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A Day At The Park

Yankees vs. Orioles

July 22, 2009

Time: 1:05pm

Place: Yankee Stadium

The day started bright and early at 7:00 AM. We dressed in silence, both of us thrilled at the fun we were sure the day would bring. By 8:00 we had our tickets, water and sunglasses, and we headed for the train station.

We got to the Edison train station by 8:10, about 25 minutes before our train was due to leave. It's a good thing, too... parking was something we could only talk about. After driving around for a while, we parallel parked across the street from the railroad tracks, where there were no signs, and a long line of cars. We ran to the platform, with plenty of time to spare. The train took FOREVER to come!

By 8:34, our train pulled into the station, and we hurried to find seats. Since rush hour was over, there was plenty of room, and we were comfortable. The train crawled from station to station as we got a lingering tour of the NJ Transit line. But eventually we reached our stop! Penn station, New York City!

Now the fun began. First, we had to find our guests, my fraternity little brother, and his girlfriend. We were excited for the double-date, but first we had to meet up. They were coming from Tea Neck, and had arrived at the station about an hour earlier.

I called Zack, who was wandering around Penn station, a human-sized maze. Somewhere, some laboratory rat was laughing at us. After walking around for 10 to 15 minutes, we agreed the easiest way to find each other would be to raise to the street level, and pick a corner. "7th and 32nd" was a lot easier to find than "by the stairs, across from the Duane Reed."

The sun was brutal, and we both had to pee, but eventually we saw Zack's trademark haircut bobbing through the crowd. After our hugs and handshakes, the question Ally and I could not wait to ask, "Where's Fedora?" Fedora, Zack's girlfriend, was nowhere in sight, and we had all met up earlier than necessary, on her behalf. Zack explained it like this, "Fedora sorta played hooky from work and class today, and didn't tell her mom. We got to New York, and she suddenly got paranoid about her mother finding out. So she got on a southbound train, and sent her apologies."

Needless to say, I was pretty upset. It was now 11am, two hours before game time, and we had more tickets than attendees. I was determined to not let the ticket go to waste, especially since there were easily a handful of other friends we would have taken, had we known Fedora was going to bail. Quickly, I started calling everyone within a 2 hour radius. My longtime friend, Mike, works in Brooklyn, at a movie studio. He answered on the third ring, and I asked if he thought he could take the afternoon off. He explained that he had already maxed out his vacation time. However, for tickets to see the Yankees, at the new stadium, he thought he might be able to take a "long lunch".

It was settled. Mike made the neccesary arrangements, literally: announcing he was going to lunch, with no intention of returning, and agreed to meet us at the stadium around 12:45. Zack, Ally, and I continued on to the stadium, walked down a block, and hopped on the D train. We were just a few subway stops away from the new, magnificant, Yankees Stadium.

We got to the stadium, and the glorious white arches towered over us, surrounding the former home of Macombs Dam Park. We gazed up, at the heart of the Bronx, under Gate 6, and excitement pulsed through the air. With navy blue t-shirts, hats, pinstripes, and thick accents swirling around us from every direction, we took in the collage of the cityscape. From the roar of the street, the chirping of the crowd, and the scent of the city, the whole scene dripped of magic and legends. Those streets have witnessed so many monumental moments in the history of the 20th century, all of us, even Zack (a Mets fan), had goosebumps dotting our arms and legs.

As gametime approached, we waited for Mike. His phone was shielded from signal as he traversed the underground. All we could do was wait, and watch, and make idle conversation with each other, and the other fans, anticipating entry to the game. We walked up and down the street, looking for an ATM, and trying to make the best of the passing time. We could not enter the stadium without Mike, as we would have no way to get him his ticket. What seemed like eons passed us before, finally, Mike's painfully green t-shirt was visible, coming out from a subway terminal. It was finally time to enter the great Yankee Colosseum.

As we entered the great hall, the ceiling rose off into the heavens. Great vertical banners hung from the walls depicting famous Yankee legends. Many times larger than life, the ceiling defied even these black and white portraits; they seemed to float, vertically, like 100-foot high flags. The hall appeared to wrap all the way around the arena, but would have to wait to be explored another day, as the game was about ready to start, and we had yet to find our seats.

The four of us rushed past security guards, concession stands, fans, and stadium personnel, weaving our way through the crowd. We found our seats much quicker than we had expected, as they were not very far off the field. Walking out from under the bleachers, we all had to choke back an extra breath. The checkered green grass; the endless blue sky; the perfect white foul lines, and the blazing hot sun. Though men would soon trample through this pristine image, like a fresh snow, or an untouched shoreline, this beautiful work of man could not possibly have been created without devine inspiration. The term "art" includes too many toddler scribbles and maccaroni pictures to apply to what we beheld on that afternoon. No camera could capture the scene, as our eyes could barely consume what lay before us.

Once we caught our breath, we thought it wise to get in line for food immediately, so we might not miss the opening pitch. We were not so lucky, but returned in time to see the end of the inning's half. And good thing we did! In the bottom of the 1st, the Yankees took an early lead, jumping out ahead by four runs. This would be most of the action for the next 6 innings except for Jorge Posada's solo home run in the 3rd. In the 7th inning, the Orioles scored twice, to the delight of even us, as pulling the O's within 3 runs meant the game was now a "save situation" and The Great Mariano might grace us with a trip to the mound. These hopes were shot, however, when Posada doubled to left in the 8th, scoring Alex Rodriguez, and pushing the Yankees ahead by 4 again.

In the top of the 9th, Brian Bruney struck out the first two batters, and the Bombers were only one out away from putting the game in the books. The stadium started to clear out, as fans considered the game over, and wanted to beat the traffic. Those of us who knew that just being there was a rare opportunity, to be savored and cherished, stayed to see the final out recorded, leaving nothing to chance. To our bittersweet chagrin, Bruney gave up back-to-back home runs to the next two batters, stirring Joe Girardi from his place on the Yankees' bench. Joe took a stroll out to the pitcher's mound and the deep, rich tones of Metalica's "Enter Sandman" rocked the seats we stood on. Automatic Mo' was being summoned to the field. The Great Mariano, a living legend, trotted out to the hurlers' hill, and we applauded all the way through his warm up.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a language. Therefore I think it best to let Mr Rivera speak for himself:

Posted by dlz

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