I've now had the quintessential American experience: I've been to a baseball game at Yankee stadium. Woohoo!
We arrive at Yankee Stadium!
A native New Yorker friend took us to the game. Bill knows everything there is to know about baseball, but has a healthy cynicism when it comes to the "hokey-ness" of the overall experience. He was the perfect guide.
It's the game crowd and the going-home-from-work crowd on the number 4 train uptown. It takes about an hour and as we finally spill out at 161st street, the legions of cops heavily armed with military style assault rifles make me suddenly think: aaargghhh 40,000 people in a stadium - perfect terrorist target. Yikes!
Inside Yankee Stadium
Who's on first?
But it's not our night to die for either terrorism or American sports.
And what's more, we have fun, although the cheese could not be laid on any thicker. Stand and sing the national anthem, hand over heart, before play commences. At the top of the 7th inning we recognise and applaud tonight's chosen one - not a sports hero, a combat veteran. Yes, two tours in the Middle East and we thank you for your service. All stand and sing God Bless America, hand on heart again. It strikes me that Vietnam vets must be sooooo pissed off at the glory and gratitude bestowed on current servicemen and women after the way they've been treated.
Tonight's American hero
The game recommences with a rousing chorus of Take Me Out to The Ballgame, a song that's been on my mind all day - even though I don't know the words. All the while we eat Nathan's famous hot dogs with mustard and ketchup, drink appallingly bad American beer, have a round of Nathan's fried chicken, drink more beer and lap up the atmosphere.
Hot dogs, French fries and chicken
Hundreds of people, kids and adults alike, are sporting catcher's mitts, believing they'll be the one lucky enough to catch a fly ball or boundary breaking strike. Anyway, there are balls to spare. As soon as a ball touches the ground it is replaced. Doesn't matter if it was dropped, hit, or used for practice. Into the crowd it goes and a brand spanking new ball takes its place. The umpire, crouching behind the catcher, has an endless supply in his pouch - it's like Santa dispensing gifts from his sack.
The Yankees beat the Red Sox eight runs to zero so it's a good night for New Yorkers. The crush on the subway home is worse, if that's possible, than the way there. But it's a good natured crowd - after all, we're winners! Thank God it was only three or so hours, not five days