The Monday after I attended the Yankees’ Championship parade, I faced the dilemma of the absence note. Do I give my actual whereabouts on that day or do I make up the ever-useful doctor’s appointment? I chose a third option, the very vague “prior personal commitment.”
While the average reader may recognize this statement as a complete lie, embedded within the statement is in fact a good amount of truth.
Let’s start with the “prior” part. I have been a die-hard Yankees fan my entire life. I watched former third baseman Scott Brosius hit two home runs in Game 3 of the 1998 World Series. I cried when Luis Gonzalez’s blooper landed just beyond the infield and beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.
Until this year, the Yankees had not won the World Series since 2000. While nine years to fans of most teams might not be a long time between championships, it is an eternity in Yankee years; the Yankees are expected to win it all every season. Anything less is a disappointment.
These nine years were stained with steroid scandals and the continual signing of aged superstars in an attempt to create another winning club. Clubhouse chemistry was gone and the classic team from ’98 had all but disintegrated.
In 2004 the Boston Red Sox rallied from three games down facing elimination to beat the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. They went on to win the World Series, breaking an 86 year “curse.”
New York fans were no longer able to chant “1918!” The Sox won again in 2007. The tumultuous span from 2000-2009 tested the mettle of Yankee fans.
Next is the “personal” part. After nine turbulent seasons, the 2009 Yankee team had the same type of chemistry as the teams of the late 90s. I found it more enjoyable to watch a team comfortable with itself go out and play baseball the way it’s supposed to be played. I dedicated hours of my summer to watching their games and, even though it was a school night, painted my face and went to the first playoff game in the new stadium.
I watched every playoff game on TV, even when they went into extra innings well past midnight. I put off my homework, and sleep became secondary. I constantly received complaints from neighbors about being too loud when I yelled or making too much noise on the ceiling when I jumped around. But it was all worth it.
Finally, the “commitment” part. The parade was my reward, a celebration not only of the championship but also of the dedication of the fans.
Millions of New Yorkers lined Broadway. They call it the “Canyon of Heroes” because of the tall buildings on either side of the street and the parades that march down the heart of it.
Ticker tape rained down from the offices. Rolls of toilet paper were thrown back and forth across the street. It was 10 in the morning, but the smell of beer was already prominent. For the moment, everyone acted as friends. Strangers hugged like family. There was a mutual feeling of accomplishment.
My friends and I took pictures and started chants. We shared our stories about the games we went to during the season. We jumped and pushed and shoved, but mainly just to keep warm. And then the Yankees came. We tried to catch a glimpse of all the players. I saw A-Rod at the front of his float with both hands in the air and C. C. Sabathia holding up an index finger. My friend told me I missed the mohawk-headed Nick Swisher. The actual procession only lasted for a little over an hour.
In school the following Monday I quietly slipped the note to each teacher to sign. I tried to avoid eye contact so as not to draw any questions. One teacher read it and smiled, knowing the detailed version of the story. However, most of them simply signed the sheet without pausing. They did not even glance at the reason.