After watching the opening round of the MLB postseason, I have come to two conclusions:
1) It is nowhere near as fun without a New York team in the playoffs
2) These crowds are louder and more exciting than anything we’ve seen in New York in years
Now, you can make the argument that there was simply a lack of success this season, giving NY little to cheer about all year-long. But if that’s your argument, I don’t think you have attended a game in either Citi Field or the New Yankee Stadium since there opening. New York was once the most feared city for any opposing team to visit, crowds were well-known for their knowledge and notorious for the “Bronx Cheer”, but those glory days seem to have disappeared in the ruins of Shea and Old Yankee Stadium.
Watching crazed fans from cities such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and St. Louis have me filled with envy of the energy their crowds have provided. Pittsburgh fans, who were riding high after waiting 22 years to return to postseason play, tormented Reds starter Johnny Cueto in the wild card game with “Cuettttoooo” chants that clearly affected his performance. It is gamesmanship like that from the fans that was once seen on a regular basis in New York. Vin Scully once referred to the mound of old Yankee Stadium as “The loneliest place on earth” for opposing pitchers. That fear may still exist to some extent on reputation, but not on actuality when the game begins.
Maybe it’s the thousand’s of dollars you must spend to sit in the lower bowl areas, that have priced the die-hard fan out of the stadium. It is not unusual to see these coveted seats half empty on a given night, with the patrons that are there barely aware of what is occurring on the field. The other half are sitting cozy in a luxury suite somewhere, munching away on a lobster roll or sushi (if you are ordering Sushi at a baseball game, we probably aren’t friends). It is hard to blame these fans for not sitting on the edge of their seat, when they are basically sitting on leather recliners. These luxurious accommodations are great, they really are, but they have diminished the atmosphere that once existed.
I know the feeling is that “winning will solve all problems” but I don’t think that is the case. In just 2009, when the Yankees won their last World Series, there was a notable difference in that crowd. The majestic feeling no longer existed and fans were loud at times, but nothing to what we have become accustomed to from the storied franchise. New York is simply not a feared place for players to visit anymore, we now we have too much of a “corporate” feel with true fans struggling to be heard from the rafters.
Yankee Stadium, in its heyday, was the loudest and most intimidating baseball stadium I had ever seen. The sound level was second to none and the fans would make opposing players tremble from the atmosphere they provided . Shea Stadium, was well-known to “rock” during big games in its history. Players and fans a like would literally feel the rafters moving from under their feet as crowds erupted like no other with each key play. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love both new stadiums, they are each as beautiful a ballpark as there is out there. Although I do not miss the overly narrow seats, hour-long bathroom lines and dirty facilities, I would do anything to bring back the magic that existed in those crowds, from those stadiums.