This morning my new blackberry has been going crazy with texts from people asking one question..."Was it worth it?"
Answer: HELL YEAH it was! It was worth every penny...it was worth the lack of sleep the night before and the lack of sleep following the game. It is worth the fact that today my voice is hoarse, my hands are bruises from clapping, my knees are sore from all jumping standing and walking. It was worth it before I even entered the stadium. Without a doubt...it was worth it. The fact that they went out on a win...a sweep no less...is icing on the cake.
So before I launch into this...let me start by saying that I am still a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience and still finding it difficult to wrap my head around the whole experience. So rather than spending forever trying to organize my thoughts...here are my randomly listed thoughts, feelings, and highlights from the Final Game At Yankee Stadium.
How about seeing Julia Ruth Stevens throwing out the ceremonial first pitch? The nice thing about this whole experience is that the Yankees did an amazing job of keeping the whole thing hush hush. Up until the moment it was announced...me and the rest of the bleacher fans were still speculation who would get the honor. Now it almost seems like a "duh" moment because there really is no better choice.
I have to say that it was extremely classy of the Yankees to let Jorge Posada catch that ceremonial pitch. What can I say? I am a fan of both Jose and Pudge...and I admire some of the greats that have caught before them...but if I had to pick on Yankee catcher as my favorite...no question it would be Jorge. I am so glad that his injury did not prevent him from having a moment in the final game.
Yogi...no much else really needs to be said. You gotta love Yogi.
Flashes...I hope that I will always be able to remember the camera flashes. I had a pretty great view of them from the bleachers and there were several moments when the mere sight of camera flashes brought a tear to my eye. Of course...there were thousands of them so that might have had something to do with it. It was especially amazing whenever Derek Jeter was at the plate but the one that really got me was when Marino took the field. (We will go into this more in a few). You expect that kind of thing with Derek but it was truly special to see all of the flashes when he took the mount...and to see it continue with every single pitch.
Where was George? If anyone should have been there to present Derek Jeter's Waterford Crystal Hitting Award it should have been George. The fact that he wasn't part of any of the celebration makes me wonder...WTF George?
Johnny Damon...I love Johnny Damon. I love his charisma, I love his talent, his smile...pretty much everything about the guy. So for me to be able to see him hit that 3-run HR in the 3rd was an amazing experience....one that I hope I will remember forever. I remember jumping up and screaming like a crazy fan (which shouldn't surprise anyone) and realizing that I was celebrating along with 54, 609 other people. He brought the fans back into the game. As a true fan of Johnny's, I will admit that it brought out a few tears. What a great way to leave the stadium.
While Johnny's was my favorite...there was another big home run worth talking about. Who expected that it would come from Jose Molina? I have always liked Jose as a catcher but never really been impressed with his offense...but he sure showed me. How awesomely unexpected was that? I bet that no one would have expected that he would get the final home run at Yankee Stadium. Good for him...what a magic memory for him. Jose has always struck me as selfless player, what with the way that he takes care of his pitchers, never complains when he gets pulled or doesn't play...so I am glad that he earned this major moment in Yankee history.
I have grown up a Yankee fan. I have heard the stories of Yankee legends but only seen a few of them actually play. For me, the one that means the most to me has got to be Bernie Williams. Bernie was always there...covering center field, flashing that winning smile...basically Bernie being Bernie. So for me it was truly special to see him back for the pregame celebration.
Let's talk about the fans. Being that I was at the game by myself, it could have been a lonely night...but it was far from it. Hell by the end of the game, email addresses had been exchanged, Facebook friends had been made, and hugs were given as we finally walked out of the stadium for the last time. I might be bias...but I think that Yankee fans are the greatest. Yankee fans love other Yankee fans and that is a cool feeling. We laughed and cried together...we chanted and clapped together...and even sped walked through Harlem at night together.
I said we would get back to him...so here it is...Marino Rivera. I literally got butterflies in my stomach when I saw him start to warm up in bullpen. The funny thing is that we all knew that he was going to pitch the final inning no matter what the score was...and yet the butterflies were there. I have seen him pitch at least a dozen times but this one was special. I think it might have been watching him before the game started. He was one of many players who were signing autographs and giving away balls during batting practice. He spent a lot time charming and paying tribute to the fans...and that made me love him more. Marino has never been shy with his smile...and he does have a pretty awesome smile....and he pretty much wore it the entire night. It was awesome. Marino is without a doubt the greatest closer in baseball...EVER....and I was proud to see him throw the final pitch. Oh and did I mention that the butterflies turned in chills and borderline hysteria when "Enter Sandman" started blaring from the speakers? If Joba was going to hand the ball off to anyone...I was glad it was Marino.
Let's talk about Derek Jeter. I am not really sure what to say about Derek Jeter. Sometimes I get the feeling that he struggles to be Derek Jeter. By the end of it all he seemed more like the Derek Jeter that I fell for but it is not the same. I am at a loss of what else to say...but rest assured that I still love him. His speech as pretty damn awesome!
So let's close with the greatest moment of the whole day for me...which happened before I even walked in the stadium.
I got one autograph this season...and I am ecstatic that it is Joba's. Joba stood out there by "The Bat" signing autographs for at least 10 minutes. He just kept grabbing things, signing them, and moving down the line. No other player made the effort to sign autographs than he did. (Well Marino and A-Rod did once they were in the field.) I find it tough to put into words how amazing it was the way he gave his time to the fans. When he grabbed the Traveling MC picture from my hand, I think I kind of blacked out from excitement. I don't even remember getting it back from him. I am pretty sure that I told him thank you and that I loved him but I am not sure. Once I looked at it and saw the signature, I immediately put it away and didn't look at it again until I woke up this morning. My ultimate moment from yesterday...the one that will no doubt stay with me forever...will be getting Joba's autograph. As I walked away, shaking and in still in shock, I called one of my dearest friends in the world to share my news. While he doesn't get my infatuation with Joba, he appreciated what it meant to me to get it. Funny how with all of the Yankee greats present yesterday, it is newcomer Joba Chamberlain to give me the greatest final memory. Oh and he also earned the final recorded strike out so that is a memory that he will take with him as I doubt that he remembers the one he gave me. But maybe he does because there is a good chance that he found it slightly odd that he was signing a picture of some random guy. While is awesome that a great signature is on the MC picture...who is a great Boston fan...it was not intentional. It happened because I wasn't expecting to get an autograph so I wasn't prepared. It was either the Traveling MC picture or the Chamberlain shirt off my back...which might not have gone over well with the cop who stood beside him. And speaking of cops...kudos to one the crazy fan who made it out on the field and ended up being tackled by 8 (?) of New York's finest! Better you than me my friend.
So yes...it was worth it. I think A-Rod said it best after the game...God must be a Yankee fan as he gave us a perfect day for the final game at Yankee Stadium.
One Night and One Last Time...Thanks For The Memories!