How 'bout them Yankees?

I know, it should be, “How ’bout them Red Sox” but the Yankee’s quote is more familiar. Don’t know how many of you were following the games these last few days, but the whole world is talking about them today. It’s always exciting to be a part of history — especially when the history in the making isn’t about war, or bombs, or famine.

Truth is, I’m not much of a sports enthusiast. I got hooked on the American League games via watching them with my fiance, who is a huge Yankees fan. He took last night’s defeat rather courageously, I thought, insisting throughout the night that the Yankees would pull a rabbit out of their hat and gain the upper hand, or upper bat, if you will.

The reason I’m even writing today is because I’m trying very hard to understand sports in general — not just baseball, which I’m familiar enough with that I can at least understand what needs to happen when the pitcher pitches and the batter bats. I can even follow basketball a bit, but not golf. Don’t ask me about football…or soccer…or tennis.

Sports is entertainment. That much I get. Folks who get into long, often heated discussions, over how much these baseball, football, basketball, golf stars etc. get paid, are just wasting breath as far as I can see. Much like the income of famous movie stars, sports stars are celebrities and they are paid accordingly. Obviously, if the general public seriously disapproved, they would stop attending the games. Wouldn’t they?

As an outside observer, it seems to me that the money isn’t the issue. Let them worry about their income. The question issue really is — is the entertainment value worth it? To be more specific, is baseball worth it?

An historical event such as the one we witnessed last night…and I maintain that it is an historical event, it will be talked about for decades to come…commands so much attention that it’s surely worth the price– regardless of what that price happens to be.

Yet, several times during the game last night the announcers mentioned how much $$$ was resting on that game…I think it was in the millions of dollars…maybe it was billions, I’m not sure. What I am sure about is that talk of the ‘cost’ of the game belittled its importance in the grand halls of American sports history. I was watching and getting drawn in the same as everyone else, without the final disappointment because I only became a Yankees fan a couple of weeks ago…and it seemed to me that this “curse of the Bambino” legend lent real historical perspective to the game.

Somehow I felt as if baseball, and this game in particular, was representative of America in a unique way. It represented the melting pot of people who live and work here. People who live in tight knit communities and neighborhoods as colorful and varied as the trees lining their streets, or the parks dotting the edges of the townlines. I couldn’t help but watch the fans as much as I watched the two baseball teams. I was fascinated by the intense looks on the kids’ faces, the cheering from each side, the huddling together, blowing on one’s hands, to keep warm.

Was it just me, or did anyone else glimpse the ghosts of fans from those carefree days of the early 20th century, when baseball was THE American sport? Did anyone else get a sense of the spirit of those long ago fans from the days when players were true American heroes, before television made everyone some kind of hero? They were there — sjumping up and down in the stands, just as intent on the RBIs, the hits, the homeruns, and the ultimate victory or defeat, as the flesh and blood fans of today, with their wild cheering and chanting– for their team — or for the camera, one can’t always be sure!

Last night’s game was more than a winning baseball game, assuring the Red Sox’s a place not only in history, but in the World Series. It was America — taking sides, making a grand stand of support, engrossed in something other than the war in Iraq, or the election, or which celebrity in Hollywood was getting divorced or being sued.

Men, women and children, gathered in Yankee territory, positive of a winning outcome on their side (Yankee or Red Sox, each fan wasn’t giving an inch…his or her team was going to win — against all odds — or with all odds — it was just going to happen). They were there sporting the proper fan attire, waving pictures of long ago heroes, chanting their team chant…it was America the way America used to be.

Involved and committed, braving the cold and the wind, full of hope and anticipation, fingers crossed, eyes raised to the heavens, hearts pumping in pride.

Today, they are all back at work or school, the winners full of excitement and cheers, celebrating a hardwon victory, the losers able to take the jeering in stride, knowing that their rivals are not homefree yet.

The Bambino is watching. Will the curse be broken or… not?