NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees are playing in the Subway Series, but that doesn’t mean they've mastered the subway.
For some of them, the subway is like a 98 mph fastball that rides high and tight. In this so-called "Summer of Hell" for New York City public transit, where commuters around the metropolitan area have been beset by all kinds of issues making it to work, the Bronx Bombers have been no different.
Mostly, it's the rookies -- those 20-something NYC newbies -- who've had trouble navigating the B, D and 4 trains to Yankee Stadium.
Take, for instance, Tyler Wade, the 22-year-old utility man from Southern California, who wanted to take the subway on his first day as a big leaguer in early July. Like most of the Yankees who could be shipped back to Triple-A any day, Wade was staying at a midtown hotel.
"I ask these two cops, 'Where is Yankee Stadium?' One of them was like, 'Dude, you are in Manhattan.'"Tyler Wade
Wade downloaded a transit app, thinking he'd be all set. But he had no service once he was inside the Columbus Circle station and even less of a clue how to navigate the subway map. He tried to listen to the muffled announcements, but they didn’t help much. Eventually, he figured out how to hop on a D train headed north to the Bronx. If only it were that simple.
Wade exited at 155th Street, thinking he was just blocks away. But there was one issue -- he was still in Manhattan.
"I get out and I see two cops and I’m like, 'The Bronx doesn’t have big buildings,'" Wade said. “I ask these two cops, 'Where is Yankee Stadium?' One of them was like, 'Dude, you are in Manhattan.'"
While rookies like Wade wander aimlessly around town, many of the veteran Yankees have moved outside the five boroughs. The New York City-bred Dellin Betances lives just over the George Washington Bridge, 10 minutes by car from Yankee Stadium. He said none of his teammates have asked for his advice about the MTA.
“I haven’t taken the subway in a long time, but I’m willing to help if they need the help,” Betances said.
Ace Luis Severino doesn't need help with the train, but he could use a carpool. Severino drives to the city from New Rochelle in his Mazda CX-9, which he's using this season as the perk of a sponsorship deal. Still, just like a typical 23-year-old, he doesn’t always have access to the car.
“Sometimes my wife takes my car, so I take an Uber,” said Severino, who added that he pays about $40 to take the ride-sharing service to Yankee Stadium.
Rookie Jordan Montgomery, 24, lives in the city and takes the subway every day. But the lefty from South Carolina became a seasoned straphanger the hard way. His first time using the train, he hopped on the 5 instead of the 4. A subtle difference, but when he got out in the Bronx, he was completely lost. The 5 train doesn't stop at Yankee Stadium.
“I was walking around and was like, 'What’s going on?'" Montgomery said. “I didn’t realize how far away I was, so I was walking around a little bit and then I got a taxi. I really had to lock in after that.”
Now he has it down to a science.
Rookie Caleb Smith, 26, the Yankees’ fifth starter for a time, also had a learning curve. Smith tried to take the subway when he first got called up. The Texan waited for 30 minutes on the platform before asking someone, "Is this the right way to get to Yankee Stadium?" The guy told him, no, he needed to go to the other side. So he crossed over to the opposite track -- where he was told, again, he was in the wrong place.
“I did it four times,” Smith said. "I was finally like, 'I’m just going to get an Uber.'"
Smith was making the prorated league minimum of $535,000, but since it was just a short-term salary, he preferred paying $2.75 for a subway ride instead of ordering up a car.
“Uber is too expensive,” Smith said.
With the help of reliever Chad Green, Smith learned how to navigate the subway before he was demoted to Scranton.
Wade, meanwhile, is still with the big league club, but he won't be taking the subway to the Subway Series. Wade likes to be the first to the ballpark so he can get his work done early and stay out of the veterans' way. He, too, has turned to Uber.
“I’m a guy that likes to feel comfortable," Wade said, "and I feel like an Uber makes me less stressed."