Act One: Rise
Four hours. Sleep is the price I pay for negligence. I put off doing my English research paper, on the delightful art of sportswriting, until one in the morning, eventually concluding it’s subtly insane contents at 3:00 AM. There I was, scattered sources splattered all over my desk, one corner nestling a brilliant Best of book featuring the work of Tom Verducci, in another, a hard as nails pigskin pamphlet written by Mike Freeman. The paper was decent, despite an out of nowhere diatribe against Mike Lupica featured on the bottom of page three. Bitterness is a powerful thing, my friends.
It had been a rough day. Another absent minded morning and afternoon spent at School, our controlling hierarchy gradually losing their grip on the Senior Classes’ general sensibility. In the cafeteria, a spontaneous chant of ” We Will Rock You” directed at the Dean of Discipline stretched beyond a minute, replete with on cue table pounding. If nothing else, we are unified in our daily quest, being complete jackasses.
I’d been looking forward to the Yankee game all day, predicting a big start from the Yankees’ gangly ace, Randy Johnson. Johnson had been inconsistent, pounded in his prior outing.
Johnson, of course, was shelled. Alex Rodriguez was booed. And the research paper that I had not allowed entrance within my thoughts until the game’s conclusion reared its ugly head around the fourth, after a Mark Loretta double.
” Damn! I still have to do that Paper!”
Rough it is, the morning after a brutal loss. I promise myself to avoid the newspaper at all cost. Of course, there it is, as I pour myself a bowl of cereal, the Post trumping a characteristically obnoxious headline. My eyes are heavy, weighing an estimated fifty pounds. I pass out in a sea of Cheerio’s, always a joyous experience. Knowing full well the team would be skewered after any loss to Boston, my high hopes of Randy Johnson victory were cut even deeper than usual, because if there is anything I love doing before attending a big game, it’s to wrap myself in every detail. Now, I had been robbed of that. No listening to the Fan during art class, one of my favorite pastimes. No reading the paper during homeroom, a superior alternative when compared against actually viewing the Student Produced school news. My habits are changed outrageously after a Yankee loss. The media negativity just has a way of gnawing at my soul. It’s just a drag, having one’s most pessimistic thoughts mutually agreed upon by fire stoking columnists. Surely, this process is dramatically easier to digest after a loss to the `Rays. However, after a defeat inflicted by Boston, it’s just painful.
School flies by at a reasonably quick pace. The highly anticipated sequel to ” We Will Rock You” is a laconic, yet original, chant of ” Briiiaaannn”, a dig directed at the Dean once again, targeting his seldom spoken first name. He laughs it off, certainly relieved to be rid of us by next week’s end.
Act Two: A Special Guest Appearance
My brother and I plan for a Six o’clock departure. He informs me of our added company, in the form of his longtime buddy Brett, to be accompanied by his girlfriend.
I had meticulously planned my day while nodding off in first period:
6-? – Game
1-2- Column about game
The nap went off without a hitch. I had a nightmare, it’s memory washed from my conscience as soon as I arose. Chances are it involved either Randy Johnson or hanging sliders, perhaps a combo of both.
Greg and I, while awaiting the arrival of Brett, begin a fierce argument regarding the Yankees’ starting pitcher Mike Mussina. I feel my bro harbors unjust hate for Mike, the motive unclear. He claims Moose simply rubs him the wrong way, coming off as reclusive and snooty. He doesn’t appreciate Mussina’s compulsive tendencies, ticks and tocks of an otherwise smooth personality that are often easily thrown off by external forces. I’ll never personally forget a particular peculiar Moose moment, in which he claimed a Pre-Game ceremony celebrating the accomplishments of Blue Jay broadcaster Tom Cheek dragged on far beyond it’s anticipated allotment, a cause partly to blame for a porous outing.
Mussina, however, is my favorite Yankees pitcher. I counter my brother’s arguments with games: Game 3 against Oakland, 2001, Game 7 against Boston, 2003.
” Tell you what,” he offered sardonically, “If Mussina pitches good tonight, he’ll move up a notch on my list.”
Brett arrives, girlfriend in tow, and we take off toward Yankee Stadium, making decent time.
Brett wears his emotions on a ragged sleeve, bursting into sudden enthusiasm during even the most mundane of conversations. With the added intensity of Red Sox-Yankee game, he flies off the handle with astonishing regularity. His seat is rows from ours, spoiling a good view of his inevitable ejection from the ballpark. The question wasn’t if with Brett, but when. He’s on his A-game early as we approach gate four outside the stadium, viciously assailing Red Sox fans with verbal spew. He is on an impressive, rapid-fire delivery, offending at least five people per minute. His girlfriend often joins in on the assaults, as they form an unstoppable tag team duo of non-stop expletives. My brother and I hang back and callously observe, unsure of how to approach, let alone stop, a runaway train.
” My money’s on the fifth,” Greg exclaims, nodding his head toward his theatrically passionate Yankee fan friend, predicting the inning of his dismissal.
[It was actually the seventh]
Act Three: Exterior
Stan’s, a ragged yet quintessentially aesthetic bar/town hall, is located just beyond the Bleacher Entrance into the House that Ruth Built, a short walk across a usually closed off street. To properly comprehend the buzz transfixing even the most placid of demeanor before a rivalry game against hated Boston is to breathe in it’s ethereal energy, visually digesting the denizens arriving and departing Stan’s as first pitch looms. The people are in an impractical frenzy, a cavalcade of expended energy and wasted motion. They scream, holler, randomly jump short distances, and occasionally even grip their faces, as if caught in the midst of a rather perplexing dream. As one approaches his or her particular gate, weaving around a labyrinth of tourists, vendors, and diehard fans, they will often find themselves melted into a time and place, simply filling out the design of intimate postcard. After all, when the sun is shining, when spirits are high, when people such as Brett perform, justifying our obsession with proof of their own, it’s easy to accept the reliable happiness that arrives with just fitting in, another Yankee fan clutching a ticket close to the heart.
The electricity was there Wednesday Night, Ace Vs. Ace, our hope renewed in Moose, our deepest fury launched into renewal at the mere sight of Schilling.
Act Four: Row X
For those lucky uninitiated in the Tier fraternity, Nose Bleed seats truly provide an equally thought provoking and repulsive perspective on a Baseball game.
Our seats, Greg and I, are in Tier section 5, Row X. As a little kid, I always assumed purchasing seats in tier would make a grown man shed one, clarifying it’s usage as adjective instead of “Upper-Deck.” As time advances forward however, I have come to appreciate the Tier seats, often disregarding the occasional caveats that creep into any Stadium Viewing.
And sure, the drawbacks are many. The players, obviously, seem in another world, visitors from another planet viewed from beyond looking glass. The fans, many proud partakers in Happy Hour, seem quick to challenge easily accessible enemies. During the course of three innings, a drunken, middle-aged Red Sox fan, bent on the task of taking on the entire city of New York, began harassing an entire section, purposefully allowing his burly body to shroud the vision of at least 15 paid customers, executing his plan exclusively during lulls of activity when nobody else was standing. He pleaded ignorance of course, pretending to reach into his pocket for the trusty cell phone. The charade, made cosmically perfect by his Gray and Red Johnny Damon jersey, worn perhaps to spite only himself, came to a merciful conclusion in the top of the third.
Stonewall Jackson, as I had taken to calling him from my perched, objective view, was utterly doused by approximately thirty flying beers, in an impressive attack of intense coordination. It would be the Security Guards’ first full-fledged appearance of the night, as they quickly and quietly ejected the drenched and beleaguered Damon fan. He surprised nobody in his inability to finger any assailants. Or speak a coherent sentence.
It isn’t right of course, picking on another human being exclusively due to their devotion to a team different than yours. In the case of Super Fan Number 18 however, mob justice is often the only immediate answer.
Act Five: The Game
Moose, after a rocky first two frames, settled down and mixed an impressive array of breaking pitches, punctuated with a flat out nasty change, to navigate through seven successful innings.
Schilling, on the other hand, seemed to run out of steam around the fourth, hanging his splitter and failing to locate his fastball. The highlight of the night occurred courtesy of Alex Rodriguez, who took his nemesis deep into the left field seats for a tie-breaking home run. Rodriguez earned a brief reprieve from the slings of his constant critics, garnering a standing ovation from a fickle Stadium Crowd. Alex is a victim of his talents, which bring about impossibly unreasonable expectations. When he does indeed deliver however, it truly is a sight to see, and an occasion to raucously cheer in absolute approval.
And so we did.
” You know, Moose isn’t that bad.” Greg said it, choking down his pride for a quiet second.
I sat there, ignoring another brawl a few rows away, disregarding the squinting it took for the kaleidoscope of my favorite game to flourish in perfect vision, sitting back, relaxing, Sox-Yanks.
” Not bad at all.”
Act Six: And so it goes…
The newspaper would be devoured come morning, positive reinforcement. I’d catch the replay, sneak another peak at ESPN News for the highlights, and even appreciate a less grumpy and more effective Mike Lupica.
Then, I’d watch another game, and another one after that, until the end of time, never keeping a safe distance.
Caught a good sleep that night.
6 replies on “A Night at Yankee Stadium by Matt Waters”
GO YANKS! That might be the most kick ass story I’ve ever read on here. I don’t think one detail was left out; without every single one, the story wouldn’t have been the same.
Thanks Alot I really appreciate that. Ironically enough, that’s the Yankees lone victory against Boston this year. Don’t worry though, I’m sure Jaret Wright pitches a beauty tonight. Christ.
yankee fan — all i can say is WOW.
Great I hate the Yanks, but I have tip my hat to you on this one. You use colorful words extremely effectively. Great article!
Trevor, you’re a freakin’ genius Go Yankees.
I’m not so sure about that And why is Trevor getting credit in Matt Waters’ column?