Wednesday, May 27, 2009

(New) Yankee Stadium Review

Back home over the long weekend I took a few hours to check out the Big Ballyard in The Bronx 2.0.  They say you never get a chance to make a first impression, but in this situation, I think you do.  The first time I saw the ballpark was back in September after the final game at the old Yankee Stadium.  I got a pretty sweet tour thanks to by boy Alex and his pop, but it was incomplete and didn't have any grass or many seats installed, so it was tough to imagine what the final product would look like.  This second time around, the homer haven is obviously a completed product (at least until they make some adjustments to take out the home run derby effect this winter) and wows any fan from the get-go.  The short walk from the day-old 153rd/Yankee Stadium train station up to the park was a daunting one.  I felt like I was in ancient Rome or Greece and about to walk into a coliseum or a castle.  In fact, once we got in, I was disappointed there wasn't a lion's den or a throne where King Bloomberg could decide if the losing warrior lived or died with the flip of a thumb.  

After getting over the size of the facility, we spent a few (too many) minutes in line waiting to get into the Great Hall.  Everyone - at least those of us with sub $1,250 tickets - had to remove everything from our pockets and lift our hands up to make sure we didn't have anything that could explode on us(?).  Jim Caple has a nice take on the overdone security measures.  I heard from one of the local papers that you could bring bottled water to the game, but I saw two guys get their Poland Springs taken and tossed before they got their tickets scanned.

Getting into the ballpark was equally as incredible as seeing it outside.  The size of everything in there was like out of a movie - the jumbotron, the width of the hallways, the team shops, the seats themselves, it's all supersized.  The number of concessions stands has at least been tripled and if you told me the menu has as well, I wouldn't be surprised.  Jones and I had garlic fries with our dogs that I would have been happy with coming from a steakhouse for twice the price.  Normally, I'm more of a purist, sticking to beers and dogs, when I'm watching a game (or nine of each), but the novelty of getting something so nontraditional piqued my interest.  The dogs tasted the same, so did the $10 beers but there was a host of other menu choices that I plan on taking a bite of next time I get down there.

OK, on to the real reason we went there, to watch a game.  The matchup was among the best of the year for the Yanks, hosting the 2008 World Champion Phillies.  It was the rubber game of the series after the Bombers picked up a(nother) walk-off win the afternoon earlier, so the atmosphere should be hot.  I felt a little odd early on as quiet as it was, and I was in left field, not in between the bases in the corporate seats.  Things started to pick up as the game progressed but the fans around me were highly annoying.  

In front of us was a family of four- mom was a cutie, kids both had Jeter jerseys on and the dad threw me for a loop.  Our first encounter with poppa bear was when he snapped at an usher who was sitting in his seat, letting some other fans pass by, so we figured he was a jerk.  A couple innings later he flips it on us and makes me feel bad for him as the boys are knocked out and his lady asks how many innings there are in a game.  If I'm paying what those seats cost and my wife asks me an egregious question like that and my two kids are passed out, it's triple homicide time in my house.  Behind us was a guy in his 60s with his son and two tween grandkids.  They were fine for the first seven or eight innings, but when it was time for the crowd to rally and we stood to our feet he tapped my friend on the shoulder and told us to sit down so he could see.  COME ON!  The guys to our left weren't too bad aside from the fact one of them was into his 30s and had on a personalized jersey tee.  Grow up brah (I still gave him a high five when Melky tied it up in the bottom 9).  

The padded, wider seats are a huge advantage over the hard plastic seats of yesteryear, but let's just say they don't breathe well when its hot outside, which can get uncomfortable.  I thought the guys in the AV room could do a little better with their replay game, which is virtually nonexistent.  The change/upgrade that impressed me the most was one that many new stadiums have made over the last decade.  Virtually anywhere on the field level (centerfield, behind the batters eye obviously excluded), you can see the game.  No skinny vomitories to walk out of as you leave your seats as you feel the need to relieve or refresh yourself.  You can stand in line to get some grub and be watching the game live the entire time.  If the concourse traffic is heavy, don't worry, there are at least four HDTVs withing spitting distance.

All in all it doesn't come close to the old Stadium because for all the amenities added, the history could not be replaced.  If I check my nostalgia at the door, it's clearly a significant upgrade from the old park.  Much easier to get to and get around in - it's the getting IN part that has suffered.  The new Metro North stop a five minute walk from the park changes everything for suburbians like me.  No longer do we have to drive and pay upwards of $40 to park or take the train to Grand Central and then take the subway to 161 and River.  It is a breeze driving to a local station and hopping on the train, BSing for 25-30 minutes and being at the park.

Here is my grade for Yankee Stadium part deux: A- (very upset after $1.5 B, that I had to flush my own toilet and pull my own paper towels out to dry my hands, the library has automatic flushes, get with it).

I'll let you know what I think of The Jake after the other Meatball (contrary to reports, he is still alive) and I take a visit to Cleveland for the Pinstripes vs. the Tribe this weekend.

Commercial of the week: Jetta meets Prius.  Jetta wins.


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