The Cubs will be the first team to face the New York Yankees when the new Yankee Stadium opens, according to an article posted yesterday at NJ.com.
The teams will duke it out in a pair of exhibition games April 3-4.
The statement the Yankees organization released smacks of a public relationist's pen, but we'll include it anyway:
"The Yankees organization is excited and honored to host the Chicago Cubs in two exhibition games to be played at the new Yankee Stadium," Yankees co-chairperson Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. "As we welcome our fans into the ballpark for the first time, it is fitting to showcase two of baseball's greatest and most historic franchises."
Hal's right though. Who better to help the Yankees smash the proverbial bottle of Champagne against the hull of this ship on its maiden voyage than our own Cubbies? Just think of the storylines that we media folk will likely revisit: Sweet Lou's return to New York. Babe Ruth calling his shot against the Cubs in the 1932 World Series. Prodigal Yankee Alfonso Soriano returning to the playground of his youth.
For a behind-the-scenes look at what the Cubs can expect to encounter at the Yankees' new digs, New York Times writer Tyler Kepner offers a recounting of a recent tour he took of the stadium. It includes this tid-bit:
"The batting cage, a long walk down a corridor at the old Stadium, is now about 20 feet from the entrance to the dugout. Just out the dugout door is the video room for instant analysis of at-bats. It's all right there for the players."
For new Yankee Nick Swisher, the video room more likely provides an opportunity for instant analysis of his enthusiastic cheering for fellow teammates. That unwavering positive attitude, a boon for any organization, will surely be a welcome thing for a franchise that didn't have a whole lot to cheer about last season.
My only question: Why make this an exhibition? Why not make these babies count? Who says you can't open a season with a little interleague skirmish?