When I see the light I know I’ll be all right

Cliff Lee = Man of Steel ( Photo by Jared Wickerham /Getty Images and used without permission.)

Cliff Lee = Man of Steel ( Photo by Jared Wickerham /Getty Images and used without permission.)

30 years ago this month I watched my first full World Series.   Well, that probably isn’t true.   I suppose I sat with my parents in 1975 and watched the World Series but I don’t have any memory of it.   In 1979, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles made the World Series and for some reason I begged my parents to let me watch it.   I’m guessing it had something to do with seeing Willie Stargell in the NLCS. Whatever my reasons, I was in sixth grade, ten years old, and I begged my parents until they finally gave in.   I watched most of those 7 games alone. My father worked early mornings and my mother had two daughters to get up for school.   I felt like such an adult.   The deal was that I could watch the games but I had to get up for school.  There were definitely mornings when I had to drag myself out of bed but it was worth it to me.  Most of my classmates chose to root for the Orioles (because of the American League connection) but I was rooting for the Pirates.   I wrote their slogans “Tanner’s Terrors” and “We are Family” all over my book and argued with the boys in my class over who was better, the “old man” Willie Stargell or the “kid” Eddie Murray.  During that series, the Pirates winning became the most important focus of my small world.  It also was the true introduction for my love of ALL baseball, not just Red Sox baseball.

I live in the market that gets NESN.  I have no reason to “buy” extra baseball, yet I do.  I purchase the Extra Innings package through Comcast every year and I usually end up buying the Game Day audio package from MLB.com as well.  I try to watch every Sox game but I usually miss a few during the season – I make up for it with all of the extra baseball I watch – some of it being Yankees baseball.

So you’ll forgive me, I hope, when I laugh at those who have suggested that my not wanting to watch this year’s World Series is an indicator that I’m not “a real baseball fan”.  I’m as “real” a baseball fan as you’re going to find.  I also happen to be an unabashed Yankees hater.  Sometimes these two feelings clash.

I love the Red Sox; I love baseball; I hate the Yankees – usually in that order.  But when the Yankees are in the World Series it’s painful to watch.  Truth be told, most of the pain comes from the hype and the announcers and the fact that the sports world always seems to forget other teams exist when the Yankees are around.  So I convinced myself that I wasn’t watching the World Series.  And then today I kept reading about the game and I kept seeing “Cliff Lee v CC Sabathia” and I kept thinking about how much I like Cliff Lee and how much I don’t like the Yankees and how sweet it would be to watch him take the Yankees down.

SO I watched the game.  Admittedly, I watched the beginning with the sound muted but once it was obvious Lee had the game well in hand, I braved the Fox broadcasters.  Amazing how the tone changes when the Yankees aren’t playing well.  It wasn’t nearly as painful to listen to McCarver and Buck as I had expected it to be.  Cliff Lee pitched a complete game.  Gave up 6 hits and no earned runs (one UNearned), no walks and struck out ten.  Holy hell.  It was so much more than I ever expected but pretty much exactly what I had hoped.  All the coverage leading up to game 2 will be about Cliff Lee from game one and Pedro Martinez in game 2.  All Phillies.  It’ll make forcing myself to watch game 2 a lot easier.

Pedro Martinez in Yankee Stadium again.  As absolutely thrilled as I am to see it, I’ll admit to being slightly concerned about how he might perform – but Lee took a ton of pressure off of him so it might be just that much easier for Pedro once he takes the mound.  (Everyone keeps mentioning the “Who’s Your Daddy” chant being carted out – I don’t get it.  Didn’t Pedro smash that to pieces in the 2004 ALCS?  Wouldn’t chanting “Who’s Your Daddy” to Pedro now be like chanting “1918”?

So, so happy for Cliff Lee.  First World Series game and he goes the distance.  He also made many, many fans happy tonight.  Thanks for making the game watchable, Cliff!

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