The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


The Obligatory Five-Year Anniversary Post

I was pretty busy with today's Hit List right up until near the submission deadline, so I hardly left the house yesterday and didn't even turn on live TV except to catch the crucial innings of the Yankees-Orioles game (first question: what the hell is Fernando Tatis doing in a major-league uniform? second question: what the hell is he doing in the outfield? third question: is it possible for Earl Weaver to roll over in his grave while he's still alive?).

As such, I didn't spend much time thinking about the somber anniversary yesterday represented until I was done. The last thing I would subject myself to under any circumstances on such a day is the blathering of our idiot manchild shaved-ape president, who routinely politicizes September 11 to distract us from the reality that he bears more responsibility for the tragic events of that day than any American. And I'd rather jam a pen in my ear than listen to what most of the talking heads on TV have to say as they tiptoe around that truth [note: we're not arguing these points in the comments, so don't even bother trying].

Once the work was done I decided to mark the day in my own way, cueing up the HBO documentary Nine Innings From Ground Zero. I found myself crying almost immediately. I was here in the city for 9/11, lived through it and fortunately didn't lose anyone close to me, though the hours of uncertainty, fear and dread as I accounted for my loved ones are something I wouldn't wish on anyone in any lifetime. It was a life-changing experience, and reliving the reminders of that through the documentary -- which has as much to do with the city in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 as it does with baseball -- brought forth a flood of emotions.

For me, baseball became interwined with that September 11's events even before the sun rose; my personal narrative begins with the rainout at Yankee Stadium on the night of September 10, where I saw a girl in a rain-soaked Nomar Garciaparra jersey dancing in the puddle at the base of Yankee Stadium's upper deck as my pal Nick and I snarfed down hot dogs before filing back out. I went home and wrote a blog entry on Andy Pettitte, then woke up the next morning and marveled at the crystal blue sky, still thinking of Dancing Nomar Girl. It wasn't long before I saw the smoke and the convoy of emergency vehicles rolling down Second Avenue.

Over the next couple of days my blog, just a few months old at that time, became a lifeline; writing -- much of it not published -- helped me to keep some semblance of sanity. I wrote a bit on September 12, then even more a few days later.

Every day I made a point of walking by Ladder Company #3 around the corner. They lost a dozen men -- half the firehouse -- that day. As the baseball resumed, I thought of them every time I saw an FDNY hat, and counted my blessings on a routine basis, reminded those close to me of their importance in my life, and made an effort to savor each and every day, no matter how banal. Even in the paranoid atmosphere of Game Three of the World Series -- the game at the center of that HBO documentary -- there was plenty to enjoy, especially if you didn't have to endure watching the President throw out the first pitch.

Baseball was truly a part of the healing, as the HBO documentary reminded me last night. It unified us, not just in this city but all over the country, and gave us something to smile about, from the Yankees' improbable march through the playoffs (Jeter's play against Oakland may be the closest thing to divine intervention I've ever seen on a diamond) to those late-night comebacks at Byung-Hyun Kim's expense. Even as those Yankees lost the World Series, they won our hearts while reminding us that we don't always get the storybook ending, and that it's up to us to make the most of what remains. "You can't always get what you want," as the Rolling Stones sang decades before, "But if you try sometimes, you just might find you can get what you need."

That's no cliché.

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