Monday, April 20, 2009

Death Star 2.0

Thanks to my friend Kraig -- who I would now put in my will, if it meant bequeathing him anything more than piles of tattered paperbacks -- I fell into a prime seat for Sunday's game between the Yankees and the Indians at the new Yankee Stadium. (Kraig took me to my last game at the old stadium, too.)

I was impressed. (A full post of my photos can be found here.) At first, I have to admit that the whole thing seemed like too much. The comfortably cushioned seats are straight out of a new megaplex. The size and clarity of the video screen beyond the center-field wall is impossible to describe in words or even photos. You have to sit in the stadium to grasp how it dominates the field of vision, like a high-def spaceship hovering above the field, the aliens whistling and trying to look inconspicuous. That screen represents the general principle that the stadium is terrific but a lot. The concourses are very open-air, and reminded me of similar spaces in the new(ish) parks in Philadelphia and Houston, among other places. The areas surrounding the game are an enormous improvement from the old Y.S., where leaving your seat for food felt like traveling several miles from the stadium to a claustrophobic warehouse in need of industrial cleaning.

As always when I visit a new park, I passed up the fancier culinary options to test the traditional dog and fries. The dog was good and the fries were excellent. Full disclosure: I was tempted enough by the fancy to get garlic fries. They are not garlic-flavored; they are wet with garlic. And a large order is nine dollars. (The stadium inspires a lot of italics. They could have named it Italics Stadium. Or at least, officially, Yankee Stadium.) Luckily, a small order of those garlic fries is a slightly less insane six bucks, and certainly a large enough portion for anyone except those looking to cash in a life-insurance policy before the last pitch.

For such a heavily hyped palace, there were a lot of empty seats -- mostly behind home plate and other premium areas. I need to investigate, but I think this is simply because of outrageous pricing. Ugh. But the prices didn't keep away a certain brand of Yankee fan, like the guy a section over who started taunting a decent-looking father and pair of sons decked out in Indians garb -- ten minutes before the first pitch. He had to walk several rows down to scream, and even then he was a full section over. "I see you!" he shouted at the trio. "Oh, it's gonna be a loooong day for you! I'm right over here!!" He was actually a good-natured buffoon, not a real jerk, and the fact that he was taunting them the day after the Yankees surrendered 22 runs to their team was pretty comical.

That guy was a very familiar sight (and sound) from the old stadium. The most unnerving new part of the experience was the presence of a battalion of team employees roaming around the concourses holding up signs that read: "How may I help you?" And as we left, there was a woman standing at the turnstiles, smiling and thanking us for our attendance. I felt like I was in a Macaroni Grill in Dallas, not Yankee Stadium. I imagine that over time this rank civility will erode.

I can't wait to get back for a night game. And another afternoon game. And a . . .


Anonymous Josh said...

like the macaroni grill at NW Hwy and the tollway?

I've slowly warmed to the Yankees over the years. Probably cuz they haven't won in this decade.

9:22 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

Yeah, or the one off Park and Preston, if it's still there, which I know is Plano, not Dallas. Eek.

11:59 PM  
Blogger Kraig Smith said...

My pleasure, John. Also, tattered paperbacks...just my thing. I expect my fair share if I outlive you.

12:39 AM  

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