Today the Yankees and Red Sox are just about neck and neck in the AL East, with New York holding a one game lead in the standings (tied in wins, two up in losses) just as Boston is about to come into the Bronx for yet another rivalry-laden series. There are, mathematically, only four possible outcomes: the Yankees wind up with a four game lead; the Yankees wind up with a two game lead; the Yankees wind up two games back; or a virtual tie. Half of those options fill me with a certain nauseous dread and, frankly, only one of them would qualify as really satisfying, and of course it’s the least likely scenario. (You would think, at a very basic you-win-some-you-lose-some statistical level that all four scenarios are equally likely but try telling that to my gut.)
In any case, it’s somewhat appropriate (and hopefully a good omen) that today also happens to be my dad’s 60th birthday. In the past few years I’ve realized that one of the few defusing things I can say when people find out I’m a Yankees fan and roll their eyes and mock-retch and so forth is that I do come by it honestly because that’s how I was raised, by a die-hard fan who grew up in New York and whose own father was also a fan. It’s rare that I watch or even think about the Yankees without also thinking about my dad.
I have to confess to a small amount of guilt-driven feelings surrounding the fact that I haven’t done much to commemorate my father reaching such a milestone. I will of course deflect a lot of the blame toward my newborn daughter (who is exactly eight weeks old today!) and the extenuating circumstances of late-term pregnancy, birth, paternity leave, household adjustment and upheaval, and so on which dominated the months leading up to today’s momentous occasion. Ten years ago my life was in an almost unrecognizably different place but sadly the end results were the same, by which I mean the summer of 2001 was when my mistake-marriage really hit its death throes and I had yet to begin repairing a lot of the damage and estrangement it had precipitated between my father and me – said repair was, fortunately, not that far off by then but not in time for dad’s big 5-0. Ten years before that I was in high school when my dad threw himself a big 40th birthday bash which he graciously allowed my Little Bro and I to invite our own friends to, which of course meant I left the actual feting of my father in the hands of his friends and mutual relatives while I immersed myself in typical teenage drama-nanigans. The decade prior, summer of 1981, I was not quite seven and Little Bro was almost four, and I’ll be ding-danged if I can remember any fanfare surrounding my dad turning 30 at all.
So I’m not exactly the best son in terms of divisible-by-ten birthday recognitions! Maybe I should make reservations now for June 2021 at the steakhouse inside Yankees Stadium to make sure the old man has a heartfelt happy birthday from me when he turns 70.