It’s the new Yankee Stadium for West Virginia’s bowl caravan. The Pinstripe Bowl as the sun sets behind the outfield fence in the Bronx at about 3:15 p.m. Renewing acquaintances with old Big East rival, Syracuse.
Kansas State is the Big 12 champion. The Wildcats go to the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona to face quicksilver Oregon.
The Pinstripe Bowl in New York on Saturday, Dec. 29. It’s not much more temperate San Diego, Tempe, Charlotte, Houston, San Antonio, Memphis, Dallas, or Arlington (Texas) where the other eight Big 12 bowl-attending teams landed.
It’s new Yankee Stadium — without the ghosts of Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Lefty Gomez, Miller Huggins, or even George Steinbrenner floating through the slats of the facade above the third deck of stands in right field.
The old Yankee Stadium, built in Ruth’s heyday in 1923, even had former Mountaineers Danny Buggs, Jeff Hostetler, and Sam Huff winning games there for the New York Football Giants.
But this is the newer Yankee Stadium with its loges, luxury boxes, and damp turf that will ge flung in all directions by two teams that would rather be playing elsewhere as their rewards for winning seasons.
The old place hosted the NFL championship game in 1958 between the Johnny Unitas-led Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants of Andy Robustelli and Chuckin’ Charley Connerly. That overtime win by the Colts has been called “The Game of the Century” and has resisted all efforts to displace it from its hallowed place in history.
This is the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl. Between Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Dana Holgorsen, and an often-porous Mountaineer defense and the Syracuse Orange with the same 7-5 record as West Virginia totes into the Big Apple.
Syracuse had a 5-2 Big East record, and that tied for first place. Near the end of the season, the Orange were standing still with a 3-4 overall record but they closed with consecutive wins over Louisville, Missouri, and Temple to gain a league championship with several others.
The Orange losses were to Northwestern by a point, to Southern California, to Minnesota, to Rutgers, and to Cincinnati — all bowl teams, as the Syracuse propaganda team will surely point out to the ticket-buying public.
West Virginia’s collection of athletic administrators, school hierarchy, coaches, players, and bowl travelers wished for a bowl reward in an area more conducive to outdoor activities and attractions than Battery Point and Sheepshead Bay after Hurricane Sandy tore through the city.
But there is no Holiday Bowl in San Diego. No Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston. No Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. No Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe. No Liberty Bowl in Memphis. No Heart of Dallas Bowl in Dallas. No Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
West Virginia’s 7-5 record was the same as Oklahoma State had. Same as TCU had. Same as Texas Tech had. And better than Iowa State’s 6-6 mark. And West Virginia has to find its way to the Pinstripe Bowl in The Bronx on Dec. 29.
The bowls that kept passing on the Mountaineers might have scanned the Orange Bowl ledgers and found that West Virginia could not sell all its allotted tickets for its January, 2012 date with Clemson. And how many alumni in places like Tempe, Memphis, and Houston would be scooping up tickets for a bowl game this year?
It’s the Pinstripe Bowl. With sightlines not all that great for baseball much less the one football game played all year in Yankee Stadium.
Get your $250 per night hotel room way off broadway. Take your cab or the subway out to Yankee Stadium. Come back to your digs after the game by the same mode of transportation that got you there through the chill and wind of the big city.Take a tourist jaunt over to Staten Island or by the shoreline in Brooklyn.
And sit through the cold and wind . . . while the other Big 12 fans are bowling in San Diego, Dallas, or Arizona.