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October 21 2000: Where Were You This Time Last Year?

(This column originally appeared at www.yankeesxtreme.com, Yankees Xtreme. Reproduced here by permission of Ultrastar.)
For last year’s World Series, the Yanks had to travel to Atlanta and back. While following the games, I traveled even further.
My best friend from high school planned her wedding for October 1999, and in millions of details involved in putting on the event, even her sports fanatic husband-to-be didn’t realize that their wedding night coincided with Game One. When I say sports fanatic, I really mean it–it was even in their vows.

It was a lovely wedding, but between courses of dinner, one of the groomsmen would whip out a handheld tv and check up on the game. Reception at the reception was not great, and he had to walk from window to window trying to get a clear picture. And so the news would trickle back to us… Chipper Jones did such and such, so-and-so struck out… all I really remember is that we were winning. And surely the Yankees couldn’t lose a game on my friend’s wedding day, could they? Even though I had lost my Yankees cap earlier in the day (left it on the Amtrak train, darn it), the Yanks did not disappoint.

The next day, the happy couple headed for their honeymoon in Mexico, while my honey and I flew to Orlando, Florida, to meet a group of our friends in Walt Disney World. October was the only time of year all eight of us could agree on.

We landed at the airport the evening of Game Two with plans to get our rental car and then meet another friend coming on a later flight. We sat in the car by baggage claim with the stereo on, searching for the game. We were too far from Tampa to get the Yankees broadcast, but we found the Braves broadcast somewhere in the middle innings. Since we couldn’t hear Sterling and Kay, it was me who shouted into the echoing concrete underbelly of the airport: “Ballgame over! Yankees win! The-e-e-e-e-e-e Yankees win!” No one shouted back.

I was in a panic though, over the loss of my Yankees cap. I needed a cap to keep my face from getting sunburned in the Florida sun, and to show my team colors. This IS the World Series we’re talking about! The next morning on the way to the Magic Kingdom I made us stop at three sporting goods stores–no luck. They had hats but no New York Yankees. Sold out, one place said. I couldn’t help but notice they had plenty of Braves hats, though…

Well, they say Disney World has something for everyone, and they are right. As we drove into the park to begin our Disney adventure, we saw a huge sign that said “Join Us For Game Three of the World Series, Tonight!” We discovered, wonder of wonders, that one of the areas of Disney’s vast holdings is the ABC Wide World of Sports Complex. Turns out this is where the Braves have their Spring Training. My, my, my. And there is an All-Star Sports Cafe, with dozens of giant screen tv’s, all of which would be showing Game Three that night.

Not only that, just outside the All-Star Sports Cafe, where we planned to have dinner and watch the game, they have a fully-outfitted sporting goods shop. Where I purchased the first, nice, wool fitted basball cap I’ve ever owned. Midnight blue, with the interlocking NY in white. Of course.

The restaurant was fairly full when we came in, and I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that the place was mostly Braves fans. I turned my placemat over and made a scorecard. I was ready for Game Three.

Even though Pettitte faltered early we knew we could win it. By the time Chad Curtis hit his home run, most of the Braves fans were gone, and by the time the game ended, it was just us and two guys from New York. “I’ve got tickets for Game Five,” one guy told us as we celebrated, “but I hope they sweep.”

Disney World is exhausting. By the next night, I was too tired to go with the rest of my friends to try the Disney nightlife. So I watched Game Four in the luxury of our rented house, on the wide screen tv, by the swimming pool, wearing my new cap, all by myself.

Just me and the twenty five greatest guys in the world.

(Did you enjoy reading this blog entry? Please consider buying me a hot dog.)

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