Thursday, November 5, 2009

The New York Yankees are World Series Champions!

The New York Yankees won the World Series tonight. As the announcer said, the title above is the most commonly uttered phrase in sports. It really was a great night to be a New York sports fan (unless you like the Mets, of course). The Knicks still lost, which is to be expected these days, but it was really thrilling to watch the Yankees celebrate after recording the final out. In the end, they won easily, but there were many moments when the outcome of this series was still in doubt. It made me so happy when it was clear that they were going to win.

The Yankees are probably the most celebrated sports team in all the world, and the most hated at the same time. They have the richest history of success, which is why players and fans from all over the world, from all different kinds of backgrounds, wear hats with their logo and dream of playing for them. People can say what they want about the Yankees buying their players (in a sport where the rules are such that teams are not subject to a salary cap, so the teams with the biggest markets and the owners with the deepest pockets have the best chance at signing the best players. Those are the rules, and they've been that way forever, so deal with it.) but there's a reason why the Yankees are synonymous with success. They carry themselves like professionals, are rarely targets in the media for bad behavior (save for maybe A-Rod with his high-profile women and history of performance-enhancing drugs, but at least he's not getting arrested for domestic violence or shooting himself at a nightclub, my apologies to Plaxico, I'm still a big fan), and they're expected to perform on the biggest stage, in the biggest city, in front of the most ruthless critics and most passionate supporters in all the world.

I know that if I go on, I might turn off some of my friends who put themselves under the category of Yankee-haters, and I don't want to do that. Besides, this blog isn't really about current events. But I've been a Yankee fan forever, ever since my dad started taking me to games at the old stadium. And there's a reason that I bring it up. For one thing, it's been a pretty tough couple of months, and watching that happen tonight really made a difference to me. For at least a little while, it helped me forget about my situation and remember the sheer joy of playing a game. As I watched those guys jump around on the infield, I was happy for them. And while I realize it's only the players who won, they always thank the fans, and without us they'd have nobody to play for. So when you think about it, we truly are a part of it, and it's a reason to rejoice.

So, for one thing, I really needed something like this. But that's not the real reason why I bring it up. The real reason is commitment. Baseball may be a game, and being a professional athlete in any sport must be the best job in the world, but these guys work hard. They play 162 games a year, weekends included, and on their off days they still go to the ballpark for their workouts, and in the offseason they're still working hard every day to get better. Weight-lifting, batting practice, fielding practice, throwing for pitchers, who have these crazy regiments where they throw different numbers of pitches on different days to preserve their arms which bend and stretch so far past the limitations of a normal person's arm that it's dangerous. And all of this because if they don't do it, there's always someone younger and stronger working his way up the professional ranks, coming to take their job. Talk about a lack of job security. Sure, they sign massive contracts, but most of them only have a number of good years before they're replaced and they have to find something else to do with their lives. And while the traveling might be exhilarating for a while, I'm sure it gets old, and there must be times when they just want to stay home with their families. Yet they do it all year long and check into hotels at 3am, knowing that they have to watch film or go over the scouting report at 10am so they can eat well enough in advance for a day game after a night game.

Everyone's different, and so are their commitments. Being a baseball player is far different from being committed to beating cancer, but resolve and perseverance are universal. The Yankees lost 63 times this year alone, including the playoffs, yet they can still call themselves champions. Suffice it to say, you can't win 'em all. But you can still try. I've got one big battle on my hands, so I only have to win one, for now, but it's going to take a pretty long time, and it's a pretty huge commitment. Chemo, radiation, vaccinations, a possibility of surgeries or operations; it's a lot of dedication. They should really give me a ring with a ton of diamonds in it if I win, too.

I was hoping I'd be able to go to the victory parade, but it's in two days and I go back in for chemo tomorrow (assuming that my blood counts have recovered). It's somewhat of a disappointment, but a parade probably wouldn't be the safest place for me at this point in time, anyway. I can only hope to see another Yankees title before my days are through. Considering that this is their 27th World Series victory and 5th in the last 13 years, the chances of that happening are fairly high, but that's assuming one enormous victory that has to happen first. It's no sure thing, but I'm seriously committed to it.