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UConn, Army and a day at Yankee Stadium

POSTED November 09, 2014
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

            NEW YORK – Okay, I made the trek to Yankee Stadium Saturday, family in tow. This was spectator stuff, no official press duties. It kind of seemed like the thing to do. Mr.Gaffney and Mr. Tiscia had the game coverage so I was relaxing.

 No school Monday, students replaced by some high quality professional development I’m sure, wherever that factors in. I had never been to the `new’ Yankee Stadium and I was actually curious to see how UConn would fare against Army, having seen the Cadets lose to Yale in a real fun game to watch earlier in the season.
            So some observations if you will.

TAILGATING – Sucked. Let me clarify before my family throws me off the top of the parking garage where we parked.  Look, the company was great and the food and beverage more than satisfying. I’m just not used to overthrowing your receiver and that ball ending up on the Major Deegan Expressway.

And where was the bucolic manicured grass of Yale Bowl. Instead we got a cement carpet with parking spots. Have you ever tried hammering tent pegs into cement? (We didn’t either but I noted that it wasn’t possible). You know, something was missing.  Just not a lot of ambiance.

I know we are in the middle of the city, but couldn’t they have laid down some artificial turf or something to make us feel better? Plus we had to walk across the street to change the oil. One positive, we were a two-minute walk from the Stadium.    

YANKEE STADIUM – Nice. But no wow factor. Outside of a large photo of Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth when we walked in, the brilliant historical smell of Yankee history wasn’t there. Maybe it being November and football had a part in it all, but it was just another nice ballpark.

I could go on about the prices. My son wanted chicken sliders and French fries and I had to call my banker to co-sign for a loan. Twelve bucks for a beer in the bar. You could go broke long before you could get drunk.

High marks for the cushioned seats however. My butt was pleased. Comfort level was great. I just wish I had the seats for a baseball game, section 115, good stuff. On the other hand, I’m not a Yankee fan.

I also liked the idea of the police with the Oozies out front. Made me feel protected.

All that being said, I bow to the fact that Fenway and a lot of other parks aren’t any better price-wise.   

STADIUM BAR – After sitting in moderate cold for the first half and watching UConn do nothing. I needed to warm up and move. The bar is huge and offers a nice view of the field. Got to like that. Plus I was carded. Pretty cool when your balding and passed your 18th and 21st birthday long before the Berlin Wall came down. She didn’t look at my license, but I was feeling pretty good about it anyway.

Funny thing about ordering a beer, though, you are constantly reaching in your pockets to pay for the damn thing. Can you say one and done? There was some side entertainment as four guys standing next me were arguing about New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin and whether he should stay and go. Giants and Jet fans. Thick Bronx accents, more entertaining than the first half.

Actually spent the whole third quarter here, simply because of the warmth. Just enough to take the chill out of the bones.

ARMY / CADETS – Any game with a service academy is good stuff.  There is a large dose of pride in the stadium and it stays with you. I have been to the last two Army – Navy games in Philadelphia and when the cadets and midshipmen march on the field it is goose bump time.

They do it on a smaller scale here, but it still grabs you.  They march, you admire and say thanks. Three army skydivers jumping out of their helicopter at 3,500 feet and landing perfectly in what is short center field in the warmer months. And then just the mass of gray in the finery taking up a good section of seats at one end of the field.

A helicopter circle of the stadium, a patriotic halftime singing menu with some big-time help from the UConn band. It is always stirring and never gets old. My dad would have loved it.

UCONN – Part of the attraction of this game was to see how the Huskies would do after watching Yale put 625 yards of offense on the board and beat the Cadets, 49-43 in overtime. For almost four full quarters the Huskies did nothing.

Army’s option offense chewed up huge amounts of time off the clock and put the ball in the end zone four times. UConn’s defense did not give up the big plays that Yale did against Army, but it did not stop the Cadets either.

Here’s the difference. Yale’s offense is much better. Much better. Tyler Varga is the best running back in the state and Morgan Roberts is a top notch QB. This is one year that Yale could play with UConn.

The Huskies made a valiant comeback in the final four minutes and almost got the game into overtime, but the bottom line? They just aren’t very good.

DUMMIES – That would be us – my family and a couple of friends. When Army scored with just over four minutes left to go ahead, 28-14, we committed the sin. We left. I know, you would think after covering sports for 35 yards I would know better. Guess not.

After driving around in circles before finding the right way home, my son Jonathan says, “Hey dad some guy from Army just had a pick-six, ran it back 99 yards.” I’m thinking, big deal. I did not realize that UConn had scored before that and a touchdown would have tied the game.

So, we missed the best part. Shame on us. Of course I’m not sure how many UConn fans made their annual departure at halftime and missed the entire second half. It was New York and Yankee Stadium so maybe more stayed than usual.”    

SUMMATION – Thanks Army. Nice stadium but I’ll take Camden Yards and Fenway although the seats were better here. Great music. I hate driving in the city. UConn is what it is this season which isn’t very good. Good bar.  Nice way to spend a less a pretty mild November Saturday afternoon.  Next week: Yale and Princeton at Yale Bowl.           

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