With the family in tow it was Day 1 of my New York City Tour.
After a brisk stroll around Roosevelt Island we ventured towards the tram (also known as a cable car for those who are more accurate transporting terms) and then on towards the Bronx and the new Yankees’ Stadium at 161st Street. Today the frequent “World” Champions (of North America) were to take on the Baltimore Orioles and we were expecting big things from these top sportsmen. The likes of A-Rod (not the tennis variety) earn the huge bucks, receiving yearly salaries and advertising incomes exceeding $32 million per annum (for 2011) and so I was expecting a level of skill and work ethic that should match these insane monies.
The pitcher was mean and not at all afraid of the oversized bat!
We took our seats just shy of the bright sunshine bathing this impressive new stadium and watched as the groundsmen prepared the field for play. Gradually all the players took to the ballpark to practice a bit of throwing and catching. We could see the pitchers in their makeshift pitchers’ mound and home plate (yes I googled these terms) launching baseballs at full pelt in preparation for the game. As is custom in US sporting events, the build up is extensive. Big screens broadcast advertising, indicating the variety of fast food offerings in the stadium in order to entice the captive audience who will be entertained here for nearly 4 hours and so will almost certainly need nourishment along the way. Sponsored charities and corporate investors showcase their messages and music blasts out of the speakers on this all action day of baseball.
Then the speakers shout “Play Ball”.
And we’re off.
The Yankees come out to field and the Baltimore Orioles are in their order to bat. The local pitcher is firing on all cylinders and the goal of sending 3 men back to their dugout in mild shame seems an easy task. Even after 4 innings with the teams switching roles after each successive attempt at runs we have seen little to no action on the field. It seemed to us “rookies” that the pitcher was calling the shots. Successive batsmen come wielding their unnecessarily huge bats and are left wanting. They are left swinging through the air as balls hurtle past them into the hands of the catcher or, if they are lucky, the ball can ricochet off the bat with no deliberate intent and amuse the crowd behind as they scramble to retrieve each grenade as a memento of the day.
Munching on our healthy game snacks, namely cherries, the family begin to grumble about this national pastime. We quite enjoy the distracting screen action, however, and compliment some inventive graphics used to introduce the incoming batsmen. Nevertheless the novelty soon wears off as another strike out triggers the screen into action. The next man up to bat rushes into view above us, inside a cartoon subway carriage decorated with his stats that we simply do not understand. E, R and H could be subway lines for all we know so learning how many 3B, 2B, 2·SO, GDP, Err this guy has achieved? means nothing to this game of 3 strikes and YOU’RE OUT.
However, despite deserving of his huge salary, we noted the skill and sheer power of the pitcher eventually runs out. His control of the game begins to dwindle as his arm inevitably gets a little tired (to say the least). Soon the batsmen began to get a handle on his throws, and innings 5 onwards really start to heat up. Balls are being hit in desirable directions and distances. We witness our first home run and feel very proud of ourselves for adapting so deftly to this alien game.
So now utterly satisfied with our first group dose of the Yankees Universe we round up our great first day in the city. We have been entertained long enough and so decide to leave the Bronx, heading downtown, eager to catch the last rays of holiday sunshine outside.