(This is not a good look. Courtesy of Jim McIsaac/Newsday)
The statistical advantage will be on the Yankees’ side tonight with the series shifting back to Yankee Stadium. But the other great part about playing at home in the postseason is the emotional lift a team gets from its home crowd. The atmosphere, the cheering, the mere feeling of anticipation and tension building in the stadium as the fans get ready to explode, while not being something that can be statistically measured, is something that can have an impact on a game. That impact will be something to monitor tonight simply because next to comments on the price of beer, the expensive tickets, and the “living monument” presentation of the team history in the new Yankee Stadium, the one comment that I’ve heard most consistently about it from people who have been there is that it doesn’t have the same feel and energy to it as the old Stadium did.
Having still not lost my new Stadium virginity yet, I’m not qualified to comment on that from personal experience, but from what I’ve seen come across on the TV broadcasts of the past few homes games I’ve watched I would have to agree with that assessment. The Stadium hasn’t been full, the fans haven’t been loud or even seemingly into the games at all. The whole atmosphere in the place feels like it’s just a bunch of people who came to watch a baseball game because it was something to do, and that needs to stop tonight.
I’m not saying I want everybody in the place to start up the “Seven Nation Army” chant like every other crowd is doing these days. As far as I’m concerned, if you willingly participate in that chant at a live Major League Baseball game, you should have your ability to purchase tickets and attend live Major League Baseball games revoked. That is weaksauce rookie shit to the umpteenth degree and more representative of soft, uninformed, casual, bandwagon fans than having little to no reaction at all. What I am saying is that I want there to be energy in the stadium tonight. I want the crowd to act like this is Game 3 of the ALDS, get involved, and stay involved.
I want loud cheers and applause for every good play made by the Yankees tonight, I want that cheering and applause to be sustained for longer than 5 seconds, and I want it double for every Yankee scoring play. I want loud roars if a rally starts, I want the big collective “AWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!”s coming from the stands on a borderline strike call that goes against the Yankees, and I want stadium-wide thunderous reaction prior to each 2-strike pitch the Yankees make and after if that pitch ends up being strike 3. Sure, there’s no way to tell if any of that is going to have an effect on rookie pitcher Miguel Gonzalez, but damnit it’s still worth a shot! At least try to rattle the kid; that’s part of the home crowd’s responsibility and part of what comes with homefield advantage.
I remember going to Game 1 of the 1998 ALCS at the old Stadium, Yankees vs. Indians, with my old man and a buddy of his who coached with him in football. It was David Wells against Jaret Wright, and I will never forget the feeling and the experience of being in that stadium that night for the first inning of that game. The place was electric, absolutely bananas. I had goosebumps, I had chills, I could feel the emotion welling up inside of me, and it was almost too much for my 12-year-old self to handle. I’ve got the same chills right now thinking back on that night as I write about it, and I’m more than man enough to admit that there are small semblances of tears filling my eyes right now.
That was the game where the Yankees started the bottom of the 1st inning off with 4 straight singles and a 2-0 lead before Wright even knew what hit him. And I kid you not, I could feel the stadium grow louder and shake with each consecutive hit. The energy in the stands was insane and it was almost as if the crowd took on a life of its own and forced Wright from the game. He managed to get 2 outs to calm things down, then went wild pitch, walk, single, and he was done. The Yanks tacked on another run to make it 5-0 and the game was essentially over after 1 inning. You want to talk about a hot crowd? That stadium was fucking OUT OF CONTROL that night, and it’s an experience that I know I’ll never forget for the rest of my life because I’ve never experienced any sporting event crowd anywhere near that since.
That’s what the new Stadium is missing, and that’s what it needs to get back. And the only way that can happen is if the people in the seats realize and recognize the situation tonight and act accordingly. The Yankee fan base as a whole gets knocked for being spoiled, and I’ve always felt that to a certain degree that was true. But nothing is more telling to me about just how spoiled some Yankee fans are than the atmosphere that’s created, or rather NOT created, in the new Stadium. That needs to stop tonight. That place needs to be packed, it needs to be loud, it needs to be rowdy, and the fans need to be involved. It’s not enough for the crowd to just care about this game tonight, they need to be living and dying with every play of this game.
If you’re reading this, and you’re going to be at the game tonight, please take this advice. Go there and just let loose. Don’t be one of those “respectful” fans, don’t be too cool for school. Just throw all your Yankee gear on, get the park early, and go cheer the team you love on to victory. When something good happens, even if it’s just a simple base hit through the left side, get up off your fucking ass and cheer. And while you’re at it, put your stupid fucking iPhone in your pocket, take your 2 hands, and clap them together as loudly as you can. Hell, yell something if you like, go nuts! In the time it’s taken me to write this post, I have officially mentally checked out at work today. I’m already excited for the game tonight and I’m going to be in my living room, with all my Yankee crap on, yelling and screaming and carrying on like a crazy person tonight, and I won’t even be anywhere near The Stadium. If you are, don’t waste that experience. Get into the game, cheer, and show the pathetic Baltimore fans what homefield advantage is really about. The new reputation for the new Yankee Stadium needs to start tonight.