Back to the House that Ruth Built

It’s funny how the human mind works. We seem to be wired by association. If a new thought or concept is brought up we immediately attempt to associate this new piece of data with something we are already familiar with. This is probably our brain trying to put context around the unknown. Psychologists use association in their treatment programs to help patients deal with their thoughts and underlying issues by associating them with something that is known. A few years back I had an opportunity to visit with a psychologist during one of my college classes. Everyone had always said I needed my head examined so I figured this would be a great way to have the doc check under the hood and maybe have my cerebral oil changed. The psychologist used word association to attempt to better understand what thoughts or words I would connect. He would give me a word and I was to respond with the first thing that came into my head. For example, he would say “happy” and I would respond “baseball”. He would say “home” and I would say “baseball”. He would say “heaven” and I would say “baseball”. After several minutes of this exercise all with the same result the psychologist suggested perhaps I should schedule some appointments with him. As much as I liked talking about baseball, I didn’t think I had the time to devote several hours each week to go to his office so we could talk about it. I appreciate that he might be a fan but he seemed to be obsessed to me since all he ever talked about were baseball related terms.

Diamondbacks fans have a similar association. If you mention Yankee Stadium most Arizona Diamondbacks fans will immediately think of the 2001 World Series. Those were three of the darker days in Diamondbacks history when the Yankees not only snatched victory from the jaws of death but nearly destroyed a young Korean closer in the process. It wasn’t just that Arizona lost those games; it was the way in which they lost them. We lost on late-inning game tying or winning home runs that felt as though someone had punched you in the stomach and left you gasping for air. The mere mention of Yankee Stadium brings back surreal images of baseballs disappearing into the cool October night air followed by images of the Diamondbacks pitchers cringing and lowering their heads in defeat. These are not nightmares that any of us want to relive.

It doesn’t seem to matter that the Diamondbacks have since visited Yankee Stadium as part of Interleague play. Those images from the Fall Classic continue to haunt me. I wondered what would happen when Arizona once again had to face those demons. It was not until today that I realized that there is only one player still in Diamondbacks uniform that was part of those 3 horrible games and that is Randy Johnson. Given the fact that Randy was a Yankee for the past 2 years I am sure he had overcome the memories of the 2001 series. He probably has a lot more painful memories associated with that stadium beyond Games 3-5. Besides, Randy would not be making the trip to New York for this series so it didn’t matter. Instead Arizona would be sending a very young team may of which were in their teen years during that series and had no recollection of what happened. So while Yankee Stadium may be an intimidating place to play, it has no more significance than any other place to this team. I only wish scheduling could have been better. I would have much rather see the Diamondbacks kick the Yankees while they were down instead of coming to town after they had won 6 in a row.

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