THE NEW YANKEE STADIUM: THE REVIEW
I don’t know if they will make it to the World Series, but if you saw the game on Tuesday you will know why the New York Yankees are the sports team of the year (an End of the Year Award blog preview). The Yankees took time to celebrate 3 individual milestones achieved this season; Melky Cabrera’s hitting for the cycle, Derek Jeter passing Lou Gehrig as the Yanks’ all time hit leader, and Mariano Rivera’s 500th save (that I witnessed). They brought out all the old time greats like Berra, Winfield and Jackson, but what made it special was how everyone in the dugout watched from the top of the stairs, and after Andy Pettitte gave a short speech, the entire team posed for a picture. For a team that has such a so-called “corporate” reputation, that was a refreshing gesture and it makes the team worth rooting for. Something I am sad to say, not even the beloved Joe Torre could instill in these guys. The last time I saw so many millionaires stand by each other like that they were ENRON executives handcuffed together being charged with various white collar crimes
I thought I would boycott the new stadium due to the fact that there is a fucking gourmet butcher shop in it. Seriously, when has going to a game ever made you say “I suddenly have an overwhelming urge to bring home a pound of ground chuck?” It took the last home game of the season to finally make me cave…I’m so weak.
So let’s start with the good stuff…The sandwiches smelled great, but I figured I would stick to my traditional Yankeedog. The buns were a bit too toasted, but otherwise it was still the best hot dog in New York, grilled to perfection. Believe it or not, the concession stand prices are actually relatively reasonable, something nearly impossible at Yankee Stadium.
The dimensions are the same as the old stadium, and there are a few thousand less seats, so the view of the field is still flawless, and there is still not a bad seat in the house.
There are a lot of employees willing to answer questions and give directions, there really is so much to take in and I have to say they make it easier. It’s certainly a very friendly, almost jovial atmosphere, due in no small part to some type of employee sensitivity training. I remember when stadium policy was to kick someone in the nuts whenever they asked a question. The team got into it as well, making a video where each player thanks the fans for their support.
Freddy “Sez” is still there banging his pan as usual. I just realized that I have never been to a home game that didn’t include him, and I’ve been going to Yankee games since I was 12.
The museum is great, don’t be intimidated by the long line, it goes fast.
However, some observations if I may...
For a stadium that has so much open air space, the passageways are still a bit narrow, something that was supposed to be corrected in the new ballpark. Also, having so much open space, as John observed, actually makes the place sound quieter because there are no walls to bounce the crowd noise off of and keep it in the stadium.
Before my visit, I was told by another friend that the new place still had that old stadium “feel.” I’m afraid I have to disagree. There was a distinct New York attitude in the old stadium that I just wasn’t feeling in the new one.
The various different choices available at the concessions stands were great and the prices were reasonable, but where the hell can a brotha get, not a tabledance, but a Coke? This corporate sponsorship is fascist when it takes my choices away. All that I could get was Pepsi. I distinctly remember both soda brands being easily available at one time, and no Snapple? What the Hell?
As for the game, well Joba Chamberlain just pitched himself out of the rotation for the first round of the playoffs. And even though all the Yankee superstars started the game, by the 7th inning the bench was playing mostly. Even so, the Yankees still managed to put the winning run on base in the 9th inning, but ultimately came up short, 4-3. It was nice to see Phil Hughes pitch an inning, and I never tire of seeing Mariano Rivera, but what I didn’t know was that Alfredo Aceves is a Soda Stereo fan. I wonder if anyone else noticed that the song he came to the field with was “Sobredosis de TV” from my all time favorite Latin rock band….that was so cool.
So the final verdict is: The new Yankee Stadium is still a great place to see a ball game. There were many aesthetic improvements that were desperately needed and addressed in this new ballpark. The variety of food available with the many different concession stands was nice, the atmosphere was great, and the ballpark pays homage to the great players and teams of the past, as it well should. But John put it best when he said the old stadium was “home.” There is nothing you can do or say to change that for us. I know that future generations will be saying that about this place, which is just as it should be, but I guess my age is just showing.
Playoff Predictions: The Yankees take the AL of course, the National League is totally wide open, but the Philadelphia Phillies have the best pitching, so I think they take it.