A Night With The Yankees

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Guest contributor Justin Fritze walks us through another one of his nights at Yankees Stadium - 

The day started with rain. Rain and more rain for about five hours. I was going to see the Yankees play the Orioles at 7pm, sans Swisher yet sadly with Phil Hughes starting at pitcher. Hughes was 1-3 this year with an ERA rising over 6, so to say I had general apprehensions about his start would be an understatement.

At around noon the sun started coming out, slowly but surely, until around 3pm it was about 70 degrees and feeling like the glorious spring we’ve all been waiting for. At 5 I walked out of work and headed towards Union Square, which was currently being flanked by about 500 cops, surveillance buses, emergency service units, and general gestapo of the highest order. The kids were having some fun so someone had to stop it.

The most interesting part of the journey to Yankee stadium is the 4 train from Manhattan, which slowly picks up all the wall street crowd, the yuppie crowd, and the kids from the projects getting on for a quick 40 block ride to 161st street. It’s a real interesting mix, and despite the income inequality, living quarters, political views etc. there is a general unifier. They are going to see the Yankees. New York’s only REAL New York team. (Jets/Giants play in NJ…Knicks are too expensive for most)

If you’re really familiar with parking for a Yankees game, then you’ll know that the Gateway shopping Center is the best deal to get to the stadium and openly drink to the point of recklessness. Also, there is Taco Bell 500 feet away. And if T-Bell doesn’t do it for you then there is a fine Indian hot dog vendor who will sell you two hot dogs and a soda for $3.50 as soon as you come down the pedestrian walkway.

We made the mistake of coming out the back side (blame it on the Goose) of the Gateway, but found an amazing thing had happened in the Bronx in the matter of one year. We start walking towards the stadium, somehow stumbling on a recently built Metro North Station that looks like it’s the site of a space shuttle test (clean and minimal decorum). You cross over the footbridge and then you get to a site that makes you feel quite far from the Bronx.

Macombs Dam Park/Heritage Field is a revelation to anyone who is used to slumming through the generally downtrodden River Avenue. It’s huge. It’s spacious. There are basketball courts, running tracks, playgrounds, baseball fields. There’s nearly everything for every sport and it’s all surrounding the Stadium itself. More than anything else it gives you a feeling of approaching something larger than life. You forgot that you are stepping on hallowed ground, where the great played. And you see the new stadium, like a coliseum piercing the New York skyline. It is where THEY play. The great ones. The ones you listen to in the background while you are doing other work. The ones you check in on while you’re at a family party. The ones that pace the summer with games every other night. Sometimes you don’t even have the volume up. You know what they’re talking about.

The entrance is something almost primal. You start wrapping around from the first base line, catching a glimpse of the huge steel beams holding up the top deck, and then the green is so bright, so expansive it stops you in your tracks. Jeter just got a hit and the whole place is rumbling. This is his house. A subway rolls by and someone spills a beer. You get to the bleachers and you see Curtis Granderson standing about 50 feet away. You don’t see him much on television, but he is there and he is in prime position to move left, right, forward, back. You buy Bazzini peanuts and grab a beer. It’s the 5th inning and everyone is jumping up and down because Rodriguez just drew a walk.

This is baseball at Yankee stadium. Everything the Yankees do well is rewarded with 20,000 cheers. Everything they don’t is drew with 20,000 boos. It is Tuesday in May, and for a little while you forget about everything and just enjoy the game. They lost 7-1. No complaints.