Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Yankee Stadium isn't a "little league park," but nor is it a gem of history, as announcers often claim

To my death, I shall defend John Sterling from those who claim that - unlike every other baseball team - the Yankees should not have a homer announcer. 

Yeah, The Master blows one now and then. Still, he never openly roots against the opposing team, staying positive even when his heart is clearly breaking. Also, at 83, he is as true to tradition as the modern Yankees get. 

Born on the 4th of July, Sterling called 5,060 straight games before sickness briefly silenced him in 2019. Last year, he was nearly washed away while driving home to Jersey after a rainout. He is the one true "Radio Voice of the New York Yankees," the consummate gentleman to Suzyn, and his love for the Yankees is only rivaled by that of a certain moose for his flying squirrel. 

But yesterday, Sterling offered up one of those cringe moments that push me toward the balcony ledge. 

He was describing Jonah Heim, a 26-year-old Rangers catcher who grew up in Buffalo, rooting for the Yankees. What a thrill it must be, Sterling waxed, to play in Yankee Stadium, the place of so many memories, which he compared to Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium.

And there it was, so smoothly unspooled, so liquidly stated, that you almost didn't notice...  

The Yankees' Big Lie. 

Sorry, folks, but here is where I jump. The new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009. That makes it 13 years old - younger than such historical treasures as Tropicana Field and Petco Park. It is not "the House that Ruth Built." The Babe never set foot in it. Neither did Joe, or Mickey, or Thurman, or the Scooter. The Yankees once had a grand and glorious stadium, crammed to the rafters with American history. Even Curt Schilling, the villainous pitcher and future Trump goon, cited the "aura and mystique" of the old park. 

They tore it down, supported by $1.2 billion in public funds. 

The new stadium is not, as a grumpy Rangers manager said this weekend, a "little league park." But it is a bandbox. Moreover, it serves as as a towering monument to the division of wealth in America, with a "concrete moat" of security checkpoints that separate rich and poor. It is also well known for the empty seats behind home plate during any game, including the post-season.  

Sterling does this all the time: He confuses and equates the new and old Yankee Stadiums. In subtle ways, so does the entire YES team. (For the record, David Cone and Paul O'Neill never saw one pitch in this park, aside from Old-Timers Day.)  The Yankees want it both ways: They pretend the stadium has been here 100 years. But their legacy is a wrecking ball- and, frankly, since the new stadium opened, they've never been the same. 

I'll give John Sterling a pass here. He may be a homer, but he's our homer. Yesterday, he soared with every pitch from Nasty Nestor, and he joyously called Anthony Rizzo's run-scoring double. Also, on the matter of Joey Gallo, The Master remains a refreshing voice of bitter truth. Marveling over a dramatic two-strike over-shift that positioned no Ranger fielder on the left side of the diamond, John ruefully assessed the state of the game and said flat-out: You cannot win with a LF who hits .176. 

Of course, that would be a matter for Suzyn's Clubhouse Show, where all questions shall be answered... except maybe for those lingering feelings that something just isn't right. 


Doug K. said...


The place is a ball park themed shopping mall.

The Yankee PR department needs to understand that, much like Arby's, saying "We've got the meats!" doesn't mean you actually do, and one bite is more than enough to tell the difference.

Or, to quote a question from the 2020 SATs...

Old Yankee Stadium is to New Yankee Stadium as

a) Paris is to "Paris, Las Vegas"
b) Grand Concourse Pizzeria is to Papa Johns
c) The Republican Party is to Q Anon
d) All of the Above

mik said...

“The future ain't what it used to be.”

― Yogi Berra

Neither is East 161st Street & River Avenue.

Unless the ghosts from the original stadium get a road-map they will be forever locked out.

JM said...

I miss the old stadium. The hallways were tight and crowded, the food stand lines were nuts, but it was great. I even loved the original park, pillars and all.

That public money was used to destroy it and build this new thing is just insult added to injury.

ranger_lp said...

Why no one has mentioned that the visiting team benefits from the RF dimensions too? I don't see the Yankees move the bleachers in and out between innings...

BTR999 said...

I am disgusted with the new park, to the point that I will never attend another game there. Public money was used to build a money sucking shopping mall (with a Baseball diamond in the middle) to enhance the wallets of its billionaire owner and his millionaire partners. The old stadium was indeed a baseball shrine, warts and all. Certainly the old lady could’ve been given a big facelift, no doubt at a reduced cost, with the remaining money better spent. To me, the most ridiculous thing was configuring the playing field to look just like the old YS. If you’re going to obliterate the golden past, then move forward in a completely new and original way. One of the saddest sights my eyes have ever seen was flying over the Bronx and seeing the outlined footprint of the old Stadium, the shape of the playing field clearly defined and recognizable. My childhood and life’s devotion painted in dirt. The naked cynicism of the purveyors of this ruin is incalculable, and they deserve every bit of criticism hurled their way.

Carl J. Weitz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HoraceClarke66 said...

Brilliant, Duque, brilliant—and something that needed badly to be said. And great comments, all around. Very funny, Doug—and 999, I love, "My childhood and life’s devotion painted in dirt."...

Carl J. Weitz said...

The old YS was the eighth Wonder of the World.
Not only did baseball immortals walk the field there ( which would be enough by itself) but also icons in other professions and world figures.

Several Popes gave mass.
NFL championship game.
Many rock concerts featuring top attractions.
Championship boxing matches including Schmelling vs Louis
Nelson Mandela

Anything and everything came through Yankee Stadium — soccer matches, concerts, the rodeo, the circus, and a Jehova’s Witness convention, which is responsible for the stadium’s largest ever crowd of 123,707.

In short, no other sports venue comes close to the previous Yankee Stadium and it's unlikely any place ever will.

I was so pissed that they tore it down I put a curse on old Georgie. I must have powers greater than I thought because he dropped dead a few weeks later. Now I feel a lot of guilt.

HoraceClarke66 said...

One of the things I like about being old is that I was able to go to a game in the Famous Original Yankee Stadium. It really was the Cathedral of Baseball, even in its neglected, latter days.

The old Yankee lie was that Yankee Stadium II was just a facelift on the old gal. It was not. It was really a different park, a shabby, plastic replica that reflected the time it was built in. Also enabled by an inexcusable public expenditure at a time when the city was really suffering.

(Score another one for old Colonel Ruppert that he never asked for a dime in putting up the original.)

But at least that one had grit and character. As JM describes, it was grimy and dangerously overcrowded, but you sat right on top of the playing field, and you could at least imagine the old park around you.

This one...is a travesty in many ways, despite such features as a nicer upper deck, those pictures around the food stands, etc. For the city to allow them to suck up public funds AND build a park with those awful moats, scads of new luxury boxes, and thousands of FEWER seats available to the general public...is a shonde.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And Carl Weitz: don't feel guilty.

Carl J. Weitz said...

This might help:


The Archangel said...

I attended the last Old-Timer's Game at the Stadium with my brother and my son.
I don't remember who they played or who won as I sit here right now. However, I do remember the folks around me were avid fans who knew the game.
My brother had a set of 4 upper box seats for work and he saw a lot of games there, esp. WS and playoffs.

I saw at least two games a year with my son in tow for a decade.
He went off to college and college baseball and then the Army.
I never wanted to really go back without him and the new stadium almost seemed almost sacrilegious with the moat and empty seats behind home and people looking at their phones and not the game.
That is as repulsive as spitting on the floor of someone's home.

I have never been in the new place cuz, "they paved Paradise and put up a parking lot."

I do have concrete that I chipped from under one of the brother's seats so there is that.

HoraceClarke66 said...

When I was in college, Carl Weitz, there was a sheltered young woman from Kentucky, who did some of the proofreading at the daily paper. One day, there was a letter to the editor, from a religious individual that was full of "G_d"'s.

She went through and conscientiously filled in all the "o"'s. Soon the copyeditor was bellowing down the hall: "All right, who's the shiksa?" She didn't know what "shiksa" meant, so she didn't say anything.

In the interest of honesty alone, I have to admit that I'm not Jewish. But my wife, my siblings' spouses, all of my nieces and nephews, and probably a majority of my friends have that honor.

It's one of the great things about living in New York, you get to pick up all kinds of expressions from different languages: Yiddish, Hebrew, Spanish, even Irish (which I still prefer to call Gaelic.). Not to mention the great foods!

Doug K. said...

Hoss that's a great story.

Carl J. Weitz said...

That is a good story!

When I talked to you at the game 2 years ago, I remember you mentioning that your wife was Jewish. But I though you were half as well. And I agree, living in the metro NYC area, especially in the 5 boroughs is exceedingly wonderful. People are exposed to so many cultures and cuisines. When one realizes that everyone is basically the same and have indistinguishable motives, then fear is not part of the community experience. Viva la difference!

HoraceClarke66 said...

Well said, Carl!

HoraceClarke66 said...

And I'm glad I gave you that impression.