Jan
04

Will Leitch hates Yankee Stadium for very obvious reasons

By

Last night, Gelf Magazine hosted its monthly Varsity Letters reading series. With Will Leitch’s reading from his new book and Dan Shanoff and David Zirin on the roster, I ventured down to Happy Endings in Chinatown for the readings.

Good times were had, but that’s besides the point. The point is that Will Leitch does not like Yankee Stadium, and I have to wonder if, despite the history of the stadium, he’s tapped into something about the whole experience that speaks to everyone. In the new book, one of the chapters is a running diary surrounding a trip up to Yankee Stadium. It’s a narrative familiar to many.

In a nutshell: Ride the overstuffed subways up to Yankee Stadium after buying tickets at way above face value; find a sketchy place to check your bag for too much money; spend 20 minutes waiting in a pointless security line; shell out the most money at any MLB ballpark for food and beer; get inundated with loud between-innings promos; get serenaded yet again with “God Bless America”; hear Cotton-Eyed Joe for the one billionth time; inch down the ramps after the game; retrieve your checked bag; get home.

As Leitch puts it, that doesn’t sound like fun. From the money to the crowds to the incessant noise emanating from the scoreboard, Leitch doesn’t understand why Yankee fans are so attached to the House that Ruth Built. And I’m not even mentioning his critique of our inexplicable love for Paul O’Neill because, hey, that’s just a New York thing. My answer to that question: We love Paul O’Neill because he’s Paul O’Neill. You just had to be there.

But on a lot of the other points, I found myself laughing in agreement with Leicht. I know you’re shocked; me, the most outspoken blogger on the new stadium thinking bad thoughts about Yankee Stadium.

Well, in my opinion, going to Yankee Stadium has become something of a burden when you break it down like that because the Yankees have not tried to make the stadium more welcome and because of an odd sense of short-term tradition that no one really likes. How many people fly into a murderous rage whenever the grounds crew come out to the YMCA? How many people dread hearing John Sterling scream “Theeeee Yankees win” at the end of the game? We came to the game to escape John Sterling! And really, does anyone like Cotton Eyed Joe or the other music clips thrown at us at maximum value?

Inside the stadium, the Yankees haven’t made the concession stands easy to negotiate. Serpentining lines could have solved this problem years ago. Admittedly, “God Bless America” is a sensitive subject and one I’d rather not get into here, but the security lines outside have gotten ridiculous. Sometimes, the guards check cellphones; sometimes, they don’t. Sometimes, they check cameras; sometimes, they don’t. It’s very easy to fold up a backup and take it into the stadium in a clear plastic bag, and it’s incredibly easy to take a camera in without anyone noticing. Considering that the Yankees seem more concerned with opaque plastic bags rather than true security measures, can we really just ditch the charade already?

At the end of his segment, Leitch said he won’t miss Yankee Stadium when it’s gone, and that’s where he and I differ. To me, Yankee Stadium is where I grew up. Some of my earliest memories are night games in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Yankees just weren’t that good and the team drew about 26,000 to night games. I remember ditching high school to get to the 1 p.m. mid-week day games and just buying Tier Reserve tickets at the game for $14, the cost of a 2008 bleacher ticket. I remember watching Game 6 of the 2000 ALCS from the Upper Deck, and I remember the crowd’s energy during Game 3 of the 2001 World Series.

After this year, nothing will be left but memories. I can forgive the high prices and obnoxious music because it’s still Yankee Stadium. What I learned from Leitch is that fans of other teams just don’t get it. Maybe that’s why I find Fenway Park to be an insufferably small stadium with poor sight lines, no leg room and rather disgusting facilities. It’s all about your team’s memories, and that’s what fills up Yankee Stadium every night.

Categories : Rants
  • Barry

    I agree about most everything, but dude?, God Bless America?, come on you see the reason for it right, America’s pastime, patriotic, anything ringing a bell? Anyway, I agree with you, the problem in America today is that alot of people seem to treasure new things rather than old traditions, oh well I guess since the ticket prices will probably continue to rise and more and more low and middle class income families are prevented from attending games the rich will enjoy their luxury boxes and wider seats along with their 12 dollar beverage.

    • Rob_in_CT

      “I agree about most everything, but dude?, God Bless America?, come on you see the reason for it right, America’s pastime, patriotic, anything ringing a bell?”

      And this is why it’s a subject the guy didn’t want to get into, I’d wager. If one says one is sick to death of that friggin’ song (oh yes, I am), or never liked it in the first place (no, I didn’t), one is liable to get reemed by those who just love flag-waving displays of patriotism. Right after 9/11, I got it. Fine. But it’s been six years, for goodness sake. Enough with that friggin’ song.

      • Kevin23

        I second that. God Bless America is a shitty song, and an even worst symbol of “patriotism”. Its just another attempt to pander to those who need to constantly remind everyone of their sentiments. We aren’t going to Yankee Stadium to have a pep rally for America. We sing the national anthem to kick things off anyway. And that song at least has a good melody. My favorite thing to do is to stay seated and dare some ass clown to try and give me shit for not being respectful. Then I have someone to “accidentally” spill beer on or throw peanuts at for another few innings. People like that deserve to have their balls stomped on anyway. My line of reasoning? I’m offended! I’m an atheist asshole! Go bless your home, and leave me the fuck alone to enjoy my $8 beer in peace. I vote, and that by itself makes me a better American that half of those dip-shits pretending to care through song.

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    he sums up my feelings pretty well.

    http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com.....rices.html

    i’ve been to 100-150 games in my life but (contrary to rising attendance) have been going to fewer and fewer games each year.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    I have the best times at Yankee Stadium. Games are just a blast most of the time and I just don’t get complaining about such a sacred place. We don’t have a lot of stupid thing that other places have. We don’t have a mascot, we don’t wave towels and we goof around for most of the game but are really into it when good stuff happens.

    I could pick the place apart anytime I want, but the bottom line is that I love the House of Ruth and I love being there when I’m there.

  • Bo

    Forgive me if I roll my eyes at non Yankee fans critiques of Yankee Stadium. Is it like going to Disneyland? Not if you dont like the Yankees. The stadium is in the South Bronx.

    What are you expecting?

    • http://ibleedblueandwhite.blogspot.com Jamie

      Leich has good things to say – most – of the time. He tends to go overboard and forget his allegiances to the Cardinals and compare them back to other experiences by other die-hard fans like Ben and the rest of us.

      Good post Ben.

  • E-ROC

    Sadly, I’ve never been to Yankee stadium. I’m from B-more and was in the military so I’ve never had any time to travel to NY. I have every Jeter (favorite player because everybody hates him) moment stuck in my head, along with Aaron “BLEEPING!” Boone.

  • AJ

    I go to about 20 games per year and have never waitied in a 20 minute security line. In fact, security is a joke at the Stadium.

  • http://keephughes.blogspot.com/ Larry

    Ben,

    I hear ya – as a lifelong Yankee fan (and based on your memories of the team, I’m guessing we’re right around the same age), it’s easy to immediately come to bat in defense of the experience of going to a game at the stadium.

    Obviously nothing beats attending a game in person, although despite the fact that I’ve been averaging 10-12 home games a year the past few years (not only that, but this past year I attended three games in a row for the first time ever, and had an absolute blast watching the Yanks handily sweep Baltimore back in September) there are occasionally times when it just seems easier to watch the game at home.

    Back when I used to blog consistently, I wrote a pretty amusing post about my hatred for the YMCA, Cotton Eye Joe and all the other crap the Stadium foists at us. It still rings true if anyone here is interested in checking it out, although be forewarned it’s fairly profane in case that kind of thing bothers anyone.

    • Rob_in_CT

      Well effing said, Larry :)

  • zack

    I have been going to game my whole life like most of you probably have. Starting in the 80’s, picking up steam with season tickets around 1993, and then suddenly stopping when I moved away in 2004 to SD. Now i get to one game a year, and of course it tends to be cold, rainy, and a crappy game where the Yanks lose, and lose boringly. Oh well.

    But thats besides the point. Many of us grew up on the Stadium of the 80s I imagine, where you could walk up on gameday and “talk to a guy” and get seats right behind the dugout, where the stadium itself was not necessarily a place parents took their kids, where fights broke out all the time, where one of the in-game entertainments was the televised race from section 15 to the outfield upper deck porches through all the empty seats by kids going after the bomb Charlie Hudson just gave up. That stadium doesn’t exist anymore, and it IS a pain in the butt to go to games, and the stadium is filled with yahoos and suits, and its hella expensive, and its uncomfortable, and there is little actual character left. I miss going to games. A lot. But each time I go, I get annoyed to. I guess I really miss the old stadium.

    But, you know what? I’ll take all of those new annoyances happily to watch the team of the last decade versus the team of the 80s. A winning team makes it all okay.

    I’m annoyed with the new stadium, but mostly at the way its been handled and pitched. I don’t think Yankee Stadium as it stands now and for the past 7 or so years is really the same building that Ruth built.

  • Jeff

    To refute Barry a bit:
    Playing God Bless America is total BS in my opinion. Baseball is a world game not just our past time. If you notice on the field half the players aren’t even from the US so what the hell are they saluting anyway? We should take a day and play one of Panama’s songs for Mo or maybe Taiwan’s songs for Wang…
    We live in a world first. Playing that song at a game goes along with our belief that we have to place an American stamp on everything (when there doesn’t have to be one). Even more I can’t stand when Fighter planes are flown over head at sporting events.

  • Mooks

    To be brutally honest.

    Yankee stadium, is about tradition, nostalgia, history, but one thing it isn’t about is comfort.

    If yankee stadium, as it is right now, was built the same way today, we would be screaming thats its a dump, but because of the history, and tradition and glory, it offsets the many negatives.

    That also said, I have a few friends who are red sox fans (shamefull, I know), they feel the same way about fenway, though they loathe admit it, to them, its all about the emotional attachment to fenway, not because of the ballpark itself.

    FWIW, count me as one of the guys who doesn’t consider the current yankee stadium as the “real yankee stadium” due to the crappy renovation work done there in the 70’s.

  • Kevin23

    I’m forced to agree with the post in general. My thoughts on Godly patriotism is posted above. I can live with the hoaky YMCA and Cotton Eye Joe stuff, because really every stadium has to appeal to the 50-year-old-women-with-kids-who-dont-get-out-much crowd.

    But I think the real distinction between Yankee Stadium and other places (the things that make Yankee Stadium special) have little to nothing to do with monuments (even though I do really like them), gift shops, security lines, seat comfort, prices, etc. It is the crowd that makes the difference. 56K people screaming on their feet for 3-4 hours? I’m sorry, but you just can’t manufacture that. You’ll find it VERY rarely elsewhere, and maybe never in the early months of the season. It’s an experience that has absolutely nothing to do with eating, drinking, or being comfortable. Its just about being there. I hope the new stadium is just as fun to be at for the same reasons.

  • Bo

    Again the stadium is in the South Bronx.

    What do you want?

    The Taj Mahal?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      When the Stadium was built and for decades after until Robert Moses decimated the South Bronx, the area was a prosperous place with a solid Middle Class Jewish enclave and some very fancy addresses up and down the Grand Concourse. I think your argument ignores the historical roots of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

  • Steve S

    wow, i didnt realize you go to baseball games for the music. I also didnt realize that bad music could somehow make WATCHING THE YANKEES seem bad. I’d like to know one person who has felt they were in danger in the South Bronx DURING a YANKEE GAME. This is the most ridiculous thing ever discussed. Yankee fans bitching about going to Yankee games but qualifying it because they dont like the between inning songs. Hey guess what when Im at home I dont like boiled hot dogs that much or beer from a plastic bottle, but when Im at the stadium (new or old) watching them play, Im in a good place. And thats why I’ll eat the digs, drink the beer and smile during God Bless America, Cotton Eyed Joe, or YMCA. BECAUSE IM A YANKEE FAN

  • Kevin23

    One thing though. Yankee fans tend to feel empowered to both love and hate. I take just as much pride in associating myself with fans who will boo Kyle Farnsworth or Tom Gordan, or even Randy Johnson when they completely stink up the place. They get to collect the paycheck and bask in all the glories, and the fans get to decide what to cheer and jeer. The more public the spotlight (and paycheck), the more public the cheering and jeering. I pay lots of money so they can spend more, I get to publicly ridicule the stuff I hated. A-Rod striking out with bases loaded. Making me stand up and re-live the thing I hated when I was a kid going to a Christian Elementary school.

    Sorry. That’s the deal. And thats Yankee Stadium. I Love it!

  • http://www.kingoftheroadmusic.com Joe Pickering Jr.

    YANKEE STADIUM

    CHORUS

    GENERATIONS OF LAUGHTER AND SOME TEARS

    MANY MEMORIES TUMBLING DOWN THE YEARS

    YANKEE STADIUM HOME OF THE BEST TEAMS

    YANKEE STADIUM OUR FIELD OF DREAMS

    SPRING THROUGH SUMMER, DEEP INTO FALL

    MEMORIES SPRING ALIVE FOR US TO RECALL

    THE CHANT DEE-FENSE; THE OLD BRONX CHEER

    WIN ONE FOR THE GIPPER FIRST SPOKEN HERE

    BEST FOOTBALL GAME PLAYED THE COLTS WON

    BEDNARIK HIT GIFFORD LIKE A BABE HOME RUN

    JOE LOUIS STRUCK A MIGHTY BLOW FOR ALL

    A DYING LOU GEHRIG STOOD AND SPOKE TALL

    REPEAT CHORUS

    CASEY’S IN THE PARK HOMER IN TWENTY THREE

    HE WON THE MOST SERIES IN HISTORY

    JOLTIN’ JOE FLAWLESSLY CAUGHT THE BALL

    MICK HIT A HOMER ATOP THE FACADE WALL

    REGGIE JACKSON BECAME MISTER OCTOBER

    NEW LEGEND BORN, YANKEE GREATS MOVE OVER

    MUNSON’S JERSEY HANGS IN HIS LOCKER TODAY

    PLANES TOOK THURMAN AND LIDLE AWAY

    REPEAT CHORUS

    ALI, ROCKY, BILLY JOEL, AND PINK FLOYD

    JOHANNSON, PATTERSON HIS FIRST NAME FLOYD

    BILLY GRAHAM, THE WITNESS AND THE POPE

    BRINGING TO PEOPLE ETERNAL HOPE

    WITHOUT THE AID OF ONE CAN OF BEER

    BLEACHER CREATURES SCREAM THE LOUDEST CHEER

    AS THE NINE ELEVEN SERVICES ARE DONE

    AMERICANS EVERYWHERE BECOME ONE

    REPEAT CHORUS

    GENERATIONS HAVE COME, GENERATIONS HAVE GONE

    WE ALL BELIEVED BABE’S HOUSE WOULD GO ON

    TWO THOUSANDEIGHT THE ALL STAR GAME IS PLAYED

    IN THE BABE’S HOUSE FINAL SPORTS PARADE

    NEW STADIUM, NEW MEMORIES IN TWO THOUSANDNINE

    NO MORE BABE TO HIT HOMERS DIVINE!

    ONCE THE LAST’S GAME’S OVER IN TWO THOUSANDEIGHT

    WATCH THE BABE’S GHOST FLOAT OUT THE GATE!!

    NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN, THE COSMOS AND PELE

    MAGICAL MOMENTS OF YESTERDAY

    WITH THE ONLY PERFECT WORLD SERIES GAME

    YANKEE STADIUM BELONGS IN THE HALL OF FAME!

    REPEAT CHORUS TWICE

    FADE

    Joe Pickering Jr. Songwriter King of the Road Music BMI Copyright owner C 2007 http://www.kingoftheroadmusic.com

  • Will

    Leitch’s critique is not unfounded, but I think it (should) only applies to those attending a game for the first time. As a veteran YS attendee (about 15-20 games per year), I’ve learned to arrive a little earlier, buy my food from the Court Street deli and not bring a bag that requires checking in. These three simple steps remove most of the frustration and delays mentioned by Leitch.

  • Ben

    If I was Yankees Stadium and I saw the new one going up accross the street, I would be like: “what the hell is going on?! who does that impostor think he is over there? I thought I was legend with Fenway and Wrigley, but now I’m just another sorry statistic like Tiger Stadium….. Steinbrenner sold me out! that bastard! ………must self destruct in 5, 4, 3, 2…!”