From that very first catch that I had with my father in my backyard, you had my affection. I grew up to stories of legends and goats and believable curses. You made me speak of the greatness of Willie Mays and Babe Ruth, even though I had never seen the proof of it with my own eyes. You gave me something to strive for as a child and something to envy as an adult and have been a constant in my life from the first day.
Today, you bring legends of their time: The captain of all captains, a throwback playboy ballplayer who has the respect of all the players on the field. An ex-heroin addict who once was viewed as the next “great” of the game, but let his demons take over and almost take away from him what he was clearly meant to do. A lifetime baseball man who grew up country and became loved in, of all cities, the one city that the national media depicts as ignorant and harsh. A manager known for his greatness in the postseason leading his team to a division title that nobody could have predicted.
You give us a team that couldn’t pay to keep their stars but somehow manages to will themselves into the playoffs on the final strike of the final out on the last day of the season. You gave us the undisputed ace of a league who won 26 percent of his teams’ games and brought some hope back to a city that has not had much to cheer about lately. We have witnessed a Brew Crew led by two MVP candidates trying desperately to get a title before one star bolts town, as well as a team that refused to give up, even when down by eight games in the first week of September and managed to reach their goal on the last day of the season.
Every fall, the memories of games and players past come to mind that show your greatness. Pride sets in and allows each city to rally around its team in hopes of winning the greatest championship of them all, a World Series. Bench players step up and perform in clutch situations and pitchers cannot make that one mistake that can hurt them.
You give us the boys of summer and the legends of the fall. When the cool air of winter starts to make its way throughout the Northeast, it is you that comes to mind in cities such as New York, Boston and Philadelphia. However, it is not just the Northeast that is enthralled by you. It is the entire country. You are, and always will be, America’s game; and sometimes, it takes games like Wednesday night’s to remind us just how great you are.