On doubleheaders, rookie phenoms and old time rivalries

Yesterday, I spent the whole day in the Bronx.

My original plan was just to attend the first game of the doubleheader and go home but after the first game, I decided to go to the Yankees’ box office and buy a ticket for the night game. I had nothing better to do, I was already there and so I figured I might as well make a full day out of it.

Now, there are some things you should know about me.

First thing is that I loathe being late. It drives me crazy and yesterday was no exception. I was actually running on time at first. I had taken the bus to the city from my rinky dink town in Rockland County and when I arrived at the 178th street bus station in upper Manhattan, I hauled ass down to the 175th street subway station to catch the A train and I did! It had just pulled into the station as I was swiping my MetroCard. (I’m one of those people who usually only has to swipe once going through the turnstile.)

At that point, everything was coming up Stacey until the dreaded D train made me wait at the 145th Street station for 14 minutes. DENIED!

Because of the delayed D train, I ended up missing the first pitch. Actually, the first play I saw was Yasiel Puig trying to stretch a single into a double and being thrown out at second.

The second thing to know about me is that I have pretty pale skin. I may have a Greek name and may be 75% Italian and Greek but I’m also 25% Irish and that 25% cancels everything else out. If I don’t wear strong enough sunscreen, I’ll end up looking like a lobster.

My original seats were in Section 237, in the left field bleachers, but a friend of mine was going to be alone for the afternoon game so he suggested I hang out with him for the game. He was in the same boat as me. Because of the rainout, a lot of us who were with people on Tuesday night had to go to yesterday’s afternoon game alone because our friends/relatives couldn’t take off from their jobs.

Damn you, Mother Nature!

So I ended up sitting in Section 104, right behind Ichiro Suzuki and Puig.

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It was bright, it was sunny and I was worried because all I had on me was SPF 15. Luckily, it worked and I didn’t burn during those few hours sitting under direct sunlight.

I’m usually in the upper deck, squinting to see the action on the field so sitting that close to Ichiro was pretty cool and there were some things I noticed about him from sitting directly behind him:

  • He stretches a lot.
  • Like every free moment he has in the outfield.
  • I’m not even kidding.

The first game was great for us Yankee fans.

The offense actually scored some runs, Hiroki Kuroda pitched great most of the game – he ran into trouble in the seventh but was bailed out by strikeout machine Shawn Kelley.

There were nice defensive plays – Ichiro made a catch at the wall, right in front of us.

There were also not-so-nice defensive plays – The Dodgers were playing like the Bad News Bears during the afternoon game.

Oh, and we saw Mariano Rivera pitch a flawless ninth inning which included a strike out of Puig to end the game and secure the 6-4 victory for the Yankees.

(Please forgive me and my very loud “Woo!”)

***

There were a lot of Dodgers fans in Yankee Stadium yesterday afternoon with even more of them showing up for the night game. And as much as I was annoyed with how badly the night game went for the Yankees, it was nice to be at a game where there was a lot of crowd noise for a change. This season has seemed boring at Stadium, at least it has been every time I’ve been there this year and it was pretty cool to see how excited the Dodgers fans were about the matchup.

But, even with that said, in my opinion, there were a few things about the series that were not satisfactory.

First of all, it had been 32 years since the Dodgers set foot in some version of Yankee Stadium and until yesterday, the two teams had never met in the regular season in Yankee Stadium before yesterday. That is complete nonsense.

Oh but we’ve seen the Houston Astros at the Stadium a couple of times already. How exciting.

Secondly, how do you schedule the first ever Yankees-Dodgers regular season matchup in Yankee Stadium during the week? And not only during the week but make it a quick two-game series? Both series in which the Yankees visited Chavez Ravine – in 2004 and 2010 – were weekend series and both three games apiece. This time around, it was only a two-game series and because of the rainout Tuesday, we got one day of Yankees-Dodgers. And to that end, because of the rainout, a lot of people ended up missing out on the first Yankees-Dodgers series in the Bronx.

Now, I understand that the MLB schedulers aren’t psychic and that they had no idea that a rainout would occur but again, let’s go back to my first point, the Dodgers hadn’t been to Yankee Stadium in 32 years. The Yankees-Dodgers are a historic rivalry. You schedule them to play on a weekend so more people can attend.

And it doesn’t matter that the teams aren’t playing well at the moment the crowd was energized like it was a playoff game.

Bad form, MLB. I hope when the Dodgers come here next (and that better be the case) it’s better planned.

***

I briefly mentioned Yasiel Puig in the beginning of the piece because like I said, the first thing I saw when I walked into the Stadium was his attempt at stretching a single into a double.

I was pretty impressed by what I saw from him yesterday. He’s fast, he’s aggressive offensively and defensively – he successfully stretched a single into a double later in the day and nearly got Thomas Neal out on a base hit to right field – he has power and Dodger fans should be happy about his presence on the team. He will be fun to watch.

In case you haven’t heard, Puig’s batting .474/.500/.789/1.289, has an OPS+ of 257 and is hitting a home run in every 11 at bats. Will he sustain those crazy numbers? Probably not but so far, he has been thrilling to watch and Dodgers fans have a right to be excited about Puigmania.

***

During the night game, I had seats in Section 406.

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I actually didn’t stay there long. The sun was bothering me and I felt like going to an empty section so I headed over toward the other end of the Stadium and spent the whole game right above section 334.

The second wasn’t as fun as the first. Watching Phil Hughes struggle is never a good time but all in all, I had a great, albeit exhausting day at the ballpark.

And I have to give the writers who cover the team day in and day out credit for spending as much time as they do at Yankee Stadium. Frankly, I couldn’t wait to get home and go to sleep.

Stacey is co-Editor-in-Chief of It's About The Money, co-host of the It's About The Money, Stupid podcast and is a monthly contributor to ESPN's SweetSpot Blog. She is a former contributor at Aerys Sports and High Heat Stats. She has contributed to group projects at Baseball: Past And Present and the Hall of Stats. Her work has appeared in USA Today's Sports Weekly and most recently, she wrote four pieces for Derek Jeter: Celebrating the Yankees' Captain Clutch, a magazine printed by i5 Publishing.