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It sounded like Joe Buck was just being his normally smug self when he noticed the Yankee Stadium fans making some noise in the top of the third inning and remarked, "And at 9:04 the crowd showed up."
Okay, so it was a bit smug, but you can't blame Buck for paying attention to the fact that there wasn't much life in the stands over the first two nights of the World Series. Buck wasn't the only one who noticed that the atmosphere in the Bronx wasn't everything that it used to be in the past. One Phillies outfielder told Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that he heard "crickets" from the infamous bleacher creatures, and shortstop Jimmy Rollins also remarked on the tepid crowd response.
"I was expecting some of that [Philadelphia rowdiness] here, but it was very tame and civilized, really. You only had one big cheer, and that was on home runs."
If the Series gets back to the Bronx for Games 6 and 7, Rollins's comments may ensure a far less civilized gathering. Like Buck, though, that doesn't mean that he doesn't have a point about the crowd during the first two games. It would be a lie to say that there was ever a rollicking atmosphere on Wednesday or Thursday, something Rollins attributed to the expensive Legends seats down front. Nothing new there, since the uber-expensive field-level seats have long been derided for sterilizing the experience of coming to play at Yankee Stadium.
There's a pretty big caveat here, though, which is that the Yankees were playing from behind for most of the first two games. Once the Phillies took the lead on Thursday night, the prospect of falling behind 2-0 was clearly creating tension for Yankees fans and that seemed to serve to take the fans out of the game. That may feel different from the old place, but, despite what the commercials tell you, crowds didn't view every deficit as a lead waiting to happen at the old place either. I remember being in the stands for Game 5 of the 2001 World Series when it took Paul O'Neill's departure from Yankee Stadium's right field for the final time in the top of the ninth inning to energize a crowd that was mostly silent as the Diamondbacks held a two-run lead.
From personal experience, I can report that Games 1 and 6 of the ALCS featured fully involved fans who were making noise at all levels of the park, just as they were in the second half of the regular season, so it's not like the new place isn't capable of generating any excitement. Maybe it isn't up to the levels we're used to from past playoff runs or maybe there are just more people going because it's the thing to do in October, but the Yankees were 57-24 at home this season and are 6-1 in the playoffs so it isn't like less noise is resulting in fewer victories.
And we'll find out this weekend if rowdiness equals victories for the Phillies, or if the sound from the seats is just another discussion point with little bearing on the games at hand.