Sunday, March 22, 2009

March's One-Liner for the Road

With eager patience I seek changes.

-R.H. Levitin-

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The House That Ruth Built Gets A Facelift ... And A New Address

Yankee Stadium is an elite member of a dying tradition – traditional ball parks. When the 2008 regular season halted the Yankees chance at post-season playtime, the third oldest park in the country – Yankee Stadium – was demolished.

Any baseball fan watching the final game at Yankee Stadium wept when the umpire recorded his final out. Baseball traditionalists and Yankee fans alike should be thanking the baseball gods in heaven above for the fact that the original House that Ruth built will not be a distant memory. The New Yankee Stadium is a nicer carbon copy of the older stadium and will help keep the memory of the greatest names that played there over its 85 year run in the game alive.

Chicago has Wrigley and Boston has Fenway, but any fan (besides Red Sox nation) can admit that Yankee Stadium has prestige, class, and history written all over it.

Jesse Rodman, 64, of New Rochelle, New York was raised by his father to do two things: love baseball and worship the Yankees. “The Yankees are a large part of my upbringing. We would go to the game and there were so many great deli's in the area. It is just a wonderful atmosphere to be in.”

There’s no need for fans to shed a tear over the loss of the original House that Ruth built. The most prominent features of the stadium were recreated to maintain the dignity of a ball club that created baseball history in the Bronx.

The ornate overhanging facade in the outfield and the Monument Park in center field were recreated in the architecture of the new park and will remain as the stadium's most popular features.

Mets fans didn't have such luck with their big move from Shea Stadium to Citi Field but at least George Steinbrenner was smart enough to realize the havoc and chaos that would envelop the New York state population if Yankee Stadium ceased to exist.

"I see nothing wrong in rebuilding what has been an icon all these years," Rodman said. "Fans may feel familiar and comfortable with the similar surroundings."

All fans want to see is the artistry in the flawless execution of a double play, watching a runner tag up at third base in order to score after the outfielder catches the fly ball, and gazing in awe as that small white orb knocks straight into space off the bat of some big leaguer reaching for the grand stand while in the company of fellow die-hards. They'll get all that and more with the New Yankee Stadium.

Who knows, maybe christening the new stadium will bring some luck to the men in the pin stripes. After all, it has been quite awhile since baseballs most successful team made it to a World Series, let alone the post-season.

The New Yankee Stadium will open its doors April 3 against the 2008 Central Division Champion Chicago Cubs for a two game stand and will open the regular season against the American League Central's Cleveland Indians for a four game series.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

There Is No Such Thing As Spring Break ... But There Is Spring Traning

Spring Break is a myth. An urban legend. An unrealistic circumstance that occurs a total of maybe eight times in any one persons life -- if they're lucky.

College co-eds approach Spring Break in a systematic manner: buy round-trip tickets to a tropical location that serves frozen cocktails 24 hours a day 7 days a week, arrive at said location, consume as many sinful alcoholic sips as humanly possible, then arrive home after a (plus or minus) seven day stay at your Alma Mater with a tan and stories of epic proportion (well ... at least as far as they're concerned).

High school kids round out the teenage bracket on the Spring Break experience. They're naive, young, and willing to do just about anything to appear "cool" in the eyes of their collegiate counterparts.

Surfing waves and catching rays isn't all the kids are day dreaming about during class. While their professor drone away, high school and university students alike would rather be anywhere than the classroom. They're at their antsiest the week right before their illustrious, well-deserved Spring Break.

And who can blame them?

One professor scheduled a research paper due right after the break, another put their classes midterm on the last possible day before the break, and every other assignment that they wait the last minute to do is probably due either before or immediately upon the students' return to classes.

Mid-March = Let the kids out of school or you'll never hear the end of their bitching and moaning.

There is no actual "Spring Break." It's a bunch of kids escaping the responsibilities of their school lives (academic and social). Just wait until the class of 2009 realizes this year's "Spring Break" is the last time a vacation will be built into their schedule. Savor it while you can, I know I'm sure as hell trying.

I have never been on any "Spring Break" trip or to any location that would ever be considered a viable option [Editor's Note: This excludes my 8th grade class trip to Costa Rica. I don't count it because I was 14 and was unaware of what a stereotypical "Spring Break" was. I just thought I got off school and could play with my dog for a week, not actually go anywhere.] I have been to Cubs Spring Training though.

Not every Cubs fan can say they've been to HoHoKam Park in Arizona. What this fan can tell you is, it's no Wrigley but you can't pass up Cubs baseball after laying dorment since October waiting for your sport to start up again.

Fans, rookies, veterans, coaches, and managers all asemble themselves for Spring Training to celebrate what's great about the game. New players get the chance to hit the field and show their managers they know how to play. Veterans soak in the sun while signing the occasional autograph for that cute 5-year-old girl who went with her daddy just to see the big men play her dad's favorite game. It's baseball at it's purest because there's no pressure of having to make the post-season.

This is the first time minor league hot-shots show-off to the veterans, prove they've earned their spot on the roster to their manager, and introduce themselves to their loyal fans.

It's also the first time since October that those of us out there who maintain their sole fan-ship to the game of baseball get to drink, shout,and cus while celebrating the return of the good ol' American past-time.

I look forward to an Old Style and a hot dog at Wrigley, but until then ... Go Cubs.

All photos are compliments of R.H. Levitin's personal baseball photo collection.

Pictured Left: Cubs All-Star second baseman (and Hall of Fame Inductee for the class of 2005) Ryne Sandberg during the 2006 Spring Training at HoHoKam Park in Arizona.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Sidewalk Walk-Off: An Ultimate Duel Between City Dwellers on Foot

I don't understand why anyone think it's so hard to walk in a straight line. People have to do it everyday. The police set a precedent of walking in a straight line as a test to prove sobriety. Drunk people fail, but they have an excuse -- they're drunk. Sober people have no such excuse.

A daily stroll screeches to a frustrating halt when the person walking toward you never becomes the passer-by, but rather an opponent in a head-to-head duel. The scene set transforms from two strangers passing each other on the way to their respective destinations into a fight for who gets to stay on that part of the sidewalk and who must hang their head in defeat.

Picture this: You're on the right side of the sidewalk. You're minding your own business, pumping top 40 singles you purchased off iTunes the night before bobbing your head with satisfaction. You stroll along flipping those flip-flops over the cement playground you call Washington, D.C. There's no need to pay attention since you've got your ear buds blasting that cute Jason Mraz tune with that light-hearted reggae progression when, all of a sudden, you spot the enemy.

They're about your height, maybe a few inches taller, doing the exact same thing you are. But for all you know, they like Coldplay and have a higher regard for themselves because of their refined tastes. The walker approaches you at a rapid pace, leaving you just enough time to notice your greatest fear -- she's walking on the same side of the sidewalk as you are. To make things worse, your eyes meet. There's no escaping her wrath. You have become a competitor of The Sidewalk Commuter.

Two choices remain -- you either move out of The Sidewalk Commuter's way or you continue walking until they get out of yours.

You run the risk of looking passive by moving but keep in mind, The Sidewalk Commuter is in the wrong. No one past the age of 16 should ever question this: you drive (AND WALK) on the right side of the road (or sidewalk). So don't be passive.

Be aggressive!

Show that Sidewalk Commuter who's boss by doing this...

They'll know who's boss after this curbside confrontation. Plus, there's quite an adrenaline kick to playing a game of chicken where you (the person walking on the right side of the sidewalk) approach a complete stranger with no intention of getting out of their travel lane until they call it quits.

It's a simple joy to treasure after achieving your title as "The Sidewalk Walk-Off Champion."

Glory will follow your reputation after your win but will also provide sidewalk commuters everywhere the right to a sidewalk free of pedestrian traffic congestion.

All you really wanted was some walking room anyway.

This has been a comedic rant from the mind and imagination of The Chicago to D.C. POV's R.H. Levitin.