Epic Carnival | Where Sports and Pop Culture Collide: Take the Apple, Leave the Rest

Take the Apple, Leave the Rest

by JA, The Feed

I'll preface this whole thing by saying that I'm a Yankees fan. Have been since going to my first game as a tyke and seeing Reggie Jackson jack one from the park. Still, as a lifelong New Yorker and baseball fan I've spent a fair amount of time at Shea Stadium taking in the National League game.

Now I've made my Yankee bias known so it probably doesn't come as much surprise that I prefer their stadium to Shea. Yankee Stadium has the bleachers and an upper deck that comes over the lower seats offering a fantastic view of the game. Shea has no bleachers and an upper deck that's closer to the planes landing at LaGuardia than the game. Yankee Stadium might not be in the loveliest part of this fair town but it's not in the middle of a parking lot and doesn't have those cheesy Miami Vice neon baseball players on the facade.

From lower Manhattan Yankee Stadium is a 25 minute train ride each direction. The train to Shea isn't bad so long as you catch the Astoria Bullet but the local train back to Manhattan takes much too long for a weeknight game. And if it's a crowded game just getting to the 7 platform is another 30-40 minutes. Then there's all the history I have with the Stadium - the aforementioned first game, Game 6 of '96, Game 5 in 2001 - while my best Shea memory involves Ivan Calderon waving at me and my brother after we spent six innings screaming his name.

That was cool, I guess, but Shea hasn't carved out much of a place in my heart. Save for one part of it, the apple. Out in centerfield, there's a top hat emblazoned with "Home Run" and when a Met hits one the letter light up and the apple raises up to celebrate the feat. I loved it when I was a tot, a teen and today as a father-to-be it still makes me smile. It was the kind of thing you'd never see at Yankee Stadium, where they take everything too seriously up to and including the inane groundskeepers dance to YMCA and "Cotton Eye Joe," a tradition that I'll never appreciate or understand. So I read with some dismay a report in Sunday's New York Times that intimated that the apple won't be making the trip to Citi Field when it opens in 2009.

Dave Howard, the team’s executive vice president of business operations, said
the apple will be retired when the team moves to its new stadium, Citi Field, in
2009. That is, unless a pair of fans named Lonnie Klein and Andrew Perlgut can
Klein and Perlgut have started Save The Apple, a website devoted to, as you probably guessed, saving the apple. They've got a petition in hopes of preserving the tradition when the Mets move to their new stadium. I've signed it and hope that you do too because it's a throwback to the time when the Mets were the red-headed stepchild of New York baseball, when they didn't spend money like the Yankees, didn't have a cable network like the Yankees and didn't take themselves as seriously as the Yankees. It's okay for the Mets to remember, even revel in those days and the apple is the way to do it. It's been there since 1980 and has celebrated home runs by Joel Youngblood, Lenny Dykstra, Bobby Bonilla and David Wright. That's more important than shiny new bells and whistles, here's hoping the petition succeeds and the apple lives to celebrate home runs for years of Mets to come.

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