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.