Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Bottoms up in the 9th!
Lisa and I are off to Bice for lunch today. The restaurant has some great and special memories for us and a trip to NYC without a feed and a nice bottle of plonk there just wouldn't be right. I'm even wearing a new pair of shoes. I think they look like they should be on a pimp out of a Dirty Harry movie. I went to the shoe shop last Friday to buy a pair of black shoes. Lisa supervised. I left with four pairs, none of them black.
I thought I'd share with the 'Ville my Yankee Stadium experience of last Wednesday, when Lisa and I headed out with Professor Greg Weldon and the lovely Eilleen to catch the Blue Jays game. Firstly, 110 degree heat is not conducive to a comfortable night of baseball but we still had a blast, even as my Blue Jays folded.
We headed out to the stadium at about 3pm. Weldon drove and his local knowledge had us there in good time. A big car for a big bloke and people get out of his way. We parked his truck about 4pm and we were off to Yankee Stadium, my first time. People were already hanging around waiting for the gates and ticket stands to open . My initial impression from the outside of the stadium was "no big deal" compared to other big stadiums I'd been to or played in. The Sydney Olympic Stadium, Twickenham, The M.C.G., Wembly, Old Trafford, Cardiff Arms Park, Park du Princes, Meadowlands, Eden Park etc. Maybe it was the trains clanking overhead or the security or something but it didn't have the "buzz" that I was expecting. How that changed later in the afternoon!
Weldon automatically pointed us in the direction of Stan's sports bar. Apparently it is quite a traditional "Yankee" bar and all 6'10" of Weldon in his Yankees jersey found us an easy spot at the bar. It wasn't really crowded as we were there pretty early so I bought a round of possibly the most expensive beers I've ever purchased. (Welcome to New York City). It mattered not as they slid down easily in the 100+ degree heat and I would've paid more if they had the hide to charge it. Little did I know they were more expensive inside the stadium!! There was much buzz and banter around the place and we had a lotta fun with the bar-staff and patrons, probably something to do with my Aussie accent and buying the beers!! It definitely wasn't the fact that I was wearing a Toronto Blue Jays T-Shirt. I didn't think it was a big deal. I would soon find out, it is.
We slurped down a handful of lagers and the girls were holding their own. The hot weather was solely to blame. Weldon was Director General for the day and we wandered out of Stan's and into the street. It had gotten a lot busier and the merchandise vendors were doing a great trade. Lisa grabbed a Yankees tank top and I grabbed a t-shirt for my brother.
We went into the next bar that was more crowded with louder music. We took over the end of the bar and had a couple more before we headed out to do "a lap" of the stadium. I had started to get a little self-conscious because as yet, I had not spied 1 (one) other person wearing a Blue Jay Cap let alone someone wearing a 1992 World Series Championship (Limited Edition) T-Shirt. We did our lap and headed back to the last bar we were at. The music was louder and the place was packing out. Weldon grabbed our spot back at the bar (who says size doesn't matter!). There were a heap of people just looking at me like I was from outer space. Hmmmm. I made my way to the wash room and had to walk through the whole bar. Interestingly, people moved out of the way, quite politely and everyone was very civilized. I made it back to our spot at the bar and Weldon, Eilleen and Lisa asked if everything was alright and whether I had any trouble. A few guys had a verbal dig at me about the Jays and me being in "their bar" but I laughed it off, said G'day mate or ignored it. Easy. Eileen reckoned I was either very brave or very stupid to wear the opposing team shirt in a Yankee Bar. I disagreed and so we kept slurping down those beers (it was so hot we just had to!).
At 6.30pm nature called again and I made my way through the very crowded bar to the dunny. A bloke had a chip at me while we were splashing the boots and so I asked him "If you go to say L.A and the Yankees are playing, would you wear your Yankee shirt"? He said "Of course." I asked "why?" He said, "they're my team and that's how I am." I said, "Thank you. So am I." He later bought me a beer. I still hadn't seen another Blue Jay anything, anywhere.
We went to the stadium, it was getting pretty full and the buzz was in the crowd, not the beer. Our seats were sensational, just 12 rows behind the catcher. I then got a chance to actually "see" the stadium. It is awesome. I just stood there looking at it all, taking in how close the fans are to the game, no matter where they were sitting in the stadium. Truly, there are no "bad" seats at Yankee Stadium, maybe some that are just "less good." The stadium was 90% full and it was just before the anthems were to be played.
I thought that the National anthems would be pretty special, as I wasn't either Canadian or American so I could just soak it up. I've heard national anthems sung by crowds all over the world at the biggest sports events around and it is such a great buildup to a Rugby match or soccer match or whatever. EVERYONE sings their national anthem, loudly! This was pathetic. No one sang, and the organ player was on his own. What a massive disappointment that was. I guess I didn't hear anyone sing the Canadian national anthem because I was the only bloody Blue Jays fan there!! At least I knew the words but I am not suicidal. The 55,000 Americans at the game should be embarrassed. I was for them.
The game was pretty ordinary. The game was tight 1-0 till the 6th. I always used the Yankee at-bats to go get more beer or hit the washroom, something not lost on some members of the crowd. Weldon and I wandered around the whole stadium so I could get a feel for the different "views." Awesome is the only appropriate word that I can find. The girls just sat around looking good and alternating beer/water shouts. Greg asked me what I wanted to eat and I said to him "whatever yer s'posed to eat when ya come to Yankee Stadium. You tell me." I got handed a hotdog with the lot. It was really good, surprisingly so, and I went back for seconds. I still hadn't seen another person in Blue Jay anything and as the game was tight, started feeling a little tight myself. I'd heard stories about these Yankee Fans.
The Yankees blew the game apart in the 6th inning with a few homers and 6 runs scored. Oh well, there goes another season for the once mighty Blue Jays. I guess if you pay peanuts you get monkeys, hey. I went off to the gents, sad and dejected. The Jays were batting so I was in a bit of a rush. All that water and beer to keep hydrated was taking its toll. A big bloke with a walrus moustache, dressed in a Yankees shirt was washing his hands as I turned to head back to my seat (intentionally without washing my hands). He said "Hey Blue Jay, didn't they teach you to wash your hands?" I immediately shot back, "No mate, where I come from we get taught not to [euphemism for micturition] on our hands!" The whole bathroom facility broke up in laughter and I bolted back to my seat to see another fruitless Jays turn at the plate.
The game had been dusted and so I was not the target of any Yankee "venom," I guess being up 7-0 takes some of the aggression out of the fans as does the sweltering heat. We left at the end of the 8th and were back at our apartment in 15 minutes thanks to Weldon's local knowledge, again. Of course, the Blue Jays hit a two-run home run once I'd gone home, so I never did get to see if I would get slammed for standing and applauding some good play of the opposition. Oh well, next time. All four of us were looking the whole time but no one saw another person in Yankee Stadium wearing a Blue Jays anything. Am I crazy??
Thanks to Professor Greg Weldon who literally took Lisa and I under his wing for the day. A better bloke you couldn't wish to meet and his girl Eileen is one of the good ones. Thanks guys.
Professor Weldon taking Lisa and me under his wing, literally!
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