On Sunday, I made my second journey to the new Yankee Stadium with my fiance, Kate, and watched the New York Yankees lose, 7-3, to the Toronto Blue Jays.
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For the second time in two years, Kate and I enjoyed ourselves at one of my new favorite places on earth.
Officially, I am not a Yankee's fan but the more I watch the AL East's first-place team and the more I visit Yankee Stadium, the more I like them.
The reasons have nothing to do with their HUGE payroll or because they win a lot more than they lose (however, it's a nice feeling to cheer for a team that wins because I am used to losing franchises).
Here are the REAL reasons that my interest in the Yankees is peaking.
First, the players.
The Yankee players who have been signed via free agency--C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher (who was a big favorite of mine way before becoming a Yankee), Lance Berkman (a long time Houston Astros' player who now has a chance to finally win a World Series ring) and Curtis Granderson--have increased my interest.
I followed these players closely before they were Yankees and now, since they're on the same team, it makes it easier to root for them.
Home-grown, likable players like: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Francisco Cervelli, Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner make it hard not to get behind the Bronx Bombers.
Yes, there are players such as: Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and A.J. Burnett who are easy to dislike but the likable player trump the unlikable players by sizable ratio.
Second, the fans.
In the past five seasons, I've discovered a truth about Yankee fans.
They know baseball better than any fan base in baseball (I am sure an argument can be made for St. Louis Cardinal fans but I'm not around a lot of redbird supporters. I just go by what I witness).
Unlike the Boston Red Sox, which have recently acquired a lot of bandwagon fans who wear pink hats and root against the Yankees because THEY SPEND MORE THAN OTHER TEAMS!--the Red Sox rank second and spent more in the 2010 offseason--are annoying as hell.
They just look to get under the skin of Yankee fans with quotes like, "how many rings do you have in the past 10 years?"
Yeah? How many rings did you actually care about before the past five?
I also love that when I enter a bar with a Brooklyn Dodgers hat that Yankee fans know it's a Dodgers' hat. Boston fans approach and congratulate me about being a Sox fan.
No, man. I'm not the kinda guy who would wears a BLUE Boston hat. You are!
The percentage of Red Sox fans who supported Boston before the 2004 championship are tolerable because they do know the game.
They can talk Yankees-Red Sox without bringing up payroll or current World Series rings.
Unfortunately for Boston fans, there are, currently, more knowledgeable Yankee fans than Sox supporters. (Of course all of this "data" is unscientific and is observational opinion by a baseball fan caught in the middle of Yankee-Red Sox nation.)
Third, the stadium.
Now, I never visited the old stadium--college commitments prevented me to catch a couple games--but the first time I visited the new stadium, I fell in love.
There are some arguments against the new stadium, which state that the Yankee home doesn't feel like an old-fashioned ballpark or doesn't have a soul.
Well, that doesn't bother me at all.
I love the feel of the new stadiums. Everywhere you go it's wide open, comfortable, relaxing and fan friendly (Baltimore's Camden Yards and Cleveland's Progressive Field started the trend and they're great too).
I'm not a fan of crowded places. I hate being in packed bars that are filled with people who can spill their drink on you, smack you in the head with their talking hands, and it takes six hours to order a draft beer.
That's not a problem at the new stadium.
When the place is sold out, the aisles are easy to get through and no beer or bathroom line is too long--unless there's a slow worker pouring your drink.
It's a very relaxing atmosphere and there isn't a bad seat in the house (unless you're one of the idiots who buy obstructed, center-field seats.)
The last two times Kate and I were at the stadium, we bought upper-deck tickets in the 400 section (left, our seats on Sunday). Both seats were near the top, under the overhang and we had no issue watching the game (the only issue is if you're seated on the third or first base side because it's tough to judge the depth of a fly ball--you don't know how high or low in the air the ball is).
This wasn't the case at the former Shea Stadium--okay, I understand it's not fair to compare fresh oranges to old, rotten oranges but let me get to my point.
Early in our relationship, I tried to impress her with tickets to the final game at Shea Stadium (quick side note: she had lived in NYC for six years and never been to Shea. At the time I purchased the tickets there was a chance the Mets could make the playoffs and it would not be the final game, however, the Mets didn't let me down and missed the playoffs by losing to the Florida Marlins on the final day of the regular season).
I purchased tickets behind home plate, near the top of the upper deck. Decent seats that cost me a pretty penny, however, the overhang prevented us from seeing any action in the outfield (my 5'8 frame needed to duck down to look under the overhang so I could view any sort of long-fly ball).
Now, I should have done more research and known about the overhang problem but if I'm a season-ticket holder. I am pissed!
I'm sure the ticket owner is paying decent money and CAN'T SEE the outfield without killing themselves?--Ouch.
The isn't a problem at ANY of the modern stadiums which is the way it should be (unless, again, you're the idiot who buys obstructed-center field seats at Yankee Stadium).
Last August, Kate and I journeyed to Citi Field.
I like Citi Field, and like Yankee Stadium, I love how fan friendly it is.
Everything is state of the art and is easily accessible for fans (prices for beer and food are slightly lower than Yankee Stadium too--which brings me to another point: Unless you're a family of four, which I understand is the target audience for MLB, Yankee Stadium, for a couple, isn't that expensive. On Sunday, Kate and I bought two tickets on Stubhub for less than $50, spent about $15 on gas, ate lunch for $18.50, drank three 24-ounce-$10 beers, had two ice-cream cones for $11, for a total of about $125. On Friday, our tab at a local restaurant-bar was $75, this included: a couple too many beers for me, dinner for two and a nice tip for the bartender. (I'd rather be at Yankee Stadium).
However, a quality that fans like about Citi Field is a negative for me.
Citi Field was built to have a homey, old-fashioned ballpark feel. Seating is more condensed and closer to the field. As Kate described it, "it has more of a Fenway feel," (she has been to Fenway, I have not).
During my first visit to Yankee Stadium, Kate and I got into a discussion with a Yankee fan who had visited both parks and liked Citi Field more because of that Fenway-type quality (the fan also grew up in Brooklyn and went to Ithaca College. It was interesting when he mentioned the Rongovian Embassy, a famous restaurant-bar, in Trumansburg during the conversation).
The fan mentioned that he liked the old-time ballpark feel to Citi Field over the mall-type feel of Yankee Stadium.
I disagree. Like I said before, I think space and feel is much more comfortable at Yankee Stadium. That's just my preference and the reality is, a fan can't go wrong with either park.
In conclusion, Kate and I will visit Yankee Stadium again and again. That's because, I love watching baseball there and we like the Yankees (her more than I).
I love the drive over the George Washington Bridge as you enter New York City. That sight never gets old (I gladly pay the eight-dollar toll to see it over and over, again).
I love Yankee fans and their passion for baseball.
Basically, I love baseball and love watching it at Yankee Stadium.