Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Interpretation of Fan Dreams

I had a dream last night. The specifics were surprisingly clear for a dream.

It was this coming October, and the Yankees were again facing the Baltimore Orioles in the Playoffs.  It was Game 3, in Baltimore, and the series was tied at 1 apiece.

I was traveling, trying to get back to New Jersey.  I had this distinct vision of being at a New Jersey Turnpike rest area.  When we got "home," I recognized the house not as my current residence, or even the house where I grew up, but as my grandmother's house, near the Jersey Shore, a house I have not visited in the 7 years since my mother sold it after Grandma died.

I walked in there, and, instead of turning on the TV to check the score, the first thing I did was something I did not have the means to do while she was alive: I checked my smartphone for the score.  Why didn't I check it in the car?

It was the bottom of the 13th inning, and the game was tied, 1-1, but the Orioles were threatening.  There were names in both lineups that I didn't recognize, suggesting that the Yankees had somehow made the Playoffs by filling holes with surprising successes.  The Yankees got out of the jam, but lost in the 14th.  Now, they were down 2 games to 1.  Not a desperate situation, but not a good one, either.  And, judging by the dearth of runs over those 14 innings, it seems like whatever plagued the Yankees in last year's postseason is still there.

The next day -- this is still within the dream -- I'm at a bank, and who should be there, but Joe Torre.  Here's the weird part: He was wearing not a suit, not even a baseball uniform, but an Arsenal shirt, home red, with Thomas Vermaelen's name and Number 5 on the back.

Huh? Does Torre even know Arsenal exist? (Maybe, if he looks at the YES Network schedule.) And why Vermaelen? It's not like whatever skills Torre had as a  baseball player (he was a good hitter, a catcher, later a 3rd baseman and finally a 1st baseman) translate into the kind of skills that Vermaelen has in his sport (a centreback, a mainly defensive player who has scored the occasional goal).  And Torre never wore 5, either: He wore 15 with the Braves from 1960 to '68, and 9 thereafter as a player for the Cardinals and Mets, and then as manager for the Mets, Braves and Cardinals, before switching to 6 with the Yankees and keeping that as manager of the Dodgers.

This was one whacked-out incongruity.  I shrugged it off -- it stuns me more awake than it did asleep -- and said, "Hi, Joe!"

He turned, and recognized me.  (In real life, we have never met.) And he gave me the Torre Glare.  And he said, "You don't get to call me Joe.  Not after what you wrote."

Huh? What did I write that got him upset at me? I've usually been supportive of him on this blog.  That was my reaction -- not, "Oh my God, Joe Torre not only knows I have a Yankee-themed blog, but he reads it!"

Somehow, I shrugged this off, too, and called him what Derek Jeter still calls him: "Okay, Mr. Torre." And he said, "That's better.  Let's talk."

Suddenly, he switched from thinking my blog had cost me the right to call him by his first name to thinking I deserved an exclusive interview for my blog?

Besides, we were at a bank.  Was he done with what he had to do there? How did he know I wasn't?

Before he could say anything substantive, I woke up.

I hate when that happens: The dream is just starting to get good, and you wake up.  You see you have a lot of money, but you don't get to spend it.  Or you see something that looks really good to eat, but you don't get to eat it.

Sigmund Freud would probably have said these dreams represent sex.  In my case, seeing these things that give me pleasure -- money, food, baseball -- and I'm close to having them, but, like the beautiful woman who wants to be "just friends," no payoff.

In this case, I was hoping Torre could tell me why the Yankees weren't getting the job done.  And then I could tell him, "Don't tell me, tell Joe Girardi." Clearly, within the confines of the dream (and probably in reality), Torre's successor as Yankee manager could use the help.


A Yankee Fan's dream is simple: Win the World Series.

Other teams dream of it, some dream that a Pennant is enough, some simply dream of what Met owner Fred Wilpon once said was his goal for his team: "Playing meaningful games in September."

Some fans dream of being at the ballpark for a big win.  Others, of meeting their favorite player.

Why would I dream of meeting Torre, at this point? It's not like he has any effect on the Yankees anymore, any more than, say Lou Piniella.  Even Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson, officially still consultants with the club, have more official input.

And why would I dream of the Yankees losing? It didn't feel like a nightmare.  It's not like Freddy Kreuger was anchoring SportsCenter on ESPN.

Around 1991 or so, I dreamed of seeing the Yankees beat the Red Sox at Fenway Park -- and, in 1999, literally, that dream came true.

But, in that same 1991 dream, I was having a pregame meal with Phil Rizzuto.  That never came true, sadly -- but on my way out of Fenway in 1999, I did, literally, bump into Bobby Murcer and Tim McCarver.  A little awkward, but they didn't hold it against me.

What's my dream for the Yankees in 2013? That they overcome all these doomsayers and have a typical Yankee regular season -- and then get the job done in the postseason.

But in order for a dream to come true, you gotta wake up, and make it happen.

Only, in this case, I have no effect on making this happen.

Whatever happens will happen no matter what I do.  Unless I do something criminal like purposely injuring a player.

I wouldn't do that.  If I would have, Boone Logan would probably have spent much of last season in traction.  (That's totally based on performance, not personality.  For all I know, he's a decent person.)

It's frustrating.  We fans, collectively, can create an atmosphere that leads a team on to victory -- or demoralizes them into defeat.  But, individually, we have no effect.

Shut up, Cub fans: Blaming Steve Bartman for losing you that Pennant is like blaming your morning coffee for your afternoon's bad business deal.

If only I could have been good enough to play... If only that dream had come true...

Except, at my age, I'd now have been retired for a few years anyway.  The fact that Mariano Rivera is slightly older than I am is an anomaly.  Mariano himself is an anomaly, in many ways: A struggling starter who came to the majors comparatively late, and was converted into the best middle reliever in the game, and then into the best closer ever; and a man who maintained a humble outlook in a business, professional sports, that, all too often, seems to reward outward displays of ego.

There's something to dream of: That we get more athletes with Mariano's mindset.  Get a few more of those, and it won't matter if they have his talent.

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