Friday, April 17, 2009

George Steinbrenner Gets His Statue In "The House That George Built" Will the Babe Be Next?

Photo courtesy of StationA on Twitter

George Steinbrenner has clearly seen better days, as evidenced by photos snapped of him in his owner's suite yesterday. Rest assured Yankee fans, Steinbrenner looks especially regal in a life-sized bust that fans are able to view when entering through Gate 2 of the new stadium. The question is, do any fans care to see a statue of his likeness?

We have always staunchly defended Steinbrenner - as an owner he did everything that a fan could ever want. Until recently, we were some of the biggest proponents of his efforts to get the new stadium built. It is true that we have become more negative about the new stadium as of late, but that was not the case until we had a disappointing experience there. After yesterday's showing by the fans, we continue to wonder if all of the bells and whistles have caused the place to lose some of what made it so great in the past. To counter that point, PinstripePrincess in the comments section of the blog notes that fans were encouraged to arrive early on opening day. Most of them wandered around the new park for hours, leaving them especially tired, and removed from the game. We will keep a watchful eye on this aspect of the "House That George Built" as its first season progresses...

In an article we published a few days ago, Linda Ruth Tosetti, the granddaughter of Babe Ruth, lamented the fact that there would likely be a statue of Steinbrenner at the new stadium before a statue of her grandfather. Regardless of what you think about George M. Steinbrenner, he does deserve a statue in "The House That George Built." We just wonder if the Yankees should have spent some of the money they used on Steinbrenner's silver statue to build a bronze statue of the Great Bambino, in Babe Ruth Plaza.

This crusade may seem a bit out of character for us. After all, we're the first people to make fun of those who cling to the past, as evidenced by our "1990's Yankee nostalgia" meta-tag. That being said, George Steinbrenner would not have been afforded the opportunity to bring the Yankees to the epics heights of the late 90's without Babe Ruth. Shrewd front office maneuvering brought the Babe to the Bronx, and he turned the place into the pinnacle of the sports world. For that, the he also deserves a statue, regardless of how long ago his impact was felt.

Fans will quickly point out that the new stadium does anything but forget Babe Ruth, with many nods to the Yankee already in place. Babe Ruth Plaza bears his name (although it was first created many years ago, at the original Yankee stadium, then somehow lost in the fray with the renovated stadium, and rightfully returned to the new one). He has the most famous and prominent monument in the now-hidden Monument Park. And of course, there are constant reminders of his legacy with small ceremonies such as the presentation of the Babe's game-used bat before Derek Jeter stepped into the batter's box on Thursday.

All of these are fine points, but a statue of Babe Ruth in the plaza bearing his name will put the icing on the cake, and will add more than any other remembrances of Ruth in the new stadium. "Meet at the Babe" will quickly become the now-defunct "meet at the bat." Fans will no longer simply mill around the Great Hall with its multitude of ways to spend hard-earned money, but will have reason to spend time outside of the new stadium, in the storied borough of the Bronx. They will have the opportunity to mingle in Babe Ruth Plaza, read the storyboards on the light posts and learn more about the player who paved the way for current Yankee greats such as Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

While the well-deserved statue of George Steinbrenner doesn't add much to the fan experience at the new Yankee Stadium, a statue of Babe Ruth will add memories for years to come. The renderings are drawn, and the cost estimates have been secured. All that remains is sign-off from the Yankees and the MLB. What is stopping them?

For more on this topic, please read a great interview that the Mets Police conducted with Babe Ruth's Great Grandson.
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