I’ve been to Red Sox games at the new Yankee Stadium. I’ve been to weekend games. I’ve been to playoff games. I’ve been to historic, let-me-get-my-3,000th-career-hit games. And I’ve NEVER seen the stands more crowded during batting practice than they were at this Monday night tilt against the Texas Rangers. Seriously: WTF.
The following photo, taken several minutes after the stadium opened, doesn’t capture the mayhem . . .
. . . so wait for it. It’s coming. And it isn’t pretty.
In the photo above, the dude in the blue shirt (standing several rows in front of me on the staircase) is my friend Greg Barasch. I took that photo shortly after catching an Eric Chavez homer on the fly. It was somewhat of a line drive that landed 15 feet to my left. In order to make the play, I had to scoot past a man in the last row and catch the ball thigh high while still on the run.
I headed to left field for the next group of Yankee hitters. Another ballhawk-buddy of mine named Mateo Fischer was there, and he’d already changed into his “Rangers” shirt. Take a look at this wonderful ridiculousness:
I managed to snag two more baseballs in left field before the Yankees finished hitting. The first was a lazy home run (if there IS such a thing) by Andruw Jones that sailed right to me in the 4th row. The second was a homer by Jayson Nix that landed in the seats roughly 20 feet to my right and deflected up perfectly as I ran over.
A bit later, when the Rangers were hitting, this was the view:
You think THAT’S crowded? Ha ha ha. Just wait for the next photo, but before we get to that, I need to point something out in the photo above. Do you see the guy holding a sign on the left side? It had a bullseye with two words written on it: “RANGERS” on the top and “TARGET” at the bottom. I found it amusing that the guy had to take off his glove in order to hold the sign. See him holding it in his right hand? Fail.
During the Rangers’ portion of BP, a 10-year-old kid named Dillon recognized me from this blog and came over to say hey. He was there with his friend Heim . . . so here’s my shout-out to the two of them. I was also recognized by a guy named Colten from St. Louis. The size of the crowd (as you’ll see in a moment) was maddening, but there *were* a bunch of nice people scattered throughout.
Several minutes later, I snagged a ground-rule double that was hit by some righty on the Rangers. I reacted a bit late for it and therefore had to do some fancy foot/glovework in order to reach the spot and make the catch without crashing into the man who was sitting in my row and blocking my path.
Then, when Josh Hamilton got ready to take his cuts, I raced to the right-center field bleachers. Why not the 100 Level seats in straight-away right field? This is why:
YANKEE STADIUM IS INSANE!!!!!!!!!
By the way, you can see Mateo and Greg in the previous photo. Mateo (wearing the fake red Rangers shirt) is half a dozen rows back at the far end of the bleachers. Greg (wearing the blue shirt) is standing in the second row with his foot up on a bench. We all had the same idea. Right field was the place to be . . . except not.
Hamilton did put on quite a show. Unfortunately, though, none of his homers came anywhere near me. The most impressive was an absolute bomb that reached the upper deck — not the suites at the very bottom of the upper deck, mind you, but the ACTUAL upper deck seats. I can’t recall ever seeing someone hit a ball up there.
I returned to left field for the final group of BP and snagged one more ball — a home run that landed in the tunnel. There was a lady standing there when it landed, but she was too stunned to realize what had happened, so I blew right past her and chased down the ball while it was still bouncing.
This was my view during the 1st inning:
Did you notice anything unusual in the photo above (other than Ichiro wearing pinstripes — I still find that hard to believe)? Here, let me zoom in on something for you:
Several minutes later, when there was a break in the action, I went to take a closer look:
I think that MLB should allow fielders to use any size glove they want. Do you think that Ichiro would be a better outfielder with something like that on his left hand? How about Robinson Cano (who’s by far the slickest defensive player I’ve ever seen)? I think it would make things much harder for the fielders. I can tell you that catching baseballs with my big glove is extremely tricky; I have to use two hands to pancake it shut, and even then the ball is likely to squirt out. And forget about running with it. It slows me down bigtime.
Just before the top of the 2nd inning got underway, I had to move. (My actual seat was in the middle of a row, so I was hanging out in an end-seat while I had the chance.) Wanna guess what the very next batter did? Knowing the brutal luck that I seem to have with home runs, you probably know what I’m going to say: David Murphy led off the 2nd with a line-drive homer that landed EXACTLY where I’d been sitting. It was painful. But you know what hurt even more? Watching helplessly as Nick Swisher crushed a 3rd-inning grand slam into the second deck. Here’s a photo of the crowd reacting . . .
. . . and here’s why it was painful:
I was totally aware that Swish had been sitting on 199. He’d been there since the previous home stand, and when he failed to go yard last week while the Yankees were on the road, I was thrilled. So yeah. Major disappointment. It’s an emotion I’ve grown accustomed to in the Bronx.
On a more positive note, here’s what was taking place behind me during The Wave:
I love summer. And by the way, the Yankees won, 8-2.
• 413 balls in 51 games this season = 8.1 balls per game.
• 843 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 577 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball
• 179 consecutive Yankee home games with at least one ball
• 6,232 total balls
(I’m raising money again this season for Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. Click here to learn more about my fundraiser, and click here to see the prizes that I’ll be giving away to donors.)
• 40 donors
• $2.20 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $11.00 raised at this game
• $908.60 raised this season
• $20,065.60 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009