Review (x3): New Lay’s Air Pops (Original Potato, Sour Cream & Onion, Barbeque) (A So Good Exclusive) & Good Night, Mariano (Or, Why I Bawled Like a Baby Last Night)
Junk Food Nation, this is gonna be one of those “long sports posts – short junk food review” posts. If you want to skip right to the review over on So Good Blog, click here. Otherwise, get ready, because I’m about to blubber and give you another look into who I am:
This weekend is the end of the MLB Regular Season, and for me, as a Yankees fan, I’m very sad. Sure, the Yanks aren’t in the postseason, but no one else cares about that. That sadness is about 4% for me. The remaining 96% is because Mariano Rivera is retiring, and it marks the end of a definite era for me.
There’s been a lot of articles about Mariano already, lauding him, tempering the lauding of him, remembering him. But for me, the start to Mariano’s career was basically the start of when I began watching the Yankees. If you can endure it, read on.
Growing up in Upstate New York, I became a Yankees fan because (1) my dad was a Yankees fan having worked in the Bronx for a couple years after emigrating, and (2) this was back in the day where there were only 12-13 stations on the TV. WPIX 11 in New York was one of those channels, so Yankees games were the only thing I could watch for the longest time.
As a child, I’d watch games with my dad, but I didn’t really follow the Yankees that closely…I just wanted to hang out with my dad. I had the hat, the glove, and the baseball cards…but honestly, I was too busy obsessing about comic books, girls, and Seinfeld in the early 90’s to wonder what Danny Tartabull’s batting average was.
So in 1996, when the Yankees went to the World Series for the first time since 1981 and it was a HUGE DEAL to Yanks fans everywhere, I was personally still only KIND OF watching. I was close to graduating high school at the time, and was worried about classes/college like the nerd I was/am. 1996 was Mariano’s second year up with the Yankees. I remember watching him pitch in that World Series, not really knowing who he was, except a failed starter. You have to remember, THIS WAS BEFORE THE INTERNET, sort of. There was no Rotoworld or other website to see who “top prospects” were. I knew who the big players were. And after that World Series, I knew who Jim Leyritz was; I certainly I knew who John Wetteland was. But Mariano was still a little blip on the radar for me. When the Yanks chose not to re-sign Wetteland in order to let Mo close games, I was like, “hoooooooooooooooooooo….kay.”
Of course, the rest is history. Hate me for how bandwagon it seems, but it’s the reality – the Yanks World Series win in ’96 (first since 1978!) turned on a lightbulb in my head, and from then my heart was firmly pinstriped. Along with it was a dedicated love of the players who were on the Yanks at that time – Cone. Nelson. Pettitte. Stanton. Wells. Girardi. Curtis. O’Neill. Bernie. Jeter. TINO. And of course, Mariano.
I know that to many baseball fans, many of those names make them want to punch a cat in the face. But whatever. For the next 17 years until present, I’ve watched every single storyline with the Yanks. Players who retired, who left for other teams. No hitters. Perfect games. Subway Series. The signing of free agents to bloated contracts. Jason Giambi’s shaved face. The Blue Ribbon Report. September 11. President Bush throwing out the first pitch. Mr. November. Aaron Boone’s home run. Arod and [Arroyo] (thanks Will!). I remember all of it – and through it all, Mariano was there, closing down the 9th inning.
I watched the 2009 Yanks win it all with more money on the field than anyone else, and since then watched them scotch tape together the popsicle structure known as the New York Yankees. But still, Mariano was there, closing it down. His longevity was simply impressive; for many who hated facing him, time changed the frustration into simple awe. It’s the same thing that happened to me and Chipper Jones. I HATED CHIPPER for so long…but last year, when he retired, I had to give it to him. 19 years with one team in the free agency era? Wow. Big props. And the same with Mo.
Last night, Mariano Rivera took the field for the last time at Yankee Stadium. It was melancholy for me. And when he left the game, openly crying, I’ll admit: I sort of lost it.
I was inconsolable. Look, I know all you Yankee haters and eye rollers might judge, but listen: who in your life, besides family, have you known for 17 years? And I’m not talking that you met 17 years ago, and only sort of keep in touch with through Facebook – I’m talking 17 years, that person has been there, as part of your life, day in day out. Reliable. Doesn’t have to be your best friend – just someone who was THERE. Maybe a long time mailman? Maybe a newscaster on a local station. And then one day – POOF. GONE. It hurts because there’s just this gap. This void. They didn’t REALLY affect your life – but they did. Just by being there. And then you get melancholy, and start sounding old, because you start reminiscing how life was like when he was around…sigh.
That’s how Mariano was for me. In essence, for the entire time I’ve rooted for this team, he’s been there. He was never my favorite player – he was just ALWAYS THERE. And he was ALWAYS THERE for MILLIONS of people every single baseball season for the past 17 years, Yankees fans or not. Only in baseball can something like this happen. Jordan didn’t play this long. Football? Forget it. How Baltimore fans felt when Cal Ripken retired is the closest thing I can compare. I mean, Mo has been part of my and my dad’s lives for the past SEVENTEEN YEARS, and now I’m supposed to watch the Yankees without him?? This guy on Deadspin summed it up nicely: with Mariano gone, it’s like my childhood is firmly in the past now. Time to grow up. 🙁
I’m embarrassed to admit that there was a time after the Yanks lost in the 2010 Postseason when I wanted to get rid EVERYONE old in the Yankee clubhouse, Mo included. He was a free agent at the time, after all. Would doing so have helped the past three seasons for the Yanks? Yeah, maybe. But whatever I thought at that time, I’m glad they re-signed Mo. Wouldn’t have been right otherwise.
Look, I know Mariano’s not DEAD (duh) so I apologize for sounding like it. But when the heck am I going to see him again? It’s not like he lives in my building. It’s not like I’m in a fantasy football league with him.
So, heading into 2013, the Yankees will be different. No Pettitte, Hughes, Chamberlain, Youkilis, Boesch, Hafner, Kuroda, the list goes on and on. Jeter’s towards the end of his career, Cano and Granderson are free agents. And No Mo. It’s a good thing – as the Yanks try to sort out their cash cow mess and restart (still spending more money than anyone, good lord), I believe it’s better to have Mo’s career not be part of a major rebuilding process. Still, it just won’t be the same. Watching next year’s team will make me feel super old – and I wasn’t ever PLAYING the game. Mo was. The last person to wear 42 in baseball. Guaranteed first ballot HOF-er. And the only person I will think of when I hear “Enter Sandman.”
Thank you, Mariano…just…for being around.
Today’s junk food is a review I did over on So Good: New Lay’s Air Pops! Here’s a preview…
So Good Readers, it’s Monday and I’m back! Who? Me, your friendly neighborhood Junk Food Guy, silly. With September fast approaching, it’s only a matter of time before stores have Christmas stuff on display. No, seriously – I swear I saw some stockings already poking out at the ends of aisles. You gotta be kidding me, Walgreens.
As I was grocery shopping yesterday, I saw these:
New Lay’s Original Potato Air Pops are Frito-Lay’s attempt at getting in on the air popped chip craze…I guess. I mean, Pop Chips, Pop Corners, and Popcorn Indiana Chip’ins have been around for a while now…like a LONG while now. Still, it’s always interesting to see a big company recognize that smaller companies are dominating a niche, and then try to go in and dominate it themselves. Will Frito-Lay succeed here? Unsure..to find out, I bought each of Frito-Lay’s Air Pop line: Original Potato, Sour Cream & Onion, and Barbeque.
And for those who read through it all – thanks for enduring my blubbering self.
Junk Food Guy