This past weekend I spent maybe 36 hours in New Jersey and NYC and about 1/3 of it was in commute, but it was all worth it- I had a perfect day! I should probably warn you if you don’t like the Yankees or reading about people loving the Yankees, you will want to close this post. It is about to turn into a full on Yankees gush fest…. you’ve been warned!
Despite being a seasoned ballpark traveler, I was really anxious about this trip because I wanted it to be perfect. No travel complications, rain outs, lost tickets, or late ballpark arrivals. There needed to be flawless execution, which means getting up early to afford ample travel time (you never know!) and me OCD checking for our tickets. My sister, Alex, loves Hideki Matsui, so I wanted to have a wonderful long day at the park with great memories and a Yankees win. Simple requests, right?! We tend to have really good luck with that, so I figured they’d get us the W. I was also glued to ESPN the entire week before on Jeter watch. “Please, please, please let him play!” was all I could think. A summer without one Derek sighting was unacceptable in my book!
With a stroke of good luck, we both found last minute United deals and were able to cut out the 9-hour drive through boring-as-hell-Pennsylvania. No offense to the people of that state, but that drive across 80 is brutal! Alex flew into NYC Friday to stay with a friend and I flew into Newark to stay with my friend Liz and her family. As I planned my outfit (gotta look good 😉 ) and got my stuff together for the game, I started to worry that Alex might pull a Johnny Manziel and sleep through her alarm (she was enjoying the city nightlife) or get lost going to the park. Deep down I knew I was overreacting and working myself up for nothing, but she’s the baby!
I was right, she didn’t oversleep and actually beat me to Yankee Stadium. We wanted Hideki Matsui bobbleheads and got in the lines ready to go when the gates opened. That’s when we saw our friend and in my opinion Yankee Stadium staple, Henry wandering around. We said “hi” and got our picture with him to show my mom and dad. If you’re new to my blog, we met Henry during our first visit to old Yankee Stadium in 2005 and we’re big fans! As the gates opened, we said our goodbyes thinking we’d be getting into the stadium quickly. No such luck. With the bobble heads being limited, they were only letting about 10 people from each line in at a time. This took awhile and discontent spread. People started yelling at the stadium workers and the workers yelled back- it was the full New York experience if you catch my gist.
Finally, we got in and received our Matsui bobbleheads. Part one of the day successfully completed, we made our way down to catch the end of Yankees batting practice. It was an Asian Invasion at the park and I don’t mean that disrespectfully. I was incredibly impressed by the number of Japanese baseball fans that had come to see Matsui retire officially as a Yankee. That’s some serious dedication- I love that Japan loves our sport with such fervor!
I saw that Jeter was warming up with Cano and took that as a sign he would be starting. What great timing we had, catching his first game back from the DL (again!). We headed up to the standing room near home plate to find a good spot to see Matsui’s retirement and a bunch of other people had the same idea! We squeezed in and watched as he made his way via golf cart from center field. The crowd was electric and cheers rang as the highlight video played and he was announced. The stadium cries hit the sky when Jeter presented him his jersey. The Captain was back!
After the ceremony, we quickly walked to our seats in the bleachers to catch the National Anthem and then Roll Call. Jeter had been absent awhile but he still acknowledged the crowd in one chant! The top of the 1st was boring, bring on the good stuff, a Jeter at-bat!
Now about that first Jeter at bat. I had a gut feeling he was going to hit a homer at some point during this game and as you know he did. On the first pitch none the less! Wish it was straight to me, but I’ll take it as it was for sure! I screamed and jumped (much like everyone else) and screamed some more. Derek. Jeter. Is. The. Frickin. Man. That is all.
So yeah, that was super duper exciting and did the amazingness stop? Nope, it kept on rolllin’! Poor Phil Hughes is having a rough year and this was not a great outing, but the Yankee bats were hot against Matt Moore. Ichiro went 4-4, which Alex said he was just showing off for all his Japanese fans- he has to live up to Godzilla ;). Yeah we know he’s a star himself! And Alfonso Soriano, my man, back in the pinstripes. I’ve said before I was salty they traded him for ARod and even though this was one game, for this one game I was right(ish)! I should also say that I’ve seen Soriano as a Cub seven times and seen him homer in six of those games, including the one I went to earlier this summer with my cousin Aubri. Again I called a home run and again I got my wish! It felt like I was writing the game’s script, but after that second homer by the Rays to tie the game I knew I wasn’t asking for that! Not sure who was since I didn’t see one Rays fan the entire day. Makes sense, their fans don’t even go to their home games, so why would I expect them to travel?
With the game tied 5-5, Mariano Rivera began to warm up. Knowing that this was probably our last time seeing him pitch live, Alex and I took some video before he entered the game. I also got a sweet action shot of him, which I played with on Instagram to get this:
It was three up, three down and the Yankees headed into the bottom of the 9th. It was walk-off time! The top of the order was due up and when Brett Gardner was walked, I was ready for Jeter to be the game’s hero. My plans were thwarted as the Rays figuring this would happen intentionally walked him. Jerks! Up came Robinson Cano, Alex’s current favorite and she was ready for him to win the game. He struck out. We’ve seen him have better games! Time for Alfonso Soriano to save the day! By this time (really by the time Rivera came out of the bullpen) the crowd was mostly on their feet chanting players name’s and “Let’s Go Yankees!” Since most of the Yankee games I go to are away games, it was nice to be part of the home team crowd. The stadium was rockin’ and everyone was hoping and praying for a base hit to score the speedy Gardner who was on second. Soriano delivered and the Yankees won in style!! 6-5!
We savored the win and sang along with Sinatra as we walked down to the Yankees dugout to take some post-game pictures. Ballparks definitely have a post game glow to them when the home teams wins and Yankee Stadium was no exception. We stood basking in it until we were ushered up and headed out. My one and only gripe is the staff, they are big buzzkillingtons. I get they’re doing their job, but this park has the strictest employees. Guess it’s an East Coast thing!
Alex and I parted ways at Grand Central and both agreed that this was one of the best games we’d gone to and that they should have let Matsui play (why not!). I joyfully returned to Jersey City to meet up with Liz, who nicely listened to every detail of the game. A perfect day indeed!
And for the sake of keeping this a budget blog, here’s what I spent: $221 on my flight (driving would’ve been cheaper, but since I’m not doing 30 ballparks I have some extra cash), $10 on Subway fares, and $22 (each) on tickets. I made sure to buy our tickets early knowing this would be a popular game. As for food I ate at Liz’s and spent $28 on meals. Grand total was $281. Money well spent!
Here’s a slide show of our day… will add more pictures when Alex uploads her’s:
**Also I should note that I tend to think “home run!” every time a player that I like is up… so when I’m actually right, I want to brag about it! The power of positivity!