Sunday, July 19, 2009

Down in Mazzola Town

[Note: this is a much less graphic description of the events following Saturday's Yankees-Tigers game. For a more detailed account, I encourage you to check out Lee's Steez.]

My first visit to the new Yankee Stadium with Lee Mazzola was an eventful one. We've been going to a game or two a year at the stadium since 2001. The original plan to go to a Yanks-Sox game annually in each city was hatched when I stayed at his place to run in the 2000 New York City Marathon, I believe.

The Boston part of that tradition only lasted two years, but probably saw more truly memorable moments—Mike Mussina's near-perfect game, our subsequent and unwarranted banishment from a Fenway area tavern, the unexpected premature birth of El-squared's daughter—than the games in New York. Lee has also visited Fenway two more times since, once with Mz. Mazz as my wedding gift to them, and another time when an unfortunate coincidence resulted in him wearing a green Yankees hat on the same night that the Red Sox donned their uniforms of the same color as a tribute to Red Auerbach.

Yesterday was also the first time I’ve sat in Lee’s new seats. I always liked his seats at the old stadium—in the upper deck but almost directly behind home plate, and only a few seats from the aisle—and his new seats aren't bad either. They are the second-to-last row in the stadium, a little further down the third base line, and right in the middle of a long row of seats, but considering the travesty that is the pricing structure at the new park, they’re a relative bargain. As Lee and I were talking about at the game, if he can move down to the lower part of the section for the same price next year, this would make them on par with the old ones.

A bet regarding who sings the line "Subdivisions" on the Rush song of the same name carried over from prior to the game at the Mazzola household to the sports bar afterwards. Both Mz. Mazz and I said it was Alex Lifeson, while Lee contended it was Neil Peart. We tried several different sources, but received conflicting reports. Although Lifeson sings the line in the video and in live shows, several sources say it was Toronto newscaster Mark Dailey on the original recording that appears on 1982's Signals, although Dailey claims that's an urban myth. In the end, we still don't know the answer, and I'm not sure if we ever will.

All beer snobbery is out the window when I go to a Yankees game with Mazz, but my decision to switch to Guinness for my third and fourth beers—one for which I have to credit Lee's influence—turned out to be a wise move. I have to admit that I didn't think I was in the mood to drink Guinness on such a hot day, but it hit the spot so much better than Bud Light did.

The game itself was a good one. In fact, it was the second pitchers' duel I've witnessed in just as many games at a park that already is developing a reputation for being a hitters' haven. C.C. Sabathia labored somewhat, throwing 116 pitches in seven innings, but managed to escape every threat without giving up a run. Justin Verlander matched him zero-for-zero until giving up two runs in the bottom of the 7th, on an Alex Rodriguez home run and a Melky Cabrera infield single that scored Robinson Cano. With Phil Hughes unavailable after his two-inning, six-strikeout performance on Friday night, Alfredo Aceves gave up a solo homer to Marcus Thames in the 8th. But, that was all the offense the Tigers could muster as Mariano Rivera closed out the 9th of a 2-1 Yankees victory.

Of course, it was the post-game that was the most memorable part of the day, as Lee had a minor medical emergency. I say minor because it wasn't a life-or-death situation, but judging by his description of the pain and discomfort he experienced, I hardly think he considered it minor. But, as I already said, I'll let you read what Lee has to say about that.

While Mz. Mazz left with Lee for a late-night rendezvous with his dedicated physician—who I must say deserves no less than to be considered a credit to his profession—I stayed behind with Lee Jr. I was, of course, a little nervous about taking care of the little guy, but far from as concerned as I was for his dad. Amazingly enough, Lee seemed like a new man when he and Mz. Mazz returned in less than two hours, and LJ was fast asleep in his crib.

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