Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Everybody Loves the Sunshine
2008-05-21 05:27
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Earlier this spring, my wife Emily and I visited her sister in Albuturkey, New Mexico.  Even though the climate was dry and cool I have never experienced such oppresive heat from the sun, which was the hottest in the late afternoon.  The sun was omni-present.  Even when it was slightly overcast you could feel it.  One day, we were at a used bookstore and the guy who ran the place told us that when native New Mexicans leave the state they go into shock because of the lack of sun. 

In New York, you learn to savor the sun because it comes to us as fractured light, in bits and pieces.  Native New Yorkers know where the sun will be, at what time of day, during each time of year.  The sun is more precious here which makes you appreciate it all the more.  But it's not only the sun.  Being in New York, all you need to do is look up and pay attention and you will see the most stunning sights.  For instance, a few weeks ago, I met Richard Lederer and his son Joe outside of their hotel on 42nd street and 3rd avenue.  As I waited, I happen to look up and saw, through a crack in the awning, a gorgeous view of the Chrysler Building.  Of course, I'd never seen it from that perspective before, and it is likely that I'll never see it from there again.

I feel the same way going to games at the Stadium.  Although I have sat in the same seats more than once and I've been to many sections in the park over the years, I certainly haven't been to all of them.  Not nearly.  Each seat offers you a distinct perspective that makes the game fresh and new.  Last night, I was at the game, and enjoyed the view from some very cushy seats, about twenty rows deep behind first base.  When hard ground balls skipped foul up the first base line you could hear them woosh along the grass; when Kevin Millar caught a line drive, we heard a loud WHAP, and when Derek Jeter was hit in the hand, a resounding crack. 

It was drizzling when I arrived, after raining for most of the day, but as the Yankees took the field in the top of the first inning, you could see the warm orange-yellow light of the sun, splashed over the top rows of the upper deck in right field and off the top of the criminal courts building.  Looking straight ahead, just to the left of the left field bleachers, the sun glared off the gold lettering of the new Yankee Stadium.

Before the first pitch, a handful of Yankee players ran sprints and stretched in right field.  The players lined up for brief ceremony that had something to do with the armed forces.  As they fell into line, just before the moment of silence began, Alex Rodriguez was flanked by Robinson Cano (to his left) and Melky Cabrera.  Rodriguez playfully slapped Cano in the ass with his mitt and then, more forcefully snapped Cabrera in the ass, almost causing Cabrera to jump.  As the moment of silence was observed, a cameraman crouched in front of the line of players.  Jeter and Rodriugez and Cano rocked side to side.  Jason Giambi had his head down.  Then, there was Hideki Matsui, who was perfectly still, almost like a statue.  It reminded me of what the great critic James Agee once said about Buster Keaton when he wrote that the great stone face had a "mulish imperturbability."  A stubborn calm.

The game was a dud.  When Mike Mussina shook off Jose Molina on a 3-0 count with the bases loaded, you just knew it was going to be a short night for him (as fate would have it, only one of his runs was earned).  Still, from where I was sitting, it was a gorgeous dud.  Sure, the fans around us were mostly made up of executives with their spoiled kids, who acted like first rate schrnorrer's, yelping for balls and autographs from the players.  But the rain kept the crowds away, so it wasn't packed.  It was lovely, in fact.  I predicted an Alex Rodriguez home run (a "meaningless" home run, according to George King in the Post), and even got to see Mariano pitch an inning.  There were some great sounding hits early from the Orioles, but the last two batters that faced Rivera, um, their hits didn't sound so crisp.

I jumped in a gypsy cab after the game.  A Dominican dude who lives about ten blocks from the Stadium drove me home.  We talked about what was wrong with the Yankees and then got around to Manny and Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez.  As we drove to the Major Degan I looked out of the back window.  The lights from the Stadium were brilliant, and a deep, mellow, orange-yellow full moon, rested low in the sky between the park and the new stadium.  I almost gasped the view was so brilliant.  And then, just before I could really take it in, it was gone, obstructed by trees.

Then we were on the highway.  The cabbie has lived in New York for fourteen years and has a wife and a five-year-old son.  He can walk to the Stadium but plans to leave the city soon.  Too dangerous where he's at, too many hot spots, too much drug dealing.  He's going to Cleveland where he's got a brother and cousin.  He's leaving in August and won't be around next spring for the opening of the new stadium.


2008-05-21 06:43:47
1.   Shaun P
Who else could take last night's ugly loss, and make something beautiful out of it?

Thanks, Alex.

2008-05-21 07:06:28
2.   bp1
Alex - man - how you got up the will to right something so positive and soulful after last night's game is beyond me. I turned the game off still in the first and tried to pretend that what I saw was a mirage of sorts.

I must admit, though, that I'm starting to get numb. I don't get as upset as I used to. I have not given up on the season (way too early for that), but these losses are not like sharp sticks in the eye like they normally are. Dunno what's up with that. My feelings seem to reflect the team's attitude.


2008-05-21 07:34:17
3.   pistolpete
As bad as things appear to be, at least we're not hearing rumblings of clubhouse in-fighting and accusations of racism by the team's TV network. Yikes.
2008-05-21 07:37:24
4.   tommyl
Great writing Alex. Also, I applaud your ability to sit through that entire game, good seats or no. I couldn't even watch it on TV.
2008-05-21 07:40:21
5.   Alex Belth
I wouldn't have been able to watch it on TV myself. The sweet seats made it easy, despite the performance on the field. Sometimes it's just cool to sit there and be close to the pros. I don't mean to "God Up" the players, in Stanley Woodward's term, but it is a treat to see the professionals apply their trade up close.
2008-05-21 07:53:54
6.   Chyll Will
I wonder which hotel that was you were standing by, hmm...

2 It's weird, but it seems like the whole league is upended, or at l;east teams and certain players are not performing as expected. Then there's the absurdity of the last place Rangers having a better record than us. It's like having a dream that gets progressively worse to the point that you wake up because you realize how ridiculous it is...

3 I gotta be honest with you, speaking as a representative of African American men with professional aspirations and/or credentials, it is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. I would have left Isiah Thomas out of it, strictly looking at his record with both his team and his associates in general, but I'll bet if no one were afraid to ask us, we wouldn't be afraid to say something similar.

2008-05-21 08:25:53
7.   Raf
Albakoikey? Since you guys made it back, I guess you didn't make any left toins...

Love the title... Roy Ayers, one of my fav artists

Glad you enjoyed the seats; hadn't sat there since '93. Don't remember the opponent, but I remember Mike Witt pitching.

I wish the Dominican cabbie the best of luck in Cleveland. I've been there, and it's a place that's somewhat on the upswing, but still has a dicey air to it. It kinda saddens me to see people leave the place they call home for so long, but I understand you gotta do right for your family, if not yourself. I've thought about leaving on numerous occasions, but like Michael Corleone, Just when I thought I was out... NYC pulls me back in. I love the city too much. My tune will probably change once I settle down, and get married and maybe become a parent.

3 ,6 I agree. And to 6 's point, don't forget those who are afraid to answer, lest they be percieved as outspoken, militant, or uppity, or whatever adjective is in vogue.

2008-05-21 08:51:50
8.   Ace Rothstein
I was born in 1985, and first really got into baseball around 1994, so for almost my entire life, I've been able to comfortably predict that the yankees would make the playoffs every single pre-season. I only vaguely remember the pat kelly's and mike gallego's. I remember having a signed picture of Mike Gallego. It being my first piece of sports memorabilia - I proudly hung the 6x8 picture square in the middle of the wall over my bed. I vividly remember my father telling me I shouldn't even bother to hang it up because it was worthless - and ofcourse I was incredulous as to how that could be. The point is, though my father may have been grumpy, he was also pragmatic - and he knew that this was only 1 season of a slew of roughly 70 that I would live through - much better seasons would come along, and so I'd be better off leaving room for them on my wall.

Maybe this season will turn out great, maybe it will be terrible; but atleast afford yourself the perspective to know that it is only 1 of (depending on your age and health) almost 70 seasons you'll live through, so stay optimistic and appreciate the small things: shafts of sunlight breaking through trees, the crisp snap of a baseball on leather, green grass, the smell of freshly oiled glove, and girls wearing sun dresses.

2008-05-21 09:02:30
9.   bp1
8 Man I feel old. 1985? You are right about appreciating the good times, the crack of the bat, but it was all Orioles bats cracking last night and after awhile the fun wore off. But I getchya. One day at a time. Enjoy each win.

6 Yeah. The dream thing is real. I get the sense that Bobby Abreu is living in one of those dreams when he plays right field. The kind where you're scared and you wanna run, but your feet won't move. I'm hoping Moose's 6 wins weren't part of the bizarro upended world.

2008-05-21 09:04:34
10.   DarrenF
Alex, great post. I've felt for a long time that the suckers who are impressing their friends with $850 seats behind home plate are not getting the best seats, anyway. Also, while I like Yankees winning more than Yankees losing, watching baseball is an enjoyable activity, regardless. Hoping against hope for Ensberg to connect off Wagner is what you do.
2008-05-21 11:10:53
11.   pistolpete
6 Isiah was just flat out horrible. The next guy can't help but look like John Wooden in comparison. :)
2008-05-21 11:24:37
12.   bobtaco
Yesterday was the inaugural game of my new 40 inch LCD HD set. So I can relate with Alex, that while the game was horrid, it looked absolutely bee-you-tee-ful.

It saddened me, looking down at my old 27, discarded on the floor. That I had watched all of the games from 1993 on, on this television. All the good times and classic games, from '96 until now. I really hope I have as many good memories with this new television.

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