Saturday, April 09, 2005

I got booed at Yankee Stadium

Brian Roberts homered to right field on Friday night and my future autobiography earned itself an unexpected new chapter. In the seconds following the Baltimore Oriole’s blast, I got booed at Yankee Stadium.

On this fateful night, I was sitting with my boy Joey Colskore in Weatherman friend Mike’s season tickets. Section 23, Box 91. Great view of the entire field and the rightfielder can hear everything you yell at him.

Roberts’ blast hit off the screen attached to the foul pole and bounced back down the foul line. Gary Sheffield came over, scooped the ball and looked toward the stands like a smart, fan-friendly player should. The thing of it was that Sheff was no more than 5 feet away from me.

I jump up. Colskore, seated to my left, boxes out the fake Pedro Martinez, two innocent Yankee chicks and Scorebook guy like the shortest Shaquille O’Neal you’ll ever see. I box out three guys to my right like I’m Bill Russell reincarnated and snatch that baseball with my right hand.

What an amazing feeling to hold a baseball from a live game in my hand. Never happened before. This was my first foul ball/home run ball ever, and I’ve been going to Yankee games for the last 19 years. I came close twice. The first time, Papa La Monica couldn’t box out the 8-foot Nordic guy from three rows behind us with arms like telephone poles. The second time, I was on a beer run for my friends, I came back to the seats (upper deck, right field) and they’re showing me a Mo Vaughn foul ball. I already disliked the taste of beer, but this sealed the deal.

So there I am, holding a major league baseball in my hand. The leather was soft and I could feel the pine tar and dirt that was rubbed in it before the game started. It was quite a moment.

Then Colskore pulled a Fredo and turned on me. He started screaming “Throw it back! Throw it back!” The entire section joined in. Soon, most of right field is screaming at me to throw it back. What the hell am I supposed to do? Sheffield was kind enough to look me in the eye and toss the baseball in my direction and I’m supposed to slap him in the face and take a dump in his hat by throwing it back on the field? That doesn’t seem fair.

On the other hand, it was a home run by an opponent, and as a rule, those should never be kept. If you want a souvenir that bad, spend the extra 50 cents a get the 44-ounce soda in a souvenir cup. Or splurge for some ice cream in a Yankee helmet.

Then there’s the Mama La Monica factor to consider. She’d be pissed if she knew that I had the baseball and gave it up. On the other hand, she’d probably be happy that I did it because it was the product of something bad happening to the Yankees (and by default, her “honey buns” Derek Jeter). And Papa La Monica would be mad because then he couldn’t take the ball from me, use it for his baseball team, The Legends, and save $9.

The smart move is to throw it back, a sign of disgust toward the Orioles and a virtual “Stick it up your patoot, Roberts!” But if I throw it back, odds are I’ll get kicked out. It’s the third inning. The seats were good (and free). No sense in getting tossed this early.

But I can’t keep this thing, even if that means symbolically spitting on Sheff.

All these thoughts took place in a span of 12 seconds. So, I turn to my left and give a Jason Kidd no-look pass to the right-field line. That’s right. I gave the ball back. I was content with my decision. Besides, roughly 43,127 of the 43,128 in attendance have never been in the Yankees clubhouse interviewing Sheff, A-Rod, Jeter, Torre and the rest. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

However, due to my sneaky pass, most of the Stadium thought I kept the ball, so they booed me for keeping an Oriole home run. I was booed in Yankee Stadium. An amazing feeling. By Colskore’s estimation, roughly 29,000 booed me for at least 7 seconds. Do the math. That’s a lot of boos. I felt like Bernie Williams striking out for the 38th time in four games this season. I felt like A-Rod grounding out with runners in scoring position again and again ………and again.

If only these fans knew the truth. Well, here it is. I gave the ball back and kept my seat at the same time. Take that, you non-observant fans. Boo this!

Now, I just have to smooth things over with Sheff.