When I Was There: The New Place

July 24, 2009
Yankees 8, Oakland 3

This past weekend, The Civee and I headed east to New Jersey to visit King Classic. It was a nice, relaxing trip (even if I ruined my phone by letting it get submerged during a rafting trip down the Delaware River).

One of the big events (and I’ll get to the other later) was a trip to the new Yankee Stadium on Friday night to see the Yankees host the A’s. There were seven of us, and for all, it was our first trip to the Yankees’ all-new, all-different stadium.

I hadn’t been to The Bronx since August 9 2002, when the Yankees hosted the A’s at the old stadium.  For that game, the Fat Triathlete and I had upper deck seats and stayed for every pitch of the 16-inning affair.

For Friday’s game, the first pitch was scheduled for 7, with the gates opening at 5.  We figured if we left at 3, that would give us enough time to explore the new digs before game time.

We were wrong.

Between the GWB tollbooths and navigating the South Bronx looking for a parking spot, we were stuck in traffic for four hours.  We barely made it in time to hear the National Anthem.   We got to our seats, located in the “main” section of the bowl, the upper half of the first level of seats.  The seats were great, and in a weird way, it felt like we were at the old stadium, with just a few minor differences.

Two of those minor differences bugged me, my only complaints about the new place:

1. The announcer, Paul Olden, while I’m sure he’s a nice guy, is no Bob Sheppard.

2. The location/look of Monument Park is horrible.  The old monument park was vibrant, out in the open, and surrounded by plant life.   The new park is in a gray little alcove beneath the center field batters’ eye.  It barely stood out from inside the stadium and looked a little depressing.  If you ask me, this off-season, the Yankees should switch Monument Park with the visitor’s bull pen and add some plants.  Doing so would make the new park within a park stand out more.

But anyway, enough of the complaints.

The Civee and I watched Joba Chamberlain struggle through the first (his only rough spot of the game until the eighth, when he was relieved) before heading downstairs to the ‘Great Hall’ to get some food.  If we had gotten to the Stadium earlier, we would have had enough time to adequately explore the place, but we only walked around a few sections because we didn’t want to miss any of the game.

The hall feature is nice and while I can see how some would complain about how it’s more of a mall atmosphere than a ballpark, I think the Great Hall is appropriate because it’s outside the field area (if that makes sense).  You can watch all the action, but if you’re in your seat, the hall doesn’t detract from your experience.

As an added bonus, you can see the field (or parts of it) through the hall, and there are enough monitors around the place showing the game with speakers blaring the game’s radio feed.

The Civee settled for some pizza, and I went for some hot dogs (the sausage stand was all out of sausage) and we headed back to our seats.  I’m a huge fan of the new seats.  I’m 6’4″, and there were times in the old stadium where my knees would be bumping up against the seat in front of me all game.  The seven of us in our group rotated seats (in the same section) throughout the game and I had no legroom or other comfort problems.

After giving up a run in the first, Chamberlain settled down, pitching a pretty good game.  The Yankees came back in the third, scoring two, and adding a few more runs in the fifth and sixth.

By the eighth, Joba had only given up two hits and struck out six.  He let two men get on, and was relieved.  Phil Coke got out of the jam and the Yankees struck for four runs in the bottom of the eighth sparked by a Jorge Posada solo home run.  By this time, the crowd was doing the wave and the Hip-Hip Jorge chant the Civee loves so much.

The A’s added two in the top of the ninth, but David Robertson recovered and finished off the game, and by this time, I was happy for two things:

-That this game didn’t go as long as the last game I attended.

-The Yankees winning.

We headed home while getting caught in another hour of traffic on our way.  Everyone seemed to like the new place.  For me, it was a great trip, and nice to see the Yankees finally get the stadium they deserve.

My one other comment about the stadium- people have said it’s not as loud as the old Stadium.  Maybe it seems that way on TV, or in those April games when the Stadium was half-full.  But on one Friday night in August, the New Yankee Stadium was just as loud as its predecessor.

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