It had been almost four years since my last visit to Yankee Stadium. It was game two of the 2009 ALDS, when Alex Rodriguez destroyed a Joe Nathan offering in the bottom of the ninth that tied the game and led to a thrilling extra-inning victory. It was of the most memorable nights in all my time as a sports fan. But over the next three seasons, I opted to visit other teams' stadiums (Red Sox, Cubs, Blue Jays) rather than head to the Bronx. It's not because I actively dislike the stadium like some other fans; it just doesn't have any special draw to me. It's pleasant enough, though, and concourses and wide ramps do not make me long for the cramped confines of the old stadium.
Thanks to my wonderful sister Sarah, we were seated in the first row of the upper deck in right field, which proved to be an excellent vantage point for most of the field. It also reminded me that I do not care for heights, so I spent the rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" making sure I did not fall over the railing. As for the crowd, the stadium looked about two-thirds full, but the bleachers were nearly at capacity. This is notable because of the heat and oppressive sun. Those guys are completely crazy. Or drunk. Or both.
After five innings of allowing the sun to burn me, I opted to watch CC Sabathia give up the lousiest grand slam ever under on the concourse. It made my five dollar "dirty-water dog" all the less palatable. Shortly after returning to my seat, I let everyone within earshot know how stupid it was to bring in Vernon Wells as a pinch hitter with the bases-loaded in the seventh. I was so happy to be made completely foolish in front of a group of strangers. And then getting to watch Mariano Rivera close it all out made the day just about perfect. I even got a crummy picture of him!
You can almost make out the 42!
In short, it was the kind of exciting, unpredictable game you feel lucky to have seen in person. But I would be remiss to not mention that I had the good fortune of being seated near a young Yankees fan, roughly eight or nine years old, who was clearly a baseball geek in training. He brought a tablet that displayed the box score, noted the Rays use of the shift and called bunting situations. It was incredibly impressive. I anticipate he will be taking my writing gig shortly.