10/1/11 ALDS Tigers at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

When the Yankees playoff game was postponed from Friday to Saturday, a lot of people were upset because they had different plans on Saturday. Since the Yankees and MLB have protection against this liability, those people had no chocie but to sell their tickets on StubHub or other ticket broker sites. I didn’t know if I would be able to make it to this game because of other plans and wouldn’t have been able to afford the tickets at the last minute had the date switch taken place.

When I found out I was available, I bought tickets on StubHub and arrived on the scene some few short hours after that. It was drizzling outside. So I was pretty surprised when I arrived in the stadium and the Yankees were taking batting practice. The Yankees have a LOT of reasons to be disliked by ballhawks (notice my last Yankee game was in April) but they are not quick at all to put the tarp on because of the quality of the field (it drains better than most fields).

It was not a very exciting batting practice as neither team hit many balls into the crowd. I started out in Right Field but decided to go to Left Field. There, I had some close calls.

1. I was usually in the railing gap about ten feet from the field and closest to Center Field in the Left Field stands (I don’t say bleachers at Yankee Stadium because there really are bleachers behind the Left Field stands), and a ball went to my left. I chased after it and was behind two other people who were contesting for the ball as well. They knocked each other down and the person to my left’s presence didn’t allow me to go after the ball rolling down their row. For the record, the guys were fine with the fact that they lost each other the ball but neither was given the ball as a prize for their effort. I personally would have given one of them the ball despite the fact that they were grown men.

2. I almost convinced Joaquin Benoit to throw me his warm-up ball but as he looked at me, he saw the kid next to me was more “worthy” and tossed it to him. The exact thing that happened was that I started yelling out his name (that’s what it takes just to get heard at Yankee Stadium) and when he looked at me, I asked him for the ball in Spanish. When he threw it to the kid next to me, I thought that he wasn’t actually Hispanic and I’d just dissed him by asking for the ball in Spanish because neither Joaquin nor Benoit are exclusive Hispanic names. I later checked and saw he was from the Dominican Republic so I assume the first explanation in the paragraph is what happened. I would also now like to point out that somewhere  in the process of getting my Tigers gear on, I lost the Tigers roster itself, so this is why I didn’t get any balls from the other pitchers because it relied on them just seeing me in my Tigers stuff.

3. A Tigers coach was going along the wall and picking up all of the balls and fungoeing them into the infield. One fan asked him if he could have one of the balls for his daughter and the coach didn’t respond ( because there were so many balls and he was probably going to give them one of the latter he picked up). So in New York fashion, the father started calling the coach a bum. I then asked the coach if he could: “toss a ball up for a Tigers fan.” He then responded by saying that I could thank the father for him not throwing the ball up to me. Had I been the first to ask, I am almost certain I would have ended up with the ball because there were just too many balls for him not to throw a few into the crowd. And yes, I was breifly considering using the glove trick on these balls.

Throughout all of bp there was rain coming down consistently.The Tigers finally ran off the field with about 40 minutes of bp left. I then focused all of my attention on a throwing pair down the line (don’t know for sure who they were because again I didn’t have my roster). I couldn’t identify the guy in the outfield so I just relied on my Tigers gear and started waving like a madman. I was like five feet from the back of the crowd on edge of the field and lined myself right up with his line of view so he could clearly see me. When he finished throwing, he kept his eyes on me and lobbed me the ball perfectly over the sea of people running after the ball because they thought they had been overthrown. I then caught it and waved/mouthed an emphatic “Thank You” from sixty feet out.

Then came the part that bothers me. I went back into the covered seats with the rest of the people hiding from the rain and was sitting there for at least 1/2 an hour to see if batting practice would resume. Then out of nowhere an usher came down to the seats and asked to see my ticket. I wasn’t doing anything but sitting there. I then told him that I didn’t have a ticket and he chuckled like he already knew the fact (I didn’t care that I was kicked out because I was going to go to the bleachers anyway because I was going with a guest). I then left and looked back. From what I could see, he only came down to check my ticket and go back up.

Maybe I’m just being paranoid but I think the Yankees have people constantly on cameras surveilling the seat to make sure that no one is in their precious field level seats that isn’t supposed to be there. If so, it is really over the top because I was not doing anything to disturb people, nor was I going to try. I grew up a Yankee fan and still root for the team, but geez, they are making it *really* difficult to keep rooting for them when the organization goes all OCD in security. The Yankees are the only MLB team that I know of that hires Securitas people to even be ushers. I know of some teams that hire out of office for some positions, but with the Yankees, they run the whole shebang. This was the only damper on the otherwise great night.

 

The original starters had been CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander, but because they began already and THEN postponed the game, Ivan Nova and Doug Fister replaced them. Even though I would have liked to see Verlander, Nova did a job that CC Sabathia would have gotten a curtain call for.  The game was really cold for me because I had been in the rain and all my clothes were soaked and also the bleachers were soaked. This did make it a little less enjoyable game for me, but I was glad overall that I went. The last time I saw these two teams play was in the ALDS in 2006 some rookie pitcher that had won 17 games, named Verlander outdueled Mike Mussina to even out the series at 1 apiece. This game was really unenjoyable because, besides the fact that I was a much bigger Yankee fan and they lost, this game had also been rained out. In the rain out part, my dad and I were in the bleachers (for those who don’t know, the bleachers in the outfield at the old stadium were like an island isolated from the rest of the stadium and the concourse built on the inside of said island) and went down the tunnel to the concourse. Since it was raining, everyone else was also inside the tunnel and it was hot and humid on the concourse. Also, some people had started drinking even before the game had begun and one of those people was behind me. He didn’t act out or anything so how did I know he was drunk? All of a sudden, I felt a warm luquid on the achilles tendon of my right leg. He had just barfed all over the floor and my shoe. We then found out that game was postponed to a later day a few seconds after that. There is a bright side to this story, though. The game gave me a really good excuse to leave school early.

Anyway, I was happy with my one ball from a player that I later (semi) identified as Max Scherzer.

 

My next entry will probably be a recap of my first full season as a ballhawk.

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