Tuesday, September 23, 2008

At BP: The Last of the Last

Here's a taste from my article up at Baseball Prospectus on the final game at Yankee Stadium (sadly, it's a pay article on BP's system):
Another neat gimmick that fell short in the execution was the Yankee Stadium countdown clock, which I mentioned in my piece on the Yankee Stadium home opener. The idea was that in the fifth inning of each home game, once the game became "official" a special guest would turn a crank, and the number of games left at Yankee Stadium would be reduced by one on a special scoreboard. Throughout the season, people registered disappointment with this because the "special guests" were often not terribly special or particularly associated with Yankee baseball. Often the person turning the crank would be an obscure executive from Met Life, the promotion's sponsor. In the middle of the fifth inning of Yankee Stadium's last game, Yankees announcer Michael Kay shows up on the big screen, spouts some doubletalk about how there can be no final game at Yankee Stadium, because Yankee Stadium is forever, then he turns the crank, making the special countdown scoreboard go from one to—I kid you not—"Forever." Two observations on this come to mind: first, thanks for the season-long voyage toward innumeracy, you've managed to make us all dumber; and second, with the Stadium packed with VIPs, at least a half-dozen of them Hall of Famers, Michael frickin' Kay was the person selected to turn that crank? Really?
Also at BP (but this time, free), Brother Joe got to share some of his feelings about the closing of the Cathedral:

Of course, you cannot praise 85 years of baseball players in one sitting. It’s too much to handle, there are too many greats to name at once, especially given the franchise we’re talking about here. Even the video clips seemed to miss a handful of significant players, and there was only so much time and space to have Yankee greats be announced and trot out to their positions. It was left to us to fill in the gaps.

So you let loose for Hideki Matsui, and hope that Rickey Henderson can hear you yell. A chant of "Paul O’Neill" fills the air, and in your heart you want Dave Winfield to feel the love as well. The crowd goes wild for Derek Jeter, and you just know that Scooter is hearing the echo, tucking into a cannoli and smiling. You can’t cheer them all, so you cheer the one out loud and the rest in your heart, the ones who are there, the ones who live in your memory, and the ones who set the stage for your memories, the heroes you know by stat lines and stories and grainy black-and-white footage. You cheer, and when you try to chant, your voice catches and you realize this is all hitting you a little harder than you thought. The video board shows Chris Chambliss hitting a huge home run, and you realize this is the only chance you’ve had to cheer your first favorite player in more than 20 years, and you do just that, standing out among a crowd of people with no understanding of why the short guy is so excited.

As promised, some more pics:

Brother Joe wasn't sitting with us for the Stadium's swan song, but he did come by to visit during the pregame. After the game, we stood outside the Stadium (by the manure-smelling Gate 2) talking about the day, the game, the monolith next door, soon to be our team's new home. Joe (a brother from another mother) and my actual brother Jeff are the two living people most responsible for me taking my love of the Yankees above the level of casual fan, and it meant a lot to me that the three of us were outside the Stadium together as they closed the shutters on the public entrance. "If I had a press pass, I'd see day break in there," Joe said. Amen.

Brother J and I (he's on the left and I'm on the right) at the end of the game. After one of our fellow Sunday plan holders took the pic, I noticed that we were out of focus, but the Stadium wasn't (he'd wanted to make sure we got the scoreboard in the background). My brother and I agreed that, on this night in particular, the focus should be on the Stadium, so we decided not to re-take the shot. I think it puts things in perspective.

You can find more of my photos from in this Picasa album, which I'll be updating with more pics soon.

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