"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


“Sure we’re concerned,” [George] Steinbrenner said. “Until we’re in first place, we’re concerned. But we’re doing all right.”
(Star- Ledger)

On an unbearably hot night in the Bronx, Mike Mussina tossed a complete-game shutout and the Yankees crushed the Pittsburgh Pirates, 9-0:

“We came out and scored, kept putting pressure on them and we played good defense,” Mussina said. “It was just a night I was glad to be pitching. I got some breaks, got some runs scored for us.”

With Boss George in the house, it was the kind of laugher that the Yankees sorely need. It won’t mean much if they can’t string together a series of wins, but hey, you gotta start somewhere.

Considering how poorly they’ve played, it’s notable that nobody has publicly gone nutzo, from George on down. Lots of meetings, yeah, but no tirades yet. This team might be a lot of things, but the Bronx Zoo they ain’t. (Hey, the New Age Bronx Zoo is alive and well in the City of Angels.) While neither Bernie Williams and Tony Womack aren’t thrilled about how their seasons are going, neither has pitched a fit. Steven Goldman, president of the T. Womack Fan Club observed recently:

If I were him, I wouldn’t be disgruntled, I’d be embarrassed. The New York Times reports that Mr. Torre is thinking of trying Womack in center field. Unless this is a clever ruse to increase Womack’s trade value, it is, charitably, insane. There is nowhere on the playing field that you can hide a Womack, and he won’t help the defense any.

I figure Womack will be traded before the summer is out.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press and New York Times report that the Yanks will announce their plans for a new stadium later today.

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1 Simone   ~  Jun 15, 2005 7:10 am

1.  I keep reading in the NY papers that Sweet Lou is a possible replacement for Joe if the Boss fires him. Clearly, the NY papers have no idea how much the D'Rays' management hate Steinbrenner and the Yankees. Just like the Mariners made sure that Lou couldn't go to the Mets when they let him out that contract, the D'Rays will ensure that he can't go to the Yankees.

I'm looking forward to the new stadium. I bet the NY Times clenched their teeth when they published the article. It will be interesting to see if their editorial page continues their campaign against the Yankees' new stadium with the conflict of interest that exists there.

2 Howie   ~  Jun 15, 2005 7:47 am

2.  How about Womack for Dave Roberts? We get a CF and the Pads get a 2B.

3 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jun 15, 2005 8:07 am

3.  I'd make that trade in a second. Roberts has been inexplicably crappy in CF thus far this year, but he's maintaining the power stroke he found in Fenway last year despite moving to Petco. Not to say that he's hitting homers, but he gets his doubles and triples in. Roberts also gets on base well enough to bat second and is even more of a threat on the bases once there. The offensive improvement alone makes it a huge upgrade, add into that the fact that Roberts should improve in the field and it's a no-brainer. But would the Pads do it? Roberts makes less than Womack ($1.35 mil to $2 mil) and isn't under contract for 2006 (Womack is). The Yanks may have to sweeten the deal somehow.

4 Howie   ~  Jun 15, 2005 8:39 am

4.  We can make up the cash difference and throw in Bubba Crosby. He might have some value as a pinch runner/defensive replacement in the NL.

5 Oscar Azocar   ~  Jun 15, 2005 8:56 am

5.  Here's an anti-Womack column by Tom Verducci. States the obvious...


6 Murray   ~  Jun 15, 2005 9:11 am

6.  I'm sure we'll have to wait to see the details, but I feel confident in saying that this replacement park for the Yankees is going to be a much worse place to watch baseball.

It's cute spin to mention that there will be only 20,000 seats upstairs, as opposed to 30,000 now and imply that more fans will be closer to the field than they are now, but I suspect that those 20,000 seats will, in classic HOK fashion, be much farther from the field than the current upper deck. Moreover, by adding 10,000 seats downstairs, the Yankees are providing themselves a built-in excuse to increase the price of tickets for those seats. In addition, there will be no mezzanine seats. The 6,000 seats they're taking away are good seats to watch baseball, and assuming they can build a winning team, are 6,000 seats that will be unavailable to the general public for playoff and World Series games. New York has always been about big facilities. The Yankees knew what they were doing when they built a Stadium that could seat over 60,000 in the 1920s, and the only thing that restricted capacity during the reconstruction of the 1970s was the installation of wider seats in the same physical plant.

The value of restoring the monumental exterior facade (which is going to be a functionless, fake curtain wall) and the filigree around the upper deck roof will wear off after a while. The failure to keep playing on the same field (if not the same building) as Ruth, DiMaggio, Guidry and Jeter have graced with such dignity is a loss that will never be recovered.

Face it: this is going to be Coors Field with some appropriate architectural detailing. The Yankees will draw 3.7mm to the current, beloved Stadium this year. So why should the city and state offer any money for infrastructure improvements at all? Call their bluff, I say. If it's worth it for them to build a new stadium without the improvements, then fine.

7 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 15, 2005 10:21 am

7.  Please, please, Alex; a shutout IS a complete game! Sorry, pet peeve of mine...

8 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 15, 2005 10:30 am

8.  Wow! I notice in the boxscore that Bernie had an assist! How 'bout them apples?

Would anyone who saw the game care to comment on that for those of us who didn't?

9 Dan M   ~  Jun 15, 2005 10:36 am

9.  Murray, if it's going to be Coors Field with architectural detail, bring it on. Take away Coors' crazy park effects, and the fact that my favorite team doesn't play there, and I'd rather watch a game there than anywhere else because it is such a great place to watch baseball. Don't get me wrong, I love YS, but you realize that it's not a comfortable place to watch a game once you've been to a few of the newer ones. For example, YS's concourses make me claustrophobic. In the new parks, however, you have nice, wide concourses that flow well, AND you can always see the game from the concourses and concession areas - unlike YS. So, if the New YS is like Coors, that's a good thing.

I also don't get your argument that the addition of premium seating will give them the excuse to raise the prices of said seating. Seems to run counter to the theory of supply and demand.

Having said that, I would prefer that the play in Shea for 2 years and re-renovate the stadium so that you'd keep the same field (although, with the 70s renovation/moving in the fences, I feel that cat is already out of the bag). But I think it's probably unrealistic.

10 dtrain   ~  Jun 15, 2005 10:46 am

10.  We can only pray that Torre, Cashman, The Boss, or someone actually READS that Verducci article and finally pulls the plug on Womack. How can an entire organization be so oblivious to something so painfully obvious?

11 Peter   ~  Jun 15, 2005 10:58 am

11.  Re Bernie's assist: I forget who was on for the Pirates but he tried to take advantage of Bernie's arm and score from first. I thought he was going to make it, but Cano cut off the ball and gunned it home to Posada who was able to block the plate in plenty of time.

12 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jun 15, 2005 11:00 am

12.  You read Peter right, Bernie got an assist and Jorge blocked the plate on the same play no less! Bernie's throw to Cano was a rainbow, however, all credit due to Cano and the Pirates' 3B coach (John Russell?), the runner (Castillo?) was out by a mile.

13 Murray   ~  Jun 15, 2005 11:08 am

13.  It's simple, actually. Seats in the lower level cost more than seats in the upper deck. Therefore, they are taking away 10,000 seats upstairs for which they have trouble charging a premium, and they are installing 10,000 more field level seats downstairs for which they can charge a premium just by sticking the label "field level" on them. The Dodgers just did the same thing. They added new and expensive seats in foul territory, but chipped off the ends of the left and right field pavilions, keeping the capacity at 56,000 overall.

I don't watch baseball from the concourses. I sit in my seat and I watch the game. The idea that you can watch a game from the concourse sounds attractive, but having experienced the effect in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Baltimore, I am not impressed. Narrow concourses are a minor inconvenience. Having sat in the upper levels in these parks, I am also not impressed. The upper deck only begins where the lower level ends. The seats are much farther away from the field.

Look, I understand that a lot of you reading this think, "Sure, I like to be able to wander around during the game, so isn't it wonderful that there will be room for fancy barbecue stands, games for my kids and I can even watch while I wait in line for my chicken fingers." And if that's what you want, then I can't tell you that you want something else. But I don't need an "experience" at the ball park, and if I want a good meal, New York is full of restaurants that serve good food at prices competitive with what it costs to dine at Yankee Stadium. I just want to watch the game, and right now, Yankee Stadium serves that purpose just fine.

14 Dan M   ~  Jun 15, 2005 11:09 am

14.  Murray, the runner was Matt Lawton, but Jorge almost messed the play up - by NOT blocking the plate. Lawton was able to slide around him (Jorge had drifted backwards), with his left foot in the air. When he put the left foot down, Jorge still hadn't tagged him. Fortunately, Lawton put his foot down on the dirt about an inch from the plate. The ump probably would've called him out anyway because he was out by such a wide margin, but I think that Jorge got lucky.

15 Knuckles   ~  Jun 15, 2005 11:11 am

15.  I agree Cano should get most of the credit for that gundown at the plate. He's had at least 3 of those that I've seen (one coming against the Sox 3 weeks ago in the inning where they nailed 2 at the plate) and he makes the catch-whirl-throw so well that if they don't show the replay, I've needed to rewind the Tivo to see if it was Robby or Jeter.

16 Dan M   ~  Jun 15, 2005 11:23 am

16.  OK, but adding more $50 seats doesn't allow them to turn the original $50 into $75 seats, which was what I thought you were arguing.

The concourses are just an example of the amenities that a new park adds, but I believe it's a good one. True, I don't go to the game to watch it from the concourse, or to walk around looking for barbecue. But inevitably, I find myself at a concession stand at a point during the game, as beer and dogs are a big part of my "experience." Thus, while I'm there I'd rather watch the game live while I stand in line, and not from the TV feed in the corner. At YS and Shea, you miss parts of the game - or "experience" - if you go to a concession stand, and I hate it.

I agree that, for the most part, YS is a good place to watch games as it is, and your point about the upper deck is extremely valid. But life doesn't stand still, and certainly the Yankees don't. Eventually there will be a new stadium in the Bronx, and at some point, in Boston. Nothing will be as exactly as we want, but the new plan seems pretty close.

17 Zack   ~  Jun 15, 2005 11:55 am

17.  The stadium plan was really innevitable. Its been tossed around so long that I had already braced myself for this move a long time ago, remember the Meadowlands days? (shudder). I am very dissapoionted that they are moving out of the old stadium (I guess mystique and aura will have to pack it up and head somewhere else), but I am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. It all depends on how the stadium serves the fans like us who actually do sit in the upper deck, think they are the best seats, and want to actually watch the game. If I can still do that and enjoy myself and not be so far away I am sitting in the river, then I'll be happy.

But looking at the picture of the design on the NY Times, it looks pretty ugly to me, what is the deal with that upper deck on top of the old structure, it makes it look like a space ship!

18 Dan M   ~  Jun 15, 2005 12:16 pm

18.  Sorry, I meant to address # 14 to Cliff.

19 Murray   ~  Jun 15, 2005 12:25 pm

19.  Believe me, I'm not half as opposed to this as I would be if it were directly financed with taxpayer dollars.

20 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 15, 2005 12:32 pm

21.  Hey Weeping,
Thanks for that correction. You are absolutely right. I appreciate that and will try and bear it in mind for here on out.

21 rbj   ~  Jun 15, 2005 12:37 pm

22.  I'm with you Murray, on the not being taxpayer funded part. And rather than limos & vans for all the ghosts, they should have a parade.

22 NetShrine   ~  Jun 15, 2005 12:39 pm

23.  FWIW, if a game is called after 7, because of rain, and the score is 0-0, with one pitcher having pitched the whole game for his side, then I think he gets a shutout, but, not a CG.

But, I could be wrong there.

23 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  Jun 15, 2005 12:44 pm

24.  I think he also gets the CG but I could just be applying fantasy baseball rules here.

24 rsmith51   ~  Jun 15, 2005 2:04 pm

25.  Apparently W thinks taxpayer money should be used to finance stadiums, but not provide lunch for needy kids...

25 JohnnyC   ~  Jun 15, 2005 2:35 pm

26.  We've flogged the Womack issue to death. Hopefully, Cash can slip a mickey into Towers' drink and steal a Roberts or Nady out from under his sight. But the Giambi situation (regardless of his double and 2 RBI, no errors performance last night)is even more puzzling. It is abundantly clear that no amount of ABs between now and eternity are going to resurrect his bat speed or his confidence. With Phillips back up, it's platoon time at First Base with Tino and Andy. Spot Giambi a couple a games a week against softer throwing righties at DH and leave it at that. Or release him. There is no way, on the diamond or in the courtroom, that George will ever get his money's worth from Giambi's contract. So, as Paul McCartney says, let it be, let it be.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver