Free of obstructed views and fair-weathered opinions
Over the last four years, I’ve heard just about every fan I’ve ever run into at Yankee Stadium tell me how lucky I am to be working for my favorite team. It’s usually some variation of these statements: “You have the perfect job!”, “This is the sweetest spot to watch the game!” or “How awesome is your life right now?” I often think to myself, If only they knew the shit that we go through on a daily basis!, but I usually just give a wry grin and thank them for the compliment. Being an usher/security officer at the Stadium is a thankless job, but it’s pretty sweet knowing that people who spend upwards of $300 to sit behind home plate envy me. That’s not bad for someone who only applied for the job so he could guarantee being at the All-Star Game & final regular-season game at the old Stadium, and save enough money to go to the first game at the new Stadium.
But as much as I like my job, I miss watching a game at the Stadium strictly as a fan. This August it will be four years since the last time I sat in Yankee Stadium as a spectator pre-employment. This brings me to late Sunday night. I have been to 18 Yankees game in my time as a fan. I’m sure that total pales in comparison to many of my Yankee fan friends, but it doesn’t change what those 18 mean to me. I’ve seen some pretty cool things over the years at the Stadium, and I wanna share some of those with you all.
And so, without further ado, here are my top 5 Yankee games as a fan:
1) September 25, 1996: Yankees 19, Milwaukee Brewers 2
It may have been my second visit to Yankee Stadium, but with what went on here there’s no way I could forget this game. It was the first game of a rare single-admission double-header. It also turned out to be the biggest offensive explosion I’ve ever witnessed. The Yankees batted around 2 1/2 times in the first two innings, leading to 14 runs. That’s not an exaggeration — two and a half times through the batting order. That’s 24 plate appearances. TWENTY. FOUR. I vividly remember David Cone pitching his ass off, as usual, and Tino Martinez’ 3-run HR kicking off the scoring and declaring him as “my guy”. This game was absolutely nuts. As a matter of fact, check out how crazy the Yankees’ half of the 2nd inning got (and the rest of the game, while you’re at it).
Oh, and the Yankees clinched their first A.L. East division title since 1981, which was kind of a big deal. Yeah, I’d say this was a great game to attend.
2) July 21, 2007: Yankees 17, Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays 5
So I’m sitting at home waiting for the 1:05 game to start. Shelley Duncan made his ML debut the night before and Michael Kay mentioned that he had gotten hit first hit and RBI, which prompted me to say that he would get his first home run. Keep that in the back of your minds.
I went to Central Park to play some baseball in the 7th inning, missing the rest of that game. After we were done, my friend Drew told us he had an extra ticket to the 7:05 game that night and everyone suggested that I go with him. It was my first game that year, and little did I know that I was in for a treat. For starters, Wil Nieves was the starting catcher in this game. Like most of Jorge Posada’s back-ups over the years, we expected the worst. So naturally Nieves came through with two doubles in the gap, one of which wound up being the game-winner. This phenomenon brought on the greatest line ever heard at a game from Drew: “Call the feds, Nieves is juicing!” Then it happened. A-Rod was up in the 6th inning, in the midst of his finest statistical season in pinstripes, and worked the count to 2-2. All of a sudden I thought to myself, Alex is gonna go deep on this pitch right here. Of course I’ve uttered this many times before — and have been wrong almost every time. But this was different. I knew in my gut that A-Rod was going to hit one out here.
A-Rod’s gonna hit #497 in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 …
BOOM! Over the retired numbers in left field for a two-run HR.
And you know what makes this even funnier? I got home after the game, still not knowing what happened earlier in the day. I turn on YES to see that not only did the Yankees win … but Shelley Duncan, sure enough, hit his first MLB home run.
Yep, your ol’ pal Smoov managed to call two home runs in one day. Be jealous.
3) April 23, 2011: Yankees 15, Baltimore Orioles 3
I can honestly say that I cherished this game the most out of the five on this list. I accomplished a lot of firsts with this game: my first Yankees game on the road, my first Yankees game with my Twitter family and my first-ever trip to Baltimore & Camden Yards. After previous days of uncertainty, I got to cheer CC Sabathia on as he straight mowed the Orioles down like he normally does. And much like the first two games on this list, the offense took control from start to finish. A-Rod showed once again why you cannot walk Mark Teixeira to load the bases in front of him, Russell Martin showed off his muscle twice and we were even treated to rare homers from Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner. Overall, the trip was fantastic and I can’t wait for the next one.
4) September 25, 1996: Yankees 6, Milwaukee Brewers 2
This was the 2nd game of the aforementioned single-admission doubleheader. While not as epic as Game 1 (see above), this game still had its moments. I often heard about how legendary Darryl Strawberry was as a Met, and even though he was on the tail end of his career it was still a treat to see him go deep in person. He became one of my favorite people to watch play through all of his transgressions and seeing how much he and Doc Gooden fought their respective demons is nothing short of inspirational. This game, however, will always be remembered for the first major-league hit of future starting catcher Jorge Posada. I don’t think anyone knew it at the time but it turned out to be the start of a terrific Yankee tenure, one that will undoubtedly — and unfortunately — end with a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.
5) April 26, 1996: Yankees 5, Minnesota Twins 4
I would be remiss if I failed to mention my first-ever baseball game on this list. I’m sure most of you would put your first game at the top of the list. So why is this #5 on my list? To be honest, it was a total blur. Aside from Bernie hitting a big HR and Mariano Rivera notching the win in relief, there isn’t much I can tell you about the actual game. But just being in Yankee Stadium for the first time around some of the most passionate fans in the world was an experience. I like to think that my budding fanhood in 1996 was somewhat responsible for kicking off the latest dynasty. And it was this game that started it all.
So those are my favorite Yankee games I’ve witnessed. What are some of yours?