Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Yankees are coming

I was comforted recently to notice a copy of Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea'' in the bookshelf of a friend's loft in downtown Atlanta.

I wasn't surprised. This friend shares my tastes in music, literature and sports (and other delights), but I don't remember us ever having a conversation about Papa Hemingway. Our chatter and swapping of books usually includes the latest from Paul Hemphill and Randy Wayne White. He had just handed me White's "Hunter's Moon'' to read.

Hemingway, though, is perfectly in tune with our view of the world. My friend is a Florida native and I am a Florida resident; we rock steady with the undulations of the Gulf waves.

Hemingway's thread about baseball and the beloved Yankees provides rich texture to this classic short story.

"I'll get the cast net and go for sardines. Will you sit in the sun in the doorway?''

"Yes, I have yesterday's paper and I will read the baseball.''

The boy did not know whether yesterday's paper was a fiction too. But the old man brought it out from under the bed.

"Perico gave it to me at the bodega,'' he explained.

"I'll be back when I have the sardines. I'll keep yours and mine together on ice and we can share them in the morning. When I come back you can tell me about the baseball.''

"The Yankees cannot lose.''

"But I fear the Indians of Cleveland.''

"Have faith in the Yankees my son. Think of the great DiMaggio.''

My friend and I had returned to McKechnie Field on Thursday for another spring training game and we found ourselves at a picnic table, sipping beer beside a stranger. We asked her what she was doing in town, and she replied: "I'm here for the Yankees.''

Yes, the Yankees are here today. The woman was two days early. There's always a stir in town -- and a guaranteed sellout at McKechnie -- when the Yankees come to play. I cannot hate them, as so many others do, because baseball would not be the same without them.

Read Hemingway's story. Listen to the old man.


  1. I have a 1958 Milwaukee Braves World Series Championship pennant hanging up in my Badger Room. I'm pretty sure I got it on cub scout bus trip. Every year I think, OK, this could be the year. The Brewers win; the Badgers Win, the Bucks win. But this is Wisconsin and we all know better. The only real winners are the Badgers but they only play to the ability of the opposition. They never put anyone away. The Packers piss me off. And it's starting to show. Yesterday was fan day and it was the first time in history that it wasn't a sell out. Brett with his bull sh*t I'm done, wait I'm back. That shows you how much pro sport can mature a person. My hopes have been raised so much there's no deeper to go down. Just sip the local brewery hand crafted brew.

    But people from a 1000 mile radius treat Lambeau like Mecca. It's unbelievable, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. It's common courtesy among the locals walking by to approach a group that has a camera and ask the shooter if they would like to get in the picture too and the passer by will shoot the picture. This phenomena happens every day...every day. And we could care less about going to a game. But I assure you there will be the same stir in this town.

    Three summers ago we vacationed in Idaho and were walking out of the restaurant at the top of one of the hills at Sun Valley. This family kept pointing at me and finally came up to me. Has anyone ever told you that you look like Hemingway? We visited the place where he "took his last stand."

  2. The Yankees trained in St. Pete when I was a boy. Maris, Mantle, Elston Howard ... who could hate those guys?

    Now Derek Jeter and A-Rod, yeah I hate their guts.