Saturday, March 29, 2008

Going, going, gone

Dust to dust. I am not ready to say goodbye but what I think is of little moment. There are greater forces at work, that demand this occur. Everything has a beginning and an end. I know there will be millions who shed a tear when the time arrives. Millions of us will be forever left to share our memories and commiserate. There is an inevitability to this which seems so wrong. Yet there is nothing we can do to stop it. Yankee Stadium will soon be coming down.

There will be no funeral procession. There will be no coffin. And yes, there will be a newer, sleeker version of itself right next door. While Yankee Stadium is in its death march, it will stare at its replacement every day. It will know that when the new monolith is ready, it will push the old aside. The stadium must face its own mortality . There will be speeches to thank it, like the old guy being ushered out the door , handed a gold watch and remembered for years of exemplary service. There will be tales of its greatness spoken. They will show us pictures of Ruth and Gehrig, Maris and Mantle, Jeter and A-Rod and hope that will help it go gently into the night. But, it will not ever make us ready to accept what is about to occur. Yankee Stadium will soon be coming down.

It is more than just the House that Ruth built. It is the house that stores a half century of my memories. From the ball that Yogi Berra hit that was clutched in my Dad's hands, to the pandemonium on the field when Chris Chambliss hit the American league championship series winning home run, to watching the majesty that was Reggie that glorious day against the Dodgers, to seeing Jeter dive headfirst in the stands as my daughter and I turned to each in disbelief, to Clemens directing his fury towards Piazza with a bat, those moments deserve better than this. I want to retain forever the days of my son pouring water over his head to try to keep the heat from melting him, of my Dad ushering me through the turnstiles and of my tiny daughter knowing the confines of the ballpark like the insides of her own home. I don't want to let go, but I will have to for Yankee Stadium will soon be coming down.

We all live in a world where progress is a given. We all live in a time when the desire for the dollar drives us all. We understand that nothing and no one is greater than the demands of tomorrow. But Yankee Stadium is something more than that. It is something greater than that. It is more than a thing. It is not just another replaceable part. It has a glory and a meaning that transcends dollars and cents. It has a greatness that cannot be measured in revenue and luxury boxes. It is more than the sum of its parts. It is Yankee Stadium. And yet, Yankee Stadium will soon be coming down.

I stare out my window at the Stadium every day. At night, when the team is playing a home game, the lights from the Stadium illuminate the sky. While the lights will not grow dim in the coming months, they will one day suddenly be extinguished. The glow will be no more. It will give way to newer, and most certainly, brighter lights. But the warmth it radiates cannot be replaced. The feelings it generates will never be duplicated. The intensity it evokes will not be matched, no matter the wattage of its replacement. The new stadium may shine like a bright star, but it can never shine like the brightest star. And the world will be forever dimmer, because Yankee Stadium will soon be coming down.

I have secured tickets for the final home game of the regular season. This could be the last moment for its greatness to be seen. The images of the past 50 years will be carried with me as I walk inside for one last time. I want to bid my friend a fond farewell. I want to say thanks for everything it has given me and countless millions through the years. I know there will be a collective grief that we all will be experiencing as we sit in our seats that day. I am not comfortable attending funerals, as I have a hard time thinking of anything but the moments of glory. I will forever be grateful, and I will forever retain, within me, everything that is Yankee Stadium. So long, old friend. I will cherish your memories. Yankee Stadium will soon be coming down.

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