Sunday had the makings of a great baseball game long before CC Sabathia threw a single pitch. The defending world champions of baseball were playing for a series win at Yankee Stadium against a stacked New York squad and it'd be my first time ever stepping foot in the Bronx to catch a game.
Being a huge baseball fan, I'm rather ashamed that I never stepped foot into the House That Ruth Built. Such is life, I guess. Taking the D train to the stadium on Sunday in a car full of Phillies fans had me about as excited as I've ever been to see a ball game in enemy territory.
The atmosphere and the game did not disappoint but the ball park did to a certain extent.
In my opinion, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field are living relics of baseball lore that make you feel like you're watching the best game in the world at one of the places where it was birthed. For some reason, despite knowing the billion dollar new Yankee Stadium was brand new, I was hoping to feel that way on Sunday. As a whole, the park left me underwhelmed.
As a disclaimer, I didn't see a ton of the park. It was my first time watching the Fightins in a while and I wanted to focus on the great game on the field. I certainly need to go back and explore the park to get a better feel for it as a whole. We sat in the first row of the bleachers which was a great spot to watch the game.
My stadium experience was highly focused on the bleachers section and the concession stands in centerfield. Not wanting to miss much of the action, we waited in line in the centerfield concessions for about 10 minutes for a hot dog and when we got to the front of the line they were OUT OF HOT DOGS. Unacceptable at a ball game unless it's the eighth inning of dollar dog night.
For the most part I was unimpressed with the design of the place. I didn't experience any quirky park designs like an Ashburn Alley or the standing room square in centerfield at CBP. The huge screen in center at Yankee Stadium is an amazing piece of technology with an insanely crisp picture. It makes you feel like you're watching a game at exactly what Yankee Stadium is, the future of ball parks. Call me old school, but I had mixed emotions about that.
Things I Loved About Yankee Stadium: The Baseball Atmosphere
We sat in the first row of section 235 and were surrounded by great fans of both teams. There were clearly more opposing fans than Yankees fans are used to. The friendly Yanks fan next to me chirped about mistakenly "buying tickets in the only Phillies section of Yankee Stadium." We were loud and plentiful.
The bleachers didn't have the negative vibe of a Mets game at Citizens Bank Park, perhaps due in part to the lack of any real history or bad blood between the teams (or the lack of jorted Mets fans), but there was plenty of fun back and forth banter. There was an old timer Phillies fan in our row wearing suspenders giving a 20-something Yankees fan the goods all game. When the Yanks got to Lidge *again* the New Yorker didn't hesitate to make his elder very clear on what just happened.
To me, it was the perfect level of respectable trash talking. Two smart fan bases talking smack about the game on the field without any real signs of personal attacks or thrown beer. It made the game fun.
I thoroughly enjoyed the right field bleacher tradition of chanting out all of the Yanks' names in the first inning. Johnny Damon recognized them the best while Jeter and A-Rod were too cool for school. The grounds crew performance of YMCA was also impressive.
All of these amazing photos were taken by Brad Maule of PhillySkyline fame. He was also at the Sunday game and has a much more in-depth look at the ball park and some of the seats with actual backs, something the bleachers obviously lack. His photo gallery from the game and his run in with Montie on the subway are worth your clicks.
Finally, did you see Mark Teixera hit a home run way out in left on a broken bat swing? Crazy. Keep an eye out for a fan sporting an "ill" shirt in the video.