June 23, 2008

NTP Takes On: The House That Ruth Built

Seeking a temporary escape from crappy baseball, the NTP crew, significant others and assorted hangers-on in tow, headed north this weekend for the Saturday afternoon Yanks-Reds game at historic Yankee Stadium. The official cover story was the 30th birthday of an NTP acquaintence. The truth, of course, is that we were scouting ex-Nats farmhand Daryl Thompson's MLB debut.

Nate: One of the worst kept secrets in baseball is that the "cathedrals of the game", historic old parks like Fenway, Wrigley and Yankee Stadium, tend to be, when you get right down to it, decrepit sh*tholes. It only stands to reason. 50,000-odd people tromping through 80 or so times a year for 70 or 80 years, things are going to get worn down.

Dave: Yankee Stadium is a dump. I understood the appeal at Fenway. It's charming. Another dump, but it has charm. Yankee Stadium had none of that for me -- historic, yes. Charm, not so much. Our seats were upper deck, and in the shade. Good view, and the company of friends on a beautiful day really goes a long way. I was quite surprised at the scoreboards being as small as they were. With as much money as New York has, I was expecting more ad revenue opportunities to have been taken.

Oh, and when the water stopped working... yeah, that really impressed me. When the toilets don't flush, you have a winner.

Matt: After hiking up the Matterhorn to get to our seats I realized how lucky we were to have RFK. Yes RFK was old but the place wasn't a claustrophobic maze of blue concrete. The concourses at Yankee Stadium are ridiculously narrow. Cram 50,000 people in for game day and it's a little tight. That and the nosebleed seats are so far away you need binoculars to figure out who's pitching. I spent ten minutes trying to figure out if number 33 or number 38 was pitching for the Yankees. I never did figure it out. The sight lines for our seats were good, but wow, we were far away. As a sports fan I understand the nostalgia you can attach to a building where so many great moments happened but I think a new Yankee Stadium is way past due. The only real bright spots were Bob Sheppard, the long tenured PA announcer and the fact that the Reds came through with the win. I'm glad we went but I have no desire to go back.

Dave: Now, I will give it up for the travel. To get to the stadium, we took the Yankee Clipper from Hoboken up to the Bronx. The water tour of the city, combined with the beers available on the boat meant I was three beers deep by the time we got to the stadium on a beautiful day. This would be a rocking good time if you could leave from National Harbor or Alexandria and get up to Nationals Park. Travel back was just as pleasant, and as my wife will attest, you can keep drinking even on the way back. Only a quick break for innings eight and nine from the beer!

Nate: The Nationals Park water taxi franchise should have been ready to go from Day One. The Yankee Clipper was a 90 minute cruise with multiple stops and there's no reason an Alexandria-National Harbor-Anacostia Waterfront loop couldn't be done in an hour or less. It's definitely another item for the Nationals Park "Room to Improve" punchlist.

Speaking of stadiums, if the exterior is any indication, New Yankee Stadium is going to restore Bronx baseball to its rightful status. The architecture remains iconic and I don't doubt that the Steinbrenners spared no expense on the fit and finish. The Evil Empire has slumped a bit in recent years, but it looks like they'll have a facility worthy of their history by this time next season.

Dave: The new park looks like a Roman Coliseum. Impressive and daunting as hell. I'm inclined to bet that you don't get the views of the city you do at Nationals Park, but then again, you're in the Bronx. Nothing quite the same to look at. Now, I will say, they sold the place out. They have 50,000+ fans on a regular basis. And their fans are very into the game. Clapping, paying attention. You see why they're passionate about their team. They're involved. That's impressive, and it's not something to turn your nose at.

Matt: In any case, the New York fans are in for a real treat next year. They get to abandon their dingy, no plumbing, hellhole of a stadium for a brand-spanking new monument to the MLB luxury tax. The real question will be if the new stadium provides a grace period from the fans demands for a championship because I don't see that team getting better anytime soon.

Nate: Oh, and in spite of Daryl Thompson winning his MLB debut, you still do that Kearns/Lopez/Wagner trade 100 times out of 100.


Chris Needham said...

For sure. It's a complete shithole.

You left out the best part. If you stayed for the full game and it was a sellout, it took, what? 45 minutes to get out of the dump?

WFY said...

What did it cost you to park in Hoboken and ride the NY Waterway? I am trying to get up there one last time. My grandfather watched them build it (he was born and raised on 161st Street) and my mother worked for the Yankees for a while.

Dave said...


We were staying in Jersey City, so Watson and I parked the car for $15 for the day by the hotel. Nate parked in Hoboken -- Nate, how much did that cost?

The rates for the Clipper are in the link on the post.


WFY said...

"an Alexandria-National Harbor-Anacostia Waterfront loop couldn't be done in an hour or less. It's definitely another item for the Nationals Park "Room to Improve" punchlist."

There has been talk of D.C. ferry/water taxi service for a few years now. Eventually, it will happen and probably be quite successful. There is a water taxi going between Alexnadria and National Harbor now too.

Section 223 said...

A visit to the zoo with beer can't be all bad. The evil empire can't slump enough as far as I'm concerned. The new Steinbrener is just as dumb as the old one. Still, baseball and history go together. Even if they haven't cleaned the stadium since their las World Series.

Nate said...

I believe parking rates near the ferry terminal in Hoboken were in the $15-$18 range as well for all day parking.