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November 12 2000 : Care Package

ny-coverMy mom is the absolute greatest, you know that?

Okay, well, you know how when you went to summer camp or to college, these packages would arrive from her, and they’d be full of things like cookies, or books, or photos, or other nifty things that made you feel wonderful and loved and comforted and such? Well, if you didn’t, my condolences, and I hope you find love and happiness in your life. But I was talking about my mom in particular.

I just got one of those packages from my mom. No, she doesn’t send cookies anymore, and since I’m thirty three and own my own house, it’s not like I’m away from home. But it is true that I live several states away from my beloved Yankees (and her), and that my participation in this year’s Subway Series was limited to watching it on tv with some friends here in Massachusetts (who, by the way, were Mets fans). My brother did get us tickets to game 7, but, as you all know, it only went to 5…

Oh, what was in the package? My mom collected all the newspapers and magazines she could find about the series and the postseason, and clipped out the articles, and sent them to me.

I had read a lot of articles on the Internet during and after the series. But she managed to get a lot of things I didn’t read, and also there are just some wonderful things about newsprint that can’t be recreated on a web page.

She sent the October 26 World Series Edition of the Star-Ledger (“The Newspaper for New Jersey”),which featured a double-page layout of photos of the whole Yankee roster, with quotes and facts inside–matched up to the back of each photo, as if I could cut them out, laminate them, and have my own special World Series baseball cards. What an intense and beautiful photograph of Clay Bellinger. They really captured the spirit of Randy Choate, too–wiping sweat from his face to his sleeve while on the mound. Choate’s quote “What a thrill. I mean, I was in Class A ball last year, and now I have a chance to go the the World Series?” (I knew Choate had been skipped through the farm system, but I didn’t realize how fast! Another thing I hadn’t been sure of is that Choate wasn’t actually on the WS roster–to make room for Canseco–but I don’t think he would have gotten into any games anyway.)

Next was a priceless, priceless cartoon page from The Village Voice, telling a tale of Yankee fans “from the front lines” as if they were letters from the Civil War. “October 23… Dear Ma, Our orders come in (sic), and we’re moving into enemy territory. It’s getting frightful cold, and I wish I woulda brung my hooded sweatshirt, the one that says 98 World Champs. Has it been washed yet?”

Also from the Voice, a fabulous, entertaining, and classic article by self-professed Yankee fan Robert Christgau, containing several parts so funny I laughed out loud (though Mets fans probably wouldn’t). A choice bit I wallowed in: (on A-rod & Jeter’s friendship) “…the almost-Hellenic attachment between these two paragons epitomizes a baseball in which a richly-rewarded elite….share more with their nominal opponents than with the fans… But … the Jeter-Rodriguez connection has the makings of primal metaphor and psychodrama, and I want to see it tested. Will these postracial standard bearers be allowed to love each other like brothers? And if so, can their bond survive two careers’ worth of competition?”

Okay, so that wasn’t one of the quotes that made me laugh. This was: “(on sitting in the bleachers) Sure, these were serious fans who craved total triumph–anyone who believes there’s special honor in supporting a loser should forget sports and work on banning war toys.” Or how about, “(on being at game one) this was the second straight one-for-the-books I’d witnessed at the ballpark, where free-floating pheromones magnify a game’s psychic impact in a way close-ups and replays cannot.”

Oh, I want to be able to write about baseball like this. For a non-baseball publication, for a general audience, to wax rhapsodic about my deep passion… I suppose a lot of what I do in this journal is exactly that, though I’ll stick with colloquial language and minus the getting-paid-to-do-it part. I guess I better work on that part if I’m ever going to pay down my credit card debt…

More Star-Ledgers, from all throughout the Series. They are full of human-interest sidebars, wonderful photos, and my fingers are getting black from the newsprint. Cute story about how two of my favorite players you don’t hear about much, Clay Bellinger and Chris Turner, were playing catch before a game, and Steinbrenner was standing right behind Bellinger, oblivious to it all. Turner started screwing around, faking wild throws and pretending to lob one at the Boss–Bellinger just kept right on catching them.

Even the ads cracked me up. One sporting goods store advertising all kinds of Subway Series t-shirts and stuff also advertised “Folding Scooters! Holy Cow!” (they mean the kind you ride on the street).

She also included the October 30th issue of NEW YORK magazine, swiped from the doctor’s office (my dad’s the doctor) where she is a secretary.

My eyes are getting buggy from reading all the tiny newsprint… oh my gosh, it’s almost 2am. Holy Cow! And I’ve still got a stack to go through!

I guess it’s time to get in bed with the papers. If I don’t finish reading them tonight, I’ll have Yankee dreams. And then I can read them again when I wake up in the morning.

Not only that, years from now, when my computer has been upgraded beyond recognition, and whatever new media has taken over the World Wide Web comes into being, I’ll still have these clippings to pore over, and remember my best season as a Yankee fan.

My mom didn’t include a letter in the package, and I suppose that’s a shame, because I want to treasure my memories of her as much as those of the champions. But I suppose I’ll never forget that the first thing she thought of when the Yankees won, was me.

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