Got my first glimpse of this year’s version of the Cubs at Yankees Stadium in the first game ever played in the new ballpark. It’s a good thing that the games were exhibitions because the Cubs were soundly trounced. Hopefully when these two teams meet in the Word Series (as predicted in last Sunday’s New York Times), the result will be quite different. In the game I saw, Lou didn’t start either Soriano or Ramirez, and he pulled Derrek Lee out after only a few innings, so it is pretty clear that he wasn’t playing to win…at least that’s what I was telling myself. And there were some bright spots, like seeing new acquisition Milton Bradley get on base several times and Micah Hoffpauer look like a hitting machine. But it was troubling watching the Yankees tee off on Ted Lilly like he was throwing batting practice.
The Yankees were clearly playing to win. They fielded their regular season starting line-up, including Derek Jeter’s debut in the lead-off position. They also seemed very pumped up to be playing in their new home, and wanted to put on a show for the home crowd. I have a feeling that Pinella, knowing this would be the dynamic, fielded the B team just so the Yankees couldn’t show them up.
So, what about the stadium? It’s VERY impressive, but not necessarily in the all the right ways. The structure itself is massive and stately. It is clearly designed as a monument…not unlike the Pyramids. Entering the “Great Hall” has the feel of a museum or… an airport. There is enough retail space to shame many shopping malls. And that is most obvious trait of the new facility…at every turn, they are trying to sell you something. As far as the food is concerned, the only original touch was a fresh fruit stand. Every other stand (and there are many of them) is selling the usual garbage. All the talk of upscale amenities gave me hope that I could get a glass of wine rather than a beer. But it turns out that the only place selling anything other than beer was a bar, and they won’t let you back to your seat with it. And by the way, the beers are $10.00.
Once in the stands, again you are struck by how commercialized things are. Everything is covered in advertising. Yes, even more so than we are used to at modern stadiums. At the center of the outfield is an enormous high definition screen, touted as one of the largest in the world. It is indeed impressive. But the Yankees clearly haven’t thought through how best to use it. Beside the usual stupid games they play (which train will get to Yankee Stadium first?), the screen was mostly used for giant head shots of the players…so big that you can see the pores on their faces. In the meantime, the smaller board next to it was the only place you could read the lineups, and that board is so small that you could barely read it. And nowhere, and I mean nowhere, could I find the name of whoever was pitching. Is that an American league tradition or something?
Well. it’s possible that the Yanks will get the bugs out as the regular reason starts. I hope to check it out again during the World Series.