There's this song by Irish mega rock band U2 "40" from their great opus "War" where some lines go, "I will sing, sing a new song. I will sing, sing a new song. How long to sing this song?" And since 2001, the song of the New York Yankees has been one of lament and regret. And after beating their longtime tormentor -- the Los Angeles Angels -- 4-2 in the American League Championship Series for the club's 40 pennant, they are one round away from their 27th World Series title. Will they sing a new song?
Living in the Big Apple, I had one creed that I lived and breathed every single day -- "I have to be responsible." That meant I had to bust my ass at work and do my best at all times. Once I've accomplished all that, that meant I had the money and the clout to be absent on game days more so the World Series. My boss would ask, "Where's Rick?" And my officemates (those poor fools who don't love baseball) would invariably answer, "Oh, he's at the Stadium."
Damn right I was. Even when they were losing. And I still have every single ticket to every game I've seen including that crushing loss to the Florida Marlins in 2003. So I can identify with that kid in the picture who says he's playing hookey for Games 1 & 2.
In the old Stadium, as New York Times' writer Tyler Kepner wrote, "Now the Yankees' core is older, the park is new and the World Series is no longer a birthright. But the stage is theirs again."
Damn right. And watching Game Six this morning. My hair was standing up. My nerves were frayed. But with Mariano Rivera on the hill to get the last six outs... it was as sure a thing in baseball as anything. I leaped up and yelled. And just like old times, I did a jig. And old fool with a passion for baseball.
When the Yankees acquired CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Mark Teixeira I was darn happy. I thought that they would help right away. Some friends said that Sabathia wasn't going to do well in the Bronx. Well, he didn't arrive at the Stadium like Kevin Brown did from the Dodgers as damaged goods so I was plenty confident. As for Tex... he can sure hit. Always admired his tenacity with the Texas Rangers and I was sure he'd bring the same thing Tino Martinez did when he was a seattle Mariner. That was three additions (including Burnett). When NY got Nick Swisher, I was ecstatic. Swisher like Johnny Damon was a former Oakland A. Swish was solid in his long stint with Oakland. I knew he'd be a neat utility player in case Tex went down at first base or he could play the right field that current Angels outfielder Bobby Abreu used to patrol. And Swish once more came through.I have always been an Alex Rodriguez fan. Never mind the effing haters. And this year, he is flat out on the road to redemption. Trivia: in his first year with New York, he switched from short stop to third base and made the All-Star Team! How's that for awesome?
And now the stage is theirs again. Four more wins. It's important to win the homestand because the middle three games are at Philly; a terrible place to play. Make them pay a price in New York, boys!
Photos are by Barton Silverman of the New York Times and from Sports Illustrated.