You find yourself standing on the rattling metal seat, your only thought being “holyshitohmygodIreallyhavetopeepleasegodletthemwin,” the air around you thick with the hope of 56,000 people. Everyone near you, mostly adult males years older than yourself, has climbed up onto their seats, to get a better view of what might just be about to happen.
It is quite possibly the coolest moment of your fandom, and the winning run hasn’t even scored yet.
A few innings earlier, you watched in dismay, your heart sinking as the man who has been so solid for your team in recent years blows another save opportunity and basically sends you to something you’d never been part of before – extra innings in the postseason. A half inning before your current insane moment, you watched Torii Hunter’s ball sail over the left field fence and literally felt like you might cry because you’re convinced you’re bad luck. But you and your diehard compatriot stand up in the bottom of the 12th, and stay standing even after the first out is made. You shove your hands in your jacket pockets, wondering if that might be the good-luck position. It seems to work for Miguel Cairo, and again for Derek Jeter, so you keep those hands shoved in there, your heart not quite wanting to believe what might happen lest it be broken again.
Then the man who you’ve never met, but who gave you the best Valentine’s Day ever, comes to the plate and clonks a pitch in your direction. Your hands fly out of your pockets, waving the ball to keep coming your way, screaming something you can’t even hear over the roar of the crowd. You then grab your friends’ arm as you try desperately to figure out if it was a home run, but the two of you jump up and down and hi-five everyone in sight even when it’s called a ground-rule double to tie the game.
You can’t even hear yourself think, it is so loud.
Hours earlier, as you left for work, dead tired from the previous night’s game, you thought to yourself that you had never been to an “amazing game.” Good games, yes. But every Yankee game is a good game. You’ve been following this team forever, have seen the Mystique and Aura in action on TV, have had friends who had been at the “amazing” stuff, but somehow it has passed you by. Just once, you think to yourself, it would be awesome to be there when the Ghosts were in full effect. But you’ll just settle for a win that night if it comes down to it.
Roughly 15 hours later, your sneakers are vibrating on the concrete below you, as you try to catch your breath from the laughter of disbelief that has settled on you. Your diehard friend looks around and sees all the people standing on their seats and the two of you join your neighbors on the metal bench as an intentional walk is granted to one Gary Sheffield. You point to the empty bench in front of you in Section 57, seats vacated by strangers of a lesser faith at the top of the inning, and tell your buddy that that is where all your absent Yankee fan friends are in spirit, cheering along with you.
And then Matsui gets up and lines one to shallow right. You clutch your sleeves in one moment of hope mixed with fear as the one and only Derek Jeter streaks toward home plate. And in some strange way, you know he is going to be safe. When he slides across and pops back up, you amaze yourself by screaming and jumping up and down on the metal bench and not falling over. Your section has erupted, arms flailing in the air, hands smacking each other in victory, people singing along to the strains of the right version of New York, New York, and you and your friend are suddenly wobbling on the bench, laughing as if you are drunk, even though you’ve ingested no alcohol all night.
You get home and try to remember the “Matsui!” chant that echoed through the corridors of the Stadium as you exited, the way the crowded D train just spontaneously burst into cheers and applause for no apparent reason except as a result of giddiness, the tingle in your hands as you hi-fived everyone in your section. You want this night to be seared in your memory as the game that could’ve been won earlier, but was way more awesome being won later.
You know the series is only tied and that there is still a long way to go; you know that you are going to be falling asleep at work tomorrow; you know that this probably wasn’t even a top-10 moment in Yankees post-season history.
But you got your amazing moment, and damn if you ain’t happy.