Tonight I’m suffering my first insomnia for a few weeks. Perhaps it’s the leftover glow of excitement from my first – and only – game at The New Yankee Stadium. Sure, it was an exhibition game (against the Cubs; the Yanks won 7-4) but it was the first game played by the Yankees in their new ballpark.
I have to say, I kinda hate The New Stadium. It felt like a cross between a midwestern shopping mall (too airy! too friendly!) and a slick, modern museum. At Gate 6, the walls of the cavernous, bright foyer were festooned with larger-than-life flags depicting Yankee greats (Goose, Reggie). Along the double-wide concourse, sparkly new food counters inexplicably sold the same old sausage, hot dogs and fried chicken fingers. Above the counters hung enormous black-and-white photos of more Yankee greats (The Babe, Mickey, Lou). From the perspective of this Red Sox fan, it felt like the team is trying to remind itself how great it is (once was?), given the high-priced failures of the past decade. But maybe I’m projecting?
Overall, the stainless steel and grey, brightened only occasionally by splashes of Yankee blue, felt like a food court. Even the women’s rooms – once cramped, smelly and painted a remarkable Pepto Bismol, were cool and sophisticated. My first reaction was, Thank GAWD that awful pink is gone! After about a second, though, I realized I could be in the ladies’ room at the Cherry Tree Mall in Winetka, or at the MoMA, or anywhere at all. Viscerally, none of it rose to the special occasion that is a baseball game – especially given the ticket prices. The stadium lacks any sort of charm.
The one saving grace is the field. The dimensions of the playing field are exactly the same, though there’s less foul territory. The signature picket fence, carried over from the old stadium, saves the advertisement-laden center field”score board” from stock sports-Jumbotron flashiness. And don’t even get me started about the lack of useful info in the new scoreboard/signage. (What time is it? What’s this dude’s batting average? What did Jeter do in his last at-bat?) Oh – and the fonts they use! A usability nightmare. But I digress…
I hate the new stadium because I’m a Fenway-lovin’ Sox fan, you say? Well, you’re wrong. My Yankee-lovin’ friends shared my negative assessment. We recognize, of course, that part of our reaction is sentimental; it’s different and therefore bad. And since I’m given to sentimentality – even more so now, during my last two weeks in New York – I’m glad it’s not just me.
But despite all this…I have to say: It was a BEAUT-iful day for baseball. I’m glad I got to go to a game. Baseball, I’ll miss thee whilst I’m away.