"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

April Fools

My wife and I trekked out to Yankee Stadium yesterday, shelled out about $25 a piece on train and subway fare, then and sunk another $25 or so into some eats at the ballpark as we sat in the cold, misting rain for two and a half hours waiting for a ball game that was never played. Back in New Jersey this afternoon, the rain seems to have finally ceased and the sun is starting to filter through the still-overcast sky, but I’m not going back to the Bronx tonight. My wife is working late and, frankly, I’m too worn out and pissed off from our journey yesterday to bother, even though they should actually play the final Opening Day game in Yankee Stadium history at 7:05 tonight.

If you told me that, with tickets in hand, I’d pass up the opportunity to go to this game, I’d tell you you’re crazy, but I’ll only jump through so many hoops. As our president once said, “Fool me once, shame on . . . shame on you. Fool me . . . you can’t get fooled again.” No, I got to sit in the old Stadium yesterday and contemplate the finality of this season for the old yard. I got to see the bunting lining the face of the stands. I got to see the old familiar faces in the right field bleachers and chow down on the best Italian sausage in the Stadium, and I’ll be back there on Sunday to see Chien-Ming Wang match up against a star pitcher from a division rival, so I don’t need to endure the cold, the wind, and the remaining wet, and I don’t need to endure the crowds or the four-hour round trip on public transit necessitated by the parking crunch created by the construction of the new Stadium.

I will, however, happily and eagerly tune in the high-definition broadcast on YES from the warm and convenient comfort of my living room. I’ve also happily passed on my tickets to a good friend (and reader), so as to not rob anyone of the opportunity to see the game in person.

The Yanks will do tonight what they intended to do yesterday, complete with ceremonies and fanfare, and though my bitterness over the team’s mishandling of yesterday’s game keeps telling me it will lack some of the excitement we all expected yesterday because of the delay, the fact that it will be played at night under the lights, and the fact that the stands are unlikely to be full due to others who were similarly either unable or unwilling to alter their Tuesday schedules, deep down I doubt it will be diminished much at all.

Most of all, the game still promises a stellar pitching match-up, with ace Roy Halladay taking the mound for the Blue Jays and groundballer extraordinaire Chien-Ming Wang starting for the Yankees. Given the fact that the ground has been softened by two days of rain, if both men are on their game, their outfielders may need to find new ways to occupy themselves in the pastures this evening. I, for one, would love something along the lines of this two-hour and eight-minute gem from three Aprils ago, provided it concludes with the opposite result.

While we’re still waiting for the first pitch, here are a few items worth mentioning from the past few days:

Andy Pettitte threw six dominant innings in Sunday’s minor league intrasquad game, getting up to 77 pitches and staying on schedule for Saturday’s start against the Rays. Ian Kennedy also pitched well in that game for the other squad. LaTroy Hawkins is now wearing number 21 in tribute to Roberto Clemente (he had worn Roger Clemens’ and Robinson Cano’s old number 22 in camp). Though Bob Sheppard won’t be on the mic until at least June, he’ll still be introducing Derek Jeter via tape (I continue to wonder if the Yankees have been working on a Bob Sheppard voice replication program behind the scenes). Chad Jennings provides the Yankees’ minor league rosters in one easy-to-scan post.

Much to my delight, Robinson Cano moves up to the sixth spot in Joe Girardi’s lineup, with Posada and Matsui to follow. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays will be starting Shannon Stewart in left today over Matt Stairs, but have still not put Stairs (hip flexor) on the DL. Their plan yesterday was to give Stairs two-days of rest by sitting him on Opening Day before the scheduled off-day today. I assume they’re still sticking to that plan, which would mean they’ll play tonight with a three-man bench of John McDonald, Buck Coates, and Rod Barajas. Still, using Stairs as a lefty pinch-hitter late in the game could be awfully tempting.

Another Blue Jays note, they’ll debut new road jerseys tonight. When the Diamondbacks decided to look like the Astros, the Jays inherited the distinction of wearing the ugliest uniforms in the majors. The new block text on their road grays is a modest improvement over the script they’ve worn since 2004 and recalls the font from their previous design, but does nothing to rid the team of that dreadful italicized number font, their monstrously stupid “angry bird“J” logo, nor the logo/script combo on their home jerseys that leaves out half the team name, all of which are awkwardly oversized to boot. I still can’t figure out why they abandoned their championship look, which was a tasteful redesign of the uniforms they’d worn for their first decade, which, incidentally, will be revisited with an alternate throwback this year. Those throwbacks would look pretty slick (even with the historically inaccurate belted pants) if the players actually wore uniforms that fit correctly.

Final note, the Yankees have never played (and now never will) a regular season game in Yankee Stadium in March. I guess we shoulda known.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver