Somedays it’s ok to feel like a kid.
It’s ok as a reporter to get a little excited to visit Monument Park, walk on the field and even get a shot with Don Larsen. Yes, it’s ok to get a little pumped about the last day at Yankee Stadium.
But as the excitement wears off and the Yankee season fades autumn’s chill, just remember the place once known as the House that Ruth Built – which Steinbrenner Remodeled – is now the House that Greed Destroyed.
Think about this, the Yankees used this occasion to open up seven hours before game time. Sure, they allowed the paying customer to walk through Monument Park and even on the field, but it also allowed them to sell more $5.00 hot dogs and $9.50 beers. And let’s not forget the overpriced hats and shirts which make a Rolling Stones’ concert look like the Staten Island Yankees in comparison.
Next year, fans have the opportunity to do this for twice the price across the street.
Oh and here’s the dirty little secret the Yankees don’t want you to know about: They didn’t have to do it.
The current Yankee Stadium is a fine facility. Although originally built in 1923, it was fully renovated in 1976, making it 12 years younger than Shea Stadium. Fans love the place as evidenced by the record crowds filling the joint over the past few seasons. Believe it or not there was a time you could actually walk up and get a good seat to the park. Not anymore, because the team has done a good job to transcend baseball and become the best show above 96th Street.
For that the Yankees want you, the fan, to pay for it.
If the Steinbrenners went through with a renovation plan, rather than building a new park, they couldn’t run up the prices like they plan to do next season. It would be impossible to justify the five to ten times amounts for tickets, let alone the higher priced hot dogs, beers and Yankee foam fingers.
And let’s not forget the money the Yankees will get from selling everything down to the toilets in the old joint.
The fact remains the Yankees got a new stadium because the Mets got one and heaven forbid the one small child gets something and the other doesn’t. The Wilpons, rightfully so, had it in their lease with the city that they would be first in line for a new edifice.
But the Yankees just had to get one too and after years of threatening to move, claiming poverty and saying their place was just out of date, the old stadium went on the clock in 2006. Then Steinbrenner forced the issue by making the taxpayers take on the debt of the new stadium and outspending most new parks by almost a billion dollars.
In the era of excess, after a week where Wall Street almost collapsed upon itself because its firms were just too greedy, the monument to self-indulgence is set to open next season, complete with its $2500 tickets and exclusive 4-star restaurants. With thousands of jobs lost in the city, it’s business as usual in the Bronx.
So much so, the Yankees should dedicate a new monument next season with a dollar sign on it, because the almighty buck has become their MVP. From their overpriced mercenaries to their gaudy more ballpark, the dollar – more than anything else – is driving the Yankees.
And now we watched the witching hour to the old ballpark. With a 70 minute pregame ceremony filled with Yankee dignitaries and past their prime celebrities like Richard Geer, Val Kilmer, Rudy Giuliani, and Regis Philbin enjoying their pregame access, the Stadium said goodbye.
With it the Yankee move away from the House that Ruth Built to its monument of greed.