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Oct. 20, 2004 1:05 pm

Sometimes work and play come together in glorious ways. This is one of those times: the Yankees are battling for a berth in the World Series, and I get to go watch the games and am actually paid to be there. I'm not gloating...just very, very grateful.

The subway is the best way to get to Yankee Stadium from midtown Manhattan. The D train takes you directly from 53rd and 7th to 161st Street in the Bronx, right on the corner of the House That Ruth Built. On game days, though, the ride can be challenging. It's tough to breathe when you're squeezed like a sardine in a can, and the trains are packed full of loud New Yorkers wearing Yankee caps and jerseys and bravado on their sleeves, all fired up with pre-game excitement and the prospect of another big win.

The ride home can be just as jammed, or worse, if you wait to see the last pitch. It takes at least 30 minutes, slowly filing down the stairs and ramps shoulder-to-shoulder with the diehards, all of them at varying levels of intoxication. When the Yanks win, the euphoria makes the wait, and the ride, a lot easier. When they lose, the trip lasts far too long.

I took the 30 minute below-ground journey to the stadium last week for games one and two of the American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox, one of the greatest rivalries in sports, period. The place was packed both nights with more than 56,000 loud and entertaining fans, most rooting for the Bombers, of course. The cheers were hilarious, especially the chants of "Who's your Daddy?" directed at Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez, who late this season actually told reporters the Yankees were his "daddy" after they beat him yet again. I might've joined in, except there's no cheering allowed in the press box...one of the few downsides to this particular assignment.

The past few days have certainly been tough for Yankee fans. After the longest nine-inning game in postseason history Saturday night, when the Yanks buried the Red Sox 19-8 to go up 3-0 in the ALCS, the two teams played the longest EXTRA INNING game the next night, with the Yanks losing in five hours and 12 innings. They then broke their own record Monday by taking almost SIX HOURS to play 14 innings, once again failing to clinch the World Series berth in Beantown.

Then, last night, back in the Bronx, the resilient Red Sox forced a game seven, the first team in baseball history to do so after being down three games to none. 

I'll be at the stadium for every pitch of "Game 7." I may cover the series no matter who wins, but on this story I can't be fair and balanced. My heart is in the Yankee dugout, and I'm pulling for them all the way.

[Click the video tab in the upper right to watch Leventhal's reports.]


Hi Rick,

Just a note to say how much I enjoyed your 'eulogy' for your friend's mother. I enjoy all your reports from around the world, and I have noticed a genuine-ness about you that is very refreshing. I always feel as though reporters in the field all over the world should know how much people like me really appreciate what you do for a living.  I, for one, am very grateful.

— Mary (Bridgewater, MA)


FOX needs to know we don't see nearly enough of you. 

— Mary (Norcross, GA)


Rick,

I too am a big fan of yours since the war started last March. My son was on that "Road to Baghdad" with the Marines (he's Army). I watched FOX News every evening listening to your reporting. Thanks for risking your life to let us at home know what was going on. Although I am  no longer glued to the TV, I do catch your current reports often. Keep up the good work.

— Karen