We've all enjoyed a day in the sun sitting on burning metal bleachers, chanting the names of all-stars, hall of famers, and even those rookies called up for their 15 minutes of fame. We've all taken that first bite of a hot dog, to look down and see that the cheap yellow mustard has dripped down the back of the dog and landed on our bright white shirt, so we try to stealthily dab it away, but make no real progress and walk around the whole day with the stain. We've all sat in our cars, listening over-attentively to John Sterling, yearning to hear history. We all sneak an occasional glance at the ESPN Bottomline to see if our team won on any given day. We've all let baseball steal a spot in our hearts, for it is more than a game to many, its a way of life.
Look back at the past ten years of your life, and ask yourself what do you remember. Sure, you'll remember falling in love, or getting married, or starting college, or getting promoted. And you'll recall tragedy, death, and disappoinment. But for every individual these life events are different, and they are only discussed by those very dear to you. However, we all remember winning the Subway series in 2000. We can all remember feeling our hearts drop as Luis Gonzalez hit that painful single off Mariano in game 7. We all remember cheering as the Yanks would face Byun Hyun Kim, as we knew we could hit him. We all remember the utter shock we felt as Aaron Boone hit his collossal shot to left. We all remember watching Wakefield walk off the field, as the Yankees surrounded home to dogpile on Boone. And we all remember that winter morning, when every sports station held the headline "Rodriguez to the Bronx" and we can recall that mixed sentiment, we hated seeing Fonsy leave, but were elated to have the left side of our infield manned by the two best shortstops in the league. We can all recount that feeling of optimism we felt as we held a 3-0 lead in the ALCS against Boston, only to have our hearts stomped on and our dreams trampled upon. We can recall Joba being swarmed by gnats in Cleveland as we lost to the Tribe in the ALDS. We all remember that empty feeling last October of not having baseball to enjoy. And we all recall the astonishment we felt when we found out that the Yankees had signed Mark Teixeira on top of CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett to usher in the new cathedral. These memories unite us. For these events in Yankee history can be brought up to any fan, and they will recall them. True fans can be of any two backgrounds and be connected through this franchise of excellence. It is the pinstripes that bond together a society of fans, a dedicated troupe, with one common love: the Bronx Bombers. It pulses in our veins. It beats in our hearts. It pushes us to be better. It provokes each child's dream of hearing his name announced by Mr. Sheppherd. It gives us faith. It gives us a safe haven. It gives us love.
For as long as I can remember I've been told "It's just a game." "The players have already forgotten about it, so should you." But its not just a game. The players don't forget. These games sculpt memories, they write history, they make legends, they produce heroes, they bring disappointment, they bring fear, they bring joy, they bring something intangible that we just don't forget. Mariano hasn't forgotten Game 7 of '01. Boone surely hasn't forgotten the shot that brought him fame. Maris never forgot number 61. Ruth never forgot when he called his shot, nor did the rest of the nation. The players remember the game, the writers remember the game, the fans remember the game, and history remembers the game. We remember the dirt on Jeter's uniform. We remember the smile on Swisher's face. We remember Manny's astonishment as Melky's leaping grab robbed him of a homer. We remember the tears streaming down Joe Torre's face after each World Series Victory. We remember our little league teams. We remember that feeling of triumph as we cleanly fielded a grounder. We remember learning to stock sunflowers seeds in one cheek, then split the shell and spit 'em. We remember baseball because it moves with us through our lives. The memories stay, and new ones come around each year. For this isn't just a game. This is life.
Who doesn't have a favorite player? Be it Derek Jeter or Bubba Crosby, we've all felt a connection to one player or another. We've all rooted for "the bad guy" because we wanted our team to win. We've all rooted for "the class act" because...well how can you not? We've all rooted for the "feel good story" because we all believe in hope. We've all rooted for "the rookie" as we hope to see their career start off in fashion. We've all rooted for "the veteran" because they are simply woven into the seams of the baseball. We all have connected to these players, these people that most of us have never met. We've all felt joy and pain, love and hate, astonishment and disbelief because of the things these "foreign figures" do as they take the field. And sure, you can say we don't know them. But we do. For we're there as they have that rush of excitement or disappointment as they bring home a victory or a loss. We see them in their purest state. A state of 100% emotion, both good and bad. And it is in these moments that we "know" these players.
For this is where there are no barriers, for we are all connected by that pinstriped blood we all bleed, and by that irreplacable love that we all feel for a logo, for a name, for a uniform, for a franchise, for a nation, for a team. For we are the New York Yankees through thick and thin. And no one can ever change that. When the world kicks you down, your team will always be there. They may win, or they may lose, but they will always be there. Lou Gherig's speech will always ring through our ears. The smell of spring will always waft its way to our nose. The taste of peanuts will always make us lick our lips. The feeling of our old worn down leather gloves will always hold on to our fingertips. And that interlocking NY will always be burned into our eyes, we will always see it, and upon viewing it we will think of one word: Loyalty.