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First Game of the Season – Pray This Won’t be the New Normal

South Bronx, NY: Baseball’s new norm is that teams are not issuing season credentials to the press. We now have to apply on a day-by-day basis. Today I was approved a one-day media credential for this, the second game between the Yankees and the Blue Jays for what I hope will be a full baseball season. Given the inconsistencies on how the states are addressing the pandemic and the lack of a national health policy that will mandate all the states to act in unison, we have to be ready to deal with whatever comes?

Leaving my home this morning at 8:30 AM for a 1:05 PM game has not been my usual routine when I would cover a Yankee game. However, I left early because the policy for the press and for the fans is that we have to show proof of a Covid-19 negative test, or proof of vaccination. I’ve been tested a total of seven times since 2020 due to my travels, but those tests are only good for 72 hours and I am not vaccinated, or in any rush to get vaccinated. Thus, I had to get tested today prior to the game. I could have received a test at my local Citi-Med Urgent Care on 161st. St. (as I have done before), but those tests take three hours for the result. The Yankees do provide a testing facility at the stadium for the press. It’s not free, it cost $25 dollars, but you get the results in 20 minutes and it was more convenient. I tested negative and returned home as it was too early to enter an empty stadium.

I returned later, closer to game time as the new norm is that the press has no field access and no locker room access.  Riding my bike to the stadium you could not tell that there was a Yankee game as we who live near the stadium know way to well when there is a game by the amount of noise, and the vehicle traffic and pedestrian traffic walking our streets or taking all the available street parking. I have to admit that many of my neighbors love this new norm. Only when you get to one block from the stadium is that you can see that there is a stadium event with the increased number of pedestrians, and an unusually strong police presence with automatic weapons throughout the perimeter of the stadium.

After parking my bike in my usual spot by the Heritage Park parking garage I walked the entire perimeter of the stadium. I wanted to get a feel for things outside that stadium where I would usually go to see many of the friends some guards, maintenance and some NYPD officers stationed at the same locations throughout the season. Unfortunately, the cold and the fact that not one of my friends were around (only the heavy police presence) I felt like a stranger in our hood.

Eventually I arrived at the Press Entrance, which was closed, and the new entrance is now by the Great Hall. After going through the usual security, I saw one of the routine security personnel that I have not seen since 2019, he’s my Tocayo (Spanish for a person who shares your name), Julio. That was a pleasant surprise reminding me of day’s past. However, once I arrived at the Press Box, I was once again reminded that things were not like day’s past at all. The Press Box looked emptier than any other time I remember, including those unmeaningful late August games with a last place team where many reporters would take a break from the stadium for those games. I found my assigned seat, set myself up and was again happy to see a few members of the Latino press that I have not seen since 2019. I was glad that I brought some snacks because the always upscale almost gourmet Yankee press and staff cafeteria was closed only offering bags of potato chips, wrapped franks, something that looked like thin wrapped chicken strips, water and coffee.

I’m somewhat settled and now going to concentrate on the game, but this is a new norm that I pray does not last longer than June, just before my favorite baseball summer months.

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