SPORTS DIDN'T HEAL AMERICA

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

9/11 Ceremony
Sports weren't the reason
America got back on her feet.

Following the attacks against the United States of America on September 11, 2001, there was much to do to put the arrogant country back on her track as world superpower. What a humbling day that was for America, in the process learning that she is not, in fact, infallible as she kneeled, nursing her battle wounds. As firefighters, police officers, and many other public servants worked night and day to clear out debris and the victims trapped beneath, America felt a singe so profound, as alcohol on a scrape.

In the wake of the fallen luminous buildings in New York, America looked for a distraction, something to cheer her up before stamping the fist of the democracy in the Middle East. How fitting it was for baseball, America's pasttime, to be that distraction. Nine innings of grown men playing a children's game, being paid enough money for that game alone to put up the new WTC's skeleton. Baseball, to many, was not a Band-Aid or ointment and gauze; baseball was the 2,749 stitches -- one for each life lost in the attacks on the Twin Towers -- that closed up the laceration.

Our heroes took off their capes and respectfully tied them to the necks of the brave (and often underpaid) firefighters, police officers, EMT's, and even your Average Joe with a job in a cubicle. It was they who would hoist America on their collective shoulders and carry it into a new era; not baseball, nor any other sport for that matter. Sans the ceremonies, America would have been the same if the sporting world had taken more than a two-day hiatus. The ceremonies at the venues were grand, respectful, and patriotic as expected, but were they turning any heads? The embroideries on hats and the stickers on helmets, and the notification that Rudy Giuliani was, in fact, sitting in a Yankee Stadium seat was, at face value, just glitz and glamour. It wasn't then-Mets Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo clearing sheet-metal, glass, and human bodies away from ground zero. It wasn't then-manager Bobby Valentine making phone calls deep into the night for volunteer assistance and public information. It was thousands of nine-to-fivers accomplishing those tasks, and we have the audacity to credit grown men playing a game for America's so-called return to normalcy?

Mike Piazza tags Jimmy Rollins
The Phillies and Mets had 9 runs and 11 hits apiece
as regulation play ended in a game on 9/11/2004.

While it's almost impossible to go back to business-as-usual following the most prolific attack in American History, such a mindset would have been positive in terms of the economy. Across the country, sports games were cancelled, businesses closed up, and for once, money was not a mutual thought. American economic activity, already in a recession before the attacks, was substantially curbed as a result of the bereavement period immediately following 9/11. As a stimulus for the economy, interest rates were cut and zero-percent financing was introduced, mostly by car companies like General Motors and Ford. This tactic to revive a fallen American economy will eventually turn out to be more harmful in the long run, as both General Motors and Ford have underachieved in the stock market, slumping forty and twenty percent, respectively. Coupled with the effects of Hurricane Katrina, the outlook is not good for America. And just think of the money that could have been generated had everyone gone on normally; the concessions, merchandise, parking, and ticket sales at sports venues alone would have tickled the economy pink!

Exactly three years removed from an event that dethroned Pearl Harbor as the worst attack on American soil, the New York Mets hosted the Philadelphia Phillies -- two of the three areas affected by the attacks being represented -- for an iconic game that celebrated America's resiliency and the strength of its citizens. After the regulation nine innings of play on 9/11, the two teams were tied with 9 runs and 11 hits apiece. The game lasted thirteen innings -- four extra innings, one for each hijacked plane -- and Philadelphia tacked on two runs to win by a margin of 11-9. To boot, Philadelphia committed two errors equal to the number of planes that hit New York, and New York committed one error equal to the number of planes that hit Pennsylvania.