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April 13, 2010

The Stadium

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

If God is smiling today, then I believe it has nothing to do with the New York Yankees.

Today the New York Yankees open up their home schedule with a series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (or whatever their calling themselves this year). Before the game started, the Yankees received their 2009 World Series rings and former Yankee Bernie Williams threw out the first pitch. Handing diamond-studded rings to millionaires is fine and dandy, but the most heartwarming moment came right at the start of the ceremony. Longtime Yankees’ trainer Gene Monahan was the first member of the staff to be introduced. As he jogged out to get his World Series ring from manager Joe Girardi, you could hear the roar of the crowd growing. Monahan has been battling an undisclosed illness that has kept him away from the team for most of the springtime. Even the most cold hearted anti-Yankees fan should have choked up as the crowd stood on their feet to salute Gene. As a Yankees fan, that singular moment made this is a good Opening Day, win or lose.

Not that I’ve had time to watch this “event.” Instead, I’ve listened to a good chunk of the game, first while driving around, and then second, while in the church office. I’ve always felt sorry for Susyn Waldman, the radio color commentator for the Yankees. It appears to me that the only reason she is in the radio booth is to read commercials and give the scores. She is so much better than an ad woman. Today is no different. She deserves a better gig.

Listening to a radio news report about opening day, the reporter interviewed a fan who talked about being in the “cathedral” this afternoon.

No, it is not a cathedral. Yankee Stadium is a ball park whose one objective is to get fans to spend a lot of money to help the Yankees’ bottom line. It is not a cathedral. This is a giant ballpark whose one and only motivation is to sell stuff to Yankees fans. There are ads all over the ballpark — on the outfield walls, on the overhangs, behind home plate. Everything in that place is for sale. Even on television and radio, pre-game and post game shows are sponsored. And don’t get me started about the sponsorships of pitching changes, home runs, and even the booth Sterling and Waldman sit in (that one  is sponsored by Lowe’s). AT&T is the official cellular company of the Yankees, which makes me wonder if someone can make a call on their iPhone from Yankee Stadium. Everything at that place is bought and paid for, and no Yankees fan should be happy that.

And then there are those seats between first and third base right near the field, the “thousands of dollars per game” cushioned seat area. Last year, the Yankees couldn’t sell them out, even after lowering the prices. Something nudges me to believe that they haven’t sold them out this season as well. Maybe they should sell sponsorships for each seat so they could make a few extra pennies.

Yankee Stadium, circa 2010, is all about the money.

It’s not a cathedral. It’s a cash register.

And God has nothing to do with it.

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