Thursday, May 08, 2014

Hold Your Head Up

I'll never forget that moment.  The moment Derek Jeter stepped into the batters box, Game 4, 2001 World Series, 10th inning, Yankee Stadium:

It was November.

With the Yankees being behind the Diamondbacks, two games to one, bottom of the felt like do or die.

Byung Hyun Kim wound up throwing 59 pitches in relief prior to his final pitch of that game:  a walk off home run by Jeter.  Driven deep into the frenzied stands of the Old Stadium, Kim granted Jeter and the Yankees the opportunity to even the series, and gleefully advance toward Game 5 with confidence and momentum.

Skip ahead, Game 5.  Once again:  Kim in relief.

It truly felt like Deja Vu all over again.  Scott Brosius came up to batters box, and before you could say WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST SEE HAPPEN, he, too, crushed a game-tying two-run homer into the frenzied stands of the Old Stadium.   Once again, Kim was granting the Yankees quite an opportunity.

The thing is...the moment Brosius cracked that homer and tied the score, Bob Brenly, manager for the Diamondbacks, came out to the mound and told Kim something I'll never forget.

With Kim clutching the sides of his head, dropping to his knees on the mound...Brenly confidently walked out to the mound and, as Kim slowly began to stand before his Skipper, he told Kim, "Hold your head up!  Keep your head up!"

All things said and done, the Arizona Diamondbacks had every reason to believe the mystique and magic that had so often visited the Yankees was the very force they had come to confront, and no amount of "holding one's head up," could defeat THAT.

The Arizona Diamondbacks won that series.

With the score 2-2 going into the 9th of a Game 7, the Arizona Diamondbacks found a way to forge the most important inning of the entire series:  the last one.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, having lost crucial Games 4 & 5, defeated the New York Yankees in 7 games.  They defeated the mystique, the magic, the frenzied stands...

Today, I heard that song by Argent, Hold Your Head Up, and thought about the unimaginable obstacles within life.  I thought of times when life seems to hand us moments of abject failure and hopeless despair.  And I thought of how odd it seems to hold your head up during those times...

I thought about how odd it must have seemed for teams like the Diamondbacks, the 2004 Red Sox, the 2014 L.A. Kings to hold their heads up...amidst such unthinkable odds.  Amidst the scrutiny, the media, the fans...amidst their own frustration, fears, and inability to know for certain that fighting-to-see-another-day would amount to much.

...It amounted to everything.

...It amounted to forging history.

Often times losing momentum, crushing defeat, and seeming collapse signal the need to hold your head up... 

In the end, Kim would be the winner of that World Series ring, not Jeter, and not Brosius.  And, perhaps he had no reason to "feel" as though he had reason or courage to stand tall and conduct himself like the winner he would become...

...But what we see is, winners are often cloaked in the disguise of hopeless failures...just moments before their unthinkable victory is earned...

There is something to be said about fighting the good fight til the end.  There is something to be said for never accepting defeat as a reality... until, and if, it actually becomes a reality.  There is something to be said for wins that are fleeting and temporary...compared to wins that forge unimaginable historic victories.

...There is something to be said for holding your head up...