The 2008 All-Star Game may have been the swan song for Yankee Stadium in the national spotlight. With that in mind, many baseball fans, myself included, pose the question:
What is Yankee Stadium all about? What makes Yankee Stadium the Mecca of all sports venues?
When the “Diamond in the Bronx” is torn down following the Yankees’ 2008 season, what will we remember about “The House that Ruth Built?”
It certainly can’t be the grass and the dirt on the field. You can find good baseball fields all over Major League Baseball, as well as America.
It certainly couldn’t be its shape or design either. Although Yankee Stadium certainly is not an eye sore, some ballparks are much more pleasing to the eye, including Camden Yards and Wrigley Field.
So, what is so special about this baseball stadium?
The great Yankees of the past provided the magic and the aura that Yankee Stadium exhibits today. Twenty-six World Championships. Babe Ruth. Joe DiMaggio. Mickey Mantle. Reggie Jackson, a.k.a. “Mr. October.”
The New York Yankees became synonymous with winning. The tradition of excellence continued into the 90s, with players such as Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter leading the Bronx Bombers to more baseball glory.
Yankee Stadium became the cathedral for all of these Yankee saints. And at Yankee Stadium, the New York faithful gathered every summer to watch legends in the making and history unfold right before their eyes.
However, something will be lost when the current Yankee Stadium is torn down. Not only will the foundation of the original stadium come down, but also the foundation of Yankees past.
Feats such as DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, Gehrig’s “luckiest man” speech, Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, Bucky “Bleeping’” Dent, and many more made the home of the Yankees hallowed ground.
The aforementioned events formed a winning foundation for Yankee Stadium and ultimately, the entire New York Yankee franchise. Almost the entire legacy of the stadium is owed to the success these hall of famers had on that baseball field in the Bronx.
Although the Yankees of old will be enshrined in our memories and in baseball lore forever, the current Yankees have a responsibility to help construct the new Yankee Stadium on a foundation of winning, a foundation they must start building now.
So far, prospects do not look too promising. Despite a great mix of old and young talent and a good manager in Joe Girardi, the Yankees haven’t been able to pull it together recently.
Ever since blowing a 3-0 lead over rival Boston in the 2004 ALCS, thus ending “the Curse of the Bambino,” the Yankees have not been the same and are a shadow of the dominant team they once were. The World Series has been without the Yanks for four consecutive seasons and their last World Series title came at the dawn of the 21st century (2000).
Despite their woes, the Bronx Bombers are in the midst of a consecutive postseason appearance streak (1996-2007) and are only six games behind AL East leader Boston coming into the 2008 All Star Break.
Luckily for New York, they have proven Yankee winners such as Jeter, Rivera, and Jorge Posada to lead them to the next level. Hopefully for the New York faithful, the presence of past Yankee champions can help rally other Yankee stars such as Joba Chamberlain, Jason Giambi, and AL MVP Alex Rodriguez to return the Yankees to dominance.
In order to pay tribute to the end of an era at the “House that Ruth Built” and to build a winning foundation at the new Yankee Stadium, this year’s version of the New York Yankees needs to start off on the right foot—with a run at a 27th World Championship.
Although it seems like a tall order, almost unattainable for Girardi’s club this season, it’s necessary to continue the proud tradition of the Yankees and return the Bronx Bombers to dominance.