There’s something about entering the gates of Yankee Stadium that turns off all sense of practicality and decorum. Despite the close to freezing temperatures, Sunday night, was the second game of the team’s 2022 season, and who were they playing? Their archrival, Boston. Already my Metro North game-train was filled with mobs of teenage and college age Yankee fans, already with bottles and cans in hand, raising a ruckus as they collected in the only train car with a working bathroom. Shouts of “Go Yankees!” would be heard bellowing down the aisles. Like St. Patty’s Day, but with pinstripes and baseball caps. Practicality aside, maybe the sense of decorum was turned off long before game time.
It’s an easy walk from the Metro North train station to the gates, and the entry process was smooth and calm. They’re still going through backpacks and having guests walk through the metal detectors, but the workers are friendly and efficient. No more paper tickets, we showed our phones and the QR code and moved on. (Alas, no more ticket stubs for my bulletin board anymore: the combination of technology, and Covid protocols.) The temps had to be close to the 30’s with the wind coming across the field, and besides a winter jacket, we had scarves, gloves, and a blanket.
The stadium was packed, with few seats empty from our vantage point and the crowd was cooperative at every prompt to go berserk, whether to clap, chant “Let’s Go Yankees!” or act like a doofus when the stadium cameras panned the crowd. The more the camera panned, the goofier the people became though it does keep the energy up between innings or when the players congregate to discuss field strategy; I enjoyed every minute of it. Even if you’re not even interested in baseball, attending a Yankee game is a true evening of entertainment. There’s action in front of us as batters and baseballs come and go, but behind us, in the hallways, there are families choosing among the array of available food, groups of friends standing around the bar seemingly not aware they’re at a baseball stadium, parents negotiating with their 10-year-old on why they should visit the bathroom now while the opposing side is up a bat. TV screens blast each inning while we wait on the ginormous line to get a bacon on a stick (yes, that was an item available – my daughter says ‘bacon is in’). No one misses a play or a pitch.
A few tips: there are fewer personnel roaming the aisles with boxes of hotdogs, or other types of cooked food on their heads, so if you’re going hungry, get your food early in the game. The lines seemed to get longer as the night went on. Cash didn’t seem to be accepted at any of the registers, only credit/debit/Apple Pay. Don’t even ask how much something costs. If you must ask, then skip it. My foot long Sabrett’s hot dog and can of Stella Artois came to about $25, but it’s like buying popcorn at the movies – it goes hand in hand with the event, and something about the atmosphere, makes it tastier.
Ah, it’s great to have baseball back in town.
Another sign of Spring can be found on Roosevelt Island, for what NewYorkSimply.com calls the “best spot for cherry blossoms in New York City,” and the most fabulous views of the Manhattan skyline. The Roosevelt Island Tram was crowded with mask-wearing riders, and upon exiting, we all headed south towards the Yoshino and Kwanzan trees and the gorgeous canopy of pink blooms.
Beyond the trees, and the selfies and family photos being taken, is the majestic Four Freedoms Park, a place that seemed to capture the attention of my fellow travelers. Whether for the views, or to read the inspirational words that FDR spoke at his eighth State of Union address, the crowds lingered.
This speech, its words carved in marble, has significance today as it invokes the days preceding our entry into WWII, when America kept a distance from world affairs; in the speech, FDR declared the four freedoms: of speech and expression, of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. It was difficult not to think of our fellows waging war back on that same eastern Europe battlefield.
Since the Island, from tip to tip, is less than two miles long, and the Queens and Manhattan views provide a striking background, it makes for a lovely afternoon walk. Estimates are that it takes about three miles to walk the loop, or you can hop on/hop off the free red bus line or grab a city bike to tour the landmarks on this small-town version of the Big Apple. Grab a bite along Main Street before you head back either on the Tram, the ferry or the F train.
Tips: It’s best to have your Metro Card before you get to the Tram. You’ll wait on a long line to get one at the kiosk. The card can also be used for the ferry, and of course, the subway. Since you’ll be spending most your time outdoors, check the weather forecast.
Photos by MJ Hanley-Goff