Monday, April 20, 2009

Reviewing Our First Ever Regular Season Trip To The New Yankee Stadium

Thanks to everyone who checked out the live stream from Saturday's game. Once again, Sprint service wasn't too smooth from the upper deck, so the videos were significantly delayed in uploading. There is a chance that by the time you saw our video of Chien Ming Wang being booed off the mound, Claggett had already given up 8 runs. Strangely enough, Sprint's service was absolutely fine on the field level concourse, and we had no problem actually live streaming from there. Paying big bucks for the expensive seats comes with unexpected perks.

As we all know, this game was a forgettable one. The score was 22-4, but it might as well have been 222-4. By the time the second inning was over, nobody cared about the game anymore. It did provide a great opportunity to do some more exploring of the new digs, and try to see what has changed since our opening weekend fiasco.

Here is the good, the bad and the hungry.

The Good:
  • The security guards have obviously been given a crash course in human relations. They greeted everyone and constantly had on a happy face. In addition, they weren't being bullies about standing in front of sections, and were generally passive, letting the action come to them. Truly a step in the right direction. It still isn't a possible to gain access to the field level sections, even during batting practice
  • Concession lines were considerably shorter. We purchased the amazing Lobel's steak sandwich, frickles, and garlic fries, all from different stands. The combined wait was no longer than three minutes. Very impressive.
  • Getting into and out of the stadium was a breeze, but we arrived an hour early, and left at 6 PM, with the score 20-2 - we didn't really test the flow during peak times.
  • The Yankees were allowing the general public into the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar, we assume to try to sell some of those $750 memberships. We'll admit that it is a fun atmosphere in there, but not worth $750, and not really like being at a baseball game. The $90 seats at the front of the bar seem like an interesting experience, but the glare from the window seems like it could get annoying. One person warned against purchasing an order of sliders from the bar, as the buns were supposedly stale. We weren't surprised.
  • The Tommy Bahama Bar on the upper level of the Great Hall has a really good atmosphere as well. On a beautiful day like Saturday the open air feel to the Great Hall works to perfection, and it feels like you are outside at a bar, but with a bunch of Yankee fans. The drinks are New York City prices - $9 for a well rum and coke, $9 for a light beer, etc. The crowd in there seemed young and fun. It might actually be a pretty decent pick-up spot for the single folks reading the blog.
The Bad:
  • The game. We left in the 5th inning when it was 20-2. It was so bad that even Freddy "Sez" was demoralized. This will go down as the worst Yankee game that we have ever witnessed. One guy on the train was talking about how he had been to two Yankee games at the new stadium and the combined score of those games was 32-4. His comment as the train whizzed by the opening at the old Yankee Stadium? "Now THAT is a baseball stadium." These blowouts are not helping the fans embrace the new place.
  • The highly touted "How May I Help You" people are pretty useless. Upon arrival to the park, we asked a woman with the sign outside of the stadium the following question: "if we drive to the game, where would we park?" Answer: "Oh, I don't know that." Then we asked, "do you know how parking works, do you have to pay in advance? How much is it?" Answer: "I'm sorry, I don't know." Once we are in the stadium, we see one of those people behind the bleachers. After jokingly asking him if he could help us get the Yankees 10 runs to get back in the game, we asked him "We are dying to find some frickles, where is there a Brother Jimmy's other than the one on the field level?" Answer: "I don't know." He didn't reference a guide, didn't hesitate, just a Kool-Aid smile and "I don't know." We moved along to the next guy with the "how may I help you" sign and asked him the burning question about the frickles. He was absolutely clueless, but he was able to reference a guide in his pocket, listing all the concessions, to give us our answer. Along with minimum wage help come inconsistency. Fake IPK had a different experience with these people, but we'll let him tell everyone about that later.
  • The unsold seats on the field level look absolutely brutal. There is plenty of banter in the comments section of the blog that many of these ticket holders are at the game, but just in the legends club lounge, chowing down all they can eat. We're not buying it. We went down to the Field Level concourse for the last few innings, and we saw tons of cup holders in the wait service seats that contained untouched menus. If it was just the menu, it wouldn't be as telling, because people with unlimited food in a lounge are unlikely to want to order food from their seats. However, there was also a keepsake postcard with the menu, and that too was untouched. It is human nature to curiously read papers stuffed in your cup holder. It is unlikely that someone would touch everything and put it right back into the cup holder. The Yankees have a bunch overpriced seats and in this recessionary economy they aren't selling. This upcoming Oakland series is bound to be even worse.
  • While the bleachers offer some stunning views of the rest of the stadium, they ares something of an eyesore from the rest of the park. For some reason, they didn't make those benches blue like the rest of the seats in the stadium. Therefore, looking out to those seats gives a very industrial and cold look. Not surprising, since most of the corridors within the stadium give off that vibe. Very strange choice to build a brand new stadium with this kind of atmosphere.
  • The climate control in the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar didn't seem to be working. It was toasty in there, and it was a beautiful 75 degrees out. We can only imagine what it will be like with the "blackhouse effect" on a 95 degree day in the summer.
  • The air fresheners in the bathrooms were overwhelming. You could smell it all over the Field Level concourse, and if you went to the bathroom, you left smelling like a gas station bathroom. Someone has to get those air fresheners under control before they start making people yak.
The Hungry:

  • Our food choices for the day were: Lobel's Steak Sandwich ($15), Frickles ($8) and Garlic Fries (small, $6). We extensively covered the steak sandwich. Just do it. As for the frickles, we were disappointed. It is likely because we got an order that had been sitting out for a while, but they just weren't impressive. They were deep, deep, DEEP fried, and they screamed out indigestion. We will withhold judgement until we get an order piping hot from the oil, but for now, we rate them as a dud. Various people told us that the garlic fries are nothing like their predecessors at the west coast stadiums. There had been multiple reports of soggy garlic fries, which sounded pretty terrible. The sweet scent of fried potatoes, garlic, oil and basil drew us in and we threw down for a small order. We received a fresh order, and they weren't soggy at all. Unfortunately, the garlic was overwhelming, and half of the paper fry holder was filled with the garlic mixture. A couple of fries were good, but an entire order is entirely too much when the fries are this full of garlic. You won't want to visit the Tommy Bahama bar after eating an order of these bad boys, unless you have a full pack of Winterfresh, and a travel-size bottle of Listerine.
  • Regarding drinks, we had a rum and Coke (Pepsi) from the Mohegan Sun Sports bar for $9. It wasn't overly weak or strong. It was an average drink. We also tracked down one of the $6 beers. It was Budweiser on draft, and the cup was a small, 12-ouncer. The $6 is tempting, but a couple of gulps and you are left wanting another one. It seems like some sort of trap. The beer said it was Budweiser, but tasted watered down and light. We'd probably stick to something in a 16 oz can or bottle, even if it is upwards of $9.
Overall, the experience we had at this game was much better than the exhibition games, despite the terribly lopsided score. It is unlikely that a crowd has ever made an earlier mass-exit from the Stadium. We felt bad leaving after the 5th inning, but either the garlic fries or the 20-2 score was making us nauseous, and we didn't feel like testing out how well the new toilet bowls handled puke.
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