Rain and a Yankees loss can’t dampen enthusiasm on his Personal Opening Day

For quite a few years, our Public Eye columnist has skipped the crazed sell out crowd of the actual opening day for his favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees, and picked a later date when the weather was probably going to be a little nicer. This year, his e-ticket malfunctioned, there was a 95 minute rain delay and to cap it off, the Yankees lost...and he still enjoyed his day at the stadium, adjacent to the House that Ruth once built 100 years ago.

| 26 May 2023 | 10:36

The Yankees Lost on My First Visit Back. So What!

On the evening of May 24, not much went right. The Yankees lost in dismal fashion. It was cold there–and it rained.

And, so what! It was, as always, just good to be at The Stadium. I felt young and hopeful. And you don’t often feel that way on a typical day in New York City.

For three-plus hours, I didn’t have to worry about crime, politics, economics or the return of Covid-19 as a nagging worry. I just had to hope that the Yankees could get 27 outs and a win.

When you dissect my evening, it was a fiasco. Not many subway riders wore masks on the trip up to the Bronx from Manhattan on the IRT 4 train, triggering fresh anxiety about the Coronavirus. Then, my e-ticket didn’t work right, and I had to spend 30 minutes on the line at the customer service window.

Then, the start of the game was delayed by 95 minutes during a rain delay, which caused us all to bundle up from the unseasonably cool temperatures.

And the game itself. Oy Vey! The Yankees rushed out to an encouraging 5-1 lead. Yanks starting pitcher Nestor Cortes was pinpointing his pitches and overmatching the young Orioles hitters. Then Baltimore scored EIGHT runs in the seventh inning. They ended up winning, 9-6, ending all of the Yankees faithful’s good cheer and sparking new worries about the frailty of the Yankee bullpen and the team’s traditional home run or bust strategy on offense.

Still, you know what? I was happy to be at Yankee Stadium, rekindling a tradition that had begun when I was a little kid, two versions of the Stadium ago.

There is nothing like sitting in The Big Ballpark in the Bronx. Yes, I’ve attended games in Fenway Park in Boston, Wrigley Field in Chicago and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, among other U.S. ballparks. I’ll take Yankee Stadium over any of them.

Yankee Stadium is a lot like a Broadway theater. Sure, you can see a play in any city or town but there is something special about going to a performance on Broadway. It is the big time. Maybe it is true, what someone once said to me: Across the Hudson, everything is just camping out.

The original Yankee Stadium opened a century ago in 1923 and proceeded to survive its renovation in the 1970s, when the team was forced to play home games at Shea Stadium. The new Stadium opened in 2009, in time for the Yankees’ last World Series triumph. Yankee Stadium has an ample history of memorable victories, of course: Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, Reggie Jackson’s three-homer World Series-clinching game in 1977, Aaron Boone, now the Yankees manager, hit a home run that propelled the Yankees past the hated Red Sox and a place in the 2003 World Series. And so on.

I just like being there. I laughed during our disastrous night against the Orioles when fans in the ballpark turned viciously on the home team, as the O’s batted around.

There is something special about making your way to the ballpark of your favorite baseball team for the first game of the new season. The grass seems greener than it had last year. A fan forgets the sheer majesty of a major-league stadium.

The Yankees didn’t win on the night I visited. And as the song goes, if they don’t win it’s a shame. But really, in the scheme of things, it’s no big deal, The Yankees play 162 regular season games, 81 of which take place at home in the Bronx.

And it is always good to be at the game.