The New York Yankees won yet another biding war against the Boston Red Sox when first-baseman Mark Teixeira agreed to an eight-year, $180 million contract in December. Teixeira was formally introduced to the press Tuesday and his Bronx debut was heralded as the last major event at Yankee Stadium.
Yankee Stadium bows out after 85 years of memories. The Yankees clinched nine World Series titles at the Stadium, and it has also seen three perfect games (including Don Larson's gem in the 1956 World Series). It held arguably the two of the most memorable home runs in baseball history, with Babe Ruth's unprecedented 60th shot of the 1927 season, and Roger Maris' record-breaking 61th homer on the final day of the 1961 season.
Inspiring and saddening memories of Lou Gehrig delivering his "Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth" speech on Independence Day in 1939 and the game in August of 1979, held just hours after the team attended the funeral for Thurman Munson. Or, the three games of the 2001 World Series against the Diamondbacks, just six weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, complete with a ceremonial first pitch by President George W. Bush, accompanied by hundreds of members of the NYPD and FDNY.
So, after nearly a century of unforgettable memories in a ballpark that cost only $2.5 million to build, it seems only fitting that its last show will be the parade of a man paid $180 million to play baseball, right?
(If you hear the crickets too, you're not alone.)
Yankee Stadium is the forgotten partner of a long line of deals that have changed baseball. All of its history, all of its awe, is warped and distorted by the win-at-all-costs mentality that currently keeps the Yankee Machine afloat. While sports fans should, and in most cases would like to remember the Yankees for the history that is epitomized by The Stadium, the lasting impression of The House that Ruth Built will in fact bear little resemblance to anything that the Bambino did during his tenure in New York.
Yankee Stadium should be respected for its meaning, tradition and its importance in the history of baseball. Sadly, it has been crudely distorted.