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The day we didn’t hate the Yankees

September 11, 2010

September 11, 2001, upended much of what we thought we understood about ourselves, for better and for worse. If you’re a baseball fan, chances are that one of the admittedly trivial yet symbolically startling symptoms you experienced in the weeks after 9/11 was…..a soft spot for the Yankees.

I’m not saying you rooted for them, or went out and bought yourself a [pink] Yankees cap, or decided that Steinbrenner was really a pretty decent guy after all. I’m just saying that maybe you decided it was some sort of cosmic compensation that they found themselves in the World Series that year, a small salve for the people of New York, a sign that the universe’s Official Scorer was still paying attention.

They were strange times, and they were chronicled brilliantly a few years ago in an HBO documentary called¬† Nine Innings from Ground Zero, which you can—and should—watch on MLB Network this week, buy from Amazon or MLB.com, or rent from Netflix.

The hour-long show profiles a handful of New Yorkers with intimate connections both to 9/11 and to the Yankees (including the irresistible and baseball-savvy daughter of one of the pilots killed that day), following them through the postseason and the 2001 World Series, which we’d surely rank among the greatest Fall Classics of all time with or without the added poignancy of its context. It’s touching but not manipulative, and it keeps its eyes on the ball, understanding that to the faithful, baseball’s got enough emotional power of its own that it doesn’t need extra layers of sap. The only clip I’ve found online is of George W. Bush talking about throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium; he’s not allowed on my blog, but the fact that I’ve watched this documentary three times despite knowing that he and John Ashcroft* are in it speaks to its quality, I think.

I’ll get back to spitting venom at the fantastically frustrating Cardinals tomorrow. Today, bigger things.

* Two of my chief sources of pride as a Missourian are 1) the pre-2010 Cardinals and 2) the fact that our state elected a dead man to the Senate over John Ashcroft.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 11, 2010 10:18 am

    Good post. I am going to look for that doc on MLB TV. Also, great title for this site. I am gonna have to poke around. Cheers.

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