November 06, 2009
Yahoo! Sports MLB editor Steve Henson is checking in with periodic updates from today's Yankees victory parade in Manhattan.
11:22 a.m. ET Commerce has pretty much shut down in Lower Manhattan today. Thousands of members of the work force are showering ticker tape and toilet paper from their high-rise office windows all over the Yankees as the World Series champions and their families inch up Broadway from the U.S. Customs House on Battery Place to City Hall Park.
Kids all over the city who stayed up too late Wednesday night to watch their Yankees win the World Series skipped school Friday to catch a glimpse of their heroes riding in cars and pinstriped-themed floats that mostly New Jersey-based fans began assembling after the Yankees took a 3-games-to-1 lead over the Phillies.
Good thing, though, that Dept. of Sanitation workers aren't playing hooky. Hundreds of workers with brooms are already cleaning up mounds of toilet paper piled cut loose from office windows along Broadway long before the parade even began.
It's 44 degrees with a slight, sharp wind blowing, and parade veterans know to grab a spot in the sun because stretches of sidewalk shaded by buildings are a good 15 degrees colder.
Yogi Berra, 84 years old and winner of 10 World Series as a Yankee, was the first to emerge from the Customs House where the team convened this morning, a scene described by a Yankees official as "a cocktail party without cocktails." Yogi might say, "This parade gets so crowded nobody goes there anymore," but the assembled fans appear to total in the hundreds of thousands, and the mayor's office undoubtedly will estimate it in the millions by day's end. Berra was also in the lead float during the Yankees' last parade, in 2000.
A.J. Burnett(notes) was the first current player to jump into a vehicle, but Series MVP Hideki Matsui(notes) eventually cut in front of him and will be the first player to ride. One of the last floats in line looks like a huge sailboat, with the sail a huge Yankees jersey.
New York knows the drill. More than 200 ticker-tape parades have been held in the ``Canyon of Heroes'' since 1886, when folks tossed ticker tape out of windows during a parade to dedication the Statue of Liberty. The most recent parade honored the football Giants for their 2008 Super Bowl victory.
TV reporters grabbed players as they walked to their floats. Not much controversial, as you'd imagine: "Thank you New York, we love you and we hope you are out here celebrating," pitcher Joba Chamberlain(notes) said, his hands tucked into his pockets as he braced for warm reception along the long, cold ride up Broadway.
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12:08 update: Talk about moving the needle. Alex Rodriguez(notes) began the season in shame, admitting to steroid use years ago with the Texas Rangers. Today he's basking in the adulation of fans lined up 20 deep along Broadway, waving, smiling and casually chomping on gum from the railing of Float No. 4.
Rodriguez is sharing his float by hip-hop rapper Jay-Z, whose song with Alicia Keyes, "Empire State of Mind" has become something of a Big Apple anthem despite being panned by Rolling Stone as "a pallid New York shout-out."
As the ride progressed A-Rod's face went from bemused yet stoic behind dark sunglasses to smiling broadly and waving his hands above his head. The thaw between Rodriguez and Yankees fans has been a long time coming, and today it seems complete.
Amazing what batting .365 with six home runs and 18 RBIs during a single postseason can do to change perception.
Not far behind A-Rod and Jay-Z's ride came the $340 million float as Mark Teixeira(notes) ($180M) and CC Sabathia(notes) ($160M) rode together. After them, Derek Jeter(notes) and Jorge Posada(notes) shared a a long, comfortable flatbed with plenty of room aboard for friends and family, including Jeter's parents and Posada's wife and two children.
Once the parade ends, the Yankees will duck into City Hall for lunch, then emerge for a ceremony, speeches and assorted whooping and fist-pumping.
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1:12 p.m. ET: A subtle difference between this celebration and the Yankees' most recent one in 2000: Players riding the floats no longer hold video cameras and tape the fans taping them. Nick Swisher(notes) was spotted filming a short from his phone, but, well, that's Nick Swisher.
Maybe the absurdity of filming a parade from the inside struck players after they dropped in a tape at home one night and realizing how incredibly boring it was to watch hordes of people cheering.
Or maybe video cameras are just passé, so 2000. To the current Yankees' credit, I never saw a single one talking on a cell phone or typing into a Blackberry during the parade. This was a day to honor tradition, and gadgetry didn't belong.
The supposed 1 p.m. ceremony at City Hall won't start on time. Yankees highlights were shown on a huge video screen while the crowd waited for the players to emerge from the City Hall building and take their seats on stage.
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2:15 p.m.: Keys to New York City were handed out to everybody on the Yankees roster and to everyone in the front office, from GM Brian Cashman all the way down to the assistant trainer and Hideki Matsui's interpreter. Hal Steinbrenner and his sisters received keys. The ceremony ended with Hal returning to the podium to accept a key for his father, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Conspicuously missing, however, was George's other son, Hank, who until sticking his foot in his mouth several times had been the family's most visible member the last two years. No key for Hank and no clue to his whereabouts.
Enduring images from the ceremony included A-Rod's dapper chapeau and the war whoop he let out as he snatched his key from Mayor Bloomberg; Derek Jeter sitting next to manager Joe Girardi in the front row, two close friends coolly enjoying another euphoric moment; and CC Sabathia towering over Jay-Z after the rapper concluded the ceremony with another rendition of his Sinatra wanna-be anthem, "Empire State of Mind."
One big complaint is that players either had nothing to say or they weren't allowed to say anything. Derek Jeter took the microphone at the beginning and said, "It's been too long, hasn't it? I'm a spokesperson for the team. . . . You really forget how great it feels." Then he said the Yankees fans were the greatest in the world, and that was it. Nobody else said a thing. I wasn't exactly expecting Sabathia to reprise Shaq and bellow, "Can you dig it?" but he at least should have had a chance to say something.
So everyone dispersed to the five boroughs, presumably without incident. It was a happy day, a city on the same page, a parade ritual without a hitch. New York might be the city that never sleeps, but after this ceremony nobody can again call it the city that never sweeps: Hundreds of workers wielding push-brooms flooded Broadway to clean up the shredded recyclable paper that had been handed out to numerous businesses as a facsimile of ticker tape. The authentic stuff hasn't rained from the windows in over 40 years.
A lot of wind was blown by politicians and Yankees broadcasters about a dynasty. Even Girardi referenced a conversation he had with George Steinbrenner earlier in the day in which the overriding topic was winning another World Series title next year. There was the sense that a November Yankees procession down Broadway could again become as regular as Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Yet even given the Yankees' enormous edge in revenue and payroll, repeating won't be easy. No team has done it since the Yankees won three in a row from 1998 to 2000.