I took the 7 train out to the ball game after work today, a hot Friday in May. Walked through Grand Central, moving through the space where people were coming at me from all angles in that way that always reminds me of human Asteroids. Let a packed 7 go by and skipped the local for an Express that beat the local by plenty.
As we passed the great graffiti monument I was listening to “Fool in the Rain” on my iPod, a song I had not heard in years. And it reminded me of so many high school parties and the kind of girls who loved that song caused it moved them so. And we rolled past the graffiti when the song came to the break and goes all Brazil-Bezerk. A nice moment.
I spotted an Asian kid from across the car wearing a navy blue DiMaggio t-shirt. He had sharp shoulders and was listening to his iPod. The car thinned-out as we got closer to Citifield and I approched the guy and asked him, “Why DiMaggio?” And he said DiMaggio was only rivaled by the Babe as the most famous of the old American ball players. His name is Toshi and he is a student from Toyko, here for a few months working on his English. He’s a TV director and hopes to move to New York.
We got off the train together and joined the cattle throng of jerseys, Mets and Yankees gear everywhere. I told Toshi about New York being the melting pot but that most of the fans here were from the suburbs. We said goodnight and I checked in at the press gate and then waited on line for an elevator to take me to the press box on the fifth floor. There is a bank of two elevators but only one was operating. I waited a turn for their be enough room to get on. When I did, we packed in and a bunch of people got off on the third floor. So many new people got on that the elevator operator asked for volunteers to step off and three people got out.
It isn’t exactly quiet in the press box but it is contained and professional. There are the sounds of joshing around, especially now before the game, but it is muted. I know Matt Cerrone has never watched or blogged a game from the press box nor would it ever appeal to him. He’s too much of a fan, he doesn’t want to repress his desire to root. There are tall windows insulating the press box which makes for a stuffy atmosphere. But then the windows are opened and the sounds of the park, the crowd, filter in. The grounds crew is watering the infield, the organist is playing “Come on Feel the Noise.”
It’s fun to be here as a blogger because I am not on assignment, working on a story or deadline. Instead, it’s a game-cast, Banter-style. The good folks at SNY have encouraged me to do my thing so that’s what I’m gunna do. I figure I’ll walk around the park a whole bunch, see what I see and then dip back and give an update. Y’all will be watching the game so I don’t really need to tell you what’s happening there. Instead, I’ll try to get some of the sights n zounds and get back at you.
As Kid Gleeman likes to say, Happy Baseball.
Update: First Pitch.
My pal Jay Jaffe is also here in the press box tonight and we just had dinner in the dinning room. When we were done I looked at the security guard by the door. I noticed him when I first came in and asked if he had worked at the old park. He had. I knew I recognized him from somewhere. Then, as I was eating a hot dog I realized he looked just like a guy who delivers copy paper in the building where I work. Turns out he is that guy. I knew I recognized him from somewhere.
I get back to my seat and sit down at my machine just as Derek Jeter leads off the game with a single between first and second. I’m sitting in the second of three rows in the press box, behind home plate and just to the left. Legendary local scorer, Bill Shannon sits five people down and it is an honor to be near the man let alone having the pleasure of listening to him score a game. He is a gregarious man with a wonderfully distinctive voice and way of speaking–he’s a direct descendant of Damon Runyon’s New York. Enough to keep me sitting in my seat and enjoying myself for a minute.
Because while you cannot root in the press box, it is a nice view of the game. I find it comfortable to be around other people working, writing. It always feels great to see a baseball game live, and when you have a good view it brings an extra zip of adrenaline knowing you are so close to greatness, the best in their profession. It’s like that magic you had as a kid or the thrill you can get when the lights go down in the movie theater.
Just above me to my left is a small TV so I can follow the broadcast.
Gardner whiffs and Teixeira hits into a double play.
Update: Top of the Third.
“Everybody’s Working for the Weekend” blares from the speakers inbetween innings. The Internet connection is so slow here, and probably so taxed, that I have been getting kicked-off, upload photos, or do much of anything. Haven’t had this kind of difficulty since Dial-Up.
Yanks went in order in the second and Javy looks good early, striking out four over two scoreless.
Update: 8:21. P.M.
Cervelli had third easy and but he goes ahead and slides head first anyway, helmet flopping off. What an ass, that’s why he’s great. Little Peperoncini on that sauseege. Yanks put runners at the corners with one out, sacrifice the runner to second, and then squandered it all—Gardner whiffs to end the inning.
But then Javy retires the side in the bottom of the third.
Jaffe IM’s me—at least that still works—and lets me know that Mike Axisa, at his first game as a member of the working press, is sitting next to me. So I introduce myself and we chat. Nice guy. Bill Shannon passes out tootsie rolls to a few regulars sitting near him.
Then, I feel a hand on my shoulder, “Hey Eisenhower.” It’s Sweeney Murti, who I have gotten to know a little over the years. He can’t file anything either, his connection is so slow. Personable, unaffected guy that Sweeney Murti, just as he is on the air. Murti, Ed Coleman, Kevin Burkhardt, these guys all have the easy charm and workmanlike reliability that you crave in your radio/tv beat reporters. They are a welcome presence every night, the kind of people who were made for the gig. As far as I’m concerned I could listen to them forever in that job. I remember seeing Mike Breen up close at MSG one time and he had tremendous personal charm, the kind of guy who makes you feel good to be around him.
Yanks put runners on second and third with one out in the top of the fourth but can’t do squat. Mets work out of the jam—Swisher whiffs, Cervelli flies out—and the game is still scoreless. Okay, I’m going to walk around…
Watching the game…
Update: Bottom of the Seventh.
I tooled around the Stadium and took a mess o pictures, some of which I’ll post later on…It’s amazing how many places there are to watch the game other than the stands. There is standing-room-only throughout the park, and there are bars…everywhere. And at the bars there are TVs. People are watching TV everywhere here. And many of those who are not watching are looking at their cellphones and BlackBerries.
I was sitting in a seat down the third base line when the Yanks scored their two runs in the sixth–Kevin Russo got the bit hit.
I was taking a leak in the press box bathroom when I heard the Mets broadcast announce that Javy Vazquez had to leave the game with a hand injury that he got while bunting. Isn’t that just perfect?
Now, back behind the laptop as Marte enters the game…gulp. And now a throwing error by Cervelli equals two men on, just one out, and Marte is done. Here comes the Yankees Right Guard, Jober Jobs. As he warms up, the loudspeakers blast “Sex Machine” by James Brown. Good night for music, man.
Joba, all amped up, throws a fastball high for a ball to David Wright. Next pitch, Wright takes a good cut and fouls the ball back. “Let’s Go Mets” chant gains steam and then dies and Joba throws one up and in—Wright leans back out of the way. Slider in the dirt goes for ball three and then Wright balls another fastball. Mike Axia says, “Welp, 3-2 count, he’s going to throw a slider. It’s inevitable.” But it’s a fastball and it freezes Wright for strike three. “Oh, shit.” Wright stays to talk to the ump for a minute. Cervelli shakes his fist.
Angel Pagan is next and takes a fastball for strike one. Then looks at a curve ball bend harmlessly out of the strike zone, 1-1. Fastball, high, 2-1. Another fastball, outside, fouled off down the left field line, 2-2. Apprehension in the crowd. Some clapping, a whistle, and some more clapping as Pagan takes slider in the dirt, full-count. Jeter and Cervelli go to the mound to speak with Joba. More cheering, but not too much, conflicted—who is cheering? Yankee fans or Met fans?—slider in the dirt, Pagan offers, holds up but it’s too late. The ball skips in front of the plate, Cervelli picks it up and throws to first to end the inning. Murmurs in the crowd, the P.A. announcer speaks, a heavy-sounding plane flies overhead.
Update: They set a Citi Field record for attendance tonight with 41-Plus. Javy is being taken for X-Rays–”bruised finger.”
Update: X-Rays negative for Javy.
Mariano in to pitch the ninth. On the 2-2 pitch to the lead-off hitter, Jose Reyes, the crowd seems almost completely still, like they were all holding their breath, just before Rivera delivers…Reyes flies out to left. Alex Cora bounces a ground ball back to Rivera, who jumps up, showing his fine athletic form, snares the ball and throws to first for the out. Down to Jason Bay who takes a ball and then looks at a strike and then swings and misses at another. Now there is noise, now there is clapping and then Jason Bay swings and we hear that clean, true sound of a bat crack. But Citi field holds it and the ball bounces off the left field and Bay holds second with a double. Ike Davis, the kid, is next and whack, another crack, first pitch, and it’s in the gap. Davis goes to second and is wise to stop there. But the Mets are on the board. Luis Castillo comes in to pinch run. David Wright. And he swings at the first pitch and grounds it to the right side. It’s not far enough to reach the hole but it’s not an easy play. Robinson Cano, makes it look easy though, moving gracefully to his left, scooping it up and throwing to first.
And that, as they say, is your ballgame. Bill Shannon announces the totals and says that the game took three hours-and-nineteen minutes and Billy Joel’s voice belts out “New York State of Mind.”
A little excitement late, but the Yanks hang on… “The New York Times, the Daily News.” Night Billy. And I’ll see you all a little later.