On Wednesday, November 3rd, the New York Yankees won the World Series four games to two over the Philadelphia Phillies, their 27th World Championship. The Phillies, defending their 2008 crown, were overwhelmed by the Bronx Bombers in pitching and hitting. On Friday, the Imperial City gave the home team a parade up Broadway, ending with music and speeches at City Hall. I checked out the scene in the immediate aftermath, knowing in advance how difficult it would be to get my face on Broadway. I counted 14 satellite dishes along Park Row next to Broadway. The streets and sidewalks were still thick with Yankee fans, chanting “Let’s Go Yankees!” and sporting newly minted world champions tee shirts and sweatshirts. I’d say there was less paper discharged from offices than in previous parades down the Canyon of Heroes.

Interestingly, one computer group ran 10,001 simulations on their system and accurately predicted the outcome. And I must say, 4 to 2 sounded about right to me, as well. Other computer simulations picked the Dodgers to win. And one can question whether the American competition is still truly a world championship. The U.S. team, containing many premier players, lost to South Korea in the semi-finals of the 2009 World Baseball Classic, played in the pre-season. Japan went on to defeat South Korea for the title.

No matter, the Yankees are back on top. The American truism that money can by anything has once again played out in our sports culture. That same week, Michael Bloomberg won a third term as mayor of Gotham, spending 85 million dollars of his own money to win reelection by a narrower margin than expected over his opponent. Since their 2000 win over the Mets, my team, the Yankees have floundered with their underachieving big payroll players. The sun is again in its rightful place and the lesser planets revolve around it.

Being a Mets fan, I was secretly rooting for the Phillies. I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, and the Phillies were the local team. My father drove us to Philadelphia to watch games, sometimes a Sunday double header. When was the last time you did that? I saw Sandy Koufax pitch a no-hitter against the Phils in 1964, and Frank Howard hit one of the hardest shots ever. At six-seven and 275 lbs., Hodo, as he was called, was one of the biggest men ever to play the game. When he connected with a baseball, it went a long, long way. One night, while playing for the Dodgers, hit a moon shot that sucked the air out of old Connie Mack Stadium. On the roof in left-center there was a red Coca Cola sign. Howard batted right handed, and he crushed a ball that bounced off the sign on the rise. I kid you not. On TV I watched Don Larsen’s and Jim Bunning’s perfect games.

Phillies and Yankees were the most valuable baseball cards I collected. The Yankees, because they owned baseball in the 1950s. A Robin Roberts card was about as valuable as a Whitey Ford card, to us. I had some black-and-white cards, some of Mickey Mantle, possibly from his rookie year with the Yankees. The Topps cards came five to a pack with a flat piece of bubble bum included. We traded them and flipped them for possession. I had a cigar box jam packed with them sitting in our attic for years. One day, after I had left home, as happened to so many of us kid card collectors, my mother threw my treasures out—a collection worth hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Oh, well.

I played genuine sandlot baseball. We usually went nine innings, even on hot summer days. I pitched mostly, and could strike out older boys. I threw a no-hitter in Little League and only lost one game as a pitcher, when my team did not score a run. I threw right and batted left. I learned the left-hander’s trick of swinging late, thus sending the ball over the shortstop’s head into left field. I hit over .300 some years; I never hit a home run.

Baseball was a simple game back then. In Little League we wore spikes and those wrap-around batting helmets and swung wood bats. Nobody got seriously hurt playing organized ball, that I can remember. We did not have a victim mentality in those days. I had no ambitions of being a ball player, and let the game go after high school.

I like to watch the game during the summer. It’s something I understand, and it connects me to my youth. It has given me a topic of conversation in my day jobs. The pro season runs on too long, finishing in November now. You shouldn’t have to play in near freezing conditions at night. They should go back to 154 games to compensate for the longer post-season nowadays. I doubt that will happen, though the day will come when an early blizzard will wreck havoc on the post-season. This year, the Colorado Rockies had to reschedule a playoff game because of snow.

The Yankees are back for awhile. I predict they will be in the post-season next year. I think the Mets will continue to struggle. Spring training is ever the season for hope.

By Hudson Owen. All Rights Reserved.

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