Saturday, May 28, 2022

"Who Owns New York?"

As your New York Yankees seize control of the tabloid backpage race today—thank you, Peerless Leader—it is time to answer the musical question raised above. 

There has been some speculation on this site about whether or not it's the Mets time to take over the city again. The general consensus on this has been in the negative—led, I think, by Kevin, though a number of us have chimed in.

Time for a closer look.

Who owns New York? Well, the answer is the same as in the old Columbia fight song: We own New York—and by a pretty wide margin still.

I don't know from TV ratings (and frankly, I don't know how you figure them, with teams now broadcasting on the regular TV, and the cable, and the streaming, and HEY LADY!)  But as of today, your New York Yankees are second in the AL with 803,013 fans. Only the Angels have drawn more, and that is with two more home dates.  

The Yanks are first in the AL in average attendance—and far ahead of the Mets—with crowds averaging 33,459 a game. The Mets, by contrast, are just 9th in the NL, averaging only 27,350 a game. 

Historically, this is no surprise. 

Before 1920, the team that dominated NYC baseball in every way, was the New York Baseball Giants. Not only did the Giants win A LOT—6 pennants and 1 World Series from 1904-1917—but they played in the Polo Grounds, far and away the nonpareil baseball park in the major leagues.

It was not finished yet. The Giants kept adding to it for years, and there was a fire that required some rebuilding. 

But you can see that, for all of its crazy, horseshoe shape, it was a massive park—even a stadium—compared to the rather shabby venues where the proto Yankees and Dodgers cavorted.

Below, left, is old Hilltop Park, on the present-day site of the Columbia-Presbyterian medical complex, where the Highlanders/Yanks played from 1903-1912 (Then the City of New York unceremoniously shoved a street through the middle of the park, forcing the Yankees to become a renter from the Giants.). 

Still, for all that, the Yankees were generally second in the attendance battle, and managed to win it during the Giant off-years of 1906 and 1918.

The Brooklyn Superbas/Robins/Dodgers, meanwhile, played in a borough that was only just becoming the most populace in the city—and at Washington Park, in Park Slope (see at right), which looks as if it was strategically located smack in the middle of the Industrial Revolution. 

All that changed when a certain individual we like to call "Babe Ruth" came to town in 1920. The Yankees immediately became the first baseball team, ever, to break the million-fan mark. By 1923, they had their own Stadium in the Bronx—the first baseball park ever deliberately built as a stadium—and they would go on to become the first New York club to break the two-million fan and four-million fan mark, as well (The Mets, in 1987, would be the first to three million.)

The Yanks dominated the three-way competition for the rest of its existence, leading the city in 31 of the next 38 seasons. The poor Giants, who had foolishly forced the team out of their own park, led in only two more years, 1925 and 1935.  

The Dodgers, revived under new management and cannily becoming the first team in New York to exploit night baseball, radio, and, of course, their new little jewel box of a ballpark, Ebbets Field, won the competition 5 times in 7 seasons, 1939-1945. 

But beloved as they were, once Yankee Stadium turned on the lights for night baseball in 1946, the

Dodgers never led the city in attendance again.

Then came the Mets, in 1962, and the "National League town" that New York, somehow, naturally is, went over to the new guys in waves. Right?

Well, not really.

As long as the Metsies were playing in the battered old Polo Grounds, up in a Harlem that was perceived as much more dangerous than it was, the Mets did not draw well, averaging only 9,377 fans a game in 1962, and 11,452 in 1963...for 7 of the other 9 teams in the National League.

For the 15-17 home dates a year they played against the returning natives, Giants and Dodgers, it was a different story.

For the first 5 years of their existence, Mets' attendance was over twice as much against LA and SF than it was for all other NL teams combined. For one of those seasons, it was over three times what the Metsies drew against everyone else. 

With the advent of their own park in Queens, and with the Mets turning into a genuine contender, they began to draw on their own, of course. And as the Yankees declined,

the Metsies won the head-to-head competition 12 seasons

in a row, 1964-1975.

When the usual fortunes of the two teams reversed again, the Mets won the head-to-head another 9 seasons in a row, 1984-1992.

But that was it. 

Unless things change drastically this season—which they may very well, considering our boys' dwindling depth—it will make 30 consecutive seasons that the Yanks have won the competition (not counting the 2020 season, when nobody showed up for some reason).

Oh, who owns New York? Oh, we own New York, we own New York...Y-A-N-K-E-E-S.

Enjoy it while it lasts.


Doug K. said...

No harm no foul. We both seem to like to write at the same time. Maybe one day we'll do it in the same room. :)

AboveAverage said...

As in, "get a room?" because from where I'm sitting I don't think that's what you were going for.

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

I've been to southern Africa 4 times -- I'm a big fan of elephants, giraffes, etc. I've been very lucky. My wife not only bought into my insanity, she is a Saver. So we had the $$$ to travel.

Key fact:

Never, ever saw a Mets baseball cap on an African.

Saw many NYYs caps.

I wore one of mine to an outdoor dinner in J-burg on the last trip. The young guy who was our waiter saw my hat and talked about his NYY hat. "Every South African boy" (note, HE said boy, and he was very young) "has a Yankee hat," he told me.

Probably was talking me up for a bigger tip. But that does not obviate the evidence of my eyes (trips encompassed S. Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe).

BTR999 said...

…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

BTR999 said...

Joe, when my wife’s family descended on us from Germany, the boys wanted to see the Yanks play. (The game we saw was the one where the Yanks hit 3 grand slams and beat the A’s 22-9.) I asked them if they wanted to see the Mets play as well. The oldest boy looked at me blankly and said “I’ve never heard of them.” Exactly, I thought…

BTR999 said...

And thank you Horace for the article!

BTW, Gallo batting ninth today? Say it ain’t so, Joe!

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Australia is also a place where you will see Yankee hats everywhere, but never a mutts hat.

JM said...

If only we never saw a Yankees hat on Gallo. But I'm beating a dead horse.

JM said...

Our ace is less acey, more duecey.

AboveAverage said...

Hey JM. Quick question for yah. Can a dead horse GALLOp?

Local Bargain Jerk said...

Probably was talking me up for a bigger tip...

JFoB: Inquiring minds want to know...did you leave a bigger tip than you otherwise would have?

P.S. I'm listening to the radio and John and Suzyn are miffed at the amount of time it's taking the ump to call strike or ball on after a pitch.  John also just trotted out his long-standing kvetch regarding the loud sounds played in the Trop between innings.

I love this stuff.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Sounds like an amazing trip, Joe. I'd love to see most of those places.

And of course, the Yankees hats.

Platoni said...

Cole is the Yankee ace by virtue of what he did BEFORE he got there and, perhaps, because of his pay grade. He pitched well today, but he's no Nestor.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Yeah, he gave up a run. Damn him!

I feel like I'm watching baseball c. 1968. One run can be fatal.

ranger_lp said...

Boone always leaves Cole in too long…

We’ll be lucky to win this game. We’re playing 9 against 10 no thanks to the home plate umpire…

Doug K. said...

Doesn't look good.

AboveAverage said...

Hicks didn't come through as a pinch hitter, now Gallo leads off. I'm feeling REALLY confident!

HoraceClarke66 said...

And...shut down by Corey Kluber, while J.P. Feyereison got the win.

Feyereison, you may recall, was the last vestige of the Andrew Miller deal, back in 2016. We dealt him away for one Brenny Escanio, a middle infielder who played in the Dominican Summer League last year, at the age of 19, and hit .250. Where he is anybody's guess. There really is NO information on him.


In other words, two more pitchers who performed quite capably in our system, and were cut loose for exactly nothing.

HoraceClarke66 said...

So...1 loss in 3 to the Rays. No biggie. Except...that it's the same old, same old. If our pitchers flinch just a little, we're done.

The hitting, again, was pathetic. Another big game for Joey. And how is it that we have only Hicks to put in to pinch-hit late in the game?

Carl J. Weitz said...

Lately, Le Mahieu is swinging like that other NY DJ.....Cousin Brucie.

The Archangel said...

Just wait until all of our IL players get back,
everything is fine
Carpenter is a pro's pro
Gallo just needs to get acclimated.

[channeling Boonie, Cashmere and Soccer Boy]