New York Yankees: bobbleheads
September, 25, 2013
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com
AP Photo/Kathy WillensThe fans in the padded seats? They had their Mariano Rivera bobbleheads delivered to them by Yankees officials. But the Average Joes? Keep scrolling.NEW YORK -- The Great Bobblehead Boondoggle of 2013, in which 18,000 Mariano Rivera bobbleheads showed up almost as late as Mariano comes into a game, looks like more than just a snafu involving transportation mishaps.
It looks, in fact, like a microcosm of what goes on at the new Yankee Stadium, which is in fact a microcosm of what goes on all over the United States.
In case you hadn't realized it, or were too engrossed in the exploits of your heroes on the field to notice, there is a serious class separation at Yankee Stadium. Just like there is when you take a commercial flight, or check into a hotel room.
Thems that pay, get. Thems that don't, get ... (fill in your unprintable epithet of choice here).
John Munson/USA TODAY SportsIf you were behind the Yankee Stadium moat, you were forced to wait in an impossibly long line. Some simply gave up.
The problem is, everyone pays way too much at Yankee Stadium 3.0, but there is still a major division among the fans who go to, you know, actually see the game, and the corporate credit cards who have seats inside the moat but either spend the game in a luxury box, at the steakhouse, or somewhere other than River Ave. and 161st St. in the Bronx.
And never was the class separation more evident than Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. While, according to eyewitnesses, the Moat People had their Mariano bobbleheads hand-delivered by Stadium staff, the rest of the crowd -- the Boat People -- were left to congregate in the "Great Hall," which looked more like steerage class on the Titanic.
According to reports, many waited for more than an hour, which may have been a blessing on a chilly night in which the home team chose not to even show up for a must-win game.
While the Yankees did a fine job of even coming up with a contingency plan when the coveted figurines failed to arrive in time for the start of the game, printing 18,000 vouchers in the afternoon, the fact that the privileged few were not inconvenienced while the great unwashed masses were left to scrounge and grovel like rats illustrates what long-time Yankees fans hate about the new park.
It caters to the haves and steps on the have-nots, which, of course, is what happens just about everywhere else in the country these days.
AP Photo/Kathy WillensBobbleheads honoring Mariano Rivera arrived late to Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. The chaotic aftermath said everything you need to know about the team's attitude toward its fans.
This season, with the organization still charging for filet mignon but the team delivering chuck steak, the fans have begun to show their displeasure with their feet -- by walking away from the team in droves. With two home games left, attendance is down 10 percent from last year and has dropped more than 15 percent since the Stadium's inaugural season of 2009.
I called team president Randy Levine for a comment about the fiasco and the disturbing trend that seems to go along with it. He did his best to blow me off, saying, "I don't know anything about it, I wasn't in Bobblehead-land last night."
Then he said I should call Lonn Trost, the Yankees' COO. Mr. Trost did not immediately return my call, and judging by his history, probably never will.
In lieu of live comments, I leave you with this revealing quote from May 2009, in which Trost was asked to explain why most fans in the new ballpark could not come down to the rail during batting practice to collect autographs, as they could in the old Stadium:
"There’s an area by the Legends Suite which is not an area that fans can get into," he said. "If you purchase a suite, do you want somebody in your suite? If you purchase a home, do you want somebody in your home?"
The first part of that quote confirms what you always knew: By Trost's own words, there are no "fans" within the moat, just big, fat wallets.
And the second part reminds you of something you should have known all along: There are two Yankee Stadiums, and unless you can pay for the privilege, you are not welcome in the "better" one.
It's enough to make your head bobble.
Corey Sipkin/Getty ImagesWho are the haves and who are the have-nots at Yankee Stadium? We'll give you a hint, if you need it: It's much easier to count the haves in this photo.