September 30, 2003


LIVE FROM GAME ONE: This afternoon I attended the Minnesota Twins' 4-1 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 1 of their American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium. For this Twins fan to go to this particular game practically required mountains to be moved, but move them I did, and I was able to enjoy and savor a memorable Twins victory. Here, from beginning to end, is the story:
- I found out from a friend with tickets that going was a possibility a few days before, right around the time it became clear that the dream of this Twins-fan-in-New-York-exile was going to come true, and a Twins-Yanks playoff series was actually going to happen. But this was when I assumed that baseball would put New York, baseball's #1 market, in the prime time slot on Tuesday. I assumed wrong, as Evil Bud and his minions instead conferred that honor upon the Cubs and Braves. The Twins' Game 1 start? 1 PM.
- So I swung into gear: I switched my shift at the news service where I work to the morning, and on Monday night spent two hours taking a train across two states (to Stamford, Connecticut) to pick up the tickets from my friend's mother. I lined up another Yankee-fan friend to go with me, and I was set.
- We arrived at the Stadium at a little after 1 today after we were stuck on the 4 train for nearly 10 minutes, getting to our seats in the bottom of the first, missing only Rudy Giuiliani throwing out the first pitch to Yogi Berra.
- We sat literally in the back seat of Yankee Stadium's bleacher section, the cheapest seats in the park, yet certainly an "alive" atmosphere, and a much better seat than my living room couch- and since we were at the back, no one could see me cheering when the Twins scored or got a third out. I decided against wearing any type of Twins jersey/hat/other insignias; Yankee fans have the annoying habit of pointing out fans in opposing team gear, screaming "asshole! asshole! asshole!," and encouraging those around them to do the same. One guy tried to start a "Red Sox Suck" chant, apparently unaware of who exactly the Yankees were playing today; at a July game two years ago my friend and I, wearing Twins and Red Sox hats, were both accosted even though the Yanks' opponents that day were the Mariners.
-Yankee fans may not be as downright hostile as the Philly faithful, or angry as Boston fans, but don't ever doubt their passion. Though I suppose I shouldn't have had anything to fear; on Monday night my two British co-workers regaled me with tales of their bouts with soccer hooligans, who make the craziest East Coast baseball fans look like pussycats. And besides- the Yankees, in what some at the time called a classist move, banned the sale of beer in the bleacher section three years ago.
- I did, however, wear my vintage 1987 Twins championship ring, that I got for free at a game the following year. Not wearing any Twins gear, though, sort of felt like going to synagogue without a yamacha or talice, although the three teenagers sitting in front of us were in fact wearing yamachas and tzitzit along with their Yankee shirts.
- All in all, I like Yankee Stadium. I call it my fifth-favorite ballpark in America, after Wrigley, Fenway, Camden Yards, and Skippy Field.
- Things moved along for the first few innings, until a disturbance in the force coming out of the fourth: Johan Santana left the game with a leg spasm, and was replaced by Rick Reed. The Twins' bullpen was directly in front of where I was sitting, and the reaction of most Yankee fans, who remembered Reed's very checkered Mets career, was laughter as opposed to booing. But Reed got the job done, as did J.C. Romero, and later LaTroy Hawkins.
- I called my dad at the office in the 5th inning, and he said his entire law firm had been sitting together in a conference room watching the game since the beginning- the loss of productivity from people attending the games or watching them in bars or at work is another excellent argument against 1:00 starts for postseason games.
- Just horrible defense all around by the Yankees, including the double-error play that led to a pseudo-inside-the-park homer by Torii Hunter, the kind of play that used to happen regularly in my Little League games at the aforementioned Skippy Field. After Hunter's play, I had the following exchange with the guy sitting next to me:
Guy: Who just got that hit?
Me: Torii Hunter.
Guy: Damn.
Me: Don't worry, he'll be a Yankee in three years.
Guy: Yea, him and Piazza.
My friend Peter: Yea, and Pedro too.
- To his credit, Yankees' PA announcer Bob Sheppard managed to correctly pronounce Doug Mientkiewicz's name all four times that he came to the plate.
- In the ninth inning, of course, "Everyday" Eddie Guardado just had to give us all a heart attack again, just like in Game 5 last year in Oakland. But once again, after giving up a run, Eddie settled down and got three outs, aided by an awesome Shannon Stewart catch. Twins lead series 1-0, will have two home games, and now hold home field advantage in the Series. Oh yea, and the Yankees' 13-game winning streak against the Twins? History.
-Wonderful New York Times headline: "Twins Have a Field Day With Yankees' Imperfections." Makes the Twins sound like a manipulative boyfriend or something.
- Game 2 is Thursday night, also at the Stadium, but I'll be watching from home this time. It's all right though- great to make it up to the Bronx for a game, wonderful to see the Twinkies pull out a win, and good to escape the Stadium without anyone accosting me for being a Twins fan.

UPDATE: Welcome, TwinsGeeks! Check back again throughout the post-season for more on Twins' 2003 championship drive.

Posted by Stephen Silver at September 30, 2003 11:28 PM
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