The sirens, sweltering heat, the rumbling of the B, D and #4 trains and street level conversations at 174th and Walton awakened me at about 10:30 on Sunday morning. Rather than try to fight it, I practically jumped up off the air mattress in the middle of the living room like a kid on Christmas morning. Yankee Stadium was calling my name, and so was that chicken and rice. In what was hardly a New York minute, we finally got out the door and on our way. It was almost noon, so gallivanting down to Harlem for arroz con pollo would have to wait until after the game. I was trying to be in the house for the national anthem. Not to worry though because the Cuban sandwiches at the 27 Sports Bar on West Mount Eden Avenue were on point in all of their foot-long, warm baguette magnificence. I even had to order in Spanish to keep things moving along. The game would start in 45 minutes and we still needed to jump on the 4 Train down to 161st and didn’t yet have tickets.

Yeah, I know Cease. It seems totally absurd that I would be so cavalierly rolling up just before game time and expecting to just waltz right up and get a ticket. Sellout schmellout. I’ve been to marquis sporting events all over the world. Unless it’s a playoff game, you can usually get in. They might say sellout, but there probably would still be some tickets at the box office and if all else fails there are always the scalpers. I don’t know why I didn’t buy a ticket online the day before. I don’t know why I didn’t read the body language and skeptical facial expression of the guy I was talking to at the BBQ the previous day as he asked me “So what are you gonna do…Stub Hub or something?” (referring to the online ticket broker), which in hindsight seems more and more like an ominous warning that I should’ve heeded. Furthermore, I didn’t know why so many people were walking around holding up 2 fingers. Was this something that Yankee fans do before the game; give each other the peace sign? It turns out that all of these people were holding up fingers to let would be ticket-sellers know how many tickets they needed. I also didn’t know why the scalpers on River Avenue didn’t follow the international conventions (surely these rules were buried somewhere deep in the recesses of the Geneva Convention) of saying “I need 2 tickets” when they really mean that they are selling 2 tickets. These cats really NEEDED two tickets.

It was now 10 minutes before game time and I was becoming a little concerned. The box office was saying no way, there were a shortage of scalpers, and the ones I did see were asking for at least $150 per. I took out my Motorola Q and browsed to I could admit weakness. I’ll just go online, make a purchase, and pick them up from the Stub Hub booth in front of the stadium. Sold Out. Now it was 5 minutes until game time and panic had completely set in. In what could only be described as an emotional decision made under extreme duress, I made my way up the block in search of an ATM machine. Dipping into the mortgage money was not part of the plan, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

The following sequence of events will actually be recounted to you in reverse order in slow motion, complete with the dramatic freeze frames at the appropriate moments that fans of movies like “Snatch” or “Lucky Number Slevin” have become accustomed to, as I narrate what seemed like an out of body experience.

My hands were interlocked on top of my head and my mouth agape as the infrared barcode scanner held by the stadium employee at Gate 4 was repeatedly unsuccessful in getting the tickets to register until finally she asked where we got the tickets before subsequently confiscating them.

(FREEZE). Now it’s like my series of unfortunate events cut straight out of the movie “Vantage Point” and the footage was re-wound to 10 minutes ago when little homey in the white tee nervously dipped back in and out of the bowling alley next to Billy’s Sports Bar, emerging with 2 tickets that, had I not been so eager to get in to this game (I’ve never been so eager to see any game in my life!), I surely would’ve said no way to and kept steppin’ as the printing on the back seemed to be less than laser quality (FREEZE) and the perforation holding the two tickets together not quite restaurant quality. If I had been on my p’s and q’s I might’ve asked myself why the greatest team in the history of baseball had such unimpressive graphics on the front of their tickets. (FREEZE). These things are all so vivid in my mind right now as is the face of little homey (FRE