The honeymoon is over, the bloom is off the rose, and the scales have fallen from the eyes. After nearly two years of abject and often undeserved adoration, Joba Chamberlain heard the unfamiliar sounds of booing here at Yankee Stadium. This fate that befalls them all filled the interval between the landing of the last of the nine hits Chamberlain surrendered in blowing a 4-0 lead to Toronto in just three and two-thirds innings, and his removal from the game. Though the carnage (five unearned) was largely enabled by a silly-looking error by Cody Ransom at third base, Chamberlain was hardly undeserving of the catcalls – having already given back three of the runs before the hideous fourth. Ironically, the end of the Joba Rules Era which had begun here on August 13, 2007, may ultimately be forgotten in the general lustiness of the swatting here in the Bronx; afforded the 8-4 lead, rookie Brett Cecil (without Beany) promptly gave up a three-run blast to Matsui. If not, Yankee fans may have to transfer their exuberant affections to Brett Tomko – although that somehow doesnt sound like quite the same thing.
Do not undervalue the historical import of Spring Training games in big league parks – especially brand new ones. Johnny Damon, videographer, records part of the Yankees’ christening of the second (third?) Yankee Stadium while coach Tony Pena apparently spots a guy who borrowed money from him in 1989.
For your record-keeping pleasure, Aaron Miles got the first exhibition hit in the place, Derek Jeter the first Yankee safety, Robinson Cano the first home run. The first celebrity in the stands was Paul Simon – and parenthetically he sat through the whole rainy magilla. And, yes, as suggested Thursday, the ball rockets to right field. Cano, Matsui, and Cody Ransom hit bullet home runs off Ted Lilly (notice: two lefties going to the shortened-by-wind short-porch in right off a lefty) and Miles and Reed Johnson both rattled extra-base hits into the corner. It’s going to be a take-it-to-RF ballpark.
Fly on the wall time – as caught by the stadium cameraman just before the man in the suit threw out the first pitch, and as the man in the Cubs’ cap was telling me that the new place was magnificent, and that the Yankees had managed both to “recreate the history of the old place, and capture the splendor of a brand new place.” Me? I just listened and learned.
By the way, Lilly looked like crap, Wang didn’t look much better, Brett Gardner forgot to mosey down to the infield to cover second on a rundown play as they were running back Miles to second, and the Yankee bullpen (Rivera, Veras, Ramirez, and Albaladejo, pitched four hitless – oh, and the place looks pretty at night from the visitors’ dugout: