3 days, 6 stadiums, 0 games
So far, my great Fall 2008 baseball pilgrimmage has gone very well. On Thursday I went to the Flushing district of Queens, New York for the first time, and saw Shea Stadium in the early stages of being dismantled, and its "successor" next door, Citi Park.* I asked the gatekeepers if any tours would be available so that I could get some interior photos, but they said no. While I was talking with them, a guy drove up in an SUV, and after he went in, they told me it was Mets second baseman Damion Easley. After getting photos of Shea Stadium, I walked over to phopograph Citi Field, which is very impressive indeed. The eastern side is right next to the street along which a vast array of auto repair shops are located. It's quite a contrast, but it is expected that the Willets Point neighborhood will be renovated after Citi Field begins operations next spring. The gatekeepers told me that demolition of Shea Stadium will begin in a matter of weeks, to make enough room for parking.
On Friday morning, I met up with Brian Vangor, a Yankees fan whom I met at Nationals Park last May, hoping that we would be able to buy tickets for a tour of Yankee Stadium. I had contacted the Yankees front office and received a non-commital reply, so my trip was based on nothing more than hope. To my immense relief and delight, I learned that there indeed would be a tour that very day, and it was probably the best $20 I ever spent. While Brian and I were waiting for the tour to begin, we walked around the new Yankee Stadium, which looks very impressive with that granite block exterior and gilded lettering. I was surprised that it fits so tightly within the surrounding neighborhood streets. One aesthetic drawback compared to the old Yankee Stadium is that the view of the main entrance behind home plate is somewhat obstructed by the street overpass. It's hard to believe that I had only seen one Yankee Stadium game in my life, and I desperately wanted to tred the field where Mantle, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle once played, and to see the memorials in their honor at Monument Park. Well, it was a wish that came true. The tour guide was a bit impatient with us as we snapped photos from every conceivable angle. We toured the concourse levels behind home plate, the press box, Monument Park, and the Yankees' dugout. Usually, the tours include the Yankees locker room, but someone saw Hideki Matsui entering the stadium, and they probably didn't want him to be disturbed.
On Saturday, I was in the Windy City, and took some quick photos of U.S. Cellular Field as our train passed by. If I had had more time during my layover in Chicago, I would have gone there, but I choose to see Wrigley Field and see all the recent enhancements there. The expanded bleachers that hang over the sidewalks are not as obtrusive as I had thought, so they did a good job with that. It seemed that almost every apartment building had a bleacher section on the top, and I sure hope the Cubs are getting a fair share of the cut from those seats. The lighting conditions for the photos were almost ideal, and I will be posting new photos of this and the other stadiums later this month.
Cubs, Brewers eliminated
I picked a strange time to be in Chicago, right after the Cubs hosted the Dodgers in two games and right before the White Sox hosted the Rays. (My travel plans were in part designed to give me a chance to see at least one postseason game, as I expected the Mets to qualify when I bought my train tickets, but it just didn't work out that way.) It would be very hard to explain the loss by the Cubs to the Dodgers in three straight games. How could their best players commit so many errors and fail to get hits in clutch situations? It's a real shame that their season of such high promise ended this way. The Phillies were expected to beat the Brewers, in contrast, so that series was no big surprise. The Brewers at least won one of their games, making C.C. Sabathia's enormous effort worthwhile. Tonight the Angels and the White Sox will try to stave off elimination for one more day, while the Red Sox and the Rays try to advance to the next round.