miércoles, mayo 22

Some Things Are More Important Than History

He didn’t care that it was a no-hitter. He just wanted the Yankees to win.

More than five hours after we arrived at Yankee Stadium, my 9-year-old son, Wes, had waited in line for an hour in a rainstorm, collected his coveted (replica) 1998 Yankees World Series ring, talked me into buying him a T-shirt, visited the Gluten Free Grill twice, mourned the season-ending injury to Jasson Domínguez, cheered Aaron Judge so loudly that his voice was getting hoarse and brushed off every single mention I made that Corbin Burnes, the starter for the Milwaukee Brewers, was throwing an incredible game.

While the rain delayed Sunday’s game between Milwaukee and the Yankees only 15 minutes, the soggy conditions persisted through the early innings and Burnes, the winner of the National League Cy Young Award in 2021, had the Yankees baffled.

After two innings, I texted a Brewers fan to say I was worried the Yankees would be no-hit. He replied that Milwaukee didn’t have the offense for it to matter.

After 10 innings we both looked prophetic, as it was a 0-0 tie and the Yankees had not managed a single hit off Burnes or the relievers Devin Williams and Abner Uribe.

But Wes, wearing his glove and sitting in the 200 level for the first time, didn’t care about the historical significance of the moment. When I tried to explain the rarity of what we were seeing — that in the hundreds and hundreds of games I’d attended, as a reporter and as a fan, that I’d never seen a no-hitter in person — he shrugged and said he just wanted the Yankees to win.

After nearly 20 years of watching the game professionally, worrying a lot about deadlines and what the game’s result would mean for either team, it was an incredible reminder of what it means to be a fan above all else.

When Milwaukee’s Tyrone Taylor finally drove in the game’s first run with a single in the 11th, Wes didn’t flinch. Oswaldo Cabrera, his fifth favorite Yankee after Judge, Anthony Volpe, Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole, would be up in the next inning.

Did it matter that Cabrera was a second-year utility player who came into the game hitting .207? It did not. After all, Gary Phillips had written a feature in The Times about the pearl necklace Cabrera wears, and the only thing that bothered Wes was that we had left his replica of that necklace at home.

When Cabrera doubled in a run to tie the score and end my chance at watching a bit of baseball history (while also getting me off the hook for a deadline story), Wes wasn’t even a bit surprised. I think I got a “Sorry, Dad,” but he did not mean it.

In the 12th, Milwaukee managed two more runs and the stadium started to empty. I joked that they’d all run back to their seats as soon as the Yankees hit a two-run homer and Wes, not understanding that I was joking, nodded. “They’ll look like IDIOTS.”

On the fourth pitch of the 12th inning, Stanton made them look like idiots. His game-tying, 419-foot two-run homer to center field sent the remaining crowd into a frenzy and earned me the most earnest hug I’ve had in ages.

The only moment all day in which Wes seemed concerned was when Anthony Misiewicz came on to pitch for the Yankees to start the 13th. You see, Misiewicz is not on the Yankees’ roster in MLB The Show 23, so Wes did not know a lot about him. Luckily Misiewicz, pitching for his third team this season, was up to the challenge, keeping things tied.

As the bottom of the 13th started, Wes was on his feet for Cabrera to win the game. On a long day that had involved waiting in so many different ways, we had to wait one more batter. But Kyle Higashioka, who did not even enter the game until the 10th, got to be the hero, crushing a double to left that scored Everson Pereira to win the game.

The next several minutes were mostly jumping and screaming as Frank Sinatra sang “New York New York.”

We walked out of the Stadium, 6 hours 24 minutes after we’d arrived, with Wes saying it was the greatest game he’d ever seen.

And his father, having been so sad to have missed his chance to finally see a no-hitter but so happy to have watched his son get everything he wanted, got a gift of his own: Sarah Langs, M.L.B.’s inimitable numbers wizard, posted to social media that it was only the fourth time in major league history that a team had been no-hit into the 11th inning and proceeded to win.

We hadn’t seen a no-hitter. We had seen something better.