Never in my life have I put in so much planning to go to a baseball game, but I did for Sunday’s Yankees-Orioles tilt at Yankee Stadium.
My father-in-law is fantastic in many ways, not least of which he helped give the world an awesome daughter who sleeps in bed next to me every night. His loves are straightforward: action movies where stuff blows up and people chase each other; red meat and bacon; his family, the New York Giants, and most of all, the New York Yankees. Loves, loves, loves him some pinstripes baseball.
So for his 70th birthday this year, the wife and I decided to splurge way beyond what we’d normally do: We decided to rent a one-game luxury suite at Yankee Stadium, and if I didn’t already only have one kidney I might have had to sell the other one to pay for it (kidding. About selling the kidney, not about having just one. Click the link above for a crazy story from my life.)
We invited 20 relatives and friends of my in-laws to the game, spent weeks and weeks working out the details just right with the Yankees suite people, and despite it being a so-so weather day here in NYC, it was pretty amazing.
Our suite was right on the first-base-line, and the food and drink were as plentiful as advertised. They gave us Yankees caps, some other swag to take home, and we got to see a pretty great game (Yankees were down 4-2 in the ninth, rallied to tie it up, then lost in 11 innings) as well.
They put “Happy Birthday Steve Honig” on the scoreboard which was fabulous, and the Stadium staff couldn’t have been more gracious (kind of insane how many ushers/attendants/suite personnel work just one game; have to think Yanks are just a tad overstaffed, since many, many of the employees seemed to just be standing around doing nothing.)
The big surprise was in the third inning a Yankees employee walks into the suite with a large, mustachioed man and announces excitedly, “Goose Gossage is here!”
The Goose (above) is a Yankees legend from the 1970s and ’80s, a fireballing relief pitcher who helped the Yanks win the World Series in 1978. Lately he’s been famous for being a cranky old-guy blowhard bitching about today’s pitchers having it easy and Latin players celebrating too much, but Sunday he was delightful. Spent 10 minutes with us, helped sing “Happy Birthday” and was in great spirits.
Sunday was, technically, my little guy’s first sporting event, and he loved it. I really don’t want to take him to games until he’s a little older (he’s 2 1/2) and we can both enjoy it, but the fact that he was able to run around the suite and not have to sit in a seat for three hours made us feel like it’d be OK to have him there. Plus, he and my father-in-law are BFF. (Poor kid’s gonna think every Yankees game is gonna be like this. “What, Daddy, we have to wait on LINE to pee?”)
Anyway, the day was great, and the best moment for me happened after the game, when a close friend of my in-laws said “Steve, this is the first time I’ve ever seen you smiling when the Yankees have lost.”
It was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of memory for my wife’s Dad, at least I hope it was. He was as happy as we have seen him, and that’s by far worth more than all the planning and $$$ that went into it.
Next up, I love Canadians for so many reasons, including doing stuff like this. The Edmonton Oilers are good again, which is great because their crowds are so fantastic and loud. Before Game 3 of their Stanley Cup playoffs series against Anaheim Sunday, the singer who was to perform the “Star-Spangled Banner” appeared to have some mic trouble, so he turned to the crowd for help.
And dammit if a bunch of citizens of the Great White North didn’t belt out a great U.S.A. anthem. You think there’s any way 18,000 American fans in, say, Tampa Bay, could do that for the Canadian anthem? I doubt it.
Anyway, this was great. Go, Canada.
**Finally today, the NFL Draft is one of those way-overhyped events that gets so hyped these days because the NFL is a behemoth and everything it does gets overhyped.
I rarely pay much attention to it except to see how my Jets will screw it up (they got a great player in the first round, a safety named Jamal Adams, then drafted a guy who plays the same position in the second round. Because, you know, the Jets are perfect at every other position but safety), but these two videos caught my eye over the weekend and I thought they were great.
First, above, the Arizona Cardinals allowed the family of a slain Phoenix police officer, David Glasser, to help make a draft pick. David Johnson of the Cards was Glasser’s favorite player, so he and Glasser’s widow and son made the pick. Very cool.
And then this, which was hilarious: The draft was held in Philadelphia this year, and of course Eagles fans hate the Dallas Cowboys, so when Cowboys legend Drew Pearson got up to make his team’s second-round pick, he was vociferously booed. Which Pearson enjoyed, then decided to ramp up the booing even more with this fantastic speech. I hate the Cowboys too, but I LOVED this, especially when he thanks the Eagles fans “for allowing me to have a career in the NFL.”