The truth: Yankee Stadium has never meant that much to me. Part of it is that I’m a Mets fan, and part of it is that the renovated stadium bears little resemblance to the original structure (which I’m old enough to have seen plenty of times on TV, although, unfortunately, I never attended a game there). But the biggest part of it is that the Yankees — and, by extension, the stadium — have become such a loathsome symbol of American corporate excess and jingoism. Even the admirable things about the organization, like the uniforms, have been waved like some idiotic flag of superiority for so long that the underlying tone is bluster, not class. The message emanating from River Ave. and East 161st (esp. the owner’s suite) isn’t “We strive for excellence”; it’s “We’re the goddamn Yankees, and the rest of you can go fuck yourselves.”
I’d be the first to admit that the place is not without its charms. When you go to a game in the Bronx and hear that live organist and Bob Sheppard’s voice and all that, you think to yourself, “Hey, this is so cool!” But by the time they do the 27-minute-long rendition of “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch (which they still insist on doing for every freaking game), you realize that the organ and Sheppard and the postgame Sinatra and all the rest are really just code — they’re signifiers for an era when white America could happily enjoy being the biggest bully on the playground. That’s what the Yankees have always represented: the supremacy of empire, the arrogance of wealth, the strong not just defeating but utterly smashing the weak.
In case you hadn’t noticed, all of those supposed verities have been called into question on the larger American stage lately. Like it or not, a lot of things most people have treated as entitlements for generations (cheap gas, a white-majority populace, the ability to say, “We’re the goddamn United States and the rest of you can go fuck yourselves,” etc.) are changing. Of course, most people don’t like it, and they’d rather be in denial about it than actually deal with it, and few places provide a better oasis from reality than Yankee Stadium, where people can pretend it’s still 1957.
Or at least that’s what it would provide for those people if they could afford to go there. Kind of ironic that the Yanks are passing the torch to a new gold-leafed stadium with ticket prices only corporate execs will be able to afford just a few days after an economic meltdown that no doubt has many corporations rethinking their luxury box expenditures, all while the Yanks are missing the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. If you can’t see the parallels between all of that and America’s willfully oblivious descent down the crapper, well, I hope you have fun driving that SUV of yours.
Such treatises notwithstanding, they put on a good show for the stadium’s farewell. A few notes:
• Nice to see plenty of old-timers in period-appropriate uniforms (although it would’ve been better if Whitey Ford had hiked up his cuffs — that elastic gap was painful to see). And someone please get Yogi an undershirt.
• Biggest surprise of the evening, at least for me: Dave Winfield fills out his uniform a lot more than he used to. Like, a lot more.
• Several hours prior to the game, they let fans walk on the warning track — a nice gesture. A few people apparently indulged their “robbed him of a home run” fantasies, but anyone wearing an NOB replica should be barred from such shenanigans, no?
• Good spot by Larry Wiederecht and L.I. Phil, who noticed that Reggie Jackson was wearing this old N.Y. Giants logo on his cap while being interviewed in the ESPN booth during the game. Earlier, during pregame festivities, he’d shown off a different cap to the world’s single most annoying Yankees fan.
Our own Scott M.X. Turner attended the game, by the way. I expect I’ll have some first-hand observations from him to pass along tomorrow.
Raffle Results: The winner of the Remember the AFL book is John Flanagan. Congrats to him, and everyone else can look forward to the College Vault book raffle, which I’ll crank up tomorrow or Wednesday.
Uni Watch News Ticker: New System of Dress uniforms for Dayton. Here’s the rear view (with thanks to Matthew Hager). … Remember when I raffled off a futuristic Royals jersey a while back? You can get an entire futuristic Royals uniform, including a batting helmet, here. … Interesting advertising hubbub at Wrigley Field (with thanks to James Huening). … Friday’s entry on Lon Keller’s artwork led sports historian Chuck Miller to check in with the following: “I recently discovered that not only did Spencer Advertising create program cover art for colleges and high school sports, their work was also used by semiprofessional basketball teams like those who played in the Eastern League [which later became the Continental Basketball Assocation]. I have found several examples of such art, mostly by artists like Lon Keller, Larry Tisdale, Fred Fixler and the like. They can be viewed at this link on my CBA Museum homepage.” … “I work with the Potomac Nationals, formerly the Alexandria Dukes of 1979-1983,” writes Paul Barrett. “We were affiliated with the Pirates in Alexandria for the ’81-’83 seasons, and I found this little beauty in the storage closet along with other treasures (T-shirts, programs, stat sheets, mini-bats). The tag reads, ‘ Since 1920 • NEW ERA • Custom Made For JOHN GILMORE Sporting Goods • Fairfax, VA • Medium-Large • MFG. in USA.'” … Decent article here about UNLV’s NNOB jerseys (with thanks to John Barnes). … It’s nice that Manny has a mouthguard with his name printed on it, but why is he wearing a mouthguard to begin with? … No, branding isn’t getting way out of hand, not even a little bit (with thanks to Paul Ricciardi). … Lots of old Portland Beavers pics here. … Uni Watch is one of several uni-related media projects mentioned in this article. … Oklahoma State’s getting a new court design (with thanks to Andrew Joseph). … The Canadiens are wearing a 100th-anniversary patch. … Check out these photos of the recent Greer/Greenville game — matching Gs (good spot by Jon Pohlman). … Not sure if we’ve covered these specific examples before, but Baylor has not just one but two roman-numeraled NOBs (with thanks to, appropriately, James Spears IV). … Giants equipment director Joe Skiba has revived his series of video reports. The 2008 season premiere is here. … Aussie rules football fans have chosen their favorite jumper (with thanks to Jeremy Brahm, who also sent pics of the odd diagonal pinstriping worn by the Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Dolphins). … “This is South African rugby player Percy Montgomery wearing a test cap,” writes Caleb Borchers. “Announcers are always talking about someone’s games for the national teams as ‘caps,’ but you rarely see the actual cap any more. Certainly a little on the dorky side, but an interesting uni tradition, particularly because rugby players don’t wear caps on the field. There are links to some other caps here, here, here, and here.” … Interesting info on the Seahawks logo here. … Pictograms for the 2010 winter Olympics will look like this, and there’s a video about the development of the graphics here (courtesy of Jeremy again). … The Sabres’ third jersey is now official (additional photos here). … So is the Blues’ third jersey (more pics here. … Rutgers University: institute of higher learning. … Mike Chamernik notes that Mitch Maier has been wearing one of those extended-earflap facemasks. … Ken Malone has started a new site NFL uni-related site. “Our primary purpose is to get laughs through the medium of NFL uniform details,” he says. I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, so someone please give it the once-over and give us a full report. … Just what the world needs: a palm swoosh (with thanks to Dave Sizer). … That UGA rear-helmet motif sure is popular (with thanks to Michael Hardman). … Speaking of UGA, they’ll be wearing black this weekend. … Dude, are you wearing pantyhose or what? … Martin Gramatica was wearing his wedding band yesterday. … Man, do I love this. … I’m less fond of this. … How do you make this look good? Have it play against this. Additional crimes against humanity here and here. … “The Hiroshima Toyo Carp are moving into a new stadium next year, and while the stadium is being built, the manhole covers in the area where the new stadium will be have been given Carp designs,” writes Jeremy Brahm. “The funny thing is that they missed a spot — the where the arrow is pointing should be red, to match the undershirt on the right arm. There’s also a one-color version.” … Reprinted from last night’s comments: Check out the uniform on this yearbook vendor. That’s Opening Day at Shea Stadium, 1965. … Morris Levin recently scored a pair of authentic Phillies stirrups, so naturally he wore them to work. Okay, so he didn’t actually wear his pants that way in the office — only for the photo shoot (“I came out of the elevator into PNC’s lobby with my pants hiked up and my friend Peter pretty much fell over on Market St laughing”). But still, if this doesn’t start a casual Friday revolution, I don’t know what will. … Check out this bizarre NOB from a Rangers preseason game. Can anyone think of another NOB that included a mix caps, small cap, and lowercase? I certainly can’t (good spot by Casey Wurzbach, who also noticed some decal peelage at Great American Ballpark). … Reprinted from last night’s comments: Interesting to see that the Seahawks’ Gene Upshaw memorial decals are all partially covered by their neck bumpers (additional examples here, here, and here).