[originally posted September 24, 2014; updated January 6, 2015 to reflect Craig Biggio's election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York]
I have been a Yankees fan since I was a kid. We couldn't afford to buy team jerseys, so I remember taking two pieces of black electrical tape and pasting a #7 on a white T-shirt in honor of my favorite player at the time, Mickey Mantle. It was toward the end of his career, team attendance was abysmal by today's standards (the Yankees were lucky to draw 15,000-20,000 for a long stretch), championships were no longer in sight, but it was still special. If we were lucky, perhaps my family would get to see one game per season, either at Yankee or Shea Stadium. (I do root for the Mets as well these days.) If we were really lucky, we would go on a promotional day - Cap Day, Bat Day, Record Day (a vinyl version of Here Come the Yankees, Lou Gehrig' s famous speech, Phil Rizzuto's "Holy Cow!", and more) - all were wonderful.
It seems like Derek Jeter's career just started, but in a few days, the 2014 season will end without the Yankees in the post-season. Mathematically, there is an infinitesimal chance of the team sneaking in to the playoffs, I believe, but the teams in front would have to collapse in their remaining games, besides the Yankees winning all of their own games. I remember visiting my younger brother at SUNY-Albany when Bernie Williams was playing for the Yankees' minor league team there. Time flies. With the constant attention on Jeter's pending retirement, some have said that he has deserved the attention, while others have suggested that he was overrated as a baseball player. So which side am I on in this debate?
In my opinion, Jeter should be an easy choice for the Hall of Fame. The Yankees have always been known for their sluggers, the Bronx Bombers. The triple crown looks at home runs, runs batted in (RBI's), and batting average. To win a game, however, you need to score more runs than the other team. On offense, this is one area where Jeter not only excelled, but achieved it at a world-class level, better than any other shortstop in the history of major league baseball, and equal to or better than many current Hall-of-Famers. According to Major League Baseball, here are the top 20 all-time best in terms of scoring runs (bold denotes members of the Baseball Hall of Fame):
(I first ran this piece last year, on September 11th. Today is the thirteenth anniversary of the attacks. Finding photos from the 1990's brings back memories of a different time. The skyline is different now, New York has come back strong, but the events of that day will always be with us.)
Today, of course, is the twelfth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In many ways, the horrors of the attacks brought the American people together as a single community, and in other ways felt deeply personal as well. It did not matter what your background was, who you voted for, what your beliefs were, the people who were killed or injured cut across the beautiful fabric that makes up the United States, as well as visitors from all corners of the globe.
On that horrific day, I remember working in Newark, maybe 10 miles or so west of the World Trade Center. As I was driving east on I-280, I remember hearing the first reports of a plane crash before 9:00 a.m., then seeing the billowing smoke from the top of one of the towers. I remember parking on the upper levels of an office garage and seeing straight across toward lower Manhattan. I remember sitting in my cubicle and contacting my family, realizing that communication might be lost at any moment -- leaving a message for my wife where she was teaching, not being sure how much the schools were aware of the day's events; leaving a message with my in-laws in case my wife got through to them and not to me. I remember calling my mother on Staten Island - the direction in which the smoke was billowing - then realizing that instead of hanging up I should do a conference call with my brothers (one who lived in Manhattan at the time, another who often was in the City, and a third from Boston, from which two of the planes originated). I also remember driving home early that day and avoiding a drawbridge I would usually drive on, not being sure of what other targets there might be. I also remember the weather that Tuesday being particularly nice - beautifully clear and pleasant.
We must always remember the sadness and the tragedy of the day - the people who worked there, the tourists who were visiting, the emergency services personnel who gave their lives to rescue others, the countless volunteers who helped regardless of the risks to their own health and safety. In the fall of 2000, I lost my father after a series of health battles. I couldn't help but think that he probably would have organized a blood drive had he been alive on 9-11.
The skyline of Manhattan is changing now. From the New Jersey side, you can clearly see the rebirth a bit over a decade later. There are many great vantage points of the New York City skyline from the Garden State side of the Hudson River. Liberty State Park in Jersey City was a key part of rescue efforts in 2001; today you can see the dramatic changes with the new One World Trade Center, sometimes called the Freedom Tower. This past July, the new tower was lit up top to bottom in red, white, and blue, an amazing site. Tonight, beams of light will be visible from lower Manhattan after sundown to honor the memory of the victims of the attacks. Because of the ease of access and proximity to New York City, New Jersey represented a very large number of the casualties. One of the most beautiful tributes to the events of that day can be seen in West Orange at Eagle Rock Reservation, a public park. On a clear day, you get an incredibly panoramic view of New York - seeing all the way from the George Washington Bridge to the Rockaways. The names of the victims are engraved on a wall. There are sculptures honoring the emergency personnel. The people aboard the four airplanes that crashed are each individually recognized.
Let us honor all by remembering the tragedy and remembering what makes us strong. Let us remember what a privilege it is to live in this great democracy and to be able to vote for the candidates of our choice. Let us remember that our differences can either pull us apart or make us stronger. The terrorist attacks in 2001 brought together the nation in different ways. That is something worth remembering and upon which to build.
A few hours from now, Apple is set to announce the latest update to its iPhone. As always, there is much anticipation associated with this event. There is much speculation that a watch based on the iOS platform will be released as well. The assumption is that if this is indeed the case, it will simply be called the iWatch. Many have suggested that it will have health-related features as well. It's hard to believe that the iPhone has been around for only seven years, given how much the iPhone and other smartphones have taken a hold on the world's imagination and knowledge. That is perhaps the key to the iPhone's phenomenal success. In the palm of your hand, you have not only an encyclopedia full of information, but a seemingly infinite source of creative options, as well as access to libraries, colleges, museums, newspapers, and even social networks around the globe. Everyone knows iTunes for its access to one's favorite music and perhaps movies as well, but a lot of knowledge is disseminated through podcasts and iTunesU, where colleges may post course material for the world to see. On the internet, some of the great universities of the world have teamed up to offer Massive Open Online Courses, often referred to by their MOOC acronym. With a MOOC, anyone can register to take a college-level course, either just to learn or for a certificate. My alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has teamed up with another college in Cambridge, Massachusetts to offer the edX MOOC to the world. The MIT-Harvard program joins these two wonderful universities with other great universities around the world. Speaking of MIT, a small news item yesterday caught my attention. Apple is leasing space, apparently for its voice recognition team, in an office building at the end of the MIT campus, a short distance from Harvard and from Boston.
Will today's product announcement be limited to a new iPhone? Will it include a game-changing device, much as the iPad did back in 2010? Will it add to the product mix a less popular but nice gadget such as the Apple TV? Or will it be something that we have not yet imagined? Of course, there has been a lot of hype about today's announcements. In a few hours, the world will find out if the hype was too much or not. But when it comes down to it, the iPhone and similar products package imagination and knowledge into a device that fits in the palm of your hand. Interestingly, the late Steve Jobs became Disney's largest shareholder when Pixar was sold to Disney. The creative force behind the Disney parks is comprised of innovators called "Imagineers". Again, it is a matter of imagination and knowledge working together.
Blog Author - Ken Felsher
With over 25 years of writing, editing, and research experience. I enjoy sharing with my readers my love of working with content on a variety of subjects.
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