Playing the Field: Yankee Stadium – an empty, trash-filled pit on Opening Day

The view from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal of Red Sox-Yankees late in the game Monday.
The view from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal of Red Sox-Yankees late in the game Monday.

Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season is supposed to be one of the cherished sporting days on the calendar and no MLB team is supposedly more cherished than the 27-time World Series champion Yankees.

However, if you are a San Diego Padres fan or Kansas City Royals fan or Seattle Mariners fan and have heard time and time again about the perceived love affair with baseball in the northeast and how it’s “just different there,” you can rest easy today. Boston, Philly, New York – we all can have our Mickey Mouse sports moments. But yesterday’s Opening Day “celebration” at Yankee Stadium took the cake as one of the more JV operations we’ve seen in quite a while.

- The not-so-memorable day opened with something called a “Constantine Maroulis” singing the National Anthem, which would have been a good get for the Yankees, maybe, in say, 2005. That’s the best the most revered organization in sports can do on Opening freakin’ Day?!

- The visiting and supposedly HATED Red Sox were introduced to the humdrum crowd while the Star Wars “evil theme,” the “Imperial Death March” blared over the loud-speakers. Every other day out of the year, I’d be fine with this. But it’s Opening Day. A little decorum, please. The Red Sox, for all their faults, introduce the opposing team on Opening Day with old school organ noises (ya, know something that screams ‘this is baseball … we’re different. We’re special. Embrace the history!).

Instead, the Yankees show here that they’re no different than a small market NBA team. “Let’s show our fans how much we HATE the opponent by playing this sinister music when they come out!!!”

The Orlando Magic play this song when the Milwaukee Bucks make visits. The Yankees should be a step above this.

- Even Red Sox brass wouldn’t have had the balls to call Monday’s game a “sell-out.” Yes, Yankee Stadium is a 50,000 –seat canyon of a ballpark. And yes, it is ridiculously expensive to watch any game there. But last time I checked, there were a lot of people in New York  and there are more than a few Yankees fans in this country that make decent livings. To have an empty ballpark in the late innings on Opening Day is an embarrassment. The Yankees were down 8-2 to the Red Sox late in the game. Six runs against the Red Sox, a team that won 69 games last season? Not impossible.

Plus the folks that were at the game probably had already taken the entire day off from work. What’s the rush? Enjoy yourself. Oh and one more thing … It’s Opening Day!!!!

- To sum up the day, a stream of trash was flying all over the field in the late innings of Monday’s game. Now, there’s not much the Yankees can do about that. New York streets are, after all, filled with trash and it just happened to be a windy day. But the image on TV of a dark sky, trash whipping all over the field and thousands and thousands of empty, dark blue seats painted quite the picture. And no, that picture had nothing to do with “fresh starts,” “new beginnings,” “peanuts,” “Cracker Jacks”  and/or “spring.”

I suppose we should expect this from the Yankees and their fans at this point. They failed to sell out THREE PLAYOFF GAMES last year. Still, the New York Yankees are supposed to be a beacon in sports. Here’s guessing the Tampa Bay Rays will do it up right in their home opener Tuesday afternoon.

Matt Burke is sports editor and a columnist at Metro Boston. Follow him on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS


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