MLB American League – 14th June 2011
Football clubs in the UK looking to become corporate behemoths can take a lot (both good and bad) from the New York Yankees, the most famous brand associated with baseball. Over the course of the last century, the Yankees have dominated baseball, winning a record 27 World Series, 40 American League Pennants and have more players than anybody else in the Baseball Hall of Fame. As such, the franchise has become a corporate behemoth, with two club shops in Times Square, massive presence in and around the Bronx, and worldwide coverage. As I’m impressionable, it was drilled into me when I first attended the States to not watch the Yankees, but instead watch the Mets. $20 later and a fun afternoon which saw me convert myself into a New York Mets fan. However with my recent trip to New York coincided with the Mets playing away for 19 days straight, so I plucked up $40 and attended Yankee’s Stadium.
I arrived a couple of hours before the first pitch at 161St – Yankee’s Stadium (as the station was helpfully called), and embarked onto an impressive sight. Yankee’s Stadium is huge, and the entire community is set up around this baseball team. I walked up to the stadium, was directed to where to go to pick up my tickets, and then ushered into the gate. Everybody was friendly, saying “enjoy the game!”, so maybe it wasn’t as commercialised as I thought it was.
I had a look around the gift shop and purhcased my usual pin badge (of which there was many), and it immediately became my most expensive at $15. Put it this way, when I bought the one for, I had to pay to get it shipped from Debrecen, as well as help fund a new run for the badges. It cost me the equivalent of $10. That was a Hungarian league club, this is the New York Yankees. Also I can see they cater for their new fans by being the first stadium I’ve been to that sold fruit. Fruit! It was surprisingly empty though.
I took my seat in the Grandstand. To get there I had to take a lift to the 4th tier of the stadium, and the reason why this stadium was called Yankee Stadium II. The first one only had 3 tiers, with their increased success, they worked out it would be cheaper to build a new stadium next door with an extra tier. I took my seat one row from the back, the price? $40. Rampant commercialism definitely a goer here.
I was hungry, so went to get a chicken tenders (basically posh chicken nuggets, equivalent to the KFC Crispy Strips) and chips, with a beer. After getting ID’ed (to which I elicited a response of “Damn, that’s a nice name!”. Yeah, she got a tip), the total price (without the tip) came to $25. So if you’re keeping score, the total price without even seeing a pitch thrown is currently $82 (the tip was $2). Compare that to the White Sox whereby we were around about the $60 mark, by the time the first pitch was thrown. But there we were on our 4th beer and had eaten a LOT more food.
Also, at the White Sox, we were entrenched well in right field, between home and first base. At the Yankees, I could only be one row worse off. So apologies for a lot of these pictures, as I’ve had to use an epic level of zoom not seen on anything but sniper rifles.
Anyway, onto the game, maybe it can redeem itself. The story going into the game was all about Derek Jeter. The lead off hitter was only 6 hits off 3,000 (hits – where you hit the ball and not get out), if he had a good game then who knows. Yankees were the much stronger side, having already beaten Cleaveland in their past 3 games, one more and they complete the sweep against them.
It started out well for the Yankees, getting out Cleaveland’s first three hitters without letting them score a run. Derek Jeter edged closer with hit 2,995, and the Yankees loaded all three bases, but couldn’t convert. The Yankees did seem to play a pressure style of game, going for bases loaded before hitting a home run or a few hits to get a few runs. This patient approach usually seems to work, but they were choking whenever they got to a decent scoring opportunity.
Without much of a shout of the score changing (with Cleaveland swinging and missing multiple times), I headed to the concessions stand for a hot dog (actually quite reasonable for $8), and in the process I missed the only action of the game, Cleaveland bringing in a runner to score one run.
I didn’t see what happened, but apparently a fielding mistake by Nick Swisher (who seemed to be the Yankees’ Jimmy Bullard) lead to Michael Brantley scoring a treble, which was brought in by Asdrubal Cabrera. From there the game seemed to crumble, with the Yankees not getting any more hits that I can remember in my expensively sozzled haze.
So after last call was made after the 7th innings (of which I wasn’t happy, the beer salesmen would rarely venture to your seat for beer, I couldn’t buy more than one at a time, and generally they were pretty unhelpful), I did something that I rarely – if ever – do.
I left the game early. Nothing was happening, and with 45,000 people heading to the exits, I wanted to get out of there before they found a way of sucking any more money out of me. I dodged the “Bank of America Yankee Credit Card” salespeople heading out.
Overall it was an odd experience at the Yankees Stadium. To be honest, I hated it. I enjoy baseball, so it wasn’t the game (though it was a dull game, but I’ve enjoyed 0-0 draws in my time). Was it that I was a Mets fan? Maybe, but baseball you don’t have the level of segregation of football. To be honest, it was more the bland experience. Most people in the stadium were either corporate or tourists (worked out in my unbelievably unscientific way of hearing the accents, the price of the tickets and general lack of Yankees tops), and the franchise (it’s not a team, nor club, it’s a franchise) seemed to find a way to fleece them for every penny.
I think I was a victim of daylight robbery, and – as the bible says “Thou Shalt Not Steal” – you can see where you can get the phrase that’s popular amongst baseball fans outside of the Bronx.
“Even Jesus Hates The Yankees”.