Yankee Stadium a monument of greed

October 15, 2012, 5:09 pm
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There is a lesson in the sudden caverning of Yankee Stadium. Well, there are lots, actually, but the first is this.A ballpark is not architecture, or sight lines, or concession stands. A ballpark is the people and the show inside it.When Detroit Tigers left fielder Quentin Berry dismissed the new Yankee Stadium as a an excellent place for quiet contemplation, he made sure to compare it to the crowds in Oakland, which he described as rowdier.And he meant it as a compliment. The gray old dowager with the dirty green frock, a cooler place to play than Yankee Stadium perfect.Now the Coliseum didnt change. The fans did. They finally overcame their revulsion at years of being told their team, their stadium and their very presence was unfashionable, and went to see what all the fuss was about. And they had a hell of a time, so much so that they even celebrated Justin Verlander dry-cleaner-bagging them in Game 5 of the AL Division Series.And it isnt their fault that they didnt come before the end of the season. It is never the customers job to support the entrepreneur, and never has been. It is the job of the entrepreneur to attract the customer. It has always been so, and anyone who believes the inverse is, well, an idiot.Or a real estate hustler.Or both.By the way, we would be remiss if we didnt mention that losing Derek Jeter would buzzkill any crowd, so were not savaging Yankee fans here. Theyre entitled to make their noise when they feel like it, too.The fact is, the fans in Oakland made Oakland a cool place to play the last few weeks, not out of obligation, but because the players taught them how to overcome their annoyance at the people who run the franchise. And it certainly wasnt out of anticipation for a new stadium somewhere, either.It was the moment that made the ballpark, and the comparisons with Yankee Stadium have never been more apt.Yankee Stadium has been a monument to the outer limits of greed from the moment it was imagined. Its parking company is going broke because people discovered that its easier to take the train. The deafening noise that once poured down upon visiting players in the old park flies off into the stratosphere in the new one.This brings up one other thing which typically gets forgotten in all the talk of ballparks and land deals and moving things to different placed. When you change location and you change pricing, you change your fan base. The Giants fan base now is radically different than the one they had in 1999, and they did it by design. Thats another part of the As San Jose plan. They know moving will be changing their fan base, decided it is worth it to do so, and the fan base they have now knows it and rightfully resents it.But they came out down the stretch anyway, helped in a small but growing way to overwhelm the Angels and Mariners and Rangers down the stretch, and nearly swallowed the Tigers with their fervor. They arent as strong as Verlander, true, but no fan base is. When hes dealing, everyone is at the table, and everyone goes home broke.Thats the baseline lesson here the fans come to see the games, and the games are made by the players. The players create the atmosphere, the fans stir it, and before you know it, you get left fielders from other teams comparing the allegedly downtrodden As fan with the swells in New York, and doing it favorably.You can have all the pretty colonnades and displays and 40 beer kiosks and platinum-inlaid urinals and waiters for every seat to take your grub order and the tax breaks up the nostrils to make it all a windfall for the owners. But a ballpark is a useless waste of public space if not for the show on the field, because a ballpark is still ABOUT THE BASEBALL.Which, in his own way, was what Quentin Berry was saying all along. Atmosphere is not dictated from the board room, and never has been. Building plans may excite the kids down at the union hall, but they mean nothing if what youre putting on inside the building is not consistent with its mission, which, in the case of a ballpark, is ball.So thats one more thing to keep As fans warm this winter. They throw a cooler party than the people at Yankee Stadium, just because theyre there to make it happen. So never mind your spread sheets and land deals and architectural niceties. The people throwing the party is really how this works in the end.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com