I drove by the new Yankee Stadium the other day. I still refer to it as the “new” Yankee Stadium, because although it shares the old ballpark’s dimensions…it still hasn’t seemed like Yankee Stadium to me yet.
I think it really just hit me as to how different the Bronx Bombers are now. Yes, in 2009 the Yanks beat the Phillies in their new state of the art home…but to me that title seemed like a solid prequel movie.
One that you enjoyed, but it still seemed a lesser story or cast. The Core 4 was still there and ownership went out and spent to make certain the failure to make the 2008 playoffs didn’t happen again… and it worked. Tex, CC, AJ and Swish helped bring home #27. ARod was being cheered, Johnny Damon made Boston hate him a bit more, and Godzilla was the MVP. It was a great year…but as the ticker tape cleared…it seemed different.
Derek Jeter has now joined other greats in the Yankee history books. It will be tough not to see him out there next year, but it’s more than that. The Stadium really doesn’t and won't look or feel like the Cathedral I grew up loving. I’m not trying to make the current PA announcer feel inferior. We all know it is really tough to replace a legend…but let’s face it he isn’t Bob Sheppard. The late, great “Voice of God” will not sound in the Bronx any longer. It was as if Bob’s voice was the Stadium itself speaking. The new generation of fans may only have heard of him, but Mr. Sheppard’s booming tones made you KNOW you were at a Yankee home game. The current announcer does a fine job, but he sounds like the announcer in LA, Arizona, Seattle or Tampa Bay. Bob, like the old Stadium, was iconic.
Then there is the fan involvement. Jeter and Mariano’s last games made the new building resemble the old one, but most nights it’s not the same. It seems more like a really nice mall than the old, rocking, and grand stage of baseball. Yep, you can get just about any type of food item or Steiner Collectible there...but you can also do that by staying home and ordering online. The Mohegan Sun is the worst. It should be pushed back or just done away with altogether. It has absolutely affected the diehards that sit out in the bleachers and that’s just wrong.
It was once almost dangerous to sit out there (in a good way). Now, you’ll find yourself sitting next to a guy in a Cards' cap who, “got the ticket from a guy at work who wasn’t using it.” The joint is too expensive. It’s doesn’t feel old school…it feels prep school…and to be honest I don’t see how not being able to take a family of 4 to a game, without spending all their Christmas savings, is acceptable. I didn’t mind paying to go to the old Stadium. It was like a trip to a ballgame and the Smithsonian all in one. Babe Ruth played on that field…now Teixeira does…nope; you’re not even close to worth the price of admission, Tex.
At the old park there was a sense that you were a part of something. You could feel the energy of New York pulsing through the foundation…and it wasn’t only during the good times. Now you sit and fight to find that feeling, but it’s buried under the invisible vanilla dome that seems to hover over the field. Derek Jeter leaving (and taking Bob Sheppard’s voice with him) throws the bigger picture into focus.
The new Yankee Stadium isn’t at all like the old. The new Yankees aren’t like the old Yanks either. They are the spin off cast. Their “set” is sharp, but lacks heart. It’s like having Yoda be an amazing puppet voiced by Frank OZ…or having the CGI guys draw him on a computer. I apologize for the Star Wars reference…but hopefully it makes my point clearer.
My hope is that this generation spawned by the success of the late 90’s and 2000’s will fade quickly. I sit optimistically wondering if there are kids down on the farm that are not only students of the game, but also students of the old Yankee way. Youngsters that not only want to be the next Derek Jeter, but the next Bernie, Paulie, Donnie, Tino, Reggie, Thurman, Nettles and Goose.
The men that made the old Yankee Stadium feel like a pinstriped fortress of winning, legends and magic…not an air-conditioned shopping center where players pretend to be Yankees.
** They are indeed and we can only hope for the better…sooner rather than later.**
Senior "Features" Writer
You've made BYB the fastest growing Yankees fan site in history. Now shop at the Bleeding Yankee Blue store! Follow me on Twitter @BleednYankeeBlu and LIKE Bleeding Yankee Blue on Facebook!