Well, as if we hadn't already established that Paul Simon has caused me enough grief recently, then came this:
I so didn't want the end of Yankee Stadium to be sentimental. I really didn't. The stadium is kind of a dump, and though it's old, it doesn't resemble and probably doesn't feel like its early heydays the way Fenway and Wrigley do. I consider myself a modern person and I don't approve of clinging to the past only to cling to the past. On many levels, financial and otherwise, this team has outgrown its digs. There's a part of me that's happy that the Yankees have knocked themselves out of the playoffs this year. I know that's a horrible thing for a fan to say. But Bernie Williams's goodbye to Yankee Stadium lasted through the end of the season, through postseason game one, and two, and I think five...I couldn't take it anymore. I have to thank the Yankees for knocking it off neatly. If you had to pick a season in 13 to end the season with the end of the season...well, well done, kids.
And, let's face it, we're talking about jocks. We all love to attach significance to baseball, to have it correspond to certain moments and events in our lives, but at the heart of Yankee Stadium's move is the simple fact that a bunch of athletic dudes are moving a few dozen feet to go to work every day. It's not going to effectively change their approach. It's not really going to change the fans. It's not going to affect the rules; the same exact game will be played at new Yankee Stadium as at old Yankee Stadium. The freaking subway stop isn't even changing. If I want to go out for a drink after a game, I can still go the same exact neighborhood Bronx bar as before (three Heinekens for $12 -- a steal in New York -- as long as you're ok with the waitress slamming down the bottle opener along with the beers as she throws them on your table while hurrying by). The players, if they're doing their job right, will barely even notice they're somewhere new.
But against my better judgment, I'm kind of a mess tonight, and I fear I will be all weekend. Yankee Stadium is sort of a dump. But it's an unpretentious dump, the one truly low-key thing left about a pretty highfaluting team. It looks and feels heavy; there's a lot of weight, both physically and metaphorically, associated with this stadium, and there aren't really any gimmicks to distract you or keep you breathing lighter while you're there.
It's ugly and it's utilitarian and it smells, and the beautiful replica frieze that so many people associate with Yankee Stadium doesn't hide all of that. There is so much history associated with Yankee Stadium that I will say -- at risk of being tarred and feathered by my fellow Yankees fans -- that you can't particularly see there. No fan can point to where Babe Ruth's first home run was hit. There's no Carlton Fisk foul pole, no Wrigley bleachers called shot, no superawesome retro man-operated scoreboard. This stadium is old, but it doesn't hold any old-school charm, nor does it boast any modern comforts whatsoever. It is outdated in the purest sense of the word: it has no era. It holds a lot of history, it houses a lot of ghosts, but they don't really make themselves known to fans. They exist there, and if you think about them you can make yourself feel them, but that's about it.
But holy crap, do I love that empty, smelly bowl. When I was a sophomore in high school, we went to visit the Catholic cathedral in Covington, Kentucky. The church boasts the largest stained glass window in the world, and its vestibules are filled with gold-trimmed robles, jewel-encrusted crowns -- an insane amount of riches from the most corrupt parts of Catholic history. When discussing the field trip upon our return to school, a non-Catholic remarked that she couldn't help feeling guilty when she was there, upset that with all the starving and sick people in the world, these riches were being housed for display in a building of worship. And another girl countered by saying she saw the same scenario but came away with the exact same conclusion: that no matter how sick or poor people were in the world, this was one place where all could partake in this, where anyone could walk in at any hour of the day and enjoy something he or she would never get the chance to otherwise. Even though I definitely saw the first girl's point, there was something strangely comforting in that second girl's point.
I haven't thought of that debate in years, but I remembered it tonight. I think it popped into my head because Yankee Stadium is the antithesis of that cathedral. It isn't beautiful and nothing about it aesthetically really feels historic. But that is precisely why it means so much to so many people: it houses the memories that anybody wants it to. I thought about sharing my own memories of Yankee Stadium here -- and I have so many, just ridiculously heart-wrenching, impossible dream types of moments that have helped define my life -- but in a way, there's no point. It is what people want it to be. Despite the memorable moments it has hosted, it has never ceased to be a blank slate. It means as much to Joe Schmoe who watched Mr. Crap Pitcher #243 as it does to Paul Simon and Joe DiMaggio. That's true for any stadium, I guess. But Yankee Stadium has played host to so many Joe Schmoes, it's kicked around in the dreams of so many Joe Schmoes Jr., that its loss is worth mourning.
Yankee Stadium housed Baseball. It was home to Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Mr. October, Mattingly, Rivera, Jeter. But it also housed baseball. It was home to a bunch of faceless guys immortalized in such hallowed annals as baseball-reference.com. The kids who went home dreaming about the latter arguably outnumber those who went home dreaming about the greats. I will miss them all. I hate myself for it, in a way, but I will.