Snow, and Rain, and Yankee Stadium, Oh My!
I woke up Monday (April 2nd) excited to make my way to Yankee Stadium for the home opener. That is until I looked outside and saw that everything was covered in snow! I started getting ready anyway, hoping the snow would stop and melt, the sun would shine, and we could PLAY BALL! Alas, it was not meant to be, and Opening Day would have to wait one more day at Yankee Stadium.
So, the morning of April 3 I woke up ready for Yankees baseball! Again, I looked outside to see the daunting skies and rain. I wasn’t going to let this ruin my excitement and made my way up to the Bronx, following my Tuesday morning wine class. As I ascended the D train stairs at 161 St/ Yankee Stadium, the first tough decision of the day dawned on me – Billy’s or Stan’s?
A Battle of Billy’s vs. Stan’s
It’s the age old debate among Yankee fans, where do you start your game day? Both bars are located just across the street from the park where Old Yankee Stadium once stood, adjacent to New Yankee Stadium. These two bars are separated by only a couple of feet, but might as well be worlds apart.
Stan’s won the toss up for first drink. Have you ever seen the commercial Gatorade did as a tribute to Derek Jeter, when he is making his way through the Bronx into the stadium? He stops in Stan’s to say hello to the neighborhood, and that’s exactly what Stan’s gives you – a neighborhood feel. It’s small and gets crowded early, so I suggest getting there ahead of time and grabbing a table by the window facing the street – my favorite spot! The new remote bars near both entrances alleviate some of the crowd at the main bar, making it super easy to get a drink.
After having a beer, we moved over to Billy’s for one more drink before heading in for player intros, and first pitch. You walk in, and you immediately get hit with everything you would expect from a night club in SoHo, yet you are still in the Bronx. There are quite a few bars, including one out on the patio. My favorite way to pregame is having a frozen drink on the patio at Billy’s, but the weather didn’t allow for that- next time!
Just a heads up, later in the season I will be doing a side by side comparison, one from my perspective, and one from a guy’s perspective, so stay tuned for some good old fashioned arguing!
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Post pre-game mini bar crawl, it was time to head into the stadium and check out some of the best stadium features and of course new food and drink options, after all, that’s what I do here at The Sporty Sommelier. First thing I noticed, was just how few people were in the stadium. I made the horrible weather play to my advantage and made a B-line for the new Noodle Bowl Stand across from section 127B. I ordered the Bacon Cheese Burger Crispy Dumplings and a Chicken Noodle Bowl (no broth so basically Lo Mein). Both were amazing (see photos of me stuffing my face), but bacon cheeseburger dumplings stole the show, they were stupid good!!!
Another new masterpiece in that food court? Grand Slam Shakes, yes they are as ridiculous as they sound. The shake options looked incredible, but it was too cold for ice cream……. Next time.
Ok, got some food in my stomach, now it was time to find a new drink. I started towards the Blue Point Bleachers Bar, home of the Pinstripe Pilsner, exclusively for Yankee Stadium. On our way, there was a stadium employee yelling that there was no line to get into Monument Park…… What? Really? That line is usually 40 minutes long for a Tuesday night game in August! Let’s go!
Ok, got some Yankee history out of the way, and on to find that beer. The Pinstripe was good, but it wasn’t that different from most pilsners you’ve drank. The most impressive part of the new bar is the selection, they have 24 taps with 12 different beer options. It’s the perfect place to head if you are entering from the Center Field entrance.
FINALLY!!!!! Baseball in the Bronx! We headed to our seats only to get soaked for the first 3 innings. I then made the executive decision to walk around the stadium, check out more of the new food, and find a spot to stand out of the rain. We found a spot near 3rd base just in time to see Didi Gregorius break a 1-1 tie with a 3-run homer into the right field seats. Good start.
We walked a little further because I really wanted to try the new Kings Hawaiian stand in section 105 (there’s also one in 334). As I perused the menu, I couldn’t decide what wanted to try the most. Big Island Lava Crispy Chicken Sandwich? Kona BBQ Brisket Burnt Ends? G.O.A.T Burger? One option looked more delicious than the last. I settled on the Lava Crispy Chicken, and let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint. It was topped with a buffalo type sauce and fried pickles on burger sized sweet Hawaiian Kings bun. The fried chicken and hot sauce gave it a great spicy flavor, and crunchy texture, then you get the sweet flavor from the soft bun, and finally the salty from both the fried chicken, and fried pickles. It’s a great compliment of flavors. I will 100% go back next time and try one of the other sandwiches and possibly the chicken again.
Oh Yeah, There was a Game Too
I mentioned earlier that Didi put the Yanks up 4-1 with a homer in the 3rd. Apparently nobody told the team from Tampa that they were supposed to come up to the freezing temperatures of the North East and just let the Yankees steam roll them. The Rays tied it up due to an implosion from the Yanks’ bullpen, not to worry, Didi’s day wasn’t close to being over. After Tyler Austin scored on an error in the 7th to put the Yanks up by one, Didi hit his second 3 run home run and then decided to add another 2 RBI single in the 8th to give him 8 RBIs on the day. So much for the Stanton Judge offensive juggernaut.
Game Day in Review
Stan’s vs. Billy’s: Stan’s with the W to get you into the baseball mindset.
Mother Nature vs. My Willingness to Be Miserable for my Followers: Mother Nature pushed me to my limits, but my love of providing readers with the best experience gives me the win.
New Food Option Favorite: I refuse to just punt and say the Cheese Burger Dumplings tied the Kings Hawaiian Crispy Chicken Sandwich, because both were INCREDIBLE. The victory goes to the Crispy Chicken Sandwich!
If anyone is keeping score, I’ve been to two Opening Days, and I am 2-0 for the home team. Any one else looking for a new Good Luck Charm? I’m available for travel 🙂