My Weekend At Yankee Stadium: The Buffet, Better Than The Ballgames

"Oh no, not now," I thought as I bit into a succulent and tasty deep-fried shrimp and Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira chopped at a fastball, sending it straight to where I was sitting, just three rows back from the Detroit Tigers' dugout. I've always wanted to catch a foul ball at a baseball game, but I didn't want it to be while I was balancing lemon wedges on my knee.

Alas, this is the sort of paradox one must contend with when going to a Yankee playoff baseball game in the notorious Legends section, where a seat costs north of $1,000. As the Yankees seem to be limping toward an early exit from postseason play, I was given the chance to contemplate the luxury boxes, where the initial pre-recession pricing left large swaths of seats unfilled. They seem to have figured out a way to fill most of the seats but it still left the question open: What is a baseball game and an awesome eating experience worth?

My ticket was listed online as costing $1,400, so I was a little disappointed to see that it actually cost $400, but that's the sort of skewed perspective one gets in these situations. (No, I didn't pay for my ticket.)

For that price of admission, one gets access to the all-you-can-eat buffet, which is fortuitous, considering I just wrote about such gluttonous meals of diminishing returns. The Legends quality was indeed on par with the one at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, which is to say top-notch. But it was only half as good as any of the great restaurants in New York City. I dined on sushi and crab legs, which were all good enough.

But what's remarkable is not the food, it's the fact that the regulars in this rarified spot can act like it's so normal. I suppose people can get used to anything. There were very few "pinch me" expressions on the people around me. It sort of felt like I was in a dining car on the PATH train.

I suppose that's because most of the patrons are finance guys who make enough money that they don't notice if a zero or two is added to an evening's bill. That, or tickets were being paid for by clients of some sort.

The only time I got a sense that the people around me were affected by the experience was during the walk to the seats, on which you pass a wall of all-you-can-eat candy, which folks were grabbing at. It was a little unseemly watching grown men grabbing bags of Swedish Fish and M & M's and stuffing them in their pockets.

It's a unique animal that can afford $400 tickets and scream invectives at Miguel Cabrera, but I guess that's the reality of luxury baseball. Still, I'm not sure that bum was more offensive than the guy in front of me sipping on a glass of red wine. It's a surreal place to be.

I've never been a Yankee fan — it just seems too easy. I'm an underdog guy. But I decided, for one night, to give Yankee fandom my all, especially considering they'd lost to the Tigers in the playoffs last year. And as the Bombers put out a lackluster performance and took a 4-0 beating into the bottom of the 9th, I found my sympathy for the team growing stronger. Which is why I could even more enjoy their miraculous comeback to 4-4. (The fact that Derek Jeter broke his foot and the Tigers ended up winning in the 12th didn't really change anything; the Yankees will be back here soon enough.)

Raul Ibanez's two-run homer with two out in the bottom of the ninth was expected; in the same way that Legends patrons are accustomed to dropping a fortune for a night's dining and entertainment, Yankee fans expect that sort of thing.

I have to admit, it felt pretty damn good.

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