Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Journey - Chapter 11

The road trip took me to three cities, and into the month of August. There had been times in the past that the Yankees, seemingly headed nowhere as the heat of the summer intensified, suddenly found their footing. None was more memorable than 1978.  The team, trailing the Red Sox by 14 games in July, took their rivals to task in the "Boston Massacre" in September and then ripped out their hearts with the Bucky Dent home run in the playoff game to determine the American League East championship.

But that team had been in the World Series the previous two seasons and won 100 regular season games and, eventually, the 1978 title. There was to be no mistaking this year's version for its predecessor. There were no heroics remotely on the horizon as the 3 win and 7 loss road trip concluded. It was August 2 and the fat lady was already singing.

My limited notoriety preceded me into foreign cities now, and afforded me one unique opportunity while on this trip.  I was contacted by the Star Tribune, a newspaper out of Minneapolis, and asked whether I could be interviewed while I was in attendance at the Sunday afternoon game on July 27. I gladly accepted, for unlike my ailing friend from Boston. I craved the attention.

I had begun a blog in 2008. Since then, I had given my view on something, almost anything, several times a week. I suffered if the 'hits' to my site were lacking. I took great pride if a piece seemed to garner admiration. What I had essentially accomplished over the years was to alienate most of my readers and bore the remaining few, to the point that I was virtually writing words that no human eyes except mine, ever saw. But I continued on, convinced somehow that what I would write tomorrow would capture the imagination of the public and elevate my being.

My intention had been to keep a lower profile during my 2015 odyssey and then overwhelm the reading universe with a story of immense meaning and sublime wit.  What I determined, as my travels continued, was that my tale would probably best serve as a sleep aid and that the hours I was going to spend on my writing project would be better utilized learning to be a more well rounded person.

The reporter greeted me at my seat a few minutes before the game was to commence. He was young, maybe in his late 20's, and had only been with the newspaper for several months. I was not going to be a front page story, and I envisioned our conversation being whittled down to one comment hidden in the recesses of a mid-week sports page.

Others sitting near to me were quickly aware of what was happening. They made sure to give the reporter their opinion of the Yankees, and of a Yankee fan who was traveling around the country watching a losing team perform with metronomic futility.

As the game progressed, I began to speak of all the issues that had taken priority over the course of the season; my family and friends, work and travel. I spoke of the loneliness, the boredom, the camaraderie that I was now establishing, or trying to, in each new locale. I focused little, if at all, on the games I had watched and on my disappointment with those masquerading as Bronx Bombers.

I spoke, almost non-stop it seemed, for several hours. As the game drew to a close,  my new young friend thanked me for being so forthright and open with him. He said a story would probably run in the next several days and he would contact me as to when this was to happen. I received a call from him the following day, just after my plane landed back in New York. The newspaper wanted to interview me again, and was considering writing a series of articles on what I was doing. 

Over the course of August, September and through the last game of the season on October 4, I had a conversation with my new best friend at the conclusion of every series. We spent long hours dissecting what was happening with me, what my eyes and my head were telling me. And especially what was going on in my heart. It made me feel much less isolated, much less fatigued.

And so, even as I write this story for you, there is in a parallel universe, a long piece that is supposed to be published in the Star Tribune shortly before Christmas, chronicling what occurred as I followed the most losing Yankee team in decades hither and yon over the course of a very long and difficult season.

My friend in Boston continued to deteriorate as the days went on. I called his wife upon my return home. I could hear the pain in her voice and I suddenly wondered what right I had to go on such a frivolous adventure

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