Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Yankee Invasion

Left work Monday just after five and headed west. Traffic wasn't bad, about normal. Parked across the street from the stadium and made it to the rightfield gate around 5:25. Not sure when the gates were opening but I was able to walk around the park past three more closed gates (with lines of fans waiting to get inside) and enter the open Chop House Gate.
When I entered the metal detector went off - I'd left a penny in my pocket. Once inside I ran right into Blooper, and he gladly obliged my request for a picture.
The Yankees were taking BP so I stopped by the crowded left field bleachers to watch. I'd missed the sluggers, so few balls came into the stands. The wind blew the protective netting over.
Chatting with an usher, I learned some bad news: over the winter elderly usher Dianne Burge had passed away. So popular that she'd been the subject of a Braves video. Dianne will be missed.

I arrived at our dugout level seats not long after Blake, Chris, and Zack. Fortunately the ushers were chasing away all the Yankee fans unsuccessfully trying to get autographs (below). 
I'd made sure to wear my Braves home cap and scarf so there would be no confusion who I was rooting for. This didn't help when Yankee first baseman Neil Walker looked into the crowd for someone to toss a ball to. He looked right past me and threw the ball to a Yankee fan. This security guard took his job seriously - he was stretching before the game (below).
As the players threw and stretched rookie sensation Aaron Judge loped out to warm up. The first thing he did when he arrived in centerfield was to take a knee, bow, and pray - Tebowing, if you will. I fumbled with my gloves to take a picture, but he had already stood back up (below). Eventually I pocketed my mittens so I could take pictures, more than usual due to our great seats in row eight.
On his way back to the dugout Judge stopped to sign autographs.
A mob quickly gathered, so for fun I got closer to snap some pictures.
Everything the Yankees did drew a crowd. Several snapped pictures as catcher Gary Sanchez warmed up in the outfield.
I'd missed the relievers taking their stroll out to the bullpen (due to the 47 degree weather they probably took the tunnel). I did catch the starting pitcher, catcher Sanchez, the picturing coach, and three security guards (?) return from the bullpen before the game.
Judge is just a big kid. So fun to watch. In the bottom of the first Stanton hustled out to his position in the outfield. Behind him Judge sprinted to catch up, ran with Stanton for a bit, then veered off toward right field, only to veer off again to shake hands with the second base umpire. After that I took a few videos of Judge running in and out, but aside front chattering on the dugout steps, he kept it straight. Video to follow.
Just-signed Ryan Flaherty started at third base for the Braves, wearing number 27. I had predicted rookie Ronald Acuna would wear that number. Now its down to 23, 9, or 13. I forgot to ask Braves Clubhouse Store employees, who might have the info. Flaherty is Nick Markakis' brother in law.
In his second at bat 2017 NL MVP Stanton smashed at long home run onto the Hank Aaron terrace. From my vantage point it appeared to clear the Ballpark Classics concession stand behind the left field bleachers - meaning it was hit out of the stadium. Longest SunTrust Park home run by a righthanded hitter. Stanton now has five homers in 46 plate appearances at SunTrust Park.
After Judge and Stanton batted for a third time (Judge doubled, Stanton struck out) we took Zack out to see the memorial garden, and warmed up in the Braves Clubhouse Store. Zach had already spent his money on beer, but Blake and Chris bought Braves caps. I wasn't ready to buy a Stripers cap, so I bought some cool Braves socks. Wearing them today.
Chris, Blake, and Zack then left through the Left Field Gate. My exit was on the other side of the stadium, so on my way around I signed up to be a designated driver (to get the Coke) as well as the Chevrolet "Chop On" headband/scarf/headwarmer. Remarkably, I didn't see one person I knew besides my coworkers. The Coach was there, but I missed them. Forgot to visit my other usher friend at the First Base Gate.
Memorial brick of the day: the mustachioed Danny Frisella. On the way home I cashed in a BOGO coupon at Hardees for a delicious third pound thickburger. Saved one for Tuesday lunch.

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