Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rant #1,356: A Meeting of the Minds



Baseball's spring training is what it is.

If you are a baseball fan, it tells you that the season is right around the corner, the snow and mush on the ground will soon be gone, and the warmer weather is coming.

Every team is in first place, every team has a chance to make it all the way to the World Series.

Hope "springs" eternal, I guess.

Yesterday was something special at the Yankees camp, as one New York sports icon of an earlier generation met one of more recent vintage.

Joe Namath, the Jets iconic quarterback when they won the Super Bowl in 1970, met Derek Jeter, the Yankees shortstop, who has helped the Yankees win five World Series during his career.

Look, as you know, I am not a football fan. I really don't like the sport.

But during that time period in 1969 and 1970, New York was truly the focus of the sports world.

I am not a Mets fan, but the "Miracle Mets" of that era captivated even non-sports fans with their unlikely push to become World Series champions in 1969.

The Knicks would win their first championship during the 1969-70 season with probably the most cerebral bunch of players--both on and off the court--that has ever been assembled on one team.

And the Jets, when they really were the New York Jets, captivated everyone's hearts with their unlikely Super Bowl win against the Baltimore Colts.

That was the only football game I ever watched from beginning to end with my father, so it has some special meaning to me.

People looked at Namath, the team's quarterback, as an upstart braggart, telling the media that the Jets would win this game against the NFL's best team (remember, the Jets were in the AFL then).

But they won, and everyone became a Jets fan, even if you didn't like football.

Namath became a media sensation, appearing on the news and TV and movies while he continued to be on the gridiron.

Anyway, all these years later, probably New York's top football icon finally met New York's top current baseball icon face to face for the first time related to an interview they were going to do.

Not only did they meet--with Namath calling Jeter "angelic"--but Namath donned a Yankees uniform, uniform No. 12, of course, his old number with Jets, and actually threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the game yesterday.

To Jeter, of course.

And, of course, the Yankees won the game, for whatever meaning it has in spring training.

This meeting probably has little or no meaning for those outside the New York sports pantheon, but to me, it was pretty neat.

It's as if Mickey Mantle strolled into the Knicks court and shot baskets with Carmelo Anthony, or something to that effect, times 100, of course.

Funny things happen in spring training. I remember that several years ago, comic Billy Crystal also donned a Yankees uniform and actually played in a game, striking out in his only appearance.

But yesterday, it was like old school met current school, and it all seemed to go well.

This almost cosmic meeting, I would like to think, even softened the blow of the supposed major winter snowstorm we were supposed to have gotten where I am, which turned into nothing more than a whimper.

Good.

If Namath can do that, please let him visit with the Knicks.

Right now, they could use all the help they can get.

Maybe Namath, gimpy knees and all, can hoist up a few baskets.

I wouldn't put it past him.

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