I arrived at Yankee Stadium tonight at twenty to seven, just shy of two hours before first pitch. I heard a couple fighting on the train ride up. "That's not what I'm sayin, you don't listen," the guy said. "I know what you're sayin, you just intrepret me wrong," she answered. I tried to engage a non-descript-looking and desultory dude to no avail. But when I climbed the stairs to the street a block away from the Stadium in the Bronx, I was greeted by an unseasonably warm evening, laced with the last bits of humidity this Indian Summer has to offer. They say it may even rain later on. The sun was setting, and you could feel that something different was in the air. Traffic was blocked off, and there were a lot of cops around. Things felt orderly.
I just missed magic hour, the sun was already well down, and there was just a little bit of natural light left. I got to the area where a cop has to check your security in order to pass. The cop, as always, is a young Latin guy, maybe late twenties, big, brown eyes, neatly trimmed mustache. I've seen him each time I've been at the Stadium this year and I greet him with a smile. He asks for my ID, checks it, and tells me to go ahead without any further recognition. Running parallel along the third baseside of the Park is a basketball court and a ratty baseball field. With no lights and precious little daylight left. But Kids were still playing hoops on the basketball court, and behind that, other kids were winding down a baseball practice. My favorite part of playing baseball as a teenager was staying late at practice taking grounders from my coach until it simply got too dark to see.
I moved towards the Yankee Press area. A group of cops are standing around. I hear one say, "With a strip on the roof? And you wouldn't rock that Sh**?" Not too many people yet, certainly no crunch, this was also that last pause in of the long regular season before the team and the fanbase kicks off another October. First team to eleven wins. And it is definitely Broadway tonight in the Bronx. When I turned the corner to the final stretch before approaching the club box and press areas, I was almost knocked over by a wave of cologne. Guys stood in small groups, talking on their cell phones. Pretty, sun-tanned, guys with make-up, some smoking cigars.
The Yankees set up a tent outside of the press area to accomidate all the media that will be here tonight. Three women in their mid-twenties are behind the desk. "Belth. That's B as in Bronx," I say to the women. "Did you say B as in boring?" says one of the girls who was sitting down (the prettiest one was standing). "No, but I say A as in aardvark. Or P as in--" "P as in pig," the girl says. "Or as in pneumonia," I say using an old Elaine May line. I wait. No laugh. Okay, then, moving on.
I go up to the press box to see where I'm to be seated. There is an auxillary press box set up in the loge seats out in right field. I figured I would be seated there. I checked out the chart in the press box behind home plate and ran into a sportswriter I have known for a few years. He was on the phone and told me to hang on. I looked down at the field and saw the Tigers taking bp. I leaned against the top railing of the press box, and looked down and saw a fat meat sandwhich of some sort. And fat fingers picking it up. The fat fingers belonged to a fat sportswriter who typed with furious speed and grace on a small laptop keyboard. His fingers moved with the light touch that some big men like Fatty Arbuckle have dancing.
The sportswriter I was waiting on got off the phone and talked to me about something that was on his mind as he walked to towards the elevator. I was going the other way but walked with him. In the middle of thought, he was distracted by someone else and immediately walked away. I stopped walking and looked after him. When he got to the door that leads to the elevator he finally looked up and saw me. I raised my hand, "OK, catch up with you later." And he looked haggard and quickly dipped through the door after the man he was now speaking with.
As I walked the corridors of the Lodge section I was struck by how quiet it still was. It is so cinematic walking through a stadium, every so often catching another glimpse of the field. I stopped and talked to a security guard. Finally somebody normal.
I finally got to my seat just before seven. Front row of the press box in right field. Only the railing is in front of me. Tough to get one in here but a homer is always possible. Incredibly dope seats. You guys know that I'm appreciating every moment and am truly humbled by the opportunities I've worked so hard to create.