Sitting on a speeding 4 train heading back to Manhattan from Yankee Stadium is no place to compose a worthwhile post about this particular afternoon. However, thanks to Blackberry and a bitchin' game, I've decided to go ahead and do so anyway.
First of all, about two weeks ago we decided to use our season tickets, which we share in a consortium, to hit today's Yankee game against the Baltimore Orioles. My parents invited my cousin, who's about 14, to the game, and asked my sister and I which of us would like to be the fourth. My sister, having figured that Mikey, my cousin, has never been to the Stadium, would be better-suited to have me explaining everything that was happening rather than her, so I agreed to go.
Now having said all that, today was my first trip back to Yankee Stadium since my father got sick in August, 2004. It's not a matter of loving the Yankees any less -- I'm still a Yankee diehard and always will be. Same for him. It's just that getting over to the Stadium and doing as much walking as is necessary in this "post-9/11" world -- meaning with the newish Stadium security policies -- makes it a bit more difficult to navigate the throngs milling around after a game.
Yet we made it, and for the better part of the afternoon we wondered why we bothered. The Yankees debuted a new Japanese pitcher named Kei Igawa who basically had a horrid afternoon. He allowed seven runs in five innings and looked awful; so not only were the Yankees losing big, but by the time he left the game with the score 7-3, many in the crowd opined that his signing was a Yankee mistake.
Despite this, and the fact that the forecast had called for flurries and 40-ish degree weather, we (and most everyone else) stayed. It was cold all afternoon -- in fact, when I got to my seat, my parents and Mikey were already seated, covered in blankets and freezing. The first thing I said to them was "What a day for a ballgame...a football game." The weather cooperated, although it was cold all afternoon and I wore a puffy coat and gloves throughout the game. And once the Yankees shitted up the first half of the game, it was a cold, crappy day at the park.
And then it happened.
They began inching back and managed to get the score to 7-6. Finally, the bottom of the ninth approached and they were able to load the bases. The last Yankee hope -- Mr. Non-Clutch -- Alex Rodriguez approached the plate with most everyone in the Stadium cheering, hoping supporting A-Rod, who has a proclivity (as a Yankee) for not coming through under pressure, would help. He got into a 2-2 count, and with the Yankees one strike away from a long, cold loss, A-Rod connected and blasted a grand slam, walk-off home run into the seats. The Stadium erupted and in an instant, as my Dad, who gets weepy and emotional every time he visits the Stadium, I remembered why I love not just the Yankees but coming to Yankee Stadium.
As we departed, as promised, I got Mikey (and myself) a Yankee hat; his was an adjustable replica of the traditional Yankee hat, while mine is a mesh Yankee batting practice hat (they just came out with them this year and I'd been meaning to pick one up). On top of that, I scored him a pretzel (we didn't have much to eat during the game due to Passover observance) though he had broken it already so a warm pretzel on a cold day was a good way to wrap up the afternoon.
Despite the fact that, between the tickets, the parking, the food and all the other crap topped out at over $450, it was really a great afternoon, and definitely will be one for the long-term memory. And I can only assume that I'll get as weepy and emotional as I get older and return to the Stadium, and hope that it's my wife and my kid(s) with me watching the game and making fun of me, but smiling and treasuring the moment nonetheless.