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Monday, Sept. 22, 2008

Neutral Site?

Jim Cryns on Sports

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Astros Need a Hug

  Former Brewers skinflint Bud Selig made yet another faux pas when he sent the Astros to play the Division Champion Cubs in a "neutral" facility, our own Miller Park. Selig was trying to rectify the situation caused by Hurricane Ike, which prevented games from being played at Minute Maid Park in Houston. After his questionable decision to call a tie in the Milwaukee All-Star Game, Selig made more than a few enemies among MLB fans. Since the Cubs won both of those games at Miller Park, there have been some rumblings by Houston players as the Astros have been on a slide ever since the two game sweep.

  Lance Berkman of the Astros said "Major League Baseball has always valued the dollar more than they do the individual, the players and their families."

  Meow.

  Doug Brocail also chimed in: "The thing is we had days at the end of the season that we could have played a single game plus a doubleheader if need be. And to make us go up and play at North Wrigley like we had to on no sleep, it was absolutely ridiculous. If it was New York or Boston, it would have been played at the end of the season. I truly believe that, and I think 99.9 percent of our teammates believe that. But no, we're the Houston Astros."

  Snap.

Bronx Bombers

  I've hated the New York Yankees for as long as I can remember. It's a personal problem, so be it. I think some of it has to do with George Steinbrenner, one of the biggest jags in sports history. I do have an exception regarding my venom. The memories of Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Mantle, DiMaggio are wonderful, unmatched. As far as I'm concerned, those stellar teams were exciting and full of mystique. It's the Reggie Jackson through Derek Jeter era with which I have the biggest problem. For years they've been the best team money can buy. I don't know enough about the economics of the game to figure out how to make teams more competitive, but I think it's great when a team stacked with purchased talent fails to make the playoffs as the Yankees did this year. This team has more A-list players than a Speilberg movie, yet they still can't seem to find a championship, a poetic justice if there ever was.

  Despite my personal vendetta against Steinbrenner and the team, I watched the ending of the final game at Yankee Stadium and the intriguing reactions after the game by players and fans alike. As with most of my interest in sports, the events after the game were more intriguing than who won or lost (the Yankees did manage to beat the Orioles.) For a half hour or so the Yankees seemed human, emotional, vulnerable. Derek Jeter spoke to the fans in the stadium he seemed genuine, unrehearsed. A thank-you to the fans over the years who've supported that team through thick and thin, mostly thick.

  I'm a huge fan of Wrigley Field and I'm sure I'd feel the same way about Fenway Park had I ever gone to Boston. It's the nostalgia and history of those parks that make me feel comfortable, calm, transported to an earlier time in life when I was full of hope for the future. I've visited the old Candlestick, the old Baltimore Stadium, the old Busch Stadium, the old Jack Murphy stadium, the old Comiskey Park. As I grow older I tend to gravitate to those parks in my memory, which is not to take away from the newer stadiums and the billion dollars Dallas is pumping into their new stadium. It's just different, that's all. I prefer the old County Stadium to Miller Park, and I know I'm in the minority here. I find Miller Park depressing, especially when the roof is closed during a night game. Everything appears to have a yellowish tinge. It was the thought of sitting in that depressing atmosphere which caused me to change my mind and miss Zambrano's no hitter recently. I was all set to go and ultimately didn't because of the venue. Do I regret not going? Absolutely. If it were at County Stadium, I'm almost certain I would have gone.

  I read one humorous note about the closing of the stadium. The Yankee's chief operating officer sent a missive to the players basically telling them to keep their paws off anything in the stadium. With all their multi-million dollar salaries, the players were verboten to touch icons from which the team could make some quick cash:

  Like the fans, the players were told that they cannot take whatever they would like. They were told that if they would like something, they can provide us with a list and then we will see if we can sell it to them and they will pay the same price as fans.

  Double-snap.

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