June 18, 2005
It's one of the more interesting interleague matchups, between the team that just moved to Washington and the team that moved away from Washington 33 years ago. Also, there are two former Yankees facing each other: Nick Johnson and Alfonso Soriano. The Rangers won the first two game quite convincingly, though the Nats at least showed enough spunk to close the gap in the late innings of tonight's game. It's the first time in over three weeks that the Nats have lost two in a row, but they're still in first place.
What could be finer than watching the Cubs play the Yankees in the Bronx on the Saturday Game of the Week? It depends who you ask. Some of us had weddings to attend. Well, at least I caught a couple innings between the service and the reception, but I just missed Derek Jeter's first-ever grand slam.
A new visitor named Alan brought to my attention the following observations about replacing Yankee Stadium which he posted on another Web site. The points he makes are well worth repeating.
Here's what I think is wrong with this new ballpark -- but it is the same thing that is wrong with ALL the new ballparks ...
I understand that owners want luxury boxes and Yankee Stadium has (I believe) only 12. And building 150 or so luxury boxes will steal cheap seats (the kind I sit in.) But worse, today's architects seem to think that lower deck seats are somehow preferable to upper deck seats. In the present Yankee Stadium there are ~ 20000 lower deck seats and ~30000 in the upper deck (plus ~7000 in the mezzanine.) The plan for the new park reverses that. Any real fan would prefer to see the whole game from upstairs. Worse, when Yankee Stadium was renovated in 1974-75 great expense was gone to to, yes, remove the infamous "poles", but also to preserve the extreme cantilever of the upper deck over the lower, so upper deck fans were amazingly close to the action. This was accomplished by the use of cables buried in the concrete and anchored into the ground. The only other ballpark that I know of that used the same cable arrangement was DC Stadium -- another park with VERY close upper deck seating in the infield (despite its concrete cylinder form.) Sit downstairs in the first few rows and look at the upper deck in the Stadium. It seems to be right on top of the lower deck and going straight up. National League teams coming into the Stadium actually marvel at how close the screaming-banshee Yankee fans are to the action.
But the cabled cantilever design is expensive -- much too expensive to waste on the "cheap seats". So they build luxury boxes instead and move you and me to a seat in a different zip code. For all its architecural excellence, even a place like Camden Yards gives the back of its hand to the peons upstairs.
As far as the "history" ... well ... except for the relationship of the stands to the field, which is pretty much the same in the 1976 Stadium as it was in 1923, most of the character of the old ballpark was obliterated when it was remodeled 30 years ago. A fake plastic "facade" tacked on in the outfield just isn't the same as the green copper adornment to the old park's roof. Even if you want to make the case that Gary Sheffield plays on the same patch of ground as the Babe (I think I wanna be sick) you have to allow for the 10 feet deeper the '76 park's field is into the earth than the original.
The new park will recreate the 1923 exterior (although it will actually be a "false-front") and take a stab at recreating the so-called "facade" around the roof. (When Mantle hit the facade off Fisher in, what was it, '64?, he referred to it as the "FACARD".) And, maybe best of all, the plans call for preserving the playing field and part of the lower deck of the present Stadium for amateur games.
So, all in all, as desecrations go it could be a lot worse...
If indeed the replicated exterior walls at the new "Yankee Stadium" are nothing more than a veneer (like vinyl siding), I almost wish they wouldn't bother with such fakery. As for RFK, I had wondered about how the upper deck was supported, and he may well be right about the cable method, which I had thought was pioneered at Yankee Stadium. That bears further research. I am fairly certain, however, that the field in the latter was lowered by about five feet during the 1974-1975 renovations, not ten.
I think I've figured out how I'm going to handle the diagrams for stadiums that are too large to fit into the standard size template, such as Yankee Stadium. It's an annoying conundrum, reflecting in part the need to accommodate folks with various sized computer monitors. In the meantime, I've redone the diagram for Wrigley Field, where the Los Angeles Angels originally played.