By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
By Raillan Brooks
Cunningham does have a few tricks up his sleevesome iron and micronutrient packs that will green up the turf without making it shaggy, a second coat of paint on the big interlocking NY behind home plate so it pops out better on televisionbut by and large the hallowed field gets basically the same treatment on the eve of the Fall Classic as it would for the middle contest of a three-game set against the Kansas City Royals. But foul territory is a different story.
"It's mixed emotions," confesses Cunningham's boss, Kirk Randazzo, director of stadium operations, as he waits for the day's next brush fire. During his seven years on the job he's been in charge of everything from figuring out how to mount mikes in the bases (which work fine) to arranging for NYPD helicopters to dry the field (which didn't work out so well.) "Every time they win a series, you know you have more work."
As the last of the ropes are strung, the last of the mats secured, everyone looks up from the turf for a moment and seems to remember why we're all here. El Duque casually trots out from the dugout, wearing tights, a windbreaker, and no capgetting in his running for a start that might not happen. His leonine grace stands in sharp contrast to the grunt work that's involved in preparing his stage. And yet the toil doesn't go unnoticed. On his way back to the dugout, the Yankee ace stops in midstride and greets one of the guys from the grounds crew like a long-lost friend. Big smiles, hearty laughs, a lot of hand gesturingthe language barrier, you knowand finally one of those nice-game, good-job hugs that ballplayers have down to a science. And then it's back to positioning the screens.
For all the frantic activity going on in the stadium, by midafternoon inertia still rules in front of the ticket office. They haven't lost hope completely; the feathers seem to be dropping one by one. "I'm done," says Korytowsky, who has been hanging out here for the better part of seven hours. "The guy told me, 'I guarantee there will not be a ticket sold here today."' Barrett insists that he'll stick it out for a few more minutes, but deep down he knows that he'll go home empty-handed.
Is it worth it? "If you have to ask that, you're not a Yankee fan," he bellows. "You talk to people, you tell stories. It's the closest thing to the old Dead scene. But even if you get frustrated, you were there."