Bronx, N.Y., May 22, 2002 — After a day like today I simply have to tell you about “the thing about Box 622.” We signed off on purchasing our B Plan seats (in this box) in 1998 when it was a midweek nights only package of 33 games, simply because it was obvious that this was the only way we could guarantee ourselves playoff seats. The eight extra midweek day games were bestowed upon us the following year. You want playoff tickets to every game, well you’ll have to buy 41 games. We both work all day; how we would get to them we didn’t know, but we did what we had to do.
And more often than not I do find a way to make these day games. They are fun for many reasons. It’s a fun day when the alternative is being in the office working. But another factor is that the tickets are largely gobbled up by schools and youth associations of all stripes, and the crowd is filled with exuberant children awed by the spectacle (as are we all) and ready to yell their heads off all day. The Little League teams in vibrant colors dot the stands all over. Those of us a bit longer in the tooth get a clear reminder of what this game is really all about.
And the Stadium was a fitting scene for our “coming into the sun” day. Admiral Bob Natter, USN, the man in command of the entire Atlantic Fleet, threw the honorary first pitch (which must have been a split finger, as it bounced hard in the dirt 5-10 feet before the plate). Admiral Natter and the Yankees were celebrating the beginning of Fleet Week in New York, as Eddie Layton serenaded us with rousing renditions of “Anchors Aweigh” and “The Halls of Montezuma” and the color guard, in dress whites, were the Silver Dolphins from the submarine school in Groton, CT.
And yes, I know we all hoped for better things from Adrian Hernandez, who seemed to be unaware of how well he was actually doing when he slipped and threw nine consecutive balls after Lawrence’s leadoff single in the third. We hoped he would survive the rookie mistake, but Delgado had other plans. El duquecita’s first, second and fourth inning pitch counts of 14, 15 and 14 show that he almost managed to settle in. One has to wonder if one big hit during our first- and second-inning rallies, when we seemed to have Halladay only a pitch or two away from an early shower, would have made all the difference. And I must admit that Nick’s base running looked awkward and that Rondell’s left field defense left much to be desired. (Thankfully he’ll be playing in a much smaller one for the next four days.). And my last in-game note: kudos to Choate. Although he started shaky and allowed us to slip further behind, he settled in and gave us innings we needed, and we head to Boston about as well set up for the weekend series as could be expected after the disturbing pitching news of the last several days.
The sky was blue and almost cloudless. The green grass in the outfield and infield (but not in foul teritory) was cut in a crosshatch pattern, the outfield made up of 58 wide, alternating light and dark strips of green running from the first base side to the left field wall; the infield of 38 much narrower strips running in the same direction. It was a big day in Yankee history, marking the 80th anniversary of the beginning of construction of the Stadium, and 39 years ago today The Mick hit a shot off the very upmost right field facade in right off Kansas City’s Bill Fischer in an 8-7 Yankee win. And finally the still-not-accepted Roger Clemens was helped by his new teammates to a new record 19th consecutive winning decision on May 22 in 1999.
Mr. Vander Wal’s musical tastes continue to veer into all areas of classic rock, as today Van Halen (Hot for Teacher — I still chuckle at that video!) was added to his palate that already features The Doors and Jimi Hendrix. And second base ump Dimuro looked like so many hopeful concert goers at last night’s Phil Lesh show, as his call of the infield fly rule against Felipe Lopez in the fifth by pointing his index finger in the air looked for all the world like so many rock fans milling about outside Irving Plaza last night, each indicating that they were trying to score “one” ticket.
When it came time to file out after the disappointing loss, few down the left field side bolted as is their wont, as they usually fight to be first to the parking garage or the subway platform. Some lethargy was caused by the loss I’m sure, but for the most part these people had been lulled and warmed into a zombie-like state. We may not get another day like this in 622 this year; the sun that coddled us today will bake and beat on us come July and August. I sauntered out thinking of the old Ernie Banks line: “We’ve got the grass. We’ve got the sun. Let’s play two!”