People are either Yankee haters or lovers. There’s no in between. Fortunately, I grew up in southern Connecticut, so I was born a real Yankee. Last month, I was lucky enough to be in attendance when the Yankees captured their 27th World Series title after beating the Philadelphia Phillies 7–3 in Game 6. Woot!
My buddy Joe Lewis called a few days earlier to say he had scored tix to Game 6, which meant we had to hope for the Yankees to lose a game in Philadelphia—not an easy thing for a Yankee fan to do. But once they did just that it was time to scramble to change my schedule, including booking flights with some help from jetBlue.
THE 4 TRAIN
Joe had to work late so we got a late start to the game—we left an hour before first pitch. We bypassed traffic by taking the 4 train from 86th street station. But boarding looked like something out of India: There were so many people trying to get in each car that people just plowed their way on. It was insane and I was the last to make it on so I was pinned up against the door. Seriously, it was so tight I couldn’t even lift my arm to scratch my itchy nose or take my hot winter jacket off. People were sweating and it was eerily quiet for a rambunctious crowd—I think fans were just praying the car wouldn’t break down or there’d be a terrorist attack—at least I was.
IN THE BRONX
About 20 minutes and four stops later we made it to 161st Street. There’s always something special about going to a ballgame in the Bronx, but it’s even sweeter in October and November. I could never get sick of the smell of hot roasted chestnuts, pretzels, and the autumn air.
WHAT YOU CAN BRING IN
We waited in line for about five minutes to get through the security check and have our tickets scanned. We had paper tickets, which looked like airline boarding passes since we printed them up online from StubHub.com. In case you are wondering, like I was: Fans can bring cameras but not bags. You can also bring a bottle of water, if it hasn’t been opened. Mine had been opened but the security girl let me slide after she shook it to make sure it wasn’t anything other than water. That saved me $5.
Our seats were field level between first base and right field, 29 rows from the grass. It was ideal because if it rained we were covered and we had just a very short walk to the concession stands and bathroom (there always seemed to be a line). It got cold quick so I kept getting Yankee dogs and hot chocolate to warm my hands and belly.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE?
There were a just few ballsy Philly fans spread out—I don’t know what they were thinking not showing up with an army, but I guess they knew better than me. The five in our section didn’t get razzed as bad as I expected. No one got beat up, had their stupid red hats confiscated, or was treated to a complimentary beer shower. That had to be because the tickets are so darn expensive that it kept the thugs out. This brings up a valid point. The negative of having such expensive tickets is that it actually keeps the uneducated folks out, which probably takes away the home field advantage. Think about it.
OLD VS. NEW
The House that George Built doesn’t have the same intimidating feel as the House that Ruth Built. Obviously, someone’s got to start paying off the $1.5 billion price tag. But if I was running the joint and the Yankees made it to the World Series I would give the first five rows to all the gang bangers or make it Yankee Fan Prisoner Appreciation Night. Then you can pretty much guarantee an advantage.
GAME 6, 1996 VS. GAME 6, 2009
Seriously, I was surprised at the stark contrast with Game 6 in 1996. Thanks to my brother I was at that game when the Yankees won the World Series—their first championship in 18 years. Remember Wade Boggs riding on the back of a police horse?! I do, like it was yesterday. Maybe Yankee fans have become spoiled over their success of the past dozen years but without a doubt Game 6 in 1996 was much louder and rowdier than in 2009. A decade ago I thought the upper deck was going to collapse from fans jumping up and down the WHOLE game. This game we only stood up when there were two strikes or a base hit. In 1996 when Charlie Hayes caught the final out everyone hugged one another, and I’m talking EVERYONE. I was hugging people in the streets of the Bronx that you would normally cross the street to avoid or immediately yell help if you saw them get too close to you. Last month, I high fived a few fans sitting around me but that was it. No hugs. I felt unloved.
LET’S GO YANKEES
Either way it was still an incredible experience, and the Bronx Bombers are back on top. The “Let’s Go Yankees!” chant is still in my head, and that’s not a bad thing.
NYC TO FLORIDA
The following morning I flew to West Palm Beach (PBI) on jetBlue. It took 20 minutes to get to La Guardia (LGA) from the Upper East Side and there was no line at check-in. Thirty seconds later I had my boarding card (there wasn’t a printer where I was staying) and cleared security in eight minutes. There was a long line 40 people deep but the TSA did a good job keeping it moving.
A GATES AT LGA
JetBlue’s gate at LGA is pretty dismal and there’s not a lot of seating, so I stood in the slow-moving line at the lone newsstand and then again at the Au Bon Pain, where the prices weren’t ridiculously inflated: A large yogurt parfait, a banana, and a bottle of water came to just $7. That’s good for New York.
We boarded on-time. JetBlue boards families and people who need more time first, along with those passengers sitting in the exit row (I hadn’t seen the latter get priority before). General boarding is by rows, the last few rows are first. Unfortunately for boarding purposes, I was in row 6. I asked the agent if it was okay if I boarded early so I could find space for my carry-on and he said no problem. I guess you just have to ask nicely (I’m sure it also depends on the agent).
LGA TO PBI
I almost plopped down the $25 fee for the seats with the extra legroom but it turned out to be lucky they were all sold out because the middle seat in my row was vacant, giving me all the room I needed. JetBlue doesn’t offer any real food for free or for sale but they do have friendly flight attendants passing out free snacks like blue potato chips and crackers. Flight time was just 2 hours and 27 minutes and the time flew by since jetBlue has free satellite radio and live TV (bring your headset or pay $2 to get one of jetBlue’s).
The most awkward moment came before takeoff when the flight attendant made his pre-flight announcement. He started off by saying he was sorry for any Phillies fans on board but we were in New York, so CONGRATS to the Yankees fans! His energy got me all pumped and brought me back to 1996, so I stood up and started waving my jacket while yelling “Let’s Go Yank…” Then I realized no one else was chiming in and that I looked like one of those lunatic prisoners who escaped from the Prisoner Appreciation game.
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