Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Let the good times roll. Goodbye Yankee Stadium.



It’s not like the New York Yankees were folding up.

But it’s close.

In 1901, the team was ironically formed in Baltimore, Maryland and established as the Orioles. Sounds kinda weird that the origins of this team were from another team. Two years after their inception, the squad moved to New York and became known as the Highlanders but somehow the team was nicknamed the Yankees, an old Dutch term for “American.”

The team received another transfusion years later when it stockpiled itself with a number of exiled Boston Red Sox and soon the team got on the winning track. That in itself is actually an understatement. The New York Yankees are one of the world’s most famous teams with the interlocking “NY” logo as famous as the Swoosh and the Golden Arches becoming famous as with their World Series victories one after another.

The dynasties are now only a memory although a good one. The team has been under achieving in spite of having the biggest payroll in baseball.

And for the first time since 1994, they are missing the play-offs.

A friend of mine once said he preferred photographs of himself with celebrities rather than ask for their autographs. Another said that if a friend didn’t believe you and where you’ve been and who you’ve met then they’re no friend of yours.

Me? I’m somewhere in between.

“Go on,” said the Tour Guide. “Scoop up a little dirt.” It’s not everyday that one gets to trot out to the field of Yankee Stadium. I was there as part of one of the off-season tours. I stood on top of the mound where guys like Whitey Ford, Mel Stottlemyre, Ron Guidry, Dave Righetti, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, and Mariano Rivera mowed down batters. I appreciated the significance of being atop the mound. I chewed no tobacco nor did I blow gum like an overgrown kid. But I stood there for a good two minutes and soaked in the vibes. Like Bernie Williams said during the closing ceremonies of the last ever game played at the House That Ruth Built, “I’ve got those memories inside my head.”

How do I feel about the Stadium closing down forever?

I feel sad. Sure it’s not state-of-the-art. And its certainly seen better days. It’s not perfect but it is home. And that translates into a huge homefield advantage even for the downtrodden Yanks. I never liked it when the floors would get all sticky because of the spilt beer and sodas and I disliked sitting next to boorish fans. Except for summer, I always made sure that I’d always bring a windbreaker because I almost always sat up in the upper tier seats. But that’s part of the ambiance of ballparks. Most of my friends were Mets fans so most of the time I took the 4 train to the Bronx by myself. But I never got lonely because it was like visiting an old friend. Obviously, I had a grand time every time I was there. The most famous game I ever saw live? Aaron Boone's home run against the Red Sox in Game 7 of 2003 ALCS. I threw up my soda and cracker jacks in glee and must have doused quite a lot. No worries though because no one minded and I had beer all over me.

I imagine that this is how Celtics and Bulls fans felt when the old Boston Garden and Chicago Stadium were closed down and demolished.

The Yankees and us fans said goodbye to their cathedral by beating their ancestor and offspring, the Baltimore Orioles 7-3. It was poignant and touching and I, though several thousands of miles away, could feel my hair stand up. Already there’s something different. Bob Sheppard, the longtime voice of the Stadium has been out for awhile recovering from an illness. The Yanks are almost sure to miss the post-regular season. Because of politics and shame, guys like Roger Clemens, Joe Torre, and Don Mattingly were shown only briefly on the video tribute.

I guess it’s like moving homes. I felt sentimental for the old house but when we moved, I loved it. I didn’t feel all that bad because it was time to make some new memories. I always dreamed of making it back to New York this year. I guess it's turning out to be a special year no matter what. The Giants won. Brett's a Jet. Mike D'Antoni's with the Knicks. The Yanks aren't the toast of baseball (the Red Sox are). And guess what's on Broadway.

Now I, we, wonder what awaits in The House that the Boss Built.

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