PRESS BOX SNOB
“I don’t know about you any more,” the Fellow Author said. “All that stuff you write from the press box. Geez.”
I looked at him. We were at Yankee Stadium before one of the games in last week’s Yanks-Toronto series, waiting on line at one of those “Beers of the World” stands. where he buys his schmaltzy expensive brews.
“‘Geez’?” I said. “Whaddya mean geez?”
“I thought you were supposed to be a fan. One of us. Not some hack with a press pass. That’s what made your column different from the rest.”
“You telling me it isn’t different anymore?”
“I’m tellin’ you any clown can write that kinda junk.” He gave me a reproachful look, nodding in the box’s general direction. “Like I said, I dunno. Lately with you everything’s pressbox, this pressbox that … I’ve got a feeling you’ve turned into a press box snob.”
I frowned. “You’re kidding, right?”
“A press box snob,” he repeated, shaking his head.
I looked at him, feeling guilty. Never mind that this was all coming from a guy who’d made us walk halfway around the Stadium because a domestic beer wasn’t good enough for his very special taste buds.
“You’ve got the wrong idea,” I said. “I’m just trying to give some perspective from the clubhouse and…”
“Blah, blah, blah.” He paid for his beer. “Just wait and see. Pretty soon, you won’t even want to hang around with paying customers like me. What am I gonna tell my son? He used to respect you.”
“You mean he doesn’t any more?”
“All I’m sayin’ is he might not in the near future if this keeps up,” The Fellow Author said. “And by the way, you gave us lousy directions to the Garlic Fries place last time we were here.”
I blinked. “Look … how about I buy you an Italian sausage?
“Maybe later — and you’re gonna want to make sure it’s got everything on it.” He paid for his beer, started toward the Carvel stand, noticed I was lagging behind. “Thought you wanted that vanilla helmet cup.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
I’d stopped dead, looking at the menu above the Carvel stand. “It’s, like, six bucks.”
“So in the press box we have an ice-cream machine. With chocolate, vanilla and black-and-white swirl … and a stack of cups on the side…”
The Fellow Author shook his head in disgust.
“Press box snob,” he muttered, tossing back some beer.
I hate to say it, but I’ve soured on Disco Stu. Those of you who can get down to the Stadium know this is the white-haired guy with the shades who dances in the aisle between innings. Usually he’s wearing something flamboyant — a jacket or T-shirt, depending on the weather. Sometimes he gets the people around him to dance too.
I was a big fan of the guy once upon a time. This was back when he was still an anonymous dancer. The camera would land on him, and he’d be in a groove, and everybody watching on the big video board would get a kick out of it.
I guess it was maybe a year ago when he got his tag — there he was dancing with his moniker right up on the bottom of the screen. Disco Stu. Now all of a sudden, he’s a celebrity. I actually heard some German-speaking tourists talking about him on a night when he hadn’t even made an appearance, like they were waiting to see him. Like he’s suddenly an official Yankee Stadium attraction. Trouble.
The thing about Stu is that he used to be spontaneous. He’d dress for himself. If the Yanks were losing, he’d dance less enthusiastically than when they were winning. Sometimes he wouldn’t be dancing at all when the camera found him.
Now he’s waiting for his face time. His garish tees have often given way to shirts with designer logos on them . . . Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, and so on. The homer spirit has been leached out of his moves, which have frankly gotten stale. And he seems equally dance crazy during wins and losses, which bugs me the most. You have to wonder if fame has gotten to his head.
I didn’t want to be the first to say it. I know it’s going to be controversial. But the truth is the truth.
Disco Stu is mailing it in.
It’s time the Bleacher Creatures stopped hogging all the glory at the Stadium. They’re still great fans, and they do a mean roll call. However, the reality is that they, like Stu, aren’t quite what they used to be. They are living largely on reputation, on the stats on the back of their cards. But they are no longer producing the way they used to.
A few weeks ago, for example, I was at the ballpark and somebody sitting on the third base line started the Wave. It spread up to the terrace from the lower level seats and back toward the left field bleachers and then came around to the right field bleachers, where I figured the reliable Section 39ers, as we called them across the street, would be the human breakwater that put a merciful halt to it.
Instead, they joined in. They Waved. I couldn’t believe my eyes. What was happening to the world?
And then I realized it was okay. Like the old Yankee Stadium, the Bleacher Creatures’ light has dimmed. Their day is fading into dusk. But in the gloaming, something unexpected has happened. The people in Section 200 have risen to take their place.
And not by coincidence. These are the people who would have been one level closer to the field back in the old Stadium — many of them partial season ticket holders with seats in the once and former Main Box section. When the action moved over to the new place, what used to be Main Box seats turned into pricier Field Level seats that weren’t offered in the smaller partial plans. And the people who used to have those partial plans got relocated one level up onto the first deck’s Main Level seats. Which are more comparable to the old Loge seats, though you will hear they have better sightlines.
I won’t debate that now. What’s for sure is that you can always count on the Section 200 fans to get the place rocking. When Toronto manager Cito Gaston contested a Jorge Posada homer last week, it was Section 200 that started the “Home run!” chant. When the big board showed an announcement that it was Melky Cabrera’s twenty-fifth birthday, Melky could thank Section 200 for starting up the Happy Birthday song. Whenever the noise level ramps up, it’s Section 200 that’s making the biggest racket.
The rightfield Bleacher Creatures did a stalwart job back when they had their own entrance and couldn’t drink beer or leave their area. But now they’re behind those fancy planters and can go where they please, and have to live with being what they are rather than what they were.
Props to Section 200. It’s got the new best fans at Yankee Stadium.