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.
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.
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.