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Home » Baseball

45 Reasons To Hail The Return Of Yankee Baseball

Submitted by on April 20, 2001 – 12:20 PMNo Comment

1. The return of warm weather.

2. …followed by the return of hot weather…

3. …followed by the return of “it’s too damn hot and sticky to do a damn thing except lie on the floor in my underwear, drink lemonade, and listen to the game on the radio” weather…

4. …followed by crisp, cool, “oh no, the season’s almost over — oh yuck, football” World Series weather…

5. …followed by four months of despair and impatience until pitchers and catchers report for spring training, and the annual phone call from one of my parents to remind me of same…

6. …and then it’s warm weather again.

7. The first trip of the year to The House That Ruth Built, made on the spur of the moment with no tickets, and the arrival at the 161st Street station on the 4 train, and making “hmm, where’d the scalpers all go” face, and the scalpers seeing that face and all magically appearing out of various ballpark crannies like when you hit multi-ball on the pinball machine, and the courtliness of the baseball-game scalpers compared to rock-show scalpers as they escort me all “step into my office” behind a girder to hide from the mounted police, and the way they’ll motion other guys working the Stadium over to sell to my friends because it’s quicker and also because they all have to work together for the next six months.

8. Taking the escalator up to the crappy loge seats I could afford, and making nosebleed jokes.

9. And “The House That Ruth Peed In, That Never Got Mopped In The Intervening Seventy Years” jokes.

10. And supplemental oxygen jokes.

11. Going up the ramp. Yankee Stadium is like a basement, all dank and vaguely stinky and echoey down inside, but when I walk up the ramp towards the field and the square of sky gets bigger — sometimes hot daytime sky, but usually electrified blazing night sky with the lights on and the Modell’s Sporting Goods sign at the top — and the smell goes from popcorn and piss and smoke to peanuts and beer and sweat, and there’s the railing, and there’s the field, and there’s the crowd, and I have a split-second feeling of kinship with fifty thousand other people, and after I get to my seat, I love to watch other people come out of the ramp and take a moment to get undazed just like I do.

12. Getting to know the people next to me. It’s kind of stand-offish in the box seats, but “up north,” it’s all companionable and friendly. That’s where the strike-out counters hang their signs. That’s where the vendors actually throw stuff. And that’s where I always overhear the funniest comments.

13. Like “Aw, would Clemensie Wemensie wike his baba?”

14. And “Look, Ma, no fastball!”

15. And “When did that ten-year-old girl join the team?” “I don’t know, but Tino’s gonna be pissed that she’s wearing his uniform.”

16. And “Score that play ‘four-six-O’Neill can’t run.'”

17. Going to a game with my dad for Father’s Day. He grumbles all “four bucks — what’s in there, spotted-owl meat?” about the hot dogs, and I grumble all “three-percent alcohol content — what’s the point?” about the beer, but when we get settled with our beers and dogs, we both heave a happy little sigh. Because, you know, we can’t go to the ballpark and not have beers and dogs.

18. And a pretzel.

19. And some peanuts.

20. And ice cream.

21. “Dad?” “Sarah, you’re twenty-eight years old. You want a foam finger, buy a foam finger.” “Fine, I will.” “But they’re a waste of money.” “Fine, I won’t.” “Hey, do what you want.” “Fine, I will.” “But you’ll just have to lug it home.” “Dad, it’s foam. There’s no ‘lugging.’ It weighs, like, nothing.” “It’ll just molder in your closet.” “Dad. It’s foam. There’s no ‘moldering.’ There’s a nuclear blast, two things survive: cockroaches and foam fingers.” “It’s your money.” “Fine fine fine, I won’t get it.” “Get it if you want to get it.” “Not if you’re going to look at it and roll your eyes for the rest of the day.” “Whatever. Buy it, don’t buy it, I’m going to the john. Do you want anything?” “Could you get me a Coke, please?” “Sure.” “And some cotton candy? And a program? And one of those little pennant thingies?” “Sarah.” “What? I’ll pay you back, Jeez.”

22. Watching the game on TV with my dad and grunting “hey!” every time he tries to change the channel to the golf.

23. Watching the game on TV on Saturday afternoon when I have a hangover, and I’ve got exactly enough energy to listen to the commentary and do my toenails and not an ampere more, and listening to Tim McCarver and Bobby Murcer mangling the English language.

24. Bobby Murcer’s slow transformation, cape and all, into Captain Obvious. “Well, Tim, this team isn’t scoring runs, and if a team isn’t scoring more runs than the other teams score, that team is not going to win, Tim! It’s just not going to win, because it’s not scoring the runs it needs to win, and it’s not scoring them when it needs them, and it’s just not winning!”

25. Tim McCarver’s annoying habit of spreading the broadcasting mustard on every single play, no matter how mundane. “That ball just rocketed past Martinez, and playing in at first, he had no chance, none — that ball just blazed right past him!” Tim. It’s a bunt. Calm down.

26. Tim McCarver’s slightly more endearing habit of finding ways to call every single player on the field “the best in the league” at something…anything. “You know, I think that Scott Brosius is the best blond right-handed third baseman in the league at bare-handing broken-bat squibs hit by catchers who wear their socks high, Bobby. Nobody in the league makes that play like he does.”

27. And Bobby Murcer, no doubt thoroughly sick of Tim McCarver’s rah-rah routine, saying absently, “I’d have to agree with you, Tim.”

28. And then there’s MSG broadcaster Al Trautwig grumbling, “Okay, pal. You’re killing me here,” at a fidgety Blue Jays pitcher.

29. And Al Trautwig grumbling, “Any day now,” at Chuck Knoblauch, who has an extensive obsessive-compulsive routine in which he must engage before each swing.

30. And Al Trautwig calling Don Zimmer, a.k.a. “The Gerbil,” “a handsome guy,” causing both himself and broadcast-booth partner Jim Kaat to giggle hysterically.

31. And Al Trautwig saying mildly that a relief pitcher “has got nothing today” and then wondering whether pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre is asleep behind those sunglasses. “Mel. Hook the guy. Please.” I love Al Trautwig.

32. The seven-thousand-year-old announcer at Yankee Stadium, Bob Sheppard, and his hilariously weighty sourball pronunciations of the players’ names. “Numbah two, the shawtstop, Deh Rek. JEE. Tuhr. Numbah two.” “Numbah twen-teee, the fuhst baseman, Tino. Mar. Tee. Nez. Numbah twen-teee.” Loves to stress the “t,” Bob Sheppard does. “Now pitching, numbah fawty-one, Brian. Bow-rin-gahhh. Numbah fawty-one.” It seriously takes the man twenty minutes to ask the audience to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” “Ladies. And. Gentlemen. Please…rise? For. Our. National anthem.” And then there’s another fifteen minutes while he finds the record, hits the “on” button on the Playskool turntable he’s got up there, and drops the needle. Opening Day is even worse, because on Opening Day, he has to introduce the bald eagle, and explain very carefully that it can’t live in the wild anymore, which is why the mean old eagle trainer has it tied to his wrist, just so we know that the eagle didn’t get eaglenapped from a nest on a mountain peak or something, and then he has to explain that the eagle is “the symbol. Of. America’s…freedom.” And tell us where the eagle plans to fly. And direct our attention to right center field, where the eagle trainer is covered with eagle crap and angrily shed feathers and the eagle itself looks completely disgusted that it didn’t get an invite to the inauguration instead. And then there’s the anthem. And then the eagle flies over to the other eagle trainer and gets an…eagle treat, I guess. Anyway, everyone has aged about ten years by the time Sheppard gets done with the introductions (and don’t forget the month and a half it takes him to get the words “the World Championship New York Yankees” out), but I still love the guy. A friend of mine once saw Sheppard in a Chinese restaurant, and my friend ran up and introduced himself as a big fan, and then he asked Sheppard to read the menu aloud, so there’s Sheppard patiently intoning, “Numbah fifty-six, the special, egg. Foo. Yuuuung. The special,” and there’s my friend, clapping his hands like a two-year-old.

33. The way that complete strangers who have never met or seen each other before in their lives will stand beside each other at a bar, waiting for the bartender to come down and take their drink orders, and they’ll sort of cock their hips and look up at the game on the TV above the bar, and Derek Jeter will come up to the plate, ratcheting his batting helmet around on his head like it’s too loose the way he always does, and these strangers will both murmur to themselves like an incantation, “Numbah two, the shawtshop, Deh Rek. JEE. Tuhr. Numbah two.” Then the strangers will look at each other and smile, embarrassed.

34. Knowing from the first pitch that Pettitte hasn’t got it today, and spending the next four nightmarish innings growling at my TV for Stottlemyre to “yank him already, he hasn’t got it today.”

35. Growling at the TV even though I’ve never played a day of major-league baseball in my life, couldn’t hit if they put the ball on the ground and gave me a nine-iron, and throw like a girl. “They don’t pay you to swing at balls in the dirt, Paul.” “It’s called a curveball, Boehringer. Get one. And a bus ticket to Columbus, while you’re up.” “It’s a good thing you got caught stealing on two and two, bush league. Not. It isn’t. Try watching Randolph for a sign now and then.”

36. The little kid who brought a poster-size picture of Babe Ruth into Fenway last weekend and scrawled the words “the curse lives!” on it. I hope that kid’s father brought a pair of brass knuckles. And life insurance.

37. Four rings in five years.

38. Shrugging at fans of other teams, no matter how worked up and pissed off they get about how the Yankees “bought” those championships (whatever) and how Steinbrenner sucks (uh duh) and how it’s unfair for a major-market blah blah blah blah whine whine boo hoo sore-loser-cakes, because, in the end, the Yankees just keep winning and there’s nothing they can do about it.

39. Smiling to myself because it’s exactly that kind of arrogance that makes everyone else hate the Yankees, and Yankee fans, so much.

40. But that arrogance comes from rooting for the best team in baseball.

41. For four years out of the last five.

42. So if you want to buy yourselves a Mike Mussina, organize a municipal-bond issue in your city and get on with the show, but for god’s sweet sake quit whining, because it’s not my fault that your middle relief looks like a Peanuts panel and your DH struck out two hundred times last year.

43. Neener neener.

44. Just kidding. But I rooted for the Yanks when they played like crap, I had bottles slung at me when I dared to voice the opinion that perhaps they needed to stop treating Mattingly like the franchise because he broke down more often than an Alfa Romeo, and if they start playing like crap again, I’ll still root for them, but I’ve earned the right to love them.

45. Plus, they wear black.

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