World renown Yankee Stadium, home to a record 26 World Series Championship teams, will host one final baseball game before closing for good and fading into history.
Yankee Stadium was born on April 18, 1923 and quickly became known as "The House that Ruth Built." The Stadium was uniquely constructed to hold 58,000 fans when most venues sat in the 30,000 range. The very first three-tiered ballpark debuted in New York. It was an instant success. Opening night drew a reported 74,000 fans with thousands being turned away. Upon conclusion of season one, the Yanks had won their first of a record 26 World Series Championships. Babe Ruth led the way transforming forever how the game of baseball would be played.
New York's grand cathedral quickly became the focal point for millions of dreams. So many professional players often spoke of how playing in Yankee Stadium, as a Yank or opponent, became a dream come true. The Stadium has always been electric. New York's fans are some of the most loyal in all of sports. On many a night, the house would shake as a result of fans enthusiastic cheers. This wouldn't be New York if fans didn't also shower underperforming players with harsh boing and jestures not fit for print.
Yankee Stadium was home to some of baseball's greatest players and most remembered games. Seventeen players had their uniform numbers retired. A short list of famous players/managers in Yanks history: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter, Casey Stengle, Whitey Ford, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Roger Clemens, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Don Larson, Don Mattingly, Sparky Lyle, Billy Martin... and the list goes on.
Yankee Stadium was more than a baseball stadium. Memorable moments reached far beyond the diamond... often with historic results. An abbreviated list:
*Boxing Championships including the first ever televised. Jack Dempsey, Joe Lewis, Mohummad Ali, Rocky Graziano, Max Baer and Sugar Ray Robinson all had major bouts.
*Pro Football. The Stadium was home to the New York Giants (1956-73). The 1958 Baltimore/NY Championship Game has been called "The Greatest Game Ever Played"
*Soccer (New York Cosmos)
*Religous Leaders - Cardinal's & Pope's
*Youth Baseball Camps
*High School Games
When the lights dim this evening, it will be the end of one Yankee Stadium era... and the beginning of the New Yankee Stadium era. After reading countless articles and blogs... there's one easy conclusion. Many spend too much time searching for the right words, unique phrases or personal experiences to celebrate the closing of historic Yankee Stadium. For each instance listed, another one is omitted. However, all contain a common bond which leads readers to conclude one simple fact. After the Yankee players take their final curtain call... only one word will best decribe events produced within the Stadium. "Memories."
Yankee Stadium was both a dream maker and memory creator. I believe every fan who ever attended Yankee Stadium walked away with vivid memories. At the very least, they were able to say "I once went to Yankee Stadium". Great bragging rights for all.
Save the date. NHL regular season begins October 4, 2008. If '08 is anything like '07, then we're going to witness some great hockey once again. Prague, Checkloslavakia will host the opener between Tampa Bay and New York Rangers at Noon (EST). Stanley Cup Finalist Pittsburgh plays Ottawa later that day in Stockholm, Sweden.
Time to pick 'em. NHL 2008-09 predictions:
Stanley Cup: Detroit Red Wings over New Jersey Devils
NFL 2008 already has a couple of teams turning heads. A select few were taken for granted before the season began. Opposing coaches are beginning to take notice. Week 3 is up next... thought I'd try my hand at predicting the winners.
Kansas City (0-2) @ Atlanta (1-1): Birds were grounded by Bucs last week after opening the year taming Lions. KC hasn't figured out how to move the ball. Coach Edwards should be canned soon. He's not the answer for KC's proud franchise. Atlanta 33-13
Tampa Bay (1-1) @ Chicago (1-1): On paper this is the battle of stiffling defenses. Both teams have surrendered 33 points. TB has scored 44, Chicago 46. Both offenses rely of field position supplied by defense. Brian Griese vs Kyle Orton. An offensive yawner unless running backs can break a few. Big play D will be the key. Da Bears win, 15-10.
Carolina (2-0) @ Minnesota (0-2): On paper this is a lock for the prowling Panthers vs an inept Vikings attack. Minnesota benched QB Jackson in what could be described as an admission this guy was the wrong pick to build a team around. Vet journeyman Gus Ferrotte will start. Panthers have won back to back thrillers (26-24 vs SD, 20-17 vs Chi). This could be the upset game of the week if Minnesota comes out rejuvinated. Carolina prevails, 27-23.
Miami (0-2) @ New England (2-0): Just about the only good news for Miami is playing in NE now instead of frigid December weather. Cassell will face various Miami defensive shifts. If he remains calm, this game will be a blowout. Miami doesn't have enough (any?) offensive weapons. Patriots fry fish, 33-6.
Cincinnati (0-2) @ New York Giants (2-0): Cincy remains in turmoil. Giants Eli Manning has arrived. His confidence level is at an all time high judging by his new found pocket presence. No longer throwing weak passes back peddling... now delivering strikes stepping up in the pocket. MVP performances in first two weeks. Eli will dissect secondary while Jacobs knocks off Bengal stripes. Super Bowl Champs conquer, 42-24.
Houston (0-1) @ Tennessee (2-0): Texans were displaced last weekend by Ike. They needed extra time to prepare for undefeated Titans. QB Collins leads the way while Madden Cover Jinx Young tries to find his nerves. Texans still searching for an offensive leader. You have to feel for fans stuck in tv markets forced to watch this boring game. A word to the wise, head to a sports bar to watch another game. Titans win, 24-7.
Arizona (2-0) @ Washington (1-1): Zona's QB Warner has been great piecing together back to back wins, 128.5 QB rating while completing 70.4% of pass attempts. Did I forget to mention this was vs SF & Miami? No matter. Washington looked confused at times with rookie Head Coach Zorn looking undecided on play calls in week one. Last week, they marched over Saints. This game should be a battle. Arizona by a hair, 31-27.
New Orleans (1-1) @ Denver (2-0): Saints running game hasn't surfaced yet. Thru two weeks, their single player game high has been 52 yards. 3rd and long is no way to play football. Denver's offense has been scoring at will.. 41 vs Oakland... 39 in a thriller vs SD. QB's might total 80+ passes. Broncos stampede, 44-30.
Detroit (0-2) @ San Francisco (1-1): Lions porous defense has been outscored 42-17 in two first halves. No chance to play with game plans when having to throw every down. Detroit QB's have chucked 74, running attack only 33 carries. Nothing changes vs San Fran's new found offense. Frank Gore will have a huge game. SF pours it on, 38-10.
St. Louis (0-2) @ Seattle (0-2): What's happened to both of these once upon a time high octane teams? St. Louis has 16 points... 16! Yikes. 3 of 24 on 3rd downs kills drives. The Rams formerly owned an impressive attack. Bulger has been atrocious, bad throws, horrible reads. For as bad as St. Louis' offense has played... their defense has been worse. Perhaps the NFL's most hapless group heading into week three. This is a team confused on both sides of the line. As for Seattle, Hasselbacks 48.5 QB rating can't be sitting well with Coach Holmgren (nor is -4 turnover differential). Julius Jones is Seattle's featured back (his first as a starter). He had a big week two but it wasn't enough. Seattle rebounds, Rams struggles continue... 36-14.
Cleveland (0-2) @ Baltimore (1-0): Ravens defense still dominates and will again if Cleveland's offense doesn't find its' stride this weekend. Browns haven't scored a td since 12:43 of quarter two in week one. Head Coach Romeo Crennel has screwed up as many times thru two games as most do in an entire season. Ravens rookie QB Flacco is a work in progress. He's poised in the pocket but will stumble at times vs various defensive schemes. Ravens survive, 23-20.
Jacksonville (0-2) @ Indianapolis (1-1): Jags have dropped two close contests. Their running game hasn't found it's footing. Now they take on a banged up Colts team who lucked out in a come from behind win vs Minnesota last weekend. Manning's knee looks wobbly. All Pro Safety Sanders is out for at least a month. Lost their DT to a pot bust. Things have been better for Coach Dungy. This one will be a battle. Jags running game wakes up, 28-24.
Pittsburgh (2-0) @ Philadelphia (1-1): This is my #2 must watch game of the week pick. Philly's offense is soaring scoring 75 in two games (38 vs StL, 37 @ Dallas). Westbrook already has 5 touchdowns & McNabb looks better than ever. On D, they bring blitzes every down trying to force mistakes. Pittsburgh has played rugged football. They'll either need to create turnovers on D or slug it out on the scoreboard. 80 degree weather might wear down defenses. Philly keeps scoring, 33-17.
Dallas (2-0) @ Green Bay (2-0): This is the #1 must watch game of week three. As usual, the Cowboys have opened the season on fire. Romo and Barber have combined for 8 td's. T.O. already with 3. This team has too many weapons. Defense looked weak on most series vs Philly but came thru when the game was on the line. Green Bay is off to the races behind first year starting QB Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers replaced legendary Brett Favre and has been outstanding leading the Pack offense (117.8 QB rating, 4 TD, 70% completions). Dallas represents test #1 for Rodgers after steamrolling weaker Minnesota and Detroit. Rodgers is ready to show he belongs... throws for 350+ yards. Pack Attack 41, Cowboys 37.
New York Jets (1-1) @ San Diego (0-2): J-E-T-S... JETS, JETS, JETS fans were chanting all week anticipating a victory vs hated arch division rival New England. NE QB Brady was declared out for the year. Favre is now a Jet. According to NY writer's and fans this combination means a trip to the playoffs. Favre was to be the savior. He didn't get it done vs New England as the offense sputtered. San Diego is banged up on both sides of the ball. It's already a season of hard knocks for San Diego. Losers as time expired in week 1 vs Carolina 26-24. Week 2 was a controversial 39-38 last minute defeat in Denver. Injuries might alter visions of destiny quickly should they fall to 0-3... which they will. Favre wins his Jets Monday Night Football debut, 31-23.
No New York Mets fan will forget last years historic September collapse. Sitting comfortably with a seven game lead over second place Phillies with seventeen games remaining. Then the team filled with magical finishes and slogans.... imploded.... choked... self destructed... finishing out of playoff contention. No one could save them while they gave away game after game.
2008 was to be a new season. A retooled pitching rotation bolstered by Santana. Manager Willie Randolph (fired) was to be primed and matured after events of past two seasons. The Mets recent 3 1/2 game lead over Philadelphia has evaporated (current standings).
All season, New York sports commentators have spoken of last years debacle before or after bashing the lifeless Yankees. Well, ghosts of September '07 seem to be back again in '08. Tonight's lifeless performance against 93 loss Washington sets off a serious warning light. A golden opportunity to maintain an importaint two game spread in the loss column was lost. Philly can smell blood and the Mets are leaving a trail. Whether or not the Mets snap out of it and start making their own breaks... and wins is anyone's guess.
Manager Jerry Manuel has his hands full at the moment trying to keep players fresh and talks of last year to a minimum. There's no escape right now. One of Randolph's biggest mistakes last year was showing how mopy he was in front of players and media. He looked like he just came from a funeral... offering no inspiration to his players. Manuel already admitted during an interview he has memories of '07 (... and it's up to players to correct themselves). Not very motivational Jerry.
The Mets of 2008 were to have matured after last year. Instead, it's just 2007 stuck in 2008 minds. Wright was an MVP candidate heading into last September only to completely fall apart. This year, Delgado had suddenly emerged as MVP material after coming alive hitting .295, slugging .610 after the All Star break. It's tough for him to be clutch now when there's nobody to drive in. Table setters have been silent.
Where's the Magic? The Mets have had many slogans over the years. Amazin Mets. You Gotta Believe. The Magic is Back. Mets Magic. Last year ended with Tragic Magic? Historically, Mets teams have been the chasers usually ending with dramatic late season heroics. Times have changed.
Let's see what kind of Magic these Mets can perform, if any. They're up against two slumping teams, Washington and Atlanta. These are all must wins. They close out the year at Shea vs NL's #1 Chicago (4 games) followed by a tough Marlins club.
These guys have been one game on, two off. They need to find a way to relax. Just go out and play ball. Have fun. Until old memories are shaken loose, this team is in for a rough ride. Have a closed door session. Set team curfews. Take a day off from batting practice. Do something different. Worst of all, Mets players keep this up they can play themselves out of the Wild Card hunt too.
Slumping Milwaukee pushed their panic button by firing Manager Yost this afternoon. Milwaukee had lost 11 of 14. Firing a manager is one way to wake up the dead. Mets responded after Willie was dumped, or so it seemed. Toronto with Cito at the helm. Sveum takes over the Brew Crew.
Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium are only days away from hosting their final baseball games ever. Both teams were expected to challenge for this years World Series. Instead, they could be watching from the sidelines.
Baseball is a funny game afterall.