Posted tagged ‘Mo’

What Sets Mo And Derek apart

July 26, 2009

Just back from Yankees Game.

Let’s get this straight, I am a Yankees fan but not really a Yankees’ game fan. Before today, I had only been to two professional baseball games in my life, one at age 10, and one about 10 years ago, a Yankees game, on an outing with my office.   The highlight of that game was the ceaseless fun the group made of me because of the carrot sticks, yogurt, and mineral water I had brought for my daughter and me to eat. Oh yes, and focaccia. The rest of my firm ate hot dogs, sipped (not guzzled) beer (they are a fairly straightlaced group) and took  great pleasure in mocking what they viewed as my health food.

Look, I kept insisting in my mock defense (because I suppose I take pride in not eating hot dogs), we have focaccia.  That’s not a health food.

But that only generated more laughter,  foccacia not considered to be in the peanuts and cracker jacks league.

I liked the Yankees okay back then, though really came because it was an office outing.  All that changed in the fall of 2001 when the Yankees saved New York.

It was right after 9/11,  a time when you wanted to stay out of crowds.  I remember having to go to Times Square for example and walking in the street to avoid the busy sidewalk, oncoming traffic seeming safer than to be stuck in any group anywhere.

And there the Yankees were, bringing in full stadiums, managing to make it to the World Series, even though they probably weren’t the best team that year, managing to make the games go to many many innings, giving New York something to be thrilled at, and making it all right again to be part of a large group, in public, here.

Tears slid down my cheeks as I watched them stand at attention, hand over hear, first through the Star Spangled Banner of each game, then God Bless America.    It was a time tears could run down your cheeks over something like that no matter what your feelings about the Vietnam War had been.   (That part of that time was wonderful.)

I fell in love with the Yankees then.  Maybe not enough to watch in-season games in full, but in love nonetheless.  And how could you not love those two?  Yes, there was Paul O’Neill, and Tino Martinez, and Bernie Williams,  and Mike Mussina, and even Roger Clemens (I guess) but you know the ones I mean.

Let’s start with the obvious.  Derek.  We all cheered for him today.    No. 2.   I was amazed to see on the screen that he is  6’3″ because he looks, from a distance, like a much more compact person.   Almost like a dancer, in the close fit of arms and legs and torso;  there is little lankiness from a distance.  And he actually looks really good in the Yankees’ uniform; there is no slouch around the legs and chest; he looks fit, springy, and somehow (though this may be my bias) sweet.  (My daughter asks me how I can know that, but I insist that it’s true.)

And then there’s Mariano.   The whole field sighed in devotion, awe,  as he ran out from the bull pen.  It was like the savior was here, papa’s home, the doctor’s arrived, it’s stopped raining; any phrase that means “everything will be okay.”    He reminds me of a jaguar, also Panamanian.   His face has that kind of taut beauty.  Then too, there ‘s the refinement of movement;  even when he walks, he kind of slinks.  Though always upright, perfect straight.   There is a kind of humility even in his walk.  (My daughter again is not sure of that, but I am.)

The other pitchers kept missing Jorge when they were warming up.  I don’t mean to diminish them, pitching looks impossible to me.  But Jorge Posada is someone who seems able to catch everything.

Mariano just threw right to him every time.  The pitch as focused as his delivery, his face, his aura, and, of course, the crowd around him.

His uniform looks great on him too.

Yes, I suppose they get paid a lot.

And I have to confess I find a lot of the game a little boring and hot.  There are so many stretches of waiting;  what breaks them often happens so fast I half miss it.

But when Derek  jumps to the catch, it’s hard not to be caught as well.

And when Mariano does anything at all, you just have to watch.

Speaking of watching, watch out for my picture book, 1 Mississippi, now available on Amazon.