Bode is in his early thirties, and was born in East New York, Brooklyn. We share the same beliefs on a number of issues and we run together. His Nigerian background makes us noticeably different, but that is the only real major difference – and the fact that he is a real hero.
He refers to me as sir, because for some reason he sees me as a mentor of his. This is the only – the only – person with which I avoid discussing politics because I feel that there is nothing that I can really tell him that he doesn't know (which never stops him from asking what he considers my “expert” opinion when we run together). Try running with a Marine and discussing policy at the same time.
Bode never told friends that he was shot in the leg in Iraq, and the way the guy runs, who would know? But recently the wound somehow turned cancerous. He had been calling friends while in the hospital because he said he didn’t know if he was going to live. I received messages and meant to give him a call back.
But what makes this guy heroic is that he doesn’t tell you he was recently in the hospital with cancer until about 30 minutes into a conversation about all kinds of other things. I’m sure Chris Coffland was the same way. If Coffland had returned, he would have had his Afghanistan stories, but they would have been part of a life that blended right back into civilian life. No big deal…just saving the world is all. Here is hoping for a safe return and a quick one as well to all of the military in that region.
Bode is okay now, and, as he causally explained, he gets to keep his leg. It’s an honor to know this guy, and maybe I need to return phone calls with more regularity.
Now It’s Home
Baseball is the only reason to ever take a break from politics. Why is this important right now? Well, because we are almost 90 days to when pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Now that the Yankees have won their 27th world championship in their new stadium, people want to know if the die-hard Yankee fans can accept this as “Yankee Stadium.” (I am a Yankee fan – not a “Yankees” fan. I refuse to change my language for the sake of corporate branding.)
The old stadium, with its narrow aisles leading to hard plastic seats, was a very uncomfortable place to sit and watch a game. It was the magic for which you were there, not the comfort. It was the Yankee organization’s way of saying that you the fan, like Yankee managers, are not a permanent fixture so better not get too comfortable.
But the old stadium had the ghosts of players past that seemed to haunt opponents, especially the Red Sox, whenever needed. Call it superstitious, but baseball is superstitious. Look how hard the Yankees scrambled to unearth that Red Sox tee shirt that a construction worker threw into the wet cement. The Yankees were not building this expensive palace for it to become the therapy couch that Fenway Park was for so many heartbreaking years.
Talk to some of the older Yankee fans, and many do not accept the new stadium. Home plate is no longer where Babe Ruth stood. The pitcher’s mound is not where Whitey Ford pitched. It’s all new. In fact, the new stadium is built on old Macomb’s Dam Park, where high schools played baseball in the Bronx. It’s fair to say that new Yankee Stadium is where Anthony Stasi once stood…not as sexy, huh?
But winning the World Series in the stadium’s debut year is probably the only way that a true Yankee fan can welcome in a new ballpark. I know that most readers of this paper are Met fans, but let’s face it, in October we all watch the same team. Now that the old park is dismantled, there is not much else to do but accept the new park, but the truest sign that all things will be okay in a new Yankee Stadium came from Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.
Manuel arrived at Yankee Stadium for the World Series and said that the new park had the exact same feeling as the old park. He said that he still felt the awe. That’s a big deal, especially since he has been in baseball since 1969.
The new park still has its kinks. The pricing is ridiculous, and no fan can be blamed for attending fewer games. The uber-expensive seats behind home plate are wider for comfort. So wide are the seats that fans’ heads look as though they are sitting on one of those novelty Pee Wee Herman-style giant chairs.
For policy purposes, it's a new park – and that meant new construction at a much needed time. It creates revenue. It’s a nice park with more room and fewer seats. It was built right, and if you are the kind of person that would ask if Yankee fans are so spoiled that we require a world championship in order to accept a new stadium as home – the answer is yes, we are. See you in 90 days.