I was born into the Yankees, saw them win in the 70s when I was too young to fully appreciate it, and sat through the 80s as George fouled a team stocked with baseball genius (Rickey, Willie, Donnie, Winnie). That reactionary decade—when ketchup was a vegetable and the penchant for funding little wars and then lying about them became acceptable—is beginning to feel awfully familiar.
Recent years have seen the Yankees transformed into a convenient public symbol of power and invincibility. At least until two weeks ago. The truth behind that symbol, however, is somewhat more complicated. When the team began to win in the 90s, there was no sense of inevitability in its triumph. I will not soon forget that evening in 1995, when, sitting in a Chicago bar with my oldest friend (he, too, a lifelong YF) we watched the playoffs slip away with a helpless Cone on the mound and Showalter out of options on the bench. Heartbreak. One year later, the golden run began with a touch of fortune (Leyritz!) and a new hero: Derek Jeter, the young Natural.
So now we look for new heroes, on the field and off. Admittedly, it’s hard to be sanguine given recent events. The Yankees, at least, have a beacon at shortstop, a genius with infectious will and positive energy. We hope the nation can find a new leader with similar drive and optimism. At the moment, we’re turning our eyes toward another African-American from the Midwest, Barack Obama, whose words we quote here.
“Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.” Amen.