A strong and fond memory of being a kid and growing up in New York City was my first trip to Yankee Stadium. You came out of the tunnel that led to the stands and you looked up to see the beautiful blue sky standing in contrast to the white façade above the upper deck. Then your eyes focused downward and the field came into view—and it was the deepest green you could ever imagine. The Stadium really was an urban field of dreams. Recently, major league baseball decided that more than the field should be green.
Baseball is, in many ways, a preindustrial 19th-century sport. Its pace is slow, leaving lots of time for beer and relaxed conversation between pitches and between innings. This week baseball came full circle. Billy Crystal may have stuck out, but he was a Yankee for a day. And this week both the Mets and Major league baseball went green.
The Met’s new stadium, Citi Field, will be built using recycled steel, water efficient plumbing and other green principles.
“The Mets understand that their responsibility to New Yorkers doesn’t end with the third out in the bottom of the ninth,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “They’ve taken the initiative to be bold, innovative and environmentally responsible.”
In another green baseball initiative, Major League Baseball and the Natural Resources Defense Council recently announced their Team Greening Program.
“Baseball is a social institution with social responsibilities and caring for the environment is inextricably linked to all aspects of our game,” said Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. “Sound environmental practices make sense in every way and protect our natural resources for future generations of baseball fans.”
The Team Greening Program is a web-based software tool featuring advice and resources for every aspect of a Club’s operations.
“The commitment by our national pastime to enhance its ecological profile in a meaningful and public way marks a watershed in the history of baseball and the environmental movement,” said Allen Hershkowitz, Senior Scientist, NRDC. “No other sporting institution has influenced American culture as much as baseball and the League is once again putting that influence to very good use.”
What does all this mean? In some ways, it’s hard to evaluate. Is this the counter-spin to the steroid scandal? Is this any more than a bit of green-washed public relations?
A really green baseball might add a few more day games to the mix and try to play without needing those energy draining sun-like lights that illuminate the ball field each night.
Maybe some discounted tickets could be sold to customers who take the subway to the game.
Still, even little steps are meaningful when you think about how important baseball is to our history and national self image… So let’s give the Mets and the majors credit for paying attention.
So, now: how about the Mets’ wealthy neighbors up in the Bronx? Hey, Steinbrenners: When are we going to see some green pinstripes?
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