The World Series Parade

November 15, 2009

No one throws a celebration like New York City, although I could have told you that after attending the Giants parade in February 2008.  Despite having been at the Giants’ parade, there was nothing that could have prepared me for the chaos that was the Canyon of Heroes on November 6th for the Yankee parade.  If New York had a great celebration for the Giants, the Yankee parade blew that out of the water entirely.

I left my parents’ house in Westchester County at about 7:00 a.m., thinking there wouldn’t be a problem getting to the parade in time for its 11:00 a.m. start.  I took Metro North and the subway to get down to city hall, which wasn’t too bad, in terms of crowds.  It was rush hour and aside from people wearing Yankee jerseys, it couldn’t have been much worse than usual.  I walked out of the subway station at about 9:00 a.m., two hours before the parade start time.  It was a madhouse.  Walking along Broadway (where the parade was to come through) wasn’t even possible, so I went on Church Street and figured I would walk down a side street.  The first several streets was blocked off by the NYPD, as crowds had already reached capacity down those streets.  This was never the case at the Giants parade.

I made it to Fulton Street where crowds were already about 20 people deep from Broadway.  As the clock inched closer to parade time, the crowds swelled and everyone got stuck in place.  Literally.  I couldn’t raise my hands, people were so close.  Every so often a group of people near Broadway would decide they’ve had enough and would try to leave the area by going back the way they came… through the mob.  Imagine how well that worked.  At this point it was really walking through someone as opposed to walking by someone.  Each time someone would leave their spot to abandon watching the parade, it would get incredibly uncomfortable as people would stop in awkward places, trying to create room where there wasn’t any.  After deserters would get through, the rest of the mob would push up, trying to get closer to Broadway.  At the Giants’ parade, I could walk freely on the sidewalks along Broadway.  Not even remotely possible at this one.

Maybe crowds were 20 deep when I got to where I thought my spot would be on Fulton Street, but by the time the parade was starting, the crowd down the street was probably near 50 deep.  I think I ended up around 10 people deep, off the street.  I had never experienced such a crowded spot in my life.  I don’t think the word “crowded” does the situation justice.  People were packed together so tightly that someone always had their back on my chest, their arms on my arms.  I eventually got my arm up to get some pictures as the Yankee players came by on float.

Some of the Yankee legends, like Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson came by in classic cars, but they were so low on the street that I never saw them.  The players were up higher and visible to most everyone and got huge cheers, the way champions should be greeted.  There were huge gaps on the parade, as 10 minutes would go by before I would see another float of players after one had gone by.  The floats also drove by us pretty quickly and I only got a glimpse of the World Series trophy.

Regardless of the discomfort of the crowd, it was still an awesome experience seeing the happy players get treated like royalty.  Why not shower multi-millionaires with shredded paper?  This type of exuberance in New York City is only seen when a team the Yankees win a championship and it was thrilling to be a part of.

What #27 Means to Me

November 13, 2009

I was 11 in 1996 when the Yankees won their first World Series in my lifetime.  I went to bed before the game was over, but my parents woke me up in time for the bottom of the ninth inning.  I vividly remember a pop-up in foul territory on the third base side… Charlie Hayes hovering under the ball… Joe Buck exclaiming “The Yankees are champions of baseball” and the camera cutting to John Wetteland on the mound, holding one finger in the air, getting mobbed by teammates.  It was thrilling.

The Yanks would go on to win three more titles – all in a row – from 1998 to 2000.  I got used to winning.  What kid wouldn’t?  I stopped getting championship hats and I stopped begging to stay up for playoff games.  It stopped being special to me.

From 2001 to 2008, the Yanks made two World Series and lost both.  They were eliminated in the ALDS several times and humiliated by the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS after being up three games to none.  During this time, I started getting hungry for a championship again.  I had been spoiled by the four early titles in my lifetime and I wanted another.

This year, my love of the Yankees saw a new level.  I followed the team every single day.  I read the blogs, kept up on the transactions and lineup changes.  They were my team.  There were no blogs in the late 90s, so with this evolution in media, I was able to keep up with the team in a whole new way.  I also went to Opening Day for the first time since 1996, albeit in a different stadium.  I watched every playoff game and nearly every inning.  I was more nervous for this year’s playoffs than for anything else in the history of my fanhood.  I knew this was the Yankees’ year and I didn’t want to see them fail.  I loved this team… the pies, the salutes, the comebacks, everything.

As the bullpen door opened and Mariano Rivera jogged out in the 8th inning of game six, I set my Tivo, knowing that this was the beginning of the end.  I put on a jersey and hat and prepared a bottle of champagne.  I smiled, yelled, and jumped up and down as Joe Buck said “The Yankees are back on top” (pretty weak, if you ask me).  I watched every minute of the celebration and celebrated with the players.  The announcers made a big deal out of the nine years it took for Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera to win the World Series again.  It was my nine years, too.

After being so used to winning, it was taken away from me for a while, but the absence of the World Series trophy in the Bronx made me appreciate this one so much more.  It was the first title of my “adulthood” and it was beyond exciting.  It was the perfect finish to a very special Yankee year.

Pedro to Start Game Two for Phils

October 27, 2009

Pedro Martinez is 8-4 career pitching at Old Yankee Stadium, with a 2.95 ERA.  Martinez will get the ball in game two of the World Series for the Phillies.  Pedro has pitched some memorable postseason games at the big ballpark in the Bronx.  In game three of the 2003 ALCS, after Pedro plunked Karim Garcia (who did, in fact, wear a Yankee uniform at one point in time) and Roger Clemens came close to beaning Manny Ramirez, a brawl ensued, which resulted in Martinez throwing then Yankee Bench Coach Don Zimmer to the ground.  In game seven of that series, Martinez was famously left in to start the 8th inning with Boston up by three runs.  Despite a visit to the mound by his manager, Grady Little, Martinez surrendered the lead and the Yankees wound up defeating the Red Sox to advance to the World Series (Aaron Boone, anyone?).

Of course, the highlight of Martinez’s career pitching against the Yankees came in 2004.  After a disastrous outing in the Bronx, Martinez said:

“They beat me. They’re that good right now. They’re that hot. I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy.”

The fans and the NY Media loved this and have chanted “Who’s your daddy” at Pedro every time he’s pitched against the Yankees since.  Expect nothing different when Pedro takes the hill on Thursday.


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