Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thoughts from the Yankee Stadium Bleachers

...the only place in the world where it's acceptable to wear a Carl Pavano Yankee jersey. (And it's at least even odds that that kid has worn that jersey more than Carl ever did.)

Fresh off the Couchwarmers getting even more Matsui-related PR, I figured I'd check out a game in person and be on the lookout for some more slightly off-color signs. The lengths that we go to for our readers...

It was a beautiful day for baseball. 70 degrees, not a cloud in the sky nor a care or a job in the world. My friend Josh, who recently obtained membership to the exclusive 9.7%, accompanied me on a journey to the South Bronx to watch the Yankees play the Angels. It was Josh's first trip to Yankee Stadium so I figured I'd indulge him in all the gluttony the establishment has to offer.

Yesterday, I posted about the difficulty of selecting lunch options when you're unemployed. The great thing about Yankee games is that you don't have to choose -- you just march from concession stand to concession stand and dabble. At baseball games, you worry about home runs and RBIs, not calories. We were there to eat, and eat we did.

Before entering the gates, I made sure to email Albert, the Couchwarmers' ambassador to southeast Asia and food consigliere, to ask what our food options would be. Naturally, he responded almost immediately: "Where are your seats? If you don't have the premium ones then you're stuck with garlic fries, lobels ($15 roast beef sandwiches), carl's cheese steaks and brother jimmy's. Nothing too special." (Note: if any of you ever make it onto Who Wants to be a Millionaire? or some other trivia show and there happens to be a question about food, call Albert. This is a guy who can recite all of the McDonalds extra value meals in sequential order in multiple languages. He won't let you down.)

Our gameplan was to gorge for about an hour before the game and then make quick concession trips (or "eat and runs," in baseball lingo) during the 5th and 7th innings. As members of the 9.7, we were acutely aware of the stadium's prices. 10 dollar beers? Too rich for our blood. We'll take two $5 lemonades instead. (We were wearing a pastel polo shirt and a v-neck t-shirt, respectively, so our manliness was questioned by some well before we asked the server for two fresh-squeezed lemonades.) $15 sandwiches from Lobel's? They better be slicing that beef in front of me if they're gonna justify those prices. Oh right, they actually do that. Nevermind, we'll save Lobel's for next time.

We started our artery-clogging excursion at approximately 12:18 PM, about 45 minutes before first pitch, with a visit to Brother Jimmy's for some pulled pork sandwiches, big enough to suffice as a meal for some but not us, not today. After Brother Jimmy's, we were pondering our next move when we passed what had to have been our third Famiglia Pizza. Josh and I remarked that Famiglia Pizza is a restaurant that you walk past when you're starving on a Saturday night in the Meatpacking District. There are about 87,000 better pizza places in New York City. What business does Famiglia Pizza have taking up valuable real estate at Yankee Stadium? I'm convinced that the Steinbrenners own Famiglia Pizza or, if not, that there's something going on under the table between the owner of Famiglia Pizza and the Steinbrenners. There's no other rationale I can think of for why they have such a strong presence at Yankee Stadium.

Josh and I needed to blow off some Famiglia steam and we found the perfect place to do so: Hard Rock Cafe.

We took one look at the menu and knew we were destined to split the jumbo appetizer sampler. Three spring rolls, four chicken wings, three potato skins, four onion rings, four chicken fingers and all the condiments you could possibly want. We polished that bad boy off like it was nothing (and of course we preempted any guilt we might have had later by eating the lettuce it was served with. Everybody knows that eating vegetables makes up for eating large quantities of fried foods.)

Well, we made it back to our seats just in time for the first pitch and ready for our next eat and run. The fifth inning came and that meant it was time to refill our lemonades. While walking up the bleachers, we heard a fan yell to a vendor, "Are you the beer guy?" The vendor replied, "No, I'm the ice cream guy. I wish I were the beer guy, though. Maybe in 20 years."

That got me thinking: is there really a vendors' pecking order? The ice cream guy mentioned that he might be the beer guy in 20 years so does that mean he rises up the vending ladder until then? Do you start off as the cotton candy guy and then get promoted to being the ice cream guy then the peanuts guy then the Cracker Jack guy and then finally the beer guy?

7th inning came around and we were off to try the garlic fries. Our review: delicious...even if we had to force each crinkly piece into our mouths. Try them the next time you go to a Yankee game. Or just throw some garlic onto your fries the next time you order them. It was a great way to cap off a fulfilling day of ballpark feasting. Far more fun than watching Javy Vazquez pitch.

The Yankees lost, but we won. I'm sure I'll go to another game (probably like next week) to hit up Lobel's, Carl's and some of the other spots we missed (except definitely not Famiglia). Until then, I'm gonna go do some sit-ups.

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