Monday, February 09, 2004

The View from On High | Our flight from Boston yesterday afternoon skirted the Atlantic coastline until we were just north of Atlantic City. There, we hung a right and descended gently over the myriad land types that comprise Southern New Jersey -- the dark green Pine Barrens, neatly arranged tract housing, ribboning highways whose cloverleaf interchanges unspool with amazing symmetry. We crossed the Delaware River just south of the Walt Whitman Bridge, giving me, in seat 17F, a look at the Sports Complex that was vastly different from the one I got the last time I flew, last June.

Stripped of its familiar blue seats, Veterans Stadium was a pitiful sight, ashen and empty. Its concrete shell had never looked colder or more unwelcoming. The Vet is not long for this world, and thank God for that; as it awaits its death, it exudes an unsettling air of helplessness that you want to get away from as soon as possible.

New life will come in the form of the more compact and angular structure just south of the Vet. Construction of Citizens Bank Park is proceeding on schedule, according to the Phillies. From my vantage point that was impossible to confirm, but, regardless, I could help but be cheered by the warm brick exterior, the natural grass, the more fan-friendly proportions. I turned to the missus and told her excitedly that my brother and I might be able to see the Ben Franklin Bridge from our new seats. To her credit, she refrained from rolling her eyes and saying, "So what?"

They're going to play baseball in a real ballpark in South Philadelphia, and more nights than not, at least this year, it should be good baseball.

On both counts, it's about damn time.


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