I was at tonight’s less-than-stellar contest at Yankee Stadium. The first two Red Sox pitchers lasted only 1.1 innings each, and the Yankees batted around in the second inning before they even got their second batter out. I’m not partial to either New York or Boston – in fact, I find fans of both teams to be extremely annoying – but this was just sloppy, long baseball (the first three innings lasted about 1 hour 45 minutes).
Nonetheless, it was Red Sox vs. Yankees in the Bronx, the best rivalry in American sports in the most storied venue in American sports. An hour before first pitch chants of "Red Sox Suck!" and "Let’s Go Yankees!" roared outside the stadium, while vendors sold $9 beers, $5 hot dogs and $20 t-shirts proclaiming Yankee pride. (By comparison, an hour before a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia would be so deadeningly dull that you would wonder if there were even a major league baseball team in the city, let alone a game that night). The energy that packed over 55,000 fans into the stadium was something special.
A few random thoughts:
- The Yankees scorecard is a lame, one-sided page in their $7 program. I prefer the $2, 11’x14′ card-stock scorecard available in Philadelphia (yes, I keep score when I go to a ballgame)
- Though I love the energy of 55,000 fans in an 80 year-old stadium participating in the best rivalry in baseball, the 80-year old narrow aisles and concourses, small bathrooms, and tight rows make it a somewhat claustrophobic affair. And with a packed house of hungry and thirsty fans, we were constantly passing money to vendors, and beer and hot dogs to fellow fans down the aisle (making it a challenge to keep accurate score of the game)
- At times, the fans seemed more interested in yelling at each other ("Let’s Go Red Sox" would quickly be drowned out by "Red Sox Suck") than in watching the game.
- To their credit, this crowd never did The Wave!
- Red Sox pitcher Josh Becket, after surrendering 7 earned runs in 1.1 innings, got a heart-felt, sarcastic standing ovation upon his early exit. That was great.
- Surrounding me were baseball fans of various nationalities, ethnicities and classes. In my section were seated European-American, African-American and Asian-American fans of all ages, and represented among them were all kinds of styles, including Hip-Hop, Wall Street slick, dyed-hair punk, overly-done metrosexual, and backward cap, faded Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirt-wearing frat boy. In this town, the Yankees appeal to all sectors – and that is awesome.
- Say what you will about the Yankees – they put on an amazingly professional, polished and impressive presentation. From the pin stripes to the ushers, to the dignified way players are announced, to the peanut guy who can throw a perfect strike to a fan half a section away – experiencing baseball at Yankees stadium is impressive. Kudos to the Yankees organization for putting a great product on the field and throughout the stadium.