Sunday, July 12, 2009


This was in this past edition of the New York Beacon (in the print edition only here in the city). There may be a point or two worth discussing among all of you baseball fans, especially those of you have had the chance to visit a few ballparks around the country.

Again, keep in mind that I have yet to visit the new Yankee Stadium for a game, though you've seen a video weeks before it opened this past spring.

By now, you’ve heard and read about, if not witnessed the story, play itself out during these forty-two home games at the new Stadium. By some baseball media and executives, it has been dubbed Coors Field East after the long ball-happy home of the Colorado Rockies. The Bombers have sent 78 balls into the seats while their opponents added 61 of their own for a grand total of 139 souvenirs in a half-season of home games. The story has legs not only because of how much the park’s construction was (about $1.5 billion), but beyond the new amenities, the Stadium’s dimensions are identical to its predecessor as if the park was just shoved across the street.

Yet, what few, if anyone has talked about is that for opposing teams and the newest Yankees, the new Stadium is just the latest in a long line of new structures they visit every few days.

Save for four teams (Boston, Minnesota, Oakland and Florida), every other opponent on the Yanks’ schedule this season plays in either a relatively new stadium or in the case of Kansas City, a remodeled one. Most of the players in the majors since Baltimore ushered in the league’s stadium boom in 1991 have grown accustomed, if not have played their entire careers in new facilities. Since those stadiums are still building their own histories, the intangibles do not exist in the level that they did at the House that Ruth Built. Eighty-five years of big games in front of nearly 58,000 rowdy fans reminding them of the Yankees’ prestige placed opponents at a huge psychological disadvantage when playing there.

Even as a fan or media member, there’s a different feel to walking in an older stadium such as Boston’s Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles or Chicago’s Wrigley Field, where generations have walked through the same corridors and sat in the same seats over decades. With stadiums such as San Francisco’s AT&T Park or PNC Park in Pittsburgh - considered two of the best buildings in the game – only the players can take comfort in knowing that none of the new facilities have a distinct home-field advantage just yet. With that unique ambiance – or annoyance for non-Yankees – missing, this is just another new ballpark, no matter which team plays there.

In a sport obsessed with attaching some statistical reason why things happen, intimidation has no number to account for. You can’t put a statistic on it, but it’s an undeniable factor on performance. The new Stadium has enough games to tell us that until Yankee fans can finish transferring that mystique from across the street, that home run tally will keep rising to absurd levels.

No comments: