9/11 Archives - The Jose Vilson

9/11

Nine Twelve

by Jose Vilson on September 12, 2010

in Jose

Yesterday, I had no pithy comments. Or any other words in general.

It’s not that I don’t have a “Where were you when …” story or didn’t think of the thousands of people who died directly or indirectly in that attack. Quite the opposite. I consider my view on 9-11 unorthodox in the American paradigm. Then I think about how the arguments that arise from my point of view only dissuades any of us in the discussion about the other 9/11s that happen around the world. For some countries, 3000 deaths is relatively commonplace, explosions prevalent, gunpowder trite.

And even with all the lessons learned that day, most people throughout the years (including yours truly) made that event conform to their own bios rather than the implications of such an event for human civilization. Or civility. That and dealing death in my circle of family and friends made me bite my tongue about this “9/11″ idea. It hurt because, like the tragedy itself, so many of us wish we could have done more to help out beforehand. Or after-hand. Or any hand.

Rather than say anything about 9/11 yesterday, I said nothing.

And that’s all I got for now.

Jose

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Not Your Average Joe

by Jose Vilson on October 18, 2007

Joe TorreI became a baseball fan when I was around 9 years old, when the Yankees were getting their butts beat in the division by the Orioles and the Red Sox. Bernie Williams was still getting booed and everyone except Don Mattingly knew they weren’t going to make it to the championships. Buck Showalter did break us into first place in 1994, but in that year and 1995, we won a playoff bid … and that was about it.

Joe Torre came in at a time when there was lots of promise, but more uncertainty. He had a bunch of stints with the Mets, Cardinals, and the Braves. That wasn’t very productive other than a NL Division Series with the Braves. In other words, a whole lot of nothing. Before the Yanks, he was hoping people remembered his more prolific player stats. Since he came though, it’s been nothing short of magic. Some say he just rode Buck Showalter’s coat tails, but that’s far from the truth.

The truth lies in that stoic face that lies in the dugout under the fresh brimmed hat and the saggy jacket. It lies in the little drag-trot to the mound when he relieves a pitcher, or even in his post-game interviews when he turns the tide on a rather hostile New York sports media. It’s his decision-making that was really critical to Yankees’ success. He took the core group of Andy Pettite, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter, and molded them into the exalted men that we know today. Outside of Gary Sheffield and Kenny Lofton (who are both so popular, they’ve been through almost the entire league between them), he helped transform the images of plenty of men. Everyone from Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden to David Wells and Bernie Williams benefited from having Joe Torre there as an example of good behavior.

4 World Series, 12 consecutive appearances, but also a man who exemplified the strength of New York during 9/11 and with his own personal battles with domestic violence (upon him during his youth) and prostate cancer. He was usually the voice of reason and the bed of emotion when we needed it. Even when he faltered during the 2006 playoffs (worst move: moving A-Rod to 8th, which I’ll discuss if / when there’s a Yankee decision about him), he still found a way to make the team gel.

None of this excuses his 3 straight early exits from the playoffs to teams we were heavily favored against. After all, we know he’s coaching a 200$ million club, and they have the greatest of expectations. He’s the 8th winningest coach, and the one of the greatest coaches in the modern era in any sport, and he had the highest salary of any coach, making at least 2 times more than the next highest paid coach.

And to this, I say, “So?” This year has been the 2nd most trying year of his career professionally (last year was the most). His team was 21-29 and 14.5 games back of the rival Boston Red Sox. The New York Mets were primed to be the #1 team and were in this city for much of the year. Every pitcher except for Andy Pettite had some sort of injury, and we had 13 different starting pitchers in lieu of that. Even with their backs against the wall, they never lost their composure. He kept the team’s demeanor very professional, and he’s also the only manager who could probably handle the situation of a group of $200 million egos with everything from public infidelity and endorsements to whiners and steroids. He covered Brian Cashman’s ass even when he didn’t intend to, blunting the deathly sword of imports like Hideki Irabu, Carl Pavano, and Kei Igawa (still a pending situation).  And most of all, he’s had the longest tenure of any Yankee manager under the Steinbrenner era; that’s coming from an owner who publicly tried to dig up dirt on his own players and managers just to get rid of them.

He had his faults, and that’s something we all forgave, like abusing his relievers (Tanyon Sturtze and Scott Proctor) and not letting pitchers always go full innings, which led to the former problems. Yet, he was a man who beat and surpassed the odds. He just made everything feel like it was going to be alright, and that comforts us. Things are so unstable in life, and his consistency always reassured us. Before him, we had 17 Yankee managerial changes with 9 managers, so I’m sure we’ll never have that kind of manager for the next decade or so.

Personally, Joe’s someone who exemplifies that leadership so many of us wish we could be, and in times of tumult, he came through. He left on his own terms, and that’s the best we could have asked for as an organization. The contract wasn’t good, and a very condescending and merit-based contract. His leaving truly signals the end of an era for the Yankees, and with George Steinbrenner looking like he’s on the outs, too, it’s only right that Yankees Stadium’s occupation will soon be over.

You can’t replace a man like Torre; you can only hope to be close to average.

jose, who’s humming “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra …

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Black, White, and Read All Over? Terrorism!

by Jose Vilson on September 22, 2007

in Jose

Wishing on a ladenI recently read on Slate.com that not only is Big Brother watching, but he’s also trying to get into my library, keeping records of the types of personal items I keep and stuff I do on their planes. I wonder what Osama bin Laden’s reading list looks like and if they compare it to my own. I was recently on an airplane on my way to Florida, and everyone but me on the plane was wearing a suit. On my left was a lady who was reminiscent of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada and a dude on my right wearing a distinctive red turban, and I facetiously thought, “Who’s really the terrorist?”

Speaking of which, I had a discussion of sorts with some anonymous guy in front of the airport as I was waiting to get picked up. (He was smoking a fragrant, green substance wrapped in brown paper). As we get to talking about the 9/11 stories and such, he said something very interesting: “I knew that whole shit was rigged, ’cause I was watching this television interview, I’ll never forget it, 3 years after the attacks, someone asked him what his thoughts were on Osama, and you know what he had the nerve to say? ‘You know, I don’t really think about Osama much these days.’”

Wow.

By the way, I’m sorry if I have a hard time giving thanks to bloggers who namedrop me. I’m usually so humbled, I don’t even know what to say except thanks. To that end, thanks to Hasta Los Gatos Quieren Zapatos, Siobhan Curious, Teaching is Learning, and anyone else I didn’t mention. Just because you’re not on my blogroll doesn’t mean I’m not watchin’.

On another note, the Jena 6 march looked like it was a success. What disappointed me that day was the lack of all-black wearers in my own school (For those that didn’t know, on September 20th, people were asked to wear all black in support of the Jena students). With the density of Blacks and Latinos at the school, I would have thought that there’d be more than 3 teachers wearing it. Then again, people either never “heard of” the Jena 6, ignored it, or realized that most of our kids have never / might never leave past a mile of the school’s region. Sadness.

My father’s in better shape, so thanks to everyone who had him and my family in their thoughts and prayers.

The Yankees look like they’re closing in on another playoff berth huh? :-) …

jose, who’s in heaven right now …

edit: by the way, now my blog is black, white, and read all over, too. har har har …

2nd edit: My Blogcritics article about Black History Month was published. Check it out when you get the chance.

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