Thursday, May 12, 2005

We must be in the front row

Row A at Yankee Stadium means when Luis Sojo coached third base, "Oooooh, he's so close, it's like i'm having a cup of coffee with him in the kitchen," Mama La Monica said.

Row A at Yankee Stadium means when $252 million Alex Rodriguez made the first of his two errors Wednesday afternoon and got yelled at by fans, "This is like going into IBM and yelling at the chairman," Papa La Monica said.

Row A at Yankee Stadium means when Alex Rodriguez made the second of his two errors Wednesday afternoon, he had no choice but to hear one fan yell out, "Pagliarulo would've made that play."

I was that fan. Life in the front row is pretty cool. Not that I'm an A-Rod hater, but he made two huge mistakes and had to be called out on it by a fan who knows what it's like to sit in the upper deck's Row U (that's pretty much above the lights) and Row W (that is pretty much on the moon) for a game.

But this was Row A. Time to capitalize on the opportunity.

Papa La Monica scored tickets along the third-base line for Wednesday's game. It was Papa La Monica's birthday, too, making it even more fun.

Ever watch a game on television and say to yourself "How did those people get those seats?" when the cameras pan around the first few rows. These were those seats. We were those people.

This was a Bob Uecker commercial come to life. Whoa! We really must be in the front row.

Mama La Monica, excited enough to be within the same zip code as Derek Jeter, even waved and yelled out to Skippy, the left-field ball boy.

In this gated community, (OK, it was chained off but in a stadium built in 1923, you take what you can get), the seats are cushioned. Typically, I have to bring my own patoot-softening device.

In this oh-so-chic section, you get served. Typically, I have to go rent the movie.

A Stadium employee runs around with some sort of Palm Pilot situation and takes your order. Menus are available, stuck in the cup holder. Cup holder? Cup holder! Typically, I have to bring a safe to the Stadium to store my $5 souvenir cup of soda under my seat so I don't have to worry about Coke-soaked peanut shells and soda-saturated sneakers.

In this posh part, the only people sitting in front of you are the corporate clowns that paid a lot of money to sit in the seats that were installed several years ago so that corporate clowns could pay a lot of money to sit the seats. Most of these fans bought an unlimited-ride Metrocard on the bandwagon.

Since that's a man-made hazard and therefore not part of the original infrastructure of the Stadium, it can't change the fact that we're sitting in Row A and they're not.

(Note: When those corporate clowns left after the 7th inning - how predictable! - Papa La Monica and I jumped down to their seats. It's a pretty cool view.)

Having chair service is an interesting experience for a family that used to save enough coupons from the Dellwood milk cartons just to get four free seats in the upper deck. The Stadium accepts credit cards down there in Row A, so I had to charge something while sitting down there in Row A if for no other reason than I could charge something while sitting down there in Row A.

But, I also had to get up and buy something from the concession stand. Mama La Monica wondered why. Two reasons:

1) I never forget where I came from, which is somewhere in the tier reserved section (that's the upper part of the upper deck).

2) I wanted the security guy to stop me trying to come back to my seat so I could show him my ticket, drop a Lil Jon/Chappelle "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?" on him, and then walk past all those other lettered rows and resume my game-watching from the comfortable position of Row f-bombing A!

The game began and I offered my obligatory "What's up, guy?" to A-Rod, Jeter and Sojo. More importantly, I know they heard me. That makes four Yankees to hear my signature line (sure, it's stolen from Nicky Eyes in "Goodfellas," but I'm more famous than the actor who played him, so it's mine now). Gary Sheffield was the first, back when I got booed at Yankee Stadium. So far, I've received zero responses. Not even a complimentary "Howyuzdoin?"

Oh well. I can live with that. I'm in Row A.

Brother La Monica joked before we left for the game that he was taking all the money from his accounts and betting it on the Mariners. This seemed a smart play, considering Papa La Monica is better known as Frankie Mush when it comes to Yankees games. He's 0-2 this season, and roughly 2-35 since we started going to games as a family in the early 1980s. One of those two losses this season was the Mariano Rivera five-run ninth inning against the Red Sox. Mama La Monica had no choice but to go 0-2 this year, as well.

Case in point: In the early 1990s (or maybe it was the late 1980s, we're not quite sure anymore), Papa La Monica had to work in San Francisco for a few summer months. The Yankees were on a West Coast trip and went 10-1. The one game they lost was the Oakland. Yep, he was there. Frankie Mush!

I clearly inherited his genes. I was 0-2 this season, with those losses being a blowout by Baltimore and a Randy Johnson loss to Tampa Bay before Randy Johnson remembered he was Randy Johnson and not Randy Jackson, dog.

So, the La Monica family was 0-4, and clearly the betting parlors didn't know we were going to the game because the Yankees were still favored.

When the Mariners scored five runs in the first, we had no choice to laugh and blame Frankie Mush. So much for my theory of two negatives becoming a positive.

But, this was Row A, so let the game last 12 hours. I don't care. Boss friend Jon was kind enough to let me come to work late, but I had to add in a "Work on the laptop during the car ride home" clause for the commissioner to approve the trade.

Brother La Monica was telephoned with one out in the first inning and the Yankees trailing 5-0. He simply couldn't believe it. Well, he could believe it, which is why he couldn't believe. Such stark reality can appear imaginary when it happens live.

The Yankees rallied back for the 5-5 tie in the bottom of the first. Brother La Monica was telephoned. The Mariners took a 9-6 lead. Brother La Monica was telephoned. The Yankees tied it at 9. Brother La Monica was telephoned. The Yankees took a 12-9 lead. Brother La Monica was telephoned.

That Tino Martinez homered to tie it at 9 meant Mama La Monica made the right decision in wearing her new Tino Martinez shirt. She considered rocking the Jeter home jersey, but "Tino's doing good, so I had to wear my new shirt."

Can't argue with Mama La Monica, even if Mother's Day already passed.

The Yankees won, 13-9. We reversed the curse!

No more Frankie Mush. Well, at least for one afternoon.

Row A means the next time I go to a game at the Stadium, I'll be back with the steerage. Row A means it was definitely worth it.