Sports stadiums (and baseball parks, in particular) are something of a hobby of mine. I've spent way too many hours online searching for pictures of them, reading people's opinions on them, and basically, just trying to find as much information on them as possible. And with the closing of both Yankee and Shea Stadiums over the past week, they've been in the news a lot.
Now, I'm generally not the most nostalgic guy when it comes to most things, and I don't blame the Yankees and Mets owners for wanting new stadiums and the extra revenue that they bring (although, I don't think the Steinbrenners or Wilpons are going to starve anytime soon), and I know the 2 new ballparks will be nicer and shinier and more 'fan friendly' and all that good crap, but I'll still miss that the New York stadiums aren't around anymore.
This doesn't just apply to those places, either. With the exception of a few, it seems that almost every major league ballpark, stadium, or arena will have been built in the last 10 to 15 years. I guess that, generally, this is a good thing. It brings more people out to the games and gets more people involved in the sports. But still, I'll miss all the crap that came with boring old stadiums.
I can't argue that dual-purpose stadiums aren't very idea, especially for baseball, but I like the fact that some of them still exist. I know that fans of these teams might not agree with me, but I like the folded up seats in the outfield in the Metrodome. I like the acres of foul territory at the Oakland Coliseum and those staircases in the outfield. At Yankee Stadium, I like that gap between the bleachers and the left field stands. I like the old bleachers, the remnants from the old, pre-renovation Stadium, that are way the fuck out there. I like that nothing there is perfect.
And, I think, that's my problem with new stadiums, mostly. Everything is too perfect. All the charm that these places try to create is contrived. The seats in right field in San Diego that jut out for no reason and basically the entire outfield in Houston. In most cases, these new stadiums are improvements on their previous homes (I won't try and argue that Three Rivers was a better place to see a game than PNC Park), and I look forward to seeing them when they open, but part of me misses the fact that I mostly missed out on era of stadiums.
Just for reference.
I like to think that I'm generally smart with my money. I don't make too many impulse purchases aside from the occasional pack of gum, but for some reason, I can't contain myself when it comes to DVDs. If there's something that I think I might like or have heard is good and I see it for under $10, I usually buy it. Just off the top of my head, looking through my collection, there are about 20 movies that I own that I haven't watched yet. Most of these were bought at a discount price that I probably wouldn't have thought of buying at their full cost, but still, it starts to add up after a while. Even being modest, at $10 a pop, that's $200 gone from my wallet that probably could be better spent on something else.
I like to blame my short attention span or the fact that I can be easily distracted on why I don't get around to watching these sooner or later (hell, I've got at least 3 or 4 more movies taking up space on my DVR that are probably just as likely to get deleted as they are to be watched by me anytime soon), God knows I have enough time to watch a movie or 2 a week, but it's still perplexing to me as to why I keep buying them. I'm running out of room to store them all.
I know renting is an option, that seems like just as much of a waste of money, as it's likely that I'll never get around to watching them before I return them. I like the idea of owning them, though, in case I want to go back and watch them again. Which I guess is dumb since I hardly ever get around to watching them in the first place.
I don't know how specific this is to my family, I assume it happens with other people, too, but I'm not sure how frequently.
A little backgroun information:
The sport of choice is hockey, basically the only sport that the majority of my dad's side of the family cares about. There are 3 teams; Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canadiens have the most support, having my grandmother, one brother, 2 uncles, an aunt, and 2 cousins. The Senators have my dad and grandfather. The Leafs have me. My mom, one aunt, and youngest brother are neutral here, and pretty much stay out of it. So, basically, any family gathering with anyone on that side of the family inevitably turns into a discussion on how the Leafs haven't won anything in 40 years. Doesn't matter the time of year, doesn't matter the standings if it's during the season.
The only person I have on my side, even remotely, is my grandmother. Apparently, she's mad enough at my grandpa from jumping ship from Montreal to Ottawa a few years ago that the Leafs are her number 2 team, something my uncle can't seem to understand. I understand that the Habs and Sens don't have the playoff history and rivalry that the Leafs and Sens do, but it's still interesting to me that they seem to be willing to overlook the fact that they still are division rivals to gang up on one team (this seems to happen most places, too, not just my family, I've noticed).
For example, the other day I was at my parents' house, doing some laundry, and the Leafs/Bruins game was on TV. My brother (Habs fan) and dad (Sens fan) were both watching the game with me, and actively cheering against the Leafs. Never mind that, for bother Montreal and Ottawa, it was probably better that Toronto one in terms of the standings. I realize that part of it is showmanship on their part, just trying to get under my skin, but I still find it interesting, considering that Boston is a division rival of both of their teams, too (and, Boston and Montreal are probably two of the biggest historical rivals in the NHL).
I guess I'm just curious as to how common it is to have so many different favourites who happen to be rivals within one family. I realize that a lot of it has to do with geography (Ottawa's an hour away, Montreal 2, Toronto 3-4) and if we lived in some place with less choice there'd be less favourites, but I've always wondered what it would be like to live in a house where more than one person are cheering for the same team. About the only time you're going to get us on the same page is when there's an international tournament going on.
Last week, my uncle and I made a trip to New York. I mostly just wanted to go to Yankee Stadium before it closed and figured it would be easier to go this year. With next year being the last year before their new stadium opens there would probably be more of a rush for tickets, I figured. My uncle is trying to visit as many Major League ballparks as possible (I think he's up in the 20s now) and this would probably be his only chance to go to the Bronx before they tore the old stadium down.
The drive down wasn't too painful, although, Pennsylvania is really horrible with their 'roadwork'. Huge chunks of the interstate had lanes blocked off with no one seemingly doing any work on them. I-81 on the way back was especially bad, we probably had a 45 minute delay at one point and there wasn't a whole lot of work going on.
Yankee Stadium was about what I expected. Our seats were alright, the 2nd deck is covered by the upper deck and there was a bit of rain during batting practice, so we kept dry, but it had stopped by game time. The atmosphere during the late innings, when the Yankees came back to eventually win, was great, but I could have lived without that. The Jays left so many men on base, the game really shouldn't have been close at that point. Mariano Rivera coming out of the bullpen is pretty fun and I got to see Roger Clemens pitch. Over-all, it was a great experience, even if the outcome of the game was disappointing.
I took the NBC Studio tour at Rockefeller Center, but I wouldn't recommend it. You're not allowed to take pictures, although the only place I would have liked to was studio 8H where they film Saturday Night Live. That was the highlight of the tour, as seeing some guy sit in a control room wasn't worth the $18.50. The Today Show studio seems weird with all the lights off and blankets covering all the chairs and tables and most of the set. And Ann Curry's desk is made of scratched up wood.
The NBC store is nice if you are a fan of any of their shows. There is so much crap there, so of course, I bought a ton. $4 for a stress ball just because it says 'Dunder Mifflin' on it, I fell right into their trap.
We took a trip down to Coney Island to see Keyspan Park and the Brooklyn Cyclones play. We walked around the boardwalk a bit before the game and got a hotdog at Nathan's. The ballpark itselfballpark itself is really nice and was pretty full, even though the weather wasn't great (it rained a bit early on, but was fine after the 2nd or 3rd inning). I could do without a lot of the usual minor league stuff (stupid contests or whatever between innings, but I understand why they do that).
Air Supply was having a free concert in the park just down the street for the ballpark, and my uncle, being in his mid-fifties, decided we had to go. Thankfully, it was almost over when we got there, but I could have lived without going at all.
So, a good time all-in-all, I'd definitely recommend checking out Keyspan Park, but maybe try getting tickets online, if possible, as the people working the ticket window were quite awful. Yankee Stadium is nice from a history perspective and to say you've been there, but I'm sure there are a lot nicer ballparks out there.