SweetSpot: Yankee Stadium

Cracks in new Yankee Stadium?

October, 23, 2009
There's nothing better than a story involving the Yankees and the mob.
    The concrete pedestrian ramps at the brand-new $1.5 billion city-subsidized Yankee Stadium have been troubled by cracks, and the team is seeking to determine whether the problems were caused by the installation, the design, the concrete or other factors, according to several people briefed on the problems.

    The ramps were built by a company accused of having links to the mob, and the concrete mix was designed and tested by a company under indictment on charges that it failed to perform some tests and falsified the results of others. But it is unclear whether work performed by either firm contributed to the deteriorating conditions of the ramps.


    A spokeswoman for the team, Alice McGillion, called the cracks “cosmetic,” saying that they posed no safety issues because they did not affect the structural integrity of the ramps. She characterized the work to repair the problems as “routine remediation,” which she said was “usual in this kind of building or in any other building.”

    “There is no evidence that there is any issue or problem with concrete or any material in the building,” she said.

    Several people briefed on the problems said, however, that they would cost several million dollars to fix. The cracks, some as much as an inch wide and several feet long, are visible on the slate-gray walkways.
Two good things. First, it's not likely that anyone is in danger. And second, several million dollars is a rounding error for the Yankees. Still, one does wonder how dangerous the Stadium would be if they'd spent only, say, $1.4 billion.

Super-rich spurning Yankee Stadium?

April, 21, 2009
IIATMS's Jason is sick and tired of seeing all those empty, super-expensive seats inside the Yankees' new stadium ...
    Randy Levine, this is on you. This is your legacy, a ballpark for the rich, while utterly dismissing your loyal fan base. Your pomposity, your utter disdain for anyone and anything that doesn't agree with you, your bullheadedness in not doing something about this when it became obvious to everyone that there was going to be a problem.

    This is hard for me as it's my childhood team, but I feel no sympathy for the organization. Sure, it fuels the spending to try to put a quality product on the field, but I can't help but chuckling as the spears and arrows are mid-flight towards Levine & Co.

    Now, this is not solely a Yankee Stadium problem; attendance is down almost 7% across the board. Baseball, and all sports, will feel the pinch from the economy. But it just feels that other markets are being responsive to the economy whereas the Yanks are summarily thumbing their nose at it. Sure, the Stadium was built essentially before the floor fell out of the economy, but had the team used any modicum of common sense, they would have changed their strategy and been more flexible with their pricing schemes. Some teams are offering kid-friendly programs or discounted ticket nights. Not the Yanks. But we'll have a nice wide concourse, which is nice.

For maximum enjoyment of Jason's indignation, you have to see the accompanying photos (here's one of them).

Yes, Yankee Stadium is a ballpark for the rich. But make no mistake: Just about every other franchise would do exactly the same thing if there were enough rich people within 30 miles. The Yankees built a ballpark for the rich because they could. Or thought they could. It's hard to hold that against them. But Jason's right: The Yankees have compounded a (maybe) miscalculation with a terribly arrogant attitude toward their current circumstances. The Yankees have gone from If you build it, they will come (and they have, generally) to If we charge $2,650 they will pay, eventually (and they haven't, generally).

Peter Abraham says the Yankees might lower the prices on the premium seats, but I'll see Abraham and raise him ... the Yankees will make some adjustments. Otherwise they'll be a laughing stock all season long.

Strange days in the Bronx

April, 20, 2009
Tim Dierkes offers a bunch of links about the two raging issues of the day in the Bronx: Chien-Ming Wang's abject failures, and all those home runs flying around.

Here's one more link about Wang, from Driveline Mechanics:

    The most telling numbers are his differing velocities between his fastball/sinker from last night's start and 2008 -- take a look at how much slower he was throwing last night! Furthermore, there's nearly 3 inches less in vertical break.


    When his velocity was up near 92, he was recording outs without a problem. When it dipped even just a few MPH, he was getting crushed. It reinforces the idea that very small percentage changes make a big difference in baseball.

    The major difference in velocity and movement would concern me greatly if I was someone in the Yankees front office. This has all the signs of a "cascade" injury, where the initial injury to Wang's foot has caused altered mechanics up the line or has exposed a lack of fitness elsewhere. Look for Wang to go on the 15-day disabled list, if only for his complete ineffectiveness.

And there's this, from (of all places) AccuWeather.com:
    Although the field dimensions of the new stadium are exactly that of the old stadium, the shell of the new stadium is shaped differently. AccuWeather.com meteorologists also estimate that the angle of the seating in the new stadium could have an effect on wind speed across the field.

    The old Yankee stadium had more stacked tiers and a large upper deck, acting like a solid wall in effect, which would cause the wind to swirl more and be less concentrated. The new Yankee stadium's tiers are less stacked, making a less sharp slope from the top of the stadium to the field. This shape could enable winds to blow across the field with less restriction. In addition, the slope of the seating would also lead to a "downslope" effect in the field which, depending on wind direction, would tend to cause air to lift up in the right field. Fly balls going into right field during a gusty west wind would be given more of a lift thus carrying the ball farther out into right field.

    If the stadium seating tier shape is indeed the issue, games will only be affected during times with the winds are from a westerly direction and above 10 mph. This typically occurs during the spring and the middle to late fall. The calmer weather during the summer should lead to a smaller number of home runs. In the meantime, the home run derby may continue.

My question: Did the Yankees do any modeling while designing the new place? Because it seems to me that everyone's now got a theory to explain all the home runs so far, and every theory could have been tested beforehand. Hey, maybe this is what the Yankees wanted. If any team is equipped to purchase sluggers and overpay veteran pitchers who can handle giving up a homer per starts, it's this one.

Missing the old N.Y. yards

April, 16, 2009
Neil DeMause visited the Mets' new home last night, and here's an early review:
    First, some caveats: Citi Field is a typical Populous modern stadium, with all that goes with that: Field-level seats close to the action, a wall of luxury/club seating in the middle, an upper deck that's higher than you'd expect at old-time ballparks, overly quirky outfield dimensions, more places to buy overpriced food than some (present company included) might think necessary. The Mets owners have been fond of comparing their new taxpayer-aided home to Ebbets Field; the comparison doesn't hold much better here than it did for Miller Park, which made the same claim.

    That said, it's immediately clear that the Mets got most of the details right here, especially compared to their rivals across the East River. The Jackie Robinson Rotunda may be a bit of a ham-fisted nod to history (it didn't help that last night was Jackie Robinson Night, with a pregame ceremony featuring people wearing jerseys with words like "COMMITMENT” and "INTEGRITY” on their backs), but it's nicely human-scaled and functional compared to the Yanks' gratuitous Great Hall. Thanks to a relatively teensy 42,000 capacity, the upper deck isn't quite so distant as in the Bronx, about the equivalent of the back of the old Shea mezzanine -- Mr. Met could almost even reach it last night with his T-shirt cannon -- though the lessened seating has helped contribute to hikes in ticket prices.

    And most of all, unlike the Yanks' new home, Citi Field reeks of baseball. There's plenty of attractive brick and steel, the scoreboards are useful but not overly imposing, and even the non-game attractions let you know that you're at a baseball game, not a mall: free batting cages and a Wiffle ball diamond out beyond centerfield for the younger set. (This was such an insanely huge hit last night, with my son among others, that I wonder if the Yankees are at risk of losing an entire generation of New York baseball fans here.) It may not seem like using brick-colored cinderblocks instead of grey ones should make a big difference, but it does.

By far, my biggest beef with the new ballparks -- all of them, I think -- is that the new upper decks are significantly farther from the field than the old upper decks. Which is simply to say that the new ballparks are built to accomodate the well-heeled fans, and everybody else can go fly a kite (literally; it gets windy up there!).

My other beef is that most of the new ballparks don't look all that different from one another when you're watching a game on TV. I suppose this has always been the case, with only the design paradigms changing. But it's a little jarring to turn the game on and see the Mets or the Yankees in their home togs and not immediately recognize the surroundings as uniquely theirs.

So, yeah. As much as I didn't really care for either of the old buildings, I already sort of miss them.