It is 72 degrees and sunny in Vallejo, CA today. According to idcide.com, the temperature rarely falls below 60 this time of year and you’re more likely to witness an earthquake than see more than an inch of rain fall in the month of October. Sounds like a nice place, right?
That’s where C.C. Sabathia grew up and there’s no question he’d rather be making his ALCS game one start in his hometown’s weather conditions. Instead, the biggest start of his career will come tonight at Yankee Stadium, where game time temperature will be somewhere around 40 degrees and rain is expected for the duration. It’s a night in which the game might normally be postponed, but the weather is expected to be worse the next few days and Major League Baseball doesn’t want to see the entire weekend washed away.
So the Yankees and Angels will meet in an environment more fit for playoff football, where the only people more miserable than the fans will be the players, who won’t be able to wear winter coats on the field. But while the Yankees have certainly played in colder weather, don’t expect the same October electricity that came from the crowd when the team was playing across the street. The energy that somehow managed to warm up the stadium on even the most frigid nights will be missing as more fans opt to watch the game from inside the bars, restaurants and gift shops instead of their almost-frozen over seats.
That’s been the problem with the new Yankee Stadium all along. It brought in a new crowd. A pretentious crowd. Because the team essentially priced out many of the diehard blue collar fans, the there are a lot less Bobby’s from Bronx and a lot more Robert’s from New Canaan attending games in the new stadium. There’s a good chance the crowd tonight will be as subdued as a tranquilized hospital patient.
If you couple the lack of excitement in the stadium with the fact that, like Sabathia, the majority of Yankees players grew up in much warmer surroundings, you have to wonder how much of a home-field advantage the team really has.
With the exception of Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, who have played plenty of October baseball in the northeast, the Yankees lineup is filled with guys who grow up in the south or in Latin America, where wind-chill is not in anyone’s vocabulary. It’s the same problem every team faces at the beginning of each season. Most guys aren’t slow starters because April is their unlucky month. It’s just that most parts of the country are still really cold in April.
Of course, the Angels have to deal with same elements. But they aren’t the home team. Their job is to steal one on the road in what should be a hostile environment. That won’t be the case tonight. The Yankee Stadium crowd will be more interested in putting on their snuggies than watching baseball and juggernaut Yankee offense might very well freeze over.
Good luck, C.C. So much for that advantage.