Saturday, April 4, 2009

The clouds parted and the angels sang . . . Part 1

Sometimes the most unexpected things can move you to tears. Such was the case with our first visit to the new Yankee Stadium last night. Now, I'm not a baseball fan and I have never pretended to be, and what I failed to realize when I married into Dave's family some eighteen years ago, was that these people bleed Yankee blue and lack of interest or worse, interest in a rival team, would not be tolerated. I learned the hard way when I brought a fashion magazine to a game back in the 90's. Ever since I made that unfortunate decision, I've been branded a heretic and banned from further visits to the house that Ruth built. But after an almost 17 year absence, Dave, in an act of stunning good will, granted me a pardon by giving me tickets to the first exhibition game in the new Yankee Stadium. I am sure that the entire prison population in Q was totally jels at the thought of my clemency.

It rained buckets all day long leading up to the game. There were thunder boomers, lightning, the whole nine. If this game was ever going to get off the ground, the drainage system at the stadium would have to prove that it was worth its price tag. Dave and I obsessively checked the weather on throughout the day to look for a possible break in the wetness. It looked like it could possibly clear for a short time, but the break would be followed by another band of rain . We knew that we would go, one way or the other. The question remained, whether we would see any baseball played while we were there.

Dave is the man when it comes to getting to the Bronx. A lifetime of Yankee games taught him the best ways in and out of the area, so even though part of our trip occurred during the evening rush hour, we got to the stadium in an hour and change. We pulled off the Deegan on to the 138th street/Grand Concourse ramp that leads to River Avenue (home of the new and old stadiums). There was a sea of blues as far as the eye could see, directing traffic, not directing traffic, trading chili recipes, whatever. Not sure if the display of Johnny Law was meant to be a deterrent or deemed to be necessary, either way it was better to have them there than not. As a result of the abundance of law enforcement, the usual army of squeegee guys that patrol this ramp were conspicuously absent.

For those old timers that remember the days when passing the Bronx House of Detention was necessary in order to get to the stadium, you'll be tickled to know that this building is now the future home of a shopping center, complete with Home Depot, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and Best Buy. The days of creating a shiv out of an old toothbrush or scraping out bricks with a soup spoon are long over. Now you can get everything you need to build a complex tunneling system and appoint it fabulously. I was hoping with all my heart that they would show love for the past and name this mega market of retail "Penitentiary Center", but no one listens to my genius marketing ideas. Fools!

As it turned out, the original parking structure next to the old stadium was still in service. This is Dave's preferred parking spot as the exit from the lot lets right out to the Major Deegan for a quick escape. There is a new ticket payment system in place with a payment kiosk that looked like it might be a disaster in the making, but it worked just fine. As we walked out of the parking garage to the front of the old Yankee stadium, there was a flash of sadness and nostalgia for the past. It sat there like the skeleton of giant dinosaur. Grey. Empty. Sad. The police used the space between the garage and old stadium to set up a communication command center. There were dual 32' Winnebagos with antennas and satellite dishes and all sorts of buzzing whirligigs on their roofs. There were enough rads bouncing around this alley to make your fillings vibrate. The rain, which had slowed to a drizzle as we drove had completely stopped by this time. As we walked down River Avenue, we were pleased to see that all of the bars and souvenir businesses that had been there for years were still humming. We passed under the elevated subway tracks and there she was in all her glory - the new Yankee Stadium. People stopped in their tracks and immediately began snapping photos, others just stood in slack-jawed amazement. It was a shiny diamond of newness. A sleek and elegant thoroughbred reminiscent of its lineage, but built for greater speed than its considerable bloodline ever promised. We stood on the corner and just looked at it for a minute and took it in. The new building had architectural nods to the original Yankee stadium, but these nostalgic elements were mixed with the vacation attraction vibe of places like the Baltimore Inner Harbor. For better or for worse, this was a comely siren dripping with retail opportunity. The first thing that you see before you even cross the threshold is the Hardrock Cafe and a towering Yankee Store (one of several). When my son meets this sexy bitch there will be hell to pay for Dave and I. I can hear the ka-ching already.

(More to come on our excellent adventure in Yankee land tomorrow. Tears, cheers and lukewarm hot dogs await you in part 2 and maybe 3. Stay tuned.)

3 Your comments, banter and witty repartee:

steenky bee said...

I honestly gasped out loud when I saw the Yankee Stadium picture. Then I sort of cursed you in jealousy when I saw that you actually got to visit. I am a long-time Yankee fan (even when they couldn't afford a huge payroll back in the 80's) My four-year old son has taken a liking to Boston. We're working through this with him daily. Are there any camps that you know of that "treat" this sort of behavior? We'd like to nip it in the bud right now so that his "alternative lifestyle" doesn't cause him a life of pain and suffering IN OCTOBER.

Thanks for stopping by! I'm pretty sure no one's ever called me sultry before. In all fairness, you may not have called me sultry, but I'm running with it anyway.

DG said...

It was sultry. Own it, girl!

somebody said...


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