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October 5, 2005

Warm Little Center
by Larry Mahnken

For the first time... well, probably ever, I don't care if the Yankees get beat. Oh, I'll be ecstatic if they win, but if they lose, I can deal with that. No furniture will be broken (which is good, since my parents probably wouldn't appreciate that), there will be no tears, no anguish. I am the warm little center that the life of this world crowds around.

Because I didn't think the Yankees would be here. I mean, in April I did, or for the first half of April. I started to doubt, as everyone did, at the month's end, and in early May when they fell to 11-19, and then when they went on a 3-11 skid after their hot streak. For the past month and a half, every loss felt like the end, a lost opportunity the Yankees couldn't afford to throw away, but as it turned out, they could afford it -- but they spent up all they could afford. When they came down the homestretch 15-3, I was still thinking, every day, it's gonna end soon. They're going to lose a game they can't, and Boston will put them away. The Indians will put them away. It'll end soon.

Even heading into Fenway a game up, I felt that pit in my stomach -- it'll end in Fenway. They'll get to a playoff game, and it'll end at home -- or even worse, they'll lose two playoff games, two chances to make it in. All this will be for naught.

But, they made it in. On Saturday morning, I was hopeful that they'd make it in, considered it likely that they'd get at least one playoff game, but pessimistic about their chances. Only a few hours later, they were in. It happened that fast.

And now I don't care if they lose, because at some point this season almost stopped being about winning the World Series and just about making the playoffs. For most of the season, even when they were "in" the playoffs, people were counting them out, even the last week of the season. But they did it, they made it in, and that feels like enough.

Of course it won't be enough for the team itself, they'll only be satisfied with a championship, and they certainly are good enough to win one. They're flawed, but everyone is. Their starting pitching is actually not that bad right now, assuming that Chacon and Wang are really the pitchers they appear to be, and Good Moose is in the house. The back of the bullpen is lights-out, and the lineup is ungodly. They're not great, but they're probably better than the 2000 Yankees, who faced a tougher 1st round opponent in Oakland. They can win. I hope they do.

But if not, well, that's how it goes.

Yeah, I know. Through the looking glass, huh?