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September 9 2008: Moment by Moment

Last season, on September 22, 2007, I had press credentials at Yankee Stadium, doing some photography for one project and some interviewing and writing for another, so I arrived at nine in the morning, and ended up keeping the following log as I went along that day. I just found it and decided it could make a nice post unto itself.

9 am
Foggy over the Hudson and East River, sun trying to burn through.
There are already fans parking their cars and lined up one deep at the barriers toward the press gate. Autograph seekers.

The calliope begins to play shortly before 9:30.
Loose-wheeled ‘trains’ of carts laden with Cracker Jacks, pulled by small tractors, rattle through the concourses.

9:45 am
A lone player, unrecognized, runs along the warning track.
Tony Pena exchanges greetings in Spanish with the door guard at the press gate.

By 10:15 the sun is starting to come through, making the grass seem to glow. A trio of women works as a team to hand-clean every seat in the lower stadium bowl, their equipment and supplies pushed in a shopping cart.

Everywhere there is polishing and washing going on, including on the field where a groundskeeper spends 45 minutes tamping down dirt around the batters box and making it perfect.

Others work the infield and mound

Every plaque in Monument Park gleams like new.

At ten am sharp Bobby Murcer takes his seat in the YES booth, begins reading the newspaper while techs are still doing techy things around him.

Down in the press dining room they are serving brunch, scrambled eggs, a salad bar, coffee.

The Toronto writers begin to trickle in before New York’s. The jays bus arrives at 10:30, but the Yankees will be slower to come in after the late night last night. [It had been an epic, extra innings game.]

From the press box, one can hear but not quite see, the gap in right where the trains go by.

What will the press box in the new stadium be like? Will it be glassed in like the one in Tampa, with windows that open? Or will the try to recreate what it’s like here? This is possibly the last true open-air press box in the majors.

These are the best seats in the house… and yet the foul lines down the line are still obscured. Sitting in the upper deck above this might be slightly better if farther from the action.

Two players are working out with a coach, two Yankees. The coach is hitting grounders to a guy at third base while a first baseman stands by just to take his throws. The first baseman really looks like Giambi but from here it’s hard to be sure — I haven’t brought my binoculars.

No idea who the kid is, but he might be wearing a U of Texas hat, some kind of faded orange hat.

The replay of the previous night’s game is on the monitor above my head right now, at 10:40am Jorge Posada is clearly safe on replay at first, sparking the rally.

The guy who worked the batters box is now working on the slope of the mound

On Cano’s broken bat hit, Halladay’s face is one of shell shock, stricken, whereas when Giambi strokes a ball into left to tie the game, he looks purely glum and holding it in for all he’s worth.

GAME NOTES

3:07 pm — men on the corners, no one out, Jorge at the plate, first outbreak of “Let’s Go Yankees” of the day.

From the press box everything seems louder; I think bc the shape of the stadium angles the fans and captures the sound.

At the same time it is quieter — we are not listening to the broadcasts and everyone in here is concentrating on the game or on writing something so there is not the kind of boisterous chatter one gets in the stands.

It is a very pure baseball watching experience.

Giambi lashed the bat in frustration after swinging at strike 3 with a man on 3rd and no outs.

As Cano came to plate in 2nd, 2 on, one out, one in, the sun came out.

5:24 pm folks in the LF bleachers start the wave while the Blue Jays are batting and Jose Veras has put two men on with no outs. Section 39 of the RF bleachers proudly and steadfastly refuses to participate. (I approve.)

After the wave goes around 5 times, Veras strikes out Matt Stairs.

5:31 After throwing a wild pitch that moved men to second and third, Veras strikes out Alex Rios (with no help from the crowd this time).

6:05 pm One of the writers in the front row–can’t quite see who–slams his computer shut and then bangs it forcibly against the desk in a fit of emotion. It’s doubtful it’s caused by the 3-2 count that Bobby Abreu has just received, though perhaps he’s put off by the organist playing a riff from Beethoven to outline the tension.

6:07 Abreu walks.

6:08 A-rod gets yet another two-out hit to put the Yankees ahead. Today, he’s the epitome of not doing too much.

6:16 Posada sets up low and away. Farnsworth’s pitch is up and in. Farnsworth goes to a 3-0 count on Reed Johnson and gets booed.

6:17 Farnsworth walks Johnson on the next pitch. Gets booed. Joe Torre goes to the mound. Gets booed for leaving Farnsworth in.

6:24 After giving up the tying and go-ahead runs, Farnsworth is booed. Torre emerges from the dugout and is cheered. Farnsworth gets one more round boo before disappearing.

6:37 Jorge Posada manages an infield hit. No, I don’t make this stuff up. Mr. Tantrum’s computer seems to be working fine, by the way. No, I can’t see what brand it is from here. Probaby something cheap, though.

6:43 As the Jays’ seventh pitcher goes to a full count on Wilson Betemit, I notice the guy in the seat in front of me surfing eBay. A game with thirteen pitching changes in it already, on top of a 90 minute rain delay, will do that.

6:53 Mariano Rivera throws his first pitch of the day to a burst of flashbulbs. Every succeeding pitch draws another flurry.

8:22 pm The stadium is empty, all the players but Matsui are gone. The lights are low at the stadium and the writers have returned from their quote-gathering expedition to Joe’s office and the clubhouse.

8:23 Family of a Yankee or employee make their way onto the field. Two small children and one older one with three adults, gleefully tossing white baseballs back and forth and catching them in undersized gloves.

A single bulb on the Armitron scoreboard is flaky. In the expanse of black, it flickers like a lone candle, sometimes barely visible, other times wavering into brightness.

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

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