Posts Tagged With: Yankee Stadium

Barclays Center: A tale of two cities

I finally made it to a Brooklyn Nets game last month. I have been a die-hard New Jersey Nets fan for several years, but I hadn’t made the trek to Brooklyn yet, largely due to becoming a father and moving to Basking Ridge, N.J.

BarclaysCenter

Barclays Center

Overall, I thought Barclays Center was impressive. I have not been to Madison Square Garden since its overhaul, so I can’t compare the two buildings, but on its own merits, Barclays Center is visually stunning, and you couldn’t ask for a better location. Walter O’Malley really fucked up by moving the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, as the new Ebbets Field would have been on the same site.

Barclays Center is located in an actual neighborhood, unlike the Nets’ temporary home at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., where the area is still in the developing stages, or the Izod Center, which is in the middle of a God-forsaken swamp. The mass-transit options are plentiful, which is a good thing, because parking is not.

The overall look is modern and sleek, and the sightlines are gorgeous. The arena comes across very well both in person and on television.

However, I have one major issue with Barclays Center, which is the same issue I have with the new Yankee Stadium, MetLife Stadium, and probably pretty much every stadium or arena that opened its doors recently: The difference between the lower level and the upper level is gigantic, and Barclays Center is the most prominent example of this trend that I’ve seen so far.

All of the new facilities are following the same blueprint: Let’s cram a whole bunch of club areas and suites into the middle, and push the upper deck way up and way back. Fuck the poor and middle class!

The lower level of Barclays Center is palatial. The concourse looks like the lobby and shopping area of a Las Vegas hotel, and I’m talking about Caesar’s Palace, not Circus Circus. The concourse is well-lit and wide, with a staggering number of choices for food and beer, and a generous collection of bar tables for fans to use if they want to eat and drink prior to going to their seats.

After seeing the lower level, the upper level reminded me of the steerage section of the Titanic. The concourse was narrow and dark, and the choices were greatly reduced.

I am not a seat snob in the least. I practically lived in the upper deck of the old Yankee Stadium. I have never minded sitting higher up, as I have always been more concerned with a central location (home plate, 50-yard-line, center court).

But if someone gave me free tickets to a Brooklyn Nets game, and they were in the upper level, I would graciously decline and watch the game at home. The upper level is several feet higher and several feet further from the court, and even the best seats in the upper level pretty much suck.

My New Jersey Nets season tickets at Brendan Byrne Arena/Continental Airlines Arena/Izod Center were in the second row of the upper level, right on the center court stripe. The equivalent seats at Barclays Center were like sitting in the very top rows of the old arena. To be blunt, the seats absolutely sucked, and those were the best in the upper level.

And this is the reason why, although I am still a die-hard Nets fan, and I still follow the team religiously and watch as many games as I can, the odds of my attending more than one or two games per season are slim to none. It’s not worth going to a game unless you sit in the lower level, and the ticket prices in the lower level are beyond prohibitive.

I was fortunate enough to win my company’s tickets in a drawing. Without trying to sound like I’m spitting on a gift, the seats were decent, but certainly nowhere near the best in the house. They were about 20 rows up, which is great, but they were also behind the baseline, which isn’t bad when play is happening at the near basket, but makes it very difficult to follow action on the other end of the court. The face value of those tickets: $190 apiece. Seriously? There’s no way those tickets are worth $190 apiece. And if that’s what it takes to sit somewhere decent in Barclays Center, thank God for my 50-inch flat-screen TV.

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As much as I hate to say it, giving up my Yankees season tickets was the right move

Whenever a long, emotional relationship ends in a breakup, there’s always a tendency to question whether it was the right move, and whether more should have been done to salvage the relationship.

$95? Not worth it.

My breakup with my Yankees season tickets was no exception. Ever since I made the decision in January (see link above for the reasoning behind it), I’ve had lingering doubts as to whether it was the right move, and whether I should have done more to try to keep my seats.

The Yankees are now midway through the first home stand of this young 2011 Major League Baseball season, and there is no doubt in my mind that I made the right move, although I still wish I wasn’t driven in that direction.

I posted an entry last month about how the Yankees ticket office — usually abrupt, condescending, and not the least bit flexible — has been changing its tune. Now I see why.

The number of empty seats in the field level (and not just the Legends Suite ultra-expensive seats, but throughout the 100 level) is embarrassing. And the huge pockets of empty seats in the terrace (300) level have been equally embarrassing.

My theory: People who had field-level seats in the real Yankee Stadium were priced out when the team moved across the street, and many were fortunate to grab seats in the main (200) level. The same goes for people who had seats in the tier boxes (600 level) in the old ballpark, and were able to secure the only affordable seats in the new stadium, the grandstand (400 level).

Throughout this home stand, the 100 and 300 levels have been virtually deserted, while the 200 and 400 levels, along with the bleachers, have been packed. And it will likely stay that way. On Opening Day, during the fifth inning, I counted exactly 10 people in one of the Jim Beam Club sections, behind home plate in the 300 level. Seriously?

I realize it’s only the first few games of the season, and baseball attendance throughout the league tends to heat up in tandem with the weather, but, Opening Day aside, the Yankees have enjoyed comfortable weather, along with games against two stellar, playoff-caliber opponents (the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins).

The biggest issue, in my opinion, is that a lot of the tickets are just plain overpriced. I recognize that the Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball, and that no other team has been in contention every single season since the strike-shortened 1994 campaign (you could argue that 2008 doesn’t qualify, but it’s not like the club finished 62-100). But when it comes down to it, $95 to sit in fair territory in left field on the field level is ridiculous. You are a minimum of 350 feet from home plate, and the only thing you have a good view of is Brett Gardner’s ass. I am a huge fan of Gardner as a ballplayer, but I don’t roll that way. Even if I wanted to look at his rear end, his size-nine head would likely distract me.

$55? Why bother, when I can sit in the same section for $15. Hello, StubHub!

The same goes for the terrace level. The 300 level in the new Yankee Stadium is higher and further from the field than the tier boxes at the old park, and one of the reasons why I gave up my tickets was that I felt that sitting that high and that far simply wasn’t worth $55 per seat. I would have gladly moved to the grandstand or the bleachers, but the latter are thoroughly sold out (at $12 per seat for season tickets, there’s no need to explain why), and the available seats in the former were in the top rows in the outfield. As much as I love going, I’d rather sit on my couch or in a bar than behind the foul pole, four rows from the top of the stadium.

I mentioned in my earlier blog post about giving up the seats that by basically forcing people into buying season tickets, the Yankees created a culture of “ticket brokers.” Those ticket brokers are getting their asses handed to them.

I looked up my old section (314) on StubHub for tomorrow night (Wednesday, April 6). The forecast is quite comfortable (59 degrees, no rain), and CC Sabathia, the clear ace of the staff, is pitching against the Minnesota Twins, a perennial playoff team. My old seats were in row six, and the face value was (and still is) $55. Yet, if I wasn’t going bowling that night, I could sit in row eight for $15, in my old row for $17, in row three for $17, or in row two for the princely sum of $19. Translation: The people selling these seats are taking losses of $36-$40 per ticket on $55 tickets.

A common argument whenever I bring this subject up is the opportunity to sell tickets to the “big” games at a hefty profit. Yes, that opportunity exists, but one of the main reasons why fans want season tickets in the first place is to be guaranteed seats for Boston, or the Mets, or Philadelphia, or Tampa. Being forced to sell them in order to make up for losses on other games defeats the entire purpose, and the same applies to the postseason. Guaranteed playoff tickets are one of the biggest attractions of season tickets, but some of us would actually like to go to the games, and not sit around monitoring StubHub and figuring out how much we can make.

I’d love to think that the Yankees will have an epiphany and realize that the pricing structure is completely out of whack, similar to what happened with the most expensive seats in the ballpark during the inaugural 2009 season. The thought of hooking up with an old flame again is truly appealing. But I know that sort of thinking is completely unrealistic.

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The New York Yankees ticket office is now humble and flexible? Did anyone down in Hell order an ice scraper?

I got an interesting phone call yesterday from none other than the New York Yankees, regarding my cancellation of my season tickets. As I suspected, I am clearly not the only person to go in that direction. The woman I spoke with was thoroughly professional and polite, but judging by the answers to a couple of my questions and some of the concessions she was willing to make, I sensed a trace of desperation.

Section 314, Yankee Stadium

I’m not going to rehash the numerous reasons why I am no longer a season-ticket holder. For those who aren’t regular readers, click here. And while the compromises the Yankees were willing to make were definitely a step in the right direction, they didn’t make enough of a difference in my particular situation (through no fault of the ball club).

But it was almost gratifying to have an organization that has historically conducted itself with extreme arrogance toward its fan base — even in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the team was God-awful — going out of its way to sell tickets like used-car salesmen. For the record, the arrogance comment does not apply to the person who became my personal ticket representative during the migration to the new ballpark. He was always helpful, friendly, and a pleasure to deal with. Sadly, he was the exception.

One of the concessions offered by the Yankees was offering the chance to buy “full” season tickets that didn’t start until the end of April. My guess is that many season-ticket holders complained that it is easier to sell a six-week-old rotting container of potato salad than it is to sell tickets to night games in April against marginal teams in 40-degree weather.

One of my biggest issues with the stadium relocation was the fact that brand-new ticket buyers willing to purchase full-season tickets immediately jumped ahead of longtime plan-holders in the queue. I thought that was a stab in the back, and I still feel that way.

It’s coming back to bite the Yankees in the ass, though. My hunch is that I am far from the only person who was basically forced into buying a full-season plan, and then found that they couldn’t afford it, or that they got tired of acting as de facto ticket brokers on StubHub, or both. The notoriously inflexible Yankees ticket department is suddenly quite flexible.

The funny thing is, when I was a kid, my ultimate dream was to have season tickets to the Yankees. However, when I envisioned those tickets, I also envisioned myself being married, with two kids, a healthy income, and a nice house. The married part came true, and it has been nothing short of outstanding. The kids will hopefully follow soon. But going without a full-time job for nearly two-and-a-half years and blogging for about one-third of my previous salary wasn’t part of that pretty little picture, and it doesn’t help pay for tickets.

And sadly, being a full-season-ticket holder wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Of course, if I experienced a drastic change for the better in my financial situation, I’d jump at the chance to rejoin the club, but I’m not counting on that.

How the mighty have fallen.

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I am now a former New York Yankees season-ticket holder

A long and glorious era ended this afternoon with a quick, painless (but at the same time, incredibly painful) phone call: For the first time since Opening Day of the 1997 Major League Baseball season, I am no longer a New York Yankees season-ticket holder.

I knew my days were numbered when the new Yankee Stadium became a reality. New sports facilities are 100% geared toward corporate clients, leaving the real fan in far worse seats than they enjoyed in the older buildings. Just ask anyone who has upper-deck tickets for the New York Jets or New York Giants. The new Meadowlands Stadium is probably fantastic for those who can afford to shell out the price of a new car for each PSL, and pay exorbitant ticket prices on top of that. But for fans of average means, the upper deck is awful, with “comparable” seats that are actually 40 feet higher and 40 feet further away from the field.

The view from Box 611 at the REAL Yankee Stadium

I had a great run in Box 611 in the real Yankee Stadium. I had my tickets there from 1997-2008, and the Yankees made the playoffs every season except the last one, winning the World Series three consecutive seasons from 1998-2000 (although only clinching the 1999 Fall Classic in the Bronx).

Not only were the seats fantastic, but there was a sense of community in Box 611. Many of the people in the section had the same tickets for years, and I never felt alone at a ballgame on the occasional day or night when I couldn’t find anyone to take my second ticket. We laughed together when the Boston Red Sox choked year after year (until 2004, but let’s not get into that). We cried together when people experienced tragedies, like the loss of the father of one of my best friends during the 1999 World Series. We drank together (BOY, did we drink together!), and we enjoyed the entire experience, whether it was a cold, rainy night against the then-inept Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a beautiful summer afternoon matinee against the hated Red Sox, or time for the intensity of the postseason.

Although the new Yankee Stadium exceeded my expectations when it comes to appearance, the atmosphere has never been the same. As I said earlier, the real fans were pushed higher and further away from the field, leaving embarrassing acres of empty seats on field level, and basically destroying any kind of home-field advantage. Why did this happen? Many fans, myself included, were forced into buying full season tickets in order to get anything resembling a decent location — the seats I was offered to remain in a half-season plan were thoroughly and completely unacceptable. So we all turned into ticket brokers. After all, how many people do you know who can actually go to 81 games, or 41 games?

Since the new ballpark opened its doors, StubHub has been flooded with tickets. Sure, some of them are from people who wouldn’t know a baseball if they swallowed one, and who are just looking to turn a profit. But a healthy chunk of them are from people like myself who are just trying to get some money back on tickets we were basically forced into purchasing and can’t use. The easy access to tickets means two things: Season-ticket holders like myself end up selling tickets at a loss, unless they’re for premium games like the Red Sox, the Philadelphia Phillies, Opening Day, or Old Timer’s Day — you know, exactly the type of games that represent the reason most people buy tickets in the first place. And the number of opposing fans in the ballpark borders on irritating.

The view from Section 314 at the new Yankee Stadium

Another side effect of the StubHub frenzy: Unlike the community feel of Box 611, there is zero sense of community in the new Yankee Stadium. I went to about 30 games in my 2010 seats in section 314, and I recognized people in the section a handful of times, if it was even that many. Every time I struck up a conversation with someone in seats around me, the answer was the same: “Oh, yeah, I bought them on StubHub.” Managing the season tickets became a part-time job, and an often unrewarding job, at that.

I’m far from alone in feeling this way. Ross Sheingold from NYY Stadium Insider expressed many of the same frustrations in his very well-written blog post.

However, when all is said and done, the main reason why I didn’t keep the tickets was simple: I have been unemployed since October 2008 and, while I have been making some money by blogging, it’s nowhere near enough to justify buying the tickets. I refuse to let a balance accumulate on my credit card unless it’s an absolute, critical, unavoidable emergency, which Yankees tickets don’t qualify as, no matter how much I love having them. A lot of my friends who were regulars are in equally crappy situations where they can’t get to anywhere near the number of games they used to attend. And my wife and I are trying to start a family, which will add more strain to an already-stretched budget, leaving no room for the kind of financial commitment the Yankees require.

Still, if the Yankees were still playing in the original ballpark across the street, I know things would be different. If I still had my seats in Box 611, I’d fight tooth and nail to keep them. My wife and I never, ever fight, but if Box 611 were still in the picture, the truce may have been broken. I just don’t have the same passion for my seats in the new Yankee Stadium. I hate saying this, but they simply weren’t worth fighting for.

I’ll still go to a bunch of games, via StubHub, tickets from friends, and what-not. But not having season tickets for the first time since 1997 feels like a divorce. It’s been a part of my fabric for so long, that there’s just an empty feeling right now. This sucks.

Box 611, missed more and more with every passing day :(

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There used to be a ballpark, part II

Anybody who knows me already knows quite well how I feel about the destruction of the real Yankee Stadium. While the new Yankee Stadium has definitely grown on me, watching the old ballpark being torn down feels like losing a family member. I still can’t digest the idea that Box 611 no longer exists.

What was left of the real Yankee Stadium on Opening Day

When you’re younger, you think everything will last forever, including ballparks. Then as you move on in life, you come to the sad realization that nothing is forever.

The wounds of Yankee Stadium are still fresh. Even though the Yankees christened the new ballpark with a World Series championship, the skeletal remains of the real ballpark are still looming.

The past couple of weeks have brought the beginnings of a new baseball season, but also two more endings related to my favorite teams: Texas Stadium, the former home of the Dallas Cowboys, was imploded (see below). And while the building isn’t going anywhere just yet, the New Jersey Nets played their last game at the IZOD Center (formerly known as the Continental Airlines Arena, Brendan Byrne Arena and the Meadowlands Arena), as the team is finally taking my advice and moving to Newark, allegedly for two years while the Barclays Center in Brooklyn is being built, but, as I’ve said repeatedly, I’ll believe the team is moving to Brooklyn when I see a building.

The New Jersey Nets thank all 27 of their fans

Neither building means anywhere near as much to be as the real Yankee Stadium did.

I only went to two Cowboys games in Texas Stadium and, as magnificent as the new Cowboys Stadium looks on TV, it’s still weird not seeing the ugly but familiar building I grew up watching on TV.

And while the New Jersey Nets’ best two seasons as a franchise came at the IZOD Center (then Continental Airlines Arena), the building itself had very little character and, thanks to the Nets’ piss-poor fan base, even less atmosphere.

Still, it’s bizarre to see three buildings that were part of my fabric as a sports fan disappear (I know the IZOD Center is still standing, but Disney on Ice is not a sport, and the Devils, Nets and Seton Hall are all gone). Nothing is forever and, sometimes, change is good, but that doesn’t make it any less jarring or weird.

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The best part about 2009 (well … besides getting engaged)? It wasn’t 2008!

Everyone else is doing year-end blog posts, so what the hell? And what better way to do so than actually waiting until the last day of the year, sitting in the recliner, on the laptop, sipping an Exit 1 Bayshore Oyster Stout (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like, stout brewed with oysters) from Flying Fish Brewing, with a cat assisting me by resting on the back of the recliner (Hi, Trouble!)?

So, here goes nothing. I didn’t think 2009 was an overly good year or an overly bad year. It was pretty mixed for me, with more good than bad, but not enough good to call it wonderful. This is in direct contrast to 2008, which can pretty much go to hell. I managed to lose my job, my favorite bar and my ballpark in 2008, while 2009 brought some sadness, but nowhere near on the level of 2008.

In Newport, R.I., just before getting engaged

The highlight of 2009, by far, was getting engaged. It was a remarkable day, spent in Newport, R.I., and a remarkable experience that I will never forget. I have yet to experience one second of doubt about this and likely never will.

The precursor to getting engaged was fun, as well: Welcoming my fiancée and her cat, Skittles, to the apartment my two cats, Trouble and 8-Ball, graciously allow me to occupy. Trouble and 8-Ball still hate Skittles, but their skirmishes have become more amusing than alarming. As for the humans, we’re getting along just fine, thank you!

Anyone who knows me and has gotten to this point is saying, “Um, what about the World Series, jackass?” About fucking time! The entire season for the Yankees was a great run, starting way back when I first saw the new Yankee Stadium, before the start of the regular season. Yes, I would move back across the street in a heartbeat, and I miss the old ballpark like a lost family member. But it was great to have the Yankees rise back to the top again, and I really liked the makeup of this team, as opposed to some of the underachieving squads of the mid-2000s.

Skittles

I went to two weddings that I was very happy about, within weeks of each other. Both brides are longtime friends of mine, one much longer than the other, and both finally found perfect matches and soul mates, which was quite heart-warming. It’s funny to think of how much I used to hate weddings, and how quickly my opinion of them reversed when the prospect of actually being a groom inched closer to reality.

My then-girlfriend, now-fiancée and I went on a great trip to Cancun and, even though it was more than nine months ago, I still find myself dealing with insatiable cravings for Mojitos at 11 a.m. on occasion. We also went to Cape May and loved it and, of course, there was Newport, where I finally popped the question (without actually popping the question, as I am constantly reminded of … sigh!).

Now, on to the not-so-good: The obvious lowlight is pretty simple. If anyone had told me that I would go an entire calendar year and not spend one second working on a full-time job, I’d have asked them when I won the lottery or was named in the will of a rich old aunt I had never met. This economy sucks, this recession sucks, and this job market sucks. I’d have completely lost what little mind I have left if it wasn’t for the one part-time job I still have.

Bidie, R.I.P.

One of my favorite pooches went on to doggy heaven. I still miss Bidie. I lived with the little bug-eyed, hot-tempered, 200-decibel-snoring rascal of a Boston Terrier for a year, but I knew her for most of her long, happy life, and there was a strong bond between us. As I said in my tribute post to her: If there’s a dog run in Heaven, I hope all of the other dogs up there are quick, or they might be in for a rude awakening.

For the first time since 2001, I was not part of a beach house on LBI, mostly for financial reasons. It turned out to be a good summer to skip, as it seemed like it rained almost every weekend, but there’s a certain calm and peacefulness about being near water, and I truly missed that all summer.

My Aunt Rose gave me a huge scare, as she suffered a minor heart attack and minor stroke in October. It was very unsettling for a while, as she was having a great deal of trouble expressing things like names, numbers and dates, but she’s improved to the point where she’s very, very close to 100%. I knew things were on the upside when she started nagging again.

So as I said earlier, overall, 2009 was pretty mixed, and it doesn’t draw the same “two middle fingers up” response that 2008 would. There was a lot of good and lot of bad, but the good outweighed the bad. Whatever else happens in 2010 (a job would be nice), our wedding April 25 and the honeymoon in Hawaii directly afterward will be the highlights, and I’m ecstatic about both.

The Flying Fish Exit 1 Bayshore Oyster Stout is now history, and I am currently enjoying a Defiant Christmas Ale as I post this. Happy New Year to all who read this, and I hope 2010 is better for everyone. Cheers!

My fiancée and I on the beach at Key West

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The 2009 World Series: Bringing the Bronx to Key West

Although I wouldn’t change a thing if I had the whole experience to do over again, not being in Yankee Stadium to see the Yankees win their 27th World Series title, and being 1,200 miles away instead, was a truly bizarre event.

At game one of the 2009 World Series with my fiancée

Let me explain: Anyone who has met me for six seconds or read this blog more than once knows I’m a die-hard Yankees fan. I had partial season tickets in Box 611 in the old Yankee Stadium since 1997, specifically for the purpose of being able to go to postseason games. It takes a very significant event to get me to miss any postseason game, much less the final game of a World Series.

And I was fortunate enough to be in Key West for a very significant event, which, as I already said, I wouldn’t change at all. One of my closest friends got married, and she found an absolutely fantastic guy. Not being there was never a consideration.

Something similar happened to me a couple of years ago, when I missed the Cowboys-Giants game, also for the wedding of another very close friend. I wasn’t the least bit upset with either friend in either case. In the case of the football game, it was just bad scheduling luck. In the case of the World Series, it was just pure stupidity on the part of Major League Baseball. The World Series should not extend into November, and the fact that a potential game seven would have been played Nov. 5 is a sad joke. I never gave the World Series a thought when making the travel plans. November is NOT baseball season.

A stop at the greatest breakfast place on Earth on the way down to Key West

So I ended up watching games three through six all over the place, after attending games one and two at Yankee Stadium.

I watched game three at my fiancée’s father’s house in Boynton Beach with three Phillies fans: my fiancée, her father and her stepmom. I actually like the Phillies, so this wasn’t an issue, with just a little good-natured ribbing going on.

I watched game four at Whiskey Tango, an excellent sports bar in Hollywood, FL, with my fiancée, my best man and his wife, the latter friends since college.

I watched game five at the pool bar of the Southernmost Hotel Collection in Key West, where we were all staying for the wedding. The wedding, incidentally, was a perfect beach wedding on a beautiful day, and I’m ecstatic that I was able to be there.

And I watched the sixth and final game at Jack Flats, also in Key West, with an interesting mix: a healthy number of Yankees fans, a healthy number of Phillies fans and one ass hat wearing a Red Sox shirt.

The main thing I learned from games five and six: Whiskey is evil.

I had a great time, and I couldn’t ask for better company. It still felt surreal watching the Yankees and my fellow fans celebrating in the Bronx and not being there, but it was for a worthy cause and, as I said, I’d do it all over again.

On the beach at Key West, after the wedding

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The last …

I’ve never been good about things that involve “the last,” as in, “the last time I’ll ever go here,” or, “the last time I’ll ever see this.” But I’ve had to deal with quite a few instances of it over the past year-and-a-half or so.

I went to my favorite Hoboken bar, Ted & Jo’s, for the last time at the end of March 2008. The bar unfortunately closed, and the space is still empty and probably will be for quite some time. I still don’t really have a new bar, although Zeppelin Hall, the new beer garden in Jersey City, is quickly becoming a staple. I love The Shannon, but not so much on weekends, when the crowd is much younger.

I went to Yankee Stadium for the last time almost a year ago. Although I’ve started to enjoy the new ballpark more and more, I still miss the old ballpark terribly and wish the team had never moved. The new Stadium is nice, but the old one was home.

I went to my desk at my old job of 13 ½ years for the last time. I didn’t have any time to think about this one, as getting laid off was shocking and completely unexpected. I hadn’t been happy at my old job for quite some time, but I still think there would have been some sadness if I had the opportunity to leave on my own terms. The last year-and-a-half were pretty tough to deal with, as I was forced to leave the publication I had spent 12 years with and move to one where I didn’t fit in at all, but 13 ½ years at one company is still a pretty long time, and there were some nice memories mixed in with the bad ones.

I spent my last day as a single man July 31, but I couldn’t be happier about that and wouldn’t change a thing.

And last weekend, I spent what might have been my last weekend at my old beach house on Long Beach Island. I actually think from talking to the people who are still involved that the house will probably continue next year, but you never know. There’s a lot of change going on. People are taking new jobs, moving, getting involved in serious relationships, and the possibility always exists that I’ve spent my last night in the ugly monstrosity that I loved so much for seven summers.

Saying goodbye to things is tough, even if it’s for the better sometimes.

Long Beach Island

Long Beach Island

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$1.5 billion, $1.2 billion, zero common sense

I confess to knowing absolutely nothing about construction. I’m lucky I can construct two screws into their proper slots in the process of putting together something like a TV stand. But nothing I build is going to cost $1.5 billion, like the new Yankee Stadium, or $1.2 billion, like the new Cowboys Stadium. Hell, if anyone gives me $1.50 or $1.20, they’re seriously wasting their money.

But I’d like to think that the higher-ups at my two favorite teams used some of the billions of dollars they spent on new ballparks to hire people who actually had clues about what they were doing. Yet evidence points to the contrary.

Video board in new Cowboys Stadium

Video board in new Cowboys Stadium

Let me address the more recent fiasco first. During last Friday night’s preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, an average-looking punt by the visitors’ A.J. Trapasso hit the massive new video board. The video board is 90 feet above the playing field, which, as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has repeatedly pointed out, is five feet higher than the league minimum.

Are you seriously going to tell me that $1.2 billion didn’t buy someone who might have raised their hand and suggested that this board was too low? First of all, punters are a lot stronger than they were when the 85-foot rule was adopted. Second, it’s just pure common sense. Trapasso’s punt wasn’t even that well-struck. What happens when Shane Lechler of the Raiders comes to town on Thanksgiving and crushes what would be a 70-yard punt, only to have it ricochet off the video board? Hell, even the Cowboys’ own punter, Mat McBriar, will likely bounce the pigskin off the video board, even though he claims that the team’s strategy is to aim for the sidelines.

I just find it amazing that this issue wasn’t raised at some point before board-zilla was raised to the rafters at Cowboys Stadium. I guess $1.2 billion doesn’t buy good help these days.

Right field in the new Yankee Stadium

Right field in the new Yankee Stadium

Speaking of the lack of good help, let’s move to the Bronx, shall we? Again, not to sound like a broken record, but couldn’t a few bills from the $1.5 billion spent on the ballpark have gone toward a study of what the open design of the Stadium would do to fly balls? Straight-away right field at the new Yankee Stadium is a sick joke. Almost every pop fly hit in that direction somehow ends up in the stands.

Yes, I know, it’s already been proven that the fence in right field is more of a straight line to accommodate the manual scoreboard, making the distance a few feet shorter than in the old ballpark, and the fence is also a couple of feet shorter. But having gone to roughly the same number of games during both the last season in the old Stadium and the first season in the new Stadium, the only way those theories would explain the home-run boom would be if tons of balls were hit to the warning track last season. They weren’t.

And I can tell you from personal experience, as someone who goes to enough games and has gotten pretty good at judging home-run balls, I have been fooled by more balls that I judged as harmless fly balls ending up in the seats this year than in the previous 10 seasons combined.

Maybe it’s just me, because I will never see $1 billion (unless someone out there knows something I don’t), but I’d like to think if I were in charge of building something that cost that amount of money, I’d research every potential problem to make sure they didn’t occur.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to punt a football off a video board, then hit a harmless pop-up to right field and circle the bases.

Categories: baseball, football, sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The 2009 New York Yankees: 162 road games

Even though my Yankees lost both games I attended in Philadelphia over Memorial Day weekend, overall, I had a pretty decent holiday, especially for my first Memorial Day since 2000 without a beach house.

Phillies fan (cant say I disagree with his jersey)

Phillies fan (can't say I disagree with his jersey)

Wait … what’s that you say? The games were in the Bronx, not Philadelphia? Well, you could have fucking fooled me.

The number of Phillies fans in the ballpark Friday night and Sunday afternoon — naturally, the only game I didn’t attend was the only game the Yankees won — was even more excessive than the number of Boston fans earlier this month.

It was so excessive that when I got on the PATH train to return to Hoboken Friday night, there was only one other Yankees fan on the car, and the rest of the people were Philadelphia fans, which led my girlfriend to ask, “Is this the Broad Street line?”

And the ferry from Hoboken to Yankee Stadium Sunday was even worse. The boat carried, without question, two-thirds to three-quarters Phillies fans. As my girlfriend pointed out, it wasn’t a ferry: It was a pherry. And I phucking hate it.

T-shirt from BaldVinny.com

T-shirt from BaldVinny.com

First off, while Red Sux fans can go get bent, I have no problem with Phillies fans. I’d probably hate a lot of them during football season, because my hatred for the Eagles is beyond irrational, but I really don’t have a problem with them during baseball season, and they certainly did nothing wrong by buying tickets to this past weekend’s games.

Second, I have no problem with Yankees fans who sold their tickets. Many of us were forced into buying full season tickets in order to have seats with a view of something other than a urinal, which is why there are so many tickets on the market.

I just hope the Yankees’ “brain trust” (it was hard to type that with a straight face) sees what they’ve created. There’s absolutely no home-field advantage anymore. When chants of “Let’s go Red Sox” and “Let’s go Phillies” drown out the fans of the home team, this is a serious problem.

I know the team’s management more than likely doesn’t give a rat’s ass, since the tickets are sold, which is all they care about. And that’s the sad part: Yes, baseball is a business, but this organization has managed to drain every last drop of fun out of being a Yankees fan. Feeling like a visiting fan in my own ballpark sucks ass.

Categories: baseball, business, sports, venting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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