Tuesday, April 02, 2002

(Non) Rants From the Upper Deck by Steve Reynolds

Each time we get ready to roll out another issue of Zisk, I usually buy a six-pack of Rolling Rock, and bottle of gin and a bunch of uppers and sit in front of my antique PC and bang out my angry thoughts about the idiocy of baseball’s owners and players. But this time around the rants have been tempered by my love of baseball. More specifically, the renewed love of the game I found on September 17th.

Every person in America (and many others around the world) had their own reactions and ways of dealing with the events of September 11th. For me, it meant five nights in a row of some hardcore drinking at bars in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn; the same bars that firefighters of Squad 1 (which was decimated) would go to. Reading the paper morning after morning without a section devoted to the previous night’s games (and how the Mets were gaining ground on .500) added to the confusion of what the heck was going on in this world. (As was the evacuations of my office building because of bomb threats next door.)

So September 17th arrived with games around the country. When I got home from work, I immediately turned on the Mets-Pirates telecast from Pittsburgh. They’re weren’t a great deal of people in the stands, but those that were there wore I (Heart) NY buttons given out at the gate. Every single time the Fox Sports New York cameras were focused on the crowd, all you could see were little white spots on each and every fan. The game was a good one too, but that was besides the point—being able to cheer for Mike Piazza or wonder if Edgardo Alfonzo would break out of his season-long slump made me feel like one part of my life was there again. It gave me something good to hold onto, which seemed impossible to do at that time.

That same night I flipped to ESPN to watch the ceremony at the beginning of the Cardinals game. Their long-time announcer Jack Buck, wracked by Parkinson’s disease, stood in front of the Busch Stadium crowd and gave a speech that brought everyone to tears—including that evil contraction man Bud Selig. “I got home early Monday, turned on television and watched ceremonies in St. Louis with Jack Buck's speech. I cried,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I called Jack. I told him, ‘Now I know I made the right decision.' I watched not only Jack but the crowd, their faces and their emotions. I knew they were glad to be together.” Selig, for the first time in his life, had made a wise decision by waiting a week until letting the season resume.

One more thing I learned after September 11th is that Curt Schilling is a decent man. He wrote a thoughtful open letter, which the following excerpts are taken from:

“Words cannot heal your wounds, not even time will heal the wounds for those who have suffered loss this week. But other than money and blood, which I hope the players in MLB will be giving of both, it is all we have to offer.

We will step on the fields of Major League Baseball on Monday night, but please know that we are not doing this as an aversion to forget what happened on Tuesday. Nothing will ever make us forget that day. But we are doing so because it is our jobs, and I honestly feel that if you do have a chance to catch a few minutes of a game, and see every sports fan in every stadium stand for that initial moment of silence, and understand when we do so that we do so for you, and for your families. And in the seventh-inning stretch when this nation sings "God Bless America," we do so because we can, because in this country men and woman have died so that we can continue on as a free nation, and we will be thinking of you then also.

And it's my belief that if you watch close enough you will see players, many players in fact, trying in some small way to say thank you, and that we won't forget you or your loved ones as some of us will have messages scrawled somewhere on our hats or uniforms that you can read.

We will proudly wear the great flag of this country on our uniforms, and it's something I hope baseball adopts forever.”

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