I seem to be in the minority on this, but I thought the energy of the crowd at Yankee Stadium last night felt like old times. Then again, maybe my expectations have been lowered during the first year at the new ballpark. I went to 10 games this year, and not one of them even came close to the decibel level, electricity and excitement of the crowd yesterday. There were a number of times during the regular season — especially back in April and May — where I wasn’t even sure I was at a baseball game given how unenthusiastic the so-called fans seemed at times. Last night went a long way in reminding me how passionate Yankee fans can be as I bounded off the 4 train and into the stadium.
The momentum continued right into the beginning of the game, as the crowd seemingly willed CC Sabathia through the first inning after Denard Span led things off with a double. I was standing, clapping and screaming my face off on every pitch, and everyone seemed to be on their feet cheering like crazy as he racked up those two big Ks.
That being said, there was a definite lull after Minnesota took the lead, although that’s going to happen anywhere. Maybe in a so-called great baseball town like St. Louis they continue to cheer mindlessly even as the Cards let in a couple runs, but it’s hard to stay excited when the opposition takes an early lead, especially after your catcher decides to be the laziest person on earth.
Thankfully Jeter’s home run injected life back into the crowd, and for the remainder of the game I thought that the noise and excitement was adequate for a playoff game. Maybe not quite as intense as it was 10 years ago, but there are a wide variety of reasons for that.
My buddy Mollo was particularly annoyed with what he saw later in the game, saying “At the start of the 7th inning the seats behind home plate were practically empty. Whether that was my perception and these people were merely stuffing their faces at the buffet, or whether they had really been vacated doesn’t really matter to me. When prime seats are empty for a playoff game it clearly displays a lack of support to what people should be there to watch.
The first two months of the season saw the same thing happening. People thought those seats were completely empty. Turns out they were only half-empty as people were downstairs wolfing down Chilean seabass and roast beef au jus.
If you’re gonna pay $1,500 for a seat at a baseball stadium, watch some [expletive] baseball and don’t alienate the guy who spends five hours a day reading, writing, and PRAYING for an opportunity to ONE DAY IN HIS LIFE sit in one of those seats to watch his idols step out on the field.”
Adds Lenny, who was also at the game last night, “I’ve sat all over the new place this year — by the way, this applies to the last couple of years as well — and I’ve felt the crowd has been lackluster every time. I’ve noticed a big decline in intensity every year since 2004 — that ALCS loss to the Red Sox brought in more pessimism and anxiety than I’ve seen within the Yankee fanbase.
Now we have a brand-new expensive stadium with a steakhouse and martini bar, which has resulted in a mix of empty overpriced seats; fat cats and suits who are there for the martini bar; a large contingent of anxious fans waiting for something big and exciting to happen (this includes families and kids that I have to be careful not to curse around, which is damn near impossible); and a very very small contingent of enthusiastic die-hards. There’s your new Yankee Stadium, folks.”
Since I wasn’t watching on TV, I didn’t notice what the crowd was like directly behind home plate, but it is truly unforgivable for any seat within visibility of the camera to be empty during a playoff game, especially in the 9th inning. It makes it look like our fans don’t care, and it makes the ownership look bad for not ushering die-hards down into those seats in the later innings.
I mean, assuming the seats were already paid for, it’s not like the team is losing any money by letting someone who was sitting up in the Terrace or Grandstand (and who is probably more of a die-hard fan than anyone sitting in the Legends Suites seats) come down and fill out the crowd to make it look like the Yankees actually have a fanbase that passionately cares about the team until the very last out.
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