Next up in the Pinch Hitters series is Jason Rodriguez, who is glad this winter’s conversation has focused on new players and not a new stadium.
Jason was born in the Bronx, graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology and currently lives in Rockland County. His first trip to the old Yankee Stadium as in 1996, when he got Derek Jeter’s autograph.
“Not knowing any better, I also had the ball signed by the likes of Dale Polley, who was only ever in the big leagues for 3 months,” Jason wrote. “By the time I hit 14, I realized how big of a mistake that was. To this day, I still get ‘Who is Dale Polley?’ when I show anyone my baseball.”
The prospect of moving to a new stadium is an exciting event for fans of most teams. However, when you leave the historic Yankee Stadium, the excitement can be somewhat tempered, if not missing altogether for some fans.
As Opening Day approached last year, the concerns started to pile up: ticket prices, some bleacher seats with limited sightlines, separation of the rich fan from the average fan, renewing partial season ticket plans, etc. Not to mention questions over whether or not the new ballpark would have remotely the same atmosphere as the old one.
To be honest, none of the changes implemented by the Yankees impacted me to a large degree. Yet as the year progressed, I found myself caring less.
Sure, the upgrade in food, enormous Jumbotron, and Metro-North direct service contributed to my love of the new Stadium. But one thing trumps all others: Winning. With a MLB best 57-24 home record (the Yankee’s best since the same record in 2004), countless fans were being sent home happy on a regular basis.
Now, what if 2009 was a repeat of 2008? Would the Yankee organization still be taking heat for some of their decisions regarding the new stadium? The Yankees took a number of proactive measures to increase fan satisfaction. Opening up lower-level access during batting practice as well as having players greet fans on select home dates showed some effort on the organization’s part. A year later, almost all is well in Yankee Universe. The new Yankee Stadium is now synonymous with walk-off heroics, pies in the face, and most importantly: a 27th world championship. Conversation is now much more focused on the lineup changes and defending our title rather than the new stadium.
This is a welcome change to both fans and the Yankees organization. In light of the changes being made at the ballpark in Queens, would we be feeling differently about the new stadium if the 2009 season was a disappointment rather than a tremendous success?