Now that the season's over after the Yankees -- finally -- returned to and won the World Series (their 27th), I must say that it brings back a variety of memories, all of which are great.
I remember the rush of fans on that first night in 1996 when the Yankees -- and a kid in right field named Jeffrey Maier -- won their first playoff game en route to their first World Series since the Reggie Jackson era. I remember my father and I being swept along with the jubilant crowd and acknowledging the danger and the euphoria and knowing I didn't want it to stop -- ever.
Sometimes that ebullience slows or seemingly disappears altogether. Last season, the Yankees -- in their final season in the House That Ruth Built -- didn't even make the playoffs. And yet, here we are yet again, celebrating another Yankee World Series win.
I'm not sure what is most exciting about this 2009 World Series win. It could be simply the fact the Yankees won. It could also be that they -- perhaps -- shed the "choke" label that so many of their detractors directed toward them. Seeing the "old guard" -- Jeter, Posada, Pettitte and Mariano -- flanked by the "new" guard -- Teixeira, Damon, A-Rod and Matsui -- jumping around near third base like little kids -- it's hard to put into words how it brings me back to my days as a yoot, celebrating a huge victory as if there were nothing better in the world to celebrate.
I think, because baseball is handed down from parents to their kids (at least on some level), this is a celebration that I can share with my dad (and my mom to a lesser degree). But most importantly, I think I share the mentality with my fellow Yankee fans that this is my team and vicariously, on some level, I was down on that field, jumping around and celebrating.
I go back to the private tour we had of the Stadium earlier this season -- the field, the dugout, the clubhouse, the trophies -- just a few of them -- and it feels great celebrating this victory, even if it's an hour or two away from the 100,000 or so people assembled to celebrate the Yankees.
It would feel the same regardless if I was in Yankee Stadium or in Italy, frankly; it's a part of me that can celebrate something that links all Yankee fans around the City and the world.
After the fact, of course, it's irrelevant -- and a bit entertaining -- going back to read and review the trash-talk directed at the Yankees: the criticisms regarding their payroll, the fact they're "chokers," or the miscellaneous "nicknames" bestowed upon them by fans of other teams. I was impressed by the fact the Phillies played a solid World Series and are certainly a respectable team. Referring to them as "Philthies" or something similarly fifth-grade-esque would and will probably say far more about my knowledge of the game and maturity than anything I could impart about the Phillies. So I'll just leave it at congratulating the Phillies and their fans on a good season and wish them luck for a rematch next year.
I think it's interesting seeing how much the Yankees polarize fans of other teams. In fact, I think the Yankees -- more than any other sports franchise -- get more anti-fans and more anger and bile than any other franchise. I think that that's a good sign: it means they're doing something right.
And hopefully they'll continue doing something right, continue winning World Series after World Series, and keep pissing off trash-talking "fans."
The parade, of course, is Friday downtown. And the title defense begins Saturday ;-)