Friday, July 23, 2010

Game 94: Flashing Lights

In the three years my two friends and I had our Yankees Saturday package, we were only in our seats one time when the first pitch was thrown. The trek typically began from my apartment on the Upper West Side and it's tough to get three hungover dudes up, showered, out the door, on the subway, through the turnstiles, up into the upper deck in time for a 1:00pm start. We never left before the game ended, we just had real issues with getting there on time.

But August 4th, 2007, we decided we absolutely had be seated in Section 7, Row M, seats 15-17 before Phil Hughes through his first pitch. We took it somewhat easy the night before, got up early, ate breakfast and hopped on the train by noon. We were milling around outside the stadium at 12:45 and were in line to get beers when the National Anthem came on. It was a balmy summer day, probably near 90, and I remember removing my hat and listening to the recording play as the line momentarily stood still.

Phil Hughes worked a 1-2-3 first inning and after Derek Jeter singled and Bobby Abreu drew a walk, Alex Rodriguez came to the plate looking for his 500th career home run. This was the one and only reason we had been anxious to get there early - the chance that he came to the plate in the first inning.

He had gone eight games since his last homer and each night, what stood out - as it did during Jeter's pursuit of Gehrig - were the countless camera flashes that would go off when he was at the plate. Although the electricity surrounding each at bat - both literally and figuratively - had diminished by that Saturday afternoon, there was still a palpable sense of anticipation in the stands.

It wasn't there for long, because on the first pitch off of Kyle Davies, he launched a high, hooking drive right down the left field line. A-Rod was leaning on his right side, staring at the ball through his sunglasses to see if it would stay fair, but from our perfectly positioned seats, it was already obvious that it was gone.

As Joe Posnanski beautifully detailed earlier today, the milestone home run numbers have lost much of their luster over the past 20 or so years, but it didn't feel like it to us at that point. Just by shear luck, that homer came on a Saturday home game and we had the chance to witness something that, even though it's less rare than it used to be, still doesn't happen very often.

Just under two years, ninety-nine homers and some image-shattering PED revelations later, A-Rod is on the cusp of another big, round number. He hit his first Major League homer against the Royals and his 499th, 500th and 599th against them too. He has three homers in 10 plate appearances (seven ABs) against tonight's starter, Brian Bannister. He will be facing Davies - the man who served up #500 - tomorrow and Anthony "career 2.6HR/9IP" Lerew on Sunday. Perhaps his search for 600 will drag on like the quest for 500 did, but it seems likely that he'll pull it off sometime this weekend. If he does it tonight, you can be sure it will happen under plenty of flashing lights.

As you recall, you know I love to show off,
But you never thought that I would take it this far,
What do you know? Flashing lights, lights,
What do you know? Flashing lights, lights.

Yankee Lineup:
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Francisco Cervelli C
Colin Curtis RF

RHP A.J. Burnett
A.J. Burnett RHP