Monday, September 30, 2013
Mariano Rivera, arguably, the best reliever ever, went through a season performing at his high level while going through a last visit ceremony at every place he played. But his crowning moment came on the last time he took the mound at Yankee Stadium and pitcher two outs in the top of the eight and two outs in the top of the ninth. Geradi sent Andy Petite, and Derick Jeter out to take him off the mound before the third out because he wanted the fans, and then the teams to honor Rivera with thunderous ovations, which they did. But the most human and perhaps most glorious moment came when Rivera, who is all man, broke down in the hug of Petite and sobbed like a baby realizing that nothing in his life would ever be the same and he was embarking on a new journey. So revealing that this man who came from poverty where he had to use an old milk carton for a baseball glove while he played ball on the beaches of Panama, this man who now was at the peak of his career still retained the humility to realize his life was full of friends and events he would cherish for the rest of his life while he will relish being close with his family. He was not ashamed to show emotions of love and caring and loving. AND the fans and his fellow ballplayers reciprocated.
Andy Petite announced his retirement and was allowed to pitch the next to the last game of the season against Houston Astros, in Houston, his hometown. Petite announced his retirement very late so there was no retirement procession like Rivera's, but pitching in front of his family, friends, and in his hometown was a fitting way to end his career. He isn't a sure hall of famer but a boarder line candidate particularly because of his record in post season play. He was the oldest starting pitcher in baseball when he took the mound and hadn't pitched a complete game since 2006, I think. Yet Joe Geradi let him pitch well over one hundred pitches and make the choice as to how far he would go in the game. He pitched a complete game and ended his career with a win and the crowd went wild, the players on both side gave him a rousing ovations, as he waved to the crowd and directed his wave and glance towards his wife and family there was a look of love, gratitude, happiness and perhaps a tear or two in his eyes. More emotions. More truth. More reasons to rejoice than just the fleeting moment of a win rather because of a life well lived.
All the Yankee happenings brought to mind of life and Baseball in an earlier day. The fans cheered only when the ball players played well and booed when they became old with reflexes declining causing them not to play up to their younger days when they hit all the home runs or pitched perfect games. The greatest player of all time Babe Ruth went out looking clumsy and inept and was booed. Of course he was cheered after he was out of the game at occasions like the iconic Lou Gehrig day as well as his last time at Yankee Stadium when his booming voice was being silent by cancer and his big body only a shell of itself. His funeral was at St. Patrick's and the lines of mourners long. But he did not hear these cheers when his playing days were coming to a close and he could have used those cheers. Instead he heard boos and jeers.
Jo DiMaggio during his retirement year, 1951, hit only .261 and was referred to as the new toaster. The new toasters at the time featured the bread popping up from the toaster slots when done, new in 1951. DiMag
popped up a lot in that year. He heard boos and jeers. Of course after his retirement at "Old Timers" games where he was referred to as "The worlds greatest living player" he was always cheered. I am sure he could have used those cheers in his last playing year but we were a tougher people then.
Back in the day there was no crying in baseball. One team hated the other and while silent respect for each other might have existed if anyone on the opposing team was going to beat you then they better watch out because they could get "beaned" or spiked or anything to make sure they would be less than efficient. Early Wynn a Cleveland Indian pitcher, a hall of famer with 300 wins, said many times and meant it, "I'd hit my mother in the head if she crowded the plate. That part belongs to me.". Ballplayers came from the roughest backgrounds were paid very little and had to fight for survival. Today with much more money the players can be much more human and I guess so can the fans. Somehow I like it better this way!
Monday, September 23, 2013
He was struggling with concepts of happiness, purpose and meaning of living. The old Judeo concept of an eye for an eye didn't bring him peace. This was dealing more with revenge than finding resolutions to problems. The Christian philosophy of suffering being a way of bringing peace to the world when this suffering was in conjunction with Christ's suffering also seemed somewhat negative in the process of finding joy and happiness. Some who wanted to follow this thought actually succumbed to self flagellation so they could actually suffer in union with Christ and in this way they would bring ultimate peace and joy to the world. Somehow this didn't give the answer to his troubled soul. He asked himself how all this could bring peace, contentment and happiness to those he loved, those he held close much less to the whole world which always seemed to be struggling in some part of the universe with man's inhumanity to man.
He came across two quotes from the Dalai Lama that struck a chord that resonated deep within him:
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions." AND
"Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them."
This made sense. Happiness does not come from the outside but from within. If he saw someone who was hurting his main purpose would be to help them or at least don't make their situation worse. So he reasoned happiness comes from the action of helping others. He thought "I am happy when I forget about myself and do something that makes others happy or at least less hurting. Money, wealth power means nothing in the pursuit of happiness only actions of giving service to the people I meet who can use whatever I might have to help them.".
This whole thought process led him to understand that this power from within is spiritual, some might call it Karma. Karma is an Eastern concept of cause and effect. Any action has a reaction and this action comes from within. There is good and bad Karma. If one holds grudges and hate not letting go of past hurts the negative effect is let out and causes suffering in the world. Whereas if one loves and seeks to serve, the Good Karma's effect is felt throughout the universe. But he thought, "How do I bring this down to the level of where I can attain happiness by releasing this spiritual effect on those I love?". After all the thought of affecting the universe is great in concept it is somewhat too large a view to understand but to send this power, this feeling of good, happiness, love to those he knew seemed well within the concept of his understanding. However, in order to do this he had to have some sort of understanding of the problems and worries affecting the person he wanted to send this Good Karma. He was driven to research this and found what satisfied his question as to what he should do to effect the power of good Karma.
"Communication is a way of obtaining UNDERSTANDING. We understand by talking, listening, asking questions, looking and listening. We learn to BE the other person. And we resolve conflict through UNDERSTANDING."
With this new found understanding of Eastern thinking he found new understanding of Christ's sermon on the mount and what Christ meant when he said, as related in St. Matthew's gospel, "Whatever you did for the least of these (visited in prison, fed when hungry, clothe when naked, cried when sorrowful, laughed when happy) you did for me. Come into the Kingdom prepared by my father.".
Now to put into practice by communicating, listening, helping others in anyway He could (perhaps all he could do is lend an ear) and in doing this he knew he would find true happiness.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
A dozen years have gone by and September 11, 2001 still burns into the soul of every New Yorker who was alive and old enough on that day to realize what was happening. We watched at first not quite understanding what the hell was happening. It was originally reported that a small plane accidentally crashed into the towers at Wall Street. This caused almost everyone who could to turn on the TV and watch in in horror as a large air liner turned into the building and explode. This was no accident. An air plane was under control of another group of terrorist and was on the way to Washington when the courageous passengers forced a crash and all died. Washington, New York was under attack by terrorist most of us never heard of.
Back in New York the Twin Towers imploded and collapsed but before that our brothers and sisters were trapped in the inferno and many were throwing themselves out of the windows wanting to face a horrendous death as a last ditch try to escape what must have seen as hell right here in New York. The dust full of concrete and all sorts of cancer inducing elements covered anyone who was within walking distance of this collapsing inferno. People running, chaos ruling, and this was only the beginning. The dust cloud invaded the outlying boroughs for days after. First responders came from all over this great country responding to a need of their fellow citizens. The days, months that followed were first to find the remains of those who were trapped in the Twin Towers, then the removal of the debris. The event was burned into our collective memories as a nation.
The years that followed leading up to now weren't always filled with wonderful reactions and caring. Our Government agencies said the air was safe for the first responders. All that was first given were little paper masks. The people who worked on the site became ill, some extremely ill, not immediately which caused the authorities to turn away the first claims for assistance. These health concerns were costly and life provoking. Our Governments did not react quickly not in my mind ever enough. Many are still suffering and not getting all the aid they should even today. Many suffered Post Traumatic Stress causing deep psychological problems. The immediate response of our citizens were heroic and wonderful but the Government agencies in charge of administrating the needs of those badly affected by wrong and misleading Government information about the purity of the air and providing the necessary filtering masks was not good, in fact it was downright horrible.
We as a nation should commemorate those who died in this effigy but we should never let the Government off the hook in providing care and comfort to those heroes and families who are still suffering from the effects of working at ground zero. Yes today is a memorial day, for those who died, for the families left behind AND it should also be for those who are left still suffering from their heroic efforts at ground zero.