7/31/07 at Yankee Stadium

Check out the new Yankee Stadium. It’s coming along. Not quite as fast as Citi Field, but construction is definitely in full swing…

new_yankee_stadium3.jpg

Anyway, I attended this game for ONE reason: to try to catch A-Rod’s 500th career home run.

I knew there’d be a huge crowd, but I had no idea what seats–if any–would be available 90 minutes before the stadium opened, so when I walked up to the ticket window I said, “This may be a dumb question, but do you have anything available in left field?”

“We’ve been getting that question a lot,” said the woman with a smile. “How many do you need?”

I told her I just needed one, but that I wanted to be right behind the main aisle and that I needed to be on the end of a row. She typed a bunch of stuff into her computer and came up with a ticket for me in the perfect spot. First row behind the aisle in the middle of left field, and she assured me it was an end seat. I was stunned.

waste_of_money.jpg

“How much is it?” I asked.

“Sixty-three,” she said.

Ouch.

I was afraid that stadium security would lock down the entire section for A-Rod’s at-bats, so I bought the ticket and quickly found myself hoping that security would be extremely strict.

I started out in right field for batting practice, and within the first 10 minutes, I caught a ground-rule right_field_crowd.jpgdouble off the bat of Hideki Matsui. The seats and aisle were already so crowded by that point that I considered myself lucky. A few minutes later, I used my glove trick to snag another, and it had a weird green marking on it. weird_marking_2007.jpgI’ve seen this type of marking before, but I’ve never been able to figure out what causes it. Any theories?

By 5:30pm, the right field seats had become impossibly crowded, and all the Yankees were batting right-handed, so I headed to the dugout. Of course I couldn’t get anywhere near it (that’s how it always is at Yankee Stadium, even during BP), so I tried shouting at the players and coaches from 15 rows back. This lame strategy worked at AT&T Park on All-Star Sunday, but it didn’t get me anything in the Bronx.

The White Sox started hitting, and I decided to give left field a rare try. It seemed like a good idea to familiarize myself with judging fly balls out there, but as soon as I reached the foul pole, I remembered what a disaster that side of the stadium is. Monument Park. It’s a huge tourist attraction. It stays open monument_park_line.jpguntil 45 minutes before game time and ruins BP because there are hundreds of people who line up for it in the otherwise glorious aisle that cuts through the left field seats. To make matters worse, security had blocked off the line with an tight row of folding metal chairs. AND…the other half of the aisle was blocked by wannabe ball-snaggers standing behind the railings and other fans walking to their seats. And speaking of seats, they were full. There was literally no place to go. It was a nightmare, and I didn’t get another ball for the rest of BP.

Two nice things happened between BP and the game:

2008_all_star_logo.jpg

1) The Yankees unfurled a white cloth hanging high atop the white facade in left center field, revealing the logo for the 2008 All-Star Game.

2) I was able to sneak past security and enter the heavily-guarded seats along the left field foul line. (Yes, the guards now check tickets all the way out to the foul pole.) Then I was able to walk through the seats and work my way toward shallow left field, where Jerry Owens was playing catch with Josh Fields. When they finished, a dozen little kids shrieked for their autographs. Owens tucked the ball in his glove Jerry_owensand came over. I didn’t bother asking him to sign. Instead I asked him if there was any chance he could spare the ball. He nodded and kept signing for the kids, and when he was done, he placed the ball in my open glove.

It turned out that my sixty-three-dollar seat was NOT on the end of the row. There were two fat guys (without gloves) on my left and a Spanish-speaking family of four (no gloves, but several hand-held video games) on my right. I was trapped, so I brazenly asked the family if I view_from_left_field2.jpgcould have the end seat. They shrugged and looked at each other, then moved over and let me have it. Just like that. It was too good to be true. The view was amazing. The aisle was empty. I was so happy and thankful that I bought them a $5.50 bag of Cracker Jacks. All I needed was security to do its job and keep everyone in their seats and out of my way.

So much for that.

As soon as A-Rod stepped into the batters box, hundreds of people flooded the section. The staircases were packed. The aisle evaporated. Everyone was standing and taking photos and talking about what they were gonna do with the ball. The place was buzzing like I’d never seen, which I suppose would’ve crowd_for_arod1.jpgbeen fun had I not been trying to make the snag of my life, but as things were, I was thoroughly miserable. If the ball had been hit to my section, I wouldn’t have been able to move more than five feet for it, and if it even came within five feet of me, I would’ve drowned in the sea of humanity. A-Rod ended up flying to right on a 3-2 pitch, and I promptly filed a complaint with security. Security shrugged.

Then a bunch of people showed up and said I was sitting in their seats.

“There must be some mistake,” I said and asked to see their tickets.

No mistake. The family of four was in the wrong spot, and they weren’t even close. They were supposed to be in the Loge (second deck) on the first base side. Off they went with the Cracker Jacks, and I had a choice: slide in to the middle of the row or start roaming.

tunnel_during_abreu_at_bat.jpg

I chose the latter and hated every minute of the rest of the night. I went to right field for A-Rod’s next at-bat. I knew he wasn’t likely to homer in that direction, so I figured there wouldn’t be many people going for the ball there. WRONG. The tunnel had been nice and empty for Bobby Abreu’s at-bat, but as soon as A-Rod came up, dozens of fans came out of nowhere and clogged up every inch of real estate. Then, to make matters worse, security locked a chain in place that prevented the people in the tunnel from spilling out into the (cramped) aisle behind the outfield wall. I was at the front of the tunnel with my view of the outfield half-blocked, so when A-Rod connected and sent a deep fly ball to center, I gently stepped over the chain to see where it was going to land. Owens made the catch, and the security guard got up in my face and yelled, “DO THAT AGAIN AND YOU’LL BE OUT OF THE STADIUM!!!”

It was at that moment that I made a very important decision: if I caught A-Rod’s 500th home run, one of my demands in giving the ball back to him would be that the security guard be fired.

I went back to left field for A-Rod’s third at-bat and tried the tunnel down the left field line. The good news was that the back of the tunnel was empty, so if A-Rod hooked a deep fly ball JUST inside the foul pole, I’d be able to back up and make a relatively easy catch. The bad news (other than the fact that this was highly unlikely) was that I couldn’t see A-Rod.

crowd_for_arod2.jpg

The Yankees beat the White Sox, 16-3, and tied a franchise record by hitting eight home runs. A-Rod, hitless in 17 at-bats since his 499th home run, finished 0-for-5 and was replaced at 3rd base by Chris Basak in the top of the eighth inning.

I can’t wait to go back to Yankee Stadium later today…

STATS:

• 157 balls in 23 games this season = 6.8 balls per game.

• 478 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 53,958 fans at this game

• 3,118 total balls

27 Comments

I’ve only seen those markings on balls I’ve snagged at Citizens Bank Park. I think when balls hit the grated green metal surfaces that line the tops of walls in right and center field there leave those marks. I have a bunch of them. Not sure though. It would make sense, because the White Sox did play a series there about six weeks ago.

(Anyway, I’m leaving now.)

Zacker:

The weird green markings on the ball look like rug burns off the magic carpet in Tropicana Field in Tampa or perhaps the Rogers Centre in Toronto…

I’v seen the markings on balls, and I agree with Greg. They also could have hit the protective netting.

Well, it looks like I’ll have no chance to catch 500, unless it goes into the tunnel. I’m too short.

You should have called the Border Patrol on the family of 4. Sounded like you were at PETCO Park there for a moment. Good luck again tonight. I have a feeling tonight is the night for A rod. Very boring ballgame at PETCO last night. Got one ball from Kevin Kouzmanoff with an assist from your old friend TC. Remember him? TC also caught Stephen Drew’s home run last night. That’s 4 gamers for him this year to my 1. Geez, he’s good. I’ll never catch him. Once again, good luck tonight with A rod.

Leigh

I’d agree with Mike. About 1/2 of the balls I get at Tropicana Field have those markings.

When I did not see you in RF during the White Sox BP, I suspected you went to LF.

I had to laugh reading your blog. I have a 46 Game Plan of $17 seats halfway up the full Upper Deck and right behind home plate. Except for ball snagging, my seats are ten times better for watching a game than the seats you had which cost four times more. One thing we could see upstairs was the massive flow of humanity to the OF fences when A-Rod came to the plate and not a vision of blue representing an empty seat.

Interestingly, in Camden Yards on Saturday night, I did the same thing you did and went into RF near the scoreboard–hoping he could poke one over the relatively reachable wall. Although it was four deep at the wall, it remained surprisingly clear in the plaza area through to the warehouse–I suspect because you could not actually see A-Rod hitting, and more people wanted to see that instead of getting the ball. Alas, no HR to right.

If you make it tonight, good luck!

Zack, sounds like you had tough luck out in the outfield seats. I must say, even though I’m a Mets fan, every now and then I like to sit out there for a Yankees game. I snagged identical tickets to those for a July 4th game in 2003 (Yankees-Red Sox). The Red Sox hit 7 HR’s off David Wells. It was pretty insane.

Good luck tonight!

padreleigh-im not trying to be rude or anything but why is it that everytime you see or hear about spanish people u assume they are illegal immagrants? There are many spanish people who have obtained legal status as a united states citizen. I dont want to say its racist because for all i know you could be kidding but please keep the comments to yourself if they are going to be like that or make it clear that it was a joke. thank you

oh and zack, what is the plan tonight? buy the same seats or buy a cheaper one and just go to the aisle like everyone else did? either way good luck!!!

Zack,

Sorry it’s been awhile. Throwing out the first pitch was fun. No chance to warm up my arm, so it was low.

As for the green marks, it’s astroturf. As in old school turf. We played high school playoff games back in 1993-94 at Lackawanna County Stadium and a couple of scorched line drives came off the field with those marks, and my brother even got a similar mark on his pants after diving foa a ball.

I’ll call you soon…

Heff

That looks like a mob scene. I probably have a better chance at catching A-Rods 500th by sitting in my living room hoping he hits it 3,000 miles than trying for it in their.

http://baseballstuff.mlblogs.com

EVERYONE-
I’m running off to the game again. Will answer comments later. I’m just buying a cheap seat tonight. I’ll probably be down the left field line in the tunnel. Might try right field. Not sure. Look for me. I’m wearing dark green khaki shorts, a white t-shirt, and a black cap.

Man, Im PO’d!! My camp trip today was terrible(we went to Splish Splash in Riverhead Long Island) and I went on three rides. I shoulda skipped it and go to the Yankee game.

A-ROD: PLEASE **** tonight!!

Why do you need a seat at the end of the row? You run to the bathroom often? Why did you file a complaint with security yesterday? If you catch ARods 500th I doubt any security will be fired from your DEMANDS? If I was ARod I would say keep the 500th. I am pretty sure he will be hitting a few more HRs in the near future. The 500th will be just like is 3rd to him.

One other thing, what is wrong with fat people or Spanish speaking people? About have of baseball speak Spanish. Are you afraid they were talking about you? I will guess that ARod knows Spanish.

A-Rod does speak spanish. There is nothing wrong with spanish speaking people, except if they have crossed our borders illegaly. many don’t but there are some who are in the US illegaly. And in Yankee Stadium, the problem with fat people is that they are sometimes too big for the small seats, and it is hard to walk in and out of the row.

Wow that must of been an extremely depressing game.I would not be surprised if the people who had the wrong seats were tourists and just wanted to see yankee stadium.
A ROD 0-5 thats pretty crappy when everybody else is having a great night at the plate. You should tell the box office the woman lied to you that just isnt right and if it was me last night i would taken the cracker jacks from those people i mean what a waste of 5.50 !

Zack, have you ever seen Seat 4 be an aisle seat in any ballpark? Check your tix before you leave the ticket window!

Hope I see you tommorow Zack!!

A-ROD: You can do good now!!

Excellent Job Zack! 3 balls is good for a busy day like that! Do homerun balls usually land in the walkway to the seats in the rf (outfield)??

Chris

Hi RedSox…

Yeah, you are right. Joke there buddy!!! It’s a San Diego thing. You wouldn’t understand amigo. I thought you Red Sox fans were thick skinned too? By the way it’s spelled immigrants, not immagrants. Also, the words United States are always capitalized. I’ll help you out with something else too. When you vote in November, look for the words DEMOCRATIC PARTY. Those are the candidates you would probably want to vote for. God Bless America and may all illegal immigrants be deported.

Leigh

No Leigh, its REPUBLICAN PARTY!! NY is just as crowded with the immigrants. Most stores have many of their sig ns in Engles and Spanish.

leigh-how was i supposed to know it was a joke? you never said haha, or just kidding or anything. im not trying to fight i just think its unfair to assume all mexican people are illegal immigrants. thats all, im not trying to get into an argument with you. you assured me it was a joke so thank you, i didnt need all the other stuff about spelling and the democratic party. and one more thing, i agree 100% that all the ILLEGAL immigrants should be deported, but that doesnt mean all mexicans should be deported! but lets end this now, this is a blog about baseball so ill end it now saying: Leigh, i am sorry for stating my opinion about your comment. Thank you for answering my question.

GREG-
I can’t wait to hear about your trip.

MIKE.LOS-

Well, you must be right. Several other people said the same thing.

PUCK COLLECTOR-

I think Yao Ming is too short, so don’t worry about it. Sorry your camp trip was lame, but c’mon, what’s with jinxing A-Rod when I was gonna be there? BTW, yes, I’ve seen a seat #4 on the aisle. Every stadium and every section is different. Out in left field at Yankee Stadium, for example, the end seats in the first two rows behind the main aisle have various numbers: 1, 5, 8, 10, and 14. (Yes, I took notes.) Unfortunately, every #4 out there is buried in the middle of the row.

LEIGH-

Four game homers already for T.C.?*****. That guy is incredible. Looks like you’re gonna get your shot at Bonds after all…

MUNKITTR-

Half the balls?! Wow. It has to be the carpet. Thanks.

WCIMONS-

Yeah, that standing room only section is amazing for the reason you mentioned. If I lived in Baltimore, I’d clean up out there.

PSU532-

It’s normally a great section for home run balls, but yeah, things were just out of control for A-Rod.

REDSOX342445-

My plan last night should’ve been to protect myself against injury.

HEFF-

Good to hear from you, as usual. I’m wondering what exactly you mean by “low.” If you bounced it, I’ll be very disappointed. Thanks for confirming the source of the green markings. Talk soon…

CHARLIE-

I think you’re right.

AAAAAAAAAAAA4082-

I wanted to be on the end of the row so I could jump up and run for The Ball. I filed the complaint because I was frustrated. I have nothing against Spanish-speakers. I was just trying to be descriptive.

GTPLAYA1994-

The biggest waste of money was the ticket, but you’re right…I should’ve complained to the ticket people instead of stadium security.

CHRIS-

Thanks. Walkways are an excellent place to get balls unless there’s a huge crowd.

After actually checking my collection instead of talking out of my ****, I’d put the figure at more like 10-15%. Either way, I’m definitely used to seeing those types of markings. Another possibility is that there is a green wall somewhere at Yankee Stadium, and it bounced off.

a-r-s-e is censored? You gotta be kidding me.

did you give the security guard the finger?

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