Friday, September 11, 2009

On the Eighth Anniversary of 9/11

I don't know what other words I can add to describe a day like this, a day where events eight years ago cause all of us to stop and take a couple of seconds to recall where we were on that day, as well as be grateful for the things, liberties, loves, passions, and blessings we have today.

My wife was in New York City on this day in 2001. My sister was there as well, and close enough to the point of impact that she eventually had to be relocated from her apartment. Those crazy moments when I was desperately trying to reach both, while phone lines were jammed, cell phone towers were toppled, and visions of chaos and confusion were piped over every television screen with a deafening silence, as newscasters tried to make sense of it all. I can still remember how scared I was for both my wife and sister, how scared I was for me, how scared I was for all of us.

I still get those chills when I come across gripping and well-written articles like Tom Junod's "The Falling Man". Or when I read fine posts like what Jon Weisman wrote in 2006, even when it's juxtaposed with his happier post describing events on this day in 1983.

It's a weird feeling balancing sadness and gratefulness, wanting to be contemplative and introspective and respectful, yet anxious and pent-up enough to want to take advantage of the time we have, and feel and show appreciation for the benefits (material and immaterial) that we are lucky enough to have.

It's weird assuring oneself, on a day with such serious and deep loss, that it is okay to watch a game as trivial and ridiculous as baseball. But watch I will, tonight. Maybe a little bit quieter, or more solemn. But I will watch, and even cheer a bit.

I know the Dodgers aren't playing a home game tonight. But for what it's worth, this is one of the few nights where I'd be perfectly fine with the God Bless America seventh-inning interlude.

Have a happy and safe 9/11.


Kyle Baker said...

Well said, Saxy.

I believe the games today and tonight are more than relevant and will go a long way, as they have over the decades, to soothing our nation's soul as we honor and remember the victims of the September 11 attacks as well as those since then who have put themselves in harm's way so as to prevent future attacks.

I clearly remember that the game of baseball helped sooth my grief as our aching nation mourned the events of 9-11. There were those who said at the time that sports should be set aside, that they were frivolous and irrelevant. I argued strongly then and do so now that in fact that the baseball games - from Chavez Ravine to rinky-dink low A ball parks to sandlot, makeshift base paths set up by aspiring 'lil sluggers - are some of the best kind of medicine. The fact that when MLB finally, somberly, respectfully, re-started itself, I knew we would be okay.

Of all people, I remember it being Barry Bonds yanking one out of the Yard right after the re-set and thinking, "Okay, America, you're back." It's why his steroid use has always stuck in my craw so much, as his shot - albeit it by a Hated One - was a memorable turning point in my own getting back to business as usual, whatever that was or is.

We'd be remiss if we didn't recall the poignant words of Terence Mann in "Field of Dreams," who reminded us that " has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past...It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again."

Indeed, it continues to remind us every day that an umpire somewhere across this country is yelling "Play ball!" and can do so because this country, though challenged, held steady.

Like Sax, it takes a lot for me to be very patriotic or to encourage seemingly empty jingoistic gestures, but today I'll give it a pass.

Kyle Baker said...

Oh, and one other thing, before I get back to the regular snark and less-than-masterful insight, it should be noted that MLB serves the country in many, many ways that help bring us together, enrich and enhance our national fabric, and advance the common good. In addition to the many individual charities that players participate in, there are MLB-sponsored ventures like the RBI initiative and, more topical for today, the Welcome Back Veternas initiative.

Information here:

Play ball, SoSG readers, play ball!

Delino DeShields, Sr said...

Mrs. DeShields was in NYC back then too, with Mrs. Sax. Pretty sure I spent the whole day staring at the TV, not even blinking once. And trying desperately to call about a dozen or so close friends in the City.

In fact, my wife's Uncle was in the Twin Towers, and was able to get out of the building in time. And despite his recent purchase of a YANKEES JERSEY for my son, I'm so thankful for that.

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

We shall never forget.

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

As much as I love a day off, this is a day I'm happy to go about my everyday business. I don't want this to become some kind of federal holiday that people in the not-too-distant future will look forward to with glee. I want everyone to go into work and into school. After all, eight years ago today, did any of us think we could enjoy the normalcy that we have now? A regular day would be a testament to how the events of that fateful day could not destroy the spirit of this great nation.

Kyle Baker said...

Totally, MLASF. It would definitely become dogmatic, quickly.

rbnlaw said...

My take is different on 9/11; maybe not. Working in the public schools was, shall we say, difficult that day. All day we carried on almost as if nothing happened, then on our breaks, we got to the nearest TV to take in the unbelievable images.

I still remember waking up that morning and turning on the TV, which I never do, because Doc on the Roq was talking about someone "flying an airplane into on of the Twin Towers." I thought it sounded bizarre but harmless, so I turned on the TV. I still wish I was right.

But I come not to remember that 9/11. So many of you can do that better than I, and you likely will. No, I come to tell you that I remember where I was on Sunday, September 11, 1983. I was a 21 y-o punk bowling in a Sunday league at Garden Square Bowl in beautiful Garden Grove, CA. I spent the first part of the game bowling by usual mediocre scores and running into the bar for updates. I finished the third game, changed shoes, and ran to the bar. I ordered a Bud and settled in amongst the other members of the league including one loud-mouthed Dodger hater. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice to say when Reynolds bunted Guerrero in with the winning run, it was all I could do to keep myself from dumping his beer on his head (I would never waste my beer on the head of an idiot).

It's funny, but we do seem to remember where we were and what we were doing at those exact moments when history is made. Large and small moments alike.

Here's hoping the men in Blue evoke the memory of 9/11/83 in easing the pain of 9/11/01.

I'm not a religious man, but God bless us all.

Kyle Baker said...


What I totally respect is that you remember that you ordered a Bud!

rbnlaw said...

I'm nothing if I'm not consistent.

Funny thing is, I started reading the Weissman account of the game, and I thought, "Wait a minute. . ."

Eric Stephen said...

Very well said, Sax.

Steve Sax said...

So this is kinda neat.

When I wrote the original post, I was hurried and in between meetings and one of the things I had forgotten to say was to ask you all for your thoughts on 9/11. How does today make you feel? How did you feel then? Where were you on this day in 2001? How do you feel about baseball, as part of the healing process, then and now?

But like an idiot, I forgot, and had to run.

I also forgot to say that my experience was scary, but nowhere near as scary as others. Like one of my good friends, whose assistant lost her fiancé in the Towers. Or those of you who lost loved ones or even just lost contact with them for a short while.

Hours later, I returned to find beautiful, thoughtful comments from some of our favorite readers in the community. I'm warmed to think that, without prompting from my end, you all knew exactly how to respond to the original post, that we all took a break from our snarky sarcasm and added some meaningful personal thoughts.

You guys are all pretty cool.

And we're really grateful for the community we have here at SoSG. Thank you.

Kyle Baker said...

Thanks, as always, for providing the forum for us.

Kyle Baker said...

EK (the player, not the Son) is about to talk on the pre-game show about how baseball helped the healing after 9/11.

I just had another memory of the first time I got back out to the Yard, a couple weeks later, and how the crowd was fairly subdued. It almost seemed unseemly to get too happy about a play or a win, or to heckle an opposing player, as I recall. The weird thing is I don't remember the point at which we started back up again heckling opposing players, yelling rude yet clever taunts, etc. Likely there wasn't a specific point; rather, it just happened gradually as the grief somewhat subsided.