The old Yankee Stadium was regarded by opposing players as one of the toughest places to compete. Today, it seems, the new Yankee Stadium is less than intimidating.
In the old ballpark, fans could affect the outcome of a game, even when they lacked the ability to throw batteries from the right-field seats. Some well-placed hecklers next to the opponents’ ballpark were enough to unnerve opponents.
Not so today: the crowd at a Yankees game is a more upscale crowd, one less likely to heckle and one more to clap appreciably — but not too much! — after a well-executed play. At least, that’s the theory pushed by ESPN, which broadcast last night’s Yankees-Red Sox match:
Led by former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” crew ripped into the lack of natural, fan-produced, audio dynamite inside the Stadium. And you didn’t have to read between the lines to get Francona’s ultimate message: The fans in the old Stadium made it a living hell for the opposing team. They affected the game.
The ESPN voices also segued into a riff on Stadium security personnel, which they find to be different than those who worked at the old Stadium.
Listening to Francona, we got the impression Yankees brass might as well have posted “Quiet Please” signs at all entrances to the Stadium. Bombers suits don’t take kindly to discouraging words about their Stadium. If they are aware of what Francona and play-by-play voice Dan Shulman said during Sunday’s Yankees-Red Sox tilt, they couldn’t be thrilled.
Of course, some of this may have to do with the fact that the Red Sox don’t pose much of a threat to the Yankees these days; fans may be saving their wrath and best lines for Baltimore or Tampa Bay, team ahead of the .500-level Red Sox in the AL East.
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