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Take Me Out to the Ball Game: More is Less at the New Yankee Stadium

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game: More is Less at the New Yankee Stadium

“Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win, it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game.”

That famous song, by Jack Norworth (I bet you did not know that, and I am impressed if you did) is sung in the middle of seventh innings from early March to late October in ball parks all over the United States.

 This past Sunday, April 19, 2009, I finally went to my first game (“Yankee Stadium's Opening Day: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”)  at the “New” Yankee Stadium and think the Steinbrenners and all other owners as well need to take another look at the lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” before they design a stadium (new or old).

If you look at the lyrics, they are describing going to a baseball game and watching a baseball game, nothing else.  That is what the person in the song was enjoying a baseball game not any of this other ridiculous crap to “enhance” the game. 

It does not work and it just pisses the real fans (myself) off.

Do not get me wrong, the stadium is beautiful and really worth every penny that the Steinbrenner’s (and the people of New York) put into it, and enjoyed myself during the Yankees 7-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians

However, there are just too many little things and one big thing (pricing) that make me question why come to the ballpark.

I can put up with the constant games and nonsense up on the scoreboard between innings, and encourage other stadiums (if they do not, to do it).  It keeps little kids or people who really do not care interested long enough to allow the true baseball fans to watch the game for as long as they like. 

And I understand you have to make coming out to the ballpark appeal to everyone, and that is what most of this stupid stuff does, as the people behind me pretended to be real Yankee fans, but if you looked closely (and I was able to having nine innings with them) they were not (wondered why A-Rod had the day off).

The price of food and drinks is an obvious complaint and I will not dwell on it too long.  I am just saying that my mother ordered a beer and hot dog for $19.50.  I have tried to boycott Yankee Stadium food for a couple of years for two reasons.

The first is of course because of the prices, and the second is because there are non-Yankee employed vendors just outside the Yankees property lines, who sell the same items at better quality for a lot less (including one guy who used to stand across from “The Bat” now he is by the old stadium, who charges $2.00 for a hot dog, $1.50 for a soda, and $1.00 for a water, you really can’t beat it).

I normally go to that guy and eat like four hot dogs and a drink before the game, fill up and then on the way back to the car get a couple more before heading home, and you are fine and find a lot more money in your pocket.

Alright, now that I am done complaining about prices lets move on to the little things that take away from going to the stadium for a game. 

First, all of the field level seats at Yankee Stadium have a waiting service, and menu’s so you can order a wider variety of food without leaving your seat.  This sounds like a great service and would be except for two things.

One, the waiters and runners are always going up and down the aisles, looking to see if people want to order, which too often blocks the view of the game for others, and the other reason is (and I am sorry for bringing up money again) that they add a $3.00 tip for the waiter, however they fail to mention this, so you end up tipping them on top of that as well.

Staying on the topic of food, the menu at Yankee Stadium (and elsewhere) is ridiculous.  What happened to the days where you would go to the game and pig out? 

You should know you can still get the ballpark originals (hot dog, cracker jacks and peanuts) but the new items are comical.

Such items include “Seasonal Fruit Salad”, “Fresh Sushi Rolls” and “Cheesecake on a Stick.”  Also, they have concession stands for kids where you can order items like Peanut Butter and Jelly.

I don’t know where I would be today if instead of explaining the fundamentals of baseball and the history of the Yankees to me, he was cutting off the crust of my sandwich as I ate my fruit salad.

Now, switching gears slightly, I would like to move on to the beverage selection. 

It used to be, beer (only one kind and a light version as well), soda (regular or diet, maybe Sprite or Seven Up as well), and water, not anymore.  You can still get beer, but instead of having to choose from regular or light, now you can choose from five different selections. 

Soda will still be a main stay as well and add lemonade, iced tea and Gatorade to the mix as well.

Also, for those early in the season night games or late September games and hopefully the postseason you can choose for a variety of Dunkin Donuts hot drinks, including regular and decaf coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

If you want to have a buzz, but are not a beer drinker the Yankees now have you covered as you can order a variety of Yellowtail wines by the glass as well as other liquors.  These range from several different types of Johnnie Walker, bourbons, whiskies, tequilas, rums, and vodkas to name a few.

I am not promoting drinking of any sorts, but a ball game is a place for beer. I should not have to listen to the people behind me ask stupid questions like, “What year is the Pinot Grigio?”  or any other questions regarding a glass of wine.

I will now move from the food and discuss other things about the stadium which annoyed me.

My seat.  Obviously, I don’t mean I want to be right behind the dugout or in the first row, I mean it was padded. Derek Jeter was asked if he thought it was louder in the “old” stadium compared to the “new” one after they won on Friday, and he said, that they (the fans) have not had much to cheer about.

I now have two theories about this.  The first is he is right, they have not played exceptionally well there, even in the two wins.  The second fans are too comfortable to get up and cheer their team on. 

I remember many games where my parents or my friends’ parents had to stand up because their backs and butts were killing them on the hard seats at the stadium.

 So, if you have to stand you might as well cheer, which is actually discouraged (I attempted to get a chant going to spur a rally, and the people behind me quickly began tapping me to ask me to sit down). 

Another thing about the stadium that people have found shocking is the array of empty blue seats around home plate down the baselines. 

I know the people (and I hate to go back to the money issue but it should be brought up here) who can afford those tickets (ranging from $500 to $2,000 per seat) are not the “real” “die-hard” fans you want to see at the game, but it just gives it an empty feeling that the grandstands and bleachers do not.

I have several theories about why this is during the stadium’s first weekend of games and how to fix it.  First the why, these seats are usually sold as season tickets to corporations who then try to give them out to customers and employees. 

However, this weekend was also the first really nice weekend in the northeast (which Bill Simmons would refer to as halter top day) so all of those really rich guys and gals were on their boats and at their country clubs for the first time of the year. 

Now, I blame this on the media.  When the Yankees lose immediately they are written out to be the worst team in baseball, granted Saturday they lost by about 20 runs but still it is just one of 162 games.

That is how you take it, plus they get blown out by the Indians every year often giving up 20+ runs in that game, this year they did it in April.

If those “fans” thought they were going to see winning baseball they would be at the Stadium however, they didn’t so they did not come out.

Now, how to fix this empty seat problem allow fans to move down to the better, empty seats through the course of the game.  Don’t keep an usher there checking tickets to make sure they can go down, just let them in. 

Guess what owners and CEOs and whoever else is responsible for this, ticket sales will stay the same, except customers will be happier, and that friends is good business, even Bernie Madoff can tell you that.

I have been to many stadiums new and old, and they are all amazing.  State of the art and a fun place to be, however these owners and other top executives need to remember what their product is and that is baseball.  Too often that is forgotten about with the building and redesigning of a ballpark.

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