The Message Is Clear: Yankees Will Regain World Series Crown

29 Sep

“And so it went for the  2011 Red Sox, the biggest chokers of any Boston team in my lifetime.  At least the ’78 Sox fought back and forced a one game playoff;  these guys couldn’t even do that.  They disintegrated over an entire month, day after day after day.  You can’t even explain how brutal they were unless you followed the free fall firsthand…

Their body language grew progressively worse as the month dragged on, with their manager seeming more hopeless and desperate than anyone.  They blew basic baseball plays, bothched fly balls, dropped relay throws, ended games by getting caught stealing, threw meatballs, bitched at each other, admitted to being scared…you name it, they did it.  They choked away Game 162 by getting three guys thrown out on the basebaths, by blowing a 3-2 lead in the ninth, by botching a season-deciding fly ball…with two outs in the ninth.

You can’t say it was unbelievable, because, actually, it was totally believable.  This was a mercy killing.  At least that’s what I will keep telling myself.  The 2011 Red Sox needed to go away.  And they did.”

-Bill Simmons, Grantland.com, 9/29/11

Dear Jeff,

Bill Simmons was your favorite sports writer, bar none, and when I read this today, all I could think of is that last night, the most magical night in baseball history, was something only you could dream up and orchestrate.  I received several emails today from people, including Drew, saying that they were stunned at how last night had your signature written all over it.   It was surreal, and your man Simmons summed it all up right there.  See what you did to the poor guy ?  He is beside himself !

I vividly remember that one of your favorite all-time Christmas presents was Bill Simmons’ “The Book of Basketball” that you received on your very last Christmas morning in 2009. 

So one night last week, Thursday September 22nd  to be precise, I was driving home from the train station on Douglas Road.  As I always do on the short ride home, and as we always did together last year when we drove home after meeting on the evening train, I turned on the Yankees game on CBS radio with John Sterling and Susan Waldman.  This was the night after the Yankees clinched the AL East on Jorge Posada’s dramatic two run, game winning single. Sure enough, at the moment I turned the game on, Posada was coming to bat.  The following was the exchange between Susan and John.  Although I may not be quoting Susan exactly, it is very close, and John’s response is verbatim:

Susan: “What a magical moment it was for Posada last night here at the Stadium, John, after a really tough season.  And just think of everything that’s happened here at Yankee Stadium this season.  I mean, Jeter didn’t just get his 3,000th hit, he hit a HOME RUN to get it, Mariano became the all-time saves leader here at home as part of another brilliant season at age 41, and Posada, another all-time great Yankee, sends the team to the division title with a clutch hit.  And if that’s not enough, the Red Sox are collapsing before our very eyes !”

John: “Susan, it’s as if all of this is being directed by someone above.”

I swear, I nearly drove off the road.  My first thought was, “Oh shit, Sterling’s on to Jeff.”  But then I said to myself, well so what, what’s he going to do about it ?  When I got home, I literally sprinted into the kitchen and told Mom and Brett what John had just said.  Mom, the non-sports fan that she is, kind of ignored it, but Brett broke into a broad smile and just shook his head ‘yes’ in a knowing way.

In my April 9th blog post (“Why Are You Going To Boston, Daddy?”), I noted that it was a sign of your presence that, in your first season in Heaven, the Red Sox started 0-6 for the first time since 1945. It was really quite amazing that it happened after the free agent shopping spree the Sox went on in the off-season to set themselves up nicely for another championship.

But then I got confused when they stormed all the way back and actually sat atop the AL East for almost the entire season.  Now of course, it is so clear to me that this was your grand plan all along- have them get off to a miserable start to shake their confidence, let them enjoy a surging comeback all the way to the top, and then have them endure one of the greatest collapses in baseball history.  Brilliant.  You set them up for The Great Collapse.  Oh, I can just picture your face as you’ve watched this unfold. 

I know that the one thing that probably gives you a little pause in orchestrating this devastating ending for the Red Sox season is that your great friend from Middlebury, Dan Roberts, is a big Sox fan.  But I also remember what you said to me one time when we were discussing how many of your Midd friends were from the Boston area and loved to root against the Yankees.  “Dad, when it comes to Yankees-Red Sox, all’s fair in love and war.” 

The door to Jeff's room makes clear who his favorite sports teams are

Well, Jeff, I want to let you know that I saw and heard you loud and clear in my dream this Monday night.  You looked so good, and I am deeply grateful that you made contact with me again so soon after the Yankees game in August.  And yes, as you requested, I will let everyone know that the Yankees will win it all this year, their 28thWorld Series championship.  You said that their playoff run will be led by the great Yankee veterans but also that Jesus Montero will show that he is a “true Yankee” by doing some special things to contribute to the victory.  Sounds amazing.  I’ll pass the word along.

And I promise to tell your buddy Alex Feintuch what you said- that you want him to go to the victory parade and that, while you wish you could go with him again, I should join him this time, in your place.  I love Alex and think he’s a great young man, and so I’d be happy to do it.  I’m pretty sure that he will be down in South Carolina at school at that time, but I’ll convey your wishes.  I know how much fun you two had at the parade in 2009.  I don’t know if I can slip away from work for a whole day either, but let’s make sure they win first, and then we’ll figure it out.

I don’t know, man, it pains me to say that I really disagree.  I think the Phillies look too tough if the Yankees make it to the Series, and to be honest, I’m not even that confident that the Yankees can take the Tigers, because Verlander will pitch at least games 1 and 4 in the first round.

But hey, whenever we disagreed about sports when you were here, you were always right.  Let’s hope that streak continues.  And I must say, it sure seems as if you have had a major role in all that has happened, as John Sterling hinted last week.  Certainly, the victories of UConn in April and the Mavericks in June had your fingerprints all over them.  And last night ?  Oh my, I am still shaking at the thought of how the Yanks blew a 7-0 lead and how Boston’s ace closer, Mr. Papelbon, blew the save after striking out the first two batters !  And the two games ended within 3 minutes of each other.  You obviously drew up your wildest dream and willed it to happen. 

Jeff hung the newspaper celebrating the Yankees' 2009 championship on his wall, where it remains today

It is brutally painful to know that you won’t be here to watch the playoffs with us this year or ever again.  Drew will be at school, so I know we’ll be texting away with each other.  He’ll be home for a few days during October break, and we’ll be watching together then if the Yanks are still in it.  I’ve got Brett here at home for one more playoff run, so I will waive the unofficial rule of his having to go to bed on school nights by a certain hour.  We always have such a great time watching together, and he is just as big of a Yankees fan as you are.

But it was just a year ago, even when you were struggling, that you and I enjoyed being together in the upstairs TV room, watching the games on the big screen with our feet up.  You were always banging away on your laptop during the games, communicating with your friends on Facebook;  I’m sure you were providing a running commentary and analysis of what was happening.   But less than three weeks after the Yankees were eliminated by Texas, you were gone.

The Yankees calendar on Jeff's bulletin board- still on November 2010

So now what I’m left with is periodic communication from you at your whim- your voice in my right ear on August 13th telling me that Chavez was going to walk and then Jorgie was going to juice one, or in a dream like Monday night, telling me to spread the word of the Yankees’ impending championship.  I guess in life, you have to take what you can get and be grateful for it, and so I am.  In fact, I pray every day for any form of contact from you whatsoever.  So please keep it coming.  

In the meantime, line up those beers with the pretzel rods, and enjoy the playoffs, my son.  The Yankees’ annual quest for a championship was always one of yours and my favorite times of the year.  I remain excited about it, but as with everything in my life, it can never again be quite the same. 

All my love,

Sir

Advertisements

2 Responses to “The Message Is Clear: Yankees Will Regain World Series Crown”

  1. DBR September 30, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Yeah, this has been hard to watch. But you know what? I’m willing to let Jeff have this one.

  2. Chang Yu October 2, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Clearly Jeff’s spirit lives on. Go Yankees! Great Game 1 victory, Cano and Nova are monsters and the next Yankee greats. Let’s get em tonight Moyer. Jeff give Moyer an extra 10 MPH on his fastball tonight?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: