Was thinking about how I feel/felt about the game last night. Conflicted is the word I kept coming back to. The only analogy I could think of was that this year was like my senior year in college. Bear with me, here.
Senior year of college. Probably the best year of my (quasi-)adult life. Fun, great memories, surrounded by friends, little responsibility. That’s how this year has felt, despite the poor result on the field. It’s been a fun year celebrating the Stadium’s past. I got to enjoy the All Star game from the Stadium with my brother. I got to take in a game with my brother-in-law and father-in-law. I got to take my wife and boys on an up-close-and-personal tour of the Stadium that they (and I) will always remember.
The last month of the season was not unlike the last two weeks of college: finals. Not fun. Stressful. Reality slowing creeping in that the run is over. The finals are done, the partying is all but over (last night).
Today, reality is here. I woke with it smacking me in the face, much like it did that final day of college. Today’s the day I packed up and hit the road. I stuffed my Jeep with everything worth taking and a bunch of stuff not worthy at all, but I wanted my momentos. I knew I’d be back to visit but it’d never be the same. I’d be older and I wouldn’t know the students like when I was one. I’d just be some alumni, trying to relive the past once more. Today is that “first day of the rest of your life”, like it or not.
I’ve hung onto some those momentos, but the best ones remain in my memory, reliving with my friends who are forever cast in those memories.
The Yanks season is all but over, less the last few games yet to conclude in other ballparks. Next year, they/we begin anew in a sparkling new cathedral, just as I had to eventually go get that first job. TNYS is magnificent and will be wonderful to go to. Will it lack the sense of history? Maybe, possibly, probably. Time marches on.
I loved college and I’ve been back a few times in the years that have passed and it was never quite the same. But my life has progressed, too, and I’m thankful for that. Progress. TNYS represents that progress. I’ve gotten past the closing of the Stadium as an emotional event. TNYS will create its own legacy, mystique and aura, history, moments.
I’m not tearful; all things come to some conclusion. It was a great show last night, not unlike that last party before packing your car to head home when the college career ended.
We’ll have those memories, those moments, that history. That won’t change. We’ll just have a nicer place to make some new ones, and I am good with that.
I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of Harvey Frommer’s wonderful book “Remembering Yankee Stadium – An Oral and Narrative History of the House That Ruth Built” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). I have been saving this post for today, right before the final series at Yankee Stadium this weekend.
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I’ve covered hundreds of games at Yankee Stadium and have witnessed some of the oft-described penultimate events — the night after Thurman Munson died, Game 3 of the 2001 World Series when the whole world was watching, Aaron Boone, the Bloody Sock, etc. — and felt the press level rock from the roar of the crowd. But the stadium is about more than just the games; it’s the people and the players and the rituals and the everyday moments of a special place. (For example, how can anyone forget seeing Don Zimmer do his version of the then-popular Macarena while in the dugout hours before a game?) One such episode has stuck in the memory.
When you enter the press gate, you walk down two flights of stairs to the basement. Directly ahead is the press dining room, which leads to the adjacent press working room. Yankees players arriving early often cut through the two rooms to the corridor beyond that leads to the clubhouse. On one day, I walked down the stairs with a prominent Yankees veteran (he shall remain nameless) who, before entering the dining room, patted his hand on what looked like a decades-old electrical box. I asked what that was about and the player replied, “That’s headed to Monument Park; that’s the [Carl] Pavano plaque.” I took a second look at the box and noticed the electrical tape crisscrossed on the surface, with the words “not active” written on the tape. I looked up to see the Yankees players laughing uproariously.
Oh, Canada!. I’m at the stadium, sitting along the third base line for a Blue Jays/Yankees game. This is the early Nineties, when Toronto ruled the AL East and the Yankees roster was stocked with guys like Hensley Meulens and Kevin Maas. Anyway, it’s a big crowd and four Wall Street looking guys sit down in front of us, all of them in suits and one of them wearing a Blue Jays cap. Turns out they were all from Toronto, and one of them yells something innocuous at Joe Carter trots into the dugout right before the game. Immediately, this big guy in a Mattingly gamer and a shaved head stands up, points at them and says, “I don’t want a hear another fucking peep out of you for the rest of the night.” The Canadians all laugh and dismiss the guy as just another New York lunatic. Two minutes later, Bob Sheppard asks us to rise for the singing of the Canadian national anthem. The Canadian guy in the Blue Jays hat starts singing along, and right at the phrase “our home and native land” gets hit in the face with a full beer and then knocked the fuck out by Mattingly Gamer, who punctuates the assault by shouting, “Fucking Eskimos! You were warned!”
Never order crab legs if you are dining with and hanging out with George Brett. You know, just because.
EDIT: Gotta say, in looking at the number of people who searched for some combo of “George Brett” and “poop” and arrived here is staggering. Hope you didn’t search from work. And don’t crap yourself laughing, either.
UPDATE (9/25/08): Seems that Time Warner is investigating the release of the video:
The video was some footage shot of Brett several years ago during a spring training when Tony Pena was the Royals’ manager. Brett was shown joking around with some players George Brettwhile talking graphically about how overeating can cause, shall we say, a certain undesirable bodily function.
With a very real fear of Yankee Stadium-is-closing overload, I will simply point out another Verducci special. This time, telling the Stadium’s story in first-person format, as if he were the Stadium, sharing stories and secrets.
It’s O.K. You need not feel sorry for me. I have lived a full life. I was born in 1923, the same year as Maria Callas, Charlton Heston, Roy Lichtenstein and Norman Mailer. All are gone now. They did well in the time with which they were graced to strut about the stage. I’d like to think I have done likewise.
Besides, I really haven’t been myself since 1973, when they cut me clean open and for two years rearranged most of my vital organs (even the one that nimble-fingered Eddie Layton used to play), removed some of them and put me back together in such a way that I looked nothing like I did before.
Continuing a theme of riding in the way-back machine, this is a very good account of the 1993 ballclub and how they challenged the Blue Jays for the playoffs. This was the last time the Yanks missed the playoffs until this year.
It was a time when the Yankees and their fans did not consider a playoff appearance a divine right, a time when there were actually empty seats at Yankee Stadium and a time when Mariano Rivera was starting games in the minor leagues. It was 1993, the last time the Yankees did not make the postseason.
The 1993 team, which would have won the wild card if it had existed at that time, was praised. The 2008 Yankees, who have spent two days in first all season, will be panned.
Eric Bedard, the once-studly starting pitcher who the Mariners gave 1/2 their farm for, is due to undergo labrum surgery next week. And you can bet that things will never be the same for Bedard.
In 2004, Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus studied labrum tears in major league pitchers and found that 36 had been diagnosed in the previous five years. Of those 36, only one had recovered to pitch at his previous level.
“If pitchers with torn labrums were horses,” Carroll said, “they’d be destroyed.”