No one likes a bad roommate. They use all of your stuff, leave you without toilet paper and can really leave your apartment a mess if they don't clean up after themselves. Unfortunately, if you have a signed lease with these people, you're stuck. Is this the situation the Yankees have gotten themselves into by sharing their field with NYCFC of Major League Soccer? Should we be worried about the condition of the Yankee Stadium pitch moving forward?
In case you missed it last week, what got me thinking about this is that some Yankees are already complaining about this issue, most notably Mark Teixeira and Brendan Ryan. They said:
"It’s going to suck, but you have to deal with it. It’s going to tear up the infield, but there’s nothing we can do about it, so we’ll deal with it." - Teixeira
"You want to limit the amount of bounces, really. So I'm going to fall on the side of erring aggresively–much more so than staying back and trying to read some hop that's unpredictable." - Ryan
Now, I'm all for freedom of speech and self expression for everyone, but don't you wish Teixeira would just be quiet and focus on trying to keep his body together and his batting average out of the .220s? Also, the way Ryan's back is acting up again, and the way Jose Pirela's been playing, the only thing he might be erring aggressively on is when he tries to grab too many potato chips at once and drops them all on his couch come April. I feel like the only two guys who have vocally complained are two guys who might just be looking for excuses, whether it be for declining performance, or possible injuries ("When I look old and broken down next year, that's not my fault. It's all that damn soccer being played on our field!").
By my count, these two have never had to share a field (at least at the professional level) with any team from any other sport (save for some road games here and there), so how do they know it's going to suck? Field prep at the professional level is a little more advanced than it is in college or high school. If you ask Yankees President Randy Levine, he has nothing but faith in the crew's ability to maintain the field properly.
We spent a lot of time with a lot of people, including our stadium operations and grounds crew, who we think are best in the world. Man City, who are soccer experts, and their crew also advised us on how to keep the field in good shape."
I agree with Randy here. Let's have a little faith in the grounds crew. Dan Cunningham and his boys aren't gonna go out there with an Amazing Rake and a Pocket Hose to try to combat the strain the field will be under all season long. These are professionals, and truly among the best in the business (you have to to be able to maintain a field pristinely in the northeast, I think). They don't just sit around practicing the YMCA all day. Also, did everyone see how good the field looked for NYCFC's debut? The Daily News published overhead photos of the stadium a few days before the team's home opener against the New England Revolution, and it looked like a construction zone. By opening night, it looked pretty perfect. It even played well, with the only complaint being that it was a little dry. Overall the reviews were very positive.
Full disclosure here: I'm a great big soccer fan. I can't help it, I'm from Uruguay. It's what we do. I'm very happy to have a local team in MLS (which I basically became a fan of just last season). I plan on going to as many games as possible for both franchises this summer, and so I'll probably get a first-hand look at whether or not the field holds up. That being said, there are teams that share their baseball stadiums with NFL teams. I know soccer involves a lot of running up and down, but I have to believe American football puts a much bigger strain on a field. If the Raiders and Athletics can share a pitch, why can't the Yankees share one effectively with NYCFC? If anything, the soccer pitch is the one more affected by the sharing, because half the field needs to be covered in dirt for baseball to be played on it.
I'm not really worried about this being an issue all season long. I think people saw the way the pitch looked when Liverpool played at The Stadium this summer and got scared, but it will be different for a full season of games. I'm convinced that the grounds crew is one of the best (even though when you google them, all you get is results for that time against the Rangers last year when it took them 14 minutes to get a tarp on during a flash storm), and they will put a plan into action that will keep the field pristine for both sports all summer long. I'm certainly not worried about what Teixeira and Ryan have to say about it. At this point, they have a lot more to worry about than a little soccer being played on the field.
So what say you, Pinstripers?