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The House that George Built

Okay. Please put your rationality to the side. We're talking baseball fanaticism here. And the utility of good luck charms. And the disutility of curses!

Last summer, I expressed jitters with regard to the newly proposed Yankee Stadium, which will sit across the street from the current Cathedral of Baseball. On Wednesday, August 16th, the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new stadium was held. The stadium is scheduled to make its public debut on Opening Day, 2009.

Well, I still got them jitters. It's just not going to be the same. That's not the field on which Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle played. Despite its "retro" look, the "mystique" of the new venue is just not going to be the same. Call me a mysitc! I don't care!

Some friends remind me that Madison Square Garden wasn't always in its current place and that things change all the time. Puhlease. Don't even compare the two. And right now, nobody would flip out if the Knicks found a new home or even ... a new team!

Anyway, Boss George Steinbrenner has been itching for this stadium for a couple of decades. And everybody is happy that he's staying in Da Bronx (though, rightfully, not so happy that so many tax dollars are going for "infrastructure" development), rather than moving the team to New Jersey. (Yeah, the Joisey Yanks... like THAT would ever fly!)

It was, of course, careful planning that led to the selection of August 16th as the date of the groundbreaking. That was the date, in 1921, that the groundbreaking for the original Yankee Stadium took place. And that was the date, in 1948, that Babe Ruth passed away.

And it might yet be the day that Babe Ruth rolled over in his grave. Indeed, Yankee fan that I am, I do hope the Yanks continue their winning ways, or people will be talking about the Curse of the Bambino again... only this time, it will be one that infects the Yankees, rather than that team from Boston.

Comments welcome.

Comments

*I* understand about the "spirit" of a place, Chris, and *I* won't nail you to a wall for diverting from the purely rational on this subject!

I'm not a baseball fan, but I can appreciate the historic significance of the old Yankee Stadium. The memories of the storied players of the past who graced that location linger, even if there is, rationally, "no such thing" as "spirit" (which I am not willing to concede, exactly: there IS such a thing as "energy.")

Which could launch me into another debate with you on the merits of market-driven capitalism--which you would win, of course; my arguments would be hopelessly emotion-driven.

At any rate, I sympathize, Chris... :-)

Peri

Chris,

I am as hardcore a Yankee fan as there is, but as far as I am concerned it is well past time to build a new stadium. All you have to do to change your mind is to sit through a game at any of the MLB stadiums that have been built in the last 5 to ten years, and then go to Yankee stadium; sorry, but Yankee stadium just doesn't measure up anymore.

The "spitit" of the team exist in the spirit of its fans, not in the walls of the building. To me, "the house that Ruth built" was not something that I took literally, but rather, I have always chosen to see it as a metaphor for establishing the greatest dynasty in MLB history.

George

Well, Peri, I'm glad you understand! :) And you might be surprised by some of my attitudes toward what is commonly called "capitalism." But we'll save that for another day...

Meanwhile, George is, of course, totally right that the current conditions at Yankee Stadium don't measure up to many of the new ballparks.

What disturbs me, however, is that Steinbrenner and Company couldn't think of doing now what was done in 1974-75, when the old Yankee Stadium was being renovated. The team played in Shea Stadium. If a new Mets ballpark is being built next door in Queens, the scheduling might still be a feasible alternative, difficult as it might be.

It took builders one year and 45 days to complete the Empire State Building! It's hard to believe that leveling Yankee Stadium and re-building it would take three years, if it were done on the current site; it's only going to take that long because the city and state are building new infrastructure and new subway lines to the new ballpark, across the street.

A fully rebuilt Stadium on the Stadium site would have probably saved taxpayers many of those new infrastructure costs.

Regardless, while I totally agree with you about the "spirit" of this team, its history, and its fans, I do think there is something to be said about how that "spirit" is embodied in the physical manifestations of one of the greatest monuments to baseball. To walk on those grounds and see the places where the great ones played is a wonderful experience. If you've never taken the tour of Yankee Stadium, I urge you to do so before it is knocked down. You won't regret it.

Speaking of our Yanks... they kicked Red Sox butts last night, winning a day-night doubleheader yesterday, 12-4, and 14-11. See here.

That night game, btw, went 4 hours and 45 minutes, setting a major league record for the longest 9-inning game in baseball history. Back page of the NY DAILY NEWS calls it "The Boston Marathon."

Yanks leading the AL East now by 3.5 games. Go Yanks! :)