My in-laws got my wife and I some “Bomber Bucks” for Christmas, including with the gift their babysitting services so that Becky and I could get out to at least one game this year. It was a very thoughtful gift. Unfortunately, it turns out that Bomber Bucks can only be cashed in for tickets (not concessions or merchandise) and only at the ticket windows at Yankee Stadium. Adding insult to the difficulty of finding babysitting (thanks, Mom!), spending $25 on trains, and taking a three-hour round trip from suburban New Jersey to the Bronx simply to purchase tickets, the Yankee Stadium ticket windows didn’t open for business until five days after tickets went on sale to the general public via phone and internet.
When I finally got there on Friday, piggybacking the journey on a trip to mid-town for a “Bronx Banter Breakdown” taping (three segments coming Monday through Wednesday), I was informed that there were no bleacher seats left. Period. That the only seats to Red Sox games remaining were north of $300 a piece, and that of the six Sunday games my wife and I could both make, none had two available seats together in the grandstand. After playing what amounted to a game of battleship with the amicable young woman on the other side of the glass (“May 16″ “miss” “August 18″ “miss” “July 25″ “miss” . . .), I was finally able to use up the gift certificate on two pairs of nosebleed seats to weeknight games and a single ticket in the grandstand for a Monday night game in May against the Orioles. Remember, tickets had only been on sale to the general public for a week. Frustrated and disappointed, I stuck my tickets in my bag, wheeled around and was greeted by this:
It is a monument to corruption, greed, and the failures of our municipal and state governments to act in the best interests of the people they are supposed to represent, and a vile and disgusting insult to all but the wealthiest of Yankee fans.
. . . what they’ve really done is take affordable seats away from the common fan who can only afford to sit in the upper deck or bleachers of the current Stadium and relocated them to parts of the ballpark only the wealthy can afford. To make matters worse, the new Stadium will hold 4,561 fewer fans, and you can surely guess which seats are being slashed. With a smaller bleacher capacity, a smaller upper deck, and an increase in luxury and outdoor suite seating, the new Stadium will be spitting out fans of modest means to accommodate the organization’s target audience of free-spending fat cats.
That was what I wrote about the new Yankee Stadium back in September 2008, three days before the final game in the real Yankee Stadium, a game Becky and I would watch from the right-field bleacher seats that were ours every Sunday, Opening Day, and Old-Timers’ Day for the old park’s final six years. Yesterday, I felt the harsh reality of those words.
To be honest, my fanaticism has receded in recent years, in part due to professional necessity and in part due to the team’s stadium shenanigans, which have soured me significantly, but I still consider myself a Yankee fan. I inherited it from my grandfathers. I paid my dues as a kid growing up in the ’80s when the Mets were hip and Yankee hats were about as cool as bell bottoms and mutton chops. I indoctrinated my wife in the ’90s, and I’m not about to abandon her or that familial tradition now. I hope to introduce my daughter to the joys of baseball through her inherited Yankee fandom. I just wish the team my family and I root for wanted or even needed us just a little.