New York, New York

Thursday, December 30th - Friday, December 31st

With the end of 2010 fast approaching, and college football bowl season upon us, Syracuse University found itself 'bowl eligible', and were invited to play in the inaugural 'Pinstripe Bowl' at Yankee Stadium. With it being the Orange, and at Yankee Stadium, AND only three hours from home - we were there! Jill snagged us up some great seats in the 200 level, on the Syracuse University side (of course). We were even with the one end zone, but the sightlines were perfect and unobstructed.

As for the stadium itself, this was our first trip to the 'new' Yankee Stadium. In fact, when we were outside I joked that the Syracuse Orange were the only team that could get us inside of Yankee Stadium, but that quickly became truth when we entered the stadium. My comment, after walking around and perusing the Yanks new digs, was 'they replaced "The House That Ruth Built" for this?'. I am glad we were able to see a game of some sort here, because we can cross it off 'the list', and not waste our money on Yanks tix.

As for the Pinstripe Bowl itself, it started out looking like it would be a typical Syracuse dud of a game, but they redeemed themselves, it turned into an exciting game, and it was even better because the Orange came away with the win! Money well spent on the tickets, that's for sure!

We hopped the four train, and transferred to the six train, after the game, getting off at 77th and Lex. We walked the couple of blocks to Justin Timberlake’s place, 'Southern Hospitality' for dinner. Jill had pulled chicken, creamed corn, and sweet potato fries, and both Mike and I had the chicken and waffles - I opted for the dark meat/legs, and Mike had the white meat/breast. Very satisfying dinner!

Grabbed our usual trains back to the car in Harrison, where we loaded up and made the drive over to Newark. We stayed (probably for the last time) at the Robert Treat Hotel there for the night. The next morning, we got up, checked out, and headed back towards Binghamton, stopping at the Jefferson Diner for 'brunch' before completing the trip home.

December 30th
Syracuse Orange 36, Kansas State 34

New York -- The guy who’d called himself “just a simple kid from the Bronx,” who would later confess to nearly dropping to his knees in awe as he gazed at Yankee Stadium’s famed arches overhead, chose not to contain himself anymore.

Not on Thursday night. Not after his Syracuse University football team had survived Kansas State in the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl by the you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it score of 36-34.

So Doug Marrone, never one to draw attention to himself . . . did.

He quick-stepped his way down the field and to the stairs of the New York Yankees’ dugout — the very ones negotiated by Jeter and A-Rod and Posada and all the rest — and then he stopped. And after he did, Marrone, the unabashed Yankees fan, raised both hands, balled into triumphant fists, over his head . . . removed the official Pinstripe Bowl cap he’d been awarded at the final gun . . . and tossed it to the fans in the stands.

So much of the man’s 2010 football mission had been accomplished before 38,274 witnesses, and all just nine miles from his childhood home. And Marrone, the Orange head coach, allowed himself to bask.

“When you haven’t gone to a bowl game since 2004 and haven’t had a winning season since 2001,” Marrone said, “the first step is to create that as a goal. We had to sit back, re-establish our goals and see how important it was to win this game.”

Amazingly, the Orange — stricken by illness, by suspension, by expulsion — did just that. And it mattered not at all that only once in its previous 40 affairs with Division I-A foes had it managed to score as many as the 36 points it laid on those Big XII Wildcats.

The festivities had begun manly enough for the Syracuse players who climbed out of that Yankees dugout and onto the turf faded by the blizzard that hit earlier in the week for their pre-game workouts clad in shorts and T-shirts, some without even the minor benefit of short sleeves.

Never mind the wind-chill temperature that would drop into the 20s. Never mind the piles of snow, nearly fence-high in spots out there in left field and in right field and in foul territory behind home plate. Never mind that the Bronx was still shoveling out from the sixth worst winter storm in Gotham history.

“Hey, man,” said Bud Tribbey, the senior defensive tackle, “we’re from Syracuse. Weather isn’t going to bother us. No knock on Kansas State, but we wanted to show people what Big East football is all about.”

The Orange accomplished that task during a chilly afternoon that would turn into a frosty evening by going about the cold business of closing a deal. Remember, this program had become a punchline, a collective whoopee cushion, an outfit that lost to all kinds of people in all kinds of ways.

And then Marrone came into town with his talk and his walk, kicked life back into the Orange tires, and bought his alma mater into the big city in only his second season of cleaning up SU’s football streets.

And with a chance to go 8-5 and to deliver on the promise to deliver promise, the Syracuse club did just that before that bundled-up crowd which saw so much more than it could have imagined. Indeed, as the Orange and the Wildcats, mere mediocrities on the national stage, had combined to lose seven of its last 10 games coming into the Bronx, there was little reason to expect such a spectacular show.

But guess what? In a sea of 35 postseason contests, one of them will end up being the best one waged. And so far, the Pinstripe Bowl — with its 70 points and flea-flickers and halfback passes and double reverses . . . and, yes, with that horrible referee’s call on the Wildcats at the end that added so much controversy — is the leader in the clubhouse.

And the Orange, from the boss on down, basks on this morning.

“We’ve been through so much here,” said Antwon Bailey, the junior running back. “We just doubled our wins from last year. We not only won our bowl game, but we won it in our home state. It’s a beautiful thing.”

So? So, everyone . . . hats in the air. Doug Marrone should not be alone in such duty.

Trip Notes:

Stayed at the Best Western Robert Treat hotel in Newark; $123.12 for the night.