Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Stadium

What A Weekend. The unofficial beginning of summer hit New York City in force this weekend, with three awesome days of 75-85 degrees and sun despite some pessimistic weatherasses predicting otherwise. For me it was one of the best weekends in recent memory, as I felt for the first time like I was really living the suburban lifestyle as I played in the new sprinkler toy that Hammer Wife bought the kids and grilled up all kinds and meats and vegetables almost non-stop over the three day weekend. Throw in a trip to the zoo, a visit from family and getting my girls together with their two best friends from back when we lived in the city and it was really a superb weekend with an a amazing number of fun memories baked in to a relatively short period of time.

But one thing stuck out for me that I wanted to cover here from the weekend -- my initial trip to the new Yankee Stadium to see Your World Champion Philadelphia Phillies come to town for the beginning of interleague play 2009. I went to the game on Saturday, and the fans were already plenty angry after having their 9-game win streak snapped the night before by the Phillies who hit 5 home runs while Brett Myers mowed down the Bombers and never let the Yankees into the game. I got to see the Phils trounce all over the Yankees again, before leaving in the 9th inning and then having to watch in horror on my phone as Phillies closer Brad Lidge gave up 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th to lose a heartbreaker, but what can I say, I got to see a great game and lots of good pitching and hitting from the Champs. Of course on Sunday Lidge blew another save -- his 5th in just 13 opportunities so far in 2009 after going a perfect 47 for 47 in the 2008 campaign -- but the Phils pulled it out in 11, taking two of three in a great performance that really wowed the Yankees and their fans to just what it takes to be the Champions of the World.

Which gets me to my main point about the new Yankee Stadium itself -- the fans. Or should I say, the lack thereof. This has been all over the news in New York for weeks already of course, but for those who don't know, the ticket prices in Yankee Stadium are absurd, even moreso than in previous years, and as a result, unlike in previous years, the team is nowhere near being able to fill up all the seats. Well, even though I had heard this discussed all over the place on sports radio for a while, actually being at a brand new stadium in New York -- for the Evil Empire no less -- and seeing what had to be a good 20% of the seats empty, it was just surreal. And what's more -- of the 80% of the seats that were filled on Saturday, a good half of them had to be Phillies fans. When you looked into the outfield stands, you saw huge streaks of red shirts and hats, not the typical black and white pinstripes of the home team. When A-Rod hit into a double play in a crucial spot, you heard more cheering than boos. When Derek Jeter hit a home run to finally get the Yankees on the board, it was more boos than cheering. I couldn't believe it. From radio reports it sounds like this phenomenon is similar to what happened in several other venues around the country, and it seems like it is here to stay for a while while the economy is as bad as it is and people have the need to get cash for their season tickets, but as someone who has been to Yankee Stadium at least a few teams over each of the past 7 or 8 years, I could hardly believe my ears and eyes just looking around at all the empty seats and the sea of red in the stands.

As for the stadium itself, I really don't have much to report. Frankly, other than walking right by the old Yankee stadium to get from the train station to the new structure, it almost felt exactly like sitting in old Yankee stadium once you were inside. The field looks the same, the advertisements, the structure itself, they are look more or less the same from the insider. There was some cool homage to the old classic Yankee players and teams around the stadium, but then, the Yankees' old home had a similar feature. The bathrooms, the concessions, the shopping and other similar features were clearly upgraded and modernized, but as far as sitting and watching the actual baseball game, this is just not the big change that a place like Citizens Bank Park has ushered in in Philadelphia. The seats at the new Yankees home were still too narrow and hard to really be comfortable, although unlike the Mets' new stadium across town, every seat in the new Yankee Stadium appears to have a great view of the action. One of the most characteristic features of the new stadium has to be the incredible wind tunnel action going on at various points of the hallways all around the structure. It's common knowledge that home runs are being hit at the new stadium at a better than 50% clip above 2008's pace in the old stadium, and now having been there I have no doubt why that is. The wind whips around that place like it's going out of style, so much so that walking from the concession stands to your seats can be quite difficult without having some random mustard packet or napkins being blown right off your tray. And while I'm at it, the food at the stadium was good, although not superb, and in my view no better than what was already available at the old Yankee stadium. No one is ever going to touch the french fries from old Veterans Stadium in Philly during the Eagles games, I'll tell you that right now, and the fries at the new Yankee field are a far cry from those to be sure, although I did hit up some good sausage and peppers and the burger was pretty solid as far as sports arenas go.

In all it was a good place to visit, and I had fun walking around the new stadium. It was certainly fun being on the "good" side of the clear divide at the Stadium between the "cheap seats" and the super expensive ones, as my brother had tickets through his company that were on the corporate box level, although I can see how many would complain about the super-strict segregation of the haves and the have-nots at the new stadium, even compared to other new baseball arenas in the country. But the stadium itself is very nice, everything is new and modern, and the product on the field has certainly been sparked by the return of multiple-time MVP and admitted steroid dickhead Alex Rodriguez. I mean, the Yankees have still won 10 of 12 even after dropping 2.9 out of 3 games to my boys over the weekend. And it's not like you can really blame the Yanks for not being able to handle the offensive onslaught from the Phillies over the weekend. We are the World Champions, after all.

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Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

Sounds like you had a fantastic weekend.

I guess the Yankees' brass haven't heard that the economy is *very* bad. What are they thinking (or NOT thinking in this case)?

12:04 AM  
Blogger 1Queens Up1 said...

Had to listen to the end of the game on my drive home from PA through NJ with 3 yankess fans in the car...not good times.

Phillies need a good catcher (not impressed with Ruiz or Coste)and to put Brad on the DL, something ain't right with him and sitting him out for a few games in April didn't fix it.

Glad you enjoyed the stadium I'll probably hit it up sometime toward the end of the season.

1:33 AM  
Blogger PokahDave said...

I like the Phillies...except for Brett Myers. He's a wife beater...he punched his wife squarely in the face the night before he was supposed to pitch in Fenway about 4 years ago....

1:54 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

There is nothing better than going to enemy stadiums to watch your team play. I would rather go to one road game than 34 home games! Although I would probably never travel to NY to watch my teams play on the advice of one John Rocker :)

PokahDave: You must not be married! Brett Myers is a secret hero of mine.....

2:17 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...


No comment.

6:42 AM  
Blogger PokahDave said...

heh...I am married with two daughters.....funny stuff Chad....

3:32 AM  

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