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Tomorrow evening, in the cathedral that is Yankee Stadium, the two-time defending world champion New York Yankees and their crosstown rival, the Mets, square off in the first game of the 2000 World Series.
In winning their respective league championship series this week, the clubs secured New York's first Subway Series since the Bronx Bombers and the Dodgers of Brooklyn went at it in 1956.
This is baseball's version of Armageddon, and it couldn't happen in a better city.
In any event, I believe the best way to get everyone ready for the Subway Series is to talk a little bit about the Big Apple itself.
Quite frankly, I was slightly overwhelmed by the prospects of discussing such a large city all by myself. Thus, I've asked a good friend and fellow New Yorker, Vinnie Boombatz, to help me out this morning. Despite what people say about New Yorkers and their attitudes, Vinnie is one of the kindest, most sincere guys you'd ever hope to meet. Vinnie, say hello to everyone in Chapel Hill.
"I'm not saying hello to everyone."
Vinnie, you're embarrassing me in front of all the readers.
"I'm going to punch you in front of all the readers if you don't shut up and get this show on the road."
Anyway, Vinnie and I have prepared a brief, yet thorough, report on New York City in an effort to get us revved up for the Subway Series.
First, a quick history of New Yawk.
In 1624, a Dutch explorer named Peter Minuit bought the island of Manhattan from its Native American inhabitants for $24 in trinkets and beads. Upon completing the deal, Minuit thanked his new Indian friends for their cooperation, then immediately herded them onto reservations in North Dakota.
As governor of the frontier colony, Minuit realized there was much work to be done. His first official act was to rename the settlement New Amsterdam, which is Dutch for "let's see how many people we can squeeze on this frickin' island."
Minuit's primary goal was to make the port of New York a major center for trade and commerce. Consequently, he oversaw the construction of an extensive system of streets and avenues that, to this day, nobody can figure out.
However, by the middle of the 17th century, the British were beginning to feel their oats. In 1664, England seized the colony and renamed it New York in honor of the Duke of York, an English aristocrat who also invented the Peppermint Patty.
"Hey, I've had it with this history."
But Vinnie, I'm only up to the 17th century, and we still have a lot to cover.
"If you talk about one more history thing, I'm gonna punch your teeth out."
OK. Let's move on.
For administrative purposes, the city is divided into five distinct boroughs: the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island. That number might soon drop to four, however, as scientists compile more and more evidence that Staten Island is, in fact, not an island, but actually the world's largest garbage barge.
Because all five boroughs are separated by fairly large bodies of water, New York City has a particularly large number of bridges. In the murky waters below each of these elevated structures are the skeletal remains of men who didn't cooperate with the Mafia.
"You got a problem with the Mafia? You got something against Italians?"
Vinnie, of course I don't have a problem with the Mafia. I like the Mafia. And I'm Italian myself, Vin. "Goodfellas" is my favorite movie.
"That's good, newspaper boy. 'Cause if you got a problem with the Mafia, you're gonna be like the rest of 'em, wearing cement shoes at the bottom of the East River."
Let's move along with our discussion. In terms of tourist attractions, New York is second to none. Standing tall in New York Harbor is the one of the city's most spectacular landmarks, the Statue of Liberty. For years, Lady Liberty has greeted boatloads of non-Haitian newcomers to the shores of this great land.
All Americans are familiar with the beautiful creed engraved at the base of the Statue. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and especially your Cuban baseball players whose fastballs top out in the mid-90s."
"Hey, that pitcher with the Yankees . El Duque . Ain't he a Cuban defector?"
That's right Vinnie, he is.
"We should get more of them. He throws real good. Good pitcher, that El Duque."
That's very true, Vinnie.
"Did you just laugh at me?"
"Did you just laugh at me? I thought I heard you laughing at me."
Vin, I just snickered a little. You're a funny guy.
"Funny? How funny? Funny like a clown?"
I think I've seen this in a movie.
"Do I amuse you, journalism boy? Mr. Big Shot over here. Mr. `I got my own column at UNC' thinks he's better than Vincent L. Boombatz, heh?"
Vin, can we discuss this later? The ballgame's on TV now.
"OK, fine. Hey, I like that Bob Costas, from NBC. Good broadcaster. Is he Italian?"
No, he's a Cuban defector.
"Oh. What about El Duque?"
Joe Monaco would like to thank his friend and fellow Long Islander, Sean Sullivan, for his help in writing this column. Reach Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org.