Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Faith Revisited (Part 1)

So here we are. For the third time in our three ALCS appearances in the past 5 years, we're down 3 games to 1, with Elimination breathing heavily down our necks. By the 6th inning of last night's laugher, I picked up Bill Simmons' emotional circus, Now I Can Die in Peace - a collection of his daily columns following every insane twist and turn in October of 2004. Back then, we looked to the columns as a way to put to words the emotions we were experiencing, as we were far too delirious to explain them ourselves. Non-Sox friends would as "How you doin?" I'd simply say, "Go read Simmons today." Last night, I needed that emotional charge again.

I flipped to the part of NICDIP written just after 2003's Game 7. Felt like a good place to start. Almost immediately, everything came rushing back. I remember sitting in the back tables at Maloney's in Tempe (a bar rumored to be named after Sam "Mayday" Malone, with a distinct "everybody knows your name" feel to it) half filled with Sox fans, half with Yankees fans. The glorious "WHERE IS RO-GER?" chants still echo in my mind. We had our Rally Pumpkin perched defiantly on the fireplace under the TVs. But then, cruelly, eerily, our only candle burned out, just as Pedro's lead slipped through his fingers. As with almost everything that happened in the minutes, days, months that followed... you can't make this stuff up.

I left the bar in the middle of the 11th, knowing exactly what was about to happen. I was almost to my car when I heard the cheers from the Yankee-filled deck wrapping around the bar. I looked back at the scene, and my eyes moved up to the tiny TV hanging overhead, just in time to see Boone's HR fall into the bleachers.

There are tons of stories from that post season, but that one still haunts me. And as I flipped through the pages, Simmons brought me back. It even got a little dusty in here.

And the best part of going back in time and reading history as it unfolds? You're taken back to those emotions, nearly as pure as when you first felt them. Tingles when we signed Schilling. Swagger after the A-Rod fight. Heck I remember my exact whereabouts when ESPN radio told me Schilling might come back for Game 6 at Yankee Stadium. Screeching to a stop, bounding out of my car and racing - almost skipping- down my walkway to tell my roommate what I'd just heard - that there might still be hope. It all comes back. And as we so wonderfully learned in 2004, our current 2008 situation might not be as hopeless as it seems, as it's always darkest before the dawn. So keep ya head up.

In terms of the book, I'm at the precipice of that Yankees series. And my emotions are so great I had to write something down. So here ya go. After this I'll probably pop Faith Rewarded into the DVD player for another go-around. I watched the 2007 Official World Series DVD immediately following last night's debacle, but all it talked about was how great the Manny/Papi duo is in the post season, how clutch Mike Lowell is in the spotlight, and how Curt Schilling's heroics saved the world again. I don't recommend this video to anyone right now. Don't even bother. If you're looking for inspiration - for hope - you need look no further than Faith Rewarded and Now I Can Die in Peace. Because while most of the faces have changed, the emotions will always be there.

After all, it feels so good [so good] to believe again.
Sidenote: All this memory lane stuff brings me back to a scenario posed to me a few years ago. I had just heard from a friend that my ex girlfriend ran into Derek Jeter and newly-turned-Yankee Johnny Damon at a Scottsdale nightclub. The immediate thought that ran through my head - who of the three would I save if the building caught fire and there was only time for one rescue before the ceiling caved in?

To be perfectly honest with you, at the time the answer was probably Jeter. Now... actually ya know what? Still Jeter.
Irregardless, let's win this thing.

(More tomorrow...)

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