I usually avoid day games, but I made an exception for this one. Not only was Alex Rodriguez one homer away from tying Willie Mays on the all-time list, but more importantly, my girlfriend, Hayley, wanted to go.
Here’s what we saw upon entering the stadium:
The good news was that the cage and screens were set up for batting practice. The bad news was that no one was hitting.
After a few minutes, several Rays began throwing in deep left-center field, so I ran out to the bleachers to get as close to them as possible:
In the photo above, that’s me in the front row.
That turned out to be a waste of time, but thankfully I had another opportunity before long. Several Yankees began throwing along the right-field foul line, so I raced over there and got Justin Wilson to chuck me a ball. Take a close look at the following photo — see the ball in mid-air?
The ball sailed way over my head . . .
. . . but the seats behind me were empty, so I was able to chase it down.
Here I am taking a photo of the ball . . .
. . . and here’s the ball itself:
Nice! I love ’em when they’re worn and beat up.
The Rays started hitting 10 minutes later:
This was the extent of the action — me maneuvering into position on a ball that fell short:
But hey, it’s still a cool photo.
Batting practice was dead. The Yankees didn’t hit at all, and the Rays only had one group — that’s right, just ONE group of BP — consisting of two righties and a lefty, who combined to hit one home run into the left-field seats. It was so lame that I had time to catch up with my friend Eddie and inform him that he had a tiny of blob of sun block on his earlobe:
Yup, that’s the spot. You got it.
After BP I headed over to the Rays’ dugout and got a ball thrown to me by Charlie Montoyo, the team’s 3rd base coach. Then, moments later, after he had disappeared inside the dugout, I got another toss-up from the equipment guy. Here’s the ball in mid-air . . .
. . . and here’s the guy (with the shaved head) who tossed it:
A little while later, I moved to the left-field foul line:
Here I am getting my fourth ball of the day from Ernesto Frieri:
(Nice job, Hayley, with the photos!)
I think it’s funny that no one else made an attempt to snatch it. They’re all just . . . standing there.
Here’s the $16 meal that Hayley and I shared before the game:
It was a significant portion of food — probably two to three pounds of french fries, steak, onions, and cheese sauce. Last season I tried to eat that by myself and failed (I could’ve done it in high school, but I was a fat-ass back then), so I was glad to make this a team effort.
Here’s Hayley watching Michael Pineda warm up before the game:
This was our view during the game:
There were a whole lot of empty seats around me, so of course the only two home runs were hit to left field.
Here’s something that amused me at first and left me shaking my head:
As you can see, the kid in the front row was focusing on the video game on his phone, but whatever — no big deal, right? Kids have short attention spans and are prone to being distracted . . . right?
Well, this was a special child. He was *so* disinterested in baseball, and the sun was shining *so* brightly on his mobile device that he ended up doing this:
But who am I to judge? When I was 11 years old, my mom took me to Disney World, and I spent the entire week playing Arkanoid in the hotel game room.
For Hayley, this game at Yankee Stadium probably felt like it lasted a week. Take a look at the scoreboard:
It wasn’t the 3rd inning — oh no no no. It was the 13th inning. Hayley wanted to leave after 9 innings, and she was THIS close to bailing after 10. To get her to stay, I had to bribe her with fries and a chocolate shake from the Johnny Rockets concession stand halfway across the stadium — but *she* had to go get it.
There was no 14th inning, and that was fine by me. Nineteen days earlier, I’d sat through the entirety of a 19-inning game, which was incredible, but I didn’t feel the need for an encore.
Here I am with Hayley after the final out:
Moments after that photo was taken, I found a crinkled-up $20 bill in the seats.
• 108 balls in 15 games this season = 7.2 balls per game.
• 842 lifetime balls in 126 games at the new Yankee Stadium = 6.7 balls per game.
• 1,068 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 733 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball
• 254 consecutive Yankees home games with at least one ball
• 7,914 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 about my fundraiser, and if you donate money, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.)
• 14 donors for my fundraiser
• $115.40 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $115.40 raised this season
• $40,070.90 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009