Commentary

Trouble at the House that George Built

Originally Published: April 28, 2009
By Tim Keown | Page 2

This whole Yankee Stadium story is just too good. The $1.5 billion stadium turns out to be a ridiculous little bandbox that makes every day seem like Wrigley with 30 mph gusts blowing out to center.

They've thought of everything to explain the 20 homers the Indians and Yankees combined to hit in the first four games (26 in the first six), but here's one I haven't heard: all those empty seats behind home plate. Maybe it's creating an unintended vortex.

Yankee Stadium
Nick Laham/Getty ImagesTBD by Editorial

I watched an afternoon game between the Yankees and A's last Wednesday, and the first 10 rows from dugout to dugout looked like they were closed. There was the random straggler down there, learning the hard way that a $2,500 seat doesn't buy companionship, but for the most part it looked like a Pirates home game. In a rainstorm.

It's not like the Yankees didn't consider the possibilities when it came to constructing the park. When you've got $1.5 billion to work with, you'd better. They hired an engineering firm -- as part of the $1.5 billion -- to study wind currents and the like.

Now they've hired another firm to do the same thing. How perfect is that? Are they going to tear it down if the new group of aeronautical engineers determines the dimensions to be unplayable? Will the Yankees ever get another free-agent pitcher?

The best description of the new park came from Ben McGrath of The New Yorker, who described the Yankees' Opening Day home collapse as "a moral smiting of the fools who spent one and a half billion dollars to build a replica of the world's most famous ballpark across the street from the perfectly serviceable real thing, and then stuffed it with Mohegan Sun Sports Bars and Jim Beam Suite Lounges, on the eve of the steepest recession in decades."

And as we all know, there aren't enough aeronautical engineering firms in the hemisphere to fix that.

This Week's List

You can be happy for him and sorry for him at the same time: Darrius Heyward-Bey, chosen in typically absurd Raider fashion with the No. 7 pick in the draft.

If Darrius doesn't know this, he will soon: The autumn wind is a Raider.

Before the 49ers get fitted for Super Bowl rings because they got Michael Crabtree with the 10th pick, consider this: Crabtree is going from an offense at one extreme -- Mike Leach's Texas Tech uber-spread -- to another: Mike Singletary's comprehensive array of dive plays.

Watch it, Al Davis is going to sue for libel: At least one prominent online publication listed Steelers draft pick Mike Wallace, from Mississippi, as "the fastest wide receiver in the draft."

At some point, it just becomes bragging: KFC has chicken and corn?

Comparisons are easy in sports, but rarely do you find one that works this well: A's rookie pitcher Trevor Cahill and Brandon Webb.

By the way: Since every pitcher who throws a good sinker is nasty, why don't more guys throw it?

One guy who always looks like he's about to either cry or hit someone, and sometimes both: Brad Miller.

Maybe it's the failed hitter in me, but here's one guy who looks like he should never give up a hit: Justin Masterson.

Just for the heck of it: Aurelio Rodriguez.

Selling yourself while you're selling yourself: USC's Clay Matthews won the unofficial award for the crassest draft pick, sitting around with his buddies in T-shirts advertising a protein drink while bottles of said protein drink sat on the coffee table in front of them.

And, in sharp contrast: Florida State's Everette Brown, sitting there in a sharp suit and tie, with his college helmet in the background, projecting the classy look.

But alas: Projecting that look far longer than he anticipated.

How past performance affects perception, Part I: The Patriots are feted and honored for drafting a wide receiver -- Brandon Tate of UNC -- in the third round despite knee-ligament damage that might put him on the physically unable to perform list for the whole season.

The question I have is simple: Has anybody else even tried? San Jose State defensive end Jarron Gilbert, drafted by the Bears, received much attention for his athletic ability because of a YouTube video that shows him jumping out of a swimming pool.

Apparently Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both passed on this guy in the first round: Arizona offensive tackle Eben Britton was unhappy about being drafted in the second round, and he voiced his displeasure by saying "If one of those draft guys lined up across from me, they'd be dead, so that's not really something I'm concerned with. If you want to line up across from Eben Britton, you're going to know what's happening to you, I guarantee you that."

You know what's funny? The last time McShay lined up against Britton's new teammate Eugene Monroe, he had no idea what was happening to him.

How past performance affects perception, Part II: The Raiders, ripped for just about everything.

And finally, if you're an executive at Talladega, you know it's a successful weekend when you can walk away Sunday night saying one thing: "Well, at least nobody died."

ESPN The Magazine senior writer Tim Keown co-wrote Josh Hamilton's autobiography, "Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back," which is available on Amazon.com. Sound off to Tim here.

Tim Keown | email

ESPN Senior Writer

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