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June 17 2000: Things To Do On A Rainy Day

(This column originally appeared at www.yankeesxtreme.com, Yankees Xtreme. Reproduced by permission of Ultrastar.)
So, you may have noticed that the weather this season has been as cold and wet as a Pepsi spilled down your back by the guy behind you in the upper deck. The Yankees postponed their home opener, and all season long teams in the northeast and midwest have been fighting the rain.

As have the fans. Is there anything more frustrating than being in the heat of a big game, only to have Mother Nature put her foot down? (Aw, Mom! Just one more inning? Please?) We were thoroughly enjoying David Cone stonewalling his old team, the Mets, last Sunday night when the skies opened. Unlike the fifty thousand plus on hand at the Stadium, I was dry and toasty in front of a friend’s large screen TV. But we were still annoyed–all that build up for nothing.

The trip to the rib joint to pick up some barbecue, pre-printing the team rosters and lineups, sharpening our pencils… and then, scorus interruptus! After three measly innings, the players headed to their dugouts and we began to gnash our teeth and rend our garments. Umbrellas popped up like mushrooms all around the Stadium as the water poured down.

Like many fans, when my friends and I watch a game on TV, we try to imagine we’re there. So during the rain delay, we tried to think of what we’d be doing if we were at Yankee Stadium, huddled under our New York Yankees umbrellas. Robin Ventura did a good job of amusing the fans for a short time with his Mike Piazza imitation, but here’s what I came up with:

1) Play “Gopher”–Assuming you can see into one of the dugouts (using binoculars if necessary), divide up the players on the bench among those of you in your party. Say there’s twelve guys on the bench and four of you–each person gets three players. Every time one of your players sticks his head out of the dugout to check the rain or look at the crowd, you get one point. You can either play until one of you reaches three points, or, if you’re really bored, just keep accumulating points until the game resumes or is called off. For extra fun, if you’re all trying to share one umbrella, whoever has made the most recent point gets to hold the umbrella.

2) Regale Each Other With Tales of the Worst Weather You’ve Ever Seen–Were you there the day it snowed on Opening Day? Talk about it loud enough, especially in New York, and soon you’ll have fans all around you telling you about the time they saw a game in a hurricane, etc… OK, it may not be as good as watching the game, but it should be amusing for at least a while.

3) Play Rain-Delay “Fantasy Baseball”–For this game, you need several empty beverage cups and a ketchup or mustard packet, and your scorecard. Label the cups Ball, Strike, Out, and Base Hit. Balance the ketchup packet on the rail above the cups where the rain can hit it. If it falls into the cup marked Strike, it’s a strike, Ball, a ball, and so on. If there’s a clap of thunder, it’s a home run!

Of course, had we actually been there, we probably would have been doing what other fans did: get hot chocolate and wander the concrete corridors of the Stadium, hoping that the weather would clear and the rain-induced limbo would soon be forgotten.

Instead, though, I was parked on the couch, vainly looking over my scorecard again and again, until ESPN finally told us the game was called off. From rain DELAY to rain OUT, an entirely different type of frustration.

I am a long-distance fan, a born New Yorker who now lives several states away. I don’t often get to The City, and the only games I can see here are the ESPN games. So to finally have the chance to see Coney and Jeet and the rest, after weeks of living on Internet radio broadcasts, was a delicious treat. You ever notice how Cone pulls on his shirtsleeve between pitches, as if the world’s biggest lint ball is building up in his armpit? Or how twitchy Jeter’s face is when he gets to the plate? Radio is wonderful, but some things only the camera can pick up. I was loving it. When they called off the game I felt like a desert traveler whose canteen suddenly went dry.

I looked at my boyfriend. “You know, the video store closes in five minutes,” I said.

(Did you enjoy reading this blog entry? Please consider buying me a hot dog.)

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