Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hey Jealousy: We Go To The New Yankee Stadium

Yesterday, three of the guys from my fantasy league, a spouse and a kid joined me in going to the new Yankee Stadium, our first trip to the new yard. Here are some observations.

1) Was this place really necessary? No, of course not: the old place didn't lack space, history, site lines or anything else that you'd want from a ballpark. But it's not as if the world is going to resist the idea of new yard for less baseball for more money in New York, when that equation has worked in every other baseball market. The new place is easier to get around in the concourses, has better bathrooms, and... well, I don't sit in seats that show my Overlord status, so that's about all of the improvements that I saw in the place.

2) The game was noteworthy for Jorge Posada, seeing his first at bats in a week, hitting a grand slam as part of a 6-RBI day. From where I was sitting out in left field, the place just didn't roar like the old park, and if there's ever going to be a roar, it should be for a turn back the clock performance from a credible Hall of Fame guy at the end of his career. Maybe it was just our section, but at one point, a guy in the row ahead of us tried to get a "Hip Hip Jorge" chant going to no avail, then snarled, "What a bunch of deadbeats." Well, sure. You pay this much for seats and expect us to cheer.

3) The Yankees were kind enough to start Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez in this game for me and my fading A's fandom, which was nice. Neither man did all that much in the 9-2 laugher for the home team, but it was still nice to see them go to a better place. Kind of like giving up your children for adoption to insufferable rich people. They look happier, don't they? And isn't that what's really important? Maybe only rich people should have children. Or the Yankees, ball players. It's only right.

4) The Rays didn't do much of any note in this game, as you might expect. (OK, you might expect: I was hoping for a Phil Hughes meltdown, and he looked fine.) But there was one thing striking about this club, and that was how poor they were defensively, despite being young and athletic. Sure, BJ Upton can go get it in center, and Desmond Jennings in left is also fine... but Matt Joyce in right blew a ball for a single, Sean Rodriguez at shortstop is plainly out of position, and the catching wasn't doing nibble-riffic Jeremy Hellickson any favors. As for Hell Boy, he looked terrified of pitching in this bandbox to 45K swells from the word go, and spent most of the day with men all over the basepaths. If you didn't know any better from the standings, you'd think Same Old Rays.

5) In case you are wondering just how expensive it is to go to the most expensive baseball stadium ever, here's the breakdown. $30 for the round trip train ticket from the outer outer outer boroughs where I live, $5 for the round trip subway to get from Penn Station to the Bronx, $60 and change for the seats in left under the overhang with relatively little vision impairment from a fence, $17.50 for a pretty poor pretzel, sausage and drink... and that's it, since I wasn't going to go into crazy debt for any kind of souvenir. So the grand total is just under $115 for a three hour baseball game, for one guy, and not exactly living large.

By the way, when I lived in NoCal and went to Oakland A's games, this would have covered 2-3 games worth, with more food, the occasional present, and a day out with my eldest daughter. Let's just say that I won't be cultivating any further baseball fandom in her, or her sister. They've priced me out, in a big way.

But it's really not possible to compare what the A's do with what the Yankees do, after all. The Yankee fans will never see a beloved player from their farm system spend the prime of his career somewhere else, strictly for money. They'll never go to a game in a stadium that will be anything but a world-class experience for world-class money. They'll never have a spring training where it's plainly obvious that they aren't going to contend, a trading deadline where they sell off good players for questionable assets, a September filled with going nowhere call-ups while a disinterested fan base chants for football. They'll never have a weeknight game with an embarrassingly low turnout, sections closed off because the seats never sell, or any of the other hallmarks of what the last half-decade of A's baseball has been like.

And if all of that sounds like me wondering why I don't just throw in the towel and root for the Yankees already (since, after all, they aren't the Red Sox, rooting against Peter Angelos in Baltimore is sane and correct, the Blue Jays might whine more than anyone else in the league and the Rays are just going to become the A's in another 1-2 years)...

Well, hell, I don't know either. Oh wait, I do -- the $115 to see a game and eat some food, and the fact that way too many Yankee fans are like rats in a cocaine experiment. (Oh, and the Gin Blossoms suck. Enjoy!)

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