Friday, September 26, 2014

Last Exit in the Bronx

It is beyond cliche to document the extent to which talking about sports takes the place of any and all other meaningful interactions between fathers and sons, but nevertheless: I hadn't talked to my Dad in a while, a month or maybe two. Not out of any kind of rancor or point-scoring-via-silence, it's just the way things tend to go between us. I had at least tried to call him around the little guy's birthday, to thank him for the gifts he had sent, but I only got voicemail. At any rate, last night my cell phone rang and it was Dad, asking me if I was watching the game. I was in fact watching the Giants beginning to extend their lead over Washington's unfortunately-named football club, and told my father as much, but he meant was I watching the Yankees game. Clearly he already suspected I might not have been, because he was specifically calling to make sure I had it on right at that moment, late in the bottom of the seventh inning when Derek Jeter was coming to the plate for what would probably be his last at bat ever in Yankee Stadium. A little sliver of history, and my old man just wanted to make sure I didn't miss it. And that was that, I thanked him for the heads up and we both hung up to watch, and it ended up being a kind of weird play where a broken-bat infield dribbler could have been a double play and should have at least gotten the runner heading into second, but the Orioles' shortstop made an extremely rare miscue and threw the ball away, so everyone was safe and two runs scored. Woot.

Dad called back not long after that and then we chatted at length, and about various topics other than New York's pro teams. But I feel compelled to acknowledge that the nudge that got us both back on the phone was the captain of the Yankees closing out his career.

Except of course the O's battled back and tied things up and Jeter had one more at-bat in the bottom of the ninth, which ended up being a game-winning RBI single to right field, and that made for an even nicer capstone to Jeter's career in pinstripes. It's a little bit funny because, ultimately, that was a pretty meaningless game last night. The O's had eliminated the Yanks from their looooooongshot wildcard hopes by beating them in a day game on Rosh Hashanah, so technically this could have been going through the motions of the tail-end of a season already decided. But the NY dugout went crazy and mobbed Jeter after Richardson crossed home plate, and the whole crowd of 48,000 went crazy too, and it felt like the right reaction. It's also funny (I keep using that word for lack of a better one, it's really a couple dozen different things and only maybe half of them are expressible in words in English) that there seems to be near-universal interweb agreement that that was the proper triumphant note for Jeter to go out on. Hell, I even saw that Stephen King, diehard Red Sox fan, was on the Late Show recently and had nothing but nice things to say about Jeter. People will always hate the Yankees and everything the Evil Empire stands for, but #2 seems to be the exception, and it's gratifying to be able to be happy about something without being inundated with online snark and bile from half the world, for once.

For what it's worth, one of my favorite moments of the night was Jeter's post-game interview on the field where he was the most visibly emotional he's ever been in his career, and he thanked the fans (of course) but he also tipped his hat to the O's as AL East champs and wished them luck in the post-season. Heck yeah, bandwagon time!

All in all, between Jeter's walk-off and the Giants' romp in Landover, it wasn't the worst night to be up from 2 til 4 in the morning watching SportsCenter highlights because the bino couldn't stop coughing and would not sleep. Double ear infection, as it turns out. And now all the important sports stuff is done for the weekend so my wife and I can maybe try to catch up on sleep once the antibiotics start kicking in. Good times.

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