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What I did on my summer vacation 1: Yankee Stadium

I've been looking over what the Padres have been up to and it hasn't been pretty, so it's a good time to write a few semi off topic posts to just kinda clear the pallet. Attack the next few games with a clear head. As Jeff Idelson, Vice President of Communications and Education for the Baseball Hall of Fame said to me when last we hung out, "It's a grind".

With that in mind, here's what I did Tuesday night...

We went to a game at Yankees Stadium. The last of the big three for us to see. Fenway and Wrigley being the other two that we'd seen previously.

Yankee Stadium was awesome. They just unveiled plans for the new Yankees Stadium to be opened in 2009, but I'm glad I got to see the House that Ruth Built. There's nothing especially impressive about the stadium itself, but there's definitely an atmosphere there that's worth experiencing before they open up the house that Jeter and A-Rod will build complete with luxury suites.

Jon and Sheona had been to Yankees stadium before so they decided to go see The Producers on Tuesday night while Jess and I went to see the Yankees get it on with the Pirates. I can say, without being insulting, that the Producers is very gay, but maybe not as gay as a sentence that talks about Yankees getting it on with Pirates.

Anyways, what the heck am I talking about... Jess and I walked up to the park. Not much to see from the outside. A very friendly gentleman pointed out the correct gate to go to and we got frisked and questioned by a couple of very friendly security guards.

Quick tip for your trip to Yankee Stadium if you've never been there. They don't allow you to bring bags in. Not any kind of bag. A very, very small purse perhaps, but I wouldn't even do that unless you could fit it in your pocket, but then what would be the point? Instead of a camera bag, I carried my expensive looking SLR in a plastic grocery bag which I promptly had to throw away at the door. At the souvenier shops a very friendly lady gave me a clear bag which replaced my original bag.

Let me tell you about the friendliness. It's not even just that these people are polite. It's a relatively simple task just to be polite and even then, sometimes people fail at that. At Yankee Stadium though, they chatted with us, but not so much that it made us feel uncomfortable. They did little things that make us feel like if we showed up for two more games, we'd be regulars. In other parks, you might notice that some employees will seem to avoid making eye contact with you. As if they want to stay out of your way. Not at Yankee Stadium. At Yankee Stadium, the employees are proactive in making it a good experience.

Case in point, I asked one guy if it was possible to get into Monument Park before the game and he told me it had just closed. Jess and I were disappointed, but we walked over to the field level anyway as we were still there early enough to watch the Bucs take batting practice. As we watched, I pointed out Monument Park to Jess and told her that we'd have to get there next time. Just then, a different security guard asked me if I wanted to see Monument Park. We said yes and he ushered us over to some steps where we could get down. There appeared to be a line, so Jess and I stopped behind some people. Another guard called over to us and said, "This ain't a line. You guys can walk over this way." So we did and we were in Monument Park. Those employees didn't necessarily have to initiate contact with us, but because they did, our experience was the better for it.

We admired the various monuments. One of the Pirates managed to crush a baseball into the park and hit the Higgins monument right in the nose. We were all so shocked, nobody thought to pick up the ball as it had landed right in the flowers in front of the big three plaques. A little boy eventually walked over and grabbed it.

After taking in the sites, we made our way up to our seats. We sat in the loge level in left field. The seats were comfy. Less crowded than Fenway's. The park doesn't have much in the way of really impressive features. The jumbotron is small. The scoreboard does the usual bits. There's no out of town scoreboard to speak of (at least that I could see). Directly across from us, a small screen rotated through the day's games, but I don't think it ever got updated. San Diego was left in a perpetual tie with Detroit in the second inning even as our game moved on and on. I guess the tie would've been better than the actual result.

The speakers weren't especially loud or clear, though hearing Bob Sheppard is very impressive. I love the way he enunciates. I've heard recordings of my voice and I talk way too fast and sound a little bit like Dawson from Dawson's Creek. Therefore, I envy Bob Sheppard and his gravelly voice and his enunciated words.

The hot dogs were delicious. Nathan's jumbo dogs for me and Jess. The mustard and ketchup came out of a packet though. That's right. We ate them with mustard and ketchup. No, you grow up! No, you eat hot dogs like a child!

The game itself was decent enough. We watched a homerun by future Padre, Hideki "Gone-zilla" Matsui. We watched Giambi get booed by everybody in the park during one strikeout and then get a standing ovation when he doubled later in the game. We watched Mussina carry a perfect game into the 5th before losing it to eventually finish with only five hits allowed and no runs. We overheard a Yankee fan behind us telling his companions that Jeter is "universally loved by everybody in baseball". We listened to the organ. We saw the right field bleachers give the Pirates the business. We saw a great play diving play by Tony Womack which resulted in the stadium chanting his name until he tipped his cap (why don't Padres fans do this?)

We left just before the 7th inning stretch, so we didn't sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame, or God Bless America or whatever they sing in Yankees Stadium on Flag Day. We didn't get to hear New York, New York played over the loudspeakers as we exited. We didn't experience the press of happy Yankees fans storming the subways. But all in all, we got in a good amount.