Last week was a whirlwind of travel. A few highlights and observations.
First up, New Jersey for the Pats-Jets game and a tour of the New Meadowlands Stadium. I met my new friend Bill Squires an hour before the game–You might remember him from THIS STORY–for a tour of the Jets & Giants’ new digs.
IF NOT, THIS IS BILL …
Lindsay came to the game, as well, and we got to meet the live-in bomb-sniffing dogs, Anja and Rufus, spend some time in the stadium slammer, tour the field (cool fact: the endzone turf is sectioned into strips that lift out, so the field can easily be switched from Jets to Giants), checked out the sky boxes and caught the post-game press conference. About that: The Jets/Giants are the first teams to allow fans to watch the press conferences. It’s bizarre and, as a reporter, annoying. I couldn’t hear a single question for the cheering and yelling, and the players/coaches are playing to the fans while answering questions. I can’t imagine this will last.
AND WE DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TO STREAK THE FIELD …
And in another update to my Blacklisted story, Craig Coakley, the Citi Field Streaker, just auctioned off his monkey–You might remember him from the same story–on eBay for $183.57. He was hoping for $400, but a monkey’s just not worth what it used to be.
Next up was the Rays-Yankees at the New Yankee Stadium. The game was a lot of fun, and during pre-game, the team unveiled a plaque for George Steinbrenner at Monument Park in center field. The plaque, of course, is about 10 times larger than each of the plaques hanging next to it in honor of players whose jerseys have been retired. So, by this rationalization, Babe Ruth + Yogi Berra + Billy Martin + Lou Gherig + … = George Steinbrenner? I don’t think so. My favorite moment happened while the announcer was reading the inscription on the plaque, which went something like this: “Purchased the Yankees on January 3, 1973, George Steinbrenner went on to become the most influential and successful owner in all of sports history …” Cut to a shot of Jerry Jones and his wife, who were at the game (as well as Joe Torre and his wife) on the big screen. Hilarious. I was waiting to see Jones run out to center field with a Sharpie and scribble “one of” before the words “the most.”
AT THE GAME, WE RAN INTO KRUK, OUR FRIEND AND UBER YANKEES FAN …
Also, I know I am a year or so late on this, but …
Dear Yankee Stadium,
I do not need to know the calorie count for every item I consume while watching a baseball game. I do not want to buy a beer from a Beer Man wearing a pin that says, “Bud – Bud Light – 110-150 calories,” nor do I want to buy a cheese steak (or chicken) from Carl’s (Yum!) knowing it contains 600 calories without cheese, but only 450 without. These are not decisions I want to make between innings. Baseball games are excuses to eat food you do not normally eat, drink beer on a Tuesday night and yell at people you do not know.
When I head to the food counter, I want to be able to look at my normally healthy friends and say, “Man, all they have here are cheese fries, pizza and beer? Dang. I guess that’s what I’ll have to eat.” By including a Farmer’s Market that sells fresh fruit and cheeses, you give us no excuse but to admit to ourselves, and our friends, that even when presented with the opportunity to make lower-calorie choices and select healthy options, we will still add the cheese and drink the beer and shun the apple. And that is too much self awareness for a baseball game. Please, Yankee Stadium. Have a heart. And let us worry about the health of ours on our own time.
MY JETER-LOVING SISTER WOULD LIKE THIS. WHEN JETER GETS A BIG HIT, THEY THROW UP THE “JETER METER” …
After a few more days in NYC, I headed down to Florida for the UF-Kentucky game. I hadn’t been to Gainesville for a game in four years, and it was so great to be back. Friday night, I met up with a bunch of folks for a cheerleader reunion at a new bar/restaurant called 101 Downtown. It was so great to see everyone. On Saturday (game day!), I checked lots of activities off my list.
* Buy a new Gators t-shirt. Check!
* See an alligator at Lake Alice. Check!
* Eat somewhere new. Check!
* Take a nostalgic tour of campus. Check!
* Have a beer at an old haunt. Check!
* Tailgate with more friends. Check!
* Do a partner stunt with my old partner, Tom. Check!
Then it was time to change into my adult clothes and head to the game. I spent the first half on the sidelines (I still have a hard time tearing myself away) and the second half up in the press box. It was fun to see a lot of the guys I haven’t seen since the SEC game.
CHEERLEADERS, REUNIONING …
As for the Gators, they’re starting to look like national contenders. After the game, there was a lot of positive to talk about. There were a lot of smiling faces in the post-game interview room. Freshman quarterback Trey Burton broke Tebow’s single-game TD record (Whoda thought that would happen in game 4?), and Brantley started to click with his receivers. This is a young team and I think they are going to have their hands full in Tuscaloosa this weekend. I don’t think they’re going to win. Sorry, Gator Nation. I’d like to see them pull it off, and if they do, it will be one heck of a game played and won with a lot of heart. But I think this Bama team is just too good. But that’s why they play the game.
MORE REUNIONING, AT HALFTIME OF THE GAME …
After Florida, I headed to Chicago to meet up with backup quarterback Todd Collins. Perhaps you remember a story I was working on last year while he was with the Redskins. We had to shelve it when things got wonky in Washington, but it’s getting the defibrillator and a new life in the issue that comes out in three weeks.
AND GO GATORS!