Saturday, April 04, 2009

A Good First Night in The Bronx

So there it is. Amazing what $1.5 billion dollars (give or take) can buy these days.

In short, the brand new Yankee Stadium is a magnificent facility. It's an amazing place in that it can lull you into believing that you're in the old Yankee Stadium but then you snap out of it an realize that you're not.

For Friday night's exhibition against the Cubs, we sat in the left field bleachers, though I would say "sat" is a bit of a misnomer. For once, going to a game was not about the game. This night was very much about the Stadium. So Sean, me, my cousin Ron and his son (and my longtime Yankee companion) Kris tried to see as much as it as we could.

We visited the site of our new Friday night seats (that's the view from the picture up top) and I'd have to say I'm OK with it. We spent a few innings in our actual bleacher seats. We walked to the Yankees Museum, the gift shop, the food, the restrooms, and I think you're getting the idea.

Onto a brief review.

The Yankees Museum is nice but it is a work in progress. For now, the focus is on a long display (60 feet, 6 inches) of autographed baseballs. A computer in the room allows you to find the location of a certain players ball. So...of course I looked for Bobby Murcer. Damned if the computer had the ball placed wrong! I did find it, along with Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth (the Yankees' Saints).

We also found A-Rod for Sean. It's nice to see the innocence in his face he knows that A-Rod did something bad with the steroids (among other things) but that's still his guy. I admire that, and I noticed other people taking note of him as well.

Now one question - why in the name of Graig Nettles are there autographed balls from Michael Kay, Suzyn Waldman and John Sterling? I can barely understand having a George Steinbrenner ball but come on!

The museum needs more. It has a seat from each Yankee Stadium incarnation, a display on Babe Ruth, Thurman Munson's locker (some people didn't even know what it was) and a fake locker in which you can program a message board over top to say your name.

All of the pictures are here.

The food is expensive but largely worth it. I got to sample a Johnny Rockets hot dog, fries, a slice of pizza, and a buffalo chicken slider. I enjoyed everything that I tried but it was fairly standard. Still there was a lot to offer, but it's just so overpriced.

We hit the huge gift shop off the Great Hall, to the first base side of home plate. Like the food, the selection is great but the prices are nutty. Still I caved in and bought Sean a matchbox-type car and mug for me.

There are a few drawbacks. Figuring out how to move the foot traffic is a concern. There are spots where the access from the rest of the Stadium to the bleachers shrinks. Think of it like driving on a six-lane road and having it reduced to two. The bottleneck is silly. To further that are the food carts. Now those are good things because you can grab a pretzel without standing on line with the people who want the hot dogs but the placement of them seems foolish and just causes more traffic problems.

We've talked about the obstructed views. They're stupid - end of discussion. We'll move on.

For me, the few minor negatives were not that major and are largely fixable. It's a great new Stadium, and it would automatically be my favorite place in the world save for one thing.

It's not the old Yankee Stadium, which sat silently across E 161st St. The letters weren't even lit and the old message board was empty. Sad.

As I walked in via Gate 4, I saw the famous picture of Lou Gehrig at his retirement ceremony on July 4, 1939. What struck me was that, while that's a great picture of a monumental moment, mystique and aura doesn't just walk across the street. Lou Gehrig didn't make that speech in this ballpark.

It will be a great place to spend many great nights, and is the palace that the world's most famous sports franchise deserves. Was it necessary? Probably not, but it's here now and we're all going to love, or learn to do so.

Oh and the Yankees won 7-4, with home runs from Robinson Cano, Hideki Matsui (# 55 on your roster), and Cody Ransom. So there's that.

One other nitpick. I paid a quarter for the tickets. Tonight was about rebirth at 1923 seating prices. Could the Yankees and Cubs have played in throwbacks? I think that would have been great.

OK, I'll stop. On to bed. I've got practice to coach in the morning and moving to do.

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