Usually in baseball, a sports fan grows up loving a team near them. Of course there are exceptions, but what I’ve found is that the best guess of a person’s rooting interest is usually a team near their childhood home. The problem is, when a person moves (for college, a job, or just because they want to), the team doesn’t come along with them. It’s nice to live in the future and keep our teams on our computers, in our phones, and on our PS3s with MLB.tv, but it goes without saying that the ballpark experience of rooting for your hometown heroes is way, way better than sitting in your living room and yelling at the announcers.
I feel safe in assuming that most of the audience here is probably within a drive – perhaps a long one, but a drive nonetheless – away from Yankee Stadium. If that’s the case, then going to see a game is really more based on your schedule than the schedule of the team. It might be difficult to avoid familial duties or work, but assuming you’ve got the money and the time, the Bronx might not be too far away.
For those of us who have been displaced from the NY-NJ-CT tri-state area, it’s not that easy. You might be lucky if you’ve only moved to say, Virginia or Massachusetts for location or stayed within the division, be it Baltimore or Boston, even Toronto or Tampa. While traveling to the House that Ruth (Jeter?) Built might be impossible, at least there’s the comfort of knowing the Bombers will be showing up nine times over the season. If you’re unlucky or stupid enough to move away from those places, your Yankees-viewing chances go down dramatically.
I moved to the bay area last year for work and end up faced with this scenario every year. When the Yankees come out here for one of their rare appearances – the previous series is the only one they will play in Oakland all year – I drop everything and pick up the best tickets I can. Appointments are canceled, work is ignored, life stops.
The funny thing about having a limited amount a games to see your team is that you find yourself wishing for a whole bunch of scenarios which, under usual circumstances, are the exactly the kinds of things you want the team to avoid. I’m an avid David Robertson fan, and there was not a single Robertson appearance during those three games. Really, it’s a good thing – he only shows up when there are jams to be gotten out of – but it also meant that I won’t be seeing his knee-buckling curveball in person until October (unlikely) or next year. Bartolo Colon pitching a complete game was freaking amazing (he looked dominant in person, too), but there was concern in my mind that I would go a whole three game series without a single Mariano Rivera appearance. I don’t think there’s any shame in admitting that when Joba Chamberlain had first and second with one out, I wanted to see him walk a guy so Robertson would in and strike everyone out.
Luckily, Russell Martin only sat the first game out, and Rivera came in to preserve a two-run lead in the third game of the series. I even got a Lance Pendleton and a Luis Ayala sighting. I saw AJ Burnett throw a pretty damn decent game and Freddy Garcia confound the A’s with junkballs. But sadly, there are things that I missed and won’t get to see until next year. I never got to fill in Derek Jeter as the DH on a scorecard. I didn’t see CC Sabathia’s four-seamer. There was no David Robertson appearance. Jorge Posada didn’t get a hit (sigh).
Don’t get me wrong: I love the bay. You can’t beat the weather, they designed the roads for high congestion, you’re surrounded by nerds, and they make amazing Filipino food.We have a great hockey team and two baseball teams, all available by mass transit. But none of them are the Yankees. And I really, really, really miss the Yankees, especially when I only see them three live games out of the massive 162 game season. I’m sure this isn’t exclusive to California, either, but moving away from your sports team is rough.
(On the bright side, the Legends-equivalents seats I sat in in the Coliseum cost me $55. I love cheap baseball.)