We're completely aware that we've been extra naughty in providing pictures of our own teams' stadiums (basically because we didn't take any), taking it for granted that both Shea and Yankee Stadiums would always be around. Ooops. In light of the closings of both stadiums last season and the opening of the Mets and Yankees new homes in just over month, we've created a posting dedicated to the final games at Yankee and Shea Stadiums. Hopefully, the stadiums are shown a little better in these pictures. Since we did not attend the last games together (Serena went to the Yankees game with her mother while Lisa attended the final Mets game with her friend, Laurie), we'll each write about our own experiences. Enjoy!
September 21, 2008
That particular Sunday was grossly hot. My mom and I tried to get to the stadium early to see if we could get an opportunity to walk on the field. No such luck. It seemed that every person with a ticket to the game (and some without) had the same brilliant idea. The area surrounding the stadium was a mob scene. I've never been to the city on New Year's Eve to watch the ball drop (despite living 40 minutes from the city almost my entire life), but I imagine that navigating through the crowd is quite similar to what it was like trying to manuever around Yankee Stadium that day...only sweatier (and to the best of my knowledge, less drunk). We waited online to get into the stadium for an hour (maybe more). Once inside, we were disappointed to hear that fans were no longer being permitted to walk the field.
Undaunted, my mom suggested that we wander Monument Park one last time while waiting for the ceremony to start. We arrived at Monument Park only to discover that the line to get into the park was wrapped around many tiers. Let me get one thing straight here: I love the Yankees and my heart broke when I heard that the stadium was closing. But I may make a lot of Yankees fans angry when I say that my loyalty did not run deep enough to stand in the heat and humidity for over an hour just to wander around a little park the size of my living room. I had already experienced Monument Park at a previous game and that was enough for me. If that makes me a terrible fan, then so be it. Besides...I was hungry! Let's face it. My entire being is dictated by where my next meal is coming from. Thankfully, the new stadium will have a new Monument Park and I promise to take pictures when I visit it.
We wandered into the food court (more lines to wait on) and got myself my last Italian hot sausage sandwich, complete with onions and green peppers, at Yankee Stadium. Despite how hot it was outside, the sandwich was heaven. I will truly be depressed if the sausage does not survive the move across the street to the new stadium. The Yankees may have downsized on the number of seats in order to accommodate more luxury seats, but they just cannot take away the sausage sandwich!!! I will cry! I apologize. I digress...
Our seats were located in the left field bleachers. Normally, wandering around the stadium would not have been an option to us because the bleacher seats have separate entrances, but today was a special day. The stadium opened all sections so that people with bleacher tickets had an opportunity to view the stadium one last time. Once we had our fill of attempting to steal other people's "better seats," my mom and I headed for our real section. The ceremony prior to the game was awesome. They brought out Yankees "old timers" (and in some cases, family members of old timers, like the Mantle and Munson families). The most emotional part (at least, this is how I feel) was when they called out Bobby Murcer's family. Murcer had died only a few months ago and his death was still fresh in everyone's minds. His wife and children represented him and took their place besides Mickey Mantle's son in centerfield. The stadium filled with chants of, "Bobby Murcer!" On the big screen behind centerfield, we could see that Murcer's daughter was overcome with emotion and Mantle's son simply pulled her in for a hug to comfort her. If there was a person in the stands who was not affected by this sight, the person clearly did not have a heart.
The game itself was like any other baseball game, except that Joe Girardi made sure that everyone got their opportunity to make their mark one last time. Hundreds of flashes went off when "Enter Sandman" played over the loudspeaker, indicating Mariano Rivera's final entrance at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees went on to defeat the Orioles 7-3. It was fitting. After such a terrible performance overall that season, the Yankees needed to win the final game in their stadium. When it was over, Derek Jeter made a big speech that I am confident someone else wrote for him (my mom cried during this point...of all the times to cry, I am completely dumbfounded that this was the moment she chose) and the Yankees ran around the entire field, waving to the fans.
I could see players (including members of the Orioles) collecting dirt from the field. They looked like children on Christmas Day (to use the abused cliche). They behaved like fans. Considering the bad rap that many (if not, all) professional athletes have about being overpaid and selfish (not that a lot of this isnt warranted), it was nice to see these men enjoying the sport of baseball for what it was meant to be. A game. Fun. I imagine that when they first starting playing, they really did enjoy it. Before the big contracts, endorsement deals, tabloids, etc. When they were simply baseball players. Watching them scramble around the field, playing in the dirt, taking last minute momentos and pictures with friends and family (like tourists) gave me a sliver of hope that the pleasure of the game still has a home inside them. As jaded as I have become toward the sport of baseball and the circus that the New York media has created around the Mets and Yankees, I still can't help but to adore the Yankees and the now "old" Yankee Stadium.
After listening to Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" for the last time, my mom and I slowly filed out of the stadium, surrounded by other Yankees fans and headed for the parking lot (which was a few blocks away). Everyone looked a bit in a daze. Every few feet, there was another person taking pictures of the stadium, trying to document their final memories of a place that would soon no longer exist. Maybe it will be come a parking garage. Normally, these "traffic cloggers" would have been greated with mutters and less than friendly comments, but that night, the camera junkies were left alone. I took my final picture from underneath the train tracks near our parking lot and felt incredibly sad. I didn't want a new stadium. Unlike my mom, who was around for the Jets and Giants relocating to New Jersey and the birth of the New York Islanders, I have never experienced a "new" stadium for any of my teams. Are there any Padres fans out there that care to share their feelings? The new ballpark has a lot to live up to! Sausage sandwiches and all!
September 28, 2008
It was a cloudy and sticky day in Queens, but there was hope in the hot air for all Met fans around the world (if there are any other than in the tri-state area ) . I started my day off leaving my house even earlier then I usually do for the game . Silly me three hours before game time was clearly not enough. Once Laurie and I got to Shea all the parking lots that I knew of were filled to its maxium capacity . Oh I see where this day is already going as I thought to myself. After circling around Queens for about an hour, Laurie and I parked the Toyota Corolla on a street I do not recall and didn't recall later that night when we had to walk the hall of shame back to the car . (more about that later ) We followed the sea of orange and blue walking to the stadium for hopes of beating the Marlins and taking a chance at a wildcard spot as well as to wave goodbye to Shea for all it's wonderful and disatrous memories.
We were excited ! So excited that I chose not to get any food till I knew the Mets had a 20 run lead that the ballpen might not give up . Unfortunately the wonderful people at Shea thought it would be a awsome idea to have a Ceremony after the game . Did they ever think that maybe the Mets would blow it again and not too many fans would want to stay and watch that . Hmmm Guess not . So the game was coming to a start. Mr Met walked out to reveal the number of games left at Shea . Of course I gave him a standing ovation. The game started and every seat in the house was taken . Every cheer and roar made the stadium floor shake. I have to admit even though I knew the ending to this story I would not have wanted to be anywhere else that day. We put our faith in Oliver Perez thinking that there was no way they could lose. Carlos Beltran suprizingly did something and hit a two run homer . That wonderful Apple popped up and goosebumps raised on my arms (not for Carlos Beltran) , but for the fans and how for one moment there was a glimmer . Wake up Lisa ! With no run support, and Oliver Perez lasting 5 and half innings the fate of the Amazings was up to the ballpen . Most fans were also concentrating at the away scoreboard hoping that the Cubs would show no mercy for the Brewers. At this point Laurie was screaming curse words , which is always funny cause she has this squeaky high pitched mouse voice , and then I realized why she was so irate . Out of the ballpen came every Met players favorite pitcher Scott Schoenweiss . You can probably imagined what happed next . Yup, Homerun given up , The boo birds went wild !!!! I then joined Laurie with some few choice words . Then another crashing blow, another homerun given up by another wondeful relief picther, and if the knife was not already stabbed into our hearts, the away scoreboard posted a big F infront of the Cubs vs Milwaukee game . Milwaukee won ! Plain and simple . We needed to win but we didn't. We then lost Mets 2 Marlins 4. Laurie and I looked at each other in disbelief . We didn't want to stay for the Ceremony but we owed it to our second home.
So onward we moved down to lower level seats to meet up with Laurie's friend Alan whom she knows from her kids playing every sport possible . There Alan was with the kids and some seats for us. I felt the fans getting even more furious due to the fact that the immature Marlins were still celebrating on our field. I guess they were celebrating the fact that they finished in third . The staff at Shea started to put out these Giant cutouts of past Met players in the fielding postions that they had played in . The field was full with these giant cutouts and the ceremony started to begin. They announced one by one Met greats like Tom Seaver , Ed Kranepool, Cleon Jones, Dwight Gooden , Robin Ventura , and so on . They had a wide variety of Met names and each one I am sure brought a special memory to each fan . When Mike Piazza was annouced I suddenly went deaf due to the fact that Laurie was screaming like she was 13 at a Backstreet boys concert, as well as many other fans who joined this Mike Piazza following. (You know I love you Laurie ! ) After all was on the field the celebration proceeded. It was quite nice. Tom Seaver came to the mound and Mike Piazza went to the plate and the last and final pitch was thrown. I have to admit my eyes started to water and Laurie was balling. They walked off and the stadium lights went out . I was sad to see it go. This is a place of fun memories . It is a place where my father and I would go , a place where me and my friends would go . It was my second home and the 40 man roster each season acted like the siblings at that home , in which I would love when neccessary and bicker with as well . I like to think I have new memories coming at Citi Field (maybe a world series , I won't hold my breath). Shea you will be missed .
Laurie and I grabbed our things and proceeded out of the stadium still sobbing . At that point I realized that from the loss of the season and the gloomy memorial celebration after the loss there would be alot of depressed Met fans (I betcha there was an increase in prozac that day ). As we walked Laurie and I realized that we did not know where we had parked and forgot the street it was on. The one thing that came to my mind was that we were going to die . That would be the perfect ending after this day . The sea of orange and blue slowly started to dimish and we were all alone except for the random hoodlums we bumped into. We ignored the cat calls and started speed walking . Finally after about an hour of being lost in the outskirts of Queens, we found my car in one piece and all the hup caps as well. Laurie commented how calm I had acted through this whole ordeal of being lost in Queens. I told her that I had past experience from being in Wshington DC to see the Nationals . We hopped in the car, locked the doors and were off. On the way home we decided to ease the pain with some ice cream and went to Carvel and got the biggest sundae and cones. It helped a little . The night was over as well as the Season and the Stadium . We parted and said what every faithful Met fan says each season "There's always next year ."