Un-Occupy Yankee Stadium

Poll: The Fifth Starter
Yankees designate Kevin Whelan for assigment

Another off-season, another winter-in-stealth for Brian Cashman.

Amazingly, this time the Yankee GM’s intentions were so cleverly shrouded, even prying eyes were thrown off the scent. The surprising additions of Michael Pineda and Hiroki “Don’t Call Me Karaoke” Kuroda have undoubtedly solidified what was an extremely suspect Yankee rotation, but in the process, the moves also inadvertently reignited my long-simmering internal debate over what it means to be a Yankee fan.

Allow me to explain.

The funny thing about political movements is that they sometimes affect bystanders in ways their founders never expected. The Boston Tea Party started out – I think – as a symbolic protest against chai tea lattés, and ended up as a precursor to the American Revolution. The present-day Tea Party exists to restore our “freedoms” – whatever that means – but somewhere along the way it has morphed into a caricature of itself. Now, we have Occupy [Location Anywhere], an ideology best known to date for its way-too-public bowel movements. Yet despite the inherently unattractive nature of anything political, OWS has been successful insofar as it has encouraged widespread debate over the status quo.

Which brings us to my dirty little secret: I am a lifelong New York Yankee fan whose loyalty may be waning.

Make no mistake: I am was the genuine article. Born and raised in the Bronx – like my parents before me – the Bombers are literally my hometown team. I grew up learning about baseball in the shadow of the elevated 4-train on Jerome Ave., where my father owned and operated a sporting goods store for almost 25 years. Everyone had an opinion about the Yankees in those days, too; whether it was the NYPD beat cop (who wasn’t patrolling, exactly), the sanitation guy (who swore Dallas Green was a communist), or the Albanians manning the pizzeria next door. There were no such things as OBP, fWAR, or strand rate – at least, not that we had ever heard of. Like politics, baseball, too, was simpler back then.

My mom was also a diehard. She sat in the old Yankee Stadium right field bleachers on October 1, 1961, when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single-season HR record. My grandfather took her to the ballpark that day, and though he’s been gone for a decade, I fondly recall him lamenting that he wasn’t just an inch or two taller, lest that historic ball would have been his.

2009 was my last year as a season ticket holder, but I have attended countless games in my life, both at home and on the road. I saw Rickey Henderson, Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield play together. I repeatedly shook my head during Greg Maddux’s 84-pitch three-hitter that felt like it took less than an hour to complete. I stared, mouth agape, when the hardest ball I’ve ever seen hit was blasted by Jim Thome off an incredulous David Cone in Game 6 of the 1998 ALCS. I feared for my safety when David Justice took the immortal Arthur Rhodes deep in Game 6 of 2000 ALCS and the old Stadium literally shook beneath my feet. I taunted Mets fans on the way out of Shea after the World Series Game 5 clincher that same year.  I saw (and heard) Josh Hamilton put on the greatest display of power ever witnessed during the 2008 Home Run Derby. I attended the first exhibition game ever played in the new place.  I was there for the first regular-season game ever played there, too. And I lost my voice cheering as Mariano Rivera locked down Game 6 of the World Series against the Phillies in 2009. Oh, and I write for this site – though not nearly as often or as well as my colleagues – so I feel somewhat entitled to espouse my views. But really, it’s not about me so much as it is about the franchise itself.

In fairness, the club and its owners have generously delivered seven World Championships in my lifetime. And counting. As far as professional sports teams go, the Pinstripes are the crème de la crème, the best of the best, they’re as good as it gets. It’s been said before, but the Yankees really are are the one-percent.

And therein lies the problem.

The organization’s pinstriped-mantra decries anything short of a championship as an abject failure. It is a proclamation that stirs emotions and sells ticket-packages based on the Steinbrenners’ commitment to perennially field a competitive stacked product. But the edict also breeds an atmosphere where cash is king, and the opportunity to be a Yankee fan has become more privilege than right.

Maybe it’s because I have my own son now, or maybe it’s because these times require each of us to engage in a certain degree of frugality, but I’ve run out of reasons excuses to defend the Bombers’ excesses. There was a time when I could easily parry attacks over the Yankee-payroll or the club’s ubiquitous involvement in the signing of and/or trade for every available player. I once justified my team’s muscular roster with bulletproof one-liners like “the Yankees are good for the game” or “large market teams are entitled to their large market payrolls.” Now, more often than not, I wonder “how much is enough?”

I can’t be the only one who feels this way, either. Something has changed at the intersection of River Ave. and 161st. St., and it’s not just the newly-minted billion-dollar cathedral that I’m talking about – although that’s a big part of it.

According to last year’s Forbes valuation, the Yankees generated $325 million in revenue from regular-season tickets and luxury suites in 2010 alone. The wildly successful YES Network, now a seminal blueprint for every other team, bolstered that take with over $400 million. Sure, the team carries significant debt in connection with the stadium’s construction, but when you factor in corporate sponsorships, advertising, and licensing revenue from MLB.com and apparel sales, the Yankees are literally swimming in cashish.

Please understand; I don’t begrudge capitalism. Baseball is a business now — there’s no going back — and the powers that be are simply charging what the market will bear. Sadly, that market is alienating the very people who made going to the Stadium an irreplaceable experience. Just because the Yankees inject a significant percentage of their profit into the roster, that shouldn’t mean that Delta-Suites-this and Audi-Club-that is any more vital to the franchise than the “real” fan. Would you believe that during last year’s ALDS against the Detroit Tigers, I was actually told to sit down with two strikes on an opposing hitter during an elimination game. Shirley, you can’t be serious?!

So forgive me for evaluating my loyalties, but maybe the place where I grew up on baseball is already gone. And consider giving me a pass for conflating the issues, but the rise of the Yankee “Empire” and the deterioration of my nostalgia is interconnected.

As far as the here and now, Cashman had to deal a homegrown impact-bat in Jesus Montero because the starting rotation lacked any semblance of depth. This, despite the conventional-wisdom that the farm system is purportedly flush with talented arms. And why? Because those high-ceiling pitchers are not yet Major League ready, and god forbid the franchise scuffles a bit every fifth year or so. There is no margin for error, no room for debate, and no excuse for failure. I get it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it, and it certainly doesn’t make it right (for the record, I think Michael Pineda will do very well here).

In the end, we are left with impossible-to-meet expectations, extraordinary team-spending and increasingly disproportionate fan-pricing. Yankee fans have become accustomed to spoiled by winning, so much so that waiting on young talent is a virtual Yankee-impossibility. But in this win-at-all-costs world, when, exactly, will I again get to root for an underdog team? How about a scrappy one? Will I ever again see the kind of serendipity and karma that so gloriously enshrouded the 1996 Yankees? And even if it does – kinda-sorta like it did in 2009 – will I even care?

Despite my introspection, there is probably “99%” of me that still bleeds pinstripes. I just hope that when the day arrives for me to bring my boy to the House That A-Rod Built, the sushi is fresh.

***

For those who may not be aware, I am extremely fortunate to now be covering the New York Knicks for The Journal News. You can read my work here, and I would be honored to earn your Twitter follow (@LoHudKnicks) as well. If you despise basketball, you can still get your snark on with a more well-rounded version me, @BronXoo.

Special thanks to Jonah Kaner, aka @TheKnicksWall, for the fantastic OYS graphic above.

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Poll: The Fifth Starter
Yankees designate Kevin Whelan for assigment
  • Damian

    “I grew up learning about baseball in the shadow of the elevated 6-train on Jerome Ave.” — so what, the shadow extends all the way to Westchester Avenue?

    • Thinking man

      It’s NOT the 6-train…it’s the 4! Ah the memories…getting on the 4 train on Burnside Avenue.

  • RobS44

    An excellent riposte to the “It’s not my money” crowd. I go back a bit further than the author, 1953, to be exact. Sure I’ve enjoyed all the WS wins, especially 2000 versus the Mutts. But my favorite team didn’t win anything. The 1973 Yanks were predicted to be no better than .500. But they were in the pennant race right up to the last week.

    While the addition of Pineda and Kuroda will, most likely, help them more than Montero and Noesi would have, like the author, I lament the lost chance to hope for another Jeter, Bernie, Andy, Jorge or Mo. And no it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to see if Warren, Phelps, and the Bs have what it takes to be successful MLB pitchers – as Yankees, not some other team.

  • goterpsgo

    My opinions are my own, so here goes nothing…

    1. The Steinbrenners have been running this ship for as long as I’ve been a fan (I was 6yo in 1978), and “World Series or Bust” has been the MO. Nothing has changed in 34 years for me.

    2. So NYY has a television station? Let’s see… All the new stadiums also have suites. Many sports markets have their own stations (SNY, NESN, STO, whatever-the-Rangers-have, etc.). They’re copying what NYY is doing.

    3. So I wasn’t able to go sit behind the plate in the $300 seats; I ended up in section 408 with the other plebeians. I still had fun and I got my kid to become a fan too. (However the drive back to MD sucked.)

    I see nothing wrong with what’s happened, and I’m happy with the direction Cashninja has taken with this team.

  • Mike c

    Waaahhhh they traded Jesus. Give me a break

  • Michael

    Ugh, what a whining piece of drivel. We come to this site to talk baseball and take a break from politics, not to get sucker-punched by a thinly-veiled political screed against the “one percent.” But since you brought it up, if you can’t afford to go to games anymore, how about working harder, becoming more successful, and earning more money? If it’s not worth it to you, that’s cool, but don’t expect the Yankees, who are in business to make money, to take less than they can get simply to appease you. You apparently don’t find it enjoyable to root for the best and most successful team in the game, the crown jewel of major league baseball, a team whose ownership is committed to winning every single year. So go root for the Royals.

    Nice scare quotes on “freedoms,” by the way.

    • Thomas Cassidy

      Shh, you can’t tell people to work harder. Because, you know, capitalism sucks. The rich should pay for everything!!

    • http://www.twitter.com/twilkinsonmedia T-Dubs

      This was a fun comment.

    • Bean Tooth

      Right on, brother. If you’re not rich, it’s because you’re lazy. I’m glad someone had the sack to say it.

      • Mister Delaware

        “Well, my rant on RiverAveBlues is done. Time to make my million dollars this hour. Sell, sell, buy, buy, hmmm … sell. Ok, we’re done. What’s on Drudge …” – Michael’s inner monologue

        • TanyonS

          “Well, that will show him. Time to sit in an urban coffee house and complain about how middle america votes against their own self interests when they want to keep more than 50% of their wealth. I think I’ll attend an OWS rally, maybe then my Mom will finally think my Art History degree was worth it.”…Mister Delaware’s inner monologue.

          • pete

            aaaand there it is. The #1 problem with capitalist culture: “will finally think my Art History degree was worth it”

            When you’re measuring the value of education in the dollars earned in the job it has led to, you have a serious problem. The point of ANY education is to learn, not to get a “degree” with some monetary substance. Content, not financial outcome.

            To all the high school kids reading this: if/when you have the enormous privilege of going to college, take advantage of it; take the classes that appeal to you most; find the best professors on campus (not measured by their “easiness” scores on ratemyprofessor.com, but based on the sheer genius that radiates from them) and learn all you can from them – learn for the sake of learning, not so that you can get a job. You will not regret it.

            • Evan

              To all high school kids reading this: The only purpose of college is getting a job. Period. You are purchasing an opportunity to better yourself in life. Do what you can to get the best grades possible. You’ll better prepare yourself for the real world. Don’t blindly chase idealistic goals. You’re probably much smarter than your professors.

              • JohnnyC

                You sound like one of my dumb professors.

              • LaserVortex

                As a senior in college about to graduate with a degree in civil engineering, I completely agree with you.

              • pete

                I feel incredibly sorry for you if you went through college thinking you were much smarter than your professors.

            • TanyonS

              You won’t regret it…until you can’t pay back your 160k+ in loans because you don’t have any marketable skills.
              By the way, if you think if this is somehow unique to capitalism, then, well, you deserve to be 160k in debt.

    • Rod

      Well said, Michael.

    • RkyMtnYank

      And the 1% has spoken!

      You hear that all you unemployed, working two jobs to put food on the table ignorant yankee fans, you’re just lazy!!!

      • Havok9120

        Just because he went way over the top, doesn’t mean everything he said was hogwash.

    • jon

      I remember a time when you saw the guy driving the bently you use to say “wow i hope one day i can be like him”

      now its “why is he driving a bently and im not? this isnt fair someone should take his bently away”

      I blame the whole system that rewards kids for 8th place and participation trophies

      • Mister Delaware

        What about a system that rewards people who can’t spell? How would that make you feel?

        • jon

          then id make bill gates look like J.R. O’Grady

        • TanyonS

          Then OWS would run the world.

          • Philly Parisi

            Who run the world? Girls.

            /Beyonce’d

      • pete

        I don’t agree with your portrayal at all. When I see somebody driving a Bentley (or a Rolls, or a Hummer, or a Mercedes, BMW, etc.), I think about two things: 1) how much gas is being unnecessarily burned, and 2) how far that money could go towards helping people who are actually in need

        One thing I can say for sure, however, is that I have never wondered why I’m not driving a Bentley.

    • Cash Ninja

      The funny part of this comment is that the author of this piece makes more money than just about every single person in this thread. He has a day job outside of sports writing my dear friends

  • Hand of Abbot

    I think you’re looking at this in the wrong way. The yankees didn’t flex their financial muscle on this one and made an old school trade here. You may not like it, but it was made for baseball reasons, not financial, which runs contrary to your argument. On a related note, does anyone have a link to projected 2012 payrolls? While the “haves” and “have nots” issue is still prevalent, it seems like the yankees payroll is coming back to the back, to the point where we’re one of five or six teams with offensive payrolls.

    • http://thegreedypinstripes.blogspot.com/ Bryan V

      Not only does Mike do a good job here with the payroll, I do the same thing at my website (http://thegreedypinstripes.blo.....oster.html). I do figure things a bit differently than Mike, so you’ll get something out of each.

      • Hand of Abbot

        Thanks. Do you know of any site that’s already projected and consolidated every team in MLB for 2012? I’m trying to figure out how close philly, boston, detroit, anaheim, washington and texas are getting?

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

          mlbcontracts.blogspot.com

  • Now Batting

    Lament all you want. As a younger fan whose only “real” memory of a championship team was the ’09 team, I want the team to do whatever they can to ensure me another visit to the canyon of heroes.

    Want to wait on young talent? I’m still waiting on Hughes and Chamberlain. Last I checked Pineda is younger than both.

    This post tells me you’re nostalgic and yearning for the good old days, while you block out miserable years like ’08. Where the season is over in September

    • Now Batting

      I also find it extremely hypocritical of you to mention Maris. Can’t fact check right now but I’m pretty sure he was the reigning MVP brought on as a free agent by a team that just lost the world series.

      • the Other Steve S.

        A free agent in 1960? You don’t need to fact check to understand thats not right.

        • Now Batting

          Was definitely a stupid comment since I forgot when the reserve clause was abolished. Point still stands though as Kansas City was pillaged on a regular basis.

      • Don W

        Step 1 – Find book on baseball history.
        Step 2 – Open book
        Step 3 – Read

        Repeats steps 1-3 until you no longer post comments like the one above.

        • roadrider

          No, Maris wasn’t a free-agent – the old pre-McNally/Messersmith reserve system was still in effect in the winter of 1959 and Curt Flood’s challenge was a decade away. However, the Yankees’ acquisition of Maris in a trade with the Kansas City club does have a tinge of impropriety.

          The owner of the A’s had actually had owned Yankee Stadium as well as the minor league park in KC that was home to the Yanks AAA team and became the home of the A’s. When be bought the A’s from the Mack’s and relocated them to KC he had to sell the Stadium back to the Yankees as a condition of the purchase. Still, Yankee co-owner Del Webb’s construction company was the contractor for the re-modeling of Municipal Stadium and along with co-owner Dan Topping held a nearly $3 million second mortgage Johnson had taken out.

          This all started to get suspicious when the A’s traded good young players like Clete Boyer, Ralph Terry and Hector Lopez to the Yankees for what was widely seen as less than fair value (mostly big-name veterans past their sell-by date and younger players with less upside). The Maris trade is the most frequently remembered but there were many others.

          In the “Virtual Kansas City A’s” series on Hardball Times the A’s retain Boyer, Terry and Maris and win the AL pennant in 1962.

    • bobby two knives

      ditto. how long will we wait for Hughes?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      ….and you need to gain some additional perspective on what it means to be a Yankee fan. Flame me all you want on here, but you’re simply either too young or entitled to get it if you’re going to describe 2008 as a “miserable” year. That wasn’t miserable. That was called “missing the playoffs.”

      You want miserable? Where were you in ’91? I’m not old enough to know the late 60’s and very early 70’s, but I’m sure others can tell us what that was like.

      The problem with this comment, and even the overall post, is that too many fans have now separated what it means to be a “Yankee fan” and what it means to be a “baseball fan…..and my favorite team is the New York Yankees.” For all the excess and money and all that, the Yankees still have to play 162 games like every other team, and nothing is ever guaranteed. The players still put on their pants one leg at a time. They still have to go out there and earn it. Too many fans are caught up in the status and feel like its their birthright to get October baseball every year. It’s not. No matter how often it happens, you thank your goddamn lucky stars every time this team makes the playoffs, because none of it is ever a given.

      I got flamed before for saying this, but I highly recommend that anyone who thinks their fandom is threatened when the Yankees don’t make the playoffs try on being a fan of the Kansas City Royals or Pittsburgh Pirates. I know for a fact that I would be a fan of this team if they were more prone to the peaks and valleys that other franchises are.

      Want to enjoy the Yankees? Yes, indulge in hot stove conversations on blogs like this and talk about payroll concerns, etc. Totally fine. When the season starts, watch some damn baseball for what it is. That $200 million payroll still has to go out there and actually play nine innings 162 times a year.

      • Douglas John Bowen

        I can answer this, if a bit too parochially. The math shows this Yankee fan has suffered a longer drought for his team between World Series appearances–15 years, 1981-to-1996–than any Mets fan, living or dead, has done (14 years, 1986-to-2000). Perhaps in four more years, Mets fans can justifiably say they’ve shared the “no show” pain equally.

        Oddly enough, that 15-year gap in Yankee championships (pennant and/or World Series) is not the most painful one for me. No, it’s the shorter 12-year stint, often unfairly identified as the “Horace Clark” years, when the Mick disintegrated, Bobby Murcer tried but couldn’t quite inherit the Bomber throne, and owner CBS didn’t car. Go back to that? Pine for peaks and valleys? I sure hope not.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I wasn’t there for the “Horace Clark” years, as my earliest memories start at around ’78. I always say that my earliest memory was an Eric Solderholm at-bat in 1980, but that’s more likely due to me being old enough to reading what was on the TV screen at the time. I was watching before that. Still, yes, I can imagine that the come-down from what came before that era wasn’t easy.

          I’m not saying “pine for peaks and valleys,” but you were here then, and you’re still here now. Everyone prefers to win. I think we can all agree on that.

        • TomH

          I remember that 12 year drought all too well and, like you, want no part of a repeat. If a trade (e.g., PinedaMontero) helps keep the Yankees competitive, great. I’m not overly sentimental about home-growing talent. If it works out, fine. If not, do what George Weiss did to build a ruthless staff: Eddie Lopat came from Chicago and Allie Reynolds from Cleveland. Later Bob Turley would come from Baltimore.

          The Yankees should avoid bad habits, like saying, “Aww, we don’t have to win EVERY year!”

          • Cris Pengiucci

            I also remember those years. I don’t care to go back to a 10 or 12-year drought, but I’d be OK with missing the playoffs every once in a while if the reward was home-grown talent that allowed the team to build a new dynasty.

      • Cory Wade’s emergence

        Well said!!!

  • Steve (different one)

    First, this was extremely well written and your passion is evident.

    That said, I am confused because everyone else (obviously not everyone, just seems that way) seems to be complaining that the Yankees are moving AWAY from the mindset you are complaining about. I read all winter how the younger Steinbrenners are “cheap”, how they lack that “win at all costs” mentality that their father had, that the team has become satisfies with merely making the playoffs (heck, I read a column on ESPN that said this just YESTERDAY)… People were genuinely angry that the Yankees might try to, gasp, only spend $189M for only one season because they are tired of writing luxury tax checks.

    I don’t know what I am really trying to say, but it seems to me like he win at all cost mindset is shared by a lot of fans as well, not something being forced upon us by the Yankee brass (I also don’t think the Montero trade is a good example, they acquired 2 players who were on average younger than the ones they game up). I think I actually see the Yankee brass moving AWAY from the mindset you are railing against a little. I actually see the REST of the league moving closer to the Yankees in terms of spending and the payroll gap shrinking. If the Yankees hit their number in 2014, they will prob be neck and neck with the phillies and red sox.
    The tigers, angels, rangers, and marlins have all made gigantic purchases this winter. The 00’s were decadent times for the Yankees, but I see that coming back to earth a bit.

    I also believe that the secondary ticket market has made attending Yankee games easy and economical and the idea of Yankee tickets being inaccessible to be a bit dated.

    Finally, the Yankees were “underdogs” in 1996 because they underwent a long period of incompetence. Jeter was drafted because the Yankees finished in last place in 1991. Are we really nostalgic for that era? 1996 was special, no question, but I’m not interested in repeating the decade leading up to that season so I can feel that again.

    This is just my opinion though, I respect yours and enjoyed the piece.

    • LaserVortex

      “I read a column on ESPN”

      That was your first and only mistake.

      Otherwise, well said.

    • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      “This is just my opinion though, I respect yours and enjoyed the piece.”

      Unacceptable. Someone wrote a post about his personal opinions and attachment to a baseball team, and why he thinks those opinions and attachment have changed as time has passed. You must respond with uncompromising derision and explain to him why his feelings are more wrong than yours.

      • Tony

        The Honorable Congressman Mondesi get over your self. Steve’s comments where respectfull & well said. You are way off in your crtique.

        Although anyone who call himself “honorable” already is full of himself

        • jsbrendog

          uhm, sarcasm meter check time buddy. mondesi may be fat…and well, really fat but that was obviously a joke.

          mr congressman, recommence eating the donut crumbs you spit out in shock

    • Rick

      I agree with you. I think this post is way off the mark. They’re actually beginning to reign in their spending and operate like a smaller market team while only using their financial power when they deem it most appropriate. I found myself confused at times because the depiction of the current state of the team is simply inaccurate. If this could be placed in a time-capsule and sent back three years we would have all been grateful.

  • http://thegreedypinstripes.blogspot.com/ Bryan V

    Sorry, but a lot of this has me rolling my eyes. Like when I listen to an elderly person claim that things were better “back then”. Hey, things change. The team wanted a new stadium, found the resources to get it done, and had it built. People still go to games, as evidenced by them having the 2nd highest attendance in all of MLB, so why wouldn’t they raise prices? The team still has young home-grown talent like Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner, and David Robertson. Along with two guys among MLB Network’s top 50 prospects (Banuelos and Betances). It’s not like the loss of Montero destroyed anything home-grown on the team.

    Change or get left behind.

    • Me not U

      I agree, I think it looks great to see all the empty seats behind homeplate! I have no problem with the owners making alot of money but I also agree that it’s sad that alot of fans are unable to take their family to a game more than once or twice a season.Change is good but sometimes it’s sad to see…..

      • http://thegreedypinstripes.blogspot.com/ Bryan V

        I agree, it can be sad. And those empty seats do bother me. But he doesn’t seem to be talking about those premium seats anyway, as they were always expensive. We seem to be discussing the “common man” here, that’s looking to pay no more than say $45 for a ticket. And those seats back there are not going to get that low anyway. So it’s really an entirely different issue.

        Change is sad, but it happens. I miss times when kids, like my friends and I, would go outside everyday and find things to do/play. Nowadays you don’t see that. So we can either bitch and moan about such things, or find a way to deal with the way things are (better PE programs in schools, games that involve fitness/movement instead of sitting with a remote in-hand, etc)

        • Me not U

          So true!

      • Kevin

        Tickets on Stubhub were going for less then $10 last year. Yankee tickets are extremely affordable.

        • thenamestsam

          Also this. If you’re thrifty you can go to games extremely cheaply. I’m not picky about what games I go to, so I put in the effort to watch the prices and if they drop far enough I snap them up. I either meet whoever I’m going with early and get some food in the neighborhood or grab a sandwich and a bag of chips and bring them in. I went to plenty of games last year where the total cost was <$10 for the tickets and <$10 for food. The entire thing costs less than going to a movie and getting popcorn. If you decide to have a beer or two and a a bag of peanuts the whole thing costs more like $40. Not cheap certainly, but still cheaper than dinner and a movie.

          If you want the entire package- pick a great matchup way in advance, drive to the game, park close by, sit in great seats, eat a gourmet meal while you watch, have a swallow of beer between each pitch, buy a new t-shirt and a foam finger, you're right that it'll cost you an arm and a leg. But it doesn't have to be that way.

      • thenamestsam

        There isn’t really a way to make it possible for fans to take their kids to see more games. The stadium is full. Every additional person who comes in is going to push someone out. If you lowered the ticket prices, fans could theoretically afford to go see more games, but they wouldn’t be able to get seats because there would be 10 people clamoring for each one available seat. I don’t see how that would improve anything.

    • Larry

      The Yankees did get a new stadium — with public subsidies and taxpayer-funded debt. In the process, the team confiscated public park land, and to my knowledge has yet to replace the space with a viable alternative for the community. Capitalism is the best economic system in the world, but the enterprise that is the Yankees reeks of cronyism, favoritism, and just a few political favors. Pepole will pay to fill seats — especially those with expense accounts — but it has become increasingly difficult for a middle-class family to see a game. I’m glad that Rivera feels “respected” because he is getting $15 million a year, but lets not pretend that he is a hero for our kids to emulate. Likewise, you have to spend God knows what for an autographed ball, unless you spread your legs for Derek Jeter. These guys are hucksters. I like teh product just fine, but I can see how some fans are put off by $10 dollar hot dogs and $40 parking.

      • Kevin

        Any middle class family can afford going to Yankee stadium. The secondary market had dirt cheap prices. Plus you are allowed to bring your own food in with you.

      • Havok9120

        “I’m glad that Rivera feels “respected” because he is getting $15 million a year, but lets not pretend that he is a hero for our kids to emulate.”

        I’m not one of the people railing against anything smacking of anti-capitalism or anything like that….but dude, seriously? When we start saying that people who are outstanding aren’t people to emulate, something is seriously wrong. He achieved more in his profession than 99.999% of people will ever achieve in theirs. If that isn’t something to try and emulate, what is?

        Aspire to achieve. Don’t knock those who’s natural talents give them an advantage.

        • nyyankfan7

          Larry you (and every other Obama-ite) are the definition of what is wrong with this country these days. Now you think we should no longer allow our kids to idolize someone (ESPECIALLY someone like MO, who like Jeter, might be one of the few athletes I would want my child to idolize) who worked their butt off to become good at what they do and makes a lot money because if we do, the kids won’t grow up thinking everyone is entitled to free everything like you do. God forbid someone have a better lifestyle than you.

          Unlike this author, I am not ashamed to be a Yankee fan, sadly I am becoming more and more ashamed to be a citizen of this growing nation of pussies.

          • Lazerri Scooter

            ITCM. nyyankfan7, you are not alone.

            True Yankee fans are never ashamed of their team’s wealth of success, glory and capital. Like capitalism itself, the Yankees have given growth to America’s pasttime like no other franchise because of their dominance.

            Unfortunately, many modern Regressives fans view success to always have some iilegal or unfair purpose or generating point. Don’t worry, nyyankfan, this country will either reclaim their “freedoms” & individuality to prosper or wither and become an equal part of the collective of losers in poverity.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      If you like the sport, and you like the team, it’s all secondary. Change is inevitable.

  • steve s

    I have no issue with what the Stadium experience has become and I’m sure that as soon as the Yanks hit a swoon period attendance will drop and prices will follow. The main difference to me over the years (I’ve been going to Yankee games since 1963) is that now all the players have literally become one percenters and treat the public accordingly. Guys like Steiner have done more to create the chasm between fan and player as everything is for sale; even dirt. Every now and then there is a Swisher who seems to geniunely love the game and fans but more often than not the players disdain for fans is all too common and hardly hidden.

  • Mike

    The Yankees have been touting Montero for a while now, we have all waited for him, he was ready, and then traded. Its not as if they traded him years ago because they didnt want to wait. They did all the waiting, but unfortunately there was a more desperate need for pitching than there was hitting, and trading him was the best way to go about it. And even mentioning Phelps, Warren etc. is silly cause they project to be middle-back end guys, Pineda is a potential ace/#2. Like Abbot says, this was a straight up baseball trade. Not to mention, in the past two years, the Yankees have shown more financial restraint than ever. Times are changing, and being a Yankee fan, it may seem that they are the only ones doing it, but all teams act this way. Go to any stadium and you will see the same exact thing. The Yankees may be bigger than the rest, but theyre all the same. Although I can get behind some of what was said, I think a few years ago this may have been more relevant. Cash is trying to change some of this. Also, in my opinion, going to a game is a magical thing. Whether youre in the $300 seats or the obstructed view, theres nothing like being at a Yankee game; ticket prices wont be going down anytime soon so pay for what you can afford and enjoy the hell out of it

  • Rod

    You gotta be kidding :-(

  • Comrade Al

    JR, the Tea Party achieved a landslide election victory in the 2010 midterms. OWS has so far acheived squat (pun intended).

    • Lazerri Scooter

      Well, Lets be fair Al. You can’t expect much actual progress when your movement is led by:

      SEIU Union workers
      Socialist Groups
      Communist Party USA
      Most DNC Senators & Representatives
      College know-it-alls
      George Soros funded groups
      Adbusters, very anti-Israeli
      9/11 truthers
      anti-semites in general
      anti-capitalists in general
      anarchists

      Nope, no decent individuals in those groups who are capable of real change like the compentent, educated and noble Tea Partiers.

      Although you can expect these groups to continue:
      -have violent encounters with Police, Assualting women & protecting the criminals and silencing the victims, suicide/ homicides to rise, spreading Disease, drugs and vermin; and costing cities millions in damage

      Hmm, to be fair OWS has accomplished a lot of damage. And that really is their goal to bring down the system. God have mercy on the USA this spring.

  • Peter

    So you are disappointed because the Yankees have spent so much? What has changed in the past couple of years besides the president? The Yankees like many other teams exist to win they just have more money to do it with. Is it fair? Probably not but it is reality.

  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    um….yeah….well at least I’m following you on twitter now. Think the knicks can turn it around once Baron Davis comes back?

    • Chris

      Does anyone give a dam?

      • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

        anyone? yes, I’d say so.

        • Chris

          Yea like who? Besides you and ESPN. The Garden is empty for Knicks games. Basketball sucks.

          • thenamestsam

            It’s weird that you clearly hate the Knicks, but also watch enough or attend enough games to have a good sense of what attendance is like at the Garden. Also weird that you think ESPN covers the NBA obsessively despite the fact that Matt is literally the only person who cares about it. Seems like they could really bump up their ratings by covering something that people actually care about.

          • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

            look, I’m not saying I love the Knicks, they are prob #3 on my list (behind the Yanks and Rangers), but “empty” is wildly inaccurate.

            The Knicks are currently 5th in the NBA in home attendance:
            http://espn.go.com/nba/attendance

            • jsbrendog

              don’t,m you’ll just hurt yourself. let him wallow

            • Chris

              Basketball is the worst. The Knicks are terrible despite spending tons of money. The place is PACKED for Rangers games. Who has the stomach to watch a sport where grown men, some of which are the biggest people on earth complain about fouls when they are smacked in the hand.

              I can’t stand basketball. ESPN thinks its the greatest thing since the NFL. And give me a break, before they brought in Anthony MSG was a ghost town when the ice was covered with a court.

              • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

                and what did yankee stadium look like in the early 90s?

              • MidlandTX

                Ya gotta admit, though, this looks like it will be pretty cool:

                http://www.theonion.com/articl.....f-n,27106/

  • http://thegreedypinstripes.blogspot.com/ Bryan V

    And all you people whining about spending will cheer when the team wins. THAT is the saddest thing here.

  • tom

    J.R.– nice piece and very heartfelt– i moved to Manhattan in ’76 and was forced to watch the Yanks and Cincy in that Series on a black and white tv that my room-mate had and that was the only thing we watched since my mate was a die hard Yankees fan (also they showed almost every game home and away with Scooter, Messer and White)– it wasn’t long until i became a die-hard too– went to the old stadium once a month at least and watched Billy Martin, Hunter, Munson, Jackson, Rivers and all the guys from the mid-seventies on through the mid-80’s– moved away and fell out of touch for awhile but i’ve been back in the fold since the mid-ninties– no point to this really, just wanted to say good job– the money is crazy but what are you gonna do?– the market is what it is now and hopefully will find it’s level someday– Go Yanks!– tomc

  • John M

    Who cares about this post. Yanks trade talent all the time. They also spend money all the time. Nothing has changed since the arrival of Babe Ruth. I can’t afford to go to the game either with 2 kids. YES Network games are awesome. And when I do go to the stadium with my kids, it’s special. Yanks are good. They’re making money. Nothing wrong with that. I suggest becoming a Royals fan if you don’t like some of the things the Yankees do.

  • LaserVortex

    This is like my Grandmother telling me that she had to walk in the snow, uphill, both ways to school.

    Back in the good old days…

  • Andrew

    Don’t really understand how complaining about the cost of the Yankee Stadium III experience and how it’s just “not the same” also somehow relates to the organization trying to win every year. Correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t the goal of professional sports teams that fans pour hours of their free time and energy into following and spend many of their disposable dollars supporting, expect their teams to want to win it all every year? I understand taking issue with the “World Series or bust” mentality because yes it’s unrealistic and silly, but the idea that the Yankees should do their fans a favor by not trying so darn hard to improve one winter and allowing the team to be perceived as the underdog so you can enhance your level of rooting enjoyment doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

    People have been bombarded with all the “new Yankee Stadium is a disinterested palace full of empty suits” crap for the 3 years it has been open. One of the more tedious points of discussion re: the Yankees, but then again, this is a blog, and we’re in January, whatever. There have been great moments in the new building that were electric and loud and irrationally jubilant. But the experience is not going to be the same as your idyllic fantasyland of memories and TrueFan Glory Days. It’s a different place, with different people, acting entirely differently than they did 30 years ago. One thing not different: the Yankees, the team playing there. They are the constant, if they’re not good enough for you anymore, then give it up.

  • tom

    well, without tradition and a winning history LV, the Yanks wouldn’t be what they are today– sorry you don’t care much for history, but i promise you, you will someday– and wipe your nose before you go out the door!

  • Chris

    There is a scrappy underdog team in New York that I’m sure would love to have you bring your kid to. Part of being a Yankee fan is defending what they are…

  • Andy

    As an unabashed conservative, I find it annoying, to say the least, that the writer had to put the sarcasm quotes on the reference to the Tea Party, a MUCH more successful, LESS violent political movement than the Occupy movement, which he lauds, when in fact it has led to much LESS conversation about or movement toward involvement in changing the status quo than the Tea Party.

    That political squabbling aside, I completely understand his post, although, like others, I think the Montero trade is a bad example to make this point. It is kinda like, and maybe linked to, the Yankee/Red Sox rivalry, which just hasn’t been the same since 2004. There is just something missing these days for me, and its hard to explain. I am going to root as hard as I ever did, and take my three very young kids to our yearly trip to the Stadium, but it is a little bit annoying that ticket prices are so high, that the Yanks have so little confidence in their own players that they have to go and sign Brian Gordon rather than call up Adam Warren, that they sign Soranio to a terrible three year deal because they didn’t get the pitcher they wanted that winter.

    Its hard to explain, but I agree with the writer, I feel it too. Hopefully, the Pineda trade will be a precursor to a CC, Pineda, Nova, Baneulos, and Hughes/Betances rotation in 2014, maybe that will make me feel better. Or maybe not, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll never feel like I used to when they came out of that terrible decade, and I guess that’s OK.

  • Douglas John Bowen

    I accept Mr. Kabak’s angst as genuine, but as he himself vaguely allows, the change(s) may be within him, not within (or without) the New York Yankees organization.

    I’ve been a fan since 1960, and I’ll allow that the intensity of my “fandom” has waxed and waned over the decades. But it’s never “failed” and I’ve never apologized for attaching my loyalty to the most successful sports franchise I know — isn’t winning the idea? I don’t/can’t comprehend the dismissal of “win too often” or “let others win”–even in the fallow years. Current ownership is following a tradition which, while perhaps resurrected by George Steinbrenner, certainly wasn’t invented by him. (See Ruppert, Col. Jacob.)

    As for the ballpark, I took the move harder than some, but at least it’s across the street, not across the Hudson (shudder) or even “only” on Manhattan’s West Side. The address is virtually the same, the subway stop is the same, and the Yankee Stadium of new really does resemble the “original” one (pre-1976) pretty closely. That’s versus Queens, which has a very, very nice new ballpark resembling one in another borough, in another time, and yet (sadly) smack dab in the middle of a parking lot that would fit any Paramus shopping mall.

    For this, Yankee fans should mourn?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

      …what suggests that Ben wrote this?

    • Douglas John Bowen

      With a belated nod to Joe Pawlikowski (below, I think), my bad; I did not see the byline as Mr. O’Grady. The gist of the comments stand, however.

  • My Pet Goat

    Yes, you are conflating the issues. The corporate orgy that is NYS has nothing to do with the trade of Jesus Montero. Yeah, everyone really likes the homegrown studs, but it’s not like Pineda is some mercenary like Clemens or Randy Johnson, or even the much beloved David Cone. If Jorge Campos and Pineda are both in the starting in 2016, will Campos be the truer Yankee (easier to root for, more rewarding to see your son where his jersey…) because he spent a few years toiling for the Yankees minor league affiliates? Homegrown studs aside, this trade was not a classic mortgaging-the-future trade like those of the 1980’s Yanks. There was 1 year of service time in that entire deal. And this is where the conflation begins, you write this off as a win-at-all-costs move, which it clearly isn’t. Since the winter of CC, Tex, and AJ, cashman’s Yankees have been about winning-at-the-right-cost. Yeah, there monstrous resources allow them to play at the deep end of the pool every year, but of late there’s a distinctly prudent if not fully frugal bent to the roster construction (I know, I know… ).
    If you’re upset with the Yankees, because the new stadium is a microcosm of what OWS is railing against, that’s valid. But if you’re letting that color what’s happening on the field you either were naively unaware of the financial might of the late 90’s yanks, or for you current events are blurring the lines between the game played on the field and the business run in the stands. There are competitive have’s and have-not’s amongst the small market teams, and that competitiveness can be cyclical or short lived, but curbing the Yankees’ monetary clout would do nothing to ensure the on-field success of the less ridiculously wealthy (but still owned by members of the billionaire 0.1%) franchises. It wouldn’t make the pirates suddenly competitive if the steinbrenners had been conned by Bernie Madoff, nor would it make them any more profitable. The pirates are already extremely profitable and a good portion of that is due to the success of the Yankees, in a closed system like the monopoly that is MLB, trickle down economics do work. You do realize that Hank and Hal are not the richest owners in MLB, they just own the most valuable franchise? On the field there can only be one world series winner each year in MLB, but in the owner’s box there are 30 perennial winners. So are you angry at the owners for collectively running an awesomely profitable monopoly, or are you feeling guilty because the financial wherewithal of your favorite team makes you somewhat immune to cyclical and fleeting nature of sporting success unlike the fans of most every other professional team, or are you upset about income inequality in America as well as not getting to watch Jesus Montero mash oppo-bombs into the short porch, and confusing the two?

    • Tony

      this is a great comment

  • Monterowasdinero

    I too have been a Yankee fan forever-saw Mantle play-have been to tons of games all over the country-but I could only sit through a 9 inning Yankee game-never a non-Yankee game. I love baseball but I love the Yanks far more. The Montero trade really hurt but it doesn’t play to the argument trying to be made about money since Pineda is cheap too. I see both sides of the argument and really the only way to appease all sides in this thread is to bite the bullet and have Banuelos be our #5 starter.

    Get over it and let the chips fall. We’ll still win the division.

    /only partially kidding

  • John

    The paragraph about political movements does not support in any way your argument and should have been dismissed. That it would lead to political debate on a baseball blog (which I think no one desires) was inevitable.

  • OldYanksFan

    While I understand your sentiments, I think they apply a LOT less now, then a decade ago.

    I have been to very few Yankee games, as neither my father or older brother were into baseball, and I ‘escaped’ NY when I was 19. I did however see the Old Timers Game when Mickey was announced last for the first time, that honor previously going to Joe D. I also saw those truly, truly amazing ABs when Murcer hit 4 consecutive HRs. And by a bizarre miracle of fate, I was at the May 14, 1967 game, when Mickety got 2 hits… the second being his 500th HR.

    I started following the Yankees in 1965, so I don’t have to tell you the quality of team I was weaned on. For me, my first years were rooting for a few individual players and the impossible goal of having a .500 season. So I have really appreciated the last 15 years, and take nothing for granted.

    When we got Giambi (in 2002?), it seemed like George’s check book always ruled. But now, between the $$$ we have paid to other teams and the general financial health of baseball, we no longer get everyone we want. I think if you look at the FA market over the last 6 years, when you consider our financial advantage, we really haven’t ‘hogged’ the FA market. Bonds, Pujols, Fielder, and Santana and many others have gone elsewhere.

    In 2005, our payroll was $209 million. Now, for 7 years, Cashman has kept the payroll withing about 5% of that number. I have no doubt, the Yanks could ‘afford’ to go much higher, but Cashman and Company are trying to continue to Win without dwarfing the market. In the meanwhile, a number of other teams have greatly increased payroll, and the inequity is getting less and less ‘obscene’.

    Frankly, looking back, I believe George’s checkbook has literally changed Baseball, with the result being other teams spending big bucks in an attempt to Win or at least put a more entertaining team on the field.

    It is obvious that Cashman is putting a lot more emphysis on the entire ‘non MLB part’ of the organization, and beginning to develop our own players. There is not a lot Cashman can do with the payroll because of commitments to ARod, Teix and CC, but he is certainly trying to be the best by NOT simply outspending everyone else.

    After all, we are NEW YORK. Somebody has to have the largest payroll and throw the most money around… and who else, but a New York team. But as the Mets have proved, money alone doesn’t buy you the Post Season.

    I do hope Cashman goes for the $189 by 2014. Maybe it will be, if not a re-building year, at least a retooling year.

    So… I think Cashman is going in the right direction, and that the Yankees want to keep their payroll closer to the rest of baseball then they were in the first 8 or so years of the new century.

    But I gotta tell ya in all honesty…. Octobers are a lot more fun now then they were from 1965 – 1995.

    • Tony

      great comment

  • Fernando

    OK, I disagree with some of your points.

    1. “Now, more often than now, I wonder “how much is enough?”
    How can you decry how much the team spends in a season where the Yankees are on their austery plan and when those noted cheapskates the Marlins went crazy spending? Yes, it’s still the top payroll, but it’s not business as usual. The team passed on many players this off-season.

    2. “Yankee fans have become spoiled by winning”
    What’s wrong with winning? You don’t always win, but you ALWAYS play to win. Personally, I waited a long time (from 78 to 96) to see the team win. Yes, it’s not a wait like Red Sox, White Sox or Cubs fans have endured but it’s not like the success previous Yankee generations enjoyed.

    2. “Anything short of a championship is a failure”.
    Says who? This is a myth about Yankee fans, that we can’t enjoy anything less than a championship. Baloney. We certainly can appreciate a good team that didn’t win. One of my favorite teams is the 2001 club. I never felt so much elation in watching Tino, Jeter and Brosius go deep in back-to-back games off Kim.

    “It’s not over”, I said as Brosius was down to his last strike. I can still remember my friend saying “you Yankee fans are unbelievable, you think this can happen two nights in a row”. BOOM! “See, I told you, you have to believe. Things may look bad, but you never give up.” I have never wanted a championship so badly after what our city endured with September 11. That team brought the city together to cheer, including non-baseball fans and even some Mets fans. It wasn’t a win, but it made the city cheer again — both for the players and the countless heroes that were honored suring those games. No, it wasn’t a championship but it was anything but a failure.

    3) “Waiting on young talent is a virtual Yankee-impossibility”.
    Why because the team traded Montero? C’mon, people need to give it up already. He’s no longer a Yankee. Does every article have to have some reference to him? I get it, he’s a top prospect, but it isn’t like previous prospect trades where the team got an aging veteran. No, the team got a guy that is a pitcher, young and incredibly talented. Let’s give Pineda a chance. Last I looked he was a young talent himself. Speaking of young talent, how about Cano, Gardener, Robertson, Hughes and Joba?

    4) “Would you believe that during last year’s ALDS against the Detroit Tigers, I was actually told to sit down with two strikes on an opposing hitter during an elimination game. Shirley, you can’t be serious?”

    I hope a good Bronx boy like yourself gave them th Bronx salute or at least told them where they could sit down.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Incredibly well said and 1000 times better than my rant above.

  • TomG

    I don’t completely agree with the points, but I kinda here what he’s saying. For me, a large part of what’s missing is George himself. It was easier for me to swallow the business side of things when there was a semi-lunatic at the helm of it all. Sure, the Yankees spent a ton of money, but it was much more entertaining to watch it all unfold when you thought of it as George’s money. Without that oversized personality, it feels more like the multinational corporation that it really is.

  • Jake

    It bums me out that an author cannot write something lighthearted, yet obviously heartfelt and personal without commentators rushing to call him a wimp, a whinner and a hypocrite. You don’t have to agree with everything or anything he wrote, but you still could show a little respect. The author wasn’t telling anyone how to feel, only how he feels. Why that would engender such animosity is beyond me.

    • MidlandTX

      Word. Astute comment and, J.R., great essay.

  • JobaTheHeat62

    i have no problem with a new stadium but i have been to both the new one sucks horribly when it comes to the crowds. i bet other teams love playing there its so nice and luxurious and its no longer an intimidating place to play. they truly have outpriced real baseball fans and only really wealthy people go and well they have proven they are an extremely weak fanbase. i despise the red sox but we could never compete with a fenway park crowd ever and they have 2/3 of the people.i went there last season against the freaking athletics of all teams and that place was rocking.

    • Steve (different one)

      The Yankees are an insane 161-82 in the new stadium. What would their record be if their opponents weren’t so comfortable?

  • Tony

    Very nice piece. I enjoyed reading it. I have to disacgree that the Yankees do not integrate young players they have. I was sad to see Montero go but Cashman is acting in the best of interest of the team. the team will be stronger now & in the next 5 years because of this trade. If Montero turns out to be the real deal – I’m sure the Yankees will pursue him in 2018. In terms of “Baseball is a business now — there’s no going back” When was it not a business??? As a child we where not aware of the business side but doesnt mean it wasnt always their. We as fans are just more acute to the business realities – but they where always their. (Full disclosure I was a kid in the 80’s)

  • mike

    The Yankees have marketed themselves to be synonymous with New York, where the perception is big money, shark tank, win-or-go-home from everything from a job to a seat on the train to lunchline.

    To keep up the perception, the Yanks spend money to keep the team on top, remade a baseball experience at YS3 to awe fans and foes alike, and use their history of winning to lay claim to their place in the city.

    The Mets, who are the shorter, less athletic and less successful little brother who gets ignored by the adults in the room, have apparently accepted their place as well.

    I love being a Yankee fan, I enjoy the F-U attitude we can have as NYers and as Yankee fans, and i would be disappointed if the Yanks accepted the middle lane on the highway of competition given their access to resources.

  • Rube

    I can understand the “Win Now” mentality of fans can be grating at times. I appreciate what you are trying to say, but I have some concerns over this.

    – The point of a farm system is to help the major league team out whether its to use the players in the system on the team or to trade them for pieces the team needs. The point of the Montero trade was to get back something the team needed, which was pitching. There is nothing wrong with what they did as they are using their farm system the way it’s supposed to be.

    If you’re still wondering where the next homegrown Yankee players: Gardner, Robertson, Cano, Joba, Hughes, and Nova all come to mind. It’s not like they trade all their young players, but at the same time they are not going to keep all their young players. Plus to expect a crop like the 90s where the team grew two HOF bound players and few good players is not realistic.

    -Winning breeds high expectations. Look at the Phillies right now. About 7-8 years ago they were an underdog team; now they have one of the highest payrolls in baseball and their fanbase now has a “Win Now” mentality as well. That is what happens when a team wins a lot; the fanbase gets higher expectations for the team and this counts for everyone. Red Sox have it, Rangers look like they are going towards it, etc. There is no point going in this direction because it happens to every team eventually.

    -As others have stated the younger Steinbrenners seem to be more conservative in their signings. There does not seem to be anymore long term outside FA contracts like there were in the past and they are going after younger players who can last for a good while, not older veterans on the wrong side of their career.

    Honestly, this article would have been better in the 00s when George was spending like a drunken sailor. It does not seem to work as much anymore now that the Yankees are cutting back a bit and other teams are spending more.

    I appreciate what you are trying to do, but it probably does not come off as well in this article.

  • YankeeGrunt

    A nice, heartfelt post but I take issue with a lot of it. Yes attending baseball games used to be cheaper, yes salaries used to be lower, yes revenues weren’t measured in billions with a B. But it’s not like the Yankees were ever content with mediocrity. From the years when we used the Royals as a farm team to our first forays into big-dollar free agency we have always tried to win championships, and have won roughly 1/4 of them since 1903. We have almost always invested more in the team than our competitors, significantly more. If anything that spending edge is less now than it ever was for any sustained period of time since World War II.

    You know better than the rest of us do that “Old” Yankee Stadium bore little resemblance to the original incarnation. New Yankee Stadium could stand to do something (charity, upgrades, etc etc) for unsold premium seats, or, perish the thought, lower their prices. But it is still possible to go to the game in one of the priciest cities in the world, get bleacher seats and a hotdog outside the Stadium and spend less per person than it costs to go see a crappy movie.

  • RetroRob

    Become a Mets fan.

  • thenamestsam

    Like a lot of others I don’t have the same sentiments, but I did find this as nicely written as just about anything I’ve seen on here and it was clearly heartfelt. Nice work Grady.

    • thenamestsam

      Blargh. My mind is elsewhere. Nice work, J.R. I should say, of course.

  • tvbona

    So, this will be the first I make my first comment on. For that, you should get kudos.

    I hear your inner struggle, and understand where you’re coming from. Before I respond to what I believe to be your basic point, I’ll say that I think you’re conflating some issues.

    Specifically the Montero trade and Kuroda signing as being some indicator of “how much is enough?”. If anything, those deals mark an improvement over the old “throw money at it” philosophy that’s been in the Bronx ever since CBS sold the team. Montero for Pineda isn’t a “win now at all costs” Buhner-Phelps trade; it’s a classic “trade our strength for our weakness” deal every team tries to do. And Kuroda on a bargain one-year deal is not exorbitant.

    But to your basic point. I also grew up working class in the Bronx; I came of age wondering if they’d ever win again, lived through the 91 season, and celebrated wildly in 96. I used to go to games in the old Stadium, heck my father worked on the renovation and my mother later sold concessions. And I get how it can be troubling to see the extreme amount of money pouring in, seemingly at the expense of “regular fans”. And yes, the issue of public money for the stadium; and the issue of pricing out hardcore fans while the prime seats are empty; are legit to discuss and debate.

    But when it comes down to it, being a fan isn’t about those things. Being a fan is about either being from a place, or having some connection with that place or team that makes you want to dance when they win, cry when they lose, and scour blogs and Twitter and news sites for the latest mundane details. It’s both a distraction from “the real world” and a way to express identity and form community.

    Being a Yankee fan is who I am; to some extent I did not choose it, much like I didnt’ choose to grow up in New York. My parents took me to games; I emulated Mattingly’s swing in the mirror; I still have my Bat Day bat… this stuff formed me as a sports fan.

    You can debate the other stuff, and they are significant topics. But if they’re significant enough to make you question why you root for the team … then I wonder. Have they changed or have you? Has the role and meaning of sports in your life changed?

    Hope that didn’t come off flippantly. I think you wrote an excellent, thought-provoking piece…

  • CJ

    Never apologize. I want, no expect an excessive payroll with stars at nearly every position. $25 million for a dh, yep.
    There is no parity when comparing to NY. Once we pay NY taxes, NY rent or real estate and compare that to the rest of the country I expect or need the best baseball team full of well paid stars. If I have to buy a house that’s double even 3-5X more expensive than it would be in other cities, I would have no shame in following the NY Yankees and their $300 million payroll.

    • TomG

      Amen man, we put up with a lot of shit to live in this city, our reward is Yankees baseball.

  • Mike R.

    Problem with being a young Yankee fan who grew up watching the team starting 2000 is that winning becomes stale when it is the same result year after year.

    I wouldn’t mind it if the Yankees’ success was built on a foundation of masterful management, like the Patriots now or Islanders of way back when. But I feel that massive payroll they sport year after year is the equivalent turning off the “fair trade” option on a baseball video game and as well as the payroll option.

    Without any semblance of competitive balance the ride is still fun, I am glad to be a Yankee fan. It’s just not nearly as satisfying as the Giants winning the Super Bowl in 2007 or maybe two weeks from now. The 2009 team was fun to watch, but I’d rather watch VHS tapes of the 1996 team. I wasn’t a part of it, but the thrill of being an underdog, the return to glory aspect, and the culmination of YEARS of great baseball moves is pretty enticing. And I am aware that the 1996 Yankees had baseball’s highest payroll, but there was no huge payroll discrepancy back then as there is now.

    My favorite Yankee teams were the 2001 and 2003 incarnations, but that was probably more nostalgia from being a young baseball fan, not knowing that not every team can keep all of their homegrown players AND sign the Giambis of the world at the same time.

    • Steve (different one)

      How would you feel if it was built on masterful management AND blatant cheating, like the Patriots? Forgot thy part.

      Sorry, couldn’t resist, go big blue!

      • Mike R.

        lol at “cheating”

        Agree with your last sentence

  • Ninja Burglar

    My season tickets went up 40% this season ($20 to $28) and they were in the second to last row of section 426. I had to cancel. It’s already so expensive for food and drinks there, much more than the old stadium, and the moat makes me feel like there’s a class system. It’s all really disappointing to me to see how the live experience has changed from the old stadium to the new one.

    • G

      Bleachers+bring your own food in a plastic bag. Solved.

    • Chris

      Hey I am in 426 too!!!

  • G

    I’m sorry what is this crap? If you’re unhappy with the way the Yankees are run, stop being a fan. You don’t need to make excuses for them unless you have such bad confidence issues you actually think you need to justify your favorite teams spending.

    • Darren

      You realize this kind of thinking is ridiculous, right? “Amurrica, love it or leave it.”

  • Dougie Q

    Thank you for sharing this, this article is precisely why I read this website everyday.

  • http://n/a Paulie21

    It is hard getting over the loss of Montero. BUT. The game will continue to be more about $$, more and more teams have huge cable deals and are spending like crazy. I mean, look at the contract Detroit just gave Fielder, not to mention all the $ dolled out by Miami this off-season. It depends how you use that money, knowing where to spend the big chunks and making smart moves when the big $$ is gone. It’s encouraging the Yankees are taking a bit of a different tack in not splurging in a panic on FAs like Darvish/Jackson. Even though we didnt hold on to a hometown guy (Jesus/Noesi), Cashman’s moves this offseason are risky and intriguing. Cashman’s trade shows more life and forethought than paying exorbitant contracts for past-their-prime stars. And we still have a bunch of young talent in the minors. Isn’t this a change to get excited about? Maybe even something to be nostalgic about in the future?

  • Yankeegirl49

    I have been a Yankee fan since the mid 70’s when I was 10. I was one of the handful of people that was in the stadium during much of the 80’s (taking the D train almost the length, from Coney Island when it wasn’t exactly safe). I said it then and I will say it now..”homegrown” means nothing to me. I don’t care where the players come from as long as they win. They can empty out Rikers, put pinstripes on them and throw them on the field and if they win I am happy. Would I have liked to see Montero become a superstar for the Yanks? Sure..just as I now would like to see Pineda and Campos become superstars, no difference because they didn’t come up in our system.
    If I am to be faulted for wanting to win and win now, so be it..thats what being a FANatic is about.
    The experience has changed for me because the stadium has changed, not because the Yankee way of doing business has changed, but it is an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything else.
    If I go to a movie, it’s at least $12 to get in and I cannot bring in food or drink. I buy a $25 ticket to a Yankee game and if I choose, I can bring food and a soft drink in from the outside or from home. Its cheaper than going to dinner, cheaper than going to a Broadway show, cheaper than a concert (just spent 150 on Van Halen tix..upstairs). My $25 gets me 3 hours of entertainment and a competitive team every year. Would I like to sit in the Legends seats? Sure, but I would also like to drive a Porche. There have always been “haves” and “have nots”. I feel lucky to be able to go to as many games as I do.

    After reading this article, the first thought I had was that I feel bad for your son and hope that you will take him to games much like your parents took you..even if the experience is not the same. Let him make his own determination when the time comes. My daughter and I share a special bond in the Yankees, one we wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t taken her and showed her how great a Saturday afternoon at the Stadium could be. Don’t take that from your son.

    • Rainbow Connection

      On the other hand, encouraging his son to be obsessed with something that is SOOO unimportant is unhealthy. You don’t want to raise them to be shallow assholes that root for dumb PED users that throw balls around. There’s nothing noble about MLB. It’s baseball, not a fucking symphony orchestra.

      • Yankeegirl49

        Then why are you even here? You spend time on a baseball forum but baseball is SOOO unimportant? Makes tons of sense.

        Actually it is important..and I have shown why in my post.
        Have a nice day, maybe go to the symphony or something important like that.

  • Rainbow Connection

    I don’t plan on going to any games because:
    1. My AC and TV (with instant replay) are muuuuch better than sitting in a tiny seat surrounded by dummies during humid weather.
    2. I don’t want to be surrounded by married assholes from Jersey wearing suits having closeted homoerotic/cuckold-ish conversations (after a couple of beers) “You know, that guy Chris who lives down the hall from me is a really good looking guy”
    3. It’s too much money/not worthy of my money
    4. I don’t want to directly contribute to a bunch of clods getting millions of dollars for doing very unimportant tasks. Fuck them.

    • Mike R.

      “I don’t want to directly contribute to a bunch of clods getting millions of dollars for doing very unimportant tasks. Fuck them.”

      I’m pretty sure they are getting millions of $$ because a billion dollar industry is pretty darn important.

    • thenamestsam

      Watching on TV contributes just as directly to the guys getting paid. You’re still paying with your eyeballs.

      Also where do you sit to hear the homoerotic conversations? Is that like a special section? And what kind of married guy in a suit from Jersey has a guy living down the hall from him? The same guy who commutes every day from Jersey to NY to work can’t even afford a house in Jersey? Why bother commuting at all? Something is very fishy about this story?

      • The209

        something very gay about this story, too

    • JohnnyC

      In your attempt to go for some weak humor, you’ve given us a glimpse behind your facade. And it’s quite disturbing.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    While I understand the writers sentiments, I think that the Yankees in recent years have been forced (by MLB and by ownership) to try and scale back on ridiculous spending, at a time when the others teams are catching up.

    The early to mid 2000’s were a WTF-able time for Yankee spending. It played into the “we’re one player away” mentality that followed after every postseason loss. Couple that with the Yankees unwillingness/inability to develop their own players, and it was a maddening time for me as a fan. I’ve been a Yankee fan since around 1991, and remember those days well.

    But now, I see the Yanks giving their farm more chances to impact the team.

    Nova, Robertson, Hughes, Joba, Pineda (in exchange for Montero).

    Cano, Gardner, Cervelli, Nunez (thats my dude!), ARod (who we got for Soriano), Granderson (who we got for IPK and Austin Jackson).

    Plus Romine, Sanchez, Murphy, ManBan, Betances, Mason Williams, Bichette, Campos (for Noesi) waiting in the wings.

    Now, the Yanks won’t go completely cheap, and will still spend the money when needed and available, but I like this team more than the early 2000 Yankees. There are alot more smart decisions and a deeper willingness to develop their own players. Now, not all of them will make it here or pan out, but how is that different from the other big clubs?

    All in all, I’m enjoying this span of offseasons, as it seems that the Yankees, for the first time in my life, can do silent ninja moves. The $189million threshold actually makes me smile. It will allow Cashman to show off the work he did on the farm system, and will (hopefully) preclude the Yanks from spending on luxury-item players.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    I haven’t been to a game in years, mostly due to the price of concessions (not even the seats!), and I feel you get a great experience on your own leather couch, watching on a 50″ HDTV. No dealing with hot sun, or rain, or cold winds.

    No drunken idiots, cursing while you and your girl (or kid or cousin) sit there. No line at the bathroom.

    It’s not that going to games are a bad experience, just not as great as it would seem.

  • OldYanksFan

    I think the prices and the ‘atmosphere’ of the new Stadium is kind of a separate issue.

    However, much of the pricing is supply and demand, which is somewhat tied to the success of the team. When the team was shitty, you could get front row box seats the day of the game, for cheaper then many other 3 hr forms of entertainment.

    I do think the moat and obstructed seats in CF are really shitty. I do think the pricing of the best seats is nuts. But I don’t think that its about the Yankees, as much as the modern day ethos of getting as much as you can, and fuck the customer. I admit that the current pricing structure at the new YS bums me out.

    However, the price of heating my home has tripled over the last decade, and that bums me out a lot more. The bottom line is that the rich keep getting richer, and that affects everything.

    Think about this…. as someone above mentioned the price of a concert ticket. I used to go to the Philmore East a bit. I sat in the 5th Row, center for a show of: The J. Giles Band, Hunble Pie, and MOUNTAIN.

    This did, however, set me back $5.50!

  • bobmac

    So Rainbow,you don’t wnat to waste your money and contribute to the clods yet you find time to watch them on tv.Therefore,you are bumping the ratings of YES and feeding the team.Oh.Hey,go find a nice coalition.

  • TanyonS

    J.R., stick to the Huffington Post and leave the rest of us alone please. Some of us turn to baseball to get away from politics.

  • TheOneWhoKnocks

    Yanks are practicing financial restraint more than ever, and other teams continue to edge closer and closer to our payroll.

    I’m sad that they traded Montero too, but you really know you are too spoiled as a fan when your complaint is that the Yankees are trying too hard to win every year.

    If you suffered for one second of your life as a fan of any other team, you would realize how ridiculous it sounds. But we are all so privileged that we look for things to complain about.

  • Mike from Jersey

    This is a typical “boo-hoo” post from JR. I have been a Yankees fan through the Ron Bloomberg years as well as the Bernie years. No one can begrudge the Steinbrenners for running a successful business and trying to put the best product out on the field year after year.

    With that said – there should be no need to “tie this” to a political agenda – such as the tea baggers, who are a fringe movement which will eventually die off like a bad punch-line. And by the way – this president hasd done significantly more than his predecessor with much less cooperation. This comes from an Independent Yankees fan (guess who I am votin’ for?). ‘Nuff said, loser.

  • James B

    Dude all this time i ve been handing you beers and i just now find out you are a jerome ave guy. I lived on dekalb. My entire extended family did. Took my wife up there for pizza when we started dating. Do you remember the kosher deli with the hot dogs cooking in the window? Anyway to get to the point i remember watching reggie hit 3 in the series and i wore eyeblack my entire athletic career cause i wanted to be bucky dent. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I am down for a game of red rover whenever you are

  • Ghostwriter

    I enjoyed the post and appreciated an alternative that was broad and reflective, in contrast to the many discussions of what’s tangible and measurable. I do feel the readers’ comments regarding the team’s development and player acquisition strategy are valid. Had Hughes, Chamberlain and Kennedy had more success in MLB, and Wang stayed healthy we would be talking about a new core to go along with Cano. The odds were against it happening all along. The success of the core 5 – how can Bernie be left out – was as special as it was unlikely. I think Cashman has the team headed in the right direction in regard to player acquisition and development. Though, personally, I fell in slightly against the Montero/Pineda deal.

    As for the feel of things, the sense that something has changed, that the new YS is less than a ballpark, I have certainly felt that. While I only have 5 years of being a (partial)season ticket holder to make a comparison, I certainly think the new stadium has a quieter, more controlled, more Pavlovian feel to the stadium bowl. While the stadium experience sometimes feels disappointing to me, the bells and (strikeout)whistles may be more appealing to the casual fan, children and certainly, the sponsors.

    And, face it, these Steinbrenners are not truly baseball obsessed people, their focus is not pleasing and keeping the core fan; it’s bringing in anyone who wants to come and spend money, hopefully, lots of it. It’s business. Perhaps, the day will come when the Yankees have another owner who’s passionate about the game. It certainly doesn’t mean the stands will be any more full.

    If you see business and capitalism as fundamental, then perhaps J.R’s post comes off to you as whiny, sentimental, leftist garbage. And if your perspective is that business has its time and place, that there are times it should be set aside or even fettered, maybe you feel differently. I know where I stand and fortunately we’re all entitled to our opinions.

  • Thomas Tu

    Yo honestly, fuck everyone who keeps citing sushi as a sign of Yankee Stadium III no longer catering to the “common” fan.

    As an Asian Yankee fan, that bothers the f— out of me.

  • august

    Complainers suck.

  • NRW Yankee

    As a fan from overseas I´d like to comment on this article as well. I must admit that I´m not as long into the game of baseball than most of you, since I discovered baseball for me during my first trip to NYC in 2009 ;-)
    And it was only last year that I had a chance to attent my first two games in the Bronx against the Blue Jays. As you might know, baseball is not nearly as popular here in germany. We do have a league running here, but the club I visit on regular basis draws around 100 people, plays only doubleheaders on weekends and charges nothing (!).
    But football (and with football, i do mean soccer ;-) )is big, and of course I have a team that I support. It´s my father´s hometown club, and it all started when dad took me to my first game at the age of 8 or so.
    10 years ago, that club built a new stadium. The fans loved the idea of a new stadium cause so many things we liked to complain about in the past should undergo a change for the better. No running tracks, closer to the pitch, a roof that could be closed an opened, more beer-kiosks with shorter lines etc.etc.

    When the new stadium opened everybody was excited at first.
    With a capacity of over 61.000, season tickets at around 42.000 and sellouts at every game it seemms that the club managed to make the turn. Until that time, we were the underdogs, fighting relegation waaaay to often.
    But with the new stadium came the need of playing better and win titles because the club had to handle all the financials by itself with no help from the city. Luxury suites seemed to become more important than the average fan in the stands who supportet the club during rough times. Food and Merchandise prices went up and it didn´t take long before the first fans complained that this wasn´t the club that they knew and loved anymore.

    So when I read O´Gradys article I recognised many things. Sports fans are much alike, no matter where they are from. We are loyal to our team, and that loyality is a lifelong commitment. And in the modern business that is pro sports, loyality is a quality.

    Just my thoughts. Sorry for my bad english. ;-)

  • Kevin

    If people really want a team to be ashamed of..how about the 97 Marlins and 01 Diamondbacks. For all the talk of the Yanks or other teams “buying” championships,those two teams were made up of hired guns more than any Yankee team ever was.