Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"One small step for man, one giant leap for the Yankees."

The term Yankee (sometimes shortened to "Yank") has a few interrelated meanings, usually referring to someone either of general United States origin or, more specifically within the States, to people originating in the northern United States, or still more narrowly New England, where application of the term is largely restricted to descendants of the English settlers of the region.

If you are a fan of baseball, you either love or hate the Yankees.  There is really no middle ground here. When the season starts, there is an “assumption” that the Yankees will win the World Series.  If you are the coach of the New York Yankees, you might get fired if you don’t win the World Series.  Forget about making the playoffs – if you start out your season, have a winning season and you don’t win the whole damn thing, you can find yourself out of a job.

The New York Yankees are expected to win, every game, every time.  Why not? They have the highest paid players in the history of the game. The best of the best play for the Yankees, and it has been that way for years. They play in a stadium that is arguably the greatest sports stadium in the world.  The NYC market is “the” market for sports (and making money) by several levels of magnitude. How can the Yankees not win every single game they play?  Heck, they should CRUSH most of their opponents, right?

And yet, the New York Yankees don’t win every single game. Not even close.

In July of 1969 a different team of “Yankees” landed on the moon.  On July 20, 1969, Commander Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon. He said the historic words, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."  A fellow Purdue man, Neil Armstrong made all of “Yankee Fans” back home very proud.  I was a nine year old Yankee fan for life – both kinds.  It was great to grow up as a Yankee.

Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if the USA was not the first to reach the moon.  In President Kennedy's speech to Congress, on May 25, 1961, he expressed a concern that the United States was falling behind the Soviet Union in technology and prestige. He challenged the nation to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. At great risk to life and billions of dollars in expense, we showed the world what it is like to be a Yankee.  Ever since that historic event, I think that we all have had the tendency to just assume that the USA (just like the baseball Yankees) will win every game.  Every game, every time, we are supposed to win.  It is our destiny - it is our God Given Devine right as the greatest nation on the planet to be number one.

Does anyone reading this know how close we came to having Apollo 11 NOT safely land on the moon?  If you research it, you will learn that it was truly a miracle that the landing (and the lift-off) from the moon back to earth ever happened.  It is very interesting (and enlightening) reading, now that the facts are made public after all of these years. It really was a miracle.

At fifty years old, I am a lifelong Yankee fan – both varieties.  I love the New York Yankees, and I will go to as many home games this year as possible.  I will see them go to the World Series this year, and watch them as they win it all.  I will also see the USA continue to be the best country on the planet.  The USA shall continue to produce the highest quality products - have the highest standard of living - and set the mark for everything in the world of technology and innovation. Yes, it is great to be a Yankee.

And if “us” Yankees don’t make it to the “World Series”? Well, we better learn how to play nice with the other teams, because you never know how things are going to turn out. Today, as we are reading this, we are all Yankees.  

Just remember, you never know what team you will be playing for next year. And I am not just talking about baseball.

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