I've seen this coming for some time now. I knew when I decided to study abroad that I was setting myself up for the most tragic of ironies. Last Monday, the best possible thing, and also the worst possible thing, happened. The Yankees beat the Seattle Mariners, making reality the first Subway Series with my beloved Mets -- turning New York into ground zero for an October showdown of apocalyptic proportions. But while the New York fans back home are preparing for the rapture into baseball heaven, I'm here, 3,000 miles away, stuck in baseball purgatory: England, the land of cricket. Since I arrived, I've been following the ups and downs of my team -- and kept an eye on that pinstriped crew from up the river -- over the Internet. With every win -- every run -- that brought the teams closer to the World Series, I was torn between praying for the matchup I've waited for my entire life and hoping that the teams could put it off a year. But they both made it and the series of a lifetime is upon us. My Mets and the Yankees have done the impossible. And statistically, it really is almost impossible. At the risk of practicing some "fuzzy math," I've calculated the cosmic acrobatics of chance that put both the Mets and Yankees in the World Series and myself out of the country. Out of the 96 World Series ever played, the Yankees have played in 37, giving them a 39 percent chance of getting there in any one year. The Mets have been in the Series four times in 39 years, giving them a 10 percent chance of making it. In my two decades, I've been out of the country once during the World Series -- this year, a 5 percent chance that I'm off American shores. Multiplying these odds together, we see that my missing a Subway Series should happen only once every 500 years. Meaning that -- in the modified words of Lou Gehrig -- today, I consider myself the unluckiest man on the face of the earth. The lack of baseball-viewing accommodations in England doesn't make me feel any better. The games begin around 1 a.m. here, precluding the pubs, which close at 11 p.m., from showing them. Nor does the term "sports bar" do anything for the English. The broken satellite dish in the college's TV room hasn't brought any playoff games despite hours of wire fiddling and gentle coaxing. After recounting my plight to a British friend, he seemed baffled. "Why do you care so much?" he asked. "What is it about baseball that makes you love it so much?" I fell silent. It really was a big question, one with an even bigger answer. After some starts and stops, I could only put forth a jumble of images. I told him it had something to do with my memories of baseball as a kid, memories of my dad bringing home my first mitt, of how it only left my hand during baths -- and not without a fight. I told him it was connected to the experience of going to a baseball game, to the way the bleachers stink of stale beer and rock with stamping feet when Mick's voice comes through the speakers telling you to start him up. I said it involved the way the baseball season begins with the warm weather and ends with the crisp air year after year, giving a kind of rhythm to life. But the images were lost on him. I said that if we got the satellite dish working, he should sit down and watch with us, that perhaps he'd get a grasp of the game's meaning. But in my heart, I knew he wouldn't. You just can't watch a game of baseball and decide you love it. The whole of baseball is more than the game itself. You have to be around baseball, be among its people. You have to be close to the culture, feel its energy. Right now, with an ocean between us, that energy seems very far away. So, to all the fans back home, I'd like to say that my dusty cap is on and my heart is with you. For those lucky enough to have tickets, please eat a hot dog and heckle some Yankees fans for me. And for those who don't watch baseball, who don't love it, I have to say there's never been a better time to start. Go Mets.Comments powered by Disqus
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