4/27/12 at Yankee Stadium
I wish I hadn’t attended this game.
Not only did I overpay for my ticket and get shut out during the Yankees’ portion of batting practice, but I somewhat narrowly miss A-Rod’s 633rd career home run and froze my ass off — and now have a sore throat.
For a while, I thought I was going to get completely shut out, but Tigers pitcher Collin Balester saved the day. Here he is starting to play catch with Phil Coke:
Ten minutes later, he tossed me the ball near the foul pole.
This was my view during the final group of BP:
Not only was it crowded and nearly impossible to see, but I found myself standing directly behind a 6-foot-7 man (partially pictured above on the right edge of the photo). I’m not exaggerating. He was actually 6-foot-7. I know this because I asked him. With two minutes remaining in BP, one of the Tigers lefties hit a towering home run that ended up coming right to me. At the last second, as the tall guy reached up with his bare hands, I jumped and reached over him and felt the ball smack the pocket of my glove. That one felt great, not only because of the physical challenges that I’d overcome, but because it preserved my streak of consecutive games with two or more balls — a streak that goes all the way back to the 2007 All-Star Game.
The home run ball had a marker streak on the sweet spot:
Lots of teams mark their baseballs; that’s how the Tigers have been doing it for the last few seasons.
After BP, I ran into a kid named Jacob Resnick, who’s in the process of becoming more famous than me. Take a look at the photo of us below and see if he looks familiar:
I’d met Jacob several times before (check out this photo of us from 8/6/11 at Citi Field) and was glad to see him yesterday; in the photo above, I was jokingly making a disgruntled face because he’d outsnagged me during BP. But anyway, as I was saying . . . Jacob . . . famous.
Last year, the Mets had a contest through which several kids got to do some play-by-play announcing on TV during games. Jacob was lucky enough to be one of them, and while he was 0n the air, Jose Reyes happened to hit a home run. As it turned out, Jacob’s home-run call was so polished and awesome that it made headlines. And that’s not all. Jacob is now the Mets’ “kid correspondent” on SportsNet New York. (For the record, he’s a Mets fan and goes to Citi Field more than any other ballpark; he was only wearing a Yankee cap because he was *at* Yankee Stadium.)
Soon after Jacob (and his father) and I parted ways, I wandered over to the Yankees’ bullpen to see if there were any baseballs leftover from BP:
If you look closely at the photo above, you can see a groundskeeper in the bullpen. After he finished putting away some equipment, he tossed all the balls into the crowd. Most went to the rowdy men and their cute girlfriends up above in the bleachers, but one of the balls found its way into my glove.
After that (and because I had no way to get into the seats in foul territory), I passed the time here:
That’s me in the photo above with the black jacket and hood. I was reading Kitchen Confidential (which is extremely entertaining and well written).
This was my view during the game:
In typical Yankee Stadium fashion, dozens of fans screamed insults and obscenities at the visiting team’s right fielder throughout the game. The victim on this particular night was Brennan Boesch, who throws left-handed — an important detail, as you’ll soon find out. (The security guards did nothing to stop these fans, choosing instead to harass the few folks who were quietly sitting with their — GASP!!! — feet up on the cup holders.) Early in the game, Boesch fielded a ball near the foul line and make a quick throw to second base. His throw was strong and accurate and only bounced once, but it looked especially bad from the right field seats because it had been somewhat of a so-called lawn dart. Boesch had pretty much thrown it into the ground and gotten lucky when the ball skipped up nicely to the shortstop.
“HEY, BOESCH!!!” hollered a nearby fan. “ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE NOT RIGHT-HANDED?!?!?!”
It was the only funny thing I heard all night, but it *was* damn funny.
The not-funny thing about the game was the A-Rod homer. In the following photo (which was taken several innings later, after many of the “fans” had left), do you see the woman wearing the dark red hat? She’s standing between the L and S in front of the “Modell’s” sign:
She’s the one who snagged A-Rod’s home run ball, and even though there was nothing I could’ve done about it, it still pained me. The homer was a line drive that landed nearly one full section to my left (closer to the foul pole). The ball touched down in a totally empty patch of seats, roughly eight rows back, and ricocheted sharply in my direction. I was still 20 feet away from it at that point, and there were half a dozen fans who were closer. The woman in the red hat was closest and simply had to reach down and pick it up. AAAHHH!!!
And did I mention that it was cold? Despite wearing long underwear and gloves, my feet and hands were numb, and when I got up to use the bathroom during the 7th-inning stretch, my legs were like muscly icicles. It was hard to bend them or feel them or use them, and in addition to that, my face was so cold that my speech was slightly slurred. Has that ever happened to you? I don’t know how football fans manage to sit outside in the winter. This was April, and I was suffering. Granted, it was in the low 30s by the end of the game, and I’d been outside (and sitting still) for four solid hours, but still, in the grand scheme of things, that’s not THAT cold.
The game itself was exciting. Justin Verlander (whose 100th pitch of the night clocked in at 97mph), left after six innings with a 6-5 lead. The Yankees tied it in the bottom of the 8th, brought in Mariano Rivera to breeze through the top of the 9th, and won it in the bottom of the 9th on a wild pitch. Wanna guess who was at bat — who never got to finish his at-bat? Yeah, A-Rod.
• 78 balls in 11 games this season = 7.09 balls per game.
• 803 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 550 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball
• 161 consecutive Yankees home games with at least one ball
• 32 consecutive games at the new Yankee Stadium with at least two balls
• 5,897 total balls
(I’m raising money again this season for Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. Click here to learn more about my fundraiser, and click here to see the prizes that I’ll be giving away to donors.)
• 19 donors
• $1.20 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $3.60 raised at this game
• $93.60 raised this season
• $19,250.60 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009