The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Riding the Octobercoaster, Part II

continued from Part I...

Despite the swift kick in the ribs provided by the Dodgers-Mets result, the situation in the Bronx was looking up, with the October night bearing far more resemblance to a midsummer contest, with temperatures in the low 70s. Andra and I had missed the National Anthem but arrived in our seats -- Section 34, Box 538 in Loge, several yard inside the leftfield foul pole -- just in time to see Paul O'Neill throw out the ceremonial first pitch. That was shortly after 8 PM, and with real first pitch not slated until 8:20, I figured I had plenty of time to secure us some beers. I went looking for the oversized Heinekens, the stadium's best beer deal in terms of quality and quantity, but found the Loge level -- not my usual stomping grounds -- barren of such necessities; in fact it was virtually barren of people relative to a stadium teeming with more than 56 thousand fans.

So I wandered up the ramp to the Upper level, which suddenly seemed even more packed and chaotic than I remembered it, resembling a refugee camp where relief workers had outfitted its needy dwellers in hundreds of dollars worth of pinstriped garb. As I slogged my way down the overcrowded, narrow concourse, I finally realized that it had started raining -- a drizzle, not a downpour -- and the exposed fans had come inside for shelter, impeding my beerquest. It took me several minutes to find the Heineken stand, where not surprisingly the price had been jacked up. There was no way to avoid being soaked.

I returned to Loge, still shocked by the rain; despite the unseasonably warm temperatures, it hadn't occurred to me to even check for such a likelihood. Around 8:30, public address announcer Bob Sheppard informed the crowd that the weather front moving through was supposed to clear in 45 minutes, when preparations for play would resume.

Long story short, my wife and I killed time in the rain delay as one does, watching a storm that probably wouldn't have been strong enough to impede play during a regular-season ballgame. The tarp came off around 9:35; we watched the grounds crew's carefully choreographed maneuver of dragging the tarp into leftfield to empty the water before returning it to its original position and folding it, then rolling it up. The bases were put back into place, the infield was sprinkled, and I went on another beer run. But when I returned, I could see that the Yankee dugout was completely empty, and the bullpen as well; Tiger starter Justin Verlander had tossed a few balls in the outfield but quickly stopped, realizing he was alone in his assumption that the first pitch was imminent. This wasn't good.

Soon, despite no additional rain, some members of the grounds crew began preparing the tarp again as the crowd booed the site. Other groundskeepers scurried back onto the field, uprooting the bases and covering both the mound and the home plate area with the special circular tarps. A rumor passed that ESPN was reporting a postponement. No word from on high; Bob Sheppard's Voice of God is notably mute, and again I realized that despite the shelter of the Loge level, we'd been soaked again; the Yanks delayed the announcement while they bilked a few more dollars worth of concessions out of their fans. Finally, as the sprinkle resumed, an announcement came: game postponed, rescheduled for 1:09 PM on Thursday, tough shit if you can't make it, chumps

Fans behind me groused about business meetings as they second-guessed the decision to delay the start -- "We coulda gotten it in!" -- and on the train ride home, an oversized, meshugge Michiganer in a Tigers cap began taunting a 4 train car full of Yankee fans: "You're too scared to play us!" Uh-huh, settle down there little Tiger. "Just say no to drugs!" advised a tattooed Yank fan.

Cap boy then began complaining not only about having to fly back to Kalamazoo in the morning, missing the once-in-a-lifetime game he traveled so far to see, but also about how rude New Yorkers are. Apparently the byzantine section numbering (even on the third base side, odd on the first base side, with numbers increasing as one moves out from home plate) kept him from finding his seat, counting upwards by twos having gone out of vogue in the midwest sometime around Tiger Stadium's closing. As he searched for his seat, Yankee fans simply didn't take his math-addled confusion seriously. Welcome to the Bronx, rube.

The more the rube complained, the less sympathy the riders showed him, their insults becoming more barbed. "The softball team in my town could beat the Tigers -- the girls softball team!" growled one Yankee partisan as his buddies high-fived him.

That would be proven demonstrably false within the next 18 hours.

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