Archives For New York Yankees

What do Dennis Quaid, Lewis Black and Billy Bob Thornton have in common? Not sure, other than they are all in this video! I spoke with the three when I covered two red carpets in one night recently – the premieres for Quaid’s season two of the Crackle series “The Art Of More” and Thornton’s “Bad Santa 2” movie.

Yeah, I would definitely have to say that throwing out the first pitch and kicking back in the Yankees’ farm team’s dugout pre-game was the highlight of my 31st birthday weekend.

Disclaimer: my birthday weekends almost always involve the Yankees. Ironically, the most memorable was the year people seem to forget the most: 21. I hit legal drinking age on June 6, 2006. The Yankees hosted the Red Sox at the old Stadium and I had bleacher seats, which provided a great view when Melky Cabrera robbed Manny Ramirez of a home run. The Yanks went on to win.

Actually, I can’t ever remember my team losing on my birthday or on the game I attended nearest to the date. For number 30 last year, I watched with friends and family in the Bronx as the Yankees beat the Angels. Coincidentally the exact same thing happened this year on June 6 but because my birthday fell on a Monday I didn’t attend; I do have a job after all.

That’s what led me to celebrate on Saturday, and with the Yanks in Baltimore for a three-game series, I took a bus to Scranton, Penn. My radio show airs in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and thus it made perfect sense for me to make an appearance at PNC Field and throw out the first pitch before the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders hosted the Columbus Clippers.


PNC Field is only a couple of years old and is absolutely gorgeous. There are great seats throughout the park, a club and suite level, a solid selection of concessions and even a lawn area similar to what you would see at an outdoor concert venue. Pre-game festivities include giveaways and a live band, and the in-game experience is a lot of fun.


It also doesn’t hurt that the RailRiders have a bunch of solid prospects and familiar faces on its squad, from 2009 World Series champion Nick Swisher to promising outfielder Aaron Judge.

Another great thing about the RailRiders: its management is making a conscious effort to link the rich history of the Yankees to its Triple-A franchise. This year, the minor league team is staging a “Legends Series,” where past Yankees come to the park and sign autographs. And on Saturday, former Yankee greats Bucky Dent, Chris Chambliss and Roy White were all in attendance.


Yeah, I wasn’t just happy to be there, I was pretty excited.

The RailRiders marketing staff, which by the way could not have been more accommodating, brought me down to the field around 3:20. A little over 10 minutes later, the PA announcer addressed the audience.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we direct your attention to the pitcher’s mound for today’s ceremonial first pitches,” he echoed throughout the ballpark. “First up, Ralphie from 97.1 BHT!”


And with that, I slipped my phone in my back pocket, gave a quick wave to the crowd and fired a strike to Barry, Director of Game Entertainment.

Little did I know, the fun was just getting started.

As a group of little leaguers began to proceed around the warning track, the marketing staff was kind enough to allow me to sit in the dugout for pregame ceremonies.

This led to me sitting in on the manager’s spot of the bench, right next to the bullpen phone, while chewing Double Bubble with Dent, Chambliss and White, who were also there waiting to throw their first pitches.

I clearly had the look of someone turning 11, not 31, based on one RailRiders staffer saying, “You’re having the time of your life, huh?” I replied that I loved baseball and was a diehard Yankees fan. “Well, you get to do all of the cool entertainment stuff. We have the sports.”

And on the weekend before my birthday, I felt pretty fortunate that I sometimes get to experience both.

Last Thursday night I was texting with my friend Quinn who was in town from Nashville for a work event. We scratched tentative plans to meet-up that evening, opting for the following day. After finding out what hotel she was staying in I offered to make Brunch reservations.

She liked the idea but also suggested that she was down to perhaps sightsee, something that I have done a terrible job of in my three-plus years in the city.

That’s when I got the idea that we should check out the observatory at One World Trade Center in the Financial District. Quinn enthusiastically co-signed.

We met Friday morning in FiDi and headed in to the Freedom Tower. Attendants scanned our pre-purchased tickets, we passed through security and waited in queue for the elevator. Once inside, it shot up 102 floors in seconds. Before we knew it, we were overlooking the greatest city in the world from the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


After the breathtaking views, Quinn and I walked to the Seaport and grabbed that brunch at The Paris Café, one of the oldest watering holes in the city that claims both Thomas Edison and Teddy Roosevelt as past patrons. Afterwards, I sent her off to the hotel so she could catch an afternoon flight and I Uber-ed uptown so I could grab a quick 5.6 mile run in Central Park before my show.

On Saturday I added yet another new experience to my time in the city, and it is something I’ve wanted to do since I moved in to my apartment on the Upper West Side. According to Google, my place is 4.3 miles from Yankee Stadium. I always thought it would be cool to one day run to the Stadium and catch a 1 pm first pitch. So on Saturday morning I did just that, jogging up Manhattan, through Harlem and in to the Bronx, crossing the Macombs Dam Bridge before entering the ball park.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Yankees lost to the Mariners and I hopped on the subway home. After an eventful past 48 hours, my plan was to settle in with a sandwich, a beer and my PlayStation 4.

And then my friend Shaina, who I first met covering red carpets here, shot me a text. She had a plus one for a TriBeCa Film Festival after-party. So instead of picking out a game to play on PS4 I picked out an outfit and headed downtown. The event was in celebration of “The Family Fang,” a movie that Jason Bateman both directed and starred in. His co-stars include Christopher Walken and Nicole Kidman.


I didn’t see the film but the party, sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin, was fantastic.

I’m pretty sure Sunday marked another first for me: the first time I spent an entire weekend at the Stadium. I rode the subway up and after the Yanks salvaged the final game of the series, I walked a mile across the bridge again before hopping on C, as to avoid the crowds at 161 and River.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Before Sunday Funday ended I saw a few friends, racked up another 5.6 in the Park and caught the season finale of HBO’s “Vinyl.” We got another shout-out!

A video posted by 95.5 PLJ (@955plj) on


All-in-all it was another weekend for the books. And to think, when I first made those plans on Friday I thought to myself, “Well, at least I’ll be leaving my neighborhood once this weekend.”

A week after John Oliver sent costumed fans to sit in the prestigious Legends Seats behind home plate at Yankee Stadium, the comedian noted that the Bronx Bombers are probably not too happy about the whole promotion.

“I think the Yankees are happy that we’re done,” the HBO host said after noting he did not have any more tickets to give away on his “Last Week Tonight” show. Oliver also stated that he didn’t receive any flack from the Yanks personally, “but yeah, I don’t think they were absolutely thrilled about it.”

This all started before the first pitch of the season. Speaking to a sports talk radio station in New York, Yankees COO Lonn Trost attempted to explain why the Yankees were no longer using “Print-At-Home” tickets. His main reason was to curb fraud; however the front office executive was also unhappy with the low ticket floors set by third-party websites such as StubHub. Eliminating these websites’ ability to buy and distribute tickets at a moment’s notice all-but-guarantees that fans will have to purchase tickets through the Yankees own resale outlet, which is run by Ticketmaster.

In the process of explaining the nuisance of expensive tickets selling well below face value, Trost induced a foot-in-mouth moment by saying that those who typically sit in said expensive seats would be frustrated by fans who don’t normally sit in a premium location.

Enter Oliver, who eviscerated the Yanks’ for the ticketing practice and comment before offering viewers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: tweet the hashtag “#IHaveNeverSatInAPremiumLocation” and you could score two Legends Seats for a quarter, the only condition bring that you had to wear something out-of-the-ordinary to the game.

The once-empty seats behind home were filled on Opening Day. With Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

“Those seats are amazing. Those seats are precious,” Oliver told me on the red carpet ahead of the Garden of Dreams Talent Show at Radio City Music Hall. “And it frustrates the hell out of me to see them empty during every game. It’s embarrassing.”

As a lifelong and diehard Yankees fan, I concur and brought up another point: with the empty seats in the lower bowl due to both ticket sales and the various luxury suites and lounges in to the venue, the entire ballpark is much quieter than “The House That Ruth Built.”

“You’re basically eschewing home field advantage by having just empty seats,” he accurately added. “It must be weird batting with no one shouting for you… so we provided some shouting dinosaurs, sharks and Ninja Turtles. You’re welcome, Yankees.”

And hey, maybe the 27-time World Champions were appreciative. On the last game of the team’s first homestand, the message “Thanks, John Oliver. Everyone is welcome at Yankee Stadium” appeared on the scoreboard.

“(Sitting in Legends Seats) is an amazing experience,” Oliver commented before concluding, “and the f—ing Yankees should open it up to more people!”

#IHaveNeverSatInAPremiumLocation

A photo posted by Last Week Tonight (@lastweektonight) on

I spent a second consecutive Tuesday on HLN’s “The Daily Share” talking about a plethora of topics, from McDonald’s #AllDayBreakfast and American Apparel filing for bankruptcy to CC Sabathia entering rehab before the Yankees’ Wild Card game against the Houston Astros.