I woke up to a gorgeous day in Tampa on Thursday and before I knew it? Game time. The Yankees were taking on Team Canada at Steinbrenner Field, so off we went in our white Chevy Cobalt whose doors we still can’t figure out how to unlock. Aaargh.
I’d never been to the ballpark before – only to the old Yankees camp in Ft. Lauderdale years ago – so this was a special treat.
Inside the grounds, Michael started shooting. (No, he didn’t go postal; I’m talking about his camera.)
Here I was with the monument to The Mick.
Our seats were sweet – section 103, lower level – but since we were early for the 1:05 start, I wandered down to the field. (No, I didn’t try to leap the railing and run onto the grass, although I thought about it).
The players had just had a team meeting, I later found out, to discuss the news about A-Rod. I was blissfully ignorant at that moment and stood there hanging over the dugout, trying to catch a glimpse of someone, anyone, so I could yell, “HI! I LOVE YOU!” (Once a groupie, always a groupie.)
At my book party last Saturday, Bill Pintard, former Yankees scout and current head coach of the Santa Barbara Foresters, told me to look for his old buddy Mick Kelleher, the Yankees’ first base coach. He said, “If you see him, just yell, “Santa Barbara!” and he’ll turn around.”
So who popped out of the dugout first? Mick Kelleher.
“SANTA BARBARA!” I yelled.
Mick turned around to look at me (as did the guy sitting in front of the dugout), so I said, “Hey, Bill Pintard says hello!” Mick grinned and asked me how I knew Pintard, and we we talked for awhile. Nice, nice guy.
A few minutes later, Joba, the day’s starting pitcher, stuck his head out and threw a signed ball to a kid. I yelled, “JOBA! GOOD LUCK TODAY!” He waved at me. At least I think it was at me.
Then Edwar Ramirez came out. I yelled, “EDWAR! HOW’S YOUR SHOULDER?” He smiled and gave me the thumbs-up sign. I suppose I should mention that people were turning around to look at me by this time, as if I had a rare and contagious disease. Even Michael sort of hung back, pretending he didn’t know me.
My next trick? I scoped out the fans. Standing near me was a guy in a Navy uniform so I struck up a conversation.
I also interviewed him with my Flip Video camera, and if I can ever figure out how not to cut off people’s heads I’ll post this and the other videos. The Navy guy was a sweetheart. He was just back from Afghanistan and loves baseball (he’s a Braves fan) and came to Steinbrenner Field on his day off to try and get some autographs.
“They told me I couldn’t come down to the dugout,” he said, “but then Phil Coke saw me and told security, ‘Hey, let him come down.’ He was so great and even signed a ball for me.”
Another reason to like Phil Coke.
Here are a couple of other fans I thought were worth a look, both young and old.
This kid was sporting a mohawk (check out his sister’s awe and wonder).
This woman was sporting a pair of Yankees socks. Serious she-fan, no doubt.
We took our seats a few minutes before game time and sat behind this guy – a bona fide Bleacher Creature from the Bronx.
(I’ve got to post the video I took of him. Even with his head cut off it’s funny. He does a practice roll call for some of the new Yankees.)
The game was about to start.
Such a pretty field on a pretty day.
Time for the two anthems: “O Canada” and then ours.
(Notice how I was craning my neck to see which Yankees were paying attention and which weren’t. I was not happy that Melky was joking around with Nunez during both anthems. Show some respect, man!)
Joba took the mound and was instantly horrible. If I were in my living room, I would have booed. He couldn’t get an out and didn’t last an inning. Swell.
Girardi signaled for Albaladejo and that was it. Team Canada scored six runs in the first. The Yankees only got three hits in the game. Obviously, my presence at Steinbrenner Field was not bringing them luck, although the guy sitting behind Michael was happy. He was from Quebec and he kept speaking in French and we kept acting as if we understood what he was saying. Just part of being at the ballpark, eh?
In the seventh inning, I got a call on my cell phone from John Sterling, who wanted to make dinner plans for Saturday night. I said I was at the ballpark, so he found his way down to us and sat for awhile. It was hilarious how
he continued to talk while fans descended on him for autographs. He signed every ball, every program, every napkin and never broke a sweat. He’s been very supportive of the book and cracks me up by quoting directly from it in his deep baritone.
After the game we headed to the Yankees corporate office where the lobby has these displayed in glass cases.
I’d like one for the fireplace mantle in my living room, you know?
We met Jennifer Maggliochetti, who was responsible for getting us our tickets, and thanked her. Her father has been a Steinbrenner family friend for years and got her an internship out of college. Now she runs the tickets operation in Tampa and says it’s a 24/7 job.
While I was commenting on her shoes, which were fabulous leather sandals just like the ones Carrie wore in the “Sex and the City” movie, Brian Cashman walked by. He had that familiar Cashman look: calm but on the verge of a breakdown. I asked Jen about A-Rod and she said, “I just heard. Who knows what’s next?”
Who knows is right. A cyst in a hip that’s torn. I thought back to the hip cyst photo that resembled a porterhouse steak – the one from a previous post. Now I’m thinking the hip probably looks more like this.
Dinner at an Italian restaurant was the best of all. We met up with a fellow Yankees blogger: Alphonso from “It Is High.
” He loves the Yankees but thinks only bad things will happen to them. I’ve never met anyone so charmingly pessimistic. When I mentioned the crisis with A-Rod, he said, “You see that?”