|Hey, kids! You've heard all week how Veterans Stadium has the worst rug in sports next to Marv Albert. Now, not only does Cap'n Jimmy show you what's really hidden under the Vet's artificial turf, he brings you the other side of the story in an exclusive interview with the beleaguered stadium ...
Cap'n Jimmy: Been kind of a tough week for you, huh?
Veterans Stadium: Nothing I'm not used to. For the past three decades, I've been this city's biggest punching bag this side of Rocky Balboa. But I can handle it. I've been through far worse. Hell, I was Lenny Dykstra's personal spittoon. Next to that, what's a few complaints about my turf?
Cap'n: Still, to be told your field is too dangerous for the NFL to play on. That's like being told your sexual appetite is a little too wild for the Gold Club.
Vet: So, some overpaid football players refused to play on my turf. What do I care? Just means a welcome night off for me. Today's athletes are all a bunch of damn prima donnas anyway. It's not my turf they don't like, it's that my locker rooms aren't the size of South Dakota and don't have marble tile floors and redwood hot tubs and built-in hair dryers for them like all the new stadiums. Well, tough. Get used to it, boys. This is the way sports was meant to be. Played by rugged athletes without agents who only need a nail to hang their overalls on.
Cap'n: The amenities do all seem a bit much in the new stadiums, don't they?
Vet: That's the problem with stadiums today. They all want to be pretty little "retro" ballparks. They all want to have diaper changing rooms and brew pubs and espresso stands and private lounges and plenty of toilets for the broads. It's like Martha Stewart designed them all.
None of them want to do the dirty work, either. They all want to specialize in one sport. What kind of crap is that? A stadium where you only play 10 games a year? Give me a break. I might not be the best-looking stadium in sports anymore, but I'm the hardest-working. I'm one of the few stadiums left in the country that does double duty -- a full baseball and football season. No wonder I'm a little beat up. I'd like to see what kind of condition Coors Field would be in in 30 years if it had to play host to the Broncos and the Rockies.
Cap'n: Not to mention tractor pulls.
Vet: Damn straight. You think they would let a monster truck into precious Camden Yards? Not on your life. Well, I wasn't built that way. I come from a time when we were expected to be a field for all seasons. We were multi-purpose and damn proud of it. We knew our role. It's what happens on our field that counts, not in our luxury suites.
And don't get me started on naming rights. The hard-working people who built me also named me to honor the servicemen who gave their lives keeping this country secure. I'm proud of my name. But the way things are going, every morning I expect to wake up, look at my walls and find the name of some bank charging 19.3 percent credit-card interest. Look what's happening to Soldier Field. Screw the guys who died for their country when there's an energy company with a spare $300 million left over after fleecing their customers.
Cap'n: All that might be true, but you have to admit Philly fans are a little rough around the edges. After all, they booed Santa Claus once. And a peeping tom was caught spying on the cheerleaders in their dressing room.
Vet: Well, excuse me for having fans who care about who wins and loses. Who expect their millionaire players to give 100 percent without a $50,000 incentive clause. Who drink real beer and get drunk instead of sipping a $10 microbrew. So they get a little out of line every now and then. That's why I have a special jailhouse on site. But I'll say this in their defense. At least my fans have passion instead of freebie tickets handed to them at the corporate office.
Cap'n: In a way, I guess you're not all that sad about the plans to replace you. You wouldn't be happy much longer with the way sports and fans have changed, anyway.
Vet: No, I wouldn't. Oh, I'll miss the excitement of gameday and everything that took place on my field. But the baggage that goes with being a stadium today? Forget it. It isn't worth it.
Just remember one thing. I might be the butt of jokes now, but they'll have to build two stadiums to replace me.
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