Monday, June 18, 2012

Rosenblatt's Death Bed

Last week, the Omaha Zoo gave in to the people who wanted one last look at Rosenblatt Stadium before it's demolished.  Last year, so many people tried to sneak in during the College World Series that they decided that it was easier to open the gates one last time than try to secure the place.  So they came by the thousands to take one last look, and to take the field.

Except it wasn't really Rosenblatt Stadium anymore.  Oh sure, it was at 13th & Bert Murphy Drive.  The signs on the back of the old scoreboard and Stadium Club still said "Rosenblatt".  But it wasn't really Rosenblatt.

This was like going to visit grandma in the hospital on her death bed.  She's shriveled up in the indignity of a gown that exposes everything that doesn't need to be seen. What you loved about the place had long disappeared.  Almost all of the seats have been removed, and the field bore no resemblance to what your memories thought it should look like.  The only green in the outfield was weeds; the grass was long since dead.  The turf that was designed to withstand downpours to remain playable also meant that the field needed continuous drinks...and that's something that a closed ballpark doesn't need.  Even if you brought in truckloads of new sod, that wouldn't fix the field as a tractor show last year left the field rutted.

You saw all the different mismatches of the various expansions of the stadium, now that the seating and wrapping had been removed.  ESPN's Mitch Sherman said that the final viewing of Rosenblatt was wrong, and he's absolutely right.  There really wasn't a point to doing it, other than to say you stood on the field.  Except it wasn't that field anymore.  Someone dug up some of the sod the Omaha Nighthawks laid down on the infield to rough in some basepaths...and even tried to build something that kind of resembled a pitching mound.  Then they hung up a "Storm Chasers" flag in the outfield for some reason.

The effect was like makeup on Tammy Faye Baker.  A garish insult on the memories.  This was not how one should remember Rosenblatt.  Remember that final College World Series game.  Remember the final Omaha Royals game.  Remember those Nighthawks football games when it looked like minor league football would work in Omaha.  Happy memories.  Not this.

Or wait until next year when the new Infield at the Zoo opens up.  It'll be Little League sized, which will be perfect for families to create all sorts of new pleasant memories.  The grass will be bright green, and the enough of Rosenblatt will be retained to spark those memories.  Is it the same exact thing?  No...but don't forget, the field that South Carolina won a CWS title on two years ago isn't the same field that Roger Clemens played on.  Renovations in the early 1990's moved home plate 12 feet out so that additional seating could be added.

But don't remember Rosenblatt for what it was as they tore it down.

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