Tim’s Third MLB Anniversary (9-12-2009)
“Hello, from Yankee Stadium!”
Tim’s first MLB game of his life was on September 12, 2006. Our Mariners beat the Blue Jays at Safeco Field. It was wonderful. Exactly one year later, we found ourselves at Citizens Bank Park watching the Rockies dismantle the Phillies. It wasn’t a pre-planned game. We’d received four (amazing) free tickets. It was a couple innings into the game before I realized it was September 12, 2007: the one-year anniversary of Tim’s first game. That was all I needed. A new tradition was born. Now, I fully intend to attend a MLB game with Tim on September 12th every year for the rest of my life.
Last season, we spent Tim’s second MLB anniversary at Chase Field watching the Griffey-less Reds taken on the Diamondbacks with my mom and dad.
This season, after much internal debate, we found ourselves in New York City for our second game at the new Yankee Stadium. The Orioles were in town.
The big debate was whether we should go to this game or the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Both games were sold out (or at least sold out of reasonably priced tickets (i.e., we can’t afford the Legends Suite at Yankee Stadium)). We opted for two single tickets (one in the bleachers and one in the upper deck) for $20 each at Yankee Stadium rather than two Standing Room tickets for $30 each (twice face value) at Citizens Bank Park.
Of course, after J.A. Happ was scratched and Jamie Moyer was named the starter in Philadelphia, I was second guessing my decision. But thanks to a blown 9th inning save by Ryan Madson erasing Moyer’s win, I definitely made the right decision.
As you will see below, we had a GREAT time in the Bronx. It was a very enjoyable game featuring an outstanding Yankees loss. Yea!
A little background for the pictures that follow. I am NOT a Yankees fan. I’m about as NOT a Yankees fan as anyone in the world. But, I generally take photos at games of the “stars” — certainly, if there is a *no doubt* future hall of famer playing, my M.O. is to photograph them playing. I really haven’t done that with the Yankees in the past, because I’ve only seen them play against the Mariners or the Reds (with Griffey) and I had more important things to photograph.
But today was different. No Mariners (unfortunately). No Griffey (fortunately, he’d be 1000s of miles away going 3-4 for the Mariners). And the Orioles aren’t exactly *stacked* with photo-worthy talent.
So, I was left almost forced to photograph the top Yankees. My apologies. Please do not mistake what follows as any endorsement of the Steinbrenner-led Yankees.
We got an early start to NYC and expected to make it to some of batting practice. However, after experiencing terrible traffic and parking situations, we ultimately arrived late. As we entered the stadium, Derek Jeter was stepping into the box in the bottom of the first:
When Jeter planted his foot in the picture to the left, he would watch his 2,723 hit scoot through the infield. This guy has been in the news a lot lately. The day before, he’d passed Lou Gehrig on the Yankees all-time hit list. A Yankee setting a new Yankee record means nothing to me. But I wanted Jeter to go hitless on 9/11 so we could be there for his record breaking hit. Not because I have any fondness for Jeter, but because I’ve liked Lou Gehrig ever since I read the book “Lou Gehrig: Boy of the Sandlots” when I was in third grade. In fact, I did a book report on that same book in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades And, I actually read the book each time. Anyway, Jeter eclipsed Gehrig’s mark the day before we arrived at Yankee Stadium.
While Jeter was batting. Tim stood on the empty riser pictured below…
…while I took those photos. Within 2 minutes, an usher spotted us and came over to kick Tim off of the riser. Its a very important riser. So, if you go to Yankee Stadium and see it sitting there empty, don’t even think of utilizing it in any fashion. It is not for you.
Jeter ended up stealing second. He then got to third…hmm…somehow. Mark Teixeira then lifted this pitch…
And, A-Rod’s double on this swing…
After the bottom of the first concluded, we walked through Bronx Central Station (also known as the Great Hall):
After taking the picture above on the left, I spun around 360 degrees and took the picture above on the right. In the name of exploring the unknown, we then followed the crowd up the stairs to the second deck.
Before moving on, did you notice anything special in those Great Hall pictures?
A backpack inside Yankee Stadium!!!
It appears the Yankees have re-tooled their illogical no-backpack policy.
For the record, it was illogical because, under the no backpack policy, that lady still could have brought that big bag over her shoulder into the stadium.
Of course, I didn’t know about the change. So I had a little string backpack, once again — like back on July 2nd.
Back to the story.
We proceeded up those stairs. I didn’t know where they would lead. I didn’t see any naturual light (so as to suggest a view of the field) at the top. So I wondered it it lead to the suite level, where we would not be permitted to venture. Luckily, it didn’t. It just lead to the second deck.
Once we got up there. I took Tim to the bathroom and sat him on the counter while I put on his shoes. (He’d just been wearing socks up to this point). While I was digging through my little string backpack bag, I experienced an extremely non-at-the-ballparkish moment.
Tim saw a bag of sun flower seeds amongst our stuff and he asked for some. I obliged. Then, he started spitting seeds on the ground. Can you believe it!? Spitting seeds on the ground in the bathroom at Yankee Stadium! I instantly had this bad feeling like we were going to get busted. Of course, we did not. But I guarantee I never would have had that feeling at any other ballpark. I think the mere fact I had that concern speaks to the feel at Yankee Stadium.
After putting on Tim’s shoes. We hung out in the standing room area behind the second deck seats. This was the view:
It was a great spot. I really enjoyed watching the game from this vantage point. What would have made it better would be if they installed some standing counter space behind the last row of seats. I didn’t see any standing counter space anywhere in the stadium at this game. Installing some would make the standing room experience a lot better.
For a few minutes, we stood right next to a cop and an usher, and we didn’t get reprimanded when Tim started doing this:
[NOTE: there is a seed that Tim just spit out floating in mid-air just to the left of Tim's neck].
In fact, I think that female cop actually thought it was cute watching Tim spit seeds all over the relatively clean concourse floor.
The Orioles scored 6 runs in the top of the second! Nolan Reimold and Brian Roberts both crushed homeruns. Roberts’s bomb was actually a grand slam. I didn’t get any shots of either of those guys hitting. But here is a shot of the Yankees infield with one of the 6 Orioles to make his way around the base paths that inning:
I ran back and forth with him 2-3 times, then I just observed as he continued racing against himself. In the picture to the right, that black line across the concourse floor (at his elbow level) was used both as Tim’s start line and his finish line.
Finally, an Oriole who I thought was interesting enough to photograph came to the plate:
Between innings, Tim wanted to explore a little more. So we headed behing home plate toward the 1B line. There is a section of suites or some high rent club right behind home plate, so you can’t see the field back there. Instead, there is an interesting collection of floor-to-ceiling sized pictures of a bunch of Yankees:
My guess is that this includes everyone who has won an MVP award as a Yankee. For example, I looked up Babe Ruth to confirm my suspicion and noted that he did, in fact, win the MVP in 1923. (Interestingly, Ruth did not win the MVP in 1924 when he led the league in averge (.378), runs (143), homeruns (46), walks (142), on-base percentage (.513), slugging (.739), OPS (1.252), OPS+ (220), and total bases (391). Instead, the award went to Walter Johnson who went 23-7 with a 2.72 ERA. Personally, I am more impressed by Ruth’s performance in 1924.).
Note: I view the old great Yankees much differently than I view the modern Yankees. They seem like completely different creatures to me. So, you’ll have to excuse me that I cut off Don Mattingly and Alex Rodrigues in these pictures. They were the last two in the line.
In case you couldn’t tell, these pictures changed as you walked passed them.
After a short walk, we ended up on the 1B side with a very similar view of the field:
We’d eaten nothing but snacks since breakfast. So, we decided it was time to consume 1,410 calories of tasty, tasty, TASTY nachos.
My wife and I have long been big time nacho lovers (check out McGillin’s when in Philadelphia). So I have been very proud of Tim for selecting nachos at the ballpark several times lately.
With some help from me, Tim obliterated those nachos. We bought them behind 1B, but headed out to CF and ate them from atop the Mohegan Sun View Obstructor…I mean Sports Bar. Here was our view from up there:
While Tim chowed down on nachos, a guy standing nearby kept commenting, “That kid is gonna eat that whole thing of nachos!!!!” Meanwhile, I chatted with two guys (who appeared to be twin brothers) from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs) who are on a trip around the northeast.
After the U-Dubbers headed off to their seats, I heard that same guy proclaim, “Oh my gosh, that kid ate all of those jalapenos!!!”
For the record, I ate the jalapenos.
Before flying out to right to begin the bottom of the third, I snapped this picture of A-Rod swinging at and missing a pitch outside:
I wanted to sit in actual seats for Tim to eat his ice cream. So we found this spot in the last row of the upper deck in right field:
We left the upper deck after Jeter’s whiff. But before we leave it in this blog entry, let’s take a look at a few things I noticed up there.
First, below to the left, there were little spikey wires poking out of all of the steel above us. I guess they were concered that fans would want to hang from the beams in the roof:
Second, above to the right, the facade seems much more substantial at this version of Yankee Stadium. To me, the facade at the last Yankee Stadium looked cheap and flimsy. In person, I always thought it was massively unimpressive. This facade is much better.
Third, Yankee Stadium features noticable divisions between the *classes*. Field level tickets of any variety are ridiculously overpriced and should only be purchased by people with a lot of money to waste. But only the ridiculously non-cost conscious buyers can or should ever purchae tickets in the first ten or so rows. And to protect their unwise investment and egos, those ridiculously non-cost conscious get a moat to protect them from ever having to deal with the *merely rich* patrons who sit behind them in the field level, and special braclets so a *ridiculously rich* patron cannot give his or her ticket to a normal person upon exiting the Legends Suite. Sure, they can give up their ticket stub. But without the bracelet, the normal person doesn’t stand a chance of crossing the moat into the promised land. Here is a little visual illustration:
We left the upper deck seating because we decided to head out to the concourse behind the bleachers to play a little catch. On the way down the stairs, we stopped so Tim could watch the 4-train go by:
If you watched this game on TV, did you see that great catch Nolan Reimold made going into the stands in foul territory down the LF line? If you did, you’re lucky. These people were at the game and sitting in their seats, but they missed it.
Finally, we made our way to the narrow concourse behind the bleachers in LF. This should be about the worst spot in all of MLB to play catch at a game. It is way too narrow and gets way too much foot traffic. But I was amazed on July 2nd that none of the billion guards shut us down when we played catch for a long, long time during the Mariners victory over the Yankees.
But at this game, *amazement* simply doesn’t do the situation justice.
We started playing catch and a guard came over while I was holding the ball and started to grab the ball out of my hand in super-awkwardly-odd slow motion. Then he started grabbing my glove. I had no clue what was going on. Was this guy confiscating my glove and ball? It made no sense. Utterly confused, I questioned him:
Todd - “What’s going on here?”
Usher - “I want to play catch with your son.”
What? That was the last thing I was expecting. Not only was this guy condoning our playing catch in a busy and narrow concourse, he wanted in on the action! This is not your 2008 Yankee Stadium!”
Unfortunately…or maybe fortunately, things didn’t go as smoothly after I gave up my glove. The usher tossed the ball to Tim…
We all stood and watched in slow motion as the ball rolled directly into a hole in the wall:
The guy felt terrible. The ball was several feet back in there in some digusting looking water (with a partially eaten pretzel).
Another stadium attendant came over to discuss the situation. After a few seconds, he said, “Wait here. I’ll go get you a new ball from downstairs.”
The usher who threw the ball also left. He then came back with a big piece of metal (it looked like a drywall corner reinforcer) that he bent into a hook. With it, he successfully retrieved our ball. After he gave it back, he told us to stay put so we still get the replacement ball from the other attendant, and he thanked Tim for playing catch with him.
A few minutes later, the other attendant came back and handed us a real baseball. He put it in my hand and said, “This is a batting practice home run from before the game.”
Sweet! All in all, I think this catching session turned out idealy. First, we played catch. Second, we lost a ball making a fun memory with a stadium attendant. Third, we got our ball back. Fourth, we got a BP homerun despite missing all of BP. Outstanding!
Next, we parted ways with the usher and headed through the concourse under the bleachers (below center). We saw the entrance to the Mohegan Sun View Obstructor…oops…once again, I mean Sports Bar. Then we headed toward the 3B line field level standing room area. (On the right below is another random hallway that I’d never seen before. It is behind the food court area behind 3B and, I think, it leads to the Great Hall.
Jeter struck out again to end the game:
Actually, that isn’t the final strike (but I will pretend it is).
We headed down into the seats to watch the post-game festivities — random milling about by Yankees employees, etc. Really, I just wanted to get down there to try to get a picture with Tim.
But before getting a picture, we saw Jeremy Guthrie signing autographs by the end of the dugout. He signed and signed and signed and signed. He took pictures with fans. And he signed some more. Of course, we couldn’t go down there (even after the game its off limits for the normal fans).
But I’d heard that Guthrie was a cool guy. So I yelled out to him, “Hey, Jeremy!” He looked up but couldn’t find me at first. He went back to signing. I yelled again, “Hey, Jeremy!” Finally, he spotted me. I held up Tim’s newly acquired BP homerun ball. He looked a little conflicted for a second. You could see him thinking in his head. “Should I? Should I?” Finally, after a couple seconds, he nodded “okay” to me.
He signed another ball for some kid and then he looked back up to me and raised his hands as if to say, “throw it!” I complied. I took a picture (below to left) of him signing our ball:
After he signed the ball, he threw it back so delicately you’d think he was in an egg toss competition. The ball fell short. I would have gloved it but someone below reached up and intercepted it. But he’d seen the whole thing play out and he immediately returned it to us upon making the INT. Guthrie looked a little embarrassed about the bad throw and gave me a “oops, sorry” gesture with his hands.
Here is Tim’s ice cream helmet with the Guthrie autograph ball:
Finally, an usher took our picture before asking us to head out of the stadium:
We milled about a little more before leaving, and I took this panaramic view:
If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you can see that Guthrie is still down there signing and posing for pictures. Notice that the tarp is now out (it wasn’t out in the picture of me and Tim). I think he stayed there until he signed for every single fan who possibly wanted an autograph (well, those who were in the Legends Suite at least).
Then we headed out of the stadium.
On the way to the subway, I took a picture of the old stadium, which now looks like a long forgotten mess:
It appeared as if the upper deck was green. I couldn’t tell if it was moss or what. It is funny that this place was celebrated and made out to be the best place ever last season, but now it looks like this:
We definitely made the right choice in going to NYC for a satisfying Yankees loss rather than going to South Philadelphia to see Ryan Madson blow Jamie Moyer’s win.
In related news, Tim is officially a Yankee Killer! In three career games involving the Yankees, the Mariners have two wins and the Orioles have one win. The Yankees are 0-3. Excellent!
Season Fan Stats:
12 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, and “Jacobs” Field)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
23 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
26 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
5 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry)
4 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)