“After the overwhelming public response to the historic achievement of our 27th World Championship, I would like to thank our fans for their highly spirited and remarkably steadfast support this season.
“The New York Yankees have long enjoyed the positive effects of the world’s greatest fans. It is a real and tangible benefit to our success every day and every game. Each and every fan contributed this season, from the 3.7 million who attended our home games to the millions more who lined the ‘Canyon of Heroes’ for our victory parade.
“Throughout the season, the team found inspiration in the very essence of New York City and its people. By persevering and never wavering from our goal, the Yankees reflected the true spirit and determination that defines the city of New York.”
By Jon Lane
As you can imagine, it was bedlam in the clubhouse. Beginning with Hal Steinbrenner, the theme was not only the fact that the Yankees are winners of 110 games, but about how they won them. The character of this team has been remarkable, yet the mighty Phillies, the champs, are their lone roadblock.
The final journey begins Wednesday night, with George Steinbrenner likely to be in the house.
“We’re doing this for him,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “We want to win this whole thing for him. I feel like he’s here. He’s a big part of it.”
It’s a fitting conclusion to the 2009 season: The two best teams fighting for the right to be called champion, or in the Phillies’ case, a repeat champion.
“The fact that we have to go through the world champs to become champs, and they have their chance to defend it. Not too many teams get that opportunity,” said Johnny Damon.
CC Sabathia is ALCS MVP. You can’t argue with that selection, though. The big guy went 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA, allowing nine hits and two runs with 12 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched. Lest we forget that eight-inning masterpiece on three days’ rest in Game 4 that squashed the Angels’ momentum from the night before.
Being the character guy he is, Sabathia deflected credit to Alex Rodriguez and the team’s ability to remain loose through good times and bad. That had him believing from Day 1 that the Yankees were destined to play in the Fall Classic.
“When Al went down, it was going to to make it tough,” he said. “We held it together for awhile until he got back. He made our lineup just that much better, our team that much better. It gave us a lot of confidence.
“It is really not a surprise that we are here. I hate to sound like that, but this is a really good team. Like I said, we get along, we have fun. This is what you get.”
Like Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and a few others, A-Rod will play in his first World Series. Too many Hall of Famers never won a World Series ring, and never had a shot at one.
“I was just in the back with Mark Teixeira talking and a lot of great players have never had the honor to play in the World Series,” Rodriguez said. “So I thank the good Lord for putting me with the greatest organization and 24 great teammates and it feels really good.
“It gets tougher. Honestly, you think about this era with all these divisions and all these championship series and World Series, it’s pretty much more challenging now and it feels good to get in.”
Eight months ago, Rodriguez was a scorned public figure, exposed by his admittance of using performance-enhancing drugs while he played for the Texas Rangers, the tension-filled reaction press conference and the shady company he kept. Then he had a torn labrum in his hip, which threatened to sideline him for the rest of the season.
That actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He went to Vail, Colorado, and had surgery, and spent the next few weeks rehabbing in seclusion. Once he returned on May 8, he homered on the first pitch he saw and hasn’t looked back. Despite playing in only 124 games, he still slugged 30 homers and drove in 100 runs, the last three coming on his final swing of the regular season — a home run.
“I wasn’t around for the first month and a half, but I knew that the guys we brought in this year, they were special talents and special people and all of them did a phenomenal job of playing in New York the first year,” Rodriguez said. “That’s something that a lot of people can’t do, including myself.”
Yet there were times he lifted the Yankees from life support this postseason. There were the home runs off Joe Nathan and Brian Fuentes. There’s the 11-game postseason hitting streak, pretty darn good for someone once labeled the ultimate choker. His postseason tally to date: .438 with five home runs and 12 RBIs.
“Alex is an unbelievable guy,” Steinbrenner said. “It was just a matter of time before his ability would break out in the postseason. Nobody works harder than him in the offseason, nobody works harder than him in training and nobody, you’ll find, has more ability than him. It was just a matter of time.”
Joe Girardi made some strange decisions, but he’s the 10th manager to lead the Yankees to a World Series and the 42nd person to play and manage in the Fall Classic (and the first since Ozzie Guillen in 2005).
Keep in mind how all season he had to work through an unsaid win-or-else edict. He knew that’s what he signed up for, and never hid or lost his composure through all the second-guessing. Now he’s four wins from escaping Joe Torre’s shadow once and for all.
“It’s very special,” Girardi said. “I’m extremely blessed to have this opportunity. I feel my life has been one big blessing. The things that I’ve gotten to do, God has really blessed me. But being here as a player and going through that, and the excitement and the anticipation, and then getting a chance to do it as a manager, I’m extremely happy for the guys in that room, for the Boss, his children, all the people that put all this hard work in to put this team together.
“I have that same feeling of excitement. 1996 was the first time for me. You think about all the work that all the people put in to have this opportunity, as a player all the work you put in in the offseason to get an opportunity. It’s much the same feeling.”
“The trials and tribulations that the guys in that clubhouse went through all year is something that you hope you never have to go through in your lifetime again,” said manager Mike Scioscia. “It was a special group in there to keep going. Special group in there to keep bringing Nick’s memory forward every day. Every day we came to the park and he’s still with us. And I’m sure we’ll have a little peace in that as we move forward. Right now this loss, obviously, hurts.”
And so it’s on to the World Series. Six years ago yesterday was the last time the Yankees played in a World Series game, when Josh Beckett threw a complete-game shut out in Game 6.
The Phillies were the National League’s leaders in home runs (224), RBIs (788), runs scored (820) and slugging percentage (.447), and will make the Yankees pay dearly if they continue to squander scoring opportunities. On the other hand, the Yankees represent the toughest competition the Phils have faced this entire year and are a different team from the one that dropped two of three games to Philly on Memorial Day weekend.
But all that is for another day. The Yankees are partying all night while me and dozens of scribes pen the latest round of tales.
New York Yankees Media Relations
The Yankees today announced 2010 full-season ticket license pricing for regular season games at Yankee Stadium. Prices for 97 percent of tickets will either remain the same or decrease.
Of the 50,086 seats in the Stadium, prices for 41,928 tickets (84 percent) will remain the same from 2009, while 6,454 tickets (13 percent) will see a decrease in price. There are 1,704 tickets (three percent) that will have an increase in price.
“At the beginning of the season I said that we would look into our ticket prices and review them at the end of the year to see where changes needed to be made,” said New York Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner. “We have had a great opening year. Over 90 percent of our inventory has been sold, and we are leading Major League Baseball in attendance. This plan reflects the changes we believe are appropriate. We will continue to review the ticket policy on a year-by-year basis.”
A total of 3,400 Field Level seats currently priced at $325 as part of full-season licenses will drop to $250 or $235 each next season, depending on their specific location. Additionally, all 1,208 Suite seats in the Delta Sky360° Suite will see a decrease in price, as will 1,846 of 1,894 Suite seats (97 percent) in the Legends Suite. The balance of the Legends Suite seats will have no price change.
All Field Level seats not in the aforementioned locations will remain at their current prices. Additionally, non-Suite tickets in the Bleachers, Grandstand and Terrace levels will see no change in price in the 2010 season.
In the Main Level, 10,111 seat locations will see no increase. The remaining 1,704 seats in Sections 216-217 and 223-224 currently priced at $100 will be $125 next season. These mark the only increases for 2010.
A date is yet to be determined for the on-sale of 2010 season tickets.
A grid reflecting full-season ticket pricing in non-Suite locations is below. For information as it becomes available, please visit Yankees.com.
The following statement is from Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner:
“A few weeks ago I indicated that in light of the economy we would review the pricing of a small number of our premium locations at Yankee Stadium; specifically, our Suite Seats. I mentioned a small number of locations because in excess of 3.4 million seats, including 37,000 full season equivalents as well as approximately 85% of all our premium locations have already been sold. Yet, there are a few hundred Suite Seats in our premium locations that have not been sold on a full season basis.
As a result, and for many of our fans who have already purchased full season Suite Seats in such premium locations, the Yankees are announcing today a program that adjusts certain prices and benefits affecting such Suite Seats.”
For the 2009 regular season only, the following price adjustments and benefits are being adopted effective immediately for a few hundred Legends Suite and Delta Sky 360 Suite Licensees.
A. The full season Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses in the first row in Sections 15A, 15B, 24B and 25 will be reduced from $2,500 to $1,250 per regular season game. All fans who have purchased such full season Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive, at their choice, a refund or a credit.
B. The full season Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses in the first row in Sections 11, 12, 13, 27B, 28 and 29 will be reduced from $1,000 to $650 per regular season game. All fans who have purchased such full season Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive, at their choice, a refund or a credit.
C. All fans who purchased full season $2,500 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses in the first row, in Sections 16 – 24A, will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite Seats in the first row in Sections 16 – 24A for each of the remaining regular season games during the 2009 regular season.
D. All fans who purchased full season $1,250 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite Seats in the $1,250 Legends Suite price category for 24 games during the 2009 regular season, as selected by the Yankees.
E. All fans who purchased full season $850 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite Seats in the $850 Legends Suite price category for 8 games and in the $500 Legends Suite price category for 4 games during the 2009 regular season, as selected by the Yankees.
F. All fans who purchased full season $600 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite Seats in the $500 Legends Suite price category for 10 games during the 2009 regular season, as selected by the Yankees.
G. All fans who purchased full season $500 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite Seats in the $500 Legends Suite price category for 8 games during the 2009 regular season, as selected by the Yankees.
H. Future 2009 regular season sales of full season $1,250, $850, $600 and $500 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses, will receive comparable (dependent upon the price of the Legends Suite and Ticket License) benefits during the 2009 regular season, subject to availability.
I. The Delta SKY 360 Suite and Ticket Licenses in the first row in Sections 218A – 222 will be reduced from $750 to $550 for each regular season game. All fans who have purchased such full season Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive, at their choice, a refund or a credit.
In addition, for 2009, so as to encourage fans to purchase full season ticket plans in the Field Level Sections 115 – 125, the Yankees are also adopting a program affecting a few hundred seats. And, for our fans who have already purchased, on a full season basis such Field Level seating priced at $325 Sections 115 – 125, the following program is being adopted effective immediately:
A. Going forward all fans when purchasing, on a full season basis, three (3) full regular season ticket plans priced at $325 per regular season game in Sections 115 – 125 will receive a fourth full regular season ticket at no additional cost.
B. All fans who have purchased full season plans priced at $325 per regular season game will receive complimentary regular season tickets within Sections 115 – 125 for remaining regular season games during the 2009 regular season as follows:
1. If you purchased two (2) or three (3) full season tickets you will receive two (2) tickets for every other regular season game, commencing with either the Thursday evening game on April 30, 2009 or the Friday evening game on May 1, 2009 and alternating for the remainder of the season.
2. If you purchased four (4) or five (5) full season tickets you will receive two (2) tickets for every regular season game during the balance of the 2009 regular season, commencing with the Thursday evening game on April 30, 2009.
3. If you purchased six (6) or seven (7) full season tickets you will receive three (3) tickets for every regular season game during the balance of the 2009 regular season, commencing with the Thursday evening game on April 30, 2009.
4. If you purchased eight (8) full season tickets you will receive four (4) tickets for every regular season game during the balance of the 2009 regular season, commencing with the Thursday evening game on April 30, 2009.
By Jon Lane
William Blake wrote, “The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” At first glance, the new building on 161st Street and River Avenue is a modern-day manifestation of this sentiment.
I was in the building a mere five minutes, and the stadium already made enough of an impression to last a lifetime. For those few moments, it wasn’t only about a day’s work but an appreciation of what it took to get here and the payoff of a collective effort between organization, borough and city.
As I type, the towering screen above center field is showing Bernie Williams playing an instrumental version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” as part of the Hard Rock Café’s celebratory guitar smash, a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the opening of the Hard Rock Café at Yankee Stadium.
I’m barely getting started. Upon my arrival to the Hard Rock at Gate 6, across the McDonald’s on River Avenue at 8:30 this morning, it’s been non-stop touring and picture taking, with a hardy welcome breakfast in between. There’s lots more coming from today’s workouts. The Yankees are back in town, and there’s an exciting team and breathtaking ballpark to discuss.
Right now, Ace Frehley is playing a live version of his hit, “Back in the New York Groove.” You cannot make this stuff up!
The Yankees are in town, back as a unit for the first time since saying farewell on September 21, 2008, but for the first time since 1923, the place next door is silent and empty. No ghosts, no relevance. It’s really strange.
Back at the Hard Rock, once I got a chance to poke around. I played the role of paparazzi. Numerous dignitaries were made available for photo opportunities. Outdoors rehearsing were children from the Bronx-based Renaissance EMS, an organization down the street at 161st and Third that offers music classes to neighborhood kids. It’s an affordable program offering mentorship and education to teach self-discipline through the use of music.
“Kids learn to be disciplined by learning instruments and using that knowledge in a constructive way,” said Wayne Jeffrey, a guitar instructor at Renaissance.
At the end of the Great Hall, high above the Yankees’ team store, lies a gargantuan high-definition video screen. In between the screen and the main entrance at Gate 4 was a classically designed tribute to Yankees history, photos of the many greats that played in pinstripes.
Lenny Caro, president and C.E.O. of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, who worked with the Yankees and New York City to make this building a reality, praised the effort in creating jobs during tough economic times. The cynical outlook is that while Johnny Six Figures can afford the best seats and enjoy the luxurious aspects of the new Stadium, Joe Lunch Pail can use the experience of being in the building as a suspension of disbelief.
“It’s hard, I’m not going to say it’s not,” Caro said. “The average guy is not going to come to 10 games a year. He may come to four or five. We need to forget. We get up every morning, put on the news and you’re depressed in two minutes. If you can get a little sunshine for that day, take advantage of it.”
A couple of notable quotes from Hal Steinbrenner, who met the media after Joe Girardi:
On selling a beautiful, but pricey experience during an economic recession:
“We understand a lot of our fans are struggling. This is the worst recession in most of our lifetimes. At the same time, I think baseball has always been an escape for people. What we’re going to provide here is an unbelievable experience for thousands and thousands of our fans. Despite the troubles they’re going through right now, maybe they’ll be able to get away for two or three hours and get their mind off things. We’re going to make that experience tremendous. We see that as our role. We provide entertainment and we’re going to do it right.”
On the perception that the new Yankee Stadium is a splashy and gaudy endeavor being marketed during a terribly tough time for New York City:
“We started building this two years ago and there is no doubt times were different. I don’t see this as ostentatious or flashy. I see this as classy. We did our best to bring all the tradition this great franchise has had the last century into this ballpark and at the same time make it as nice as we can for our fans. If some people want to call it flashy, so be it. I just think this building is classy and will be here a long, long time.
On whether Joe Girardi will be on the hot seat if the Yankees fail to reach the playoffs:
“I haven’t even thought about it. As far as I’m concerned we’re going to make the playoffs. Our fans expect that every year and we expect that every year; my dad expects that every year. This like that, we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it, but I’m not expecting that at all.”
On whether anything less than a World Series is letting the fans down:
“I can sit up here and say if we don’t win a World Series, we’ve let our fans down. I will stand up here and say that because that’s the mentality of everybody in this organization.”
I’ll have much more on these expectations in my 2009 Yankee Season Preview running this weekend.
Some quick press box nuances before I head down:
In the old place, the writer’s work room and dining area were in the basement, which means you had to take an elevator to and from the press box before and after games. Here, everything is in one spot. The dining room, called Sheppard’s Place after the legendary Bob Sheppard, is across the media working area. From there, a private press elevator takes you downstairs to the clubhouses.
The team is working out down before a select group of about 1,000 fans. I’ll be back later with more observations and a separate diary on reactions from Yankees players.
A colleague and friend said it best: “Today is the happiest day of the year.” (Unless the Yankees win the World Series, that is.)
On the field, in the clubhouse and in the stands, the new Yankee Stadium has everyone at a fever pitch, making it easy to forget that the Yankees still have two games left on their exhibition schedule. There are questions that are overlooked, but not to be ignored:
How long will this freshness, this newness, last? How helpful will a private chef, whirlpools, lap top kiosks affixed in every locker and that incredibly large (100 feet wide and nearly 60 feet tall) Diamond Vision be during the dog days of summer and that inevitable losing streak? This same colleague noted Nick Swisher in the dugout laughin
g with the enthusiasm of a child celebrating a birthday and Christmas on the same day. Will Swisher’s infectious personality help lift this team through the dark days and stop losing streaks before they grow exponentially out of hand?
That’s for another day. Dry runs are set for tomorrow night and Saturday afternoon, and Swisher already picked up on a nuance different from across the street: the wind. Even though this place is one block away and facing the same direction, balls hit into the outfield was moving more towards the right.
A preview of the 2009 World Series’ deciding game? Just wondering ….
The blending of today and tomorrow with yesterday is the essence of the new Yankee Stadium. Tony Morante is the Director of Stadium Tours and the team’s resident historian who made his first trip to the original building in 1949.
“They showed that you can put a frieze up with the lights,” Morante said. “And that was a problem we had moving from 1975 into 1976 when the Stadium reopened. They determined they couldn’t do it because it would have been too heavy. This brings back April of 1923 once again. That’s our signature, the signature of Yankee Stadium. That’s the crown that makes it so special.”
Morante and his group are working on getting all 26 championship banners ready for Opening Day on April 16, weather permitting.
“These banners are so fragile, they’ve been pushed aside for 35 years now,” Morante said. “After having them properly restored, they’re still experiencing a lot of oxidation and it’s going to be very difficult for them to weather a lot of storm.”
Thanks for reading everyone. I’m back later with a new entry detailing some great anecdotes from the players, with one, Derek Jeter, looking ahead to the inevitable dismantling of the venerable facility across the street.