By noon on Friday almost every man, woman and child in Metsopotamia was sure the war on second base was over. But most felt that they already lived through a sort of V-E-4 week, and across the great Roosevelt Avenue of Queens there was only a little cheering. In Woodside a housewife telephoned a newspaper: “Shall I go ahead and bake a pie for tomorrow?” In Astoria, N.Y., as in most of the Metropolitan Area’s towns and villages, it was another Friday and another washday. But on this Friday, Astoria got the news that four more second basemen were still in a battle.
In Manhattan, the most effervescent Metsopotamia borough, the carnival sights and sounds bubbled spontaneously, then subsided, then fizzed again. For a while on Friday, torn paper and ticker tape by the ton fluttered from skyscrapers, and the streets turned white. Half a million people clotted Times Square, sober and undemonstrative, waiting for somebody to start the fun. Nobody did.
The people milled for five hours, until in late afternoon Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s voice barked over a loudspeaker: “Go home … or return to your jobs.” Most of the people drifted away. The flags over Citi Field, half-staffed since the Wilpons began seeking minority partners, fluttered limply.
In the interest of accuracy, the above is a doctored description from Time magazine, May 1945, detailing America’s reaction to V-E Day as World War II neared an end. The news that’s just come down regarding the release of Luis Castillo may not be viewed in some quarters as quite so momentous, yet it does feel epic. One is tempted to note Castillo’s occupation of second base in Flushing lasted about as long as America’s involvement in the European Theatre, but let’s maintain some sense of proportion here.
Luis Castillo: not a scourge, not a villain, surely not a war criminal, just an overpaid, underperforming second baseman who (save for being in the right place at the right time with the rightest contract imaginable) couldn’t catch a break in New York. He certainly couldn’t catch a pop fly in the Bronx.
Luis Castillo: vouched for, practically up to the moment it was reported the Mets were surrendering to common sense, as a decent fellow who didn’t deserve to be disdained so vociferously. A former colleague of mine who grew up during World War II used to remind me that “hate is for Hitler.” Well…yeah. I didn’t hate Luis Castillo. I disliked his being signed to the MegaMillions Jackpot and waited for the day someone would redraw the roster so he wouldn’t be on it anymore. And now it is done.
When I first found out, I wanted to bolt straight into Times Square and kiss the first pretty nurse I saw, but then I remembered that (besides being married) the iconic image to which I refer occurred in response to V-J Day, three months after V-E Day. That was when the war was over in Japan, thus over for good. Here on V-E-4 Day, we can rejoice that Luis Castillo is no longer in the running to play second base for the New York Mets in 2011, but it’s not like we have achieved peace in our time, either.
Murphy…Emaus…Hernandez…Turner. Right now, it reads like a platoon of earnest grunts who are about to be ambushed by an enemy barrage of breaking balls out of the zone and sharp grounders in the hole.
Godspeed, boys. Godspeed.