As always, especially later in life, my dad would have been enthralled by this past baseball season. I regret the times I drove by the house in the evening, saw him through the front window watching the Yankees on tv, and did not walk over to watch a few innings together. We would talk about the games, however, and I kept current only so I could. Now that he is gone, I have absolutely no interest, but note that his beloved Yankees have fallen.
It would have made for a lively conversation.
Here's one of my dad's takes on the baseball season:
Bart Giamatti would have loved it, the scramble down to the wire, a pair of titans locked in mortal combat, sun drenched afternoons holding off the cold rains as perennial to New England as the glory of its foliage. Heroes all over the lot. Boston and New York at it again.
He thought often of Giamatti as he watched the Yankees and the Red Sox extend their torrid race for a divisional championship down to the final two days of the season. A. Bartlett Giamatti, the Renaissance scholar and former president of Yale, who gave up his brilliant academic career to take on the turbulent job of commissioner of major league baseball, would have loved the drama of it, if not the outcome. He never successfully hid his love of the Red Sox but screened it with his love of the game itself.
He had written eloquently of the game he loved. “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything begins again and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone."
“You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high sky alive , and then, when the skies are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. It stops and summer is gone.”
He would have liked to reassure Giamatti, who sadly enough died from a heart attack in 1989, that none of it had stopped this year, at least. The Yankees won their division and thus qualified for the playoffs but the Red Sox also qualified by beating New York the next day and qualifying as the “wild card” entry as a result of their having he highest win/lost percentage outside the leaders in each of the league’s three divisions.
So now he had at least two more weeks of the extended season to look forward to. He fully expected the New York team to ultimately win back the championship they had lost to Boston the previous year. If they do, he fully expected to hear the ghostly voice of Giamatti cry out in anguish while he derided himself for caring so much while others could pass on without a whimper.
“There are those who learn after the first few times. They grow out of sports. And there are others who were born with the wisdom to know that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough ones who can live without illusion or even the hope of illusion. I am not that grown up or up-to-date. I am a simpler creature, tied to more primitive patterns and cycles. I need to think something lasts forever and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun.”
He could hardly wait for the playoffs to start.