Granville Wyche Burgess: Yankees vs. Tampa Bay

Went to a Yankees/Tampa Bay game on Saturday. While on the train to the city from our home in Greenwich, my wife, Reba heard an announcement that if you gave blood at Grand Central Station you’d receive Yankees tickets. She stood in line for an hour, finally got to the nurse, who told her it would take about 20 minutes to draw the pint of blood. Reba had to get to the office so she couldn’t give, but they’d already given her the tickets!

Not surprisingly, the tickets were in the nosebleed section behind left field. But it was a beautiful day and we were happy to set aside hours to relax and enjoy the game. That truly is one of the great things about baseball: it forces you to spend a long time watching a slow-moving game, which leaves lots of time to chit-chat, or daydream or, yes, look up answers on your phone to questions like “How many people did the Roman coliseum seat?” (Approx. 50,000. Yankee Stadium? 50, 285 with 2000 more with standing room.) It’s amazing that the Romans built a stadium that large in that time, but then, the Romans were an amazing people. But they didn’t play baseball, although a bunch of Christians wished they had. Anyway, hooray for a game that makes you relax, right?

The game turned out to be a pitcher’s duel, which can be tough to appreciate when you are sitting so far from home plate. I would watch the pitcher wind up and release and I could see the ball but I had no idea where it went. And if a batter hit it, often you would pick up the ball only after it started rolling along the outfield grass. But I did get a new perspective on those high foul balls and popups-they go HIGH, higher than the top of the stadium sometimes. And, from up above, you can see just how much territory the outfielders cover-it looks like acres.

A couple of plays made me appreciate what amazing athletes baseball players are. The Rays centerfielder ran down a hit, grabbed the ball running full speed, and while spinning around through a perfect strike to second base. And the game featured one of my favorite baseball plays: a batter strokes a line drive to left field, which the Rays’ fielder grabs on one bounce. The Yankee runner on second tries for home, the outfield throws a perfect one-hop bounce to the catcher who tags out the sliding Yankee. Turns out later we learned the runner ignored the coach’s signal to hole up at third. “I thought I could make it,” he later explained. Hey, they pay him millions of dollars to make these judgment calls.

The Yankees scored on a passed ball. The Rays tied it up with a homerun and, tied, 1-1, the game went into extra innings. In the top of the 11th another Tampa Bay player hit another homerun. The Yankees got a runner on their half of the inning, but Gary Sanchez, their star catcher, hit into a game-ending double play. BTW, Sanchez, struck out 4 times before that-hey, they don’t earn their millions every day, that’s for sure.

The best part about the day? The Yankees lost! I know this may cost me a lot of unsold books, but I’ve always hated the Yankees. They are just so damn good! I’m an underdog-pulling kind of guy. I grew up with the Brooklyn Dodgers when they would always lose to the Yankees and some feelings you just never forget.

Just like I’ll never forget the extreme pleasure of spending a leisurely Saturday afternoon at the park, watching one of the greatest games ever devised to combine ease and excitement. Take yourself out to the ballgame, why dontcha?

Design by Steven S. Drachman, From an Image by Hoerwin56. Granville Wyche Burgess is an Emmy-nominated playwright and novelist. He is the author of The Last At-Bat of Shoeless Joe, a novel about Shoeless Joe Jackson, published by Chickadee Prince, and which is available on Kindle, and in paperback from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and your local bookstore.