The New York Yankees have nobody to blame but themselves as it relates to their rapidly decreasing home-field advantage.
By Robby Sabo
Baseball in New York – there’s nothing quite like it on Earth.
For players and fans, the feeling is mutual. Pressure is felt among the professionals, because, quite frankly, the fans are professionals themselves.
In no other city and sport does the term “professional fan” ring louder and clearer than in New York with baseball as an overtone.
It was this combination that made many scenes at Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium so famous, and wild. Many a time fans have come away pledging that they thought the stadium was going to crumble from their very feet.
One such magical moment occurred on Oct. 4, 1995.
In Game 2 of the first ever Wild Card Round matchup, The Captain, Don Mattingly came up to bat in the sixth inning of a 2-2 ballgame. Of course Donnie Baseball had never tasted the sweet riches of October prior to that season, so every at-bat from the over-the-hill first baseman with the cranky back was spotlighted.
What happened next turned Yankee Stadium into a madhouse:
Just soak in that scene for a moment.
The Mattingly dinger gave the New York Yankees a 3-2 lead and control over Game 2. Despite them losing the next three on the road in Seattle, and ultimately the best-of-five to the Mariners, that starving fan-base got exactly what they wished for the following half-decade or so.
Unfortunately for fans of the pinstripes, current times have a far less emotionally-charged feel, and nobody is to blame except the organization itself.
Recently the Yankees announced they would no longer accept printed-out tickets, via Tom Ley of Deadspin:
As the Yankees are continuously striving to implement technological advances to provide our fans with a ticketing experience that is unparalleled, convenient, safe and secure, the Yankees are excited to announce, as a complement to traditional hard stock paper tickets, the availability of mobile ticketing for the 2016 baseball season. Print-at-home paper tickets (PDFs) are being discontinued so as to further combat fraud and counterfeiting of tickets associated with print-at-home paper tickets (PDFs). In addition to traditional hard stock paper tickets, the Yankees will be offering the opportunity for fans to receive mobile tickets on a fan’s Smartphone.
Mobile ticketing is a completely voluntary, opt-in feature. All season ticket licensees and group ticket buyers will automatically receive traditional hard stock paper tickets. For fans purchasing individual game tickets online at yankees.com, Ticketmaster.com, or via Ticketmaster telephone, you will have the option of receiving traditional hard stock paper tickets or mobile tickets at the time of initial purchase. Fans purchasing individual game tickets at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office or at Yankees Clubhouse Shops will receive only traditional hard stock paper tickets (and will not have an option to receive mobile tickets or the option to convert their tickets to mobile tickets). Print-at-home paper tickets (PDFs) will no longer be available.
Translation? The Yankees are screwing the fan, yet again.
As every real fan has accustomed themselves to, print-at-home tickets have become not just an option at every major sporting event across the country, they’ve become the norm. Simply buying a ticket online and waiting for the real copy to come through the mail just isn’t a feasible option in today’s day and age.
We obviously know the real reason the club is doing this. They’re trying to control the secondary market.
Only three MLB teams don’t have official deals with StubHub. These teams are the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, and Bronx Bombers. In looking to control the market they have greatly promoted their own ticket exchange deal with Ticketmaster and looked to enforce policies such as the one we’ve recently come to learn in effort to continue their war against StubHub (and similar third party outlets).
On Thursday morning, Yankees COO Lonn Trost tried to explain the new policy on WFAN with Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton:
Like I mentioned, he tried to explain.
Instead of actually being honest with the people who are responsible for bringing the money in (the fans), he imagined us as group of morons who can’t decipher reality from fantasy.
Trost explains how bad the print-at-home fraud problem really is. What we, the fans, want to know is this: Do the Yankees understand how bad the empty seat and ho-hum attitude problem actually is?
This is just one more misstep for an organization who has witnessed its passionate fan-base dwindle right before their very eyes.
The first misstep came when building New Yankee Stadium. The building is so large, so corporate, that it almost gives off a “business-like” feel. The stadium puts the fan in awe, and in entertainment-mode, rather than in fan-mode.
The architecture of the new stadium doesn’t capture or trap the noise like the old one did.
Next came the ridiculous prices. There’s a reason those big comfy seats are empty behind the plate. They’re just entirely too expensive.
While it’s only reasonable to think the most successful franchise in the history of professional sports must keep up with the joneses – as it relates to earning a buck with new digs – the “all-out” approach the Yankees took has hurt in a major way.
In 2015 the Yankees finished fourth in baseball with an average of 39,922 fans per game. While that number looks fine and dandy ranking fourth in all the land, it takes a major hit when when realizing it was down over 5.0 percent compared to 2014. After all, these are the freaking New York Yankees. Never should attendance decrease.
Couple this with the major jump seen by the New York Mets and times become very troubling.
Admittedly, a lot of this has to deal with success and a starving fan-base. When success hasn’t been seen in a long time, such as the case with the team from Flushing, the fans will flock to the ballpark and make a ridiculous amount of noise.
Still, hasn’t the Yankee fan been starving enough (by his/her standards)? It’s been six seasons since they last saw a World Series.
And call me crazy, but at no point during the 2015 AL Wild Card Game was the Yankee fan completely into things. This includes the moments even prior to Dallas Keuchel completely dominated the sour night.
New Yankee Stadium has no juice. It reminds Yankees’ fans of a much dimmer time in the 1980s and early ’90s. Those were dark and troubled times indeed. It created a starving fan-base, only to have it explode in the late 1990s.
The only problem now is Trost and the powers that be in the Yankees’ front office aren’t allowing the fan-base to become starved enough (as they should’ve been by now). Instead, they’re simply pushing them away through higher ticket prices and an aging ballclub that has been barely holding onto relevancy the last half-decade.
The price doesn’t match the product. And now, suddenly, it also doesn’t match the hassle.