Monday, September 22, 2008

The Last Real and True Yankees Game Ever

So I went to the game tonight. The FINAL game. The last game. The last Yankees game ever. I cried, teared up, clutched my chest and cried again just like I knew I would.

I love the Yankees. And I love Yankee Stadium.

So the story begins with how I used to hate my birthday. I was always very nervous about aging and losing touch with my youth. So birthdays made me depressed. And I mean like, when I was 13, it was agony to turn 14. The aversion to my birthday was also because of the pressure to be happy. Christmas, New Years, birthdays, you know what I am talking about. These are days you are SUPPOSED to be happy and that just means that you never are. Well. I wasn't, not then.

Then my parents started the tradition of taking me to Yankees games on my birthday. I don't remember how old I was. Maybe 15?
Before then, we always went to Shea. I grew up in Queens so when my family or other kids families went to baseball games, they went to Shea Stadium to see the Mets. I loved Shea too. I loved baseball. I played it. My brothers played it. I could watch and play all day.
But this birthday game was a Subway Series at Yankee Stadium. The Mets playing the Yankees. (Even today, interleague weekend usually falls on my birthday.)
Up until this point, I was nothing. I wasn't a Met fan and I wasn't a Yankee fan. I considered myself a NEW YORK BASEBALL fan. I watched whatever my Dad or brother was watching. I went to whatever game someone gave me tickets to.
I didn't think I would be happy at this game. It was my birthday. Birthdays sucked. And I was with my stupid family.
But I loved Yankee Stadium. My Dad told me stories, and explained who used to play here. Mickey Mantle. Yogi Berra. Roger Maris. Babe Ruth. Joe DiMaggio.
You could feel the ghosts in that stadium. When people say Yankee Stadium feels like a cathedral, you understand what they are talking about. You can feel the history-- probably people feel the same about Fenway Park. You can look at the field, close your eyes, and imagine it fifty years ago. Similar smells, similar sounds. Popcorn. A Bat colliding into a ball. The slap of a ball hitting the palm of a glove.

I watched the teams and I was forced to choose. You can never remain neutral for long. You have to root for someone. I tried to passively watch, just watch the plays and watch the hits but it was impossible.
So, who? The Mets, whose stadium I passed on the way to school every day?
But even at Mets games at Shea, the Mets annoyed me. They lacked spark as a team. It was frustrating to see them play. You wanted to bop them over the their heads and tell them to get it together.
But the Yankees. The Yankees played together like they were one entity. One thing.

Edit: I never finished this post. I must've been drunk and probably passed out. This was an amazing, never ending night. We didn't get to walk the field as we didn't get there early enough. But it was an amazing privilege to be there. One of my all time favorite places ever, now a graveyard.