I had been to Yankee Stadium once before, but I was only 10 years old so I couldn’t fully appreciate the history of the Yankees at the time. Considering that it was also 100 degrees on that summer day and that the Yankees lost, it wasn’t exactly a perfect day at the ballpark.
However, tonight on this perfect Summer Solstice night,
I was sitting in short right field which is prime home run territory since right field is only 314 feet from home plate. I have caught a couple of foul balls over the years, but never a home run, so I put on my glove and was looking forward to the possibility.
Having watched some of my favorite players, like Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, in this ballpark since I was little, I felt those memories resurface when I arrived. Yankee Stadium was totally re-built in 2009 so there isn’t the history of what they used to call it – the “House that Ruth Built” – where other famous players like Joe DiMaggio or Mickey Mantle all played. They played in the original building that was built in 1923 and was torn down after the 2008 season to become parking. For $2.3 billion, the Yankees built a new stadium and the architects appeared to try hard to replicate many of the original features such as the limestone exterior, the copper frieze on the upper deck and Monument Park beyond the center field fence. It lacks the charm of Fenway Park or Wrigley Field but it is still nicely done.
The Yankees were having a very good season this year but had suddenly embarked on a 7-game losing streak so there was a sense of pressure to get back on the right track and beat the Angels tonight. It was the bottom of the second inning when Didi Gregorius launched a home run to right field.
The ball landed about ten rows away from me so not quite close enough. The Yankees radio announcer John Sterling has a different expression for each Yankee who hits a home run and I knew his call for Gregorius: “Yes Indeed-Y!” I laugh at all of his calls, with my favorite being for phenom Aaron Judge, when he says, “All rise! Court is now in session – your Judge and Jury!”
Fun stuff. I miss his calls for some of the retired players like “A-Rod with an A-bomb!” for Alex Rodriguez or “the Giambino” for Jason Giambi since they called Babe Ruth the Bambino, or my favorite, “The Melk Man Delivers” for Melky Cabrera.
Martin Maldonado tied it for the Angels in the 4th inning with a home run to left field which occurred immediately after a balk was called on Yankee pitcher Jordan Montgomery, who had been pitching brilliantly. This may have unnerved Montgomery even though one is supposed to simply forget about it. In the Yankees 5th inning, Matt Holliday smacked a home run to right field.
At first, I thought that it was coming right at me! But it tailed off near the end and landed about five rows away where there was a mad scramble for the ball. The Yankees poured it on after that with 3 runs in the 6th inning
and 2 more in the 7th inning cruising to an 8-2 lead.
Martin Maldonado hit his second home run for the Angels, but they could get no closer so it was an 8-4 final score. Maldonado’s homer was also to right field but this one was a dozen rows away so I was not going to get my home run ball after all. Nonetheless, it was a great night at the ballpark with a good friend of mine and we enjoyed the game immensely.
The rain started falling in Fenway almost immediately after the game went into extra innings.
With each inning, the rain intensified and it bordered on torrential as the game entered the bottom of the 12th inning with the Red Sox at bat. The diehard, drenched Bostonians who stuck around (almost everybody) were rewarded with a walk-off victory over the Phillies when 22-year old Andrew Benintendi smoked the winning hit.
He was very animated after the hit when his teammates mobbed him as they greeted him on the field.
The Red Sox accomplished a walk-off the previous night (by Dustin Pedroia) over these same Phillies, and also in extra innings, so it’s been an exciting couple of days for Sox fans.
I had never been to Fenway Park before and my first visit didn’t disappoint. Fenway Park is rich in history.
Opening in 1912, it is the oldest existing MLB park. In that first year, Fenway hosted the World Series – one of the most exciting World Series in MLB history! Virtually all of the games in the Series were close: four of the games were decided by only one run, another was decided by only two runs, and one game ended in a tie. Two of the games in this Series went into extra innings, including the final and decisive Game 8. This 1912 World Series was the only best-of-seven Series to go to eight games since game 2 was a tie gam, called on account of darkness.
The Green Monster in left field looks daunting on TV and it was exhilarating to see it up close. It is 37 feet high but only 310 feet from home plate.
When Aaron Altherr of the Phillies hit a home run over the Monster to tie the game at 2 all in the 3rd inning, it was quite a site to witness.
David Price was the starting pitcher for Boston.
He is a lefty like me and I had the perfect view of his mechanics from our box seats in short right field.
His form and delivery are flawless and, except for that 2-run home run by Altherr over the Monster and one other run, he deserved to win the game. Then again, Phillies’ rookie pitcher Ben Lively matched Price by only giving up 3 runs in his 7 innings. The Red Sox hitters were getting runners on base, but they just couldn’t drive them in since they stranded 12 runners on base. The Phillies’ hitters were even less effective, leaving 13 runners on base. Both teams did not capitalize on scoring opportunities which caused the tension to build with each passing frame.
The most exciting play of the night, though, occurred when the Phillies’ Maikel Franco hit one off the Monster, and Benintendi fielded it and threw out the Phillies’ Howie Kendrick at home plate with the crowd cheering feverishly including the Red Sox mascot, Wally the Green Monster:
The middle of the eighth inning followed with the traditional playing of the Neil Diamond song “Sweet Caroline”. The crowd seemed to all be singing at the top of their lungs without inhibition. Even I sang along! The rain started soon after that though. I didn’t mind but my Mom decided to don her rain poncho – which happened to be a New York Mets’ poncho. How embarrassing.
Besides the winning hit, Benintendi stroked two other hits. It was inspiring to see a near-rookie receiving the hero treatment at the end of the game and I was very happy for him. While it was almost midnight when we left the stadium, it was definitely a thrilling night and Fenway is now one of my favorite parks.
Visiting Citi Field for my 16th birthday, we had incredible seats – right behind the dugout.
Since this was my first visit to Citi Field, I was looking forward to a beautiful June Sunday. However, this was not the case, as it almost immediately started to rain, and persisted until the end. Even though the rain was not enough to cause a delay or cancellation, the Mets did not seem to take advantage of the opportunity to be able to play.
It has been a disappointing 2017 season for the Mets so far since they came in with high expectations after making the playoffs in the past two years. Heavy injuries, particularly to the pitching staff, have weighed on the club. For that reason, Tyler Pill made his first lifetime major league start. Who? Yeah, exactly. Pill gave up a run on three hard hits in the first inning and this turned out to foreshadow his day as a whole.
The initial reason for the hope that the Mets could win this game was the fact that the Pirates had Trevor Williams pitching, arguably Pittsburgh’s worst starter with an ERA over 5.00. However, the Mets’ hitters either flailed with futile swings at Williams’ pitches or when they did make solid contact, the ball would be hit right at Pittsburgh fielders. The Mets’ scratched out a run in the 2nd inning to close the gap to 2-1,
but it was a slow deterioration from there. 2-1 became 4-1 in the 3rd inning, 5-1 in the 4th inning. When a double play erased the Pirates’scoring chance in the top of the 7th, the Mets fans thought they had a chance. First, a moving rendition of “God Bless America”. Then, a raucous singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” followed by a very upbeat song that I’ve heard at weddings. So with the Mets seemingly ready to bat,
suddenly the umpires ruled that the Mets had not touched second base on the double play and the replay proved them correct. Before video replay, this was the “neighborhood play” as the second baseman or shortstop wouldn’t have to touch second base – just putting his foot over the bag was enough. Well, with video replay, that unwritten rule went away. Anyway, the crowd booed vehemently and the Pirates tacked on another run before the 7th inning ended. The good news? We got to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” a second time and I got to see myself on the Jumbotron.
That extra run seemed to deflate both the crowd and the Mets. The last runs were scored off Met reliever Josh Smoker, who was lit up and burned for the last three runs for an 11-1 final. It wasn’t the backdrop for a game on my birthday that I had imagined, but I was with friends and family so it was still “a great day for a ball game”.
On Monday we start our West Coast baseball tour!
First stop: Anaheim to see the Indians play the Angels.
Then we head north to San Francisco to AT&T Park to watch the first place Washington Nationals vs the Giants, followed by a game the next day at The Oakland Coliseum.
Later in the week, we will go to Seattle for a Mariners’ game at Safeco Field.
I hope that you will check out my blog next week to get the latest updates on my baseball adventures.
Please share any “must see” sites or your favorite restaurants in LA, San Francisco or Seattle.