Friday, April 1, 2011

New York Yankees Opening Day 2011

March 31, 2011:
I hadn’t been to an Opening Day since the last season of the “Old” Yankees Stadium and I’m not really sure what prompted me to investigate the cost of tickets on StubHub this year, but it took me all of 10 minutes to find seats for under $100/each, ask Jess to go with me, and commit to the purchase. Behold: my first Opening Day in two years (and my first legitimate Opening Day blog posting) and Jess’ first appearance on the TBB blog.

We arrived at the stadium at about 12:00 for a 1:05 start. The sky was grey and the air was cold and dank. The crowd outside the stadium seemed immense. We struggled to maneuver around the mass waiting on line to enter through Gate 6, hoping to reach a less bombarded entrance. Sure enough, once past Gate 6, the lines were minute and we were quickly ushered into the Great Hall. One might think that our first stop would be our seats or even the bathroom after a fairly long subway ride, but no. Jess and my actions are dictated by (with very, very few exceptions) one thing and one thing only: food. At a previous game, Jess had eaten a steak sandwich from the Lobel’s stand on Field Level near home plate and insisted that I had to try it.
The line was long, but moved fairly quickly. While we waited, we could watch the butcher carve the meat through a glass window. The smell of cooking meat permeated the air and made my stomach growl.
The sandwich was $15, which sounds like a lot, but the buttery roll is well-stuffed with juicy, thickly sliced meat. It was sooo delicious. If you have the extra cash, I’d highly recommend it.
In our infinite wisdom, we also bought ice cold Bud Light in souvenir cups for $11/each. Gripping the frigid wet cups on our way to our seats was torture to our poor exposed digits.
Our seats were located in the upper deck near left field and offered us a fair view of the entire field. Only Brett Gardener at his position in left was obscured to us.
The opening ceremony was beautiful, beginning with the national anthem and unfolding of the American flag in center field.
Fighter planes thundering overheard closed out the anthem.
Mike Mussina threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Jorge Posada amid the chorus of “Moooooooooooooose.” How can you not love Moose?
Finally, the game was underway with CC Sabathia’s first pitch.
What followed was 6 innings of constant reminders as to why fantasy baseball does not work for me. It forces me to divide my loyalty. I recently joined my cousin’s fantasy league (Team Name: Tigers Love Pepper…and yes, this is yet another reference to The Hangover) which is the first fantasy league that I’ve participated in since my freshman year in college. Yesterday, I had three of my players starting in the Yankees/Tigers matchup: Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, and…Justin Verlander. Do you know what it’s like to beg Verlander to pitch like a beast so that he’d earn me points AND encourage Rodriguez and Swisher to hit well so that THEY’D earn me points?

Mark Teixeira’s 3-run homerun in the 1st was both and exhilarating and disappointing. What the hell?? Why couldn’t Rodriguez or Swisher have hit that? I mean, if we’re going to pelt my starting pitcher with home runs, I’d like it to be one of my hitters so that Tigers Love Pepper would at least benefit from it. Do you know who triumphed with that homerun? Mamadukes’ team. Thank god I’m not playing her this week.

Each time men were in scoring position with 2 outs, I’d say something to the effect of, “Okay, if Jorge hits the ball to the first baseman and he bobbles the ball, allowing Jorge to reach first, that’s an error and doesn’t affect any points that Verlander may earn for me.” Repeating crap like that on a continual basis over the course of several innings would annoy anyone. I’m truly surprised that Jess did not punch me in the face.
Around the 4th inning, we needed a weather break. It had alternated between a steady drizzle, no precipitation, and hail (literally. This is not an exaggeration) the entire time. The wind pummeled the upper deck relentlessly. Plus, the man sitting behind us had absolutely no concept of “space courtesy.” He sat slouched in his seat with his legs wide open and his knees against the backs of our heads. Every time I turned to say something to Jess, my peripheral was greeted by his crotch. It was needless to say jarring. The unpleasant conditions had prompted most of the crowd to seek shelter amongst the walkways and numerous gift shops stationed throughout the stadium, so Crotch Man had an entire row to himself. He did not need to sit directly behind us and share his entire glory with us. Jess and I bolted for the ladies’ room.

Our muscles ached from being clenched for so long in the cold. Jess couldn’t feel her feet whereas my body had finally achieved the state where it was so cold that it no longer felt itself at all, which could’ve meant that I was dying…but I’m no doctor. The need to thaw sent us on a gift shop investigation. Jess could not find a suitable sweatshirt to buy in order to combat the elements. The sweatshirts available for women were so thin that it could hardly be considered a sweatshirt, let alone worth the price of $60.

Before returning to our seats, I bought a hot pretzel at a nearby stand for $4.50. By the time we walked from the stand to our seats, the pretzel was cold. Fail.

The removal of Verlander in favor of Phil Coke (sporting a newly grown chin Brazilian, which nearly caused me to vomit up my formerly hot pretzel) made things a lot easier for me. Go ahead, Yankees lineup, pummel the crap out of him!

In the top of the 9th, Enter Sandman signaled the entrance of Mariano Rivera. I snapped a quick photo of him leaving the bullpen…
…and pitching. He retired the side easily, leaving Jess and I to battle the crowds and subway.
Jess had been practicing her “Blog Face” all week in preparation for this post:

Couple of things on the day to comment on:
  • Several amazing plays made by Curtis Granderson makes me grateful that Johnny Damon is gone and that the Yankees finally have a competent center fielder. And it instilled a sense of missed opportunity that I hadn’t ranked him higher in the auto draft.
  • Brett Gardner might be one of the fastest men in baseball. When he runs, his feet become blurred like the Road Runner’s.
  • I’m totally confident in our lineup this year and not so confident in our bullpen.
  • CC Sabathia looks like Big Poppa (Jess and I came to this conclusion together).
  • Russell Martin not only stole a base, but he tagged from third and scored on a fly ball to the outfield. Holy crap, we have a catcher that can actually run faster than I walk!!! It’s an Opening Day miracle!
  • The Tigers’ second baseman, Will Rhymes, is having some serious issues with his facial hair growth. The fur that carpets his neck (and very faintly on the face…like peach fuzz) made us think that he’s unable to grow actual facial hair and therefore settled for growing it all over his neck. Just because you can grow hair in other places besides your chin/face does not mean you should do it. If you’re unable to cultivate proper facial hair, take it as a sign that you’re meant to be a clean shaven lad.
  • Finally, in his photo that’s displayed on the stadium’s jumbotron, Tigers’ relief pitcher, Ryan Perry showcases a smile so wide and “toothy” that it reminded Jess and I of the elves working in Santa’s Workshop in the movie…well…Elf. Is there sugar in syrup? Then YES!
Our regularly scheduled TBB blog will be posted on Sunday as planned.

By the way - today I have Jonathan Sanchez and Felix Hernandez going for Tigers Love Pepper.


  1. Looks fun. I can't imagine going to Opening Day all bundled up and freezing.