Thursday, October 11, 2012


Last night, I had the honor of witnessing live one of the most incredible baseball games I have ever watched, (and growing up in my house, Yankee games are practically religious holidays.) My mother, one of the biggest Yankee fans I know, and I headed to the Bronx for game three of the American League Division Series where our Yanks would be seeking a 2-1 lead over the (normally pathetic, but miraculously good this year) Baltimore Orioles.

Going to the Cathedral of baseball during the playoffs is a particularly great experience. Of course, the atmosphere is amazing, as you know that the greatest franchise in sports history is, more likely than not, going to pursue further greatness. But the real treat, is that postseason baseball has no room for tourists or casual fans. You know, those people who are in town for a minute and figure why not catch a glimpse of Derek Jeter, but realistically spend the majority of the game blocking your view to take pictures and wandering around the stadium sampling all of the food the stadium has to offer. As a diehard fan, I can't stand those people. Sure, I love that no matter what city I travel to (except probably Boston,) I can see an uprooted Yankee fan. I obviously enjoy the outpouring of support across social media following big wins, but god are they annoying come game day at the stadium. 

Playoffs in the Bronx are a special time. A time when it is completely valid to take off work and spend the day going through the most ridiculous superstitions in order to be sure that you did your part to help the boys in blue in anyway you came. Playoffs for my family, are a time for togetherness. For most of the season, our season tickets are casual events. Whomever is off from work or is easiest able to get to the Bronx, goes to the games, simple as that. But playoffs, oh there is nothing quite like postseason baseball. My mom and I, decked out in pinstripes, got the the stadium and, as usual, started our evening with celebratory drinks (as any Yankees fan knows, you'll never get up to the bar in the Tommy Bahamas lounge twice, so make sure you make use of the two-drinks-per-ID rule! We did.)

Our postseason seats this year are in section 105, three rows from the field. Essentially, we had an incredible few of right fielder Nick Swisher and all of his antics all night long. The electric atmosphere throughout the stadium was expected as the American League East Champions finally returned home to claim their home field advantage that they'll maintain throughout the postseason. The game started in incredible fashion as the entire Yankees team ALDS roster and regular season roster was announced. The spotlight was completely hijacked when Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in the game who suffered a season ending injury early in the season was announced. The stadium errupted at Mo took the field first for the introductions and then as "Enter Sandman" started playing. Mo took the field and threw out the ceremonial first pitch decked out head to toe in his uniform. God, was it great to see him on that pound again even if only for a minute.
As the game progressed, it seemed that the story of the night would be the pitching duel. Hiroki Kuroda was on the mound for the Bombers and rookie Miguel Gonzalez for Orioles. Both pitchers gave stellar performances, each team allowed only seven hits over a tumultuous 12 innings. In the third inning Ryan Flaherty connected with Kuroda's pitch and sent the ball not only over the wall, but a row in front of me. It actually bounced off a woman's head (she was fine,) ended up a few seats to the right, and was finally tossed back to Swisher - because who wants that bad luck ball after all?

Anyway, fast forward to the middle of the ninth inning. The Yankees are down 2-1. Arod, the one time home run hitting superstar, has done NOTHING. I mean nothing. As in every-time-he-comes-to-bat-the-stadium-boos-louder-than-they-do-when-Buck-Showalter-comes-to-the-mound nothing. Throughout the series Yankee fans have been begging for Arod to be moved down in the order, but no such luck. Enter Joe Girardi's gut instinct. The Yankees skipper pulled Arod, who was DHing last night, and put in the ever clutch Raul Ibanez. Raul steps up and KILLS the ball, sending it propelling over the center field wall and sending the game to extra innings. All was quiet in the eleventh as batter after batter came up and was sent down. Then came the bottom of the twelfth. When Ibanez came up for a second time, no one could help the 'what ifs.' Before his first at bat I had looked at the woman next to me and said, "I'm so happy he's in!" She responded, "I think everyone here is!" BOOM Home run. So, being the superstitious sports fan I am, I thought, "Let's do everything like last time." So we did. The woman next to me and I had the same conversation, we turned to Raul, and with a swing of the bat the ball came soaring in our direction, for a split second I thought I'd be able to catch that historic ball, but it flew over our heads to the upper deck. GONE. RAUUUUUUL!!! Just as we had after the game tying, we went absolutely wild! The whole stadium was jumping up and down, hugging one another, high fiving anyone and everyone we could reach. My mom celebrated so hard she somehow banged her leg and is left with a nasty bruise on her upper thigh, but it was all worth it. The Yankees win, theeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win!

What a night. What a win. What an incredible decision by Girardi. What amazing at bats for Raul Ibanez. And, probably most shocking of all, what poise and professionalism by the once completely childish Alex Rodriguez. He was not only the first to congratulate Raul after both home runs, but he also gave impressive interviews afterwards preaching nothing but the importance of a team win and admitting that a younger version of himself probably wouldn't have reacted so maturely. Here's to Joe, Raul, the great captain, Derek Jeter, and the road to a 28th World Series Championship.

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