Saturday, August 16, 2008

A final trip to "The Cathedral" in the Bronx

By this time, it is well known that the title of this blog may not have been the most accurate during the 2008 season. When the Yankees raised ticket prices by 47% before the season, the tickets went from a financial stretch to absolutely unaffordable. The conscious decision was made to sell the tickets for face value, while holding onto ownership of the account to retain the dream of having tickets when the new Stadium opens.

That brought us to last night, August 15, 2008. Fellow contributor to this blog and younger brother Nick joined me (along with our girlfriends) to make one final trip to Yankee Stadium before it is destroyed. Between Nick heading back to college and the insane ticket prices for the final 18 games, this would most likely be the final game we ever attended together at the current Stadium, after hundreds in our life. As a documented detractor of those nostalgic for the glory years of the 1990's and a known supporter of a new Stadium being built, I felt a bit hypocritical plodding through last night pining for older times. At the same time, the Stadium was a sort of stomping ground for my brother and I from the time we were kids.

In the 1980's during my youngest years, my father took me to games on a regular basis. During the 1990's I did the same for Nick. From the age of 13 or 14, when Nick was 8 or 9, we would head up to the Stadium during the summer and fall months in time for the gates to open. We would take in batting practice, get autographs, wander around. While other kids were playing in backyards, we were exploring the depths of the most historic sports franchise on a regular basis. We saw some historic things in those days. Perfect games, ALCS clinchers, postseason heroics. The most important thing was that the Stadium was fun. The fans and employees were friendly and positive. Everything was expensive as in any other Stadium, but not completely unaffordable. It was a place that a teenager and a young boy could go to.

It is obvious that the Yankee Stadium experience changed over the years. The team won year in and year out and reclaimed the status as top dog in the sports world. As the money-making empire that George Steinbrenner had created grew, tickets became more expensive and more sought after. Even before 9/11, Stadium security had tightened and taken away some of the fun of wandering around the stadium, getting different vantage points. After those terrorist attacks, the atmosphere changed everywhere, and Yankee Stadium was not an exception. Getting into the Stadium became about as fun as going through airport security.

It wasn't just the venue that changed - the people attending the games changed as well. This is all highly subjective and is absolutely generalizing the millions of people who have attended Yankee games in the past 5-8 years. However, from 2008 - 2008 Yankees fans in general devolved from triumphant to spoiled to entitled to nostalgic and have finally settled in with a mix of all of those things topped of with a huge case of bitterness. Experiencing that process first-hand, while attending 30-40 games per year is what inspired the blog NYY Stadium Insider.

While many of the game experience posts on this blog come off sounding "holier than thou", sarcastic and sometimes annoyed, the lasting impression is that going to the ballgame is always an experience and mostly fun. Last night proved that the fun part is largely dependent on the current state of the Yankees and whether or not they win.

Many people had written the Yankees off this week. With only 41 games to play and a 7 game deficit in the standings, this was completely understandable - especially given the impressive run differentials of the teams the Yankees are chasing and the mediocre one they possess. Never giving up hope, I believed the Yankees still had one last run in them. That was until last night.

Last night signified the end of the Yankees post-season streak. Not officially, obviously, but it might as well be. When hitting with runners in scoring position failed them one final time in the bottom of the ninth inning, Yankee Stadium deflated in a way that I have only seen it deflate after a postseason loss. It reminded me of the 1997 loss to Cleveland in the ALDS and the 2007 loss to Cleveland in the ALDS. It was the culmination of never waning optimism resulting in defeat.

I had always imagined a triumphant departure for the "old Yankee Stadium". Before exiting the Stadium, I turned around to look at the familiar surroundings one final time. Sadly, the feeling I had was anything but triumph.

Talk about it in the NYYSI Forums!


Anonymous said...

Can you in detail
tell me about who the heck is Michael Kaye

Anonymous said...

who is Michal Kaye, he is very annoying, and just want to get when he got his start with the n.y.yankees

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