The Bobble Head Fiasco
It was epic. It rivaled the White Sox Disco Demolition event without Hues Corporation records. And I was there last evening.
It is the Mariano Rivera Bobble head fiasco. Here’s my story…..all true with no exaggeration.
Last evening I went to the Yankees-Tampa game at Yankees Stadium. The Yankees have now fallen out of contention, but several months ago September 24 was anointed Mariano Rivera Bobble head night. I grabbed tickets as soon as it was announced. Basically this is Mariano goodbye month. #42 on the grass, on the bases, retired # in Monument Park, and obviously Mo in the bullpen. Mo is the classiest, most gracious man on the planet, aside from being the best reliever of all time. The big ceremony was held this past Sunday, but the bobble head dolls were to be a collector’s item any fan would covet.
So here’s what happened….
As with many promotions, only the first 18,000 fans would receive the free bobble head. As a result it was an early arriving crowd. No sweat, this was expected—much like the Matsui retirement/bobble head day earlier this season.
I went to the game with our daughter Carolyn, an equally avid fan. We pulled up to the Stadium at 4:55pm and as always gates open 2 hours before game time, or 5pm. We parked the car and then walked to the stadium. It was now 5:05. This was the first sign of a problem. There was a sea of humanity and the gates were not open and they wouldn’t be. Huh? What’s going on?
There were no Mariano bobble heads at the stadium! Was there an announcement? Did anyone tell us this? No.
Thankfully there were tweets galore about the problem as the bobble heads were supposedly on their way being trucked to the Stadium. (You got to be kidding me—this day was planned months ago!). Was George Costanza running this promotion?
Already fingers were being pointed about how AT&T (the sponsor) didn’t ship them when planned. Train was delayed. Trucks were delayed. Expected them yesterday, etc. Yankee excuses up the ying-yang. They announced that the gates wouldn’t open until the bobble heads arrived.
But at some point an executive decision was made not to wait, but rather to give fans the authentic, one of a kind Mariano Bobble head… voucher. We were lucky to get 2 vouchers. We didn’t get into the park for an hour until 6pm as the Yankees were no doubt hustling to create the vouchers, shown here.
As we entered the Yanlees said that there would be an announcement forthcoming as to when the bobble heads would be distributed. Finally in the third inning the announcement came, bobble heads would be distributed at the end of the third inning until 30 minutes after the game—but in just 1 location on the field level outside gate 2! This was a disaster in the making.
I mistakenly figured they’d have it under control……boy was I wrong. Wanting to get a jump on retrieving the bobble heads we headed down from our upper deck seats around 8:50pm, after the 4th inning. The game stunk anyhow. I thought this would take 5 minutes. It was total chaos. We entered a line that could have stretched through the five boroughs—the line snaked up the stadium, through every level, back through the upper deck and around the stadium. People cut in line, others were respectful and stadium workers were dumbfounded, some helpful, others nasty, and the crowd was mostly cooperative, but tensions were increasing. It felt dangerous. But we were patient. We heard reports of broken bobble heads, so we wanted to inspect ours if/when we got them.
Finally after 90 minutes of chaos, in a line wrapped around the entire stadium, we got our bobble heads only to now see multiple lines throughout the stadium. It was a fiasco. We were told to move on but we adamantly checked them for breakage (they were ok). It was now the 9th inning and most of the capacity crowd was unaware of the mass chaos, probably assuming that they could get in line later.
As Strumings readers know, I love the Yankees. I respect their zeal to win every year. I respect their heritage and on balance they are a world-class organization. But this event was a total disaster. And as my final game of a disappointing year with murky prospects for the future, I left feeling the Yankees blew it big time.
I was no George Steinbrenner lover and I had the pleasure of being kicked out of his office back in the 80s, but I couldn’t help thinking, “This never would have happened if George were alive”. I expect more from the Yankees. An event with Mariano’s name deserved more too.
PS The Yankees lost 7-0 in a lackluster game virtually eliminating them from contention which was already a forgone conclusion. I hope they get their act together for Derek Jeter bobble head night in 2014.