May 2005

Now THIS is what I call traveling…

All right, I got my next few days worked out, and they’re nuts.
I was already planning on being in New Hampshire on Thursday and Friday for a classic video game competition at this HUGE arcade called Funspot when it occurred to me that the Red Sox will be playing at home on Wednesday night…as in, tomorrow. Conveniently, Boston is on the way to New Hampshire, so I’m going to force myself up early and leave NYC at around 9am. I figure that with all the traffic and wrong turns that I’ll inevitably make, I’ll get to Fenway between 2 and 3pm. That’ll leave me a few hours to somehow find myself a ticket to this sold out game. My goal, of course, will be to get a ball from Manny.

As soon as the game ends and I’ve made my attempt to get a ball at the winning team’s dugout, I’ll run to my (parents’) car and drive the final 103.46 miles (according to the occasionally reliable MapQuest.com) to my hotel in Weirs Beach. Normally, I’d enjoy a well-played 14-13 extra-inning game, but please, ghost of the Bambino, not on Wednesday. Even if the game lasts a mere three hours, I won’t reach my bed until 1 or 2am. And I have to wake up early the next day and perform.

I’ve only been to Fenway twice. I caught three balls (long before I had a clue) on September 7, 1991, and I snagged seven on June 25, 2003. The only trouble with going for a Manny ball is that I’ll have to give up that beautiful corner spot down the 3rd base line so I can hang out deeper in foul territory to get his attention. That might cost me a few balls, but it’s worth it. Normally, it wouldn’t be worth it, but this is my “husband” we’re talking about. That’s what one of my co-workers has been calling Manny since I wrote that entry about him.

But anyway, enough about Wednesday and Thursday and Manny and Fenway. I’m thinking about today. Tuesday. It’s 2:20pm. The weather is perfect here in NYC, and I’m totally free for the rest of the day to see the entire Mets-Diamondbacks game at Shea. I’m going to right field for the Mets BP. There’s this nasty old usher in left with a special set of rules just for me, so I’ll wait ’til Arizona takes the field before I head that way. In the meantime, I’ll be on a mission to get a ball from Pedro.

Fenway?

Super-busy day.

No time to write.

Trying to work out a plan that would get me to Fenway on Wednesday.

More later…

Another common/silly mistake

I was just watching the Braves-Phillies game on TBS. It was raining. The crowd thinned out in the last few innings. The cameras were showing the fans running through the empty rows of seats for foul balls–except no one was actually running UNTIL the balls landed.
Don’t make this common mistake.

Just like a major league fielder, you need to get a good jump on the ball. Just make sure you do the following three things:

1. Sit in a row directly behind or in front of the main aisle so you can move left and right.
2. Sit at the end of the row so you can move up and down the stairs.
3. Glance at the staircase and aisle before each pitch to make sure there’s no one in your way…then, if a ball is hit in your direction, you can jump up and start running toward it with nothing to fear.

I’m always aware of my surroundings. Look at this pic…
BlockedaisleIt shows an obnoxious fan on his cell phone, walking along and blocking my aisle to the right of the best foul ball spot at Shea Stadium (and blocking everyone else’s view in the process).

Hey, buddy, ever heard of that thing called the concourse?

BOING!

When Mike Piazza’s ground-rule double bounced over the right field wall tonight at Dolphins Stadium, there wasn’t one fan ready to catch it. Not one person had stood up. The ball landed in an empty staircase and rattled around for at least a second or two before anyone reacted. Why?

For some reason, most fans are never prepared for balls to bounce into the seats, even in batting practice. It’s amazing. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t give up on a ball just because it’s falling short of the wall. Remember that the warning track is hard.

Question for YOU

Do you happen to know if the Nationals are using special commemorative balls this season instead of ones with the standard MLB logo? I’d like to find out soon so I know whether or not to be gung-ho about making it down to RFK this season.

(THE NON-BASEBALL TRAVEL UPDATE, DAY 14: Woke up at 5am with three hours of sleep to catch an early flight back to Paris where we spent our final full day of the trip. We’re staying at this hotel which is officially called “Hilton/Charles de Gaulle Airport, ” but I am not fooled. I know the Paris Hilton when I see it.)

Alas

I’m afraid I have to forfeit my attempt to make it to tomorrow’s Yankees game even though my dear friend Paige has offered to help. This whole plan is just too crazy. She’d have to track down Jules (whom she doesn’t know) and get my stuff and meet me at the airport or the ballpark (and I don’t have Rain_1a cell phone). Weather.com says there’s a 60% chance it’s gonna rain. And what if my flight is delayed? And what if I get held up at customs because I no longer look anything like my passport photo?
How did this get to be such a big deal?
It started innocently a few days ago.
It wasn’t supposed to take over my blog for four days.
It’s all my fault.
I’m sorry.

(THE NON-BASEBALL TRAVEL UPDATE, DAY 13: I used to play competitive Scrabble. Last night, I paid 11 shekels–that’s about $2.50–to play three games at the Jerusalem club. It’s the biggest club in the world. Last night, there were 54 people, and yes, they play in English. Other than one 15-year-old kid, I was the youngest person there by at least 20 years. That’s usually how it goes. In Round One, I beat Vivienne Riffkin 358-313 even though Z_1she got both blanks and used one of them to play SULFAtE late in the game for 63pts. In my second game, I lost 410-343 to Brenda Fesbinder despite playing two bingos. (A bingo is a play that uses all seven tiles at once, good for a 50-point bonus.) I threw down SORTIES for 76pts and RoTATION on my final turn of the game for 78. In the last round, I beat Heather Rockman 447-308. Two more bingos for me: SAILERS for 75 and BARONETS for 83. I finished the night 2-1 with a cumulative point spread of +117. Boo-yah!!! I showed those old ladies who’s in charge!!!)

The saga continues

Jules just e-mailed me the following:

Jules"i’d love to help but i’m going to be [in] new jersey, in hoboken, at dinner with my cousins. i can’t put it off – it is a special night, their son is performing somewhere, i’m hooked in. and i think it starts early…i’d even have been dumb enough to go to jfk not that i have ANY interest at all in going to the game to see detroit (! of all boring teams) play the yankees in the cold. but i would have done it. i can’t though. they’re very very nice people and i don’t want to stuff them around, esp. as now i really do feel i’m moving here…zacky, what can i do to help? who else can you ask? can i deliver your stuff to someone else who will meet you?"

So, uh, anyone else interested? Lia? Brooke? Ben? Naturi? Paige? Cal Ripken, Jr.?

By the way, Jules is moving here from Australia. Yay.

(THE NON-BASEBALL TRAVEL UPDATE, DAY 12: Martha and I went back to that huge market and ate all the pastries in sight. I napped all afternoon, then had dinner with my whole family and an 84-year-old man named Reuven Feuerstein. He’s a renowned child psychologist who founded the International Center for the Enhancement of Learning Potential. I won’t get into it here, but he’s amazing.)

Help!

Forget everything I wrote in the last entry.
Sorry.

When I said that our flight would be landing around 2pm, I said it because that’s what someone else had told me. I won’t name names, but this someone is the person who made this whole trip happen, the person who holds onto everyone’s passports, the person who has the airline tickets.

Earlier today, I asked this someone exactly what time our flight lands on Thursday. “If it’s 2:06 or 1:58, I need to know,” and I explained why.

Turns out the flight lands at exactly 3:15pm.

C r a p.

That, umm, kinda makes it hard to get to Yankee Stadium by 5:00pm. Now, I only have 105 minutes to get off the plane, get my luggage, pass through customs (which I’d somehow forgotten about in yesterday’s entry), go home to Manhattan, gather my things for the game, head back out on the subway, run halfway around the ballpark (with a half-sister who’d prefer not to run anywhere), wait on line, buy a ticket, run back around the stadium and get on line at the gate.

I told Martha.
She’s no longer interested in joining me.
HelpThat’s a shame.
I still think it’s possible to get there on time.
I want to try to make it happen.
But I need help.

My parents offered to help by waiting for my luggage while I run off and slip through customs and jump in a cab.

But I need more help. You see, I’ll never make it on time if I have to go home, so I need someone to get my glove, rubber band, Sharpie, Yankees cap, and Tigers cap — and meet me at the airport. That way, I can take a cab straight to Yankee Stadium.

I’m hoping my good friend Jules can do it. Not only is Jules a huge Red Sox fan who’d enjoy rooting against the Yankees with me, but he’s been staying at my place while I’ve been gone. That’s half a month of Manhattan rent for free. He owes me bigtime. (Jules, are you there? Are you reading this? Whaddaya say? Want to meet me at the airport? I’ll pay for our taxi to the Bronx. I’ll buy you a beer at the game. I’ll even pay for your ticket. Oh! That reminds me, we should probably have our tickets BEFORE we arrive. Any chance you could swing by the Yankees clubhouse store and pick up a couple of upper deck seats? It’s on 59th between Park and Lex, right next to the Argosy. That would be a big help. Thanks. I’ll tell everyone who reads this blog what a great friend you are. Wait, I just thought of something…would you rather meet me AT Yankee Stadium? That would save you a bit of a commute, but perhaps since I’ve been gone so long, you’d rather make the trek to JFK so we could spend all that extra time together in the taxi. Yes? Maybe you could bring me a sweatshirt, too? Weather.com says it’s going to be a bit nippy. Anyway, could you let me know about all of this ASAP? If you can’t make it, I need time to find someone else who can do it. Thanks. You’re a real pal.)

So this is what I’m up to in Israel: stressing over making it on time to batting practice at Yankee Stadium. It’s hard to find time to go to games. And when I do find the time, there’s not much left over for anything else.

(THE NON-BASEBALL TRAVEL UPDATE, DAY 11: Took a four-hour drive to Eilat at the southern tip of Israel. Visited an underwater museum. Took a dip in the Red Sea. Went swimming with some dolphins. Popped over to Egypt for a few minutes and danced an “I’m in Africa” jig. Happy to show you the footage sometime…)

Snagging cures jet lag?

Yesterday, Martha happened to mention that she’s never been to a baseball game at either New York stadium.

So I did a little research.

Turns out the Yankees are home the day we get back. That’s Thursday. Gametime is 7:05pm. Gates open at 5:05pm. Gotta be online outside the gates by 4:45pm. Gotta be on line at the ticket window by 4:30pm. Gotta be in the subway by 3:45pm…but Martha doesn’t like to run…better make that 3:30pm…but Martha REALLY doesn’t like to run…make it 3:15pm.

MarthaOur flight will land at around 2:00pm. We’ll get off the plane around 2:10pm. We’ll get our luggage around 2:20pm. We’ll get a taxi around 2:25pm. We’ll get back to Manhattan around 3:15pm.

Uh-oh.

I’ll get upstairs at 3:16pm. I’ll finish peeing at 3:17pm. I’ll gather my stuff for the game by 3:20pm. I’ll call Martha (she’s from Memphis and will be staying seven blocks away at my parents’ place) and tell her to meet me at the subway at 3:25pm. I’ll also tell her she might need to run a little bit. Or maybe jog. Or at least speed-walk.

Forget about being late. There are three other issues:

1. It might rain. (It always “might rain,” and if it rains, I’m not going. Yankee Stadium without batting practice is worthless.)

2. Martha has already asked me to catch her a ball. I thought she was joking. She wasn’t. I told her that I own every ball I’ve ever caught and that my collection would be incomplete if I gave one away. “ONE ball for your SISTER?” she asked. Some people just don’t get it. Actually, a lot of people don’t get it. It’s a shame when those people share my last name. I told her that I’d help her catch her own ball. She doubted she’d be able to. “Do I need a glove?” she asked. No. Just shaddap and do what I tell you. She still wasn’t sure. I told her that every person I’ve ever brought to a game got a ball if he or she wanted one and put in the effort. I didn’t tell her that she might need to run.

3. Jet lag. By the time the game starts, it’s going to feel like 2:05am for me. Normally, that’s dinner time, but I’ve been going to bed even earlier than that on this trip. By the time the game Paperairplaneends (if it’s of average length), it’ll feel like 4:53am. By the time I get home, it’ll feel like 5:51am. Poor Martha goes to bed even earlier than me. She’ll die. But damn, if a Yankees game is not exciting enough to force us to stay awake, then there’s really no hope.

I’m hoping the game will help me beat my jet lag all in one shot because the following night (Friday the 27th), I’m scheduled to work my usual shift from 9pm to 3am. If I don’t find a way to readjust my sleep pattern, it’ll feel like I’m working until 10am.

That’s not ideal.

Wish me luck.

(THE NON-BASEBALL TRAVEL UPDATE, DAY 10: It was Shabbas. The whole city shut down. That made it harder to overeat…except for that $33 buffet lunch at the hotel at which I felt it was my duty to get my parents’ money’s worth, and then some. Oy.)

55,740

That’s how many fans were at Shea Stadium last night for the first Mets/Yanks game of the season.

SardinesOh, how happy I am to be an ocean away. I want no part of this Subway Series nonsense. Exciting baseball, yes, but I don’t do big crowds. Shea might hold over 55,000 people, but it wasn’t properly built for that many. The concourses are narrow, the staircases are narrow, the aisles are narrow and, with the exception of a horrible bleachers section, there aren’t any seats on the field level in fair territory. Even with a crowd of 30,000, the place feels packed. If I’d gone to yesterday’s game, I probably would’ve struggled to get three or four balls, and I would’ve been miserable the whole time. Interleague play = bad news.

(THE NON-BASEBALL TRAVEL UPDATE, DAY 9: During our cab ride to the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood where we ended up being stared at, we saw a gorgeous structure with gigantic steps and ledges built with tan slabs of stone. We figured it must’ve been some ancient Byzantine amphitheater.

"Excuse me," said my dad to the driver. "What is that?"

"Garage," he replied.

Yeah, Jerusalem is pretty.)

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