Friday, April 16, 2010

Planet of the Pinstriped Apes

I went to the Yankee game last night, but didn't get in: The cheapest seats they had were $60, and I also wanted to eat dinner that night.

It was my first chance to see the ruins of the old Yankee Stadium. Strangely, it didn't hit me as hard as I thought it would. I guess having seen the TV footage and newspaper photos properly prepared me.

Nevertheless, I kept my vow, to use the line that Charlton Heston used at the end of the original Planet of the Apes, when he saw the ruins of the Statue of Liberty:

"You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"

It wasn't really "blown up," as there were concerns about damaging neighboring buildings on River Avenue and the elevated Subway line. But the rest of it holds.

When I said it, I suddenly realized that I had given anyone who heard it one of those moments: "If you see something, say something." I had said the words "maniacs," "blew it up" and "God damn you all to hell." I must've sounded like, well, a maniac, devoted to some religion to an unhealthy degree.

Well, ballparks have often been called "cathedrals."

The game itself, which I had to watch on TV elsewhere, was good: Yankees 6, Angels 2. Robinson Cano, who was named for Jackie Robinson and usually wears Number 24 as a reverse of Jackie's 42, hit 2 home runs on Jackie Robinson Day. Phil Hughes pitched fairly well, but, not used to starting these days, ran out of gas in the 5th inning, but the Yankee bullpen pitched well. Hideki Matsui hit a home run for the Angels, and got a standing ovation.

If baseball is going to honor Jackie by retiring his number for all of the game, why bring the number back into circulation every April 15 -- especially by making every player wear it? There's a reason baseball players have uniform numbers: To tell them apart. An annual Number 42 patch commemorating Jackie's role in changing the history of the game makes far more sense.

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