"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Hey Old Chum

Dear Todd,

The wife and I sat in your box seats last night and we thought of you. Before the first pitch, she turns to me and goes, “There’s no other place in the world I’d rather be right now–at the ballgame, with a hot dog and my honey.” Bro, how lucky am I? I’d like to think Marsha told you the same thing when you guys were at the game too.

Sitting to our left were two older women who live near where you grew up in Syracuse, New York. They were in town for the game, decked-out in Yankee gear–shirts, jackets, and hats. They wore Yankee bracelets on their wrists, and brought their own popcorn.

Your boy AJ Burnett pitched and he stunk up the jernt. After the game, Posada blamed himself saying that the two of them couldn’t get on the same page. AJ couldn’t control his breaking ball, walked a bunch of guys, gave up a couple of dingers–including one that was worth watching from Ryan Howard. The last straw came when he didn’t cover first base on a ground ball to Teixeira–it’s hard to believe you left us before you could watch Tex play first for the Yanks.

I gave him a big boo as he walked off the field. I know he’s your boy and all, but his effort was doo doo. Emily felt bad for him. “I’m sure he didn’t want to mess up,” she said (that’s what she says anytime one of our guys screws the pooch).

Meanwhile, you would have appreciated Jamie Moyer working the corners and shutting the Yanks down. He gave up two solo dingers–the first was an absolute bomb, deep into the right center field bleachers by Robbie Cano. Otherwise, the Old Man was beautiful.

Dude, I had to check myself from being a complete snob during the game. At one point, there were four guys sitting in the row in front of us texting instead of watching the game. One couple arrived late and then spent the entire game looking into their phones texting with friends. Why even bother coming? Then, two drunk girls arrived in the fourth inning and sat to my right. The one sitting next to me introduced herself and then asked if I’d tak their picture. Bro, I was so cold. “Yeah, when the inning is over,” I said.

She got someone else to take their picture.

I didn’t think about you much for awhile but then in the ninth inning, your other boy, Alex Rodriguez, had a two-out RBI base double, making the score, 6-3. One batter later, the Yanks brought the tying run to the plate and the crowd got loud. Rain drops started to fall and I thought of you, wished that you were there, felt that you were there. They had a chance. We clapped our hands until they hurt. Lidge struck Posada out to end the game and Sinatra started to sing. We said goodbye to the old ladies and we hugged and I took in the moment to be thankful for what I’ve got.

The Yanks’ll get ‘em tonight. 

You da man.

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4 comments

1 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 17, 2010 9:49 am

Nice .... touching .... sigh.

Ironically, I asked Marsha a couple of weeks ago if she had tickets for 6/16. She said they were already spoken for. Glad you got them!

2 Eric McCauley   ~  Jun 17, 2010 10:35 am

This is a great letter, Alex. Very cool that you got to hang with Todd's old neighbors, too. (Brought their own popcorn! Sounds like something my wife's grandmother would do at a Sox game.) And frankly, I'd have no qualms at all about being cold to some fools who interrupt your experience of the game, whether through cell phone use, being a drunken idiot, or walking by you when there's a batter in the box (this one fries me the most).

Even though Burnett was awful and the Yanks lost I think it would have been cool to be there. I always want to see a win, but my wife's perspective is different: She just wants to eat a hot dog, see some hustle, no errors, and hear Sinatra at the end. Of course, a win is great, and she probably would have yelled at Burnett too.

Just being at the ballpark is enough, though.

3 randym77   ~  Jun 17, 2010 6:16 pm

I like Syracuse. It's not like the town I grew up in, but somehow it really reminds me of it. Has the same blue-collar vibe.

I was there last week, and went to a Syracuse Chiefs game. Attendance was way down over last year, perhaps because Strasburg had been called up, perhaps because the lousy economy is really hurting ticket sales for most teams. But the Chiefs' most diehard fan was there. He has season tickets, and is at every game, yelling in support of his team, even if it's a blowout and they have no chance. I'm amazed that he has any voice left at this point; he's been doing it for years.

A lot of Yankees fans were there. Chris Duncan was playing, and they recognized him as Shelley's brother.

It's an older, smaller ballpark than most, but going to, if you're ever in town.

4 michael o. allen   ~  Jun 28, 2010 9:21 pm

I sent this to Marsha:

I know exactly how Alex felt. The experiences of being at the game is often refracted through thoughts about Todd and my imagination about how he would feel about it or my wonder about what he must feel about certain situations. For instance, Todd wanted Granderson at the Stadium forever. Now that he's here, it's hard to imagine he played elsewhere. He just seems to fit. I understand better now why Todd wanted him in pinstripes.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver