The Yankees organization is proficient at a great many activities, including but not limited to baseball, commerce, press conferences, self-aggrandizing and seventh-inning patriotism. They are not, it appears, especially proficient at data-mining or customer relationship marketing.
I arrived at this conclusion earlier in the month when I received an e-mail from the team thanking me for my "recent inquiry" about "Premium Offering" seating opportunities (note the CAPS) at the new Yankee Stadium. As an interested party, I was invited to tour the new facilities, either on site or at a midtown New York "Preview Center."
|Yes sir, the Yankees experience sure got an upgrade. (Getty Images)|
Nonetheless, field trips are fun and I'm having trouble going cold turkey on baseball in the wake of the World Series. So I called the number in the e-mail and set up a time to visit the new joint. My appointment was set for last Friday. I was advised to wear hard-soled shoes; I had been unaware that there was any other kind. Is there a slippers epidemic plaguing our nation's construction sites?
I went as a fan and as a customer, but promised myself that I'd reveal what I do for a living. We don't practice gotcha! Journalism here at CBS, except when it comes to asking Vice Presidential candidates whether they've read anything more involved than a menu.
I did, however, want to look the part. I located a shirt with buttons and traded in my sweats for a garment covering each leg separately and extending from the waist to the ankle (the technical term for such a garment is "pants").
And so it was that I found myself waiting in the lobby of the old Yankee Stadium at five to 10 on a chilly Friday morning. In November, amazingly, there's more bustle around the Yankees than there is in mid-August at a Marlins home game. Tour groups snaked around the building on the third-to-last day they were offered, even with Monument Park already packed up and relocated across the street.
Brian Cashman darted across the lobby and into an elevator, responding to the security guard's "Hey Cash, what's the good word?" with a quick "Thunderbird." This, I later learned, was a cheap-hooch ad back in the 1950s. Gotta love Cashman.
My would-be ticket genie arrived a few minutes later. He greeted me warmly and handed me a "Yankees Premium" brochure, which featured bright renderings of the new facility printed on plywood-thick paper.
I was asked to don a plastic construction helmet adorned with a Yankees logo (which would've afforded no more protection from falling debris than a robust toupee) and sign a waiver of liability. Giddy with anticipation, I signed without reading it. As a result, I surrendered my rights to sue if I found myself on the receiving end of a scaffolding collapse, and possibly to criticize Jeter's defense.
As we trotted from one building to the next, we chatted about the AL East, about the mass-transit station under construction across the way, about the not-yet-officially-a-recession recession (he said ticket sales have been brisk, not that he'd have admitted otherwise).
My guide flashed security credentials -- good luck getting past the gates without express permission, unless you're a Steinbrenner or a ninja -- and we shuffled onto the promenade just outside the building.
It was at this point, when he abandoned our easy conversation and went into a programmed spiel about the Premium Offering amenities, that I expected the humor-cum-outrage potential to bloom.