Keidel: Big, Bronx Bucks

By Jason Keidel
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Now that the Yankees have closed their group hug, dropping at least $122 million on CC Sabathia and retaining Brian Cashman, 8 million New Yorkers have eulogized the 2011 club in 8 million ways.

“We lost because of Teixeira.”

“We lost because of Swisher.”


And A-Rod has been blamed for everything short of the bizarre blizzard we got in October.

The more temperate fans – largely west of the Hudson – say we’re spoiled, that any gripe after a 97-win season is specious, if not infantile.

But you could say the Bronx made us that way. The Steinbrenner mission statement has been unwavering since 1973: World Series win or season lost.

Cementing the pact between team and town, the Yankees built a billion-dollar shrine to the nouveau baseball experience, a multi-themed park where one can visit for a three-hour window of baseball and never see a game. Lathered with gift shops pawning $300 retro-jerseys, martini bars, steakhouses, and $2,500 courtside seats, the decidedly cold and corporate building celebrates the future far more than the past.

When you pummel a perfectly good stadium (I went to 20 games at the old place in 2008 and had no issues with any part of the park) and replace it with a limestone temple, an ode to the expense account, appletini and Abercrombie crowd, then it seems odd that you’d lament the very natives your home accommodates.

Yankee Stadium is like the gaudy edifice flanking Central Park (from Fifth Avenue or CPW), with a perfect view of treetops and corporate softball, replete with elevator operators (don’t we all know how to press a button?) and doormen doting on rich old women whose pint-sized puppies take on human qualities (sweaters, boots, and nicknames).

There’s a definable detachment from reality in both cases. New York City, despite its reputation for cloud-tickling skyscrapers, used to be an amalgam of neighborhoods, brownstones, bodegas, and reasonably priced apartments. Then Times Square became Disney-North and Manhattan became little more than a row of condos, Whole Foods, and 24-hour pharmacies.

And baseball used to be about ten-buck tickets bought right before a game, where you needn’t be a intoxicated Bleacher Creature to inhale the ambiance of an authentic ballgame.

There’s a deliciously funny Web site – – whose mantra, “If We Had $200 million To Burn, The Yankees Would Never Lose A Game,” reflects the fury of fans who are tired of having their pockets legally picked.

Sorry if this sounds redundant. But if you ask your fans to refinance their mortgages to keep up with the (Andruw) Joneses, then expect an ornery horde every season sans World Series hardware. Forgive the cliché, but you made us this way.

Feel free to email me:

Yankees fans, would you gladly trade the growing expense of a day at the park for — gasp! — a lower payroll? Sound off in the comments below…

  • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

    By the way, now that Mike Quade has been let go, the coast is clear for Joe Girardi to go manage for Theo Epstein at Wrigley. Think it’ll happen? I called Epstein and Girardi heading to Chi-town as soon as the season ended so let’s see what happens!

  • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

    The problem with the Yankees, year after year, is that there is always one or two what I like to call “vengeance signings” – i.e., a fair-to-middling-to-great-but-not-premiere player whom the Yanks overpay because either the Red Sox wanted him or he used to beat the Yankees. Or both. Granted, the latter category (Lofton, Damon, Brown, Vazquez, Vazquez, Johnson, etc.) was mainly (solely?) the fault of George Steinbrenner, but the fact of the matter still stands – these guys clog the roster every season.

    That’s not to say that those players don’t always pay dividends. Usually, those that are snagged from the Red Sox tend to perform quite well (except AJ). But the problem with overpaying a guy is that he sticks around far too long, and results, as Yankees fans know, in an incomplete team and an incomplete season. When the Yankees solve their pitching problems by signing postseason choker CJ Wilson and DH Prince Fielder each to long contracts, no one will be surprised, and everyone will know what to – and what not to – expect.

  • jason

    please stop lumping greedy yanks fans with realistic ones as myself. Yanks have won 5 WS since ’96. i am very satisfied and itwas fun to see the Cards win this year. Yanks cannot win every year and im fine with that.

    • JK

      Though you have a brilliant first name, sir, I think it’s safe to say you’re an aberration. As such, I should say the majority of Yankees fans think thusly.

      I too loved watching the Cardinals. No one was going to beat them. It was just one of those things.

  • Alex P.

    JK, I have two comments. First, I think this article compliments your Bronx Bombed article quite well. Yes, the atmosphere of the new stadium has lost its touch with the common man. But I think you might be able to take it a little further and say that the team is being managed to this new kind of fan’s expectations. You pointed out rightly in that previous article that the Yankees lost because of a dearth of quality starting pitching, which puts pressure on the bats. This subtle baseball point is lost on the new bread of fan at yankee standium who will say that the antidote for the yankees’ woe is that they need another slugger, preferably the most expensive one available.

    Secondly, the seats are always sparsely or way less than fully filled at best in the box seats around the infield, even in playoff games!! I can sense no appreciable home-field advantage in the stadium at times. It just doesn’t have the closeness and energy of the old place.

    • JK

      All wonderful points, Alex. Thank you. If what you say is true, that the new fan is the future (and eternal fan), then I rescind my membership.

  • gmancat

    As fans should know by now, EVERYTHING about the Yankees is making more $$$ not winning championships. But if you do out spend your opponets some championships will natrually follow. The joke is really on those loyal (to a fault) Yankee fans. Cashman and the Steinbrenners only know more, more more. When the Yankee fans don’t show up thy won’t either.

    • jason

      sorry but yanks fans will always show up. please post your info as you must have it since you say the yanks are all about making money above winning. Wheres your info to base that?

    • Ben

      Look, you can talk all you want about the Yankees spending money on their team, but they are not about making money more than they are about winning championships. There are high ticket prices, but their is also a demand for those tickets. And being a Yankee fan is not a fault. This is the state of things. If the Yankees lose, then they will lose demand.

  • Kurt Spitzner

    I am not a yankee fan as you well know,and I cannot begin to comment as eloquently as RR above,but I do find it hard to believe that the fans I know will settle for anything less than a WS every year.That being said,unless a lower payroll will still bring a WS team,I don’t think the fans would settle for anything less than the whole thing.

    • JK

      Indeed, Kurt. The new theme park (stadium) is what irrevocably stretched the chasm between the haves and have-nots.

      • Kurt Spitzner

        And many wonder why it is so hard to enamor our youth with baseball and other sports when there is no way that they will ever be able to afford to see a game in person.Football and basketball have long been out of the range of most middle class families with minor exception,but now baseball is joining the ranks as something that noly the rich,famous,or “reality stars” can afford!
        SAD BUT TRUE!

  • Robert Richardson

    I’ve been a Yankee fan since the age of six (47 years and counting). After what I just read, I should dump them and all my sports allegiances. Your depiction of Yankee Universe is actually a microcosm of business now in America. It’s an accepted culture of fleecing the consumer at any price all in the name of chasing an extra dollar. Any opinion to the contrary elicits cries of “Socialism!” You evoke in me memories of the pre- ’96 Yankees, that went on a seventeen year stretch without winning a World Series. They were losers but they were my beloved Yanks. No matter how much ridicule I endured (especially from those sorry assed ’86 MET fans), my love for them was unshaken. Now they are just like any other corporation listed on the stock exchange, willing to pick your pocket from your cold dead body. I lament at the lost of “the old Yankees” though Mr. Steinbrenner spared no expense in an attempt to win, he never punctuated the excesses that we see today (though he did probably plan this Yankee Corporation of this era) There seems to be a loss of “idealized innocence” in sports today.

    • JK

      Thanks, Robert. I failed to complete the connection between the old lady and the Yankees. The geriatric gal doesn’t buy her own groceries or even walk her own dog. She buys ten grand handbags just because she can, just as the Yanks dropped over $40 million on Kei Igawa and still had $300 million in the coffers for Burnett, Tex, and Sabathia. Even as a Yankees fan, there’s a gratuitous and grotesque quality to it.

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