Talk about some costly mistakes
Thursday, August 27, 2009
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
From the available satellite photography and myriad other sources, the new Cowboys Stadium appears as though it could double as the spacecraft in the new film "District 9", which concerns itself most urgently with alien relocation.
Not sure that alien relocation is what's going on in Texas as a general condition, but they are in one sense relocating a certain previously alien species of football fan, specifically the kind of fan that is willing to enter an $800,000 luxury suite and then (and only then) pay $90 for a cheese pizza.
That's right, cheese. No toppings.
What, they can't afford toppings?
Give 'em mushrooms for an additional $22.
Among all the snarky possibilities of a classical snarkfest of a summer, none are so fertile in the area of smug proletariat enjoyment as what has become of the new Yankee Stadium, a $1.5 billion edifice that can't hold the baseball, and now to Cowboys Stadium, a $1.2 billion vulgarity with a $40 million center-hung display board that blocks punts.
I know, for $40 million, it should not only be blocking punts, it should be dating Jessica Simpson.
So has that Cash for Clunkers program finally expired, or are Jerry Jones and the Steinbrenners not too late?
Jones' problem is fully of his own making, as football has thrived in America for more than a century without anyone suspending a 160-by-71-foot potential obstruction directly over the playing surface, as Jones has in Dallas. But the need for such a video monolith is really quite instructive when you think about it. Here is a $1.2 billion stadium, presumably with optimal viewing for the live action to which it owes its existence, that somehow needs a mammoth high-def video display of the same action just to keep its $90 pizza-eating audience fully entertained in lieu of mushrooms.
Don't tell me it's not a great country.
In 2009 apparently, if it is not happening in high def, it is not really happening.
In fairness, Jones and his organization had done the required research, using lasers to depict and calculate the varying arcs of various kicked pig bladders and deciding to hang the world's largest four-sided LED board right there 90 feet above the playing field. The NFL, even though no such potential impediment exists elsewhere, somehow has a rule that 85 feet is the minimum.
Enter one A.J. Trapasso, free-agent punter, Tennessee Titans.
A.J. stepped into one in the Cowboys' first home preseason game and clunked it off what was called "the undercarriage" of the giant LED board. The undercarriage? Did they get the rustproofing?
Jones immediately said that such a thing would never happen in a regular-season game, I guess because, as we all know, regular-season punts never achieve the altitude of preseason punts, especially from free agents.
Incredibly, Jones got an official Cowboys corporate communications whiz to back him up on that.
"We believe in a competitive game," said Brett Daniels, "the height of the board will not be a factor."
OK, I'll stop rolling my eyes if you will.
The Dallas Morning News, God bless 'em, called up two physicists to calculate the likelihood of the Trapasso punt stunt happening on or after Sept. 20, when the Cowboys open the home schedule against the New York Giants. The first physicist said not likely, the second said likely often. These guys should have been economists.
Meanwhile, at least two members of the NFL competition committee, Titans coach Jeff Fisher and Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian, think the giant display board should be moved.
I'm sure Jones would love to have both those guys down to help him move it. It weighs 85 tons.
Jones then told a Dallas radio station that, "it's not a new deal for kickers to adjust to the conditions they're playing in."
Those are natural conditions Jerry. Not partly cloudy with winds out of the southwest and a 100 percent chance of an 85-ton video board.
There is, it seems, far less culpability when it comes to the Yankees, the corporation that brought you the first $200 million player payroll and the first $2,500 box seat.
No one appears to be able to say definitively why the new Yankee Stadium is yielding more homers than any venue in baseball and at a rate about 50 percent higher than the old Yankee Stadium. The 3.14 homers per game that exit the yard there according to Hit Tracker.com are nearly twice as many as leave Progressive Field in Cleveland. Some social scientists have pointed out that this discrepancy exists largely because Yankee Stadium houses the Yankees while Progressive Field has the Indians, which is apt, but there is more at work.
No less an authority than His Holiness himself, by which I mean Peter Gammons, has reported that players call the new yard in the Bronx the biggest joke in baseball, which I'm guessing still includes the Pirates.
Accuweather claims the blizzard of homers is related to the curvature of the right-field wall (the direction in which most of the increase has occurred) and the height of it as wall.
Pitchers have claimed the existence of a jet-stream effect, which appears to have gathered some credibility with the revelation that the right-field line is on more of a direct east-west line than the previous one, and that weather systems are therefore carrying the ball farther.
In any event, it's just disappointing to see people spend most of $3 billion on two playpens and not get exactly what they want.
Gene Collier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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("In fairness, Jones and his organization had done the required research, using lasers to depict and calculate the varying arcs of various kicked pig bladders and deciding to hang the world's largest four-sided LED board right there 90 feet above the playing field. " Lasers!!!???? A laser beam travels in a straight line. How the hell would you use a laser to represent an arcing football? - mesa)