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  • Our first cruise was in early November, 2001. Folks were just starting to come back from the state of shock and the "world-turned-upside-down" sense that the events of 9/11 had catapulted us into.

    We had booked the cruise to the Carribean months before, and weren't even sure whether it would still be on or not, but it was - after the previous month and a half in DC, we needed the break from it all. On top of the events of 9/11, we had the anthrax attacks, and things were just really out of kilter. Anything resembling normalcy was just so welcome at that point.

    Baseball had shut down for at least a week, so when it started up again, they decided to reschedule and play all the games, so the postseason was pushed back, and the World Series wound up spilling into November for the first time. New York's Yankees made it in, certainly the emotional favorite for many, after what NYC had been through. They symbolized so much to so many.

    The series went the full 7 games, and Games 6 & 7 would be played on our first 2 days out at sea. I never miss a World Series if I can help it, and was pleasantly surprised to find Game 6 televised in the ship's sports bar up in the foreward stack of the ship. I settled in there, and was joined by a group of about 20 or so guys, to watch as the Big Unit, Randy Johnson, shut the Yanks down, sending the series to Game 7.

    We all made the trek back up to the bar in the forward stack for the finale game, but were met with the unhappy news that the ship was beyond all of the feeds at that point, and could not pick up the game. No Game 7 Broadcast! What to do? As we all puzzled over this, someone mentioned the Internet Cafe and MLB.com. "I signed up for the unlimited package", I exclaimed, so off to the Internet Cafe we all trooped, to commandeer a computer!

    I got set up at a computer there. The Cafe was right in the heart of the ship, in an open area between 2 of the main restaurants, with lots of foot traffic going by. I began calling "play by play" as the computer would show whether the pitch was a ball or a strike, and if the batter hit the ball and it got past a fielder, "ball in play" would march across the screen, then you'd have to wait a couple seconds before it would indicate the outcome of the play - "Double to left", Single to right field", etc. I filled in the pauses with color commentary, making up the action I imagined was happening on the field. I had a lot of fun with it, just using my baseball imagination and "IQ".

    With a large majority of Yankees fans on the ship, word soon spread that the game was being "broadcast" at the internet cafe. The crowds around the cafe swelled as the game progressed - my newfound friends kept plying me with Diet Cokes (I was a cheap date!), and I kept calling the plays as the excitement grew. It was a close game all the way.

    Someone was on the phone up to the sports bar, relaying updates up there, where apparently another crowd was gathered, following the game. It was the most exciting game I never saw! By the time Mariano Rivera entered with a late inning lead, and all assumed the Yankees would win their 5th series in 6 years (Mariana never gave up a lead, especially in the World Series), the crowd was going crazy with excitement.

    But the Diamondbacks launched a most improbable comeback, tied it up, and then I made the final call - as "ball in play" marched across my computer's screen, I announced "And Gonzales ropes a dying quail out into short right center field, just beyond the infield's reach, and here comes the runner rounding third, he's heading for home...(hoping the outcome hits the computer screen before I run out of words), the crowd on the ship all holding their collective breath, and then - "and it's all over! The Diamondbacks win the World Series on a walk-off single off of Mariano Rivera! The Yankees dream is over!", followed by a collective sigh of disappointment, followed by the realization, that, win or lose, we had all just heard the best World Series game we never saw!

    I was something of a celebrity for the rest of that 7 day cruise, my first ever cruise, as folks would spot me about the ship or on the islands and say, "hey, you're that announcer guy! Great game call!"
    I, of course, loved it.

    I never let on to folks that I was secretly rooting for the Diamondbacks the whole time...I had gotten to know Curt Schilling when he pitched for the Phillies and I ran the Imported Beer stand at Veterans Stadium in the early 90's, and was a huge fan of his. He'd started that Game 7 for the D-backs on 2 days rest, and kept them in it for 7 + gutsy innings - a real "warrior", who would later go on to fame as he inspired and led the Red Sox to a historic playoff series comeback over the same Yankees 3 years later, despite a severe foot injury that will forever go down in Red Sox lore as the "bloody sock" incident....but that's another tale!

    (Picture courtesy of MLB.com World Series website)
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