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Imperfect Game

The Yankees’ unrealistic self-image.

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Last week, the Yankees, worried less about appearing greedy than about having empty seats visible on every telecast, cut the prices of their most expensive “Legends Suite” tickets from $2,500 to $1,250 (the Suite comprises the 25 sections closest to the field). The Post reported two days later that tickets were available on the StubHub resale clearinghouse for about $600, an amount you can’t imagine the Yankees ever lowering themselves to matching. These are the Giuliani seats, the commissioner seats, the visiting-dignitary seats! The Yankees overshot, and they’re wrong to blame things on the tanking economy. I know. I’ve experienced the Legends Suite.

Thanks to a friend of a friend—neither of them in the mob or working for the Yankees (or both!), I swear—I ended up behind third base in Legends Suite 26, Row 2, Seat 5, for the first Sunday game at the new stadium, a 7-3 win over the Indians. (Post-reduction, seats in this row cost $900.) They are great seats—and wouldn’t be worth the price if they allowed you to pinch-hit. The team nonetheless gave us the hard sell. A friendly woman named Muggsie corralled us the minute we walked in and demanded we take a “tour of the amenities.” There were plenty, I suppose: a bathroom with fancy toilets, all the “free” food I could handle (there’s something uniquely decadent about ordering sushi from your seat at a ball game), and an usher who wipes water off your seat before you sit down, even if there is no water.

Of course, my row was almost empty; if Derek Jeter had leapt into our section to catch a foul ball, he’d have had a face full of metal, not flesh. (For once.) Even with the price cut, they’re still overcharging. The Legends Suite is the nadir of the notion that Yankee Stadium is a sacred cathedral unrivaled in importance by any other location on Earth. While the team has a right to be proud of its illustrious history, it is still, in the end, selling tickets to baseball games—with all the beer-sticky aisles, cheesy get-hyped music, and local-business scoreboard promotions that entails. And there’s nothing wrong with those things. (Well, in moderation.) They’re part of the charm of seeing a game, even for rich people who can afford good seats. The Yankees seem convinced they have to offer a new class of entertainment transcendence, failing to appreciate their own success in building a nice new stadium where fans can watch a very-good-to-excellent baseball team.

It’s a lost cause. The unattainably perfect, “classy” image the Yankees try to create is inevitably going to be undermined by the very kind of constant fan/media scrutiny their marketing blitz encourages. Last week, when A-Rod descended further into his PR abyss, was a perfect case. Maybe 50 years ago he could have been a confused, erratic louse off the field and no one would have found out. We know now what he’s up to; we know how the sausage is made—and while most of us still love the sport anyway, the Yankees are trying to make us pretend otherwise and pay for the privilege.

There are things in life worth $2,500, but a seat behind home plate isn’t one of them. It’s just a great place to spend a night at the ballpark. Shouldn’t that be enough?

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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