Baseball 2008: Year in Review
Fans of the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals would just as soon forget this past year, and that applies doubly to fans of both teams, like me! The Nats enjoyed a few bright spots, such as Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off home run in the inaugrual game at Nationals Park, but for most of the season, things went from bad to worse. Fans of the Mets and Cubs are in a state of funk as well, no doubt. For most baseball fans, however, there was a lot of good news in 2008. Once again, the World Series title went to a team (the Phillies) with few or no recent championships to its credit, demonstrating the competitive, fairly well balanced nature of the major leagues today. People still whine about the big payroll of the Yankees, but as Mr. Steinbrenner has once again learned, painfully, "money won't buy you victory." There were some aftershocks from the steroid/doping scandals of the past few years, but it seems that the sport has cleaned up its act, finally.
Anyway, just like last year, here goes my highly biased summary of the Top Ten big events in the world of baseball this year:
- Yankee Stadium retires (Sept. 22; likewise for Shea Stadium, Sept. 28)
- Nationals Park Opening (Mar. 30, Papal visit Apr. 17, my first visit May 26)
- Phillies win the World Series (Nov. 1)
- Preservationists save part of Tiger Stadium (June 26, etc.)
- All-Star Game goes 15 innings! (July 16)
- Nationals' worst month ever: 5-19 (July 31)
- Construction / renovation in N.Y., K.C., Boston, L.A. (Jan. 21, etc.)
- Miami ballpark hopes rise again (Sept. 5, etc.)
- Athletics switch Fremont ballpark site (Dec. 9)
- Ballparks involved in scandals: Texas (May 30) and Chicago (Dec. 11)
DUBIOUS DISTINCTION: My first first pitch (Ouch! -- July 4)
Although I only managed to see two big league games this year, both in Washington, I did get inside Yankee Stadium on a tour in early October, and paid visits to five other ballparks. The itinerary of my great "ballpark sojourn" was designed in part to coincide with anticipated postseason games in New York and Chicago, but things didn't quite work out. At least I was able to take some good photographs. All in all, I would have to say that for me as a baseball fan, 2008 was a pretty darn good year after all.
Yankee Stadium memories
MLB.com conducted a survey of baseball fans' most memorable moments at Yankee Stadium, and somehow, Lou Gehrig's farewell address in 1939 only came in second place. The number one event was Aaron Boone's 11th-inning home run on Oct. 16, 2003 when the Yankees beat the Red Sox in the ALCS.