A Visit to Yankee Stadium

In my last post, I belabored the “why the new Yankee Stadium should never have been built” point of view. Now that I have that out of my system, I will describe what a visit to Yankee Stadium is like.

“Savages In The Box” That Don’t Like Boston

I’ve always wanted to see a series between the historic rivals, the Red Sox and Yankees and this was my chance. I also saw the teams play two games in London. As it turned out, the Yankees won all five games, in the two series. It’s not my fault, better luck next year to the Red Sox.

Yankee Fans

Although I was born in the Bronx, I’m congenitally not a Yankees fan. It’s in my DNA. I don’t have the ‘Yankee fan’ gene. As I have written, the condition wasn’t apparent when I was born. My non-Yankee predilection started to present itself when I was around eight or so. By my early teens, it was clear that I did not have any sort of capacity to appreciate the Yankees.

The Fans

Since I understand that I have this congenital aversion to all things Yankee, I am being cautious not to be too critical of the Yankee fan experience. I could be missing something that only they can see.

I will say that while growing up in New York, “the center of the universe,” I noticed that my friends and neighbors had this attitude that they were “in the know.’ They always knew the right places to go, the right restaurants to eat at, and the most up and coming books to read, etc. However, my experience was that except for being in the place that everyone else was, or where everyone wanted to be the experience wasn’t all it was supposed to be.

Craziness Outside The Stadium

Yankee fans seem to be similar. Yankee Stadium is the place to be, the place to see and be seen. The fans have a transactional relationship with the team. Brian Cashman (the general manager/President?) gets them a new free agent player or two, always “the shiniest toys” available and they are happy to believe they are part of this winning tradition. However, the days of winning frequent championships are long gone. Yet, Yankee fans walk around the Stadium with what seems to be a sense of entitlement.

But as I said, I’ll try and be objective.

Getting to Yankee Stadium

Much of my baseball travels have included a hotel within walking distance to the ballpark. I like to be about a mile away from the stadium. So, I can’t compare all stadiums in regards to the ease of using mass transit to get to them. What I can say is that Yankee Stadium is one of the easier ones to get to.

From The #4 Line Station

Of the ones I’ve attended:

  • Target Field in Minneapolis seems uncomplicated, the train stops right out front. However, I haven’t tried it.
  • Nationals Park in DC is very easy to get from Reagan National, and I assume other places in the city. I took the metro from Reagan and loved it.
  • Both Guaranteed Rate Field and Wrigley Field in Chicago are a comfortable ride on the Red Line.
  • Citi Field in Queens is an uncomplicated but longish ride on the 7 Line from midtown Manhattan.
  • Yankee Stadium is a very short ride on the subway – one of the easiest trips. You can take the B, D or 4 train. I’ve always been a Lexington Avenue guy so, I take the #4.

The Atmosphere at Yankee Stadium

It’s Nice But a Bit Artificial

The Frieze

Yankee Stadium is a new version of the original gem. In a sense, it has this artificial, Disney kind of feel. The feeling that you’re in Epcot and walking around all the European nation’s exhibits. While it has some of Europe’s appeal, the food, etc., you’re still in Orlando.

At Yankee Stadium, you can walk around the park, see the beautiful frieze surrounding the roof and imagine what the original park was like. However, it does not feel real.

Cold and Austere

All in all, the Stadium has a cold, austere feel to it. It doesn’t have the intimacy of places like Camden Yards, Petco and Oracle Parks or Citi Field. Indeed, it can’t match Wrigley or Fenway, but no place can.

It also doesn’t have a New York feel to it. The food, while good does not represent New York City’s fine restaurants the way Citi Field does. While you see the apartment buildings of the surrounding Bronx neighborhood, the Stadium no longer faces the iconic, grey Bronx Courthouse that fans used to see.

Honoring the Legacy

Finally, Legends Hall, Monument Park and prominently displayed retired numbers tend to reinforce the Yankees historical legacy, but it doesn’t seem sufficient.

Retired Numbers

The Yankees Museum is underwhelming as the displays could include so much more. It’s great to see Thurman Munson’s locker and statues commemorating Don Larson’s 1956 World Series perfect game, but where are statues commemorating other great moments, other great Yankee players’ jerseys and equipment. It should be more extensive with more exhibits. It is nice to see the Yankees borrow essential items from the National Hall of Fame on a rotating basis. Replace them every few months with other pieces. There are so many items at the Hall of Fame that could be temporarily displayed at Yankee Stadium. Every few months, the pieces would be exchanged with other items.

I’d love to see statues of great players in Legends Hall, not just banners. Something similar to the figures that the Cardinals, Brewers, and Cubs (to name a few) have in front of their stadiums.

Legends Hall

Monuments Park is beautiful but not easily accessible. To visit, you have to walk up a corridor and wait online to be ushered through. Frankly, it’s cramped. SunTrust in Atlanta has a much more accessible area. Braves greats are honored in the main corridor behind home plate. Additionally, it’s embarrassing and insulting that George Steinbrenner’s plaque is the largest.

Monument Park is somewhat hard to see from the stands. It’s hidden behind the centerfield wall and shrouded by protective netting. I wish they would open up the centerfield doors and roll up the netting before and after games. Celebrate the legacy, the great players while the teams warm-up, and the fans arrive. Shine a spotlight on the monuments as the fans leave. It would be beautiful.

Somewhat Hidden Monument Garden

The Food at Yankee Stadium

Not that I’m proud of it, but my ballpark food choices have mainly focused on the “Great Hot Dog Challenge,”so I can only speak from observation. There seem to be good, basic food choices, but the Stadium does not draw from New York’s great local food tradition the way Citi Field does. Cleveland does a better job of incorporating the local food scene as well.

The Yankees do a lot with buckets filled with food:

  • The Yankees Bucket of Chicken – a large bucket filled with French fries and topped with fried chicken tenders.
  • Sliders – the same bucket filled with “at least a pound of fries” and topped with five hamburger sliders.
  • The “Grub Tub” – one of the most inventive things I’ve seen at a ballpark since teams started batting their best hitters second. The Grub Tub is this contraption where a large (16 oz) soda cup holds a bowl filled with french fries and chicken nuggets. The bowl has a hole in the bottom that allows a straw to get to the soda. Thus, the whole contraption can be held in one hand.

Beer choices are not as extensive as many other stadiums, like San Diego, Cleveland or Cincinnati.

Minor complaint – they need more Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops! Two spots will not handle the crowd. The lines were much too long for me to consider ruining my waistline.

Minor Observations – are the lines slower at Yankee Stadium than other places? Seems so. Fans seated around me tended to be gone a long time before returning with their edible treasures.

Hot Dog Challenge

I tried three hot dogs – don’t judge, I had one per game.

Sabrett’s (?) 12” Hot Dog

Sorry, the Nomad is slipping, I’ve lost my hot dog memory. I had a 12” dog on Saturday night on the 3rd level of the Stadium. For some reason, I don’t think it was a Sabrett’s hot dog, but in reviewing the stadium map, I’m convinced it must have been.

Sabrett Hot Dogs are a staple of New York City. You can find a Sabrett’s cart on almost any street and conveniently ruin your dinner and upset your doctor. They are quite good. The one offered in the Stadium was grilled, had a nice char/ crunch, and overall made me very happy. Additionally, Yankee Stadium has brown mustard. I rank this one very high on my list.

Primo Italian Hot Sausage

I had the same issue in New York as I did in Chicago. To a certain extent, the hot dog/sausage vendors are similar in both ballparks. In this case, Nathans and Primo are prevalent at both. Since I had the Primo Italian Sweet Sausage at Citi Field, I went with the Hot Sausage this time. Not surprisingly, the sausage was just as good. Excellent taste, good crunch, and char, sturdy bun. However, they use less grilled onions, which makes it more manageable. I ranked it just above Citi’s version because it was slightly easier to eat.

Kosher Hot Dog and Another Knish

On Sunday, I decided to do the kosher all-beef hot dog – just like I did at Citi Field. It was likely from the same vendor and also quite good. However, the knish I had with it was not as firm and crisp as Citi Field’s. So I ranked this one, just under theirs.

So How Was The Play Mrs. Lincoln?

In my last post, I outlined why the “new” Yankee Stadium should not have been built in a new location. However, the pertinent question was, how is a visit to Yankee Stadium? Some people don’t know or care that the old Stadium was torn down. Is it a good place to see a game?

When you get by the controversy about building the Stadium, it’s an OK place to see a game.

Not great, but above average. It’s too cold and austere and not intimate enough to call it a great ballpark. Yankee Stadium reminds me of Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field, the last stadium built before Camden Yards revolutionized baseball. Neither has the appeal of the so-called retro ballparks and as such, they are a bit more austere.

My nest stops were Fenway Park to see Mike Trout and the Angels – err and family. After that the Little league World Series.

From Left Field

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