I spent a week in New York and I watch enough Law and Order and CSI to know what a dangerous city it can be. But in that week, the most unsafe I ever felt was outside Yankee Stadium.
See I had tickets to the game. Tickets that a lot of other people wanted. People were begging for tickets. I was asked so often if I had any to sell that I began to worry someone might actually take them. “Girl robbed for baseball tickets” the headline would read. My concerns may not have been rational, but a young Australian lass getting around by herself looked like an easy mark if someone wanted tickets that badly. As far as I knew, it wasn’t even an important game.
I felt I couldn’t come to New York without seeing baseball or basketball, but the basketball season doesn’t start until October so I was out of luck there. But I was very much in luck for baseball. The Yankees were playing the Oakland As. I got tickets online ($7) and a buddy for the game thanks to a post on the New York CouchSurfing forum. Alex is from LA, but moved to New York recently and wanted to see a Yankees game. The best part about seeing the game with an American was he could explain the rules.
As I came out of the station and stood before Yankee Stadium, it was clear I’d underestimated this sport. I’ve been to some big Aussie Rules (Australian football) matches, but those crowds have been nothing like this. It was crazy. In Melbourne, things move pretty well. Nearly everyone gets tickets in advance so it’s just a matter of showing up and taking your seat. There’s rarely any scalpers and most people wouldn’t bother heading along to a sold-out game in search of tickets. Here it was a different story. There were so many people. Street vendors were selling team merchandise, water and peanuts. People held up signs asking for tickets. I never once was asked if I needed a ticket. No one was parting with them.
I climbed to the tippy top of the stadium (so that’s why the ticket was so cheap) and watched the national anthem, which was taken very seriously by the crowd. In Australia we stand up and sing along, but I don’t think our heart is every really in it. We don’t even know the second verse.
Baseball is probably most comparable to cricket in that it isn’t very fast moving. But when there is a bit of action, the crowd erupts. I just wanted to see a home run and Nick Swisher delivered that for me.
Apparently it’s custom to enjoy a hot dog at the baseball so I did. Although it’s really hard to enjoy food like that when fast-food menus list the calorie count for every item. This happens everywhere, including at Yankee Stadium and street food vans. Obese American’s cannot be that size out of ignorance.
As the eighth innings started, the stadium had emptied out a bit. Apparently it’s normal for people not to bother with the whole game if it’s not that interesting. Season ticket holders may only turn up for a short time, catching an innings or two after work. Spying some now-empty seats, Alex and I attempted to move. I did my best: “I’m Australian, I’ve never seen baseball before, I leave tomorrow and my seats were waaaay up the top.”
Mark Teixeira gave me another home run, but the A’s scored a couple in the 10th so it was all over for the Yankees.