September 11, 2013

"Should we be here? Yes."

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I am a lifelong New Yorker. Today, September 11, is a day that will always be different for me and those around me. Sure I get sad as I remember those I knew. Sure I say a little prayer.  However, what today is for me, for the most part, is a day of reflection and re-calibrating myself.  It's a day that reminds me that if the worst thing that happens to me, and for that matter the New York Mets, is that Matt Harvey blows out an elbow...well...we all had a good year.

I was at that first game at Shea after 9/11 on September 21, 2001, just ten days after the attacks.  A friend of mine got tickets and invited me.  It is probably the greatest game I will ever attend and perhaps contained (I have no kids nor am I married) the single most emotional moment of my life.

I recall they gave out little American flags to everyone.  I kept that flag for almost 10 years. I remember each team wearing NYPD, NYFD, and Port Authority hats. I remember being struck by how the Braves were borderline rooting to lose.  I recall the deadening silence when it was called for as each of those brave first responders stood on the field. I recall chants of "U.S.A...U.S.A." happening a dozen times without any provocation.  I recall a lot of tears.

There was a debate at the time about when it was right to play.  I think it was handled well. Jack Buck said "Should we be here? Yes." while addressing a crowd in St. Louis.  He was right.  I know, for me, it was the only time I smiled that month.

For those who don't recall, in the bottom of the eighth inning, Mike Piazza hit a home run (see it here) off of Jeff Karsay to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. They would win the game. This was the moment. The ball felt like it went three miles.  I remember exactly where it hit the camera tower out in slight left of center. I can still see it as if I was there. It was majestic. It was the perfect baseball moment. Have you ever seen 57,000 people cry simultaneously? I have. I balled my eyes out.  Hell, I'm tearing up right now as I write this. It is difficult to put into words just how emotional I, and everyone else at Shea, was after that home run. For me, based on how everyone reacted, it told me everything was going to be OK. It reminded me that life would, in fact, go on. It really, truly helped a lot. Mike Piazza provided a lot of great moments as a Met and made me smile countless times...but this is the only one I am truly thankful for.

It's been 12 years. Things have changed, for better or worse. However, baseball goes on and the Mets aren't it didn't change that much.

For what it's worth...I work across the street from the Freedom Tower that stands just about where the towers used to stand. My elevator lets me off in my office lobby every morning to wall to ceiling windows. Below is my view out those windows. It's a nice thing to see every morning, especially today.

Freedom Tower - 9:00 A.M., September 11, 2013

Follow me on twitter @joshuetree

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