I went to see the Yankees play the Red Sox on Monday night, and boy, was that depressing. Part of it was that the Yankees were down, 2-0, after half an inning, then 6-0 after two, and 7-1 after three. The team looked flat and lifeless and just like they didn’t really care very much that a) they’re playing the Red Sox, b) they shouldn’t be getting crushed by a bad, last place team; c) they are technically still in the playoff hunt, and d) they should win it for the Jetes.
(Also, Mike Napoli—time to lose the beard. There’s nothing lamer than continuing a trend when it’s long over.)
So that was kind of a drag.
But perhaps worse was the overall experience. I was invited by a corporate box holder—you know who you are, and thank you very much—but I always have mixed feelings about watching sports events from boxes. You feel strangely disconnected from the game; watching it seems a not-particularly-essential option. And indeed, most of the attendees were inside chatting, eating the free food (sliders and chicken fingers? Come on, Yankees, you can do better), drinking beers. It’s hard to get into the game when most people clearly don’t give a damn; you feel a bit silly cheering. Or, when a Red Sox hitter hitting under .200 hits a massive home run over the 385 mark in center-right, booing.
And then there’s the technology issue. One couple left the box interior, briefly, to sit next to me in the open-air seats. They sat down as the Yankees were hitting in the bottom of the third and promptly began taking selfies. Look! Here I am, recording something that I’m not actually experiencing! With their backs to the field, they completely missed Martine Prado’s rocket home run to left field. Eventually they recognized that the crowd was cheering, and they turned around. “What happened?”
You could see versions of this playing out throughout the stands. Between innings the Yankees like to flash close-ups of fans on the scoreboard. At one point they showed a family whose members included a boy who looked to be about ten. He was so engrossed in texting that he didn’t even realize he was on the scoreboard. Whoops! Too late. All around—people texting, checking their email, calling friends. It sucks the energy out of the experience; it undermines the idea that you’re there to participate in something communal, something which is more fun because you’re all in it together; it prioritizes the individual over the crowd.
Don’t even get me started about concerts.
I have two young children. The Yankees were losing badly and clearly not going to come back; all around me people were not particularly paying attention to the game (a lot of the people in the box I was in weren’t even fans).
I left after four innings, and I didn’t feel guilty about it.
But technology is complicated, right? As I left the Stadium, I considered taking the subway down to Grand Central, then hopping on my commuter train to Westchester and picking up my car at the train station. Probably an hour and a half proposition. It was a hot night; I was tired. Screw that. I called an Uber car. Within a minute, I was picked up by a very nice guy driving a brand new Suburban. (Not so great on the gas, I grant you.) We had a good chat; he was from the DR, was clearing about $1300 a week with Uber, and he DJed at Harlem clubs on weekends. So that was kind of inspiring—some good things about America there. We listened to the game on his radio, agreed that the Yankees were infuriating, and he dropped me off at my car in 35 minutes. Not too shabby. I recognize the contradictions—abandoning the communal experience of public transportation for a private ride—but trust me, there’s nothing very special about Metro North at 10 PM.
Meanwhile, the Yankees beat the Sox last night, 5-1. I’m not getting my hopes up.