8/23/08 at Angel Stadium

Back home in California after more than a week exploring the Midwest…
My attendance at this game was a bit unexpected.  Brendan, a college buddy of mine, was visiting the area from San Francisco.  On Friday he mentioned that we should catch a game so I logged in at StubHub to find some seats for the next day.  I found some for about twenty bucks a piece for the six of us that were going.  Here’s a picture of all of us:
STA72969b.jpgFrom left to right: Brendan, Sophie (his girlfriend), Katie, Josh (her boyfriend), Michelle (my fiancee), me.
So, print-at-home tickets in hand, Michelle and I left Irvine at about 2:45pm for the game.  The plan was for Brendan and Josh to each call Michelle when they got to the stadium because we all knew I’d be running around frantically trying to snag baseballs.  We were in line at 3:30 or so and at this point I’d like to point out that I am new to these baseball snagging ways.  Since we didn’t decide to go to this game until the day before it happened, I found myself without a Twins hat… I rooted through all my baseball gear and found the closest Twins memorabilia I had.  A 2007 Johan Santana All-Star T-shirt.  To try to better my chances at getting balls from the Twins I decided to fashion a makeshift hat using a navy blue Angels cap I already owned.  I printed out a Twins logo and taped it over the Angels logo.  Sure, it didn’t look perfect but from 100 feet away I was sure it would fool the average ballplayer.  Here I am outside the park before BP started (you can see the orange Santana shirt in my hand):
STA72937b.jpgAs soon as I was inside I rushed to the left field seats to see if I could find a ball that’d been hit out before the gates had opened.  No luck there, but I was able to get a great spot right next to the foul pole in left, where quite a few liners bounce around.  Plus, K-Rod, Ervin Santana, and a few other pitchers were throwing around that spot.  I didn’t have to wait too long for my first ball of the day.  Before Michelle had caught up to me (she met Josh and Katie just after the gates opened to give them their tickets) a line drive bounced off the short wall in foul territory and rolled right toward the pole… and me.  A security guard was nearby, just waiting to throw the ball back to the infield, but I was able to lean out and over and pick the ball up in my glove just before it stopped rolling.
A note about the security folks at Angel Stadium: They HAVE to throw balls that stop on the playing field back in to the infield to be reused.  They aren’t just being jerks if they won’t give you a ball.  There are two instances in which they are allowed to give fans baseballs.  1. When the ball has gone into the stands and then out onto the field again (bouncebacks, ricochets).  2. When the ball goes into an out-of-play area like a maintainence tunnel, bullpen, etc.  Most of the security folks are pretty nice if you talk to them… but they just have to do their job.
I saw the Twins start to head out onto the field and the Angels weren’t hittin’ more to the stands in left so I figured I’d ask the pitchers to give me a ball (a longshot since there were so many little kids around me).  Just then, a liner came down the line, bounced into the stands thirty feet to my right and I heard gasps.  Apparently, a kid of about ten (who didn’t seem to have a glove with him) had gotten hit in the torso by it.  He looked like he was OK, but he was rubbing his shoulder a bit.  A few Angels saw it happen and Steve Soliz walked over to the kid and handed him a ball.  I thought, “Cool, how nice for that kid.”  Then K-Rod (who would record his 49th save that night) walked over and gave the kid ANOTHER ball!  At that point I was thinking, “Dude!  He gets two balls for not paying attention to what’s happening on the field and not having a glove?!?”  I guess I’m just getting bitter in my old age… of twenty-five.
No worries, it was time to change clothes anyway.  I went from red hat and red shirt to navy blue (faux Twins) hat and orange shirt.  I hoped that it would pay divedends.  As Josh, Katie, Michelle and I headed over to the right field bleachers an Angel Stadium usher said to me, “Whoa… go easy on us tonight.  You guys have already won two in a row.”  We all had a good laugh at that… at least my gear had fooled ONE person.
Once we were in right field I noticed that most of the Twins shagging balls were wearing the cover-ups ballplayers have during BP that cover their numbers.  It was tough to recognize most of them, but after a few minutes a Caucasian Twins player tossed a ball to me after I asked quite politely:  Any chance I could have that ball, please, sir?”  It pays to be polite!  He was right-handed.  I think it might have been Scott Baker or maybe Adam Everett.  It was at that point that I remembered that I didn’t know who had hit me my first ball… it was a right-hander and at that point Howie Kendrick, Robb Quinlan, and Gary Matthews Jr. had been batting.  Who knows?
Brendan and Sophie showed up at that point and batting practice was over after I failed to get a ball from Joe Nathan… who was throwing most of them up to fans.  Dang.  We headed up to our seats in Section 427.  Here’s the view:
STA72940b.jpgI had planned to move down closer to the field late in the game (which ended up being 5-7 Angels) but I was having a great time with all of my friends so I kind of forgot about it until the end of the eighth inning.  I had already tied my record so I decided to stay put and just relax and savor a Halos win.
The game was great!  It was 1-6 at one point but the Twins made it close with four runs in the fifth.  Jon Garland and Nick Blackburn both exited before the sixth and Mark Teixeira hit a line drive homer late in the game (it hit the top of the short wall in right) to make it 5-7… that’s how it stayed.  Woo!  Fireworks… then a walk to the cars.  We didn’t even need the Rally Monkey.
STA72964b.jpgI might make it to another Angels game this week… but we’re moving Michelle from one apartment to another before school starts up… so I might not make it to a game until Sept. and I have a trip to PETCO lined up!

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