Flashes of Brilliance: Bordering on the surreal

For 75 seconds, no words were spoken. The crowd roared, the stadium shook and the players jumped around in the pure and unfiltered joy that only accompanies the occurrence of the impossible. For the second consecutive night, in that city, in that ballpark, the dynasty refused to go peacefully; in the most dramatic fashion — a pair of two-out, two-run, game-tying home runs in the bottom of the ninth — the Yankees had saved their season. After 75 seconds of euphoria, Tim McCarver broke the deafening roar with unexaggerated hyperbole — “I have never seen anything like it.” He hadn’t. No one had.

Two years later, the same booth’s silence lasted 185 seconds after Aaron Boone sent the Yankees to the World Series. I remember this one more clearly. It was early morning in Geneva, Switzerland, and I had stayed up all night with my family huddled around a small computer screen streaming the decisive game seven between the Yankees and Red Sox. The Yankees were doomed again, and they won again. I remember my father knocking over every pen and pencil on his filing cabinet when he swung his arms in excitement. I remember thinking that the Yankees had some special ability to procure miracles at the most crucial times; the belief wasn’t illogical — for the entirety of my short life, my favorite team had turned water into wine at every turn, what qualified me to say those pinstripes were secular, those miracles irreligious?

I was only seven years old when Scott Brosius took Byung-Hyun Kim deep. I had no existing memory of a season that didn’t end with a Yankees championship parade. I’m almost sure I considered such a season unrealistic. I was a spoiled and astonishingly fortunate fan, but the perspective of a seven-year-old with Derek Jeter’s poster on his wall wasn’t appropriately grateful or wise. It was easy being a Yankees fan of my age. There wouldn’t be an MLB postseason without my team until I was in high school; if I had been born in Toronto instead of Manhattan, I wouldn’t have experienced the unrivaled pain and pleasure of a close playoff game until I was a senior in college.

After Brosius’s homer, the Diamondbacks needed to change pitchers because the one on the mound was trembling as the stadium shook, fighting off tears. Before the station cut to commercial for the pitching change, Joe Buck spoke for the first time since the ball went over the fence. “It borders on the surreal here in the Bronx.” It did. For that night, the one before, for my entire childhood. The Yankees were great. They were inexorable; they were mine. Would I appreciate the unlikelihood of those teams and those moments more now than I did then? Probably. Believing in aura, mystique and invincibility when baseball was as essential and joyous as it can only be to a child was pretty great too.