Saturday, May 22, 2010


On Bright Lights, Big City

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010
New York Yankees vs. New York Metropolitans
Not Shea Stadium
Major League Baseball, Interleague
Queens, NY
7:10 PM

Outside the Game:
The last time I saw my cousin's son, Ryan, he was eightish or so, came up to about my hip, and was a Little League shortstop in love with Derek Jeter. We took him to a Yankee game at the old stadium in the late 90s, in what I seem to recall as an early interleague effort against the Expos.

In the intervening decade or so, he's gotten larger. He's now playing baseball for a college team in upstate New York, and he was driving back down to Florida with his girlfriend during this weekend, and was wondering if we could get tickets to see the Yankees play. The good news is that they were in town, but the bad news was that the weekend that he was coming through town was the Subway Series interleague games between the Mets and Yankees. And, of course, he was going to be in town on Saturday night, the hardest to get game of the hardest to get series of the regular season year in New York.

The other good news was that my father was willing to finance the outing, so a quick trip to StubHub and a 100% markup later, we managed to have three seats in the upper deck along the first base line.

The two drove to my parent's house, my father drove them to Hoboken, and I took them on a mass transit adventure to Queens. You forget how imposing the transit system can be to outsiders, especially when you use it every day as locals tend to, so I got to give the lowdown on everything as we went along, although I imagine they were listening politely, nodding, and hoping I'd shut up.

The Stadium & Fans:
Outside of a larger and more on-edge security presence for the interleague game, there wasn't a whole lot different about Not Shea from the last time I was there. After batting practice, I took my guests up and around the stadium, showing them that yes, people will wait in an hour long line at the Shake Shack for a burger, and yes, we have to go the long way around because of the luxury boxes. The largest stadium the girlfriend had seen previous to this was AAA, there was a crisis of scale for her.

The crowd was nearly split 50/50 Yankees/Mets, which is about what I expected, and everyone was pumped up for the game. After the weak loss the night before, both groups of fans were primed for war.

As soon as the last out was recorded, a Yankee fan in the upper decks with us threw his beer down on everyone and started looking for a fight. As the Mets fan beside me looked like he was going to take him up on his offer, I quickly ushered the out-of-towners back to the subway. As I passed a young Yankee fan crying at the loss, I remembered the belligerent beer-dumper, and I felt a little too good about his tears.

At the Game with Oogie:
As mentioned, I was with the two out-of-towners at the game. We got there early enough to watch the visiting Yankee batting practice and do all the requisite touristy stuff like take pictures at the home run apple and on the field before we got kicked out of the lower deck to trek up to our seats in the stratosphere. (And to be fair, outside of some impaired viewing into the right field corner, the seats in the upper deck weren't that bad at all.)

A secondary drama that was going on during the game was a teammate of my cousin's kid was also driving down from school, and he had the girlfriend's dog with him. He was going to meet up with them tomorrow, hand over the dog (I never did find out why he was taking the dog separately), and they would go their separate ways. At the last minute, he also managed to score tickets to the game, and his plan was to drive to a hotel his father found for him in NJ, drop off the dog, drive out to Queens, scalp the two extra tickets he had, and watch the game.

There were, needless to say, problems with this plan. I explained that even if the plan went perfectly, the cops were going to be out in force, and that some guy from upstate trying to scalp tickets was probably going to get plucked pretty quickly. Thankfully, that never became an issue. We got a call from the friend around the third inning saying that the hotel he had picked in Jersey charged by the hour, and he didn't feel safe leaving the dog. His new plan was to drive out to the game with the dog and see the second half of the game.

I explained that he was in northern Jersey and that he was going to try and drive out to Queens, through Manhattan, on a Saturday night. This apparently did not dissuade him.

At the top of the eighth inning, we heard back from the friend, who had made it out to Queens, but security was not letting him park or go into the game, because it was after the top of the 7th. He was apparently getting into an argument with security over it. I explained that security was already on edge and that he was going to get arrested if any of the rent-a-cops or real police got too annoyed. With everyone's cellphone's dying, the girlfriend managed to convince him to turn around and drive back my parents' house and meet them there while he could still avoid some of the traffic from the game before it lets out.

(He would eventually turn up at my parents' a half hour after we took the subway back to Hoboken after the end of the game and I drove them back to the house.)

The Game:
With Hughes going from the Yankees and Pelfrey going for the Mets,  it would look like we'd be seeing either a quick, tightly-pitched duel, or some manner of blow out if one or both starters threw a gasket somewhere.

The game kept mostly to the first scenario after a hitch for the Yankees in the bottom of the first. A two-out double by the Mets' Bay (who would go on to a 4-4 night, starting a breakout of his abysmal start of the season) was followed by a walk to Davis and two singles by Wright and Pagan, bringing home two runs. The Mets pushed across one more in the fourth, and the Yankees scraped a run together in the top of the 6th, but the majority of the night were the pitchers trading 1-2-3 (or four-and-out) innings. The Mets managed to get one more run in the bottom of the 7th, and then the starters came out.

Usually, this would be good news for the Mets, whose middle relief had been stellar (if overused) for the season up to this point. However, the Mets had to throw four relievers onto the mound in the 8th inning. Feliciano quickly gave up two runs without getting an out (getting pulled with a sterling nil innings pitched), replacement Nieve only managed get one strikeout before giving up a walk and getting pulled in his turn.

This brought Mets' closer Francisco Rodrigues in with one out in the bottom of the eighth. And although Mets fans watched in dismay as he threw what seemed like nothing but sliders, curves, and perhaps two 88 mph fastballs, Frankie managed to close out the eighth and get the Yankees in the ninth without giving up a run, but not for lack of trying. Relieved Mets fans took what we could get, and left with the win, 5-3.

The Scorecard:

Yankees vs. Metropolitans, 05-22-10. Metropolitans win, 5-3.
Yankees vs. Metropolitans, 05/22/10. Metropolitans win, 5-3.

The standard Mets $5 program with paper scorecard centerfold, and the much-improved lighter background. With the visitors in tow, I only used two colors to score and didn't keep pitch counts.

The Accommodations: 
Hoboken, sweet, Hoboken

2010 Stand-Alone Trip