Guerrilla Games

Hustling, jeering, cheering, and hand-to-hand combat at Pro Player

The exodus was good for me, though. With two innings to go, I grabbed a seat in the front row of section 101, right over the Yankees dugout. I could have spit on Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell. I did spit on the Yankees' cornerman, Aaron Boone (or maybe I just heckled him; I can't remember).

In the eighth inning, as the Yankees threatened in a 1-1 game, closer Mariano Rivera began warming up in the pen, maybe 20 yards to my left. Even his slow tosses seemed to have a preternaturally powerful pop in the glove. I had to shout something at the future Hall of Famer to bring him back to Earth: "Remember Arizona!"

But Rivera was too good to rattle. It was time to give Derek Jeter the business.

"Jeter, you suck!" I yelled.

Don't ask where those inspired words came from. I'm only the medium.

Then I hit him with the epic "America hates you, Jeter!"

I swear he glared at me. Was that a tear in his eye? The rather precious shortstop had been tearing up the series, but the next game, he went one-for-six and was never the same after that.

Me and Carl Pavano got him good.

A guy sitting in the Founder's Club -- which are the best seats in the house, basically on the field -- liked my heckling so much that he invited me down to sit with him and his wife. I'd found a patron. After security turned me away because I lacked a ticket, the guy handed me his through the railing. Soon I was at eye level with the players, the ultimate score.

But it was a short-lived glory. Two old security wenches -- quite possibly former lunchroom ladies at my elementary school -- practically seized me with their liver-spotted hands. "Give me that ticket," one of the grinchesses growled. "You have to go back."

Back at my seat, a bunch of guys gave me a round of high-fives and backslaps as if I'd laid down a sacrifice bunt. We cheered until the last out in the 6-1 loss.

They played badly. The stars were aligned badly. I behaved rather badly.

And it was an absolute blast.If game three was about the spectacle, game four was all about baseball. It was Roger Clemens' final start of his incredible career, and the Marlins needed to win to avoid going down 3-1 in the series. Everything felt good. The vibes were definitely flowing with the grain. And this time, I took my 8-year-old son.

"I have a feeling," he said in the car as we were about to park, "that the Marlins are going to win tonight."

I was late again, arriving just 35 minutes before game time. And there was pressure. I didn't want to disappoint my kid. I had to find seats.

The market was terrible.

Lower levels seemingly couldn't be found, and uppers were going for $150, most of them in the useless outfield corners. Ten minutes went by. My son started to worry. I told him I needed silence to make this work. Then I recognized a pro scalper from previous games and asked him if he had two. He said he had a pair of upper levels. "Let me see if I can get my partner to get them for you for $250 for both," he told me.

Not a good price.

His partner came over. They were section 442, right over first base. I wanted them.

"$200 for both," I offered.

"No way, man -- somebody offered me $250 already."

I pulled out my cash. This time I had $400.

"$210," I pleaded. "Do it for the kid."

Shameless. He grimaced like he'd been shanked in the side and gave me the tickets. My boy and I danced all the way to gate.

We were way up there in row 23, but the view was good. I could call balls and strikes fine, sometimes even better than the plate umpire.

But this thing was all about the Rocket, who seared 20-year-old rookie Miguel Cabrera's face with a 94-mph brush-back pitch in the first. I saw Cabrera stare at Clemens, which inspired me to pass on some heartfelt wisdom to my son. "Clemens is a bastard," I told him.

"This is oldness against youngness," said the kid, who sometimes displays a talent for cutting to the guts of the situation.

Cabrera then deposited a Clemens fastball over the right-field wall.

Despite all the badmouthing I gave Clemens during the game, I cheered him like crazy with the other 65,000 fans after his last pitch. The standing ovation, the tip of the cap -- it was one of the greatest moments I've ever had in a ballpark.

The game was equally classic. By the bottom of the 12th, a lot of families with kids had left, but my boy was good to go. It was almost 12:30 a.m., roughly four hours past his bedtime. School would be a bitch. We walked down to the third row for a better view of the last couple of innings.

In the bottom of the 12th, it was announced that Alex Gonzalez was coming up to bat. "Oh no!" cried my son, who knew the shortstop called "Sea Bass" was hitting somewhere under .100 in the postseason.

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