This is the sixth Opening Day for Bronx Banter. Since 2003, I've often wondered what life would be for the Yankees without Joe Torre, and, more significantly, what'd be like without George Steinbrenner. In way, we are entering the new season, the last for the House that Ruth Built (and the good people of NYC rennovated in the mid-seventies), without either man. Torre has moved to the west coast to lead the L.A. Dodgers, and the Boss has been quietly removed from the public eye, replaced by his two sons, Hank and Hal. This is the end of an era in some regards, and all spring I've felt sad about the pending loss of Yankee Stadium, and the demise of the Boss (man, I never thought I'd say that). There is something really off about Opening Day in the Bronx when Bob Sheppard isn't in the house.
Of course, there is plenty to be excited about with the team--from Joe Girardi and his staff, to the young pitchers, to the returning stars like Rodriguez, Jeter, Posada and Rivera. Still, I've found myself avoiding reading too closely about the team over the past few weeks. Cliff has done a wonderful job of charting the progress of the team during spring training, and there is no lack of material available (with Pete Abe leading the way). There is so much to read, in fact, that I've almost shut-down in an effort to start fresh today. I want my impressions to be clear and sharp. In order to do that, I found it helpful to step away, ever-so slightly.
I'm also hesitant because on some level, I don't always like the person I become during baseball season: Neurotic. I get so wrapped up in the winning and losing of games that I have no control over that it impacts my sleep, my well-being, my relationship with my wife, you name it. I've enjoyed the winter break from the emotional rollercoaster. Who knows? Maybe I'm maturing...I know I'm far less knuts than I used to be (and maybe this is just wishful thinking). But I also know that the Yankees are the only team that stirs me up like I'm a kid. When I checked on-line last week and saw that the Red Sox had won their first game, I felt a twinge in my gut. Oh, man, here we go again. Then again, that is part of the reason why I love following the Yanks, because, rational or not, the games mean something to me.
Give me a couple of pitches today and I'll be hooked--watching how much Jeter enjoys himself, or seeing Robinson Cano stroking a line drive into the left-centerfield gap, or Johnny Damon poppin' one into the upper deck in right, or just admiring Rodriguez's seemingly effortless swing. These and many other small moments, give me so much pleasure over the course of the long season, that they overwhelm my petty insecurities as a fan obsessed with the results. The play on the field, the injuries, the hard work, all make coming back worthwhile.
Cliff and I will be holding down daily coverage this year, with weekly additions from Bruce, Emma and Will. Hope y'all will fall through and enjoy it with us. (For starters, check out Roger Angell's latest at the New Yorker.)