Flip-floppin’ it Richardson style!

Friday, July 2, 2010–Yankees 1, Blue Jays 6 (11)

You may remember a few years ago our former Guv. Bill Richardson made his push for a presidential bid and finished a distant fourth in the early primaries. Of all the things he caught flack for, perhaps the silliest was when he declared that he was a fan of both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Learning from Bill’s mistake, I will make my own statement right up front: I am a fan of neither one nor th’other. I don’t have a “true” team in the majors, I am a hometown homer all the way.

My preferences tend towards the National League over the American League, western teams over eastern teams, and underdogs over the big boys. In other words, both the Bombers and The Nation have three strikes against them in my book¹. Nonetheless, for this particular leg of my ballpark tour, I did catch some of that residual Richardson flack. Two days apart, I went to games at Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium, and (for as long as I was there, at any rate,) did what I always do—root, root, root for the home team.

After seeing the home team getting pounded in Boston, dad and I hopped on a train to New York. From the train, you can’t see New England for the trees, and the only really spectacular view came as we crossed the harbor in Mystic, Connecticut. Also on that train, we met possibly the worst behaved three-year old on the planet. Fussing and crying over any and everything imaginable. Essentially, it was a three-hour long tantrum. I asked dad if I was ever that bad.
“You had your moments, but never that kind of sustained awfullness.”
“Well, still, I’m sorry.”

The attendance for the game (a Friday afternoon tilt) is listed at 45,792. And if the Yankees expect me to believe that, they might think I’m interested in buying the Brooklyn Bridge. I try to take things into account when judging the crowd at a particular game. Is the team winning, who’s the opponent, is it a day game, is it a night game, what’s the weather like? In taking these and other considerations into account, I try to get a sense of the quality of the fans. The official attendance is only part of the story. Knowledgable rooting, convivial atmosphere and energy are just as important to me.

The Cubs were on a 7-game skid, the Royals (aside from just being the Royals) were playing a Thursday day game. The Marlins were a distant 3rd place team playing another 3rd place team, in a stadium 20 miles from the team’s fan base. What I’m getting at is this: the only time I have been totally underwhelmed by the fan support in a game I was personally in attendance for was at the place where I was least expecting it–Yankee Stadium. I’d be shocked if there were more than 35,000 butts in seats, and the butts that did show up were not attached to very passionate fans. It was a beautiful day, 4th of July weekend, a division opponent and it’s the Yankees, for crying out loud.

A.J Burnett started for the Yankees, against Brett Cecil for the Jays. Both pitched well, but neither got a decision. Derek Jeter walked leading off the bottom of the first and A-Rod drove him in with a sac fly. That was it for the scoring until Joba Chamberlain gave up a run in the 8th. In the interim, by far the most entertaining thing was listening to the two guys behind us. A Yankees fan was trying to explain baseball to a visitor from Spain who wanted to see America. It’s only when you try to explain baseball to someone with no knowledge of the game do you realize just how complicated a game it is. Our visitor was trying his best, but still had a long way to go. By the middle of the tenth, he was solid on the concept of a foul ball and a double play, but the infield fly rule was still a total mystery. Aaron Hill put the game away with a bases-loaded triple in the 11th, giving the Jays a 6-1 margin, which wound up being the final.

Here’s the scorecard.

¹ That’s also why—even though I’m not a Giants fan either—I find it gratifying that a small market, NL team that happens to be the farthest west of all the cities in the Majors was the defending champion at the time I wrote this.