NYC pick-up mission
09.04.2009 - 09.05.2009
After another sleepless night, still hyped up from the Jensen surprise party, I watched the sun come up over the east side of Manhatten. The boys were close.
Dave 'Mad-Man' Manko and Ryan 'Rone-Yard' White, lifelong hometown friends, were on a pick-up and delivery mission. The mission went something like this...
They left Akron, Ohio at midnight, drove straight through, and landed in Manhatten just past 7:00am on Friday morning. We exchanged a moment of true jubilation and then headed to the hotel. It took over an hour to go five miles.
We dropped our bags and wandered the financial district, catching up on the past year. We were a confabulating crew with nothing to do. It was more about fellowship than direction. We stumbled upon the sites, posed for pictures and took in the hustle and flow of New York's monetary mecca.
The day slowly slipped by, but we had big plans for the night. Mets v. Cubs. Ryan is a diehard Cubbies fan and it just so happened that they were in town. We have baseball pasts, so what better way to celebrate my return to the US than with a nightcap of the national pastime?
We rode the subway out to Queens, to Flushing Meadows. We were early to arrive at the brand new Citi Field, in time for batting practice and a few frothy brews. After a leisurely stroll around the inside of the park, we parked out on the left field porch in anticipation of a barrage of BP balls. Dave and I were closer to left-center, while Ryan set up shop down the left field line. Dave and I talked, sitting ten rows back of the wall. A few balls came close, but nothing worth getting up over.
Later, I joined Ryan and helped him drink the two beers he had purchased. Then as Milton Bradley, of the Cubs, stepped into the box for his hacks, Ryan predicted a ball coming our way. And sure enough, two pitches later, Bradley roped one down the left field line. Ryan's eyes lit up. This ball had his name on it. He shuffled down the aisle a step or two, turned around and played the ball perfectly off of the upper-deck level facade. The ball hit and ricocheted hot and hard. The sure-handed Rone-Yard White had the ball hit him in the hands and then watched as it rolled away and into the grasps of a nonchalant fan. Ouch! It is still a sore subject, so please don't bring it up in casual conversation - I wouldn't want the poor guy lose any more sleep over the fumble. Ten minutes later, the Mad-Man caught a ball on the fly, effortlessly. Afterwords, he was quoted saying, "It doesn't hurt when you actually catch it."
Being at the park, the yard, the ole ballgame is like being a kid in a candy store. And one of the must-have treats is the Italian sausage, smothered in grilled onions and peppers and topped in stadium mustard. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it and it dripped all over my face as I downed it that night. Deliciousness.
The actual game, well nothing of note really happened. The hometown Mets beat the Cubs in a pitcher's duel turned late inning free-for-all. This night was more about the experience, the experience of being back amongst friends and enjoying each minute of it.
It was a long day. We finished it off, stopping by Time Square en route to our hotel. The lack of sleep had caught up with all three of us. The mission was half over, pick-up complete. The next day would involve an early morning drive back to Ohio for the delivery. I had a wedding to get to.