Monday, March 13, 2006

My Deal with the Devil

Yankee Diary
by Michael Carlucci

Sunday March 5

In flipping through the channels, I saw the first inning of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Those Yankees Classics are like a drug, a pacifier, a magic elixir. But this is one of those games whose memories have changed because of the history since they were played. Boone's home run was a seminal moment in my life. A few innings earlier, I had engaged in such ferocious bargaining with God, the Devil, the wind, anything to deliver a Yankee win. Now I realized it would be costly. Now I owed everybody.

One of the deals I made involved being magnanimous, even happy, if the Marlins went on to win the World Series. I began breaking the spirit of the agreement before even the first game ended. I eviscerated it by the time that goofball Beckett tagged Posada for the last out.

Still, I figured I had gotten off easy, and when the Yankees took a 3-0 lead in the 2004 ALCS, I wasn't even thinking about my karmic debt. Then the unspeakable happened. It was no accident, this collapse. It was my fault. There was the Devil, for some reason laughing not like a hyena or like Vincent Price at the end of Thriller but rather like an upper crust British man. It's a scary sound, that snobby laugh, because apparently there's a whole class of people who've trained themselves to be completely humorless. The laugh is the vestigial remnant of their souls seeping out of them. Anyway, that Devil -- my personal Devil -- reminded me that I would suffer every baseball season. And even worse, he reminded me that of all the entities I had desperately asked for help, only he answered.

So after the Yankees blew it, no measure of reason (that the Yankees had no business being up 3-0; that Torre bungled games 4, 5 and 7) could console me. Not only had my beloved team fallen in excruciating fashion, but I was to blame. I must have been the saddest person alive.

There is a guy who probably knows my pain. He's a fellow in Nebraska I read about a few years ago. Roger Daltry appeared before him and demanded he stab himself. The man obliged and thrusted his knife 7 times into his abdomen and once into his neck. If Roger Daltry invaded my brain with the same request, I might have been impressed that he took the time to see me personally, but would have tried to plea it down to a paper cut. Roger Daltry was once a Rock Legend but now goes on infomercials pushing the "Greatest Rock Collection Ever." Greg Brady does the same exact thing. It's somehow appropriate that Greg Brady would do this, but not Roger Daltry. I mean, Greg Brady got beat up on national TV by Danny Partridge. Do you remember that? When Danny Partridge knocked him down three times on Celebrity Fights? However, if Robert Plant asked me to harm myself, it would be harder to wiggle out of.

Robert Plant was my inspiration when, at age 7, I formed my first rock band with Bobby Finklemeyer. We were the Shockers, and while we didn't have any instruments or know how to play them, we were terrific. I was not quite as precocious as Mozart, who began composing symphonies at age 4, but I quickly discovered I had first-rate song writing skills. Robert Plant might not have favored my first effort, "Cream and Coffee," yet I had the idle thought that it might become a rock anthem on par with Whole Lotta Love. The chorus was brilliant: "I had cream and coffee for breakfast -- and I never went back to eggs again." Sure it had its limits, including a non-existent musical accompaniment, but it had Bobby making guitar sounds and banging his drumsticks on a chair. And my voice soared. I sounded just as good as Robert Plant at the end of Stairway to Heaven.

But Stairways to Heaven never quite reach their destination, do they? No -- it's like when Kenny dies in the South Park movie, floats his way toward Paradise, and then plummets unceremoniously into Hell. Lucifer amuses himself with Yankee bumbling. A merciful God would not have allowed the Yankees to come within one Mariano Rivera inning of a sweep only to have them implode. The Yankees are an absolute good. This debacle was the Devil's doing, and it is all my fault. Absolve me, Yankee fans of the world, absolve me.

Michael Carlucci's column, "Yankee Diary," appears alternate Mondays


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"I've had a pretty good success facing Stan (Musial) by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third base."
- Carl Erskine