Posted by: JoeD2133 | April 28, 2008

4/23-27: Two and Three

Yesterday was one of the best days I can remember in a long time, and it had nothing to do with the Yankees.  My son and I did yard work in the cool of an overcast, late-April afternoon, and I knew at once why fathers are meant to have their sons.

Because they love you, unconditionally.

As mine followed me around the front lawn in true toddler earnest, trying to pick-up the shovel I was using to edge the shrubbery at one turn, trying to race his plastic dump truck faster than the breeze at another, I felt a closeness to him that cannot be explained, only related to by other fathers.  This was my son, and even at the young age of two I could see him looking up to me, wanting to do everything I was doing, wanting to impress me with every move, asking the questions that he knew only I could answer on this particular day.

For instance, was the bee really inside the yellow tulip?  I don’t know son, but let’s look together.  So we did, pulling apart the fragile, vibrant petals slowly, ever so gently, the excitement building as only searching for bees in the half-light can provide.  There was no bee on this occasion, but we would see him later, and I would explain to my son while we whispered how these insects use the flowers for food, much like he uses his plate at the dinner table with me and his mother.  Not the most perfect analogy when you think about it, but it was perfect to him, and only because I spoke the words.

On and on the afternoon went, me digging and knocking the dirt from the stubborn clumps of grass I had unearthed, Frankie’s golden locks running circles around the giant oak tree I was edging, as simple and sublime as a childhood memory with my own father.  Who would have thought pure happiness could be found in the tedious routine of yard work, the reason for life itself embodied in the love and admiration of a two-year-old little man?

It’s shocking how much this journey teaches us, the when and the why always the mystery and the pleasure at the same time.

I remember college, and rebellion, and cross-country road trips.  I remember Jack Kerouac and Ernest Hemingway, and never wanting to let up.  I remember a fire inside that gave life to dreams and poured gasoline on words that could only burn on paper, and I remember that I was going to write it all before I was even twenty-five.

Well, it has been a long, winding, unbelievable road since I sat on the edge of the Grand Canyon for what seemed like an evening, since I crossed the Great Plains alone and slept in the basement of a church in a Minnesota cornfield.  It was on this night that I waited for God to walk through the door and into my room, maybe to tuck me in for the ending of youth, and maybe just to tell me everything was going to be alright.

For one, crystallized period of time, everything was so real… so alive.

Somewhere between that quiet, lonely basement and my front yard today, the Great American Novel never got written, and my Academy Award-winning screenplay never produced.  But you know what, I am happy in a way I never saw coming, and maybe I never would have been if my dreams of fame and fortune and endless wandering had somehow come true.

Everything happens for a reason, I truly believe it so.

Maybe that’s why Aaron Boone hit the home run that knocked me out of bed on 96th street, and slammed not only my fist into the ceiling, but baseball back into my life.

I love the New York Yankees because my father does.  And now, I am suddenly coming to realize, because they give me an excuse to write, every single day.  Maybe my former boss dubbed me Yankee Joe for a reason, looking back on it now.  Maybe these words, my lightly-trafficked blog, and this pin-striped team are my chance to finally write something worth reading… to finally see if the potential will ever find the courage and the discipline to step up to the plate, every pun intended.

Or maybe I should just stick to the action across the diamond, and leave these late-night revelations to Chris McCandless, somewhere out there in the wild.

We are twenty-six games into this thing now, and the Yankees stand at 13-13.  Not spectacular, but not terrible either, just predictably inconsistent for a team that is indeed in transition.  When Mussina finally pitches a gem to stifle his critics for a much-needed night, such as last Wednesday against the White Sox in Chicago, the always dependable Pettitte gets battered around like a rookie, a la Friday’s opener with the Cleveland Indians.  When both rookies Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy turn in decent performances of their own to stifle the eminently quotable Junior Boss, both Thursday’s weather and Saturday’s untimely hitting serve to put a damper on their outings.

Such is baseball, especially in April.

What has not been so predictable is Chien-Ming Wang’s record, 5-0 after he pitched seven shutout innings yesterday in a pitchers duel against Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia, and Mariano Rivera’s 0.00 ERA, the number as it stood when he closed out Wang’s game and earned his seventh save in only thirteen Yankee wins.

Pitching and defense wins championships, as we are told time and time again by the experts.  Well, the Bombers are winning their share of games so far without an inkling of timely hitting, so maybe it’s pitching and defense that is getting the job done.

Either way, it’s still April, and I’m still in my front yard in the half-light, even if only in my mind.  There will be better stretches of games for the Yankees over the course of this season, mark my words, but there may never be another day as perfect as the one I just had with my son.

Here is to happiness, like only championship rings and searching for bees can bring.

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