Rangers v. Devils 1/26/14

Vinny is ready for roll callView from section 203Mike Pullano interviewing VinnyPregame warmups

Dan GirardiRyan McDonaghRyan CallahanRyan McDonagh
Brian Boyle

Rangers v. Devils 1/26/14, a set on Flickr.

I was lucky to attend the Stadium Series game between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. Here are my photos.

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UPDATED: Thoughts on the Logistics of Last Night

Last night, if you didn’t already know, I attended the Yankees game (I know…you’re shocked).  Anyway, last night was also Mariano Rivera bobblehead night. The 4th and final bobblehead giveaway of the season.  As was the case for 2 of the 3 previous giveaways, I and a few thousand of my closest friends arrived at the Stadium well before the gates were due to open at 5pm. 5pm came, they didn’t let us in. 5:10, 5:20, 5:30 nothing…still in line and no word from the team as to why we weren’t being let in.  I looked on Twitter and found out that the bobbleheads were stuck in New Jersey. Long story short, at 5:45pm they finally let everyone in. However, there wasn’t a bobblehead to be found and we were given a voucher to pick up the bobblehead at a later time.

As someone who has worked in the promotions department for a few teams and also ran logistics for major conferences for three years, my mind naturally began to think about how the Yankees would pull off distributing 18,000 bobbleheads during or after the game. At first I thought, set up a few areas where people can pick them up by the gates as they leave. Then it was announced: Between the bottom of the 3rd and up to 30 minutes after the game, fans with vouchers could pick up their bobbleheads by Gate 2.  Wait…18 THOUSAND people to one small area? You’re kidding me right?  Nope.

H/t to Richard Iurilli for this photo

H/t to Richard Iurilli for this photo

During the 4th inning I decided to check out the situation.  The line started back by the left field foul pole, down the 3rd base line, up a ramp, around the upper concourse (grandstand) and then back down. Some people waited in line for an hour and a half, missing more than half of what turned out to be a horrible game for the Yankees, in order to receive their bobbleheads.  I waited in this line for about 30 minutes before getting out because I wanted to watch the game. 

In the 8th inning my friends and I decided to get back in line so we weren’t at the Stadium until midnight. At this point we left our seats in section 129 (which is right by Gate 2), walked down the left field line, under the bleachers and finally found the end of the line by section 112 which is just past 1st base! All in all, we were in this line for just under an hour.


Here’s a map of Yankee Stadium to give you an idea of what I’m talking about above.

Also, there were only a handful of Yankees employees handing out the bobbleheads and I won’t even get into how rude some of the staff were to fans. I’m sure you’ve read about that somewhere else.

As the night wore on and I thought about this more, here’s what I would have done. (Not saying this would have been perfect or anything close to that…just an idea):

There’s an area in Yankee Stadium called “The Great Hall” where most fans enter/leave the Stadium through (which is also Gate 6). Since it seemed they closed off sales in the food court area because of the crowd attempting to go to Gate 2, they should have closed off the Great Hall to anyone who did not have a voucher and then set up the hall like a redemption center.


View of the Great Hall from a photo I took in 2009

There’s three other gates and multiple areas for fans to leave from (except for fans that needed to use elevators to exit). Why didn’t the team set up tables and use the Great Hall?  We’ll never know, but that’s what I would have done if I was running the show over there.

Well, after a horrible game, and a nightmare of an experience, I have my Mariano Rivera bobblehead and he has now joined his friends, Yogi Berra, Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui in my apartment.


UPDATE: Late this afternoon the Yankees sent out a press release announcing that anyone with with tickets for last night’s game will be able to redeem them for any regular season game next season (aside from Opening Day and Old Timers’ Day).  Also in the press release was information on how people with bobblehead vouchers can still get a bobblehead.  

“The strength of this organization comes from the lifelong relationships we have developed with our fans,” Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost said. “Although a perfect storm of circumstances beyond our control led to the delay in the distribution of last night’s promotional item, the fact remains that our fans were inconvenienced. It matters little why – only that they were. We take last night’s event seriously, and to apologize to our fans and express our loyalty to them, we are inviting all ticket holders from last night’s game back to Yankee Stadium for a complimentary game during the 2014 regular season.”

I am happy that the Yankees are doing what they can to make good on the mess that was last night. Only wish they gave us the bobblehead option last night too.  I am going to the game tomorrow and would have rather just walked up and redeemed my voucher then without dealing with the headache of last night. Also, I can only assume that the majority of fans that were at last night’s game are not on social media, not a season ticket holder or know to check the press release section of the Yankees website and will never know about these options.

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Giants v. Yankees 9/22/13 Mariano Rivera honored. Andy Pettitte’s last start.

hmmm...I wonder what could be under that sheet...
Steinbrenner family for the ceremonyMy view every Sunday since 2009.San Francisco Giants in the dugout to watch the ceremony for Mariano.9/22/13 Mariano Rivera Day in NYC
Sharon and Rachel RobinsonJackie Robinson is the first player from another team to have a monument in Monument ParkThe Yankees retire Mariano's number
Mariano Rivera hugs Rachel RobinsonI spy Metallica!
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My Grandma Elsie

On July 5th I received a call from my mom — my 96-year-old Grandma Elsie had taken a turn for the worse. It was just a matter of time before she would be gone. I was so thankful that I was with my friend Megan when I received that call. Having someone around made receiving the news a little easier.


Grandma Elsie as a baby. How precious is this photo?

That next day, while on the subway, I decided that when the time did come I wanted to speak at my grandma’s funeral. My grandma and I had a very special relationship. I knew it was my job to tell people how much she meant to me, especially after attending a family friend’s funeral earlier that week and hearing my childhood friend speak so lovingly about his grandmother.


My grandparents, Jack and Elsie, on their wedding day in 1940.

Shockingly — yet no surprise to anyone who knew my grandma — she held on for seven more days. Grandma Elsie was a strong-willed woman, and passed last Thursday morning. I was so relieved to be working from home that day so I could cry and grieve, then put myself together and start making plans to fly to Florida for the funeral.


Until I arrived at my parents’ house on Friday morning, I planned on speaking during the service. However, when I began to read my mom’s eulogy, couldn’t make it more than a sentence in without crying, I knew there was no way I would be able to speak in a few hours in front of friends and family. Of course I was right; I hardly kept it together. Instead of speaking, I’m putting my words on “paper” so everyone can know how much I love my Grandma Elsie and just how much I will miss her.


Grandma and my mom.

My grandma and I had a special relationship that started when I was a newborn. You see, if you didn’t already know, she called me “my baby.” Even well into my 30’s she STILL called me her baby. She loved to tell people how she brought me home from the hospital at only a few days old.  Of course my parents actually brought me home from the hospital, but in her eyes, she brought me home. I was, after all, the first granddaughter….well, after the dog. She’d tell this to anyone who would listen that I was her baby. In fact, in 2010 she broke her hip and was in a rehab facility for a while after surgery. I was in Florida for Rosh Hashanah and my parents and I would visit grandma. Nurses and staff would walk into the room and she would stop them and say “Have you met my baby, Stefanie?” As I said, I was in my 30’s at this point already. Gotta love grandmas, right?

I would always spend time with just my Grandma Elsie either when my grandparents would visit us in New York, or we were down visiting Florida.  When I was 13, we moved to Florida and we became even closer. We would talk on the phone more, and occasionally go out to lunch. Once I obtained my drivers licence, I would spend time with my grandma — and my grandpa too, just because.  When my grandpa passed, my grandma was in a rehab facility due to a back injury. I sat with her all day while my parents took care of the funeral arrangements.  I will never forget the sadness on her face that day; my grandparents had just celebrated their 60th anniversary a few months prior.


My grandparents dancing at my parents’ wedding in 1968. (That short guy in the background on the right…that’s my uncle)

My grandma was a good cook, but she was an amazing baker. My mom and I got our love of baking from Grandma Elsie. When I was younger and away at camp she would send me coffee tins full of her famous chocolate chip cookies.  When camp stopped allowing food packages, my bunkmates were devastated they get to snack on these treats. Everyone who had the privilege to try these cookies knows how delicious they were.  You always knew they were made with love. Now mom and I make them on a regular basis. For most of my friends, and especially my cousin Allison and my uncle, they are my go-to for birthday presents or study supplements like when Allison was studying for the bar exam.


Grandma with my brother, Mickey and me

As a little girl I remember always helping grandma roll the dough for her apple pie crust for Rosh Hashanah. However, I’ll always regret not learning from her how to make her amazing rugelach. Seriously, you will never taste rugelach as wonderful as the rugelach my Grandma Elsie made.


My grandma was the youngest of three strong and feisty sisters. Mae (L) and Ida (R) at my cousin’s Bat Mitzvah.

She would always ask how my friends were, even if she had only met them once or just heard me talk about them. She loved meeting her grandchildren’s friends, and usually feeding them as well.


This photo was taken as we celebrated my grandpa’s 90th birthday and my grandparents 60th anniversary. My grandparents are surrounded by their 4 grandchildren.

The last time I spent time with Grandma Elsie she took me by the hand and said — out of the blue, “You know, I’ve decided something. It’s ok if you marry Derek Jeter.” This of course, shocked my parents and myself into hysterical laughter. You see, she always acknowledged my affinity for the Yankees’ shortstop and captain, but told me I couldn’t marry him because he wasn’t Jewish. (I also think she just wanted me to finally get married, even if the guy wasn’t Jewish.) Well, Grandma…I hope you’re happy with how the rest of my life is turning out, and don’t worry, mom is really good at giving me guilt about still being single.


My grandparents were married 60 years. We should all be so lucky to have the love they had.

Over the past few years dementia set in and it became tough to see her. After seeing my grandfathers soon before they passed, I knew that the lasting memory I wanted to have of my Grandma Elsie was a happy one where she remembered her family. So in reality she has been gone from us for a while.  I, and the rest of my family, already miss her terribly.  Whenever I bake — especially her famous chocolate chip cookies — I will think of my grandma, the love she had for her friends and family, and I will smile.


Grandma and me at my Bat Mitzvah.


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Central Park, the day after Nemo 2/9/13

Metro-North overpass at 110th StFamily heading to the ParkMaking a snowman
Harlem MeerLooking into Conservatory GardenDuring the summer those designs are all flowers
The snow was just a little heavy

Yesterday I spent the day in Central Park taking post-nemo photos. I have never seen so many people in Central Park before (Except for the Bon Jovi concert on the Great Lawn back in 2008). Aside from freezing temperatures, it was an amazingly beautiful day to be outside.

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Not the Best Monday

Today started out how most Mondays start. I hit snooze a few times on the alarm. My bed was just too warm and comfortable. The commute was fine; I even managed to get a seat on the subway! That was the highlight of my day.

It went downhill from there.

After a long, slow day of work, as I was getting ready to leave, my boss asked to speak to me. I don’t have to tell you what happened next, but today was my last day at Major League Baseball Advanced Media. I knew it was possibly going to happen. I was told over a week ago things were changing and people would have to be let go because of budget concerns and a lack of hours. I had really hoped one of those people wouldn’t be me.

So here I am, seven months after starting an amazing job that I didn’t know how long it would last, looking again. I have learned more during my time at MLBAM than I could have asked for. I leave with the opportunity to return when Spring Training starts, and the promise of a glowing recommendation should I find something full-time prior to that.

So I turn to you again social media, should you know anyone who is hiring someone with my background, please refer them to my website: HireStef.com. If you’re not exactly sure what I am looking for, I can best explain it as a hybrid of social media and event planning. Last year I wrote a post about what my perfect job would be, but after working at MLBAM, I know I want social media to be a main focal point.

For now, I’m hoping tomorrow will be a better day.

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NHL Lockout: It’s not just hurting the fans

For those of you who know me or follow me on Twitter know how much I love the sport of hockey. If you don’t, let me give you a brief history.

I was raised in a hockey rink. From a very young age most of my time was spent at Sport-O-Rama in Monsey, N.Y., either learning how to skate or watching my brother play hockey. My weekends were spent at hockey rinks all around the northeast watching my brother’s travel hockey teams.

My dream was to be the color analyst for the New York Rangers; I didn’t know anything else. Yes, I love baseball and football, but there’s something about going to a hockey game: watching it, lacing up a pair of skates and the smell of a rink, of the ice. There’s just nothing else like it.

I might not attend a lot of games during the NHL season, maybe a handful when I can afford it or someone is nice enough to give me tickets. But I spend money. I spend money when I go to games. I seem to spend money even just walking past the NHL store on 6th Avenue in Manhattan. When I don’t go to games I go out with my friends to watch games at local establishments near Madison Square Garden.

Back in August, possibly even before that, the NHL Players’ Association offered to play under the now expired Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and continue to negotiate a new CBA. The NHL said no.

The CBA expired on September 15th with Commissioner Gary Bettman announcing the league was locking out the players. (Side note, I assume if you are reading this you know the difference between a lockout and a strike. If you don’t here’s the simple explanation: A lockout is brought on by the league/owners. A strike is brought on by the players.)

By the way, did you know that this is the THIRD lockout since Bettman became NHL commissioner? The second lockout canceled a whole season. No other professional sports league has seen the amount of games canceled than the NHL has under Bettman. I spent more time negotiating my Saturday night curfew with my parents when I was in high school than both sides have negotiating a new deal.

With today’s announcement of another month of canceled games, that’s money kept in my pocket, or spent other places. However, that’s money out of arena workers’ pockets because they work hourly and rely on these games for work. It’s also money out of the small business owners’ and their employees’ pockets around the arenas. Yes, we can all go and eat and drink at places around MSG and other arenas on a regular basis, but there is no way they would do the same business on a random Tuesday in November with no hockey being played down the street.

Many teams have already laid off staff, some teams laid off staff on September 17th, the first business day after the lockout announcement. Others have laid off staff since then, cut work days and of course salaries. A cut to the salary of an assistant or coordinator or even a director can be detrimental to a person’s livelihood. I’m not talking, ‘Oh now they can’t eat out every other night.’ I mean now people might have problems paying bills!

Fans are starting to call their ticket representatives asking for refunds and giving up their season-ticket-holder seniority because they are frustrated with what is going on. Those season ticket holders will now go and spend their hard-earned money somewhere else.  Maybe on a vacation, on home improvement, or even on another sport.  Who knows, but those who are pulling their money out are ones who might never come back.

Does the NHL realize that it has definitely lost the fringe fans? The ones that started watching because of that amazing triple overtime game between the Rangers and the Capitals during the playoffs last season? Honestly, what person who just became a fan would want to invest their time and interest in a league that just doesn’t seem to care? I know I wouldn’t.

If there was a season, tonight the Rangers would be playing the Carolina Hurricanes. Three of the four Staal brothers would be playing in the same game that mattered, probably for the first time since they were boys. What an amazing story! What amazing hockey! But instead, a good amount of the NHLPA is over in Europe playing, while many others are considering their options.

With the fact that a second month of NHL hockey is being wiped off the board, hockey fans everywhere are turning to other forms of hockey entertainment: NCAA, ECHL, AHL, OHL, Pee-Wee, Bantam or even pick-up games at the local rink to fulfill the huge hole.  Hell, fans like me are even turning on our computers to watch the KHL and other elite European leagues while we probably should be focusing on our work. No matter what, none of these options are on the level of the NHL. As a NYC resident, it’s not easy for me to get to a minor league or NCAA game; the availability just isn’t there like it is for me to attend a NHL game. 

The sooner all the owners and Gary Bettman realize they are hurting the sport and the future of the league more than helping it, the better. Unfortunately, I don’t see this happening anytime soon unless both sides lock themselves in a room until a deal is done. I’ll even volunteer to moderate.


What’s this attachment below?  Well, back in 2006 my group NYU Sports Business graduate school thesis (myself and four other students wrote and conducted the research) was a 10 year overview of the NHL and what it needed to do to improve. Feel free to read: NHL: 10 Year Overview (FYI…It’s a Word document download)

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