"Is everybody on?" asked the elevator attendant, and from the
back--from a cartoon in a canary-yellow sweater--came an
impatient "Yeah." The doors were closed, the elevator descended,
and the cartoon quickly disembarked, disappearing into the night
outside Yankee Stadium.
Yogi Berra was leaving, after only eight innings, of a mere Game
6. He has evidently gotten over "It ain't over till it's over."
Too bad, too, because he missed the best celebration in all of
sports. Better than kissing the Cup or leaping at Lambeau or
cycling the Champs-Elysees is this: hog-piling in the House that
Ruth Built. Having just won the World Series. As a member of the
What is the sound of no hands clapping? Of 56,000 Yankees fans
inventing the opposite of surround sound? Imagine Rudy Giuliani
and Spike Lee, two New Yorkers with no OFF switch, shutting up in
November 3, 2003
"Yeah, this is real normal," said a freaked-out Florida Marlin,
clad only in his underwear, celebrating his team's world
championship in the tunnel outside the clubhouse. "Partying in
Yankee Stadium." Normal? No visitors had celebrated in the
Stadium since the Los Angeles Dodgers did 22 years ago. It's
abnormal, and oddly illicit, like smoking in church.
And who was that Marlin? Who knows? Until last week, who
recognized any Marlin not named Pudge? Certainly not manager Jack
McKeon, who still calls Mike Lowell "Mark" and Ugie Urbina
"Yogi." Which may explain why Yogi was looking so ... Ugie. After
the game, all the Yankees looked physically ill.
"I'm sick to my stomach right now," said pitcher Andy Pettitte,
causing hearts to cartwheel in Boston, Queens and a thousand
other Yankee-hating burgs in North America. These are the real
Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.
How perversely pleasant to see, on base paths once run by Ruth,
another flabby man often seen in pinstripes touch 'em all:
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, doing a victory lap in his loafers.
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who said in September, "Around
here, winning is second to breathing," chewed through his
turtleneck at the thought of this nouveau riche nitwit doing what
no member of his own $180 million ballclub could do in the 2-0
loss just concluded: cross the plate in Yankee Stadium.
"I didn't watch," said Yankees captain Derek Jeter of the
Marlins' revelry. The shortstop looked like a man who had just
seen his wife in the sack with Don Knotts. "I just ... walked off
the field." He did so through a tunnel hung with a placard that
reads, THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR VICTORY. --GENERAL DOUGLAS
MacARTHUR. Up that tunnel, too, went Roger Clemens and David
Wells and Don Zimmer, Yankees who, unlike MacArthur, shall not
return, and who take with them a little more Yankee swagger.
"I knew we were going to win when I was walking around and saw a
dude on the street selling YANKEES WORLD CHAMPION T-shirts," said
one Marlin, swigging Bud Light from a 40-ounce bottle. Which
Marlin? No idea. And don't bother asking the manager. After a
two-hour interview lunch with Loria last May, McKeon told the
Marlins' owner, "Thanks, Jerry."
Think George would answer to Jerry? George plays Thus Spake
Zarathustra when the Yankees are introduced. George has
hyperextended the seventh-inning stretch into a five-minute,
pitcher-freezing, operatic homage to America. George has now run
off, at one time or another, two American icons, Zimmer and
Berra, whose faces would be--if baseball had its own currency--on
the one-and five-dollar bills, respectively.
No owner, or team, takes itself as seriously as the Yankees. Had
they won their 27th World Series title last weekend, America
would have celebrated by throwing--what, exactly? Is there a
singular form of the word confetti? The Yankees themselves might
scarcely have celebrated, given their grim sense of purpose. "We
don't get a championship ring for that," Jeter said disdainfully
of the American League pennant.
Somewhere, Steve Bartman chewed a hole in his turtleneck.
And so there was plenty of schadenfreude in the South Bronx. It
made one infinitely happy to hear Jason Giambi say, "It doesn't
make me happy to go to the World Series." One delighted in the
mere words Brian Cashman, the Yankees' general manager, the most
aptly surnamed figure in sports history.
The best scene was ex-Yankee Reggie Jackson, standing outside the
Marlins' clubhouse, which was a critical mass of stogie-torching
celebrants. So the Straw That Stirred had to wait for others to
leave before he could enter and congratulate the Marlins. He
looked like a freshman outside a college bar. When Reggie finally
gained entry, Marlins utilityman Lenny Harris began shouting his
surname. Not "Jackson," mind you, but "October!" As October tried
abruptly to make his way back out, his path was blocked by a
pointy, menacing Tiffany bauble.
Yankees payroll: $180 million. Marlins payroll: $50 million.
Seeing Mr. October, in the visitors' clubhouse at Yankee Stadium,
nearly impaled on the World Series trophy: priceless.
The best celebration in sports? Hog-piling in the House that
Ruth Built--as a member of the visiting team.