Live It, Love it
For a few weeks now, things have been a little different for me.Â Iâ€™ve had a spring in my step, a twinkle in my eyes, and a smile curling from the corner of my lips.Â The grass has been greener, the sun shining brighter, and the pollen count off the charts.
Iâ€™m in love, you say?
Of course I am, itâ€™s baseball season.
I love baseball season.
Friday, I had the opportunity to attend my first live game of the season at Yankee Stadium 2.0 (the renovated version being 1.5).Â In honor of my night under the lights, hereâ€™s another installment of my 3,756,842 reasons to love baseball, but with a twist.
Just like the times that Oprah decides to give new cars to her studio audience, this oneâ€™s all about being there.
Reason no. 37,564: You get to see the whole field.
I donâ€™t care how clear or big you can make a TV, at a certain point, the viewfinder of a video camera is going to cut off.Â As a result, when you watch a baseball game at home, youâ€™re trapped into viewing what the director of the broadcast might want to show you.Â Hopefully itâ€™s the tight battle between pitcher and catcher, the chatter of the middle infielders, or the gesticulations of a coach desperately trying to convince his right fielder to take three more steps to his left.Â More often than not, itâ€™s Jon Millerâ€™s garish tie, a graphic of some inanely specific stat sponsored by Viagra or Levitra, or the hip young cast of that networkâ€™s hip young show ignoring the game and texting on their hip young smart-phones.
When youâ€™re at the game, you see everything.Â The reactions of the players in the dugout, the speed at which a reliever warms up, the total number of times a second basemen adjusts his cup, and the blonde with the big cans chatting up the overpaid star on the visiting team.
On Friday, as Chris Davis stepped into the box against C.C. Sabathia, one of my friends remarked how far off third base Alex Rodriguez was positioned.Â I said, â€œYeah, I bet Sabathiaâ€™s going to throw something off-speed here,â€ thinking that Davis would roll over the slower pitch and not be able to take it the other way down the third base line.
Sabathia dealt low and away.Â I looked at the scoreboard.
It read SLIDER.
I felt pretty good about myself.
Tell your 3D HDTV to do that.
Reason no. 1,056: The dress code.
It was far from baseball weather in New York on Friday night.Â Rain steadily fell and gradually increased in intensity throughout the evening.Â Temperatures dipped to the low forties.Â It was one of those nights where every concession stand stocks up on hot chocolate and coffee.
I wore jeans, a Yankees hat, a zip-up dry-fit long sleeve shirt, a gray hoodie, and my bright red Washington University in St. Louis baseball jacket with my last name on the back that looks like it time-traveled here from the early 1990s.Â If I wore that out anywhere else, Iâ€™d be ridiculed, heckled, and forced to face the strong possibility of returning home without my fiancÃ©e.Â At a Yankees game, I donâ€™t even rate a second glance.
Reason no. 2,645,901: My bright red Washington University in St. Louis baseball jacket with my last name on the back that looks like it time-traveled here from the early 1990s.
That thing has kept me warm during so many blustery, forty-degree, strong-chance-of-rain games that it would be like cheating on it if I attended a game on a cold night wearing anything else.
Iâ€™m talking about Jesse James screwing-around-on-Sandra-Bullock with skanky-Nazi-paraphernalia-clad-ladies level of cheating.
Reason no. 1,000,000: The game within the game.
A live baseball game offers a variety of other forms of entertainment besides the contest on the field.Â Fights, drunken falls, beach balls, organized chants, and the wave (shudder) are all on the table.Â A master spectator takes them all in, and yet is still ready to shoot from his seat whenever the action on the field calls for it.
In my old seats in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium 1.5, we had the ultimate game within the game.Â One of the steps near our row stuck out just a little more than all the rest.Â People climbing the stairs unaware of the impending obstacle would often trip or stumble on the outlying ridge.
An expert spectator had to split his attention between the game on the field and that dreaded step.Â I donâ€™t think I could have lived with myself if I had missed some self-important entrepreneur hit that step, go down, and spill mustard-covered sausages and ketchup-doused fries all over his Armani suit.
Reason no. 669: No announcers.
This means no Chevrolet Player of the Game, no jargon, no shtick, no Craig Sager live on the field, no Jeep Drive of the Game, just the crowd noise, smack of the glove, and the crack of the bat.
Oh, and if youâ€™re missing the play-by-play, you can listen to the WCBS broadcast of John Sterling and Susan Waldman while you pee.
Reason no. 84,848: Finding the perfect seats in an area where there shouldnâ€™t be perfect seats.
My family owns a Friday season package for seats 5, 6, and 7 in row 14 of section 426 of the Grandstand.Â For those of you that are not experts in the layout of Yankee Stadium 2.0, that means we are in the last row of the stadium, a little down the third baseline.
When it rains, weâ€™re dry under the roof.Â When the rays of the mid-summer sun bake the infield clay, weâ€™re relatively cool in the shade.
Hungry?Â Thereâ€™s a general concession stand directly across from the entrance to the section, a pretzel cart two doors down, and a Brother Jimmyâ€™s Pulled Pork Sandwich stand within a hundred paces.
Nature calling?Â The bathroomâ€™s right next-door.
Characters of the section touch all the bases.Â Weâ€™ve got: that guy who brings his own scorecard to every game, the belligerent drunk guy, the â€œHip Hip Jorgeâ€ guy, the â€œRed Sox Suckâ€ guy, and the â€œLetâ€™s Go Yankeesâ€ guy.Â All weâ€™re missing is the gamblers so degenerate they gamble on every pitch guys, and the women who like to flash their section.
Much to my chagrin, Iâ€™ve never experienced the latter.
Plus you only lose a little of the action on the field in the left field corner.
Whatâ€™s not to love?