Sunday, September 21, 2008

Yankee Stadium (1923-2008)

One of sports most famous sites, the Cathedral, also known as Yankee Stadium closed its doors Sunday night after 85 illustrious years in business. It closed on a positive note as the Yankees defeated the Orioles, 7-3 in a game that took an extreme backseat to the pre-game and post-game festivities. In an all around tough season for the Yankees this was definitely the best moment of the year. Though the Yankees are all but eliminated from playoff contention, this was a special moment, a special farewell that adds to the lore of Yankee Stadium.

I am a relatively young guy, 20 years old. I have been a Yankee fan since the strike shortened 1994 season, so needless to say when it comes to the Yankees, my tenure as a fan has been good. I've seen 4 World Series Championships, and ten division titles along with thirteen consecutive postseason appearances. Even with all of that, I would have to rank this up there when it comes to moments in relation to the Yankees. I've watched my beloved Yankees celebrate World Series titles, hit walkoff homeruns in the playoffs, clinch division titles among the many other goose bump inducing moments. I don't think any single moment or achievement tops the celebration of the Stadium that took place tonight. From the pre game festivities with the fans on the field, to the game itself with Andy Pettitte starting and Mariano Rivera throwing the last pitch in the history of the stadium, this was a beautiful night in the Bronx.

This is the kind of night that makes the Yankees one of the most famous organizations in pro sports. From the festivities, to the preparation to the post game speech by the Captain Derek Jeter to the victory lap around the stadium in front of a packed house, this is one of those moments, one of those days you probably don't see anywhere else. Seeing Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, and Tino Martinez as they came out of the dugout as they honored the old Yankee players during the pre game was heart- warming. Seeing those three men brought back a lot of positive memories, from the Martinez grand slam in Game 1 of the World Series that broke the game open, to Martinez game tying solo HR against Byung Hyung Kim in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series, to the fans chanting Paul O'neill's name as he ran into the Yankee Stadium dugout from right field for the last time.

Growing up as a youth, Yankee Stadium has always been a place to be for me. I'll remember taking the 4 train to the game, getting there early enough for Batting Practice then screaming for the players as they pass by the stands.

On a final note, I'd like to do the unthinkable and give credit to ESPN. Their coverage was absolutely excellent. From the beginning of the day to the point of silence after the last out for about 15 minutes, the coverage was definitely good. I mean, for once, the network just let the picture tell the story. I commend them for that, and maybe someone should send the memo to Tony Kornheiser.

I'll end the writeup with this. The most ironic part of the night is, if the Yankees make the postseason this send off most likely doesn't happen, since the Yankees would be 'knee-deep' trying to win a World Series, so I guess everything does happen for a reason. Goodbye Yankee Stadium, you have a special place in my heart and you will always be remembered.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Brady goes down; out for season

The worst case scenario happened for the Patriots this Sunday. Their superstar quarterback limped off the field with a knee injury after a low hit by S Bernard Pollard in Sunday's game. It didn't look good then, and the news that would come was even worse. They would come to find out that Tom Brady is done for the year. In a game against the potentially cellar dwelling Kansas City Chiefs, a far inferior team, the Patriots narrowly won the battle but lost the war in all likelihood. Now this opens the door and makes the AFC a lot more wide open than it was.

Matt Cassel, who has been a backup QB behind great QBs at every level will now step in and try to keep the ship afloat for New England who plays the Jets at the Meadowlands this week. Cassel backed up Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer in college and has backed up Tom Brady in the pros. Literally speaking, Cassel hasn't started a game since high school, which is incredible if you think about it. Cassel came in on Sunday against a team that didn't have a chance to gameplan for him, and a team with a glaring lack of talent offensively and looked merely decent. Decent won't be enough to do much on this team, unless the defense turns back the clock. With Belichick as the coach that is entirely possible but given the amount of old guys on the defense it isn't likely.

This loss obviously hurts the Patriots. Losing a top two quarterback in this league, one who threw 50 TD passes, and won the MVP is a blow of epic proportions. I don't think it leaves a mortal wound though. I still feel this Patriot team is a good one, with a great coaching staff, and a few good offensive players. I wouldn't be surprised if the Patriots surprised people this season. Belichick will have those guys ready to play, especially this week where they will play like a wounded animal. They will be desperate and hungry. I think they will win the game this week and go on to a respectable 10-11 wins, and win the division.