Game 6 of the 1986 World Series is a famous game in baseball history. The New York Mets improbably rallied back from the brink of loss to beat the Boston Red Sox and find glory as World Series champions.
I watched this game when I was seven, and, thirty years later, decided I should be the one to write the definitive essay on the spiritual importance of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. I secretly hoped this essay would also be my New York Times debut. Surely they would want to include lavish coverage of the game’s 30th anniversary, on October 25th, 2016.
I started drafting the essay in early 2015, and pitched and submitted it widely for over a year. I was convinced I could place it with the New York Times, because it was such a great New York story.
First, I submitted it—unsolicited and with no editor contact—to the New York Times Op-Ed page, the Metropolitan Diary, the Sports section, and the (since discontinued) “Lives” column, re-writing it carefully for each section.
“If you do not hear from us within three business days,” said the automated responses, “please assume that we will not be able to use your article.”
I did not hear from the New York Times within three business days.
I track the progress of all my submissions on an Excel spreadsheet, which auto-fills the cells in the “Response” column with one of four responses I have previously used: ‘ACCEPTED, REJECTED, REJECTED—NO RESPONSE, or REJECTED (NICE)—SEND MORE.’
I selected ‘REJECTED—NO RESPONSE.’ I re-wrote the piece and sent it to every section a second time, again receiving no response. ‘REJECTED—NO RESPONSE,’ Excel auto-filled again.
I gave up on the Times and crowdsourced suggestions for where to send sporty things, since I had not followed sports since 1986. “Why should I care about the fate of a bunch of steroid-addled pro-life Republican date-rapists?” I snapped, when my dad asked if I had been keeping up with the Mets.
Friends compiled a list of online-only publications I had never heard of, and also suggested Sports Illustrated. I submitted to all of them and also got no response.
The day before the October 25th, 2016 anniversary, I uploaded the essay I had written to my blog, copied and pasted its entirety into a Facebook status, and shared it before I went to bed, so it would have a chance to go viral in the morning. I woke up to find that three people had liked it, one of whom was a friend I had mentioned by name in the essay and tagged in the post.
Who, if not me, had gotten to write about the 30th anniversary of Game 6 in the New York Times, I wondered? I took a deep breath and clicked on “Sports.”
No one had written about the 30th anniversary of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series in the New York Times, perhaps because it wasn’t a thing. The significance of the anniversary had all been in my mind.
A week later, I was sitting in my car, listening to the final outs of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series on the radio. The Chicago Cubs were trying to win their first World Series since 1908. I knew nothing of the Cubs save that their 108-year drought was even longer than the Red Sox’s had been.
I Googled the Cubs’ ace reliever, and read that he had a domestic violence conviction. “Steroid-addled date rapists and wife beaters,” I grumbled.
But I myself was badly in need of relief. In its final weeks, the presidential campaign had taken a turn for the worse. I had just had my heart broken, via text, for what felt like the 108th time. 108 was a significant number, at least to Buddhists. I tuned in to the fate of a bunch of steroid-addled pro-life Republican date-rapists (and wife beaters) for the same reason many of us do—for escape, emotional release, and just to feel a glimmer of hope.
It was once again the 10th inning in Game Six, and it felt just like it had thirty years ago. The reliever, who couldn’t control his anger, had somehow controlled his fastball. The announcer’s voice ramped up with excitement. The Cubs won, and the 108-year drought was over.
I started to cry, alone in my cold car. I wasn’t crying for the city of Chicago, or the victims of the violence committed by the members of its professional sports teams. I was crying for the lifetimes of trying, and because the moment of victory, if it ever comes, is so brief and elusive that it hardly balances the heartbreak.
Reflexively, I checked my email. One of the editors to whom I had submitted my Game 6 piece had written back in the last hour.
“Hey Emily!” she wrote,“I have no idea if anyone got back to you, but I wanted to say that this is really good—but I’m not sure it was quite what we needed at the moment. I know, that sounds like such ‘oh, they all say that phrase,’ but I mean it! As I sit here, watching a rain delay in the ninth inning of the World Series, I just wanted you to know to stay in the game, and keep pitching.”
Through my tears, I smiled the secret smile I smile when I write a good line, get an acceptance letter, turn in a piece, see my byline, or learn that a stranger has read and valued something I wrote.
I went home and updated my own corner of the historical record. I changed ‘REJECTED—NO RESPONSE’ to ‘REJECTED (NICE)—SEND MORE.’
Emily Meg Weinstein’s work has appeared in Salon, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Longreads, Climbing, R