Here is why I was excited about this game:
1. I had the chance to hang out with my buddy, Josh, at a ball game.
2. I was trying to extend my baseball streak in a new venue.
3. I was hopefully going to meet Zack Hample and get him to sign a copy of his book for me.
Here is why I was not excited about this game: It was a Dodger game at Dodger Stadium.
Allow me to explain. I’m not a Dodgers fan… I have nothing against the team. They’re a good team. I do, however, have an issue with Dodger fans (and I’m generalizing). Mostly, they are OK… but I can’t ever go to a Dodger game without the sneaking suspicion that I might, just might, get shanked in the kidney by some drunk, illiterate tool that can’t handle the fact that his (or her) team might not win every single game.
I’ll give you an example of a Dodger fan at his worst in just a bit.
Josh and I got to the stadium at 4:45pm for a 7:10 game. The parking lot hadn’t even opened yet, so we lined up Josh’s car to get in. Here’s Josh:
We played catch, ignored some dudes trying to sell imitation Dodgers gear, chatted, offered to let a kid throw the ball once (and he did… right down a hillside.. he was only six years old)… and then the gates opened at 5:10. We had a Preferred Parking Pass that we got along with our tickets via uclaterry on eBay… a new favorite seller of mine. I would have preferred Field level seats but Josh was buyin’, so I couldn’t complain.
We parked in the lot and hurried down to the left field bleachers. The Dodgers have an interesting approach to BP: they open up the field. Like, you can stand on the warning track in center field and try to snag. We determined that would be way too crowded, though, and that more balls would head for the seats in left anyway. Well, we must’ve been right on because as soon as I headed up the stairs to the stands I saw a guy in a Padres cap and shirt wearing his glove just waiting for a ball to snag. I had to do a doubletake, but sure enough, it was Mr. 3700 baseballs, Zack Hample. I watched him for a second and then introduced myself.
“Hi. Are you Zack?”
“Hi. I’m Matt, I’ve left some comments on your blog and I brought the book like you said.”
He was cordial, but hard at work, too. He seemed like a cool guy and had a very firm handshake. I told him that as soon as he had some time I would love to have him sign my book and he said he, of course, would be happy to. As I scurried along for my own snagging I kept an eye on Zack, watching his technique.
After a while I convinced Mike Adams, a reliever for the Pads, to toss me a ball. For comparison, I saw Zack snag three in that time (plus he got one before Josh and I even got there)! Later, Dodger fans started giving Zack some crap because he wouldn’t give any balls to kids. They didn’t know that he usually DOES after BP is over. Whatever.
I asked him, “People hassling you?”
“Yeah,” he said, “but they don’t get that I give away baseballs all the time.” The guy bending down on the right side of the photo was a real jerk to Zack.
Dodger fans. Yuck! And now for MY story of confrontation.
Zack had signed my book and wished me luck (and Heath Bell of the Padres could’ve signed my book, too, apparently)… but he had to run to the Field level before the end of BP. It involves that walrus-sized dude in the red shirt right there. So, I attempt to catch a ball that clears the fence and my glove is outstretched next to another glove. Our gloves bump, the ball hits ’em, and neither of us gets the ball. Bummer, no big deal, right? Wrong! I see this HUGE Mexican guy next to me and he starts swearing up a storm. F this and F that and F you!!! In front of his little kid that he was trying to catch the ball for!!! I’ll give you an exact quote from this walrus:
“What’re ya f***in’ pushin’ me for? I’m f***in’ tryin’ to catch the f***in’ ball for my kid, eh?! You, back the f*** off! I’ma f***in’ throw you over this f***in’ railing. You want that?”
I didn’t want that, obviously, but I also knew that he was probably all talk and if I stayed a few yards from him he couldn’t hit me if he wanted to. A Dodger personnel person saw it and told me he knew I didn’t push anyone. I just said to the fat dude, “Nice mouth in front of your kid.” And I was done. Who the f*** wears a red plaid shirt to a Dodger game anyway?
Well, that was it for me for BP. One ball (shown to the right), but my streak was alive and well! Josh and I headed for our seats in foul ball range on the Loge. And in the first inning Juan Pierre smacked one that curved juuuuussst a little too far from us. The game went on… at one point the Dodgers were up 8-0. Manny hit ANOTHER home run. Andre Eithier had a chance at the cycle but was a double short. Most fans left after he grounded out in the 8th. And another foul came really close but was just out of my reach again.
I saw Zack snag a few more balls at the Padres dugout during the game. He ended up with ELEVEN. That man is insane! The score ended up being 8-4 Dodgers. I had a great time! One of the best parts about going to a non-Angels game is that I usually don’t care who wins or loses and I can just enjoy baseball. Ah.
Next up… PETCO Park on Sept. 9th! I hear it’s good for snagging. I’ll be there with my sister, her boyfriend, and Michelle. Woo!