I felt like Yankees manager Aaron Boone after yanking Luis Cessa from the game, watching Chad Green implode against the Red Sox, and eventually trusting some guy named Brooks Kriske, who choked it all away with four wild pitches in the biggest game of the season on Thursday night.

My first reaction was, “Oh, sh*t!”

My second was, “This can’t be happening.”

And my third was, “How am I ever going to explain this without sounding like a complete dope?”

In the end, there was no way for Boone or me to escape it.

On Wednesday night, I helped with the coverage of the Yankees’ 6-5 extra-innings victory over the Phillies at Yankee Stadium, a terrific assignment for an intern. I’ve spent the past two months at NJ Advance Media, pitching in everywhere — Yankees, Mets, Phillies, Giants, Jets, Devils and Rutgers. During my summer before my senior year at Oklahoma State, I’ve written about N.J. Olympians elated about earning a spot in the Olympics and angry fans in the Yankee Stadium bleachers who wanted to fire Boone weeks ago.

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And through it all, I’ve soaked up every piece of advice I’ve received from the NJ Advance Media sports reporters who have mentored me. Even the last piece of counseling: “Watch the clock,” Randy Miller told me. “Make sure you don’t get your car locked in the garage.”


I wrote a couple of stories after the game Thursday night and looked at my watch when I finished. It was 1:47 a.m. The game had ended at 11:30 p.m., and the parking garage for media members, located next to the Stadium, is supposed to stay open for three hours after the game. So, I had 43 minutes to walk to my car.

Plenty of …

I reached for the knob.

“What the …?”

The door was locked. In fact, every door was locked. And there wasn’t anyone around with a key. Not the maintenance guy who heard me cursing. Not the Bronx character who approached me and asked, What’s up, man?” The Yankees couldn’t help me, either: It said so right on my media pass: “… the Yankees cannot reopen the garage after that time frame.” I called the NYPD, but learned New York cops don’t do cats in trees or interns in a lurch.

Someone had punched out early and I was stranded in the Bronx. I live in South Jersey, 90 minutes away, and NJ Transit trains were no longer running. This was an all-time rookie mistake. For some reason, the Seinfeld episode in which George Costanza sleeps under his desk at Yankee Stadium popped into my mind. Thanks to a Red Bull I had guzzled to stay awake on the drive home, my mind was racing.

Here was my plan: I would ask a Stadium security guard to let me back into the press box because “I forgot something in the press box,” and I would find a find a soft place to sleep. Maybe when the place was locked up tight and everyone went home, I could rack out on a couch in the players’ lounge or Boone’s office. After all, the Yankees were already on their way to Boston.

Anything to avoid calling my parents.

Eventually, sanity returned, and I realized I had to get home, but how?

“Dad, I messed up,” were the first words out of my mouth when he answered.

He thought I was in jail. Heck, at least there I’d have a mattress and a meal. He offered to come pick me up. I told him I’d grab an Uber — if I could find a driver willing to make the trip at 3 a.m.

So, who are the greatest New Yorkers of all time? George Steinbrenner? Jackie Onassis? Jerry Seinfeld? Babe Ruth? Robert DeNiro? Whoever’s on your list, add Jose, my driver. When no one else was there for me (besides Dad), José was. Did he know he was leaving the city that night? Nope. Uber doesn’t tell drivers the distance of the trip until after they pick up the fare, so my destination shocked him.

He could have said, “Hell no!” and left me at the curb.

Instead he said, “Let’s do this!”

During the longest journey in his young Uber career, we talked about his trips, his favorite foods –– New York pizza reigns supreme for him, while I argued N.J. does it better — sports and more. We sped down the N.J. Turnpike, merged onto I-195 and eventually into my neighborhood. José yawned when he pulled into my driveway at 4:30 a.m. He had earned a healthy tip.

When I crept in the back door, it hit me: Hours earlier, when the Yankees needed a hero, Ryan LaMarre delivered a pinch-hit single for a walk-off RBI. José was the Ryan LaMarre of my night.

My dad and I drove to the Bronx on Friday to retrieve my car, and somewhere on the George Washington Bridge, I thought about the internship paperwork I will fill out for my advisor. “What did you learn?” it will ask.

Two things, I’ll tell ‘em:

The Yankees’ bullpen is a dumpster fire.

But never mess with the parking garage closer.

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Ryan Novozinsky may be reached at [email protected]. Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.

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