Some quick thoughts from my day spent as a member of the working media at the new Yankee Stadium…
-The old-timer who received the most attention today may have been Tom Watson, but on the other side of the pond, a group of former baseball greats were reliving their glory days. Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage, Ken Griffey Sr., Doc Gooden, Joe Pepitone, Mike Mussina and many more former Yankees were on hand for Old Timers’ Day to chat and then play an actual game before the real Yankees took the field to play the Detroit Tigers. I was lucky enough to have access to be on the field while the former players were taking BP and chatting with the media.
Listening to these players took about the game was incredible. For some reason, former baseball players always tell the best stories, though I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s just the nature of the game of baseball, where individual pitches and at-bats can become instantly legendary. Or maybe it’s because the season is so long and there are so many games, which in turn gives players a lot more story fodder. Whatever the case, it was remarkable to listen to some of these players recount stories of their on-field triumphs from decades ago. Standing next to Yogi Berra on the field before the game is something I will not forget anytime soon.
-The new Yankee stadium is awesome. Very big and very nice while still maintaining the Yankee Stadium feel. I do have two major complaints, however. The first is the ridiculous dimensions of the ballpark, which look even sillier in person. It appears the walls aren’t the only problem, but they are definitely playing a factor. The wall seems close enough to reach out and touch down the lines. I would not at all be surprised if this comes back to bite the Yankees at some point. Pitchers just aren’t going to want to pitch there if they know their ERA will inflate pitching at home.
My second complaint is directed at the staff working at Yankee Stadium: Please realize that you are working at a baseball game, where people come to have fun and pay lots of money to attend and be entertained. You are not working at a maximum security prison. Just because your shirt says “staff” does not mean you are a military general. So stop acting that way. If you agree to stop being so uptight all of the time, I’ll agree to stop trying to sneak into the really expensive seats (just kidding).
-The Yankees have very good food for the media. An $11 buffet that included food from every food group and health range, from parfaits to fried chicken and everything in between. There was even an omelette station. Awesome.
-I really like Joe Girardi, and not just because he’s a Northwestern alum. He’s very personable and good with the media. He seems to hold his own with the ready-to-attack press in the Big Apple, and is doing a pretty good job this season managing 25 Yankee uniforms filled with stacks of money.
- If you don’t have to drive to Yankee stadium, don’t. We had to drive (had TV equipment) and it took forever to get out of the parking garage. The subway is cheap, easy, and is right next to the stadium. Use it so that the media can get home in less than two hours.
-As much as I dislike the Yankees, their fans are great while at the stadium (and generally obnoxious at all other times). They know when to clap, actually stand up and make noise, and come up with clever chants. This is in stark comparison to Met fans who turn on their team after the first base hit and whose most clever chant is “Yankees suck.” I hope one day the Orioles can pack Camden Yards like the Yanks pack their ballpark.
-Baseball is the greatest sport in the world.