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OH, WHAT A NIGHT
2003-10-17 19:31
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

By the time I left work yesterday afternoon, my stomach was cramping, and I felt faint. How was I going to make it through another agonizing Yankee-Red Sox game? I immediately felt better as I walked through midtown. There is nothing as theraputic as walking the city streets. It helps you feel like part of the fabric of the town. All those people, all those different stories. How big were my problems? Compared with some of the nutjobs out there, minor to say the least.

I met up with an old friend of mine and we had a nice chat. I told him how stressed I was over the game, and how I couldn't think about anything else. So he asked me if I actually enjoy watching games anymore. Hey, I think I'm much better than I've ever been, but the truth was, "No." I haven't enjoying it much at all. I'm doing what any red blooded fan does: I'm suffering.

"Damn, that's a real shame," he tells me. "What a bummer that you would put so much passion and energy into something that you don't even enjoy."

That hit me between the eyes. He's right. What the hell am I doing to myself? This is Yankees-Red Sox, Game 7. I need to derive pleasure from this event regardless of the outcome, otherwise what's the point? (Sometimes all you need is a good friend to help you cope, and in case of emergency, my man Steven is as good as they come.)

When we finished having coffee, I headed back over to the west side. It was just past seven, and I knew it would take me roughly an hour to get back uptown, just in time for the first inning. It was dark already, and it was briskbut not cold in New York. There there was bumper-to-bumper traffic on 42nd street. I was between 5th and 6th avenues, and I made my way down the north side of the street, when I heard the sound of a familiar piece of music blaring from somewhere.

I removed my headphones to find out where it was coming from. It was an opera. I don't know much about opera, but I knew this music, from commercials or the movies, I don't know. I looked to my left, at the traffic as it crawled along, and found the culprit: a burly-looking Hells Angel type, straight out of central casting, was riding a motorcyle which had a side car. He was John Belushi back from the dead, and my man was blasting Pavoratti singing from the opera "Turandot." Dude had thick googles and was chomping on a cigar to boot.

Talk about style. Talk about a New York moment. It was perfect.

That put me in a great frame of mind to watch Game 7. When the Yankees fell behind 2-0 on Trot Nixon's homer, and then 3-0 on Enrique Wilson's error, I just laughed it off. Emily was home, and I was determined to go down enjoying this one, even if the Yankees took a beating. When the score reached 4-0 I was on the phone with my cousin talking about what a great year it had been for the Yanks and how impressive Boston had been. I pulled out my phone book and prepared to make phone calls to Ed Cossette, Scott Adams and my pal Johnny Red Sox after the last out was made.

Needless to say, Emily's faith never waivered. I spent most of the night happily chiding the Yankee hitters. "Way to go Soriano, make him earn it." (I specialize in what Jay Jaffe calls, "The Power of Negative Reinforcement.") Of course, the Bombers slowly crawled back in the game. I didn't allow myself to get too excited until Posada's bloop double tied the game in the eighth. But then I was ready to go, pacing and praying, and clapping loudly. Emily's faith took some dips here and there as the pressure eventually got to her as well.

She was exhausted by the time the game reached extra innings and she was actually warshing up in the bathroom when Boone ended it in the 11th. I started yelling like a madman, throwing things around. She came racing out and I picked her up and twirled her around. Quite frankly, I can't remember what else happened. I know I was screaming. The phone rang, and I kept screaming; I got call-waiting and didn't stop yelling even for an instant.

Then the post-game barrage began, so I shut up. It took a couple of hours to finall calm down and I finally fell asleep at around 2:30. I can safely say that last night was one of the greatest baseball nights of my life. I'm glad I got to watch it with my girl, who has been my steady, baseball pal all year long.

The Red Sox were amazing, but came up just short. I have the feeling that if both teams played today, the Sox would win, and then it would be the Yankees turn again tomorrow. I wasn't upset for Boston, but I did feel for some of the Red Sox fans that I've met this year--guys like Ben Jacobs and of course, Edward Cossette.

I think Pedro Martinez did a lot of make up for his loss of composure in Game 3. He pitched admirably, and then faced the media like a stand-up guy after the game. I'm curious to see how the Boston players react to both Martinez and Manny in the following weeks. This should be another active off-season for the Red Sox, and I don't think anyone is safe. But I do believe that Boston will continue to improve, and be be a force in the American League for years to come.

But for one more night, and one more year, the Yankees were that much better.

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