Hanson and the Yankees

October 1998

Hanson

Those of you who know me might agree that I maintain a certain sense of independent thought. However, I remain susceptible to certain suggestions, especially those from my daughter Stacy.

Tonight, she called me. “Dad,” she asked, “you know how sometimes you write those dorky things, you know, that you send out as emails to all those people about the, like, junk that happens to you?”

After a moment’s pause, I responded hesitatingly, “Yeah…. I think I know what you’re talking about.”

“Well,” she continued, “why don’t you write something about me seeing Hanson?”

So I’m writing about Stacy seeing Hanson. And while I’m ‘here’, I thought I’d tell you about the Rangers/Yankees game Friday night, and answer the obvious question that I know some of you want to ask…”Did you stay or did you go?”

But first…..the Hanson highlights.

I bought Stacy and her friends eight tickets the morning they went on sale. They got better seats than I’ve ever had for a concert – on the floor, left side, 20 rows back. For three weeks, Stacy talked about little else. Four ofher friends met them at Reunion Arena, the other three friends went with Stacy. After the Rangers/Yankees Division Series game schedule was set, I volunteered to take them to the concert last Wednesday night. I figured I could drop them off, go the West End, eat dinner, watch Game 2 of the series, then pick up the girls.

I brought with me an article from the newspaper which described a “press conference” appearance by Hanson at Planet Hollywood the night before. Stacy and her friends, aged 15, laughed derisively at a quote from a 12-yr-old girl at the “press conference”: “They saw me. They looked right at me. They know I exist!”

As we drove down Stemmons freeway, we passed several cars full of young girls, driven by one parent who had, I assumed, drawn the parental short straw. The girls waved and had me honk at the other cars. A Suburban passed us with “We Luv Hanson” painted all over it in white shoe polish. One of the girls said something like, “How lame is that?”, while another at the same time was muttering, “We should’ve done that.” They grew increasingly more excited as we neared the exit for Reunion, and practically leapt out of the car as I pulled up to the curb.

I stuck to my plan and watched the Rangers lose to the Yankees, again. I left early to make sure I was there when the concert let out, even though I had my cell phone and Stacy’s friend’s pager. Surprisingly, I pulled right up to the curb next to the arena behind three or four other cars, each driven by a lone adult. The police didn’t seem to care that we were there, so after about 10 minutes I walked up to the arena’s glass doors. I could hear, of course, and could actually see the stage at the opposite end of the floor. The security lady let out a few party-poopers who left early, and I chatted with her a little. When they started a new song, she said, “This should be the last song” and opened the door. She drifted off, so I walked in and stood at the section entrance and peered down onto the floor level to see if I could see the girls. (As if!)

They ended the song, said “Good night, everybody! Thanks for coming.” and left the stage. I, standing in the exit, immediately threw myself against the side of the walkway as streams of girls hustled out reluctantly, dragged along by a lone adult on a school night.  However, even with this age-group there were enough savvy concert-goers that many stayed inside the arena and did the obligatory beg-for-an-encore thing. On this, their last tour date, Hanson must have been somewhat sensitive to the school night issue, because they came back out after just a couple of minutes.

Isaac (or was it Taylor?), shouted into the microphone: “Do you really want us back?” (As if!)

And just as if the arena staff had thrown a switch, the reluctant stream of girls leaving suddenly  reversed into a panic sprint back into the seating area, with, and in some cases without, the lone parental units.

I figured they would perform at least a couple more songs, and since the ushers seemed more concerned about staying *out* of the way, I decided I’d try to get down on the floor and find Stacy so we could make a quick exit. Sure enough, I found them just as the final encore started, their cover of “Summertime Blues”. Stacy and her friends were bouncing up and down, clapping, with their faces reflecting as near-nirvana as possible on a school night.

We got back in the car after some delay so they could hit the trinket stands. (I guess they’re not yet concert-savvy enough to know they can get that stuff during the opening band’s forty-five minutes. I mean, that’s why they *have* opening bands.) They sounded hoarse and tired, but still energized, and re-played many of their concert moments. After we dropped off the other girls, Stacy said simply, “Dad, it was perfect. It was the best night of my life!” She went on, regaining the adrenaline rush, “I swear, Taylor even made eye contact with me during “Weird” – I swear!” (“Weird” is what passes as Hanson’s slow-dance, ‘deep’ lyrics piece….”Isn’t it strange, how we all get a little bit weird sometimes?”)

And as she sat back in the seat, we looked at each other and she said with a big laugh, “He *knows* I exist!!!”

I swear.

Yankees

And then it was Friday night, and my time for my first post-season playoff game. It had rained quite hard in the morning and early afternoon, but at my house in Irving it had cleared off and I hoped the weather would hold. However, as I tend to be prepared, I did take my umbrella and even stuck a few trash bags in my bagpack. I met my friend Connie from Fort Worth near the park, then drove in and got settled in plenty of time to hear the longest and most self-absorbed version of the national anthem I’ve ever heard by some 12-yr. old girl with one name that started with “Mik……”. (What, was last week “National 12-year-old Girl Week”?)

The game breezed along until the sixth inning. The Rangers couldn’t get any offensive action going, but there was plenty of action in our section. Four balls were grabbed by people within spitting distance of me. The umpire gave a third-out ball to a young boy sitting in the first row, three rows directly in front of me; a check-swing liner was coming right at me off the bat but then tailed off and landed five rows behind me; a high pop-up landed in the row behind me and a few seats to the left, then bounced to the guy two seats to my left; and then the boy in the front row grabbed a foul ball down against the wall with his fishing net.

In the early innings we had a brief light shower, but nothing even worth opening the umbrella for. As the sixth inning started, I noticed the flags above the scoreboard fluttering, whereas before they had pretty much indicated a wind from the south. I mentioned it to Connie. We could still see the moon over center field. Then a few minutes after that damn Yankee rookie hit the home run to make it 4-0, I checked the flags again and noticed they had swung 180 degrees and were showing a stiff north wind. Seconds later, as the Rangers came to bat, the temperature dropped by probably ten degrees. Connie noticed that the ushers had their yellow rain slickers on, and commented, “They didn’t have them on during that first shower….I bet they know something we don’t know.”

Sure enough, it started raining, similar at first to the early inning shower. Then as the umbrellas started to pop up, it *really* started raining. Connie took two of the trash bags and fashioned a poncho out of them, and I hunkered down under the umbrella.

(Aside: Unless you’re sitting all by yourself, with no one around, umbrellas just don’t work at sporting events. The thing of it is, is that *your* umbrella works great…but the umbrella of the guy in front of you *also* works great – for him. But *his* water has to go somewhere. And since I suffered from severe “umbrella envy”, what  with my little fit-in-my-briefcase-Tote versus his Titleist-strap-to-his-golf-bag-full-sizer, *his* water ended up in *my* lap. This, however, wasn’t necessarily all that bad, because it did serve to ameliorate my embarrassment at spilling half-a-bottle of water in my, uh, lap-general-area earlier. Which, in turn, made the ten-degree change in temperature feel more like thirty, localized to the ‘general area’ of the spill.)

Connie asked, “How long will they play with it like this?” I responded, “Being a playoff game, it will have to get a lot worse than this.” The next batter, it got that much worse.

Now, you would think (or at least, *I* think) that anybody who can afford $50 playoff tickets would know better than to stand up with umbrellas during a driving rain storm, make their way to the aisles, and then *stand* there and look around to say, “Geez, Ethel….lookit that rayne!” So once we decided to take shelter, it took awhile before we made it to the covered mezzanine area behind section 138.

We waited out the storm there, which included some horrific thunder. The beer vendors were working the waiting area. The ‘entertainment’ consisted of four yahoos (not search engines, but ‘humans’ obviously fueled by something of higher octane than Mountain Dew) who ran out onto the tarp for a major league Slip ‘n Slide.  They each slid their way into the waiting arms of Arlington’s finest, who promptly led them off to sample the storm shelter capabilities of the Arlington city jail.

About 10:15, after an hour of delay which included one beer and little drying of the ‘lap-general-area’, I had to go the bathroom. We discussed leaving, since the rain had not let up at all and there were several pools 15-20 feet wide out on the field. But I explained to Connie that Stacy and I had left early when the Dallas Mavericks came back from 15 down with 3 minutes left to beat the Chicago Bulls last season. I caught such hell for that, I just couldn’t risk a repeat.

So then I waded into the bathroom. They had the PA speaker playing the KRLD radio rain-delay broadcast. As I left, I heard Kate Delaney, the “sports princess”, say, “They’ve just officially suspended the game in the sixth inning, with the Yankees beating the Rangers 4-0.”

Thinking the game had been “suspended”, vs. “rain delayed”, and knowing that after five innings it was official, and hearing “beating” as meaning “has beaten”, I hustled back up and said, “Let’s go!” We slogged through ankle-deep water in the parking lot to the car, drove to her car, and then I took off for home.

I made it up on Hwy 360 going north with little traffic, and congratulated myself on getting out ahead of the traffic.  But, I felt a little disconsolate at the Rangers’ loss, which ended their season. Then I heard on the radio an explanation by some official that a “suspended” game in the post-season is different than in the regular season. He said they would finish the game whenever they could, and the full nine innings would be played, after resuming from the point play was halted. They hoped to get it in that night, but if not, they would resume at noon on Saturday.

I got home after about 25 minutes, changed clothes and kept the radio on. I fixed some pancakes – don’t ask, I don’t know why. About 11:30 the KRLD weather man said that radar showed a possible break after the next storm passed, and they might be able to resume. Then somebody reported they were taking the tarp off of the infield. So, with dry pants and shoes and a long-sleeved t-shirt, I got in the car and drove back out.

They resumed play at 12:25 a.m., taking an hour for both teams to go through the motions of finishing the last three innings, during which the Rangers played no less futilely than the first six. I’d guess there were maybe 12-15 thousand fans in the lower level, and probably a good percentage of them just walked in off the street when they heard the game was resuming. I know the people around me did, particularly the two just-turned-drinking-age girls and guy in front of me. One of the girls, wearing a Fort Worth Pour House beer shirt, kept turning to ask her girl friend about the guy they had apparently just picked up at some bar, “Now … what’s his name?”

I got home at 2:00 in the morning. Unfortunately, the Rangers never found ‘home’ either Friday or Saturday, but now they’ll be staying there till next February.