Things have gone to hell in a hand basket up here. And She is pissed. New York Yankee fans are fighting amongst each other over that darn book, The 50 Greatest Players in New York Yankees History.
It all started out peacefully, with Yankee fans preaching about glowing deeds Yankee players from their respective generations accomplished. But then it turned to nasty words –– words we don't usually hear up here –– about the has-beens and upstarts with undeserved better rankings than the players of their own generations. To top it off, some of the Yankee fans managed to get their favorite players riled up. And that made the angels nervous because they had seen what pride hath wrought up here before.
I tell you, She is threatening to send the whole bunch to Purgatory, fans and players alike. And as for that all-knowing author, Robert H. Cohen –– God rest his soul –– I hope he knows there will be a proverbial lightning bolt heading his way in the near future.
All was well when an early review copy of that darn book somehow made its way up here. Yankee fans from all generations had no qualms at all with Cohen's first four picks: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle. There were a number of rumblings concerning the placement of the next five: Yogi Berra, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bill Dickey, and Whitey Ford. But a great multitude of Yankee fans went through our holy roof when it was announced that Cohen selected Don Mattingly as the tenth greatest player in New York Yankees history.
Thank God for no-nonsense gun laws up here, or we would have had a bloody war on our holy hands. No-nonsense gun laws? Simple. It means "no guns, period"(.)
The bickering over Mattingly got so bad that She commanded me to mediate the mess. I chose two of the most vociferous Yankee fans: one from Generation X, and the other from Generation Y. I set up two pulpits. And then I said, "Let the debate begin."
Says the Generation X Fan:
Don Mattingly? Really? Bull Donkey...
(Note from me: Much stronger words were used, but we don't record such words up here).
How many home runs did he hit in a World Series game? None. Umm... how many World Series games did he play in? None. Yes, he is "number ten," all right.
Rebuts Generation Y Fan:
Why? Why did Cohen select Don Mattingly? Because Mattingly is the greatest player in New York Yankees history who never played in a World Series! Moreover, Mattingly holds the Major-League record for most home runs over an eight-game stretch –– ten of them he hit!
Retorts Generation X Fan:
Ten home runs? Wow! Roger Maris hit 61 home runs and where is he on Cohen's list? Number 22. Number 22? Are you kidding me?
(Note from me: "Kidding" is not the precise word Generation X Fan used, but it does end in "ing.").
Are you sure you're not related to Mattingly? Maybe Cohen is related to Mattingly?
At this point in the debate, Generation X Fan asks me to check the Book of Deeds online to see if either Cohen or Generation Y Fan is related to Mattingly. I have the results in two seconds: "Neither Cohen or Generation Y Fan is related to Mattingy," I reply.
Says Generation X Fan:
I am troubled with Cohen's interpretation of what really went on in 1961. That's not how I remember it. And I lived it. If I may, Pete, can I read a portion from Cohen's book which really disturbs me?
I nod my head. The multitude of Yankee fans grows noisier. Could this matter be the proverbial nail on the head?
Generation X Fan reads from pages 115 and 116 of Cohen's book:
...The feelings of the fans toward Mantle and Maris gradually intensified the following year, as the two sluggers drew closer and closer to Babe Ruth's single-season home run record. Since the mark was held by a Yankee, New York fans felt that Mantle should be the one to break it. Furthermore, many people believed that Maris's .269 batting average made him unworthy of eclipsing the great Ruth's long-standing record. The fans subsequently cast Maris as an outsider and a usurper, and nothing he might have done from that point on would have been good enough to please them.
Displaying their indifference toward Maris, fewer than 15,000 fans showed up at Yankee Stadium on the season's final day to see the slugger establish a single-season record....
Generation X Fan clears his throat and continues:
I was fourteen years old that year. Injury-wearied Mantle was the favorite, and he valiantly tried to keep pace with Maris, but he eventually ended up in the hospital in September. I kept track of their home run race by attending games, watching games on TV, listening to games on the radio, and reading about the home run race in the newspapers. Maris gradually developed a toxic relationship with the press, but the majority of the fans still respected him. And in late September, Maris was our only hope. We were still rooting for him to break Ruth's record. Speaking of rooting for him, I was at that game. I saw Roger Maris break Babe Ruth's record. I tell you, it felt like there were more than 15,000 fans in the stands. Could you please check on that Pete?
I check and respond:
Roger Maris yesterday became the first major league player in history to hit more than 60 home runs in a season.
The 27-year-old Yankee outfielder hit his sixty-first at the stadium before a roaring crowd of 23,154 in the Bombers' final game of the regular campaign.
Generation X Fan smiles and says, "I'm glad The Book of Deeds has got it right."
To which I reply:
Actually, that's from the front page of The New York Times, the Oct. 2, 1961 issue. As for the fans cheering, films captured of that momentous moment show fans giving Maris a standing ovation.
At this point in the debate, with the record set straight, God had seen and heard enough. In two nanoseconds flat, She implanted the thought in the brains of Yankee fans and players alike that all Yankee players were equal to each other in Her eyes. And those were the only eyes that counted up here.
As for Cohen, God relented. She cancelled the lightning strike. She figured he would get enough static from the Yankee fans still on earth. God knows who the greatest players in New York Yankees history are!