Monday, June 9, 2008

Sunday in the park with Joba

Today, for the single good reason of letting the Shooter Eldest say she's been to the old Yankee Stadium, I took her to their game against Kansas City. Here are some notes.

> Joba Chamberlain was better today than in his first start, but still not all that good; Kansas City at home is a team that you should not be comfortable giving up much of anything to, really. For a guy with great stuff, he really does seem like someone you can bleed pitches from, just from spoiling the fastball with foul balls. He also doesn't look comfortable with anything but heat and the slider; maybe he'll go to the third and fourth pitchers if he's ever working with a lead, or just a more traditional pitch court. But if Jorge Posada doesn't fail to squeeze a high fastball, he might have made it to five innings and gotten a win today. (The Jose Guillen homer he gave up was a very big no doubt job, though.)

> The Royals had two players today that did much of anything: Joey Gathright, who made three fantastic catches that kept the game close. He didn't get on base, but he was unreal. The second was Guillen, who might be the only Royals offensive player that didn't look afraid or just plain melty today. Yes, it was, um, freaking hot.

> The game turned on a classic, old-time Jason Giambi at-bat in the bottom of the sixth, as he worked a fading Zach Greinke into a long battle, then took him out to right. Back in his glory days at Oakland, he did this more or less routinely, and if he's back for one last run as a plus offensive player (with a cheesy porn stache to boot), the Yanks have much more interesting offense.

> Your hidden hero so far in the Chamberlain Transition has been Dan Giese, a Scranton pitcher who has acted as the designated Joba long man. He got eight outs today with no baserunners and three punchouts, and in a more just world, would earn himself a look after the next starter flames out. (He's not really very good, but neither is Darrell Rasner.) In both Joba starts, Giese has been effective and prevented the Yankees from having to run a parade out there.

> For the Yanks, Bobby Abreu had the first inning home, Giambi the go-ahead shot, and A-Rod the two-run double that gave them a comfort margin. If Gathright hadn't taken away three hits with exceptional plays, it wouldn't have been close. This just in... the Royals aren't very good.

> For people who care about such things, with a 3-run lead in the top of the eighth and six outs away from a series win, Joe Girardi went to... no, not Kyle Farnsworth, but the actually effective Jose Veras. No idea if that's a permanent change, or just something to do after a slugfest on Saturday, but if it's my club, I make that move. Maybe a month ago. You know what you've got with Farnsworth, and it's not good.

> A final note, for one of my favorite stadiums (and I've been to, gulp, 17 different parks over the years, many of which are no longer in existence)... until today, I never really got why anyone in their right mind would want a new yard. I've been to a half-dozen plus games there over the years, and just love the place, even though I'm really not a Yankee fan and its mind-bogglingly expensive. (My seats today were similar to what my old seats in Oakland were like, but only at a 600% cost premium.)

When you were there, you know it's for baseball, the sight lines are good, the fan base is highly entertaining, and the Bronx just doesn't seem as scary as it used to. It's no fun to drive there, but that's true of all of New York, really. So why do you need a new yard, other than to try to get more money out of a fan base that's already paying an absurd amount of jack for games?

Well, all of that is true... and then there's bringing your eight-year-old kid to the game. She's a great kid, but she appreciates having a little run-around time in a Kids Club; that doesn't exist in Yankee Stadium.

Having her with me makes me all too aware in the bathroom gender inequity issues. The hardcore security situation (and no lockers for bags) creates a dumb situation where a local bowling alley makes money, for no good reason. (And no, doing without any of her stuff in the 5 hours of round-trip train rides that I endured today isn't very possible, either.) The concourses are choked and narrow, and that is especially true when they bring in additional vendors to add options, or have to move supplies around. And when it's in the high 90s without any place to go to get a respite, that's pretty nasty, too.

The new yard might or might not address any of these issues; Yankee Fan has certainly learned to live without such features in the past 80 years. But on the off chance that anyone in MLB still cares about the next generation, they might want to think about such things. My kid had a nice enough time, but that's mostly because she's the proud owner of a foam #1 finger, rather than from anything that happened inside the building. And for what I spent today, her first trip to the Stadium is also going to her last...

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