Mariano Rivera: Pride of the Yankees

I can’t believe it. Mariano Rivera won’t be coming in to save the Yankees anymore. And I missed his last game at Yankee Stadium (which sucks, by the way).

Here’s his last appearance on the mound in New York on Sept. 26 (If this video link works correctly, there are multiple clips here):

Pretty cool letting Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter take the ball from him. Pretty sad that Pettitte is retiring from the game as well. His last pitch was thrown Saturday in Texas. And really, Jeter doesn’t have that much longer to play.

One other note of historic significance: Rivera will be the last player in Major League Baseball to wear the number 42. That number has been retired in honor of Jackie Robinson, whose family was in Yankee Stadium for a tribute to Mariano.

This is one of those instances when you think, “Why wait. Just put him in the Hall of Fame now.”

The new Yankee Stadium sucks

When I was younger, I went to countless games at Yankee Stadium, especially during the 1970s when the team was terrible. (I’m not sure whether you call that time the Horace Clark-era or the Bobby Murcer-era.) I’d sit in the bleachers with the immigrants (usually Puerto Ricans) and join everyone yelling at the opposing outfielders.

And when I was older, when the Yankees were really good, I took my young son to countless games at the old stadium. We’d sit in the bleachers with the drunks from Jersey and join everyone yelling at the opposing players, anyone who liked the Mets, anyone who liked the Red Sox and anyone sitting in box seats. (Box seats suck.)

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I was only comfortable at Yankee Stadium when I was sitting in the bleachers. There was something about them that broke down class boundaries. At the old stadium, you could sit in the front row of the bleachers and look down at the warning track. You’d say something to the players, and they’d acknowledge your existence. The stadium never seemed to open up all of the bleacher area, because we could sit in right field, look toward left field and see that whole section closed. In straight-away center, there were no seats at all. Just a black background covering the area so the batters could follow the ball better as the pitchers delivered (or so the Yankee commentators would say).

But the old Yankee Stadium is gone. It died in 2008. I’ve been out of the country for a while, and when I came back, I never was able to get back to New York when the Yanks were in town.

Until this past weekend. So I went to the new Yankee Stadium.

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I couldn’t believe it. This place is really unpleasant. It’s got all the sterile charm of Nationals Park in Washington, with the added feature of being twice as expensive.

Time for some math.

When I went to Yankee Stadium in 1970, a seat in the bleachers was a buck. When you’re 15, the ability to go by yourself to Yankee Stadium with five bucks and have enough money for a ticket, a drink and some food was a pretty good way to knock off an afternoon. The minimum wage then was $1.60 an hour. That means you didn’t even have to work an hour to afford a Yankees ticket.

Then, 25 years later, as a dad with a kid, I could go to Yankee stadium and a bleachers seat was five or 10 bucks. Not bad. I had a job. Made more than minimum wage. And I could afford to buy the kid food and a souvenir.

But they’ve screwed up the bleachers area at the new park. A ticket now costs $27.80. Put that in perspective. The price of a bleachers ticket has gone up 2,680 percent since 1970. What’s the change in the minimum wage? It’s now $7.25, which is about a 350 percent increase from 1970. But it gets worse. If you use 1996 as the base year, the minimum wage of 1970 was actually the equivalent to $6.47. But today’s minimum wage of $7.25 is the 1996 equivalent of $4.97. So the minimum wage is really lower and the bleacher ticket is a hell of a lot higher.

But the worst part is the new bleachers have awful sight lines. Yankee management put a major snack bar obstruction (They call it the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar and the Batting Eye Seats) right in the middle of the bleachers area. So if you’re sitting in the bleacher seats and something happens deep in the opposite field, YOU CAN’T SEE IT!!!

Oh, and if you want to sit in this tribute to greed, the ticket there is more than $100. To sit in what use to be the bleacher area. To sit in what used to cost $1!

And major league baseball wonders why it is losing fans? Taking a family of four to a Yankee game is not worth $200 when that’s the least expensive alternative.

Yeah, I’m old and cranky. But there used to be a time when poor people could get away from their troubles by spending a buck and killing an afternoon watching their favorite team. When I was a kid, I was poor. But I wasn’t out on the street, idle, figuring out destructive things to do at that age, because I could hop on the subway and see the Yankees. There’s no way I could have done that back then if the Yankees as part of their profit strategy said “Screw the poor.”

I will now modify the chant I learned from my years in the bleachers:

Yankee Baseball!
(Visiting team) sucks!
Red Sox suck!
Mets suck!
Box seats suck!
This stadium sucks!
EVERYTHING SUCKS!

Hopefully, he at least got good seats

New York Gov. David Patterson was fined $62,500 for hitting up baseball’s New York Yankees for five free tickets to the first game of the 2009 World Series between the Yanks and the Philadelphia Phillies.

The New York Times story never gives the tickets’ face value, but the fine makes it $12,500 per.

The governor solicited the tickets from a registered lobbyist, and there was a big conflict of interest since the Yankees have a number of “issues before state government, including real estate, stadium development and tax matters,” the Times says.

But something doesn’t follow. He’s the governor and a team from his state was in the World Series. Don’t politicians routinely go to major sporting events when a local team is involved? If so, judging from this fine, they pay for their own tickets. Patterson makes $179,000 a year as governor, so all things considered, the tickets weren’t worth it.

Not to mention, the governor is pretty dim. Why ask for a $12,500 ticket when you can’t see the game? Patterson is legally blind. Just sit in front a big screen TV with a bunch of cronies. It would have been a lot more comfortable and more affordable.