7/16/2008 03:44:00 PM

Dear Babe...

Posted by Mark McCray |

Mike Lopresti/USA Today:

Dear Babe ...

Were you watching? Hope so, because somehow one gets the feeling this might be it. The last big blowout for your house. Six American League teams have better records than the Yankees at the moment, so who can count on October?

But whatever happens or doesn't happen in the fall, this All-Star party was a grand aria — between Josh Hamilton doing an impersonation of you in the Home Run Derby and Tuesday night's riveting pre-game ceremony with 49 Hall of Famers gathered.

The living core of the game was right there before us, aging men standing at their old positions, tipping their caps and meeting the new stars who weren't even born when some of them played.

And then the Boss — a frailer George Steinbrenner — came in on a golf cart to hand over the first ball, getting hugs from nearly every Hall of Famer wearing a Yankee cap.

"As good as it gets," Alex Rodriguez was saying afterward, adding the ceremony left him choked up. "New York knows how to do it best."

Then they went extra innings into Wednesday morning. It was as if fate was not ready to close the doors.

"I can't imagine never playing another game in Yankee Stadium," old Yankee Goose Gossage said. "I can't come to grips with that."

By the way, Gossage is headed for the Hall of Fame. More aura. Your house has sent Yankees to Cooperstown like Harvard sends attorneys to the bar exam.

Next door, the new Yankee Stadium is going up, and from the outside it looks a lot like your house.

It comes with more restrooms but no memories. Will someone dying one day feel he is still the luckiest man in the world?

"You have all the memories, and you just can't pack them up and take them over there, even though it's only a block away," Hall of Fame Yankee Dave Winfield said. "We'll miss it. But the new one is going to be something."

So a proper last bash was needed, because Sept. 21 against the Orioles won't quite be momentous enough.

But don't worry Babe, this All-Star game was quintessential Yankee Stadium, distinguished by defense and dozens of strikeouts. And the pre-game majesty was up to the task.

"That's a moment that 30 years from now," Rodriguez said, "I'll look back and think, 'Wow.'"

Hope it looked good from there, Babe. They mentioned your name a lot.

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