One out of left field

Over the five or so years I’ve written Deep In the Red, I’ve been given the privilege of writing about baseball — most especially the Yankees, of course — from a unique if not wholly singular perspective.

YESNetwork.com has given a virtual free hand that enables me to switch from wearing my well-worn Yankee cap to my press box sport jacket, if not at will, then mostly so, and often at short notice. As a fan I’ve tried to bare my honest thoughts and emotions to the bone in hopes of capturing the passion shared by countless other fans. In the role of journalist and analyst, I’ve tried to write with an unsensationalistic objectivity, respect Stadium275.jpgfor players, and balance I often find lacking in the work of far too many sportswriters who view the game with jaundiced eyes — and, in some cases nowadays, keep those eyes firmly on their Twitter pages rather than the games they’re supposed to be watching and reporting on.

This forum is something for which I am beyond grateful. I consider it a blessing.

When I’m functioning as a member of the working press, I’m given the professional courtesies all media people are afforded. And when I’m in my seat at the games wearing my Yankee cap there are no special benefits. I’m just one of 50,000 or so other paying customers there for a night out at the ballpark.

Saturday night at Yankee Stadium, at a game my wife and I had highly anticipated, the obduracy and thoughtlessness of one security staffer took some of the luster off the thrill we should have taken from an epic postseason win.

I should mention that my wife’s a stickler for preparation. The preparation part is useful when you’re going to a game during which you’ll be sitting out in the left field bleachers on a night when temperatures are in the 40’s, a nor’easter is supposed to be blasting in and rain delays are expected throughout the game.

I can’t tell you how much insulation Suzanne wore under her long winter coat, scarf and hat.  All I know is that it was a lot. And that as we prepared to leave our apartment for the game, she wondered if people would think she was a little crazy in all those clothes. Walking to the subway station, we laughed  because she could hardly bend her knees. It was the double tights, Under Armour and what-not she’d layered on. She was also carrying a rolled up blanket in some kind of tote. Oh, and an umbrella. She’s on the slight side and needs to bundle up in bad weather.

We were fortunate in that the rain held up till late in the game — I think it was around eleven o’clock. It was chilly for most of the night, though. And when it got wet and windy it felt downright cold out in the bleachers.

When I looked over at Suzanne at some point around the ninth or 10th inning, I noticed she was shivering under her umbrella. And that the umbrella wasn’t doing much good in the slanting rain anyway.

I asked if she was okay, and she said she was. But when you see your wife trembling, and her knees knocking, and her lips getting white, even if you haven’t been married forever like I have, you know she’s only saying that because she doesn’t want to ruin your time and make you feel as if you’d better leave early.

I told her that maybe we ought to go home. But she’s as averse to leaving a Yankees game in progress as I’ve always been, especially a playoff game, and insisted she just needed to get out of the cold and rain for a little while, and would find someplace to stand in the concourse, maybe have a coffee to warm her up.  

“You stay here,” she said. “I’ll call you on the cell and let you know where I am.”

I told her not to be ridiculous and went with her.

At this point — I’m guessing it was the eleventh inning — the crowd had thinned significantly out around the left field bleachers. Some were people with kids, others were people with long drives home, and I guess still others were just tired and cold and soaked. Whatever their reasons, they were heading for the aisles in bunches.

There was a section back there that had been designated as Standing Room Only for theStadium235.jpg playoffs. It has a kind of overhang that blocks the rain, and a wall behind it that cuts down the wind stream. The last two holdouts in that section were a guy with no shirt on and a beer sloshing in his hand, and another guy who was kind of prowling around looking shady. Everybody else had departed.

Suzanne had warmed a bit in the concourse. She had gotten some color back in her face and her teeth weren’t chattering. She wanted to try and hang in and root the team on for the rest of the game, just not in the bleachers where the wind was still ripping over and through her coat. So we figured we’d give the SRO section a shot.

Now, I understand about moving into different seats than the ones you’ve bought. It’s one thing moving down to better, more expensive ones nowadays, even if they’re empty. Back in the old days that was okay, but now it isn’t, and I accept it. But you wouldn’t figure somebody would mind your moving to a worse, cheaper section with no place to sit down, let alone one that was now completely deserted except for the two stragglers I mentioned.

We went into the SRO section and had been there about three minutes when the security guard came over and asked if we had tickets.

“We’ve got bleacher seats,” I said, showing my ticket to him. “But my wife’s soaked, and couldn’t take the cold anymore. It okay if we stay here?”

“Unless you have tickets for this area, you have to leave,” he said. “You have bleacher seats. This is Standing Room Only.”

“But there’s nobody left standing here,” I said.

The security guy just shook his head. Meanwhile, the bare-chested guy came running over. He’s completely toasted but, I realize, trying to help.

“This is the shirtless section now,” he tells the security guard. “And me being the only guy here, I say they can stay, man. They can even keep their shirts on!”

The security guard ignored him.

“You have to leave,” he told me again.

“Look,” I said. “My wife and I aren’t causing problems. We’re into extra innings on a miserable night, and she’s freezing, and it’s a playoff game. We just want to see the end.”

Robotman couldn’t have cared less: “You have to leave. I’m just doing my job.”

“But if I went to a customer service desk, and told them my wife was uncomfortable , they’d probably put us somewhere else right now anyway. Since there are all kinds of seats available.”

I don’t know whether or not the part about the moving’s true. I think it might be. But when you’re in extra innings, and it’s one o’clock in the morning, five hours into a game that can end in a heartbeat with an error or a home run, the last thing you want to do is have to seek out customer service at an enormous Stadium and miss that last play.

Meanwhile, for maybe the fifth time, the security guard is repeating his mantra. “You have to leave, I’m just doing my job.”

Stadium3.jpgBehind him, the shirtless guy’s signaling for us to walk away and circle back from the other direction. And behind me, the guy who’s been roaming aro
und looking shifty tries to grab my wife’s tote bag, which she’s set down against the wall. She yanks it out of his hand at the last minute and he takes off running. I don’t find out about this till later. My back is to him, and the security guard, who is facing in his direction, is too busy telling me he’s doing his job to notice.

“Jerome, let’s just go,” my wife says. “It’s not worth it.”

I’m looking at the guard. I’m pretending not to think he’s the world’s biggest jerk as I oh-so-politely ask one final time to give us a break and am again told to move on. I’m also pretending not to think that maybe he ought to stop repeating that he’s just doing his job and instead try using his head.

And I’m thinking one other thing under that cap of mine that I’ll get around to in a second.

First, though, to make a long story short, we moved. We found a bench in the last row bleachers that was entirely vacated, and had a little coverage, and my wife wrapped herself in her blanket, and we watched the end of the game. The security guards there weren’t hassling anyone. Give them credit.

Finally we cheered and clapped when Hairston ran home on that error, and waited for the pie, and then headed out of the Stadium with the crowd.

We were both a little subdued as we left, though. I wasn’t grinning from ear to ear the way I ordinarily would have. I wasn’t high-fiving anyone, or thinking about what a classic game I’d seen. I was glad the Yanks won and glad, too, that I was going home. It had been a great night for the Yanks but not such a great night for me or my wife.

And as for the final thing I thought under my Yanks cap about the uniform in the SRO section:

What I was thinking was that I would write about him today in this column. Write how he showed no discretionary judgment, no human kindness, no wisdom, no common consideration or decency. Write that I hope he reads this, and I hope even more that somebody takes him to task for it. He stunk at his job and frankly doesn’t deserve to have it.

This morning, I mentioned a little of what happened last night to a pal and fellow journalist — one of the guys who actually watches the games he writes about in the newspaper.  He replied that he hoped my wife and I enjoyed the end of the game anyway. I told him we did, but that our enjoyment was a little diminished by our experience.

My memory of Game 2 of the 2009 ALCS will never be an entirely happy one.

Kind of stinks.

13 Comments

I am sorry you had a bad experience at the game and the security guard was a jerk to you. I just thought you should know by writing this article you are being huge jerk yourself. If you had to get your satisfaction instead of just letting the issue go you could have handled it privately instead of the public fashion in which you have.

Pmpersiani: I had two reasons for writing the column. If you’ve read Deep In the Red for any length of time, you’ll note that it’s in part personal memoir. I’ve written of things as serious as the loss of loved one or seriocomic as travails with Red Sox-fan neighors and many other subjects as interwoven with my love of baseball and specifically the New York Yankees. Part of my goal has been to represent the life of a baseball fan in microcosm–and I’ve been as unsparing with myself as with anyone else. The stuff I go through as a fan, good and bad, is the stuff many passionate fans go through. Over the years I’ve tried–and judging from my core readership been successful–in describing the highs, lows, joys and frustrations of being a baseball fan . . . sometimes to the point of embarassment.

I was asked to write about playoff games I attend this season from a fan’s perspective. Should I have lied and said all was wonderful Saturday night?

Which brings me to my second reason for writing the piece. As I told someone else privately, what happened to me Saturday night happens to other people sometimes. They pay hard-earned money for experiences that they hope to remember for a lifetime. In this tough economic climate, more than ever, there is no place for the sort of treatment to which my wife and I were subjected at any major venue, let alone the greatest sport venue of them all. Imagine if we’d driven hundreds of miles–as one family seated near us did–to be at that game? If we’d gotten our tickets as a gift from someone to mark an anniversary or some other special event? If it was our first-and-only time at Yankee Stadium? I’ve met people at the ballpark who’ve come from all sorts of far-flung places just to experience a Yankee game.

The only difference between me and others who might go through a lousy, uncomfortable experence of the sort I described is that I have a public forum and the ability to bare what happened in the hopes they might avoid something similar or worse. One voice can make a difference. If you think my wife and I were the only people that guard treated poorly, you are wrong.

I’ve praised Yankee Stadium personnel here for doing their job well in the past. I’ve also taken them to task when they’ve dropped the ball in an egregious manner. The story I related was an extreme example of the latter.

That isn’t handling these situations, as you characterize it. It’s documenting them. There is a world of difference.

This here is truth country, chum. Enter at your own risk.

Jerome, If my ex would have been like you, I wouldn’t have ran away from home after 37 years and if my ex would have been like that SRO security guard, he would have had to run away from home… You are truly a considerate husband. I wish as you think back to last night’s marathon game you will only remember the great game that it was. I’m not lucky enough to go to games as I live in upstate NY. I depend on YES to keep up with my NY Yankees. I was born and brought up in the Bronx and went to many games as a youngster with my dad and older brother. We were original bleacher creatures and got to see many games during the season. My first time was in 1947 at the age of nine.

Forgive me for writing a book in here. ;-}

“That isn’t handling these situations, as you characterize it. It’s documenting them. ” I completely agree. You are no way bashing anyone or anything. This was the experience that you had at the stadium therefore you wrote it down exactly as it happened. Thank you for writing this because it is not a fluffed-up version of the game but a true memoir. I myself am a huge Yankee fan but because of where I live I have only been to one game and have not yet been to the new stadium. I would not want to remember my one experience like this if it happened the one and only time I was there.

Keep up the great work! I love your blog and I am glad that you actually watch the game and have a real love for it.

Mr. Priesler…
Please let me say this about that:

I am a huge Yankee fan. Have been since I can remember. I also remember the Cherry Blossoms in Spring at Branch Brook Park so well because they always announced “Baseball Season is upon us.”
I am not so well off, blue collar guy just barely making a living. I vacation once a year for about 10 days. I do so in Jersey, in the summer, for three reasons.
One. I was born in Jersey and most of my family is there. Two. My sister lives in Brick and I love the Jersey Shore. Three. I go to a game at the Stadium. This past July I enjoyed all three, including a fabulous win over the A’s.
I live in San Diego, Ca. Ergo my reasons for coming East are significant, since they take me away from a locale that so many others in the world spend way more dollars to vacation to.
On that note, I can think of many significant reasons why this usher at the Stadium might have been inclined to so strictly enforce rules that he did not create, but rules which he did agree to enforce in return for, what I am sure is, meager compensation.
One. Fear of losing his job. Two. Even if I were to type here “He had the sensitivity of a rock”, I’m thinkin’ reason 1 will suffice. I’m guessing in this economy there are about one hundred, well maybe more like one thousand, people at least in NYC on a waiting list or an on-call list ready to step in and take his position in a heart beat. Can you guarantee that some supervisor as insensitive as this guy would not give him the drop kick outta there for screwin’ the pooch on his watch, should he get caught letting you and your wife hang there? If you can, then I would say your blog on this was on the mark and justified. If you can not, then may I suggest a few remedies that might have made the evening more memorable for you.
One. Make it worth it for the guy. I have found a $20 bill to be an effective bargaining chip in persuading a low paid custodial type person to make an executive decision. I know had I a wife as special sounding as yours, $20 would be a small price to pay to make her comfortable. Do I hear $25? $30? Two. Having spent two innings walking around that absolutely awesome embodiment of the House that Jeter built (Yankees were up 6-2 and then some), I stood in a number of locations, under cover, all around the stadium, without “harassment” and watched the last few innings of the game. Three. Pay for better seats to begin with. Are you a cheapskate, especially where the comfort of your wife is at stake? Couldn’t you secure seats in a more protected section of the Stadium? Well, maybe I should not be so critical. Maybe I should put myself in your shoes, (I hope you are getting the full circle concept here!!!) maybe you have reasons for sitting in the bleachers.
One. You are a bleacher creature. Two. The chance of catching an A Bomb from A Rod is your ultimate thrill. Three. You like that view of a game. Four. Well I’m hoping that’s enough. Maybe the guard had his reasons, as primitive as you think they may have been. I have made my point. Well…maybe not quite. I have endured a few adventurous and not so memorable incidents in my years of attending Yankee games, including a rather rude auto accident and some very dramatic landings in Newark Philly and DC. That’s about a 6000 mile journey for me. My game list consists of many memories. One of the Toppers. A grand slam A Bomb from ARod to right in the old stadium. The ball flew by right in front of us. Nice. It’s really too bad that the A list of your memoirs of that game does not include the performances of Jeet or Tex or ARod or JHair or AJ or Joba or any of the gang. At least you got your wife in there, she sure deserves it. The guard did not. Let it go.

Mr Preisler…
My apologies.
In my post I seem to have misspelled your name.
May Joe Girardi’s mission be accomplished this year…
#27.

I thought this was a piece of exemplary journalism, filled with genuine insights and the kind of decent honesty we need. It doesn’t detract from the game and it’s not mean-spirited in any way.

Thanks for this valuable contribution.

JP,
There were some interesting responses to your column here – including your follow-up response. Let me throw in my two cents now.
When it comes to protecting our spouses, some guys, like you and I, are a bit old-fashioned – thank God. Had it been me and Julie, I would have handled it very similarly – except you have your column to use as a weapon. I don’t have a column, but I do have tenacity. I would have been willing to miss the rest of the game, so I could look for someone to overrule this moron. If I failed to find that person, I would have done the research the next business-day, to find the highest name on the Yankee totem-pole that I could complain to, and would have done my damnedest to complain about this guy, AND THE POLICY. I would have made the point that if this guy thought it was his job to hassle a paying customer this way, while missing the actions of an actual thief in the process, than (a) he doesn’t deserve the job, and (b) the policy needs changing. It might be worth it if you were to do a little research yourself on this topic, and write a follow-up column, concerning really stupid security procedures instituted at the new Stadium, as this is the third or fourth story I’ve heard since they opened the building, concerning Gestapo policies being enforced at this place, which accomplish nothing more than hurting the feelings of paying fans, while perhaps boosting the feelings of minor Stadium functionaries.

When I first read the excerpt for this on another blog, I thought, “Good for him!” It’s about time someone called out ####### stadium security guards for needlessly kicking the wrong people out of games.

Then I read the article, and the security guard just asked him to go back to the section for which he had a ticket.

That guard IS doing his job. That guard shouldn’t give two brass buttons about this guy or his wife, but about his next paycheck. I used to be an employee of Securitas, the Yankees security contractor, and believe me, they are not shy about canning people. There are thousands of other unemployed people with no skills who would love to get paid $13/hr to stand around Yankee stadium if this guy doesn’t want to do his job, believe me.

Now, should Yankee Stadium have a more liberal security policy? Absolutely, I think. But don’t ask this poor hourly wage shlub to violate his boss’s rules and risk his own livelihood because your wife is cold, and then write a jerky column about him the next day. What a ####### unbelievable sense of mean spirited entitlement you have, sir. You really should be ashamed of yourself.

So, in short, I think the columnist here needs a little bit of perspective. Imagine: your boss tells you “these are the rules, and there are no exceptions.” What do you do in this situation? This security guard might have a wife, too. And Kids. And you expect him to do…what exactly? Risk his job to give you a special favor? Sheesh. Get over yourself.

If they give you Lemons, make lemonade. Rambling musings
.
Jerome, please keep telling it like it is. I am a season ticket holder of the 12 game plan and a former “Sunday” plan ticket holder. Sunday games suited me best because I have to drive 3 hours to and from upstate NY.

Well, there is no more Sunday plan at the new stadium. I am not sure if it is because the Sunday games fetch more money in another package or the included opening day and Old Timers day tickets were just too valuable to throw in to the Sunday package. Whatever. We all know it is a business first and formost. No more Sunday package ,ok, that’s the reality. Oh by the way, the other reality is that my new 12 game package came as is, take it or leave it, I didn’t get to pick the games. I was told these (midweek) games are the ones you get to see. Ok, I accepted that too.
So I paid the $1800 for my 2 seats and went to the games. My enthusiasm not even dampened… yet.

At my first game in April I went to buy a lemonade at the lemonade stand near my section. The youg girl there was very nice but could not accomodate me beacause she did not have a knife to cut the lemons. She told me to come back later. It was early and this was my first visit to the Stadium so I revisited the lemonade stand a few times. I was walking around enjoying the new stadium. I suppose I could have gone gone in search of another lemonade stand. After several subsequent visits to the lemonade girl, I had the bright idea to try and help rectify the situation.

I went to the customer service booth and explained the situation to them and asked if they could call the right person and get this lemonade girl a knife to cut the lemons. The customer service representative told me that they didn’t really do things like that because their job was to respond to customer “problems”. That is when it hit me. I am in a time warp. I am Arlo Guthrie and am in Alice”s restuarant (deep in the red sox territory), not Yankee Stadium. The problem here is that people are not trained. This new stadium was built and staffed so quickly that staff are not trained. Your security guard story brings the point home again. Well, I never did get my lemonade that day, although I did leave with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

I will not be renewing my season tickets although I am still an ardent Yankee fan. Every time I looked down and saw all those empty seats behind home plate I realized that the average everyday fan is being priced out of the market. Sure, you should cater to the corporate suite people. But don’t forget the real fans. If you leave them behind in your rush for the dollar you will destroy our (the fan’s) precious game eventually.

I hope I am wrong, but but I have a premonition. It is the year 2021 and all Yankee games are pay per view. The fans in the stadium seats are cardboard cutouts or maybe robots( it is 2081 and I am long dead). Congratulations! You did it. You eliminated the “fan” from the balance sheet!

I believe everybody has made very valid points in the discussion above. I just wanted to try to clarify the point I made earlier. I think you were justified in your actions in writing this article. I just think it could have been handled in a better way that did not continue to perpetuate the rude behavior that was taking place. The security guard was a jerk to you, so you were a jerk back to him. That may square the situation, and it may give you satisfaction, but in the end, you both end up being hurt. If the main aim of your article is to shed light on the low quality of service offered by some of the staff at Yankee stadium and help out ?everyman,? then I applaud you for your goal. I think it is a noble one. I just think you could have found a way to do it with out pointing your finger at this one security guard. I understand that your column is about your personal experiences as a fan, but you could have told the story without making it obvious where it took place and who was at fault. Maybe you could have tied in negative experiences from some of the other visitors to the stadium you have spoken with if your goal was really to shine a light on the larger problem instead of focusing on this one incident.

In our lives, especially when we live in a city like this one, we are going to interact with a great number of people. Unfortunately, not all of those people we interact with are going to harness their inner Joe DiMaggio and act like there is some kid is watching them for the first time and therefore always give their best. Sometimes people have rough days and they take it out on other people. It doesn?t mean that they don?t deserve their jobs. You had a rough day at the Yankee game, and you decided to take it out on the security guard, whatever your motivation was. I doubt you would suggest you losing your job for behaving in a similar manner as the guard did. I just hope that in the future, when someone mistreats you, you can find a way to forgive them or forget about them, instead of mistreating them in return.

Appreciate the comments, both positive and the thoughtful negative ones. I think everyone’s said their piece and I’ve benefited from the exchange.

Bronxdisaster, my email address is readermail@jeromepreisler.com. Give me a holler there if you’re inclined.

Let’s face it – if you had seats in the moat, you would have been treated very differently.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: