Monday, June 18, 2012

Yankee go home (by train)

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The casual nature of the reference is what caught my attention.

WCBS 88 News Radio in New York dutifully noted the New York Yankees were wrapping up a road trip Sunday, June 17, heading home from a three-game series with the surprisingly formidable Washington Nationals. Both teams had slugged it out for 14 innings Saturday, an effort that can certainly wear down most pro athletes.

Yankee Captain Derek Jeter told WCBS no one was going to feel sorry for either team, and then said something very much like, "Maybe we'll be able to get some rest on the train ride home."

So far early Monday, I've seen no headlines about "Yankees take the train home" or anything close, and Amtrak has yet to comment. If that changes during the course of the day, I'll amend this blog accordingly and indicate such. Until then, it's a case of "no news is good news"—a case I realize I'm ruining right here when the ordinary is painted as extraordinary.

Sure, Major League Baseball teams have taken the train now and again in recent times, and often it's been news with a capital "n" when they do—more a media event than a rational choice of utility. At times, other teams in the Northeast and Midwest have been reported to be on the train, the very novelty of it covered ferociously by diligent reporters. In all fairness, it has been fairly novel, and often steeped deeply in nostalgia; either the team players voted to do it and the schedule allowed it, or else bus or air options temporarily were unavailable. So it was news. Because it was still "odd."

During the 2009 World Series, it was "news" that the Philadelphia Phillies and the Yankees (and baseball fans) used Amtrak to get to and from Citizens Bank Park and Yankee Stadium. That made me happy, as a rail advocate and as a baseball fan, but the fact that such an option was newsworthy also showed how far U.S. passenger rail has to go before it's accepted as an everyday option.

Jeter's comments Sunday came much closer to that desired normality; trains weren't the focus of his comments; the team's fatigue was. Trains just fit into the post-series equation.

So the Yankees came home by train, and are set to host the Atlanta Braves in the Bronx for a three-game set. I don't expect the Braves to take the Crescent into New York, but Atlanta's next series is with the Boston Red Sox in Boston. One never knows.

Douglas John Bowen

Douglas John Bowen is Managing Editor of RAILWAY AGE. He also served as Editor of Intermodal Age from 1989 to 1991, and has held various positions at Inbound Logistics magazine, High Speed Transport News, The Journal of Commerce, and CNN/Money. Bowen began his journalism career at the Asbury Park Press, a New Jersey daily newspaper. A graduate of Rutgers University, Bowen resides in Hoboken, N.J. He served as president of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP) from 1987 to 2000 and again from 2004 to 2010, serving on the NJ-ARP board from 1984 until 2012; he remains a member of the statewide organization.