Yankees Hit the Road
Today, the Yankees hit the road in Detroit trying to erase the 0-2 deficit that they have put themselves in. Most of the time you would think going on the road down 0-2 would be a detriment, but going on the road is the best thing that could have happened with the Yankees. Getting away from the negative and dull energy of Yankee Stadium is their only hope to refocus and start playing Yankees baseball again. That is a really sad reality.
The fans at Yankee Stadium over the past 5 days have turned the Yankees’ own ballpark into a house of horrors for their own team. The empty seats during these postseason games are truly embarrassing. There are many excuses like price, game time, NFL and weather but they are all futile. It is not just price, as it is not just the high priced seats that are empty and Stubhub has many affordable tickets. I don’t know what the reason is, but all I know that during the 90′s playoff run this would never happen.
The less then full capacity crowds are only part of the story. The people who have been there have lacked energy and have been merciless and unruly to the wrong team. Ask anybody who has spend an considerable amount of time in the old Yankee Stadium and the new Yankee Stadium and they will tell you the atmosphere is not the same. The new building does not shake like the old one and visiting players are a lot more comfortable playing in it. Some of it has to do with the structure of the building. It is massive; the seats are much further from the field and cushioned seats probably takes away from the noise as well. However, those are not the only reasons. The fans are to blame as well.
A lot of people have said that the die hard fans have been priced out of Yankee Stadium due to the prices. A lot of that may be true, but the fans seem to have a lot of the same vitriol that they had before, they are just directing it at the wrong team. The standing up and cheering whenever a Yankee pitcher has two strikes on the opposing hitter has been replaced with non stop booing of everything and almost everybody.
Fans certainly have a right to be upset with how certain Yankees have hit the ball during this postseason and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t either. However, there is a time and a forum to express that frustration. That is what this blog is for. That is what social media is for. That is what sports bars and sports radio is for. Yankees fan you should want every player to perform their best. It is clear that the negative atmosphere in the stadium is doing way more harm than good. Nick Swisher had some thoughts on this.
“But to go through a stretch like this where it’s kind of a negative attitude, a negative-type setting, that’s tough,” he said. “But, hey, it’s part of the game. Rightfully so. There’s a lot of expectations here, and I guess when you don’t get the job done, you’re going to hear about it.
“That’s the last thing that I ever thought would be in this ballpark, that people would get on you that bad, especially your home, where your heart is, where you’ve been battling and grinding all year long. It’s just frustrating.
“You never want to be in that spot. It’s not like you’re trying to go out there and do bad on purpose. It’s just tough.”
There are two sides to this quote. One is that Swisher was wrong to say it. Nobody wants to hear this when you are performing like he has performed. Clearly, he thought he had been so nice and interactive with the fans that they would never turn on him, which is obviously not the case. However, he should never have to be in a position to feel this way.
Fans spend their hard earned money to go to these games and have a right to do whatever they want. However, it is clear that the fans acting the way they have towards Swisher and others has gotten in the players heads. So why keep doing it? These are our players and whether we care for them or not, we should want to give them the best atmosphere to succeed in because we are supposed to want the Yankees to be successful. You can say that these are professionals and that this shouldn’t bother them, but we forget that these are real people and not robots. They expect this kind of harassing on the road, so that shouldn’t bother them, but to hear it from the home crowd is different. We are supposed to get the visiting team rattled and make them feel uncomfortable. If I were in the Tigers dugout I would be laughing at these fans and would be very relaxed.
There seems to be a real disconnect between these players and fans and I do not know why that is. Most Yankee fans are still really spoiled. Getting to the postseason 17 out of 18 years is something to be celebrated and not ridiculed because they only have one championship since 2000. They should have more, but every team would sign up for this 18-year run. In the NFL, the New England Patriots are quite comparable to the Yankees. They haven’t won a championship since 2004, still been quite successful since then. I wonder if their fans view them the same way? You can talk about payroll all you want, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. You can ask the Red Sox, Philles, Angels and Rangers about that this year and they will tell you.
The journey this team has taken so far to get this point should be celebrated and not ridiculed. They have overcome so many obstacles to get to this point and just won a hard fought series against a division rival. They are down 0-2, but are not out yet. A win over Justin Verlander and another ace performance by CC Sabathia can still get them back in it. Hopefully if the Yankees do return home again this year that they are greeted with a much better environment to play in.