Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Baseball Fun in New York - Yankee Tour and Mets-Phillies

So, I'm in NYC for a week. I started off my trip with quite a bang.

(See all of my Yankees Stadium Tour pictures!)

Well, so I arrived in NYC and didn't feel like sleeping, and couldn't come up with anything in particular to do this afternoon, so I walked over to the 125th street stop and took the D train over to Yankee Stadium. I got there around noon, so too late for the noon tour, but bought a ticket to the 1pm tour. Ate lunch at McDonalds, which has a ton of Yankees stuff in it, including a 3-D mural on the wall and a painting on the ceiling. Infact, the entire neighborhood is entirely taken over by Yankees goods, it seems. All the surrounding blocks near the stadium seem to consist of Yankees memorabilia shops and sports bars, many of which are named after famous Yankee players.

I went on the tour. It was awesome. We started behind home plate in the stands, then walked out to Monument Park, where they have all the retired numbers and the monuments and stuff. The original monuments and flagpole used to actually be in the outfield, when the center field wall was 461 feet out, but now the wall is closer in and the monuments are outside it. There are plaques up on the wall honouring many Yankees players and people, including former owners, managers, announcers, etc, and there's also a 9/11 monument.

After that, we walked to the dugout. We were allowed to walk on the field, but not on the grass, just the warning track. I stopped by the left field wall and got someone to take that picture of me. The wall was so low I bet even I could jump up and get over it if I tried. It gets higher though, and by right field it's at least 5 feet taller than that left field wall is. The walls are also padded, and it's just neat to run into the wall to feel it cushion.

There was a mass photo-shooting spree while everyone had to get pictures of themselves sitting in the dugout. It was way cool. The dugouts are also really impressive -- they have these vents in the steps, so during the summer they can aircondition the dugout, and during the colder times they can heat up the benches and the air as well, if needed. The guide made the joke of "And we have this functionality in the opposing dugout too... we heat 'em up in summer and cool 'em down in winter! har har, just kidding." The view of the field from the dugout is amazing. I tried to spend a minute imagining what it would be like to be an actual baseball player sitting there during a game.

After that, we went into the clubhouse. You weren't allowed to take pictures in there, but I can tell you what I saw. First, the area behind the dugouts is an underground maze. I bet the players never go anywhere but the locker room area, because otherwise they'd get lost forever. Second, the locker room is neat. They pointed out all the things like how Bernie Williams has the biggest and best locker because he's the most senior member of the team, and how Jeter has two lockers, one for his stuff, one for his fan mail. They still have a locker in there for Thurman Munson, the Yankees catcher in the 1970's who was also a pilot and died tragically in a plane crash -- the locker is doored off and "retired" for him. We weren't allowed very far into the locker room, but in addition to the lockers, we could sort of see the shower/spa/etc area off to the left (which had the Yankees logo embossed in the glass of the mirrors), and we could see the "rec room" off in the distance, which the guide said has several big-screen TVs and tons of movies and PS2 games and whatnot and big comfy chairs, and you could also kinda see Joe Torre's office through one door. Very neat.

After that they took us up to the press box. The view from there is awesome. They told us some stories about the stadium, about the facades, and the longest home runs hit there (by Mickey Mantle and Josh Gibson, respectively). The funny thing is, the guide shared a lot of trivia all day and I swear that everything he said is something I knew already -- I guess I've picked up a lot of Yankees history along the way. We got to see where George Steinbrenner's luxury suite is, and we got to go by where the organist plays music during the game (it's a Hammond organ, if you care), and by the Voice of the Yankees's announcing station.

Then we went back down to the team store and they let us go. We did get "Yankee Stadium Tour" keychains, I guess to prove you went on the tour if you don't bring a camera. It was neat.

If you are a Yankees fan and you have not toured the stadium, you should! It's well worth the $14 just to sit in the dugout, in my opinion :) That was just a really cool experience. I don't even like the Yankees and I had a blast.

Then to top that off, Nick and I went to the Mets-Phillies game tonight. Despite the 7 train having the wrong mark on it so we got the local when we wanted the express, we got there at like 7:35, for a 7:10 game, which was rain delayed to 7:40. Perfect!

Ishii walked a LOT of people and then Bell and Utley hit a single and a homer to knock in 5 runs and knock out Ishii. Cory Lidle pitched a great game for the Phillies and even went 1-for-2 on the batting. The only thing that really sucked is that it did start raining again in the 4th inning, and was pretty heavy rain from the 4th until the 7th or so, which was annoying for keeping score (I had my scorebook in a plastic bag and I'd reach in with a pen to write down the frames as they happened).

So yeah, it was 6-3 Phillies in the 9th and Billy Wagner came in, and you all know how much I love Billy Wagner. He kicked a ton of Met butt and the game was over pretty quickly, ending with Marlon Anderson just looking at a 99 mph fastball.

Surprisingly few people actually made comments about my Phillies shirt, and there were several others at the park. I picked up a Mike Cameron 44 Mets t-shirt though, which I will wear around Seattle sometimes I'm sure :)

Beltran sucks! Zing.

I'm probly going back to Shea for tomorrow afternoon's Phillies-Mets game... Pedro Martinez vs. Jon Lieber. Should be fun. I'll wear the Mets shirt this time though.

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