September Baseball… (Guest Post from E.L. Danvers)
By E.L. Danvers
September 11, 2021
Baseball, when all is said and done, is just a game. But as a diehard fan, it rarely feels like that.
Baseball has been a constant in my life ever since I can remember. Instilled in me from an early age by my grandmother, the game offered a commonality through the ages. It always gave us something to talk about, even when I got older and the calls to rehash a play or outcome got fewer and fewer.
Major League Baseball in the Bronx is all about winning. If a team doesn’t win it all, nothing that happened that season matters. It’s all a loss. Except maybe once.
Torrential downpours soaked New York City on Monday, September 10, 2001. The Yankees were seeking a four-game sweep of the Red Sox at the Stadium, but the game was a washout. Any postponement was disappointing but this one was a huge one.
The sun came up on Tuesday morning and offered that clear, bright blue sky. We all know what came next. Twenty years later and a beautiful blue sky can still trigger the chill of recalling a terrifying and grievous day.
Baseball stopped. Everything did, but only for a short while. About a week later, the Mets brought baseball back to New York and Chicago welcomed the Yankees. A big fan-made banner read, “Chicago (heart) N.Y.” The country needed something and baseball filled that void.
In late October, the Yankees sought to extend their dynasty with a fourth-consecutive World Series title against the Diamondbacks. It didn’t happen. Manager Joe Torre had few good options. He chose to pull the infield in, and the Yankees, with a grieving city on its back, watched a weak single off Mo bloop into short leftfield. Game over. World Series over. Dynasty over.
A crushing defeat in any year, devastating that year. HBO’s Nine Innings from Ground Zero documents what the team meant much better than I ever could. But the realities of the rest of the world now had nowhere to hide. There were no more innings.
Looking back, it is not surprising to remember how much I relied on the Yankees to get through. I always did when I needed to. But what is surprising to me is the realization that the 2001 World Series is the one that means the most to me. Not 1996 win ending the drought, not the ’98 dream season win, not the ’99 sweep of the Braves, not the 2000 Subway Series, or even the 2009 win that I got to see in person.
Those three games at Yankee Stadium are probably my favorite ever. Our pinstriped players, our champions, donned hats with the world-famous interlocking NY anchoring the tributes to the FDNY, NYPD, or both. The team gave the City of New York hope and those three comeback wins – made possible by a little bit of mystique, some aura, two Brosius homeruns, and Mr. November – were nothing short of extraordinary, the kind of thing that can only happen in Yankeeland.
The Stadium shook during those games. TVs all over the city were tuned in, even in households that would ordinarily not watch a single game. All that raw emotion and grief needed an outlet. The 2001 Yankees gave us that.
They gave us as fans, those rooting for New York, and anyone who simply needed a distraction more than we could have hoped for. A win would have been nice. At the time, a win felt necessary, destined. But to paraphrase Yogi, we didn’t lose. We just ran out of time to win the whole thing.