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Gary’s Blog: Baseball Bonanza!

By Gary Dickman.

Hi, I’m back. It was a very interesting trip for me back to New York and New Jersey. I could write about it for weeks, but today I’ll just keep it to sports and other unusual occurrences that I experienced. I’ll start with the sports.
I usually go back in March, and have not been back east in the summer in about 20 years. The only pro sport going on for me was baseball, which I love. I got tickets in advance for three games: a Yankees game, a Mets game and a Phillies game. It was mostly very hot and incredibly humid on this trip, but my first game was a Yankees vs Angels game, and there was a strong chance for rain. I drove 35 miles from South New Jersey to a train station, took a train to New York City, constantly checking the weather and still no rain, yet. I was hoping if the game would be rained out, I’d know early enough so I wouldn’t waste a trip to NYC. After arriving in Manhattan, I walked a few blocks, then got on the subway for Yankee Stadium. The cool thing about the subway going there is that the stop is literally 20  yards from the stadium. I got out, went to buy a Mickey Mantle shirt for a friend and saw lots of Yankee fans walking around the stadium. Still no rain, but a little cloudy.
This was one hour before the scheduled start, and I noticed signs at the entrance indicating the game was rained out because of the threat of rain. That’s one of the few things I don’t like about baseball, it’s the only one of pro sports that can be postponed because of weather. I saw that the makeup date is August 16th, so if any of you want a ticket to see Shohei Ohtani, I’ll make you a good deal. Now I’m wondering what to do for the rest of the day. I first decided to get out of the Bronx, not a good area to just be hanging around in. So I took the subway back to Manhattan and went to the 9/11 museum, which is a must for anyone. Then of course, the rain came, and it really poured. And I’m walking around for hours without a jacket, getting totally drenched and carrying stuff I bought throughout the day and hoping the bags would survive the rain. Not the day I had hoped for, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.
The next night I had a Phillies vs San Diego game. I had great seats, 7th row from the field near first base. A beautiful evening, with a threat of rain. My sister was with me and in the 7th inning, she said she felt a drop of rain. I told her it probably wasn’t rain, maybe just someone spitting. More drops fell later, she asked me if I thought it was still spit. She got up from her seat to get under cover. I wouldn’t leave my seat. I didn’t care if I got wet. I already lost one game on this trip, I was gonna sit in my seat no matter what. Of course in the rain, the game went extra innings and the Phillies won with a walk off double. The excitement in the stands on the come-from-behind win by Philadelphia was what I love about sports. The place was rocking like it was a World Series game. The atmosphere made it worth sitting in the rain for me.
Last week on Tuesday I had a ticket for a Mets vs Milwaukee game. I was gonna see Kolten Wong play, but a few days before the game I saw he was on the Injured list and wouldn’t be there. It was about 95 in NYC that day, and the humidity was brutal. I spent the whole afternoon in this heat, eating and shopping and doing more walking than I wanted to do. I saw that there was a strong chance of rain again, but it was so hot and clear, I thought it’d be ok. I took the subway to Queens, got to Citi Field and the skies were still pretty clear. As I walked around checking out the Mets stores and concessions, I noticed TV monitors with the same message: Severe Weather Approaching. No one was allowed to go to their seats. Everyone had to remain on the concourse. I decided to walk around the stadium and check it out. And then it happened. The wind. I’m not talking about just strong wind. I felt like I was in the movie “Twister.” It was very surreal.
Garbage can covers were flying around almost hitting people. The stanchions to keep the lines in place were snapping all over the place. Fans were literally holding on to anything they could to keep themselves from being thrown in the wind. I had heavy bags of souvenirs and some food, and the wind blew a bag out of my hands, even as I held on to them as hard as I could. This was not happening, I thought. I just wanted to go see my Mets play, and now I’m hoping I don’t get hurt in a wind storm. The wind eventually slowed, but then the rain came. It ended up being a three-hour rain delay, almost 10:00 p.m. before the game was called. The game would be made up the following day, in a split doubleheader. I had to go back eight hours after I got home.
At least the weather finally was good. Kind of. No more rain, after going three times to games and rain affecting all of them, no rain on this day. But what I did get was another very hot day. It was around 95, and with the heat index it felt like 105. The humidity on this trip it seemed much hotter than Vegas at 110, it was awful. By the time I got back to Citi Field, I was drenched in sweat. With my great seat in the 7th row, came more heat, and more sweating. After the third inning, I actually moved back to around the 25th row, to get a little shade and escape the humidity. It was now a 7-inning game because of it being a doubleheader.
I got to watch Jacob deGrom pitch, and wow was he great. Although he let up a home run to the first batter, he hit 100 MPH often and struck out 10. The Mets were trailing in the 7th inning, got a pinch hit home run, and were trailing by 1 in the 8th inning, which was extra innings. They got a 2-run walk-off single by Jeff McNeil and won, 4-3, and the fans went crazy.
It felt great being at live games again, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel being in large crowds. In New York and Philadelphia, it’s almost like COVID was gone. No temperature checks, no wearing of masks, no showing of a vaccine card or test results, nothing. It felt weird, but also, it felt like normal times. Which was a great feeling after all this time. Rain, heat and wind, dealing with it all was still a great feeling just to be at a real game again.
I did go to the MLB store in Manhattan, which had great things to buy. I’m including a picture of one item that was rather expensive. It’s a game used first vase from the 2016 World Series, and if you look close, you can see that it only cost $30,000. I wonder if that’ll ever get sold. I’ll find out next year when I go back.
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