Stale memories of an old Stadium

Game 98: Time to make a move
Too many DHs

This is a guest column by Travis G., regular commenter and author of Yankees Etc..

Remember when you used to love going to Yankee games? For me, although I certainly did, it’s hard to even recall why.

Let me explain…no, there is too much. Let me sum up. My father’s company (that he co-manages) was able to acquire box-seat season tickets when the Yanks were at their lowest: 1989 (“It’s a whole new ballgame” was the motto that year; I still have a bumper sticker with it.) I went to at least 10 games each year through the 90’s — saw the Jeff Maier home run in ’96, Tino’s Game 1 grand slam in ’98, Clemens spraying the fans with champagne in ’99, and the following year throwing a bat at Mike Piazza. Each year though, my access to tickets waned as demand among my father’s clients increased. My father and his business partner sold all the playoff tickets in 2001 for several reasons: they were bordering on unaffordable, the offers/requests from buyers/clients were too strong to turn down, and they (and I admittedly) thought they’d be in the World Series about every year.

So I guess you could say we were part of the problem — the reason the attending fan base started to change to more corporate/casual-fan types (the ‘glitterati’ — you know, people who glitter). We definitely deserve some of the blame, but other reasons for that change include the success of the Yanks, the ensuing demand for tickets, and the freedom that gave the Yankees to raise prices astronomically.

There used to be knowledgeable, passionate fans in attendance, but a side effect of the team’s success is that those fans were forced out by demand. In fact, my wife and I prefer sitting in the $18 upper deck seats where the fans actually care about the game.

Does anyone, anyone, still do the YMCA? I pity the grounds crew that must endure that contrived garbage (aimed purely at casual fans) on a nightly basis. Then there’s the relentless audio bombardment that doesn’t let up until “New York, New York” has played several times. And what ever happened to organic chants, cheers and general fan enthusiasm? On countless occasions have I witnessed organic chants snuffed out by the PA system blaring some canned chant or music that we’ve heard a thousand times.

There’s just a lack of understanding of what the fans want, like the refusal to show video replays (of close plays) on the jumbo-tron. I know they don’t want to show up the umpires, but they do it all the time in the NFL, why not in MLB? I had no idea Jeff Maier had even reached over the wall until I got home that night to see the replay. That brings me to my next point: while all the cons of attending a game have increased over the years, the pros of watching from home have also increased. The advent of HD, surround sound, the YES Network and DVR have combined to make the home-viewing experience better than being there. And where would you rather sit, on a plastic folding chair or your living room couch?

Then there’s the food situation. I can order in a large pizza for the price of about three disgusting slices at the Stadium. $9 for shit beer? No thanks. I’ll take my favorite, Dogfish Head (ed. note: this man has good taste in beer), which runs $9 for a six-pack. At my only game this year, the trio in front of me ordered food and drinks through the waiter service. It took almost two hours to get something akin to two beers, a soda, chicken fingers, a hot dog, and a sandwich (for $71 plus tip). It’s basically fast-food quality, only slow. I learned my lesson long ago and now bring soda, water, sandwiches, peanuts and seeds to every game. It saves money and time (outside of tasting better). The vendors don’t even come down to the box-seats; to get food you have to order through a waiter (and wait the requisite hour plus) or leave your seat to catch up to a vendor or wait in line at the food court.

Transportation has become more difficult. Instead of spending an hour (each way) and $20+ getting to and from the Stadium, I can spend that time walking my dog, cooking dinner, watching the post-game show, watching another ballgame, etc. Parking is absolutely FUBAR around the Stadium, and I have a knack for being the first car locked out of the parking lot (it’s happened twice) – I mean I was literally the very first car that cops started putting traffic cones in front of to block out of the garage. You might suggest taking the subway, which I did many times when I lived in Manhattan and Queens, but it’s hardly better than driving, only more cost efficient. The worst subway ride of my life followed a Yankee game: a hefty, teenage boy stood near me holding the ceiling rail on a hot summer day (you know what that means), and the stench emanating from him was unbelievable. It was hold your breath horrible, and there was no where to go as the train was completely packed.

On top of that, my wife and I have a talent for attending rained out/rain delayed games, which now kills us because we live in Philly (have since last May). I was upset to find out the new Stadium will not have a retractable roof. I know it would cost about $400 million, but they’re spending over a billion dollars already, and the Stadium’s supposed to last more than 50 years, why not make the investment that would ensure a complete and on-time game every single day? Yet another reason we have and will be attending fewer games.

My father’s tickets, $250 a seat this year, will jump to the $500-$2500 range next year, and they’re not even being guaranteed the same seats in the new Stadium. He’s going to try to “move back” to affordable territory: back section of the field level or front section of the upper deck (we hope).

With all that being said, I’m certainly going to a game at the new Stadium, but more for the novelty, not to watch my beloved Yankees.

This might come off as whiny, but don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy attending games in person, just not as much as I used to and the preceding was a summary of my problems as a cathartic exercise. I know this is a season to celebrate the Stadium, but I for one will miss nothing but the history. As far as I’m concerned, the original Yankee Stadium was destroyed in 1974.

Game 98: Time to make a move
Too many DHs
  • TheLastClown

    My dad was a doctor and used to get TONS of comped tickets from pharmaceutical companies, etc… I really started going to games around 95, when they were starting to win. *I’m 23, and wasn’t really into baseball as a young child*

    Anyway, the folks down in the field boxes, in my experiences, have always been a little less frenetic, less passionate if you will. It makes sense. The people with the most vociferous appetite for excitement at the game sit in the bleachers and aren’t served alcohol. Can you imagine the level of energy in the luxury boxes?? What I’m saying is that the premium seats cost the most, and people that can afford the most expensive seats don’t spend their time being crazy about baseball, they do whatever they do to make their money so they can impress their clients/children/ladies in waiting with a great view and maybe and autograph if the 1st or 3rd baseman is nice enough.

    That all being said, I moved from the Tri-State area about 4.5 years ago. I now live in Southern California, and I try to go to baseball games when I can; usually contingent on the fact that my Yankees are in town. I don’t have so far to go as you do, Philly to the Bronx is definitely a haul. Anaheim is only 30ish miles away, and Dodger Stadium is right around the corner

    *digression: Why are the Yanks & Dodgers not perennially opponents in Interleague?!?*

    So….when I do go, usually to an Angels game, and usually playing the Yanks, I’m literally the loudest one in the ballpark. The second loudest? My girlfriend. People out here, even the ones who are knowledgeable and into the game, are sort of content with sitting and watching, and not making a whole lot of noise. I’ve actually been told to be quiet at a fucking baseball game?! I laughed hysterically and pulled my ticket out of my pocket, waved it in Mr. Rally Monkey’s face and told him I had purchased a license to make all the noise I want, cheers for the Yanks, boos for yous.

    So, in conclusion, however disinterested the live Yankee fans may seem to the passionate, knowledgeable, blogosphere fans, they’re still much better in NY than Cali, Be thankful for whatcha got.

    • steve

      u going to the yanks angels game in a few weeks ? if so i’ll see ya there.

  • Malcard89

    This post was just spot on all the way. Now being a sophomore in a private university, why would i spend that much money on a Yankees game when i have an HDTV at home with a couch, fresh food nearby, and a sanitary bathroom? I’m going to a Yankee game sometime this year just to say goodbye to the old stadium, but i have known for years that going to a game simply has too many cons compared to the comforts of home (not to mention commentary and replays).

  • Scott of 3 Kids Tickets

    The retractable roof is what I’ve been screaming about for over 2 years now. It’s done alot of good too. Sure…. Sitting home at 4:30-5pm asking myself “is it going to rain…is it not going to rain” is the WORST feeling in the world. Of course when I and the waether channel dcide it’s not going to rain, it does & visa versa. All I needed to get rid of my ulcer was a retactible roof, that was once in the plans. WHAT A SHAME….

    -Scott

    PS I’m sure I’ll be complaining about my seats, once they finally decide how badly they’re going to screw me over on that. Those with no sympathies because I’m a ticket broker should know I’ve had personal Yankee tickets since the mid 90’s, and used to attend when there were 14,000 people at the stdium in the late 80’s and early 90’s regularly. Sat right behind 3rd base most of the time. No one cared where my seats were.

  • monkeypants

    I think that it is somewhat ironic that the author, who used to attend games in box seats acquired by his father’s company, complains about the “corporate fans” who now supposedly dominate the stadium crowd!

    I’m not convinced that the stadium has become more corporate, but it sure has become more crowded with “casual” fans and “tourist” fans, myself included. I went to an interleague game against SF a couple of years ago, and was surrounded by folks who had flown in for the weekend from California. These were not the super-rich glitterati, either. It’s a little too easy to blame the bad old corporate set for ruining the stadium and driving the “real” fans into the upper deck.

    That said, comments about the food, prices, parking, and noise at the stadium are pretty accurate.

  • mike

    you’re right—you came off quite whiny- stay home on your couch with your expensive beer honey

    • Steve

      Business (like Baseball) is a game. In the business of Baseball the way they keep score is attendance figures, gross revenues, TV ratings and franchise value. The Yankees are the #1 baseball team in every category.

      I know, I know. The pizza sucks, the fans don’t know anything, the YMCA is annoying, blah blah blah. The hard core aficionados always know better on how the Yankees should run their business.

      4 million fannies in the seats. The Yankees win, you lose.

  • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

    Shows what you know… he’s only MOSTLY dead.

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

      lol. i’m glad someone got that.

  • Jeb

    I really enjoyed this article until I read this: “As far as I’m concerned, the original Yankee Stadium was destroyed in 1974.”

    That sort of comment has really become the “in” thing for people to write about the stadium; almost as if there’s no history worth remembering after 1974. It’s almost like anyone who thinks the current ballpark is special has to apologize for their feelings.

    Putting aside the 10 pennants and 6 world titles won by the Yankees in the “new” Yankee Stadium (which is only 1 fewer WS title than the entire Red Sox history!), I really disagree that it’s not the same building at all. The outside is mostly the same, the tunnels are mostly the same (as far as I can see when I’ve taken the tour), the monuments are there, and the upper deck still floats out over the field. Yes, the inside has been renovated, but they didn’t tear down the entire stadium and build a brand new one in the 70’s. That’s why they call it a renovation.

    Perhaps I’m making too fine a point about it, but I’m just tired of people saying that there’s nothing to see at the current park or it’s a dump. I’ve flown 600+ miles twice in the last 3 years to see games at Yankee Stadium; trust me, the park is special.

    I wonder how many people bitched in 1973 and said, “Yeah, Yankee Stadium’s got some history, but it’s not exactly Hilltop Park.”

    • ceciguante

      i hear you, but i’m not certain it’s just a trendy sentiment. although i just missed the stadium pre-renovation, so i can’t speak from personal experience on this, i’ve seen yogi berra quoted on the current stadium that “this isn’t the same place i played in.”

      in my mind, because it’s what i grew up with, the current ballpark is a great venue, even if it’s not fully original.

  • mustang

    I enjoyed the thread and totally agree with the retractable roof any team building a stadium north of Baltimore should have one. I can’t believe the Twins are not having one can you image late March and October their.
    Be thankful at least we don’t have to pay for the right to have the seats like the New York football Giants fans do at least not yet.

  • Casper

    I agree in a lot of ways… The live-game experience has gotten way too expensive, the in-game promotions are annoying, the trip to the Stadium sucks.

    That being said… You do come off as whiny. Sure there are a lot of annoying aspects to trekking to the Bronx to see the games. None of this is news. We go, though, because we’re fans and we support the team. I love watching at home on my big TV in the air conditioning on my comfortable couch too, but that can never replace the experience of going to a game. Sorry it’s not as fun for you as it used to be… In your field-level box seats, a couple of times a year when you decide to put up with the trouble of going to the Stadium. That’s unfortunate for you.

  • Jeb

    obviously the Yankees should have disbanded after 1973 because it’s NEVER been the same. I’m surprised you even gone to any games at this pretend ballpark.

  • Babe’s Ghost

    That’s why God invented the bleachers… before I moved to Chicago I had a partial season bleachers plan. It was great. The view was great, the creatures were great and even the lack of beer wasn’t so bad.

    The trick is to buy an extra ticket. So when the fifth inning rolls around and you’re craving that beer instead of standing in line a the concession stand and watching the game, go outside to Stans, have a real beer or two (in a dump of course) watch the game for a bit then go back inside and sit in your good seats.

    I occasionally go to Wrigley or the Cell, and while both have their charms (the Cell has a dog section!) I really, really miss Yankee stadium. You should enjoy it while you can.

  • Relaunch

    Very well said, I agree with most of your points. The only point that sounds like a hypocrite is getting box seats from you fathers company. That is a tax right off and you now are complaning about similar people.
    I have a 61 game plan in sec 37 for a good amount of time and I really enjoy the crowds there usually. But even that area is now becoming full of people that don’t know the difference between a single and a double.

  • Gary

    I really enjoyed your article. I long for the days of my youth, when baseball was a game that people actually watched because fans knew baseball and enjoyed baseball. When there weren’t distractions during the inning that were created by imbeciles that don’t know the difference between the hit and run and the squeeze play, distractions that can be most bothersome at the ballpark and while trying to watch the baseball game on TV. When I was a kid: (honestly)

    1. there were times in between innings that Channel 11 WPIX DID NOT GO TO A COMMERCIAL BREAK but rather stayed with the telecast while the teams were getting ready to start up again.

    2. fans actually cheered the opposing pitcher when he left the mound or came to bat for a good performance.

    3. Box seats cost $3.50. Bleacher seats cost $.75.

    4. I have a Yankee Yearbook 1961 wherein Whitey Ford says in the offseason he is a “broker” (real estate, I presume) because he needs the money, like most other ballplayers.

    5. The Yankees and most other teams had three coaches. THREE. Now there are enough coaches to require another bus.

  • ceciguante

    i liked your article, b/c it shines a light on the lack of energy with the new casual fan base. yanks fans at the game used to be a crazed bunch — they were clearly the most knowledgeable in the game, standing and clapping with 2 strikes, ooh-ing and aah-ing right in time with the action. you could always feel that you were amongst a seasoned crowd that knew the game.

    it drives me nuts that as the stadium has gotten progressively more packed in the last dozen years, the great mass of fans at the game are just wide-eyed mules most of the time. if the yanks are behind, forget about it — you’ll get no enthusiasm unless they string together 2 or 3 hits. gone are the days that the fans would try to actually give the team a boost when they needed it, or start a clever chant from anywhere but the bleachers. and if you stand and clap when our pitcher has 2 strikes on a hitter, you almost have to explain it to the people behind you.

    crowded subways, cattle car bathrooms, and bad food i can deal with. i don’t go there for good eats or luxury surrounds. but the disneyfying of yankee stadium has definitely killed a lot of the rabid fan spirit.

  • A.D.

    This does seem a bit of a whine, or at least I have a different experiences that yourself.

    I don’t live so far as Philly, and I find the subway an entirely great way to get to the game, I’ve never had to run into an overwight & overly drunk kid that was sick, but generally I find the ride up is fine, usually chat with a few other fans about the game starting pitcher etc, and its packed on the way back, but for 4 bucks round trip its going to be okay. You should just take a train into Penn station and then take the subway from there.

    The food situation does blow (though the Cheesestakes are delicious), but the beer isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be, yeah its 9 bucks, but for 24 oz of beer, aka 2 normal beers, which brings you down to 4.50 a beer, or slightly more expensive than the 3-4 bucks your going to pay at a manhatten bar. Yeah its not as cheap as home, but nothing is, vendors have to make money, and the fact that mark-up is the same as a bar, thats not so bad.

    You say that the stadium died in 1974, but you really started going to games in 1989??

    The nature of success is that you will bring in the higher paying fans, and yes, a lot of them are there because its an event and such and aren’t necessarily avide fans (but such is the case of many of the girlfriends of guys who are fans, do those ladies bring the pulse of the stadium down?), but I’m an avid Yankee fan, and I don’t yell and scream (usually high 5 the guy next to me after a big HR or someting), I don’t mind those that do, but thats not who I am, and corporate guys aren’t going to go nuts when they’re out with clients, it’s generally not appropriate, and it doesn’t mean they don’t care

  • http://www.pinstripeprospectus.com Austin

    who cares about the annoying stuff while your there. Its not about the things around you, its about what you came for, the Yankees.

  • Jeremy

    My wife and I have a tradition of going to Papaya King on 86th before a game for our hot dog fix. We get much better dogs and save a fortune.

    I’m upset about the lack of a retractable roof too. I thought I was the only one. My dad’s big complaint is that the subway won’t connect directly to the stadium and you still have to walk outside.

    • monkeypants

      Yeah, it’s pretty grim when you have to actually go outside to see a baseball game these days. The Yankees really need to get with the program.

      Yes…that was sarcasm.

  • http://www.nosenseworrying.com/ Jen

    While rain outs can be inconvenient (like Opening Day was for many people), I kind of like rain delays. Especially on a hot summer day. Save the retractable roofs for teams like Seattle and the two in FLA.

  • Kevin

    A lot of people feel the same way you do now. As a side note nice mention of Dogfish Head. Always nice to find a Yankee fan who enjoys good beer. I would encourage you to check out my website which is dedicated to all things New York Craft Beer. http://www.thefoaminghead.com

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

    i wanted to tackle a controversial subject, and it’s pretty clear from the comments that this qualifies.

    to get some things straight:
    this article was focused on the PROBLEMS of the Stadium, not the enjoyable things. i could write an article thrice as long about the great times i had there, but that’s not what this was about. that seems like it’s been done to death.

    i admitted that my father and i were partly to blame for the influx of corporate fans. i also blamed the Yanks for raising prices so much that the tickets HAVE to be sold (to the highest bidder) on occasion because the prices have gone up considerably more than the revenue of my father’s company. and without the clients, there wouldn’t be any tickets in the first place (which i’ve grudgingly accepted over the years).

    also, i never said the current version was better or worse than the (imo of course) original Stadium. it’s just not the same as the one that Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio and Mantle played in (and i’ve thought that for many years – i’m actually jealous of fans who got to the original Stadium). i think older fans would attest to that – at least the ones that i know. and not that the current Stadium doesnt have a boatload of history as well, bc it does.

    PS: did someone really compare Yankee Stadium to Hilltop Park?

  • Gary

    all I know is this is my favorite website. we love the Yankees and we sort of all play nice. By the way, my mother wants to know where is Michael Kay? Did his bad announcing (i.e., “in the third inning he’ll say, “Oh Mike Mussina is throwing better than I have ever seen him throw,” and from that point on, Moose gets hit harder than Billy Wagner when the game is on the line) get him sent to the Royals for that water fountain to be used in the new YS?

  • Harry

    Nothing more lame than complaining about the grounds crew spending 3 minutes doing YMCA. There are 100 other things to complain about. If that really effects your time at the stadium you are going there for the complete wrong reasons.

    This guy sounds like an old man who’d rather have the comforts of home instead of going to the ballpark. That is fine but you don’t have to complain about it.

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

      i’m either impressed that you can just ignore the YMCA, or disgusted that you like it.

  • jeb

    “PS: did someone really compare Yankee Stadium to Hilltop Park?”

    No you imagined it.

    I’m sure you hated everything Pink Floyd did afer they kicked Syd Barrett out of the band too, huh? Do you pine for the original Beatles with Pete Best? “Abbey Road just didn’t make it for me, man”.

    My point is that you can wish you’d seen the original stadium WITHOUT saying that the current version is crap. And the current version still has a LOT of the original.

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

      “No you imagined it.”

      Phew. that woulda been REALLY crazy.

      btw, i NEVER said the current Stadium was better or worse. unfortunately i never attended a game at the original Stadium so i cant compare them.

  • jeb

    Phew I am glad you didn’t write (or strongly imply) that he current stadium is worse than the old one, or you might have written something REALLY crazy (and stupid since you have no real reference point) like “As far as I’m concerned, the original Yankee Stadium was destroyed in 1974.”

    But you didn’t say that (or imply that)….um…..yeah….surrre.