It certainly is different from most Septembers for New York baseball fans.
Well, perhaps not so much for New York Met fans, who have become accustomed to finding a cushiony soft spot on which to land after another catastrophe of a baseball season. For some it's football, for others it's apple picking and/or leaf raking. It's a bleak picture, but after a while, your mind forces you to accept the alternatives since you can't revise the script of reality.
But for the New York Yankees and their fans, these past few weeks have been atypical, uncommonly painful. Here we are on September 12, and the Yankees are tied with the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League East. The Tampa Rays are only two games behind. During a telecast last night, a visual displayed the tight standings, and included the wild card scenario as well. And there were the Yankees! How unlikely it was just a month ago - the Yankees featured in any depiction of a wild card chase. But there it was, in black and white. It even appeared for a moment as if the Yankee logo was uncomfortable situated there, with an eye toward escape. You had the sense if you turned away for a moment and then back to the screen it would be gone, like some corrective device interrupted as in a Stephen King novel.
Even Joe Girardi appears a bit pale and perpetually stunned, during and after games, as he observes this All-Star team embedded in a dust-up with, of all teams, the perennial doormat Baltimore Orioles. Even he knows his reserves, playing for the injured, are better than most teams offer as starters. Yet he, and every Yankee fan, await the return of a 40-year old starter, Andy Pettitte, so he can right the ship and usher everybody in from the gang plank. Girardi has the look of a man whose team lost a 10-game lead and needs to depend on a softer than cotton schedule to emerge on top. He sports that Francona look, the one the former Red Sox manager adopted before he unjustifiably lost his job.
The Yankees will prevail, mostly because they always do. But it sure is interesting listening to the clock tick.
Glenn Vallach has been a New York Mets fan since foolishly abandoning the mighty Yankees in his youth after Mickey Mantle retired. Since the fond, fleeting memories of the Tom Seaver, Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee years, he sits quietly yearning for a fraction of the success enjoyed annually by the team that inhabits the borough in which I was born...waiting and hoping...waiting and hoping.