October in New York has its own air
Nine-year-old Tim Marcus watches batting pratice before Game 3. AP
CNN/SI.com senior writer John Donovan is on-site at Yankee Stadium at New York. He is filing these reports during the run-up to Game 3 of the World Series.
By John Donovan, CNN/SI
IN THE AUXILIARY PRESS BOX -- The band outside is blaring. They're four deep in the beer lines, the air in the smoking area is as thick as a Newark morning. People are walking faster, the din is already growing. It's October in Yankee Stadium.
The World Series has switched from the sedate South to raucous New York, and that means nothing but trouble for the Atlanta Braves. Nothing they've done, this side of the 1996 season, can prepare them for what they are about to go through.
Braves reliever John Rocker just got a tremendous boo from the crowd, Chipper Jones got one almost as big ... New York, always on the edge, is about to explode. The Braves just have to hope they can stand clear long enough to survive.
The New York Yankees are being introduced. The crowd is standing. Game 3 is about to start.
This one's critical, for everyone involved. And, if the Braves don't win, you can go ahead and put them on the critical list. And blame it on New York.
Yankees fans hate Rocker, too
WITH MY NEW PALS IN DA BLEACHERS -- That darned train just went by again and I can't hear the guy next to me. But I don't have to have the gift of hearing to understand the language of his clothing. His name is Lenny Magnella, and he's wearing a T-shirt that -- with a very, very rude verb -- combines the name of Atlanta's best reliever and its manager.
Think about it.
Larry's in the bleachers with his cousin, Anthony Eaderesto. They are not full-fledged Bleacher Creatures, but they come out here regularly.
"Rocker's done," Eaderesto said. "He tried to suck up to Yankee fans, but it's too late."
It's starting to get typically rowdy out here, and the beer is already big-time. The game is barely a half hour away.
A price to pay
IN THE RIGHT-FIELD BLEACHERS (AGAIN) -- Tony DiMarco and his son, Austin, are making their first trips into the famed right-field bleachers for tonight's game.
It gets a little blue up here at times -- just ask any right-fielder in the American League -- but DiMarco isn't worried that Austin will hear some things he shouldn't.
"They're pretty good fans out here. They even have some seniors," he said, motioning at some elderly gentlemen sitting behind them. "I think we'll be fine."
DiMarco paid $375 apiece for his two tickets; the face value is $40 each.
"I've got three daughters crying at home," the father said. "This is no equal opportunity thing here."
User question: What's with all this talk about team of the decade? As the 20th century comes to a close, do you really think anybody cares about who the team of the decade is? The Yankees are the obvious choice for team of the century. I understand the networks need to spice up the series but even if the Braves win (which they will not) that will make 4 teams with 2 titles each this decade (Reds, Blue Jays, Yankees & Braves) with no real dominant team. The Braves may have won a lot of games but so have the Bills (in football), we all know its titles that count and the Braves have choked too many times to be called the dominant team of the decade.
A media creation, Jason? How dare you accuse us of that!
Sure it is. Everyone wants to measure teams over time, and at the end of the decade, that makes a convenient measuring stick. Is there a clear winner? Well, by everything but World Series wins, you'd have to say the Braves. But the argument goes, isn't that's what playing is all about-to win the big one?
Just for the record, the Reds won in '90, and the Braves will end up with only one World Series title (in '95). The Blue Jays won two and Yankees are close to winning their third, with Minnesota and Florida taking the others (there was no Series played in '94).
Team of the Decade? Sure it's hype. But that's one of the best parts of sports.
Yankee Stadium is a place of history
SITTING IN THE RIGHT-FIELD SEATS, 314 FEET FROM HOME PLATE -- One thing folks in New York are willing to do is talk.
I ran into Bill Kirchner, who's been an usher for some 29 years at Yankee Stadium. Kirchner is working the right-field stands tonight, the shortest park of the park.
"We are hard out here. Very hard," Kirchner, of Yonkers, said. "But we're fair. We'll clap for a good play, even when Braves make it -- if they make a good play."
Kirchner greets everybody who comes into the section and is too willing to tell anyone who passes by the history of his 29 years at Yankee Stadium. He was there for Dave Righetti's no-hitter in 1980. He was there when Lou Piniella started that fight against Red Sox (remember he barreled over Pudge Fisk at the plate).
But that is what being a Yankee fan is all about. History, and talking about history.
User question: Why is Bobby Cox griping about the strike zone? His pitchers get the benefit of the doubt almost every time. El Duque and David Cone just went out there and baffled them. What do you think?
Nothing makes a manager look weaker than complaining about the strike zone in a game in which his team was clearly beaten. Yeah, there were some close calls in Game 1. But they were for both sides. Fact is, no one works the umps better than Cox and his staff. Braves' pitchers have a well-deserved reputation for being able to paint the black. That doesn't mean they don't miss it once in a while.
The edge goes to New York
FROM THE YANKEE STADIUM FIELD -- The World Series is all about competition. So let's get this rumble readied.
This is Yankee Stadium, where the numbers of 14 Yankees greats are retired behind the left field wall in a revered spot known as Monument Park.
That is Turner Field, the place where Henry Aaron smashed his 715th home run is memorialized with a huge plaque -- in a parking lot where the old stadium used to stand.
This is a place where the train runs behind the outfield wall and bleacher bums, on real bleachers, cheer the Yanks' every move.
That is a place where suits drive up to the stadium, sit in cushy air-conditioned boxes and leave before the game is over-when they show up at all.
This is a place where the great Mickey Mantle once played center field. That is a place where Andruw Jones once -- still does -- roam center, near the parking lot where Dale Murphy and Henry Aaron once played the outfield.
New York is a place where 24 World Series championships have been won.
Atlanta is a place where three World Series championships have been lost in this decade alone. Coming up on four, maybe.
It's unfair to compare the two cities and the two venues, really, as unfair as it is to compare the Yankees and the Braves. But that's where we are, just hours before Game 3 of the 1999 World Series. Atlanta and New York, head to head.
By almost any measure, the Yanks are kicking the stuffing out of the Braves. Here and there.
FROM THE MEDIA ROOM -- Bobby Cox talked at reporters before Game 3, revealing that he'll put Jose Hernandez in as designated hitter and go back to the same lineup he used in Game 1.
He also said his players feel a lot better about how they'll hit after taking some off-day batting practice Monday.
"In their minds," Cox said, "they swung the bats well."
What are they going to tell Cox? "We stunk it up, skip." We don't think so.
Out in right field
IN THE BLEACHERS AT YANKEE STADIUM -- Some 2 1/2 hours before the game, the Yankees were on the field at venerable Yankee Stadium, taking batting practice under the lights as the bleachers began to fill up.
Some of the early arriving fans lined the rails in the bleachers and in the shortest part of the park, the right-field porch, just 314 feet down the line. The bleacher denizens -- Bleacher Creatures, as they're called -- are famed for cheering on the Yankees and giving the opponents a hard time, too.
Chipper Jones will get some grief, and Braves right fielder Brian Jordan (0-for-7 in this Series) is liable to hear some, too. That, of course, is life in New York.
Yankee Stadium is a place like few others in sports. Football has Lambeau Field. Basketball has Madison Square Garden. But the old venues, where watching the game was the thing, are fading fast, replaced by theme parks with a playing field.
The amenities stink here, it's not in the greatest part of the city and parts of the old girl are crumbling.
In fact, there's little to do here -- but enjoy the game and yell.