Tag Archives: Yankee Stadium

Pass the hotdogs — and my change

It’s impossible to discuss the economics of Major League Baseball without discussing the “major market” and “small market” divide so eloquently illustrated in the movie “Moneyball.” Yet even the smallest of markets today is exponentially larger than the hundreds of small towns where baseball developed in its early decades.

A nice perspective on baseball’s rural roots can be found in this short podcast featuring David Vaught of Texas A&M. He makes an arresting point right from the start: baseball fans hesitate not a moment to send a $20 bill down the line to a hotdog vendor, and there’s never any doubt that the proper change will work its way back to the purchaser.

Would that happen on the streets of the Bronx outside Yankee Stadium or outside U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago? Not likely. But inside, it’s a safe environment, physically and psychologically. May it stay that way forever.


The baseball gods are angry

ALCS Angels Yankees BaseballThere’s only one plausible explanation for the rainout that postponed Saturday’s American League Championship Series game between the Yankees and Angels: The baseball gods are angry.

They’re angry that the mere mortals who run Major League Baseball would show such hubris to schedule the playoffs so late into the year. Assuming no weather delays and a seven-game series, the World Series this year is scheduled to finish on Nov. 3.

That’s right. In November, when the NFL season is headed toward its own playoffs and the NBA and NHL are well under way.

Baseball is the summer game, and it’s supposed to wrap up with the “Fall Classic.” November is technically in autumn, but it’s simply too inclement then in most major-league cities for the games to be played as scheduled and without significant disruption from the weather.

Major League Baseball needs to change its way. The gods demand it.

The Twins win, and we’re stuck with more games in that horrid dome

Twins win

Twins win

The Minnesota Twins defeated the Detroit Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings Tuesday night to win the American League Central title, and I’m not happy.

Not because the Twins won per se. They’ve been a terrific story this season, charging from behind to tie the Tigers and force the one-game playoff for the division title.

What irritates me is the prospect of at least one more baseball game being played in the  abomination that is the Metrodome. Although I’ve never set foot in it, I’ve loathed that dome for years.

When the Brewers were in the American League and played there, I hated it on general principles.

When Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek and that generation of Twins were in their heyday, I hated it for the homer hankies the fans waved. (I’ve always hated any team whose fans in an act of mass silliness wave hankies or towels or – please, God, no – thundersticks.)

I even hate the dome in football season, as in the past two weeks when the 49ers and Packers lost in succession to the Vikings.

Why do I find the dome so revolting? I don’t begrudge the Twins and Vikings fans a warm place to sit when it’s freezing outside. But the Metrodome is an over-the-top artificial environment, a chamber of Nordic screams designed to rile and rattle the opposing team. The building is a huge advantage for the home squad, and unfairly so.

There are other domes in professional sports. I’ve been in Skydome or whatever it’s now called in Toronto and the old Kingdome in Seattle (inset), for which I had a minimal, grudging tolerance. I’ve also been in Miller Park in Milwaukee, with the roof open and closed. None of those parks approaches the Metrodome in affecting the outcome of a game.

Quirky differences among ballparks parks add to baseball’s appeal — the Green Monster at Fenway Park, the ivy at Wrigley Field, McCovey Cove in San Francisco, the arches at Yankee stadia, old and new. Those features constitute charm and give the home team a bit of a boost. But they don’t loom oppressively over the game as does the Metrodome.

That the Twins are moving to the new Target Field next season is good news. It can’t come soon enough.

Of “Seinfeld” and baseball caps

The TV rerun gods were in a generous mood last night, enabling me to catch a Seinfeld rerun of “The Letter,” the episode in which Elaine twice causes a ruckus at a Yankees’ game by wearing an Orioles cap while sitting in the owners’ box seats. (Sorry,  I can’t figure out how to embed the TBS clip, so the link will have to do.)

“Seinfeld” was one of the best baseball-aware TV shows of all-time, especially when George went to work for the Yankees and George Steinbrenner. One of my favorite episodes is “The Hot Tub.” George is assigned to entertain visiting executives from the Houston Astros,  a bunch of good ol’ boys who call each other bastards and sons-of-bitches. George soon picks up the patter.

So a tip o’ the cap to Jerry and Elaine and George and Kramer and the whole Seinfeld gang for making the national pastime an integral part of the show’s enduring legacy.

The 2009 New York Yankees cap

The New York Yankees will be sporting a new cap when they take the field at the new Yankee Stadium this year. The team isn’t messing with the classic interlocking “N” and “Y” (thank goodness). The Yanks are adding a commemorative patch on the back to mark the stadium transition. For details, check out this post on the New York Times’ “Bats” blog.

Ken Griffey Jr. returns to the Seattle Mariners…

… and there was great rejoicing in the land — especially in the Pacific Northwest.

When I first heard the rumblings a few days ago that Ken Griffey Jr. might return to the Mariners, I tried to keep from getting too excited about the possibility. In today’s big-money baseball world, team allegiances are more fading memory than reality. But still, I always harbored a hope that Junior would return to Seattle. Word broke this evening that Griffey had signed with the Mariners, and it brought back a lot of wonderful baseball memories.

I lived in Seattle when Griffey joined the M’s, and we knew we were watching the arrival of an extraordinary talent. Like Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, he was a centerfielder with all the tools: speed, power, defense, a head for the game. But most of all, Junior brought a boyish joy to the ballpark every night.

Yankee Stadium always seemed to bring out the best in him, and I vividly remember watching on TV a sensational catch he made one night in the Bronx, springing off the warning track to whip a homerun ball from the top of the fence. When he landed, he broke into a huge grin and charged back to the infield, holding the ball in triumph. If there’s a better Griffey moment, I haven’t seen it.

You can see the catch at the start of this Griffey highlight reel posted on mlb.com. That’s Randy Johnson, the Big Unit, on the pitching mound. I believe No. 29 at the plate for the Yanks is Jesse Barfield (as best as I can tell from the video and this nifty Yankees uniform number database).

I have many other memories of Griffey’s early days with the Mariners, but I’ll spare you the bulk of them. But I must mention the night Griffey and his father hit back-to-back homeruns. Our family was returning from somewhere in Eastern Washington, and we strained to hear the at bats over the crackling radio signal as we crossed the Cascade Range on Interstate 90.

Griffey has been hobbled by injuries for much of his career. I wish him great health in the year ahead. And I hope the Mariners will, at least for one game, go back to the old yellow-on-blue caps that the team wore in the early 90s when The Kid was still a kid.

The final game at Yankee Stadium

A tip of the cap to all the great Yankees players who turned out tonight for the pre-game festivities at the last game at Yankee Stadium. The white-on-navy caps have stayed the same over the years, as is right. Those old-style cream flannels that Larsen and Whitey and Yogi were wearing sure are great.