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Yankees are at home

New stadium still offers up classic action

Alex Ferguson Posted 28th September 2011 view comments

The 2011 baseball play-offs are coming up this weekend, and the New York Yankees will be playing in them. Sky Sports' Alex Ferguson visits their home in New York City.

Arriving at 161st Street in New York City's South Bronx, there was a gaping hole behind me that I'd never seen before. That hole was the absence of Yankee Stadium.

Yes, I know that there's a big, new place just up the road, but I loved the old one. It was the old one where I got to see David Wells pitch a perfect game (ie no runner allowed on base for nine innings). It was the old one where I scored a $120 in the fourth inning from a tout and got to see the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox in 2003.

Jeter: made my day

Jeter: made my day

I then went back and hugged the tout, who was still drinking in the bar where I scored the ticket. He was grateful for the 'C Note', I was grateful for the ticket. It was the old one where I saw some of the greatest players ever to don pinstripes, and it was the old one where there were so many memories. My last trip to the old one was in 2008, where I saw Alex Rodriguez hammer a home run with my wife. She enjoyed her experience, but not half as much as me.

We walk to the stadium, and it's hard for me to breathe. Maybe it's the anticipation of actually seeing my boys in pinstripes for the first time in three years, maybe it's the thought of a new stadium, or maybe - it's the oppressive heat which has got even the prettiest Gossip Girl sweating a little.

Alex Ferguson
Quotes of the week

Now, I'm back. There's a new Yankee Stadium about a quarter of a mile from 161st street. I'm assured that it will be full of new memories, and my buddy Andy assures me that it's an 'amazing place'. "If it's anything as amazing as the old place, I'll be stunned", I remark cynically.

We go to Stan's, a bar near to the stadium. We've been there on the Friday, but the game was called off because of torrential rain. Andy calls it a jinx and blames it on himself. His wife died a year ago, and he's been trying to heal himself with baseball - but hasn't been to a proper game since she died. Travel or weather circumstances have always got in the way.

Atmosphere

Stan's - a place that's full of a proper Yankee crowd mixing together Jersey girls and Manhattanites - is rammed full of Yankee fans. It's like a scene from Billy Joel's "Piano Man", except the soundtrack's bad rock. And Red Sox fans brave enough to enter are reminded about how their team sucks...or worse.

One peroxide blonde lady gets a talking to from the doorman for slapping his behind. You stay classy, New York, you stay classy. As for me, I'm lucky that I don't get arrested after accidentally bumping into a New York policeman. Thankfully, the guy at the door rescues me. "It's your fault," says the wife. "You have no spatial awareness".

But now, it's time for the game. Will there be new memories?

We walk to the stadium, and it's hard for me to breathe. Maybe it's the anticipation of actually seeing my boys in pinstripes for the first time in three years, maybe it's the thought of a new stadium, or maybe - it's the oppressive heat which has got even the prettiest Gossip Girl sweating a little.

I'm quietly impressed on arrival to my seat. For a start, I can see the whole field, which was a problem in the old one, which was full of sucky sightlines. Then, there's legroom. The old place wasn't great for legroom, either. Also, the new place is pretty similar to the old.

Although there's none of the eccentricities that made the old place special (like the 'black' in the middle that helped batters see the ball come out of the pitcher's hand, Monument Park containing icons of Yankee players where a ball could get dispatched to, and the flagpole in the outfield), it's still a great place to watch some baseball, and that's what I'm here for.

But there are a lot of things to love.

Distraction

Firstly, the team playing in it. 29 out of 30 major league teams might hate them, but the New York Yankees are still the biggest thing in baseball by a country mile.

Secondly, the fact that fans yell out the name of a player during the first inning, and continue doing so until they are acknowledged.

Thirdly, I got to see Derek Jeter - my 'Man Crush' hammers a three-run home run that effectively won the game for the Yankees over our hated rivals. If you don't know who Derek Jeter is, we suggest you devote some time to Google.

Jeter and pinstripes almost helped me forget about thae fact there was no stone unsold by the Yankees, and the prices of everything from the tickets to the merchandise were borderline outrageous. Alternative revenue streams? River morelike!

Another thing helped me forget about the experience: meeting The Kid. He was sitting behind me, wearing a Red Sox shirt. I jokingly scolded him for cheering on the Red Sox after the Bostonians put a run on the board (making it 9-1!) , and then got chatting to his mother. Turns out The Kid's got a plasma-deficiency disease which means that he's got to have blood transfusions every three weeks. Otherwise he's in trouble.

Anyway, his mother wrote to the Boston Red Sox to ask for him to meet the team. Despite this being an ultra-important part of the season, the Red Sox said: "Sure", and he got to see batting practice and meet his heroes. Not only that, but the Red Sox called the Yankees, and the Yankees gave him tickets for him and the family, free of charge, as well as a goody bag. We'd love to hear of a story of Manchester United and Chelsea combining to the same. If you've got one, let us know. The mother and I both agree to pray for each other - me for her kid, her for my wife.

Exiting the place, we were all pretty happy. The Yankees won, so that made me happy. My wife was happy that not only the Yankees won but I didn't get arrested. And Andy? He was happy. He was gloriously happy. After all, he'd broken his jinx.

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