Hard as it still is to believe, the new Yankee Stadium is heading toward the close of its second season. Though I can’t say I love it, I think I’ve come to terms with its existence. The old ballpark next door is now gone, having given way to construction fencing, so there’s no longer a specter looming ominously over the new joint. Still, it's that rough-and-ugly, 1970s-era edition of the House that Ruth Built that will always be my Yankee Stadium. The late architect Philip Johnson, subject of my next book, liked to talk about architectural "procession," and how important it was for a building to unfold dramatically. Yankee Stadium was a great lesson in this idea: to walk up one of its tunnels to see the emerald field revealed below was stirring every time, and for a big game it was electric, tangibly so when it shook a bit with the cheering crowd.
Baseball, of course, lives on the memories it inspires, and that place has left more that its share. As a tribute to it, last year Alex Belth published a series of the reminiscences of the old park on the Banter. My contribution, about life in the bleachers in the 1980s is here. Now, Alex has collected all the pieces he commissioned, and added many more for a new book, Lasting Yankee Stadium Memories, out next month. It’s got an intro by Yogi Berra (who else?), and pieces by Richard Ben Cramer, Jane Leavy, Kevin Baker, and countless others. A great project, and a worthy memorial to a great New York place. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.
Sorry guys, I'm late, but gerbil needs to get a new wheel(s) after his last sweetheart (xs 850) got laid out to pasture by a moving immovable object and he has been delayed by vicious Friday traffic trying to find something that isn't a motorcycle that doesn't piss him off too much. Gerbil is particularly fond of those old yet amazingly new-lookyish, fanatical and run forever Toyota Previas for the blooming gerbil brood, but those Toys are surprisingly expensive, even 16 years down the line. Maybe a Dodge-ish thing is more prudent? Advice welcome. More importantly, the games are on, so please do comment away on this fine Friday night.
Yankees home opener and 2009 WS ring ceremony. Among the players on the 2009 team that are not on the Yankees anymore, Jerry Hairston Jr. flew from San Diego to get his ring, and now-Angel WS MVP Hit-Deki Matsui got a very nice ovation from the fans and the team itself.
For actual baseball, it's Pettitte (who also received a very nice ovation) vs E. Santana, and Nick Johnson already has his first homerun of the season.
It's with great pleasure that we report the publication of Emma Span's 90% of the Game Is Half Mental. As longtime readers know, Emma's been an occasional contributor to and old friend of YFSF for years, and always one of the funniest, smartest, coolest voices of the baseball blogosphere. This project has been a long time coming, but I can tell you, and the independent reviews demonstrate, it has absolutely been worth the wait. This is a page turner, a deeply felt, keenly observed memoir and analysis of the pastime. Go do yourself a favor and pick up a copy RIGHT NOW. A great way to start the season.
I'm no great fan of David Paterson, and I know the Yanks have business before the State, but, I don't know, shouldn't the Governor of New York be allowed to take his kid to the World Series? Make a call to silence an aide's domestic abuse arrest go away? Definitely not. A couple of October Yankees tickets? Fine, just so long as you don't go all Rudy on the public dime. Matter of perspective.
Johnny Damon has signed with the Detroit Tigers for 1 year at $8 million. It was a fun ride while it lasted. If Joe Torre's quasi-autobiography is to be believed, his tenure wasn't always as happy go lucky as we were lead to believe. But, for the most part, Johnny was a fun player to watch, at least on offense. We wish him the best and thank him for many great memories, and maybe the greatest base-running play in modern history.
Reports indicate that the Yankees have signed out machine outfielder Randy Winn. As the great Jay Jaffe notes on his Twitter stream, Winn's splits against lefties (158/184/200) are the worst in the history of the Retrosheet Era. Great! Also, he'll be 36 and he had a .318 obp with 2 hr last year. But he's nice? We can only hope.
We have a lot to be thankful for here at YFSF. For Yankee fans, certainly, 2009 was one for the books: the year our franchise launched a new home, seemed to reinvent itself on and off the field, and took home the World Series. Huzzah. Sox fans, however disappointing a season it may have been in the end, still saw some wonderful baseball, made the playoffs, and can rest knowing their management has the intellectual and financial tools—if not the personnel!—to put a contender out next year.
But we have more to be grateful for here. There's you, for a start, members of the ever-loyal YFSF community. Thank you for sticking with us through another tumultuous year. Let me also extend a big thanks to my co-moderators.
Finally, it being Black Friday I'd be remiss not to suggest a pair of books by the founders of this site. Perfect stocking stuffers, we think
—On the left, Think/Make, the new monograph on the inventive architectural firm of which SF is a principal.
—On the right, Master of Shadows, the story of Rubens's secret career as a spy and diplomat, by yours truly.
A most happy holidays from everyone here, to everyone out there.