and as do, Arsenal fans, you will laugh yourself to bits.)
One thing the Yankees and The Arsenal do not have in common is that the Yankees have now won their League since moving from their historic stadium to a new-and-"improved" one. Arsenal, as yet, have not.
I'm always interested to know which celebrities are in the stands. Say what you want about Donald Trump, but he is a true Yankee Fan. He was sitting next to Regis Philbin, a Bronx native, and I don't think Notre Dame's game against Army at the new Stadium in 2010 was on his mind much tonight.
Spike Lee was there, and it's now easy to forget that he was a Met fan back in 1969, but Reggie Jackson and company made him a Yankee Fan in the late Seventies.
I saw Kurt Russell. Kurt is a Met fan, but his wife (they've never married but they've been together a eon by Hollywood standards, so I'm calling her his wife) Goldie Hawn is the mother of Kate Hudson, who's dating A-Rod, and I appreciate Russell putting on the cap and jacket of his enemy to watch them beat his other enemy.
Rudy Giuliani was there, of course. That wasn't a shock. What was a shock was that Judi was there. He's still with Wife Number 3! He hasn't moved on!
Mike Bloomberg was there, too, wearing a Yankee cap and a Yankee jacket and trying to make people forget that he grew up as a Red Sox fan; that he, as much as anyone else, including the Steinbrenners and their lackeys Randy Levine and Lonn Trost, is responsible for the death of the old Stadium; that he violated the will of the people by changing the law to allow him to run for a 3rd term, and that he damn near lost to a guy who barely showed up -- if the Democrats had nominated a warm body instead of good guy but nonentity Bill Thompson, Mayor Moneybags would have lost.
I'll say this for Giuliani, who I can't stand: I have never doubted that the one thing he loves nearly as much as himself and power is New York City. But he respected the voters of the City enough to abide by their law and give up power. Bloomberg did not. He doesn't care about the City, he only cares about himself and power. (I'm not happy about Chris Christie unseating Governor Jon Corzine here in New Jersey, either.)
And do you know who else was in The Stadium? Jimmy Fallon. That's right, the guy who played Sully in the Saturday Night Live "Boston Teens" sketch -- famed for his praise of Nomar Garciaparra: "Nomah has gawdlike powahs!" -- and starred alongside Drew Barrymore in Fever Pitch, the U.S. baseball version, the one I consider a horror movie because of the way it ends: With Fallon corrupting Drew (who I love) and helping the Red Sox beat the Yankees, break the Curse of the Bambino, and win the 2004 World Series -- not realizing at the time that the Red Sox cheated. (I'll later have a separate post about the Red Sox as well.)
But I just found out that Jimmy's actually a Brooklyn native. I also found out that he met his wife, Nancy Juvonen, on the set of Fever Pitch, because she is Drew's production-company partner. So, in a weird way, art imitated life for him. (She's also 7 years older than he is, but looks pretty good for 42.)
As for myself, I have now seen the Yankees win the World Series 7 times in my lifetime. That's more than every franchise has ever done, except the St. Louis Cardinals (10, but 2 in my lifetime), the Oakland Athletics (9, but 4 in my lifetime, and the 1st 5 were in another city and thus shouldn't be counted), and the Boston Red Sox (7, but 2 in my lifetime, 2 in pretty much everybody currently living's lifetime, and those 2 are illegitimate because they cheated, and they know they did, and we know they did).
I have seen the Devils win 3 Stanley Cups. I have seen East Brunswick High win 4 Middlesex County Championships and a Central Jersey Championship in baseball, State Championships in girls' basketball and soccer, a Central Jersey Championship and 2 County Championships in boys' basketball, and that elusive Central Jersey Championship in football.
And I have been to some of the most amazing places, from Yankee Stadium (both) and Madison Square Garden (only the "new" one) to Fenway Park and the Boston Garden (both old and new), the Montreal Forum and Olympic Stadium, Franklin Field and the Palestra and the now-demolished Philadelphia Civic Center, Baltimore's Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards, Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park (the old one, not yet seen a game in the new one), Harvard Stadium and the Yale Bowl and Michigan Stadium.
And I have seen the end of the Reagan-Bush and Bush-Cheney regimes, and the rises of good and decent men to the White House, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
I have not seen Rutgers win the Big East Football Conference, or a major bowl game. I have seen the Nets in the NBA Finals, but not win it. I have seen Arsenal play very well, but not yet win a significant trophy (Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League) since I started watching them. And I missed some of the great buildings, such as Chicago Stadium and the old Soldier Field, to say nothing of stadiums and arenas that were abandoned and demolished before I was old enough to go on my own, like Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds and the old Madison Square Garden.
But I can relax a bit now. I'm not saying, "My life is complete. God, take me whenever you're ready."
I am reminded of that sign at the new Garden, when the Rangers (who suck anyway) won the 1994 Stanley Cup after 54 years of failures and chokes: "NOW I CAN DIE IN PEACE." For once in my life, I wanted to buy a Nike T-shirt: "JUST DO IT."
When the Devils won the Cup the next year, I saw a sign at the Brendan Byrne Arena that said, "NOW I CAN LIVE IN PEACE."
I know the feeling. I am relieved.
On a slightly related subject, when it was over, I headed over to Port Authority to prepare for the ride home. Just because I'm a wiseass and a half, I went down to the bottom level, where the Greyhound buses dock. I walked over to Gate 84, which is where the buses to Boston wait for passengers.
No one was there. No one wanted to go to Boston overnight.
Not even, as they would say in England, to "take the piss."
As Arte Johnson used to say on Laugh-In, "Verrrry intereshting. But shtupid."
I don't know how much sleep I'm going to get. But I can't wait to see Ashley and Rachel tomorrow. Their Uncle Mike is going to ask what the Yankees did last night.
Ashley is going to say, "Yankees go boom!" And Rachel is going to say, "Home run!"
I wonder if their mother, my sister, will let them watch the parade with me. On TV, of course. I'm not taking them into The City to see the Yankees in person until they're a bit older. Or, as Rachel would say, "Oh-der." As Ashley would say, "Maybe too-mah-woh."
Now, the Yankees have won the World Series in their lifetime. I was nearly 8 before that happened. And I was nearly 27 before I actually saw it, thanks to my parents making me go to bed too early to see the last outs in '77 and '78. But the girls see it happen when... How old are you, Rachel? "Two!"
We are going to have so much fun watching the Yankees together. Tonight is a good night to be alive. Tonight is a good night to be a Yankee Fan.
Enjoy it responsibly. I want you all to live long enough to enjoy the next title. And the next. And the next. And so on.