Magazine article The New Yorker

Yankees for Sale

Magazine article The New Yorker

Yankees for Sale

Article excerpt

An hour before Yogi Berra threw out the inaugural pitch at the new Yankee Stadium last Thursday afternoon, a ten-piece band welcomed fans to a stretch of gleaming white concrete identified as Babe Ruth Plaza with a rendition of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline." Bad omen. Did someone forget to tell them that this is the unofficial theme song of the Boston Red Sox? The Yankees' eventual crushing defeat, after a seventh-inning collapse, seemed almost like a referendum from on high: a moral smiting of the fools who spent one and a half billion dollars to build a replica of the world's most famous ballpark across the street from the perfectly serviceable real thing, and then stuffed it with Mohegan Sun Sports Bars and Jim Beam Suite Lounges, on the eve of the steepest recession in decades. "Nothing like people in twenty-six-hundred-dollar seats scrambling for a five-dollar ball," one man grumbled, after a foul fly landed behind the Yankees' dugout. (The average ticket price is up seventy-six per cent.) "Welcome to the House the Bondholders Built," another said. "Or the House the TARP built," a third added.

But from the perspective of one fan in the press box, where the seats are free, the new Stadium experience did offer some unexpected pleasures, such as the running transcript, on a couple of the outfield scoreboards, of the new P.A. announcer's remarks. (Bob Sheppard, the ninety-eight-year-old mainstay, has fallen ill with a bronchial infection.) Baseball has long been a game of records, and the transcription service introduced a new level of historical certitude, for instance, to the crowd reactions during the pre-game introductions. For the Indians' Carl Pavano, a former and unloved Yankee, there was this: "No. 44, Carl Pavano [crowd boos]." On the home team's side, meanwhile, the digital display provided a clear delineation between the stars and the also-rans: "No. 42, Mariano Rivera [cheers and applause] . . . No. 43, Damaso Marte . . . No. 46, Andy Pettitte [cheers and applause]." Poor Marte. He would go on to yield six runs in one inning of relief work, confirming the fans' suspicions, and now, it appears, we will have an official record of when, if ever, he earns his pinstripes in the public's estimation.

For an inning or so, the scoreboards even ran transcripts of the televised broadcast, so that everyone sitting in the sun was included in the relentless memorializing of Stadium "firsts" for the stay-at-home crowd. …

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