I was fortunate enough to follow our boys out to NY to catch Tuesday night's game and Wednesday's day game at the new Yankee Stadium.
The trip started out a bit surreal. My flight was scheduled at about midnight out of SFO, so I decided to stop in at Kincaid's in Burlingame for a drink. Who just happened to be at the bar but Carney Lansford! Of course I did not have a ball with me, so I waited until he was done socializing and asked him for an autograph on one of their menus. I told him I was an A's fan, which seemed to make him smile, probably because on that side of the bay he gets recognized as the Giants batting coach. He was very nice and happily signed.
Walking into the new Yankee Stadium is an amazing moment. It is overwhelming. Cavernous, monstrous, rife with tradition at every turn. Hard Rock Cafe, sushi, banners and posters of Yankee's past....like making the trip to Mecca for baseball fans.
I had close to rail seats for both games. I caught a batting practice foul ball at the first game, and of course, as we all know, that was about the highlight of game one. The pen looked great though, and in batting practice Giambi was flat drilling it. The fans were very generous to Giambi.
I must make a note here about Swisher: He is now a God. I am serious, they worship him there already! Everyone around me was telling me how much he has energized the fans. They chant for him!
The second game, the rainy extra inning day game, was eventful. NY Yankees open their stadium 3 hours before game time and the place is packed! Fortunately, they are very strict about letting you down to the rail unless you have a low level ticket. I had access to all the A's pitchers!
Using my intimate knowledge of the team, I was able to coax over several players. Andrew Bailey was the first to come over and sign for me and chat briefly. What a great kid!
Next, I saw Dallas. I shouted "209" to him and he answered back "Holler", but kept walking. When the pitchers were heading in, Dallas was midfield when I shouted his name. He walked clear across the field, signed for me out of the whole crowd and walked away. Same thing happened with Santiago. Because I recognized him and called him by name when he came out, on the way back he came up to me, signed, and walked back to the dugout, signing for no one else.
Had a nice conversation with Dan Giese. What an affable guy. Too bad he has coughed up late inning homers of late :( We talked about how he was selling Hondas and how this was a much better gig. I really hope he can put it together, however, I fear he won't be here long.
The last autograph I got was Phil Coke of the Yankees. Now, I had no intention of "polluting" a perfectly good A's autograph ball, however, the guy is a class act. During batting practice, way up at the top rail, where many fans who did not have low level tickets congregated, was a boy of about 5 years. Phil walked up to the rail and asked if I would take the ball up to the kid. I thought that was real class. Later he came over to sign for fans and we had a nice chat. I asked him to sign despite the fact I love the A's. He laughed and signed. Good guy!
Wearing my colors into enemy territory, I expected to be derided and mocked. I must say however that I found Yankee fans to be very nice, extremely informed, not only about their team, but several fans I talked to knew about our farm system and players two levels down. I was locked and loaded and ready to fight, but I saw they save their venom for Red Sox fans. The few masochists who wore Red Sox garb were loudly derided.
All in all, a great trip despite the outcome of the games.
Carney Lansford, Dan Giese, Santiago Casilla, Andrew Bailey, Dallas Braden, Phil Coke...and one game ball!
Click on the photos to see a larger version....
Pretty cool to have a Hard Rock at the ball park!
Our boys warming up in the new park.
Sweeney is the first Oakland Athletic to step in at the new park.
The Babe and Lou welcome you to the new house.
There were a few of us at the park.
Carney made a point of signing over the steak.
The ball from the inaugural series. Nice collectible.
Bailey, Giese and Casilla.
Braden and Coke