Monday, April 23, 2012

The Bronx Bombers


I left Philly pretty early in the morning.  I planned on posting a blog but the Wi-Fi in the hotel I was in went out and the guy said that they couldn’t get anybody out to fix it.  I started to head in the direction of New York but stopped at a place with internet.  I posted a blog and worked on my next one.  After spending some time I got back on the road and made my way to NYC.  I had previously talked to Gary Herman of Royalty Tours and he advised me to get there early and park on the street to avoid paying 30+ dollars for parking.  I found a spot a few block away from Yankee Stadium and made the journey.  I tweeted about this and several people informed me that the Bronx was a bad neighborhood.  It was 2pm and the game wasn’t until 8pm so I had some time on my hands.  I walked over to Yankee stadium and walked around the outside taking pictures.  I found the Yankees offices and tried to talk my way into getting in early.  The man told me I could try again later when more people there but I would probably get shot down because the Yankees were playing the Angels.

I walked back to my car and charged my phone while I talked to people.  Everybody kept staring at me like I didn’t belong.  I was really hoping my car would be safe for the duration of the game.  After my phone was fully charged I went back to Yankee Stadium.  I went into the Hard Rock Café and had a beer and looked over the menu.  Nothing really jumped out at me that I just had to try so I just decided to drink.  I hung out at the bar for a little bit but then decided to go on the patio.  I sat on the patio for a while just people watching.  Like any good American I love people watching.  I was amazed that the fans were at the park five hours before game time and they flooded the streets two and a half hours before first pitch.  After I had a few beers I made my way over to the McDonalds on the corner.  I figured I’d be better off to get something in my stomach now then pay insane prices inside the park.  As I ate my food I sat in the courtyard and watched the ticket scalpers try to work their magic.  It was very entertaining to watch and see the chain of command in their little world. 

When I left McDonalds I decided to check out what appeared to be a small bar called the dugout.  I walked in and it was flooded with people, which is expected before game time.  It didn’t take very long to get my beer.  The bar tenders were quick and efficient.  I walked towards the back of the bar and there was another room to the right.  A much bigger room with another bar and a lot more people.  They even had a little concession area that sold ballpark foods for way cheaper than ballpark prices.  I’m glad I stepped in there it was a pretty cool place.

I walked into Yankee Stadium and had to see the field.  The Stadium is more of a coliseum or an arena.  I asked an employee the quickest way to the field and they pointed me in the right direction.  I did my normal ritual and started to explore Yankee Stadium.  I had been to Yankee Stadium once before but it was a rather rushed experience so this time I was trying to enjoy myself.  I love seeing the baseball greats at every turn.  I really loved how they had pictures from decades of baseball around the entire park. 

My last time in Yankee Stadium I purchased a ticket at the ticket counter just before the game.  It was on the 500 level and cost me around $90.  It was an insane price and made me never want to sit in that area again.  This time around I got tickets from stubhub.com for the bleachers.  This was an excellent decision on my part.  The bleachers are where the true Yankee fans sit in my opinion.  They were so full of passion and it was truly contagious. 

Before the game even started they had to play the National Anthem.  As it was playing and I was paying my respects I noticed that two gentleman who were sitting next to me did not stand up.  I was offended by this so I said something trying to be respectful as well as not disrespect the anthem.  When it was all said and done and people were sitting down I asked the guy why he didn’t stand up.  He then explained to me he is a Jehovah's Witness and that it was against their religion to stand up for the flag but he meant no disrespect.  I was perfectly fine with that answer.  I believe that my generation is a generation of tolerance.  I’ve been around the world a time or two and I understand that your beliefs are your beliefs and people should respect that.  It’s also something I enjoy about this trip, I get to learn things like this regarding different cultures in American society.  I talked to him a while longer and found out his name was David.  He really didn’t want to offend me so he explained in detail why he didn’t stand up.  I know Jehovah’s Witnesses have a reputation for being a little over bearing but it wasn’t like that at all.  I gave David my contact information so he could read my blog at the end of our conversation.  The following day he emailed me a more detailed explanation of his beliefs on this subject.  I thought that was amazing and I will share with you what he wrote.  Flagsalute. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that bowing down to a flag or saluting it, often in conjunction with an anthem, is a religious act that ascribes salvation, not to God, but to the State or to its leaders. (Isaiah 43:11; 1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 John 5:21) One such leader was King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon. To impress the people with his majesty and religious ardor, this powerful monarch erected a great image and compelled his subjects to bow down to it while music, like an anthem, was being played. However, three Hebrews—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—refused to bow to the image, even on pain of death.—Daniel, chapter 3.

In our age, “nationalism’s chief symbol of faith and central object of worship is the flag,” wrote historian Carlton Hayes. “Men bare their heads when the flag passes by; and in praise of the flag poets write odes and children sing hymns.” Nationalism, he added, also has its “holy days,” such as the Fourth of July in the United States, as well as its “saints and heroes” and its “temples,” or shrines. In a public ceremony in Brazil, the minister general of the army acknowledged: “The flag is venerated and worshiped . . . just as the Fatherland is worshiped.” Yes, “the flag, like the cross, is sacred,” The Encyclopedia Americana once observed.

The aforementioned encyclopedia more recently noted that national anthems “are expressions of patriotic feeling and often include an invocation for divine guidance and protection of the people or their rulers.” Jehovah’s servants are not being unreasonable, therefore, when they view patriotic ceremonies involving the flag salute and national anthems as religious. In fact, when commenting on the refusal of children of Jehovah’s Witnesses to give homage to the flag or to swear the oath of allegiance in U.S. schools, the book The American Character stated: “That these daily rituals are religious has been at last affirmed by the Supreme Court in a series of cases.”

While not joining in ceremonies that they view as unscriptural, Jehovah’s people certainly respect the right of others to do so. They also respect national flags as emblems and recognize duly constituted governments as “superior authorities” serving as “God’s minister.” (Romans 13:1-4) Hence, Jehovah’s Witnesses heed the exhortation to pray “concerning kings and all those who are in high station.” Our motive, though, is “in order that we may go on leading a calm and quiet life with full godly devotion and seriousness.”—1 Timothy 2:2.”



As I said before the bleacher section was a ton of fun.  At one point there was a Boston Red Sox fan that was getting kind of rowdy.  There was a confrontation of some sort and the entire bleacher section erupted on this guy.  There were a few people who took it kind of far by throwing their beers on him but other than that it was kind of fun.  Eventually security came by and escorted the fan out as he flipped off the Yankee fans.  They ended up escorting out several more people who were sitting in that general area as well.  During the commotion the Yankees scored several runs.  The fans were amazing, and on their feet every time something exciting happened.  They showed Time Tebow on the giant screen and everybody booed him.  I got a good laugh out of this.  New York Sports fans are intense.



I was set to meet Gary and pretty excited about it.  He’s a seasoned sports traveler and has tons of knowledge to pass on to anybody who wants it.  He goes to over 400 sporting events a year and knows the east coast intimately.  We talked for a while and he gave me plenty of helpful tips.  As we were talking Douglas “Chuck” Booth came over to say hi as well.  Chuck is the world record holder for the fastest 30 ballgames.  He had previously seen a game from start to finish in all 30 MLB ballparks in just 24 days.  This season he was trying to do it in 20 days but after a few setbacks he is on pace to do it in just 23 days.  Either way you look at it, it’s nothing short of amazing.  We took our conversation down into the concourse so we wouldn’t disturb the people around us.  We sat there and exchanged stories and travel tips.  I gave chuck the information for my contacts with the Cleveland Indians and the awesome people at www.didthetribewinlastnight.com for his visit to Cleveland.  After a while we parted ways but I hope to see those guys again. 



I am trying to collect an actual ticket from each ballpark and not just one I download from stub hub.  I was telling this to somebody when Dima Raskolnikov overheard.  He asked more about my journey and then offered me his ticket.  He introduced me to his group of friends.  They were nice people and I was glad to have met them.  I walked around to get one last look at Yankee Stadium when I stopped on the 100 level to watch the rest of the game.  There was a young boy who was trying to get pictures and I told him to sneak up into an area where the ushers were trying to keep people out of.  I told him that he was a kid and nobody was going to stop him from trying to get a picture.  His father agreed with me and we started talking.  I told him about my trip and an idea that I had thought of earlier that day.  I would love to start a nonprofit group that helps soldiers returning home from tours of duty to chase their dreams like I’m doing.  I think it would be an incredible adventure and I love helping soldiers.  If anybody is reading this and can help please contact me.  The man I was talking to explained to me that he creates TV shows including reality TV and I may have a wonderful concept.  We traded business cards and said that we would be in touch with each other. 



I enjoyed my visit to Yankee Stadium this time a lot more than my previous visit.  I met a lot of great people which is what I enjoy most about this adventure.  I was asked last night on a radio interview that I did who had the nicest fans.  Off the top of my head I said Cincinnati but after some thought it was the Yankees fans. 


Keep On Smilin- It's Baseball Season!

2 comments:

  1. Great stories! Have you been buying a souvenir from every park you visit, or just the tickets?

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  2. Love the interaction with the guy sitting during the anthem. It's an interesting way to learn about other's beliefs. Loving the blog so far. Can't wait for the next installment.

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