I was lucky enough to be in attendance at Saturday's Yankees-Orioles game, the 2nd to last game at Yankee Stadium. Despite the final outcome, the day was a lot of fun and I was glad to have the chance to see the O's play there before it closed. The picture above was taken with my camera phone from our seats (I forgot my real camera). We were in the 2nd level, very last section in left field, with seats right on the aisle at the end. We pretty much overlooked the Orioles bullpen, which was fun, and which allowed us to know the outcome of the game before it happened because we could see Jamie Walker warming up before anyone else.
Just prior to the game starting we watched Brian Burres warming up in the bullpen and toward the end of his warm up, Luke Scott jogged into the bullpen with a bat and stood in the batters box while Brian threw. It was funny to me that he came all the way out to do that since he wasn't swinging or anything, just standing there holding a bat. It seems like any of the 10 or so people milling about the bullpen could have done that. But I didn't mind because it got me really close to Luke. I could have spit on him if I wanted. Instead I just leaned over the railing and "LUUUUUUUKE"d him. He looked up from the bullpen and waved and gave that big grin of his. That was pretty much the highlight of my day.
Honestly, though, the Orioles weren't the main reason that we were there. Early in the season my dad told me he'd like to go to Yankee Stadium before it closed. He'd never seen a game there and really wanted to before it was gone. We weren't planning on going to see the O's and we weren't planning on going the last series ever. It just turned out that way based on the tickets we could get and the weekends we were both available.
Look, I'm not going to lie: I like Yankee Stadium. I know people call it a dump and it does have its drawbacks. The concourses are like caves, the bathrooms look like they were created for people 4 feet tall, the ramps are a little too steep, the floor is old and sorta slippery. But it's Yankee freaking Stadium. And the first time I ever went there, when I walked out of the tunnel and saw all the blue seats and fences, the familiar facade, I loved it. Yankee Stadium feels like history to me. Love the Yankees, hate the Yankees, you have to acknowledge the team and this stadium's place in history. So I was happy to be at the game and at Yankee Stadium one more time. The fact that the O's were there was just a bonus.
I actually felt like something of an outsider. Everyone at the game was most likely at their last game ever at that stadium, a stadium that a lot of them had been going to for their entire lives. Even if you ignore all of the media love fest that has been going on for that stadium this season, there is that. I don't really remember Memorial Stadium closing. I mean, I remember when it happened, but I was 11 years old and it didn't really mean much to me. Camden Yards will not close down in my lifetime, but if I take the time to imagine it were happening, I'd probably be very, very emotional. It's a place where I've grown up and watched teams I've loved and teams I've hated. I know where to find my favorite vendors and the best place to sit to avoid having sun in my eyes and which lower box sections have ushers that will let you sneak down. I saw Cal Ripken play there and went to playoff games there and sat right by Palmeiro his first game back from his suspension and heard him get booed by O's fans. I made friends there and iIt holds a special place in my life, and if I was told I'd never be able to go there anymore I don't know what I'd do (and it's only been open 15 years). And that's what Yankee fans are facing today. And it's a little sad.
At the game I was at a little beer stand during last call that was being manned by two old ladies. Two girls about my age were at the stand asking them where they'd be located at the new stadium and the ladies didn't know. One of the girls says, "But what if I can't find you? I've seen you every Saturday home game for three years!" And then they took a picture of them and hugged them goodbye. I found it really sweet and sort of sad and appropriate. Because the Yankees and their fans will continue to be obnoxious and everyone will continue to hate them, but from now on it'll never be quite the same.