We’re Talking Softball from Maine to San Diego…

…softball with Mattingly and Canseco…Ken Griffey’s grotesquely swollen jaw…Steve Sax’s run -in with the law…we’re talking Homer…Ozzie and The Straw.

Simpsons Softball Episode

In honor of Opening Day 2015 I thought I would take a trip down memory lane.  As much as my yearly fantasy baseball league helps me stay in tune with the crop of current stars (Kershaw and Kluber – I bow down to yee…but you will never replace in my mind Greg Maddux or John Smoltz)…they’ll never compare to the memories of watching the stars of my youth…like those who appeared on the greatest episode of The Simpsons ever where Mr. Burns attempted to build an unbeatable softball team.  Ahh, I miss those halcyon days of steroids and other recreational drug use (cough cough Doc Gooden and The Straw)…of battery throwing (I still hate you JD Drew!) and Bash Brothers.

With a looming getaway to Chicago and tickets to this year’s July 4th game at Wrigley Field secured, I’ll be able to chalk another park off my bucket list.  Here’s a run down of my fields of dreams where I have spectated over the years (complete with slightly exaggerated “memories” and vignettes to accompany them)… Continue reading

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Visiting the House that Ruth Built

 

Above: Yankee Stadium in the Past

They say every baseball fan worth their salt should go at least once to a game at Yankee Stadium.  After last night (8/28/07), I can say that I did–perhaps just in the nick of time as construction has begun on the new Yankee Stadium next door.  Not only did I go to Yankee Stadium, but I watched them play (and beat) the Boston Red Sox under a full moon that hung at dusk like a Christmas tree ornament over the hallowed ball field before disappearing behind the stands.  After taking the jammed-packed subway to the Bronx (a truly uncomfortable experience that was a real trial for this germaphobe who likes his personal space), outside of Yankee Stadium is like traversing some third-world country, and people are packed into the walls of the House that Ruth Built like sardines.  Never have I been to a ball park where the concourse is so narrow, the ramps so steep, the seats so precariously stacked and spaced.  Yet walking into the stadium there’s a palpable sense of history and the Yankees’ ghosts, and the rush of stepping off the concourse and up into the bowels of the stadium where you get your first glimpse of the field where Babe Ruth and so many other greats have played and became legends leaves you with a feeling that I doubt can be duplicated anywhere else in the sports world.  There’s an ancient, crumbling, yet fecund aura around the ball park, as I imagine it to be the modern equivalent of entering the Roman Coliseum at the height of the Empire.  From the stands on this eerily perfect summer evening, the modestly rising Bronx architecture seemed to be painted onto the backdrop by someone channeling the spirit of the 1930’s. 

Below: Yankee Stadium Today

Then, of course, there were the fans.  There’s no rivalry in sports more bitter and storied than the one between the Yankees and Red Sox.  The colorful profanity slung around the stands was wildly entertaining, and the staff and police on hand did an excellent job of stopping the mudslinging just in time before things got physical.  Our government intelligence agencies could learn a thing or two from these well-trained and attentive folks who know just when to swoop in and poor water on the fire before violence ensues between warring factions.  With the Yankees leading going into the top of the 8th, hard-throwing rookie sensation Joba Chamberlain took the mound, and the escalating fervor the ensued was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  New York loves this guy, cheering every strike thrown as if it was Game Seven of the World Series and the opponent was down to the final out.  Joba the Hut set things up perfectly for Mariano Rivera who in the 9th closed things out as usual and allowed the Yankees to gain a game in the standings on the 1st place Red Sox.  Thanks to Jeter’s solo home run earlier in the night, and Rivera’s save, my fantasy baseball team scored as well.  All in all, a great night this baseball fan won’t soon forget.

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*To date, the ball parks I have been to:

Yankee Stadium, New York 

Veteran’s Stadium (sadly no longer in existence), Philadelphia

Citizen’s Bank Park, Philadelphia

Camden Yards, Baltimore

RFK Stadium (hopefully to be put out of its misery soon), Washington D.C.

Turner Field, Atlanta

*Ball parks I desperately hope to visit:

Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles

Fenway Park, Boston

Wrigley Field, Chicago

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Written by David H. Schleicher