Ode to access: An unbiased Stadium review from Row 13

Editor’s note: The same week RjE went to the Stadium and shared his thoughts, the Yankees planned to host the folks from Camp Sundown for a wonderful sleepover event. SportsAngle is a huge advocate of the cause and the event – for more info on Camp Sundown, check out their site and feel free to make a donation.

Monday Night, 7/20/09, The Bronx.

I’ve spent the last year hearing about how amazing the new Yankee Stadium is, and how I had to get out there to experience the difference. On this site, our resident commentator, Esoteric, referred to it in a tongue-in-cheek fashion as an “Ode to Excess.” (Author’s Note I: I refuse to believe the words of someone who bills themselves as “Esoteric”). Being that the Orioles were in town, I decided that there wasn’t a better time than right now to sit through nine innings of torture (Author’s Note II: I am a long-time suffering O’s fan).

• Thanks to a family friend, my fiancé (Kelly) was able to score incredible seats 13 rows behind home plate, down in Kate Hudson territory. The face value on my ticket was $hudson325. I only need to ask one question… What recession?
• We parked at one of the River Street garage lots. $19 for Event Parking. In this horribly dank, musty lot, three fans were pounding down cheap beer and listening to Metallica. Yep, sounds about right.
• We walked around the exterior of the stadium, noticing how out-of-place the stadium felt right in the middle of the Bronx. Walking by a sea of cheap-o-marts and dollar stores into this posh, billion-dollar facility was surreal.
• Kelly decided to wear her Mariano Rivera jersey to the game, while I decided to sport an Orange-and-Black O’s jersey with no name or jersey number on the back (Author’s Note III: There is no point in getting an Orioles player’s jersey, as they will be gone from the team once their rookie deal expires).
• Yankee fans are heckling me. I’ve been told to “Go back to Baltimore!”
• We meet up with some friends and enter the Stadium. We are not patted down, and security is more relaxed than I expected.
• We walk around the interior, and right away, it felt like a cross between Citizens Bank Park and the old Stadium. It also felt smaller, and cleaner.

• We got to our seats at 6:45 p.m. Oh man, these babies are amazing. Nice leg room, and very cushiony. I turned to Kelly and joked, “I wonder what the poor people are doing?” The person to my left immediately cracked a smile. Yep, welcome to the New Yankee Stadium.
• The waitress asks us if we want to order anything. Our friend orders a hot dog. The waitress pulls out an electronic device, presses a few buttons, and prints out a receipt. Three minutes later, an exchange of money occurred, and she is chowing down on a Hebrew National.
• Opening lineups. I am booed mercilessly as I applaud my team.
• The high definition video screen looks amazing.
• Hey! There’s closed captioning to the right of the video screen. That’s a really nice touch for the hearing impaired, or someone who wasn’t paying attention to the PA. It’s just kind of odd when the captions read [Music] when a Yankee comes up to bat, instead of the lyrics for “Bleed it Out” by Linkin Park. That would disappoint me if I was deaf and I liked Linkin Park.
• Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis throws out the first pitch. He then makes his way to our section and sits three rows in front of us. He is there with his wife and children. He is also sporting his enormous Super Bowl ring from the most recent Patriots win. The thing looked like a disco ball. In addition, there was a lot of glad-handing with Yankee and Notre Dame personnel shaking hands, bumping fists, and laughing at things that probably aren’t all that funny.
• The game starts. Nick Markakis hits a nice homer to right field. A Yankee fan catches it, and then throws it back.
• Later on, Eric Hinske hits a solo shot, tying the game for the Yanks. When the hell did Eric Hinske become a Yankee? Was Troy Glaus busy or something?
• I won’t bore you with the mundane happenings of the game itself, so I will talk about the fun stuff.
• The New Yankee Stadium is full of amazing looking women. Every time they showed fans in the crowd, we were treated to a bevy of pretty girls. I turned to Kelly and pointed out how attractive the women in the crowd were, and was met with total indifference. Looks like another reason to like the new stadium.
• Kelly tells me she’s thirsty. I respond, “So get yourself something to drink.” She looks at me. I go back to watching the game, pretending to not notice her still looking at me. (Author’s Note IV: I’m not an idiot, I understand this is my cue to go get her something to drink; but I didn’t feel like standing on line). Kelly gets up and gets herself something to drink.
• The stranger to my right is eating sushi with chopsticks. Seriously. The person in front of me is eating Chinese food. Where the hell am I?
• Kelly comes back, complaining about the lemonade she just purchased. She tells me that it’s just water and lemon juice. I’m nonplussed. She makes me take a sip, and she was absolutely correct. Just terrible. $5 down the drain. Kelly also hands me a nectarine. I asked her if she brought it from home. She tells me, “No, there’s a farmer’s market in the stadium.” Yep, a farmer’s market in a baseball stadium.
• 7th Inning Stretch and “God Bless America” as usual.
• We head into the ninth inning, and we’re still tied. The person to the left of me decided to leave so they could beat traffic. This is a tactic that makes little sense to me. You pay $325 for a ticket so you can watch a baseball game… you order tons of food, drink a bunch of beer… and you leave as it starts getting good? As he leaves, he knocks over their milkshake, leaving a nasty spill all over the concrete floor. Yep, same old Yankee Stadium.
• Hideki Matsui hits a walk-off solo home run to win the game for the Yankees. The place matsuicomes unglued. Everybody is  high-fiving, and laughing at me in my sad, pathetic, nameless Orioles jersey. It was actually really a cool moment, watching Matsui round the bases and being greeted by the rest of the team. We stay long enough to watch Matsui get pie-faced, and then we decide to call it a night.
• As we walk out, the heckling gets worse. Drunk Yankee fans were really passionate about me going back home to Baltimore. One person questioned why I would make the drive just to watch my sad little team. Apparently, there are no other Orioles fans in the Tri-state area. Still, I make it out unscathed, though I’m mentally prepared to physically defend myself in case someone gets too friendly.
• We exit the stadium, and a bunch of idiots are screaming and running around as if the Yankees had won the World Series. In reality, they beat the last-place team in the AL East.
• With traffic getting out of the garage and getting onto the George Washington Bridge, it took us an hour to get home.

So here are my summarized thoughts about a night at the New Yankee Stadium:
• The stadium is really very nice, but seems out of place in the Bronx.
• Yankee games are an event, rather than a baseball game.
• If you want to be away from the riff-raff, you need to spend money on a ticket.
• I would have been murdered wearing my O’s jersey if the Yankees lost.
• I don’t miss the old stadium. Change is good.
• Thank god there is no formal area for Yankee fans to tailgate. I couldn’t imagine how messy things could get with these morons completely bombed before the 1st inning.

Ode to Excess? Yes. But who cares? Yankee “tradition” has been dead for years; the fans just refused to accept it.


Ron Epstein

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