Yankees Batting Practice is Dangerous!
The first couple games we attended at spring training we were running around the outskirts, talking with fans and hosting a make-shift trivia game show.
Once done with those tasks we were finally able to get inside the park early enough to catch batting practice.
We actually got there too early and had to watch a couple innings of fantasy camp. If you don’t know what fantasy camp is, it’s when a bunch of rich adults pay to take batting practice and play a couple innings on the field.
I’m not gonna act like I would look any more impressive out there than they did. And I’m not going to act like I wouldn’t want to do it if I could afford it.
It looked fun to do.
It was miserable to watch.
Just awful. Dropped pop-ups. Spiked throws. Swings and misses galore.
After the rich slubs were done fulfilling their paid-for-fantasy-life the rich athletes came out to practice the fantasy they get paid to live.
The outfield is the only part of the stadium that is open during batting practice. It’s a small patio type deck with chairs and tables. People are crowded around and there isn’t much escape once you are there.
The first group to hit this day consisted of Hicks, Gardner, Walker and Didi.
I’m no ball hawk. I wasn’t out there with a glove in hand and my shoes tied tight. It wasn’t my goal to film myself catching seven balls and then film myself giving six away to little kids.
But I’d be a lying sack of shit to say I didn’t want to go after ever ball at full speed. It’s just something innate inside me. Catching balls is fun.
When I was a kid I had a 7 game stretch where I got a batting practice or warm up ball during a Yankees game. I may be older now but a little bit of the fire still gets lit when I see a fresh batting practice ball flying to my general area.
The first home run came off the bat of Hicks and it was on a direct line to me. I popped to my feet. I got ready. Hands up. Knees bent. Eyes wide. I watched it sail over my head. It was a bad read. I turned a 180 to see where it would land behind me. As soon as I squared my feet the ball bounced off the concrete wall, took once bounced off the ground and then rocketed into my dick.
Pinched. Slammed. Squashed.
It all works when describing what happened.
The good news is my hands were quick enough to grab the ball before it dropped to the ground. The bad news is I got hit in the junk very hard.
The security guard came over all excited for me.
“Oh you caught it?!”
“It caught me,” I said in my sisters voice.
After that, I didn’t have the urge to go for any more balls. I enjoyed sitting back and watching. I learned a lot by watching and not participating.
The first thing I learned was that watching and not participating is not an option. You don’t get to choose where the balls land. You just have to decide if you want to be there or not by the time It crashes down.
I’ve never been to war but I’ve watched Band of Brother once a year for the last 10 years.
There’s a scene when they are trapped in the forrest in Bastogne. The Germans know they are there. The Americans know that the Germans know. They have no chance to fight back. They just have to sit there in the freezing cold and dodge the German artillery. Get in their bunkers, hide, and hope they don’t get it.
Scale that back about 100 times and that’s whats going on in the right field patio of George Steinbrenner Field during Yankees batting practice.
Just nothing but people yelling, “LOOK OUT!” Then half the people run away from the LZ (cool military slang for landing zone) and the other half play hero by running towards the LZ.
The balls take no mercy. If you catch one on the fly you get applauded. That happened maybe once.
What was more likely to happen was you run to the ball all excited to catch it then alligator arm it and try to protect yourself because you realize you’re not cut out for the life.
Now at the big Stadiums, when a ball lands it kind of dies. The seats stop it from bouncing. It hits the plastic and drops then rolls around.
At Steinbrenner field it’s all concrete baby! The home runs turn into bouncy balls. The knots in my stomach could confirm this.
We saw an old man take a direct hit to the chest. We saw a child take one to the face.
When a player hits two homers back to back… good fucking luck. You’re watching the carnage of the first ball and then the old man security guard calmly says “Look out” again and now you’ve got no idea where the next one is coming from. You didn’t watch it off the bat. You’re lost. You can try and find it in the sky but that leaves you open to taking it in the face.
And this was only the first group of hitters.
The next group was Aaron Judge. Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird.
Talk about German Artillery.
Luckily Stanton didn’t hit a line drive right over the wall. I had prepared myself to see my first death if he had.
We took some video in an attempt to capture the mayhem but it doesn’t even come close to how it felt out there (We were both to scared to record video becasue that meant we couldn’t defend ourselves). I’m on an airplane right now otherwise I’d include the footage.
So if you go to Steinbrenner Field to take in batting practice, make sure you’ve got your head on a swivel. Make sure you’ve got quick feet and strong hands. And for my sake, I sincerely ask you to not let your young child sit in the seats right behind the wall when Giancarlo is hitting. I’d probably like your kid. You probably like your kid. Keep them safe.