soft hands.

these vagabond shoes

"Baseball fell into the category of things so much a part of me that they were completely dependent on me for their existence. Ballparks could not exist in the absence of my consciousness of them. Fenway, Candlestick, the Stadium, they weren't structures, though I could tell you their dimensions, right, left, and center, and the number of obstructed seats in each. They were places of the soul, located within; constructs of imagination and will, not iron and molded plastic. Looking back, I guess that's because for me baseball was always an interior monologue."
- Jane Leavy, Squeeze Play

the last time i clearly remember going to yankee stadium, rickey henderson was still playing for the a's. i'm going to guess it was 89 or 90, because i couldn't figure out why this guy i knew only as a yankee was now playing for a different team. i was maybe 10, still young enough to think guys stayed with one team forever. by the time i was old enough to understand that baseball's a business, the frequent stadium trips of my childhood were long gone; during my teenage years i still followed the yankees in the papers and on tv, but as they blossomed into a dynasty, tickets got more expensive and harder to come by, and we stopped going altogether.

anyway, my mom must have noticed how excited i am about this year's team, because she somehow scored 6 very good seats to the july 6th game as a gift to me. i'd mentioned to some friends that pictures would be hard to take, because we'd be sitting in nosebleed seats. that's what she let me think, right up until the moment we were standing at the gate and i looked at my ticket and yelled, "woman, these are some EXPENSIVE nosebleed seats!" my whole family started cracking up and i was like "WHY THE HELL DID YOU PEOPLE LET ME DRAG AROUND THESE STUPID BINOCULARS THEN!?" and they pointed and laughed at me some more, because my family is a bunch of hooligans.

there's really nothing like the feeling you get when you walk into the stadium for the first time, or in my case, the first time in forever. you're walking through the drab little tunnel to get to your seats and suddenly you step into a barrage of color and light and motion, and for a split second you forget that there's anything wrong in the world, or anything else in the world, for that matter.

but enough hyperbole, let me talk about the game.

we sat on the first base side, section 15, box 259, row c. we had a great view, but i have three complaints:
- one fatass security nazi for the REALLY good seats kept standing up and obscuring my perfect view of home plate.
- a group of four guys sitting near aforementioned security nazi had on tall chefs hats and contributed to my partially obstructed view. they stood up for most of BP til my dad yelled "HEY PASTRY CHEFS! PARK IT!" which made them look around sheepishly and sit down.
- THE FOUR FUCKING TIGER FANS AND LONE METS FAN (?!?!!?!?!?) IN THE ENTIRE GODDAMN PLACE WERE SITTING DIRECTLY BEHIND US, which made the loss all the more brutal. but heckling them was part of why we had such a good time. johnson, i admit, did a good job strangling the pitiful yankee offense, but they kept rubbing it in by cheering "let's go johnson! [clap-clap clap-clap-clap]" to which we'd yell "what's his first name! [clap-clap clap-clap-clap]" or "who IS johnson? [clap-clap clap-clap-clap]" and my favorite, "ENJOY .500!" which actually is quite generous, but "ENJOY .463!" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

in the first inning, the yankees pulled that let's hack at the first pitch bullshit, and i had that familiar nasty feeling the offense was going to take a nap. and nap it did. all goddamn night. there were some hard hit balls, and some near misses that either went foul or dropped at the warning track, but that's not gonna win any games.

i did my best to think happy fluffy thoughts, and for awhile, moose did well enough to make me think things would go right. for half the game, moose was the sharpest i've seen him all year. REALLY sharp. making-the-tigers-look-silly sharp. he struck out the side in the first and i kicked my still-full 8 dollar watered down beer all over the place, i was so excited. for four more innings, until 2 outs in the 5th, i felt like an idiot for ever doubting him. even when higginson hit that home run, i figured he crushed a mistake pitch and moose would return to his bad self. the score was 2-0, so what? nothing insurmountable. but then in the 6th [the most brutal inning of the night, which started off with just about everyone in the stadium but me doing the wave, after which the game fell apart. i hope everyone who did it feels terrible because THE WAVE=YANKEES LOSE] , moose was taking an uncomfortably long time on the mound and then the tigers started to scatter hits. even before rondell white hit that fucking BOMB and put the game out of reach, it was painfully obvious that moose was running out of gas, and i started to fidget in my seat, wondering why joe wasn't pulling him while things were still relatively close. no sooner do i start to stare out toward the bullpen does rondell white crush the ball, and along with it my hopes of a happy birthday win. then tanyon sturtze takes the mound in the 7th and i yelled TANYON FUCKING STURTZE? WHY DON'T YOU JUST FORFEIT (sorry tanyon).

my brother: who is this guy?
me: tanyon sturtze.

so, tanyon sturtze, everybody's favorite whipping boy. i guess he did okay - til he hit pudge. much as i think retaliation is sometimes called for, i highly doubt it was intentional since Worcester's Own doesn't exactly have pinpoint control. so there was poor pudge, lying on the ground for what felt like forever, and everybody masochistic enough to still be bearing witness to this shitfest started merrily booing tanyon (sorry tanyon). then ugueth urbina threw at sheff and the bloodthirsty, beleaguered crowd went nuts, hoping for a fight, something, anything, to make things worthwhile. the benches were warned and the game plodded along its sad way.

cue liza.


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