Monday, May 19, 2008

End of an Era

I just bought tickets for a Yankees-A's game on July 20 at the Stadium in what could be the last time I go to Mecca. I think it is a joke that they are building a new Yankee Stadium. While I am one of those people who think sports have changed for the worst (e.g., tennis was a much better sport to watch when they used wooden rackets, college and pro basketball are both suffering from one and done athletes, massive celebrating from an eight yard screen pass is a joke), I think building a new Yankee Stadium is wrong for economic reasons.

Yankee Stadium, like Fenway and Wrigley, is an American temple, comparable to the Coliseum, Wimbledon Center Court or Alpe D'Huez. People who aren't even baseball fans go to the Stadium so they can say they were part of history . Aura and mystique aren't strippers; they do exist at 161st Street in the Bronx. Once the Yankees move to their new crib, even though it is next door, the attraction that is the House that Ruth Built is gone. The House that Hank and Hal built is worthless as a memory.

I have probably been to about 15-20 games at Yankee Stadium
and they were all incredible. Highlights include:

July or August 1973 - My first Yankee game with my mom and sister. Felipe Alou and Bobby Murcer are the Yankee stars. They lose to the Red Sox but I don't have an ulcer as the meaning is lost on me. I get a free bat as we stumbled unknowingly onto bat day.

September 1976 - Chris Chambliss hits a three-run homer with the Yanks down 5-3 in the 9th and two out. My first insight into the rivalry and a premonition of Chambliss' pennant winning homer one month later.

September 1978 - In the middle of the greatest comeback of all time, my dad and I watch the Yankees and Catfish Hunter beat the Sox again on Thurman Munson's RBI to drive in Mickey Rivers. I now fully understand why it matters.

August 1980 - I catch my one and only foul ball, hit by Reggie Jackson, and my play is on tv to boot. 25 years later, Sam will loathe me when he learns that I lost the foul ball several years later.

May 2003 - One of the top moments of my life, my first Yankee game with Ben and Sam. Yankees lose but Jeter hits a home run, making the game one for the ages. Enrique Wilson, a Yankee back up infielder, blows the game with a late inning error. We will all hate him for the rest of his career. When we have a catch and either Sam, Ben or I drop a ball, we will forever refer to it as an Enrique.

2004 - I'm not at the game but Ben, Sam and Jessie are because Sam won a promotion at Dick's when he knew Ron Guidry (49) and Don Mattingly's (23) numbers. He is learning the important math skills.

June 2005 - Yankees finally win a game attended by me, Ben and Sam against the Mets. But we aren't there to see it, since we left in frustration in he 6th inning when the Yankees were losing.

June 2007 - The Yankees crush the Pirates, and Sam's hero, Arod, hits two home runs. We stay for the whole game, a first for me, Ben and Sam.

August 2007 - Sam and I sit in the right field bleachers (the high priest's seat at Mecca) and see eight Yankee homers, none of which is Arod's 500th.

I will definitely get misty (of course I do this for compelling long distance ads) when I walk out of the Stadium for the last time. I never thought I'd outlive it.