Later today I’ll finally be heading to the not-so-new Yankees Stadium!
I know, I know. It’s about time, right? But keep in mind I’ve been out of town for the past three years. There just haven’t been any opportunities. (The Yankees are good, but they sure as heck don’t play as late as December.)
Anyway, back on point, I’m super psyched to be going. Once I get through those gates, I’m going to do every romantic baseball thing I can think of…you know, grab a $10 beer, complain about how expensive the sushi is and finally put my purse down with a clear head in a public arena without fear of contracting Bed Bugs. (Seriously, New York, what’s that about?)
Oh, I’ll also be grabbing myself a Mark Teixeira shirt. After all, I need to support the man who launched my team into fantasy baseball playoffs (broken pinky toe and all…him, not me). On a side note, what wonderful sweet vindication is that? I’ve clinched first in my division and I’m in the playoffs. I hope Brad Pitt will play me in my bio pic.
In honor of my first trip to the new stadium, I would like to salute my three favorite personal memories of the old stadium. Come on! If Ken Burns can do it, so can I.
(I’m sure mine will be funnier….)
3. My First Yankees Game (Billy Martin Day on August 10, 1986) – I was so excited. This was my first time seeing the Yankees LIVE! I got a hat, t-shirt, jacket, hot dog, cotton candy and a soda. I was also ready to go by the third inning. Come on, cut me some slack. It was hot. I sat through this on-field ceremony and I shopped until I dropped. Plus, I was 7.
2. Fordham College Lincoln Center Goes To the Game – Sure! We might snub our fellow classmates on the Hill, but we would never miss a chance for discount tickets to a game…even if it was against the Blue Jays (pre-Jose Bautisa and Fred Lewis of course). My dad had met me at the game. So when the beer guy came around, he innocently asked my friends, “Who wants a beer?” Naturally, all of our under-aged selves shot our hands up. With pristine comedic timing, he then said, “Great! Who has ID?” All of our hands slowly came down. Cotton Candy and Soda it was.
1. Man Up and Drink Your Beer – Twenty Years after I drove my dad crazy at Billy Martin Day, he drove me crazy in the midst of a two hour rain delay. We had awesome seats in the upper tier, looking right over home plate. Unbeknownst to me, this would be my last time at the old stadium. Anyway, I wasn’t in the mood to leave. I was having a great time, even with the heavens opening up. My dad though…the man who in his heyday had to stay until the last pitch…wasn’t having any of it. He wanted to go right there and then. What was his problem? The rain delay was only an hour old at the time. In between sips of overpriced beer and building an arc on the ramp, I kept yelling “Man up and Drink Your Beer”. Ah Father/Daughter memories… I finally relented. The Yankees did play the rest of that game, but we were home by time it was over.
Ah, memories. Stay tuned for a complete review of the new stadium next week. Between this and going to see the “Wendy Williams Show” this week (How you doin’?), I’m checking stuff off my “Bucket List” left and right. Seriously though, I’m excited to see what they’ve done with the place.
In honor of September 11th, I want to talk about a documentary I saw on the MLB Network this week – “Nine Innings from Ground Zero.” If you break into a cold sweat at the word “documentary”, please keep reading. Released in 2004, “Nine Innings from Ground Zero” is a beautifully produced film about the country’s intangible need to get back to the business of baseball after a national tragedy.
“Nine Innings from Ground Zero” is mere sixty minutes long. Put down the remote. TiVo “The Jersey Shore” for the hour. Snooki isn’t going anywhere. (Unfortunately…)
“Nine Innings from Ground Zero” covers the 2001 World Series in which the New York Yankees faced the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, this wasn’t just any World Series. Months after 9/11, baseball had come to provide welcome relief from the uncertainty New Yorkers, and in turn the nation, felt about how to proceed with their lives. The Yankees, once the most hated team, came to symbolize everything that was, and is, America.
I have no motive here. I’m not getting any money for this blog and I’m not using it as a jump off for a political diatribe. (I’ll save another entry to discuss how disgusting those Park 51 protests have become.) I just feel like talking about how truly amazed I was how “Nine Innings from Ground Zero” was able to express something that nine years ago I couldn’t even conceive how to articulate.
It’s embarrassing to talk about. Why in the face of such horror, could I be concerned about a game (or lack thereof)? Once I got over the shock that day and I knew that my family was accounted for, I absent mindedly turned the channel to MLB Extra Innings. It was there that I saw this terrible blue screen with stark white lettering. It stated “All Games Cancelled until Further Notice.” It was then that I finally broke down in tears.
I’m not an idiot. Intellectually, I knew that the games couldn’t go on that day. The entire definition of National Security was being redefined in front of my eyes. Thousands of people had died just hours before a couple of miles away. The sky was completely silent.
Emotionally though, that statement had far deeper meaning. Life as I knew it was over and there was a damn good possibility that it wouldn’t return in any way shape or form. Nevertheless, it did return (albeit not in its same form).
“Nine Innings from Ground Zero” showed how people (many who faced far more than me that day) were going through exactly what I was going through. It was an amazing time when the most hated team in the league came to represent the country. Cities around the country stood in unity with New York. “Nine Innings from Ground Zero” illustrates how although we were down, we weren’t alone and we certainly weren’t out.
Although the ending of the 2001 season wasn’t a Cinderella one, it couldn’t be more prophetic. Every once in a while, even we lose. Nevertheless, everyone loves a comeback.
- 1908 – Future Hall of Famer Walter Johnson pitched his third consecutive shutout in four days, a 4-0, two-hitter over the New York Highlanders. Alright Yankees fans, we’ll let this one slide by. ONCE!
- 1952 – Johnny Mize hits a pinch-hit grand slam to give the Yanks a 5-1 win at Washington. He has now homered in each one of the fifteen Major League parks. Man!Was Washington ever good at this?
- 1953 – Roy Campanella sets the Major League record for RBI by a catcher when he smacks a three-run home run in a 6-3 Dodgers’ win over the Phils. Campy’s 125 breaks Yogi Berra’s Major League record of 124 set in 1950. Poor, Yogi. First Robinson is called safe at home, now this. At least he has a future career as a successful Yankees’ Manager…What? No?
- 1955 – Whitey Ford continues his mastery with his second consecutive one-hitter, beating the A’s 2-1. Jim Finigan hits a two-out single in the seventh for the Nats’ only hit. Afterwards, the Yanks hit the Open Bar. I frankly lost count of the hits from there.
- 1978 – The Yankees, four games behind the Red Sox in the American League East, arrive in Boston for a crucial four-game series. The Yanks begin the “Boston Massacre” with a 15-3 rout. Shhh…Do you hear that sound? It’s Boston choking.
- 1998 – Ken Griffey, Jr. homered twice against Baltimore, giving baseball three 50-homer players in a season for the first time. Jr. joined Mark McGwire and Babe Ruth as the only players to hit fifty or more in consecutive seasons. The Babe is psyched to finally welcome someone who deserves to be there.