BASEBALL AND THE DRUNKEN GODS
Sports rivalries permit giddy war-like rhetoric. After a playoff ended in victory, a woman turned to me and asked, “Whom do we hate now?” American sports are a mock Peloponnesian War. People enjoy the kidding. It enlivens the spirit.
Late in the Twentieth Century I took a 5:00pm Staten Island ferry into Manhattan. Both the Mets and Yankees were in town, and fans of both clubs were crossing for the games and many were decked out in their regalia. A [Jeter] 2 sat across from a Wright 5. Around 11:00pm I returned to Staten Island but found only subdued and listless Mets fans. Wright 5 was drinking a beer. It was plainly not his first. I concluded the Mets had lost, tragically, to the Phillies. However, checking the Internet (that transient fad; oh when will it pass?), I discovered the Yankees game had gone in fact into extra innings. I then listened on the radio as the Yanks beat the Red Sox on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 14th.
And what does all this mean?
|drawing by Rachel Pfeffer|
Back in 1999 just before the Millennium, God and Allah were in a bar up in heaven. God has always been a
Yankee fan. Allah favors the Mets. “Jeez, God,” said Allah, “for like a thousand years the Yankees always win.
Why don’t you make it interesting? how about giving my boys a chance?”
All right, said God, games should be fair. The Mets can win henceforward sometimes, and the Yankees accordingly will lose. And such is the All-new Divine Plan.
But Lo! The Yankees immediately in that Very Millennial Year, 2000, defied the Lord’s Plan and humiliated the Mets to win the World Series. Allah sneered. “Some God!” saith Allah, “Come October You can’t even control nine guys on a ball field.”
“Maybe they’re more afraid of Steinbrenner than Me,” saith the Lord. “You Allah may smite New York Itself."
BASEBALL and WORLD HISTORY
In 1969 I moved from Chicago to New York, and an odd thing occurred in the world of sports. The Mets, the laughably bad expansion replacement for the Dodgers and Giants, were making a move in the National League pennant race. I tried to ignore it. I was transferring from the University of Chicago to Columbia University. It was a gamble. The Mets seemed like a good omen.
By 2008 I needed a retreat from New York. I investigated small towns in Vermont and Connecticut, places where I would know one or two people who lived there some times but really and truly lived in a city, in Boston or Barcelona or Montreal or New York. Then I thought, ah Philadelphia! I had accidentally wandered into an old Colonial part of the city that was pretty and ancient and largely free of tourists. Meanwhile on bar-room TVs I watched Cole Hamels strike out the side, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard deliver hits as needed. Fuck it, these guys are winners! I moved to Philadelphia! Obama won the election, the Phillies won the World Series, and I was a genius!
Then the Phillies subsided and became a .500 team. This year the Pitiable Phillies and the Muslim Mets were out of playoff contention early. The Phillies unloaded Hunter Pence their star right fielder to the Giants. The divine Yankees, still depending on 20th century stars like [Jeter]2 and [Rodriguez]13, were swept away by the Tigers. [The Yankees, unlike merely mortal teams, have numbers but no names on their uniforms.] Then the Giants swept the Tigers in the World Series. Pence was a hero. And why am I still in Philadelphia? Should I move to San Francisco? Big fans are always losers. God and Allah, Jesus and Mary pull the strings. God loves the Yankees but -- did you know this? -- dislikes A-Rod. For A-Rod, as the New York Post putteth it, is an A-Hole. Disgusted by 13 and the entire baseball season Jesus said, "Fuck 'em," and called for Sandy.