Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Into the Belly of the Beast

I've been to many ballparks. By far, Fenway and Wrigley are my favorites for many reasons, but the primary reasons are the passion of the fans and the aura, tradition and old school feel. It wasn't for a Red Sox game, but last night I attended my first game at Yankee Stadium. Here are some anecdotes and thoughts from the game. First, my view from the seats, upper deck behind home plate, a great spot to see balls and strikes:

  1. The park looks a thousand times nicer and more intimidating on TV. In reality it's just a big, cold ballpark with awful infrastructure.
  2. It is painfully clear why a new park is needed. The place sucks - in an emergency, there is no way I could ever get out when sitting in the upper deck. The advertising is old, tired and consists mostly of translucent panes backlit with fluorescent lights.
  3. The scoreboard is old and there are no replays shown. This was annoying when a very controversial "safe" call was made at 1B.
  4. The sound system is atrocious. I was stupefied by this - is it that hard to wire speakers around the park? They only have one stack of giant speakers in a pile atop the center field bleacher wall. I think my fraternity house had the same stack in the basement for parties back in the day.
  5. I've heard much about the field dimensions and how they are no longer the House that Ruth Built. The center and LF wall configurations are just plain odd to look at, and the fans seem so far away from the game.
  6. The field was in horrible shape. The grass had been worn down from the all-star game and looked like my backyard after a 4-year-old's slip-n-slide birthday party.
  7. The lighting is weird - all those lights shine on the field but there are pockets of darkness covering the fans. It made it look cloudy even at night.
  8. The ballpark frankly looks tired. The hallways look like a dirty subway station. The place has just been neglected over the years and it shows. It really makes me appreciate the Fenway ownership and what they have done to invest in the infrastructure, down to details like getting rid of the trough toilets.
  9. My buddy Larry who brought me is a season ticket holder and has been for 12+ years. 5 years ago, the seats were $18. Today they are $60. In the new park they will be at least $100 and have TVs and waitress service.
  10. One tradition I kinda liked - in the first inning the right field bleachers chant each NYY fielder's name until they wave or acknowledge them in some way - even when the pitcher is about to throw. I also liked that Jeter has a recording of the old announcer still announce his name when he comes up to bat.
Sure, I'm biased, but I did want to see the park before it gets replaced. Now that I've been? Good riddance.


Adawg said...

Adam - truer words were never spoken. I went to Yankee Stadium a few years ago (the Sox got smushed because DLowe had been out the night before drinking and only lasted two innings) and I remember feeling underwhelmed. The only thing that impressed me was being in a place that had witnessed so many championships, kind of like the old Boston Garden.

It will be good to see the "House that Ruth Built" fall to the wrecking ball. Maybe all that mystique will go up in dust along with it! ;)

Aaron | @astrout

Beau said...

Great points Adam. Another thing that really struck me was how CHEESY some of the stuff they do there is. For a place that prides itself on history and tradition, all the sound effects, awful music and scoreboard animations seemed really out of place. And don't even get me started on the whole YMCA thing.

adamcohen said...

Aaron - "underwhelmed" is very appropriate. You made me think of two more "features." "The Bat," which belongs in a third rate amusement park, not a MLB stadium; and Monument Park, probably the only thing worth saving but it's a museum anyways - I don't think anyone would mind a new place to put the monuments.

Beau - thanks for reminding me of the scene I had scorched out of my brain, the grounds crew doing the YMCA dance movements.