That’s a sweep for my favorite nine. I was at last night’s game, an utterly miserable evening spent in the upper deck in right field (actually my favorite seats in any ballpark) as a driving mist made the bill on my cap drip onto my ruined scorecard. It also didn’t help that StubHub.com claimed that I was saving tons of money by purchasing a $45 ticket for $30, when it turns out that on that particular night those same $45 tickets were selling for $5. Yes, that’s five bucks. If there’s one thing I know it’s this: on the street or on the net, I have absolutely no luck whatsoever with scalpers. They get me every time.
But this was a New York day like no other, perfect for a tourist who likes to pretend he’s too cool to be a tourist. While on the subway to the garment district to meet my agent for lunch, I had some time to kill. The subway pulled into Times Square so, why not? I hopped out.
Big mistake. Times Square, for those of you not in the know, is a nightmare, an amusement park of garish Broadway shows, crappy shops, and hawkers all scrambling for your attention. It’s like an open-air Mall of America except much louder, and actually more annoying. For Christ’s sake, I stopped into a Champ’s sporting goods to find a Tigers cap and the guy holding the door yelled at me about all the great discounts. To quote the bard: shut the fuck up already. Seriously, I spent maybe five minutes there before I hightailed it back to the underground.
However, Paul Bresnick, my agent, is a New Yorker through and through, and we walked from his place to the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. This lunch was one of the great moments of the trip. The food was great, a bunch of fresh oysters from up and down the coast (the Bluepoint were the best, tasting sweet and of the sea; the Chincoteague from Virginia not so good, tasting, as my friend Kurt once noted, like a “barnyard”), the atmosphere amazing, but even better, here I am discussing my work with my literary agent. That still strikes me as incredible. New York City, literary agents, oysters, future books. Pardon me if I sound like a hick whose neck hurts from staring at the purdy buildings, but I was happy.
The day was sunny and cool and perfect for wandering, but the skies turned and the rains came when Ned (my host) and I made it to Yankee Stadium. It’s an impressive place. I’ve heard many people complain about Yankee Stadium, but frankly this old broad reminded me of Tiger Stadium–big, somewhat impersonal, and yet a baseball oasis in the midst of this great urban environment.
The streets outside the House That Ruth Built are tres cool. Shaded by the elevated railline, filled with grungy bars and souvenir shops, the place has character. And I didn’t feel nervous in my Tigers cap, as there were tons of fans of the Bengals wandering about.
One thing I’ve always loved about Yankee Stadium is Frank Sinatra. They always play the Frank there, closing every contest with “New York, New York”, but also treating the crowd to some other standards, like “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby”, with the Nelson Riddle arrangement on his oh-so-60s Strangers in the Night album. “Summer Wind” might have been nice, if only to remind us that someday it will be warm.
Yankee Stadium boasts awesome hot dogs, with nice brown mustard, though these come in packets, an impersonal touch that only made me wish for condiment dispensers like they have in almost literally every other park. Our beer selection was either Miller Lite or Bud Lite, awful beer to be sure, though I admit there’s a chance this could be different around the park. Still, why did our section only get these choices?
They play a real organ, and have the best peanuts in any ballpark I’ve visited, Bazzini Nut Club Peanuts. perfectly roasted and not too salty. Unfortunately, they are one of the only ballparks that don’t sell just a scorecard–you’ve got to buy the $7.00 Yankee Magazine with all its crappy articles. And then, as we slide into the bottom of the eighth inning, they have this freaky “Cotton Eyed Joe” song playing, and some goof in the press box doing this weirdo dance to the song. It’s supposed to rally the Yankees fans or something. Truly freaking bizarre.
That night, whenever a Yankee came to bat, instead of the usual photo, they featured paintings of the player in question by a student at the Bronx High School for the Visual Arts. A nice touch, if a bit bizarre–the Jeter photo looked like something Ben Katchor might have drawn. In fact, I’m wishing I could find Katchor’s haunts, but I doubt I’ll ever find a place as mystical as his Beauty Supply District.