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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

URI researcher: China can't fully fix air quality problem for Olympics

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – July 14, 2008 – The outlook for air quality in Beijing during the Olympics is borderline, and there's little that the Chinese government can do to improve it. That's the conclusion drawn by a University of Rhode Island atmospheric chemist who analyzed pollution data collected regularly for the last five years by Chinese scientists.

"There is both a local component and a regional component to the pollutants that cause unhealthy air in Beijing, and the severity of their effects are driven by weather fronts and winds," said Kenneth Rahn, a retired URI professor who travels to China several times a year to help scientists at Tsinghua University interpret their data. "Since it's controlled by the weather, it will be a matter of luck whether the bad air periods correspond with days of outdoor Olympic events."

Locally generated pollutants in Beijing consist primarily of organic matter from transportation, factories and cooking, while regional sources of pollution include ammonium sulfates and ammonium nitrates from coal-burning power plants, industry and transportation sources, which are easily transported long distances in the atmosphere, according to Rahn.

"The air pollution pattern in Beijing is unusual, with high and low concentrations that can differ by a factor of 50 to 100," Rahn said. "When the winds shift to the north and bring in clear air from Mongolia, the air can be relatively clean, though that's not the norm during the summer. But when winds are from the south, where there is a large population and lots of industrial activity, the air can be particularly hazardous."

When air quality in Beijing is at its worst, Rahn says, most of the pollutants come from distant sources, making it virtually impossible for local efforts to lead to the kind of improvements that the government would like.

"It's one thing to take steps to try to clean up a big city, but unless they also clean up the surrounding provinces, it's going to have a minor effect," said Rahn. "They've tried to relocate some of the polluting industries over time, and Beijing has gotten a little cleaner each year because of it, but the background pollutants still blow in just the same."

The government's plan to reduce pollution during the Olympics focuses on cutting automobile use in half while also temporarily shutting down factories and other large polluters. Rahn said that it is an expensive plan, since the government must reimburse the factories for their economic losses, and the plan will remain in place through the conclusion of the Paralympic Games in late September.

A test run of the transportation component of the pollution reduction plan conducted last summer resulted in undetectable air quality improvements.

"I sympathize with them. They're doing all the right things, but unfortunately the right things may not be good enough," Rahn said. "There will surely be some good days and some bad days. But the meteorological uncertainties mean that you can't predict how bad it will be more than two or three days ahead, and that may not be enough time for them to reschedule the marathon or the long-distance bike races.

"My advice to them at this point is to keep up the good work and then pray to the Mongolian Weather Gods to send cold fronts. That's their best hope for clean air."

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Beijing organizers' set of rules aimed at maintaining orderly crowds

BEIJING -- For any Olympic fans wanting to make like Robin Hood, know this: Crossbows will be banned at venues. The Chinese government will be taking tough security measures when the Olympics begin in 3½ weeks. It issued another reminder Monday about fan behavior and what not to bring into Olympic sites. Hoping to stage-manage a perfect show, Beijing organizers have been preaching "civilized behavior" for several years as the Aug. 8 games approach: no spitting, stand in line, and be polite to other nationalities. Zhang Zhenliang, a Beijing organizing committee official, said Monday the rules were aimed at "maintaining an orderly, civilized and peaceful environment at competition venues." Zhang ran off a list of restricted articles, which he said was similar to other Olympics. The difference with these Olympics is the repeated emphasis on order, security and decorum for the Chinese. Banned items include guns, ammunition, crossbows, daggers, fireworks, flammable materials, corrosive chemicals and radioactive materials. Restricted items include a wide assortment: musical instruments, oversized carry-on bags, suitcases, handbags, flags of countries and regions not participating either in the Olympics or Paralympics, flags more than two meters in length or one meter in height, banners, leaflets, posters and unauthorized professional videotaping equipment. Also restricted are knives, bats, long-handled umbrellas, long poles, animals (except for guide dogs), vehicles (except for strollers and wheelchairs), loudspeakers, radios, laser devices or wireless devices. There are also rules about behavior at venues: no smoking, no crossing over guardrails, no use of umbrellas or standing for a long period of time in the seating area, and no flash photography.

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Phone Call From China Transformed ’84 Games

Courtesy of Charles Lee

Charles Lee persuaded the Chinese to defy a Soviet-led boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

The call he will never forget came for Peter Ueberroth in the middle of the night on May 12, 1984, over a crackling phone line from Beijing. It carried the news he believed would determine the fate of the Olympics, not just the Games he was working to organize in Los Angeles that summer but all the ones beyond.

At the other end of the line was Charles Lee, the man he had sent to persuade the Chinese to send their team to the Olympics for the first time. Ueberroth, the leader of the Los Angeles organizing committee, was asking China to defy a Soviet Union-led boycott that was announced four days earlier. The Soviets said the boycott would keep 100 countries away from the ’84 Games. If the Soviets succeeded, Ueberroth said flatly, “we were done.”

Salvation came when Lee called and told Ueberroth, “They’re coming.”

As the world prepares for the Beijing Games in August, that moment is all but lost in the history of the Olympics, when the winds shifted and carried the Games away from a political bludgeon in the cold war to the combination of athletic and commercial success they have become since.

Ueberroth, now 70 and the chairman of the United States Olympic Committee, will lead the American team into China with a deep sense of gratitude. He believes China saved the Olympics.

“When I got the phone call that they were coming, well, it still gets to me right now,” Ueberroth said in a recent interview in his Newport Beach, Calif., office. “It changed the whole face of the Games.”

Now, no matter what political issues arise — and with China there are many: human rights, Tibet, its relationship with the government of Sudan — large-scale boycotts are no longer part of the discussion. Political statements come in smaller forms: which heads of state will attend or stay home, whether athletes will speak out about their political views. Recently, President Bush announced he would attend the opening ceremony. Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany have said they will not.

In 1984, the stakes were higher. The Soviets were recruiting countries to retaliate for the United States’ decision to stay away from the 1980 Moscow Games, a boycott that 61 other countries joined. The Soviets announced on May 8, 1984, that their team would not come to Los Angeles because of fears for their athletes’ safety, claiming they had agreements from 100 countries to do the same.

Ueberroth said he saw the list. At the top was China.

His response was to assemble a team of envoys who could appeal to officials in undecided countries and persuade them to come. Lee, a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles who is not Chinese but speaks fluent Mandarin, took a small group to China. Ueberroth asked a woman on his staff, Agnes Mura, to lead a group to Romania; she had been born there. Ueberroth went to Cuba.

“People think of the Olympics as a corporate structure,” said Bob Ctvrtlik, who played for the United States volleyball team at the ’84 Games and is now a member of the International Olympic Committee. “It really is not. It relies on relationships. It relies on trust. It relies on people who can cut through cultural differences and find common ground. That was the brilliance of that program.”

Ueberroth was unable to sway Fidel Castro — he keeps a framed copy of a headline from an article in The Los Angeles Times that read, “Ueberroth Strikes Out in Cuba.” But Lee’s visit was a triumph, and Mura delivered the perhaps more stunning news later in May that tiny Romania would defy the Soviet boycott.

Mura, then 35, had escaped communist Romania when she was 19. Her job at the time was to organize volunteer translators for the Games. She said Ueberroth, learning of her background, tapped her on the shoulder one day and asked her to go to Romania. The semi-secret trip to her homeland terrified her.

After a few days of talks, with the group sequestered in a lakeside house outside Bucharest, the Romanians agreed in principle to attend the Games. With a few financial details to iron out — the Los Angeles organizing committee and the I.O.C. would each pay $60,000 to defray the Romanians’ costs — Mura called Ueberroth.

“I said, ‘Agnes, I think they’re just being nice to you,’ ” Ueberroth said. “I thought the Soviets would crush them.”

Mura said she knew the magnitude of what Romania, then a country of about 23 million, was doing.

“We were very proud,” Mura said. “In three days we had accomplished a lot. One of the biggest concerns they had was security. There had been attacks at the Olympics before and because the Soviets’ argument was they wouldn’t feel safe in the U.S., the Romanians worried that the Soviets would stage an attack on them.”

When Mura returned, Ueberroth asked her to organize an extensive envoy program with hosts for every nation, who would be responsible for the teams’ well-being during the Games. Mura slept in the Olympic Village with the Romanian team, next door to its cherished star gymnast, Nadia Comaneci.

But Lee’s visit to China, Ueberroth believed, held the Games in the balance.

Lee, now 62 and retiring as a Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles, began studying Mandarin when he was in the Navy in the late 1960s and spent two years studying in Taiwan. His wife, Miranda, was born in China and grew up in Hong Kong.

When the 1984 Games were first being organized, Ueberroth became aware of Lee when Lee’s law firm worked on the organizing committee’s bylaws. When he needed someone fluent in Mandarin as an envoy, Ueberroth remembered Lee.

Lee visited China several times in the ’70s and ’80s and was fascinated by a country that had been closed to foreigners for so long. He said they were astounded with his language skills.

“At night, most places didn’t have electricity,” Lee said. “You got to the city from the airport by this one small road. There were very few Westerners there and very, very few Westerners who spoke Chinese. So I really enjoyed talking to people.

“Back then on the tours to China they took you to factories, like a light bulb factory. At night you’d go to a magic show and that was it.”

On his trip in May 1984, Lee said, he and his group were welcomed enthusiastically by the Chinese sports ministers in Beijing. After a series of meetings, the ministers told him China would come to the Games. Lee pressed them to give him a letter he could take back to Ueberroth.

“Initially when they said, ‘We’re coming,’ they believed since they said it, there’s no need for anything in writing,” Lee said. “I just kept asking and asking. Finally they very graciously gave me the letter, which was a fantastic thing.”

No one was happier than Ueberroth.

“It was a turning point in my life,” he said.

Only 14 countries boycotted the 1984 Games, which became a financial and political success. Ueberroth remembers the huge cheer the Chinese team received at the opening ceremony — the Romanians received one as well — at Los Angeles Coliseum. Lee remembers watching the Chinese team members as they experienced their first Olympics. When a few gymnasts asked to meet some American children, Lee brought them to play with his two daughters, then 4 and 2. He still cherishes the picture of that meeting. Lee was appointed the chef de mission of the United States team for the Beijing Games, serving as the leader of the American delegation.

Two years ago, when the U.S.O.C. signed a cooperation pact with the Chinese Olympic Committee, Ueberroth presented its chairman, Liu Peng, with a torch from the ’84 Games. Those involved said it was an emotional moment for both men. Beijing’s Games will be Ueberroth’s last as chairman.

Mura, who owns an executive management training firm, said she would watch the Beijing Games with a keen understanding of their significance, with China having come full circle as host after its key role in 1984.

“I know having lived in a communist country what it’s like to open your doors,” Mura said. “I can imagine what it will be like for those young people to see the world come to their capital for a celebration.

“For the people of Beijing, it is going to give them a feeling of connectedness that they started in ’84.”

It all started with news that reached Ueberroth in the middle of the night and stays with him still.

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Packers GM, coach deny Favre's request for release

In this Dec. 21, 2006 file photo, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre waves to spectators as he leaves the field following the Packers' 9-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings during an NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis.   The Green Bay Packers' general manager and coach don't plan to grant Brett Favre's request for his release. If he does rejoin the team, they told The Associated Press, it won't be as the starting quarterback. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer, file)
AP Photo: In this Dec. 21, 2006 file photo, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre waves to...

By CHRIS JENKINS, AP Sports Writer

GREEN BAY, Wis. - The Packers aren't about to let Brett Favre become a free agent. And while he's now free to return to Green Bay for another season, there's no guarantee he'll be the Packers' starting quarterback if he does.

In an interview with The Associated Press Saturday, Packers general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy said they don't plan to grant Favre the release he is seeking from his contract and are committed to Aaron Rodgers as their starter.

"We've communicated that to Brett, that we have since moved forward," Thompson said Saturday, in his first public comments since Favre requested to be released this week. "At the same time, we've never said that there couldn't be some role that he might play here. But I would understand his point that he would want to play."

And if Favre wanted to play for the Packers, he had the chance when he told them a few weeks after his tearful goodbye news conference that he was having second thoughts. With Thompson and McCarthy preparing to board a private plane to fly to Mississippi and seal the deal on a comeback, all Favre had to do was say yes.

He didn't.

"Ted always wanted Brett back," McCarthy said. "We always wanted Brett back."

A message left by the AP with Favre's agent, Bus Cook, was not immediately returned.

Favre, who led the Packers to a Super Bowl title after the 1996 season, held a tearful news conference to announce his retirement March 6. Favre has made high drama out of his waffling over retirement in the past several offseasons, but it seemed to be for real this time.

Until Favre told Packers offensive line coach James Campen a few weeks later that he was having second thoughts. Campen is a friend of Favre's who McCarthy said has been miscast as an official intermediary between Favre and the team in some media reports.

After several telephone discussions with Favre led them to believe he wanted to return, Thompson and McCarthy were preparing to go to Mississippi when Favre suddenly called McCarthy.

"He said he appreciated all the planning we were going to do," McCarthy said. "But he felt that at this point, he had reached a point of closure, to use his words, and he was going to stick with his initial decision."

Even after Favre's near-comeback in March, McCarthy and Thompson said they regularly communicated with Favre. Thompson even went to Mississippi to visit Favre in May, and didn't get the sense Favre was having serious thoughts about playing again as the two had lunch on his back porch.

"He mentioned several things where you could tell there's always indecisiveness," Thompson said. "He's wondering if he made the right decision. I think that's normal."

But the tone changed dramatically in June, when Campen said he was getting worried about Favre. McCarthy said he had a phone conversation with Favre on June 20, and the quarterback sent a clear message: "Give me my helmet or give me my release."

Even then, McCarthy said when he asked Favre if he was ready to make a 100 percent commitment to football — an issue Favre had brought up in his retirement news conference — the answer still was no.

"That always seemed to be the one thing that he had to come to grips with," McCarthy said.

Next came a text message exchange between Thompson and Favre on July 4. At the time, Thompson didn't think it was a big deal that he wrote Favre back saying he was traveling and asked if they could talk Monday.

But then Thompson began getting texts from Cook. Sensing rising tension, Thompson and McCarthy agreed to a conference call with Favre and Cook on Tuesday.

Only then, McCarthy said, did Favre say he was 100 percent committed to playing. McCarthy said he doesn't question Favre's commitment to football, but said Favre often brought up the issue himself.

"The way he plays the game illustrates the guy is committed," McCarthy said. "(But) those are his words. That was always his final hurdle that he said he had to get over."

The hurdle was apparently cleared weeks before the start of training camp.

"Was it convincing? I'd say yes," McCarthy said. "But that was the first time, July 8, that I'd ever heard him say (he was committed). And he continually, from (June) 21 to July 8, told James Campen that he was not going to play. So that's a pretty important piece of the puzzle."

Cook then sent the Packers a letter officially asking for Favre to be released, which would allow him to sign with any NFL team.

With Favre not being offered a defined role with the Packers if he returns at this point, and the team not inclined to release Favre so he could sign with a division rival, a trade may be the best resolution.

Thompson and McCarthy declined to discuss that possibility, and Thompson said he had not received any inquiries from other teams as of Saturday morning.

Where does that leave the Packers and their beloved three-time MVP?

In a pretty big mess.

"Quite frankly, it's a little gut-wrenching as an organization to go through it, and certainly for Mike and myself," Thompson said. "This stuff hurts a lot of people. I mean, it hurts. I'm not talking about physically hurting, but the sensitivity. We understand where the fans are coming from. This is a hot-button issue that surpasses anything I've ever gone through."

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The Early History of Bungee Jumping

Talk about a serious leap of faith. The first land divers plunged head first toward hard soil, all in the name of agriculture.
Picture 6.pngThe Jump and Grind
If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too? Chances are, if you’re a Vanuatan male and hoping for a really spectacular yam crop this year, the answer’s yes. Vanuatu, an archipelago in the Southern Pacific perhaps best known for its starring role in 2004’s Survivor: Vanuatu, also has another claim to fame. Its Pentecost Island is the home of a death-defying religious ceremony known as naghol (a.k.a. land diving) that inspired modern-day bungee jumping.

To be fair, land divers don’t really jump off cliffs. Instead, they construct 75-foot-tall wooden towers in their village centers, tilling the ground below the towers by removing any rocks or debris. Then, they tie long, elastic vines around their ankles. And then, on one or two days in late spring, they jump. The islanders believe that as the men’s hair brushes against the ground at the nadir of their fall, it fertilizes the soil and helps ensure a bountiful yam crop.

Naghol is also a great excuse for village-wide parties; as the men line up to dive, crowds dance and sing below. Before they jump, they raise their arms in a signal that silences the cheering throng, and – as if acknowledging that their next act may be their last – they reveal their most private thoughts. Then they clap their hands, cross their arms in a corpse pose, and take the plunge. At the bottom, assuming the diver survives, male relatives untie his ankles and flip him right-side up, to the cheers of adoring crowds. (We’d like to see the well-coiffed Survivor contestants try that.) When legendary naturalist David Attenborough visited Pentecost Island with a BBC camera crew in 1950, the world got its first glimpse of land diving. Naturally, it was only a matter of years (29, to be exact) before thrill-seeking westerners followed suit.

The West Gets Roped In

bungee-jumping.jpgBelieve it or not, the West’s first glimpse of a bungee jump occurred on April Fool’s Day, 1979, when onlookers at the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, England, witnessed what appeared to be a suicide. Dressed in a top hat and tails and hugging a bottle of champagne, 33-year-old David Kirke did a back flip off the bridge, 250 feet above the River Avon. To the great surprise of horrified witnesses, Kirke never hit the water; instead, he slowed just before reaching its surface, then began a re-ascent toward the bridge. Whereupon three similarly tuxedoed friends of Kirke – members of what they called the “Dangerous Sports Club” – made the jump as well.When police arrived the four were hanging from the ends of their homemade elastic ropes. In quick succession they were each arrested, fined £100, and became overnight celebrities. Of course, Kirke didn’t exactly stop there. He and his club also tried hang gliding from active volcanoes, BASE jumping and experimented with a human catapult capable of tossing a person 55 feet into the air in just 1.9 seconds. Seriously, kids, don’t try this stuff at home (or anywhere, really); that last one figured prominently in a 2002 manslaughter trial.

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Reggie Jackson hit the first pitch he saw in the fourth inning for a home run. On the first pitch to him in the fifth, he homered. First pitch in the eighth, he did it again. Three pitches - by Burt Hooton, Elias Sosa and Charlie Hough - and three homers that helped solidify the legacy of Mr. October.

It was Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, and chants of "Reggie, Reggie, Reggie" were heard as the Yankees closed out the Dodgers to clinch another championship.

No wonder Jackson loves Yankee Stadium just the way it is.

"It's sad to see it go," he said during a recent visit to Oakland. "Yankee Stadium is a beautiful place. Yankee Stadium ... just saying it. It's part of our country, an American destination. I don't need to see the new one. I kinda like the old one."

Both New York baseball parks are going out together - replaced by structures that open next season - and the Mets, typically, are in the shadows. They came later. They've won less.

Yankee Stadium has been called baseball's cathedral, and attending games in the Bronx has been called a spiritual experience. Shea Stadium is something erected because an expansion team arrived to replace the departed Giants and Dodgers.

"It's nothing compared to Yankee Stadium," said Jackson, offering a biased but accurate opinion.

Yankee Stadium is where Babe Ruth hit his then-record 60th home run, where Lou Gehrig gave his "luckiest man on the face of the Earth" speech, where Don Larsen threw the only World Series perfect game, where Roger Maris hit his 61st homer to break Ruth's record.

It's also where Knute Rockne gave his "Win one for the Gipper" pep talk, where Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmeling, where the Colts beat the Giants in overtime for the NFL championship in the "greatest game ever played," and where Pope Paul VI celebrated Mass before 80,000.

At least all that happened at Yankee Stadium I, which opened in 1923 and was christened by a Ruth home run. It should be noted that the original stadium was gutted and remodeled in the '70s as the team played two seasons at Shea. Yankee Stadium II opened in 1976.

Nonetheless, the Yankees are calling this the farewell season for "The House that Ruth Built," though Ruth died 28 years before the birth of Yankee Stadium II. Regardless, it's the same name on the same site with some of the same features, so we'll play along.

The difference with Yankee Stadium III is, it's across the street.

Unless the Yankees make a successful playoff charge in the final 2 1/2 months, the stadium's final hurrah in the national spotlight will be Tuesday's 79th All-Star Game. Whether you consider Yankee Stadium dating to 1923 or 1976, its closure still is more momentous than any other park's in recent years.

"It's more disbelief than anything," said Giants general manager Brian Sabean, who worked for the Yankees for eight seasons. "Wrigley Field's still standing. Fenway Park has had its renovations. I guess (the Yankees) were too encumbered to take on a mass renovation or couldn't do it in a feasible fashion."

The Mets will move into something called Citi Field. The Yankees, refreshingly, said they won't sell naming rights to the new $1.3 billion yard, the most expensive in U.S. history.

The dimensions will be identical. Monument Park, which sits beyond the outfield wall and honors the great Yankees, will be moved across the street. A limestone-covered façade, replicating that of the original facility with "Yankee Stadium" inlaid in gold, will serve as the enclosure.

It's expected to maintain some of the old charm. In fact, seating capacity is lower.

But make no mistake: The new stadium will be a far bigger cash cow for baseball's richest team, thanks to 56 private luxury suites (19 at the current place), 410 party suites (none at the current place), 1,800 seats ringing the infield at $500 to $2,500 a pop, gobs of retail square footage, and publicly financed parking garages. Plus, restaurants and drinking holes (including a martini bar) at every turn.

"Everyone's excited about the new stadium," outfielder Johnny Damon said. "It'll be the best one out there."

As Jackson said, the old one's not so bad.

It's not paradise for hitters, however.

"You see the ball really well," Derek Jeter said, "but it's not an ideal place to hit home runs. It's so deep, especially in the gaps, unless you pull the ball."

The gaps are 399 feet to left-center, 385 to right-center. Down the line in left, it's 318. In right, 314. In the old days, the "short porch" down the right-field line was 295, which made for an easy target for left-handed swingers such as Ruth, Gehrig, Yogi Berra, Maris and switch-hitting Mickey Mantle.

Then again, other dimensions were ridiculously vast. When the Babe played, it was 490 to center and 460 to left-center. Just before the '70s renovation, it still was spacious: 463 to center, 457 to left-center.

Through it all, the short porch in right remained inviting, though Jason Giambi isn't convinced.

"I don't think it's as good a left-handed-hitter's park as everyone makes it out to be," Giambi said. "The porch is definitely short in right field, but teams pitch you differently, and they put on that shift. I think it's a really great ballpark for a guy like Alex (Rodriguez, who bats right-handed and has been known to go deep to right). For me, a better park is Boston, where they have the (close) left-field wall. I mean, if I pull the ball, I'll pull it pretty far anyway.

"I'm more pull-conscious because of the dimensions, and I've tried to get away from that."

That's not how Giambi was in Oakland, where he was known as a solid off-field hitter. Giambi implied the Yankee Stadium measurements, particularly down the right-field line, sometimes get in his head.

On the other hand, there's Damon. In his first year as a Yankee (2006), the leadoff hitter had a career-high 24 homers, mostly at home.

"I definitely like that short porch," Damon said. "I know the type of hitter I am. If I need to go the other way, I can. But I naturally pull. I've hit balls (to right field at Yankee Stadium) that I thought I missed on, and they went out of the ballpark."

Ask anyone who played at Yankee Stadium for a memory, and the words flow. Lou Piniella was asked, and he couldn't stop reminiscing.

He mentioned his two titles in the late '70s and Jackson's three-homer game. He mentioned Bobby Murcer's home run and game-winning single to beat Baltimore after the death of close friend Thurman Munson.

"That was special to me," Piniella said.

He mentioned the game in which Ron Guidry struck out 18 Angels, a Yankees record.

"The place was electric."

A's reliever Alan Embree, who pitched on both sides of the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry, said he's saddened that Yankee Stadium will be replaced.

"The history of that ballpark is something none of these new parks (has) to offer," Embree said. "Fenway and Wrigley, those parks are what's left in the history of the game besides the numbers. I view those parks differently because, hey, some of that dirt is the same dirt we played on. They're the same lockers. The same everything from when some of the best players played there. It's a shame to see something like that go away."

The Yankees once shared the Polo Grounds with the Giants. But once Ruth arrived and the Yankees became more popular, John McGraw's Giants wanted the Yankees out. So they moved across the Harlem River to the Bronx, 161st Street and River Avenue, into what's believed to be America's first "stadium."

Before then, teams played in "parks" and "fields."

McGraw said the Yankees were going to "Goatville" and wouldn't be heard from again. Ruth then homered in the first game, and the Yankees picked up their first World Series title that year, beating the Giants, their old landlords.

Now the Yankees have 26 championships and a shrine that's about to be replaced.


"It's pretty incredible, being part of the final season at Yankee Stadium," Giambi said. "If you're any kind of baseball fan, you have to appreciate it."

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