• Kabak: Yanks Fans Fail To Represent

    Posted by on October 6th, 2006 · Comments (10)

    Benjamin Kabak has an interesting feature posted today on Yankees fan Stadium reactions during Game 2 of the 2006 ALDS.

    Ben opens with:

    Once upon a time, Yankee Stadium in October was electric. The fans were loud and boisterous. The crowd seemed to know something about baseball. They rooted for the Yankee as though every one of the 56,000 fans were a member of the team, and they booed the opposing team as though personally insulted by their presence in the Bronx.

    So after sitting through 9 innings of lackluster play by the Yankees and nearly no passion from the fans, I have to ask myself: What happened?

    And he closes with:

    It’s always fun to go to the Stadium in October and soak in the playoffs. Yesterday was my first playoff game since Game 3 of the 2001 World Series and I had missed the playoff atmosphere.

    But after sitting through that debacle yesterday, I still miss that atmosphere. I miss the real fans and the passionate fans. I know the Tigers fans will be out in full force tonight. Where were you yesterday, New York?

    That was simply pathetic.

    But, it’s in the middle of his feature where Ben hits Yankees fans the hardest:

    Yesterday, I was lucky enough to pull off a rare New York doubleheader. I spent the afternoon in the Tier Reserve at Yankee Stadium and the evening in the chilly Loge Reserve at Shea Stadium. For six hours yesterday, I watched playoff baseball in New York and observed fans of all stripes rooting for their respective teams. Let me tell you this: The Mets care a lot more than the Yankee fans do right now.

    This is something that I’ve been hearing from many diehard Yankees fans over the last few years – that, come October, it’s the “suits” that take over the Stadium and the “real fans” are missing. I recall one person telling me, around five years ago: “You can spot ‘them’ a mile away. They show up just at game time, or during the first inning, still dressed for work, wearing a Yankees hat that looks brand new – which it is…because they just bought it outside the Stadium when they showed up.”

    I have personally been to post-season games at the Stadium since 1977. In fact, I was there 30 years ago today when Hal McRae tried to kill Willie Randolph. And, even back in 1977, you had an amount of “fans” at post-season games who could be labeled as “front runner” attendees.

    Therefore, this October “situation” is not totally new – but, it has grown, at the Stadium, over the last few years.

    I would estimate that it could happen someday at Shea Stadium, as well – if the Mets make it to the post-season for several seasons in a row.

    Just this past Wednesday, I was asking a Yankees fan friend at work if he was going to any post-season games this year and he said “Nah, it’s too expensive and it’s easier to just watch the games on television. I’ll probably enjoy it more that way.”

    And, this is the issue. Yankees fans have had October baseball now for 12 years in a row. For many “day-in/day-out” fans, there’s no sense of urgency for them around attending these games – since they’ve had a chance or two to get to one over the last decade. If the Yankees had not been in the post-season for 12 years, and then made it, the diehard Yankees fans would fight over tickets like wild animals (regardless of the cost). Now, it’s too “easy” to say, “I’ll just watch the games on T.V.” and let the “suits” fork over the dough in order to have something “status” to drop in conversation the next day in an attempt to impress someone.

    And, when you have more people at the game who barely know the players than those who could tell you Derek Jeter’s middle name, you’re going to get a more sedate crowd at the games.

    As a Yankees fan, if this bothers you, I have bad news. The more seasons in a row that the Yankees make the post-season, and the more expensive the post-season tickets get, the “situation” is only going to get worse.

    If you look at home many post-season games the Yankees have lost at home since 2004, you have to wonder if the lack of the “true” 10th man has anything to do with it?

    I was there for Game 6 of the ALCS in 2004, and, I can tell you that there were many Yankees “fans” sitting on their hands – and just as many Red Sox fans going crazy. It was darn right comfortable for the Sox players that night.

    Now, I’m not saying that Yankees fan attendee post-season reaction needs to go back to 1970′s battery-throwing levels, but, it probably wouldn’t hurt to have opposing teams feel a “tad” more uncomfortable about having to face the Yankees and 55,000 screaming fans.

    Again, it doesn’t have to be a situation where the other team fears for their personal safety. Just make it like what the Yankees players hear when they go to Fenway Park.

    It does get the other team’s attention. And, in the post-season, when little things can make a difference, it helps.

    Comments on Kabak: Yanks Fans Fail To Represent

    1. RICH
      October 6th, 2006 | 2:57 pm

      The ‘unexpected’ scheduling of Thursday’s game didn’t help. Two friends of mine were beat after sitting through the ‘rain delay’ and having to reschedule for yesterday, too. Not excuses, just some possible reasons for yesterday’s crowd. There were empty seats there.

      It also could be like the “Back in my day, I walked 30 miles to school” riff. Things (and audiences) change.

      And it’s always louder when the home team is winning.

    2. MJ
      October 6th, 2006 | 3:24 pm

      I think Rich hit the nail on the head – it’s always louder when the home team is winning. If Ben didn’t like what he saw from Yankee fans yesterday, it could be because Yankee fans themselves didn’t like what they were seeing. I mean, to scream and clap and cheer for a team that didn’t look like they were as into the game as the other guys…well, it’s hard to get riled up when the play is so uninspiring.

      While I’m sure there’s a degree of apathy setting in, I don’t think it’s fair to come down on those of us that simply can’t afford a ticket when the playoffs roll around.

      And it’s pretty silly for Ben to talk about how wonderful the atmosphere was at Shea. Please. Not only were they winning yesterday (Shea was a morgue in September when they were getting their asses handed to them) but the Mets had their best season in two decades and they still didn’t pull the attendance title in the NL, despite the benefit of the NL’s largest market.

      All fans are true fans. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been rooting for them, that’s plain nonsense.

    3. October 6th, 2006 | 3:52 pm

      See…I understand “when the home team is winning” argument. But two things:

      1. The Yanks were winning! The crowd was dead after a standing ovation for Damon.

      2. The point was that the Shea crowd was into it from pitch one. The Yankee crowd? Not so much.

      3. I wouldn’t call the atmosphere at Shea “wonderful.” As a Yankee fan, it sucked! But at least they were into the game.

      In the end, this crowd was the least electric crowd at Yankee Stadium in the postseason and I’ve seen some VERY crazy postseason crowds in the Bronx over the last 11 seasons.

    4. Jen
      October 6th, 2006 | 4:04 pm

      I was at the Stadium both Tuesday and Thursday and there was a big difference in the 2 crowds. Sure the level of play had something to do with it. But I think part of it is that yesterday was a day game. Even during the regular season, the night crowds just seem more into it. It felt more like Opening Day than a playoff game. When was the last time the Yanks played a 1:00 post-season game at home?

      Also, the fact that it was a makeup game, I think a lot of people that wouldn’t normally go, ended up with tickets. People probably went to work with their extras and pawned them off on whoever could take them. There were a lot showing up in their business suits. Hell, 2 of mine went to customers of ours (although those guys were really into the game).

      On a personal note, I find myself holding my breath in certain situations, unable to do anything but gnaw on my fingernails. Sometimes it’s just superstition. I won’t stand and cheer if our pitcher has 2 strikes on a batter and there’s less than 2 outs (unless it’s the 9th inning). ‘Cause when I do, there’s always a wild pitch or the guy gets a hit. I could write book on all of my cheering superstitions. And I know I’m not the only one.

    5. October 6th, 2006 | 4:34 pm

      The same things could probably be said about Twins fans. That’s supposed to be the loudest place to play, but if the Twins are losing, it’s quiet as a mouse too.

      I dont know about that writer, but I was at Wednesday night’s ‘game,’ and it WAS electric waiting for the game to start (7:45 – 8:10), but rain has a way of killing energy, as does a day game. Day games are like lazy days at the beach. Night games are exciting.

    6. October 6th, 2006 | 4:39 pm

      10/2/78 was a pretty exciting day game, IIRC.

      Granted, that was on the road and a long time ago.

    7. October 6th, 2006 | 5:46 pm

      That’s not a fair comparison. That was a best-of-1 playoff. And vs. Boston. And yes, a long time ago.

    8. baileywalk
      October 6th, 2006 | 7:22 pm

      I keep hearing this thing about how “real” Yankee fans aren’t in the Stadium anymore and that “real” fans can’t afford tickets. It’s bull. I go to a handful of regular-season games and one game in each playoff series every year. The people I find around me are not corporate CEOs. Not even on the few occasions where I was sitting in field-level seats. On Tuesday night, in my seats that cost eighty bucks a pop, I was surrounded by people who looked decidedly working class. Yes, I see a lot of young girls at the Stadium who are dressed like they’re at a club, but this corporatization of Yankee fans seems like a bunch of bull to me.

      I also flatly reject the idea that the Stadium doesn’t get loud and crazy anymore. Last year in the ALDS, game four, top of the ninth, Mo on the mound, facing Vladdy to close out the game. I’ve never heard the place so loud. It was literally quaking. Mo even mentioned it the next day.

      I think this has more to do with everyone having to find something to complain about when it comes to the Yankees.

      The idea that the Stadium is packed with people who don’t understand baseball just doesn’t hold true when you’re there.

    9. October 6th, 2006 | 11:50 pm

      FWIW, in the YES pre-game tonight, Paul O’Neill referenced the crowds at Shea in the NLDS and the crowds at Yankee Stadium in this ALDS and said something along the lines of it being more intense at Shea.

    10. Raf
      October 7th, 2006 | 2:56 pm

      I think this has more to do with everyone having to find something to complain about when it comes to the Yankees.
      ============
      Exactly; it’s not like “fake” fans getting postseason tickets is a new phenomenon

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