If the Yankees don’t extend their streak of 13 straight postseason appearances this year, it won’t just be the players missing out on the playoff glory.
Many area residents are upset that the team appears to be going out with a whimper in its final season in historic Yankee Stadium. For local businesses, the Bombers’ swoon has a lot more than an emotional wallop.
“When the Yankees win, everybody is happy and makes more money,” said Alvin Williams, 55, an employee at Ball Park Lanes Bar and Restaurant, across the street from Yankee Stadium. “When they lose, it affects the entire Bronx.”
Out at Home
While local businesses have benefited from the hoopla surrounding Yankee Stadium’s final season, the American League East standings suggest the House That Ruth Built has probably seen its last playoff game.
“It will affect our hours. When the Yankees are doing good, we stay open late,” said Mohammed Ali, 42, manager of the Banana Deli on 161st Street. “We’ll stay open until one a.m. if the game runs long.”
Ali already has been forced to close early a few times recently due to lack of business.
“We close early if they are playing bad,” he said.
Businesses like Ali’s are going to have to depend more on local residents and workers, many of whom are as upset as he is by the team’s mediocre showing.
The dismay has stemmed from more than just the Yankees’ sub par play. Some fans are unhappy with the team’s planned move to a new stadium that’s rising on Macomb’s Dam Park.
“Yankee Stadium is where Babe Ruth and [Joe] DiMaggio played ball,” said Barbara Ryan, a 55-year-old lawyer from the Bronx. “Macomb’s Dam Park is where I played ball.”
Ryan attends games with her boss, a season ticket holder for nearly 25 years. She attributes the team’s decline to more than injuries and bad breaks.
“I think the ghosts of Yankee Stadium are [angry],” said Ryan.
Bruce Dain, who lives and works near the ballpark, has made his cubicle at Bronx Supreme Court a souvenir-filled Yankees shrine. A Yankees bracelet adorns his wrist and a pinstriped home jersey hangs over the back of his chair. But whatever magic he may have enjoyed as a good luck charm has worn off.
“The stadium’s known for championships,” said Dain, 50, an associate court clerk. “It’s a very disappointing letdown.”
Joe Bastone has lived and died with the Yankees – emotionally and financially – most of his 50 years.
The Bronx native started working at the Yankee Tavern as a 10-year-old busboy. Now he owns the joint, which is bracing for a tough October.
“You lose a lot if you lose the playoffs,” Bastone said. “I could lose about 10 percent of my normal business as compared to a year when they go all the way to the World Series.
“It means a lot of money for the area,” he added. “Businesses will have to staff differently. There will be less jobs for bartenders and servers, less tips.”
Still, business has been good for the Yankee Tavern this season. Baseball fans from all over have flocked to the area to bid goodbye to the ballpark. The Bombers are on pace to draw more than 4.2 million this season, and could break their American League attendance record.
“There is excitement,” said Bastone. “It’s being treated like a museum around here. Lots of people have been coming for tours, many more than normal.”
Abdul Abbadi, 31, an employee at Yankee Souvenir, has benefited from the nostalgia boom. “It’s been so emotional around the stadium this year,” said the South Bronx resident. “Mickey Mantle is our best selling jersey right now. At the start of the season it was A-Rod, but now it’s Mantle.”
But nostalgia alone certainly isn’t enough to get demanding Yankee fans through the pinstripe-free postseason.
Declared Max Perez, 28, an electrician from the Bronx, “I’m on the verge of going to the Mets.”