Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas
I was hoping for the best but wasn’t overly confident. I was one of those life-long Yankee fans who had hoped that the Yankees would stay in The House That Ruth Built. I didn’t think they could bring the ghosts across the street but I was hopeful. I’ve now been to the new Stadium three times, sitting in three different areas and, frankly, it just ain’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
DOES IT REMIND YOU OF THE OLD (EARLY 1970S AND BEFORE) STADIUM?
Not to me it doesn’t. If it did, you’d have the old bullpens (in left-center and right-center) on either side of the bleachers where, back in the good old days, if you could only afford the bleachers, you could lean over and talk to Steve Hamilton or whichever guys were out there. If it did, you’d have only a four-foot or so fence in rightfield and leftfield where players would sometimes literally go into the stands to get a ball. If it did, you’d have that beautiful Yankee logo on the scoreboard in dead center that would always be there.
Sure the façade is back (and that’s great), but the curtains or blinds or whatever it is all around the stadium (that may or may not be contributing to balls flying out of there) actually blend in with the façade at times to make it look very strange. Sure the scoreboards in the right-centerfield and left-centerfield walls are back (and that’s great), but they seem smaller than the old versions and they’re harder to see (no electricity and smaller size numbers on the boards). The crowds aren’t quite there (or maybe they are but everybody’s just walking around?), but it’s hard to believe that, when it’s rocking, it’s going to be like it was across the street in October/November (the May/June cheering sounds muffled for some reason).
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, MONUMENT PARK?
Well, it’s there, but you really have to go looking for it. It’s buried behind the big blue wall in dead center, but it seems much smaller. You can never get on line to get in there 45 minutes before game time (you’d better get on line more like 90) because you can’t (it’s “closed”) and, when you do go in, you get a claustrophobic feeling. It’s way too small, it’s out of view and, if you sit at field level from first base all the way around to third base, you literally can’t see Monument Park. It’s more like Monument Alcove. What happened?
The Yankees can’t fix that but they can do this: in a stadium where clearly you’re encouraged to walk around or sit in a restaurant or watch half the game on TV, why not open Monument Park DURING THE GAME? I personally just like to go to the Stadium to watch the game. I care very little about the “extras.” But, apparently, many others do. So if you want them to mill around and spend money and eat in five-star (or whatever) restaurants, why not open Monument Park so anybody who wants to see it can see it.
WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE EMPTY SEATS?
Well, there were thousands of them at the three games I’ve been to in person. It’s not just the seats behind home – you know, the ones for the rich and famous. Up the third-base line, in two sections of what I’m told are $600 seats (but only $225 on the ticket – what’s up with that?), those sections are virtually always empty (although the Yankees are, apparently, giving away some of those seats to disgruntled season-ticket holders). And, if you’d like, you can go to Yankees.com right now and buy three season tickets in that area (between sections 115 and 125) and “get the fourth one FREE.” Yippee! How many of THOSE plans are they going to sell?
WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE SEATS WHERE YOU CAN’T SEE THE WHOLE FIELD?
The seats against the Mohegan Sun restaurant on either side in the bleachers are laugh-out-loud funny. They’ve literally mounted three big-screen TVs on each wall of the outside of the restaurant cause you can’t possibly see the other side of the field from where you are sitting. In other words, if you’re against the wall in the bleachers in left-center, you have no chance to see right field or maybe even parts of the infield.
But, hey, don’t worry, the Yankees solved that. You can watch it on TV and the seats are only $5. Isn’t that great? Go to the game to sit next to a wall and watch half the game on TV. Mistakes were made. What can the Yankees do? Unbelievable.
WHAT ABOUT THAT GREAT JUMBOTRON (OR WHATEVER IT’S CALLED)?
Well, what about it. It’s big, it’s beautiful and it never shows you a negative Yankee replay. A guy on the other team hits a home run or makes a great play on the field. You won’t see it again on the big screen. A Yankee makes a mistake – sorry. A bang-bang play that doesn’t go the Yankees’ way. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the replay.
And, even though this may be the greatest big-screen TV in history, it only has room for what each batter did in three at-bats; if a player has been up four times, the biggest screen in the world can’t tell you what he did in all four previous at-bats. For example, Mark Teixeira homered in his fourth at-bat against Tampa Bay on Saturday, June 6th. When he came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth, the big board showed that he had popped up in the first, grounded out to short in the third and grounded out to short in the sixth. There was no room to tell you about that mammoth (Ruthian?) homer he had just hit in the eighth.
Now that’s something they have to be able to fix, no? You can’t make this stuff up.
HOW’S THE FOOD?
The food is great at those fancy restaurants. I was fortunate to go once to those close to the dugout expensive seats and eat in the fancy restaurant (as well as the Ketel Bar) at the game. While many people may want to do that (and that’s their right at $600 a pop), it seemed to me (as I was trying the lamb, I think) that this was over-the-top, opulent, something that the wealthy Romans would have had at the Coliseum if they had luxury suites way back when. When they start bringing you “free” food that you didn’t even order, it got to be a little weird. But, you know, it’s all part of the “experience,” it’s not just baseball, it’s “entertainment.”
When I got back to reality at the other two games, I had to take note of the $5 peanuts and the $5.75 Cracker Jack and the $4 cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee (small, by the way). I went down to Johnny Rockets to look at the $17 burger and fries but passed on it in favor of the $5 water (a large). Yikes!
A buddy of mine had a great experience at the 11-inning loss to the Phillies on May 24th. He had heard that the hot fudge sundaes at the Delta Air Lines Suite were fabulous. He couldn’t wait to try one and so, when I saw that the line was long in the sixth inning, I told him to go on up. He came back 45 minutes later with a hot fudge sundae without the hot fudge (they had run out by the seventh inning). He also had to eat it with a fork (they had run out of spoons). But, hey, it was only eight bucks.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE FABULOUS OLD-TIME PICTURES OF THE YANKEE GREATS FROM YESTERYEAR?
They are truly fantastic. I encourage all of you to go see them. They give you a real sense of Yankee history. Except for one thing — THEY DON’T TELL YOU THE NAMES OF THESE GUYS. Seriously. The Yankees should immediately label every picture in the place (OK, maybe you can wait on pictures of the Babe. Gehrig, Dimaggio and Mantle). But 21st Century fans, for the most part, have no idea who Red Ruffing or Charlie Keller or Joe Gordon or (fill in 200 names here) are – they just don’t know. So, please, tell us.
IT’S A NICE PLACE TO VISIT …
It’s going to be a while before this remotely resembles the past – at least a championship or two. Until then, the least the Yankees can do is identify their greats of the past.
Oh, and one more thing, when I ask one of those guys with the “May I Help You” signs (there are dozens, maybe hundreds, walking around) if they can lower ticket prices, maybe they can now answer “Yes, come with me.” Just kidding. I think.
© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.