El Bronx, NY: I have a real problem understanding these new Yankee fans. I say new because the old fans I know would never leave the stadium until the fat lady really sings, or until the cleaning crew arrives. These Yankee fans were leaving the stadium as early as the 6th inning when they were losing by just two runs. By the seventh inning it looked as if someone had yelled, “FIRE” as thousands of fans were rushing to the gates.
Being a sports executive and journalist who lives and who has grown up in the very shadows of the old and now new stadium makes me a sort of expert on fans. A true Yankee fan does not leave his team even if they are losing by 10 runs. I remember a game the Yankees were losing way back when I was a kid by exactly that many runs. I believe it might have been the Twins. I and many other fans refused to leave the stadium. The Yankees came back in the last innings to win that game. Perhaps that experience has stayed in my mind and makes me critical of these fans that leave early. I know for a fact that many of my friends who are also Yankee fans would not leave the stadium early because the Yankees are loosing. In fact, that is when the players need the most encouragement. That is when they need that extra burst of confidence and energy to make the miracles of the game occur, that is why baseball is special it’s a game that a true fan experiences every single pitch, just like the player, manager and coach.
I think it was a shame that in this crucial game three of the ALCS the majority of the fans lost hope faster than Rangers closer Neftali Feliz 100 mph fastball. I really believe that fans can make a difference in a game. That is the whole psychology of the “home field advantage.” If your team is down in the ninth a real fan should stay glued to his seat until that last pitch because in baseball it’s not over until that last out in the ninth.
In the seventh inning I went outside the stadium to see for myself why so many fans were leaving? Perhaps the majority of them were tourist from other countries who didn’t understand the game goes on for nine innings, not seven like softball?
I stopped a few fans and asked them why they were leaving and here is some of what they had to say.
David from Brooklyn told me “The Yankees are going to lose so why stay? I rather leave now and beat the rush hour traffic.”
Alex from Long Island told me, “I have a long drive home.” I asked, “What if the Yankees pull off a comeback victory, wouldn’t you want to be present? Alex answered, I’ll hear the rest of the game on radio on my way home.” I quickly realized that these were not real Yankee fans; these were what the guys on the block call “wanna-be fans.” These are just like tourists who come to the stadium to be “in,” to say that they were there. I’m sure that none of these “fans” would wait on a line for over 36 hours like many of us did in our day to buy a tickets because if they would I know that they would not leave until the last out.
That is the main problem. The majority of those that left the stadium do not live in the surrounding community. Those fans that leave early when their team is down are more concerned about beating the traffic than whether their team wins or not. So here is my solution, make it easier for the true loyal community fans that surround the stadium to come to these games. Just like when I was a kid and the guards would let many of us enter the stadium for free after the fifth inning. This would be good for the team so that when a Yankee batter is facing an opposing pitcher he can hear the roar of the loyal fans just like if it was the first inning. That roar might be the missing ingredient to make another miracle happen just like the many I saw growing up in the stadium.
If anything the stadium would still look packed on TV and the world will see how the Yankees have loyal fans that stay no matter what.