Published in The Ferndale Record, November 3, 2010
Just when I think society is going to hell and there’s nothing I can do about it, the Texas Rangers clobber the New York Yankees in game six and take the American League Championship Series. The universe is restored to its rightful order, and everything is on track.
Not that I’m a Rangers fan, I just don’t like the Yankees. I can’t remember exactly when they fell from my personal grace, but it was sometime after the words “Yankees” and “World Series” were repeatedly used in the same sentence. It was a foregone conclusion, ruling out the underdogs.
Of course in baseball and life, you can’t count anyone out. It’s here I would interject, “..except maybe the Seattle Mariners.” But that flame of hope still burns, and I won’t go for the cheap jab, which I suppose I just did.
Even though the San Francisco Giants showed the Rangers who’s boss in this year’s World Series, that last game of the playoffs between the Yankees and Rangers was, well, historical. I particularly enjoyed seeing all of Texas on its feet, and witnessing the final out: New York’s Alex Rodriguez, humbled in a ballpark that used to chant his name for a different reason. It was sweet to see a team that’s never been to the World Series finally get a shot by beating the one club most fans expect to regularly take home another World Championship ring.
Not this year, New York.
The Yankees are, I’ll admit, a great team. Fantastic baseball is exciting and they deliver the goods. One of the best (if not the finest) closers in baseball, Mariano Rivera, is like spare, exquisite poetry. Fans of the opposing team cower when he takes the mound. I single him out because he’s just that good.
I understand that some teams often play better than others. Those players get the press, the glory, until someone else comes along, from another team, sometimes out of almost nowhere, and makes a dent—if not history. That is equally, if not more entertaining as solid baseball.
Although he probably wasn’t the only one to say it, Lou Piniella asserted that on any given day, any one team could beat any other team. While that seems logical, even obvious, I like it. It gives everyone a chance. Not just the New York Yankees.
It says that when someone’s expected to win, you can’t necessarily count on it, so you’d better pay attention, like when Mine That Bird came from nearly eight lengths behind the field to blow past all the favorites and win the 2009 Kentucky Derby. The lesson? You never know, and that’s part of what makes competitive sport so compelling.
Finally, a World Series I cared about. I’ve been guilty of over estimating the Yankee machine myself and discounted the Fall Classic as over before it started simply because New York was in the game.
The Rangers winning the American League pennant reminds me that other teams play stunning baseball, too. Like the 2004 Boston Red Sox powering through the playoffs, past the Yankees, and ousting St. Louis in four games to take the World Series. This year we saw San Francisco chalk up a few memorable moments as well.
I’m just a fan of the game. But the upsets, especially where New York’s involved, are precious. Entitled Yankees fans can blame bad calls, or poor management, but maybe they just weren’t that good this time.
It was someone else’s turn this year, and that alone was worth watching.