9/9/08 at PETCO Park

Last night I was at my first and last Padres game at PETCO Park this season.  It was my second game ever at PETCO (I went to one last year).  Who was with me?  Michelle, my sister (Heather), and her boyfriend (Karl).  Karl is older than I am… I will spare the exact details.  And he had never caught a Major League Baseball in his life.  When I mentioned batting practice, and that I had gone to four consecutive games where I’d caught at least one ball, he was in.  Hands down.
We walked from his place to the park and got to the beach at 4:40pm.  Heather and Michelle were going shopping and told us they’d meet us when the game started.  Well, the coolest thing I noticed as we walked in was the sand sculpture to our left.  Take a look:
Padres Game 09.08.08 013.jpg
Not a lot happened after that.  I think three baseballs ended up on the beach.  Chip Ambres threw one, Dirk Hayhurst DID NOT pick one up that rolled across the track… a Dodger fan tried to get it through the chain link by walking it up with his fingertips… Dirk watched him (and so did I) then he grabbed it and gave it to the very determined guy.  Then somebody threw one as the Padres ended their portion of BP.

We had tried to head over to left field at 5:05 but were informed that it wouldn’t be open until 5:30.  Well, at 5:30 Karl and I were right there, first in… and I had told him to check the rows for “Easter eggs.”  We didn’t find any but somebody had run all the way toward the fould pole and snagged one.  Well, at this point I was worried that neither of us would have anything to show for our diligence.  Luckily, the Dodgers can hit home runs to left field… and they did.  russell martin.jpgRussell Martin blasted one that I didn’t think would get to me.  There were three fans in front of me that wanted this BP homer.  They didn’t get it.  I did.  This was the 15th ball in my collection and the first home run ball I had caught on the fly since I started keeping track of this kind of thing.  I caught one from Manny… that Manny… when he was on the Red Sox during BP at Angel Stadium a couple years ago.  That was my first ball ever.  Michelle was with me that day.  I was thrilled.  I actually caught a second one that day… but I can’t remember the details.  Anywho, this ball stung a bit because someone had bumped my arm up just enough that I didn’t catch it full on in the pocket of my glove.  Karl came over, thrilled, and we high-fived.  He’s seen it.  My next thought was, “He’s gotta get one today.”  It didn’t take long.

Karl was to my left and I saw a Dodger righty smash one that I could tell was going to get out.  Karl had been sitting down in the first row.  Was he still?  I looked and he was on his feet… he saw it and that ball looked like it was meant for him.  All he had to do was catch it.

I came in, he held his glove up… and caught it on the fly.  He didn’t have to move to the side or jump up.  He got it shoulder height.  Perfect.  It was his first ball.  He stared at it in his glove and I ran over shouting, “YES!  That was awesome, man!”  We laughed, high-fived, then it was back to work.  I had asked Takashi Saito in Japanese for a ball.  My accent must’ve been lousy but I at least got him to look at me and smile… but no ball.  I watched him throw against the padded wall in the outfield for a while.  Then I heard a CRACK!  I saw a ball falling… it wasn’t going to make it over the wall but it WAS going to bounce on the warning track.  I darted to my left and saw it hit the track, I couldn’t get my open glove around it but I heard the ball hit the wall and slammed my glove against the ball, the wall, and another glove.  I thought I’d have to fight for it, the ball wasn’t IN either glove, but was sandwiched between the two.  I looked–it was Karl!  No fight, we just made sure we could pull it in and he let me have it.  That was my second ball!

Batting practice ended a bit after that and we walked around toward the visitor dugout.  Matt Kemp, who’d hit that ball we had co-snagged, was signing autographs so I headed down.

Padres Game 09.08.08 024.jpg

There was a line being manned by a Padres usher.  I got close…

Padres Game 09.08.08 025.jpg

Closer…

Padres Game 09.08.08 026.jpgI was next in line and Kemp headed into the dugout to change for the game.  I couldn’t believe it!!!  I guess you’ve gotta stop signin’ sometime.  Eventually, we got kicked out of the section and headed to our seats in the 2nd row in left field.  I figured we’d get a home run or two out there.  Before the game started and the ladies got there I headed to the Dodger bullpen where Hiroki Kuroda was prepping for his start.Padres Game 09.08.08 040.jpgRick Honeycutt and Ken Howell were there, too, but ignored me and threw balls to a few little kids.  Whatever.  Then I headed to my seat right behind Brian Giles/Andre Eithier.Padres
 Game 09.08.08 045.jpgThe girls showed up in the top of the 1st and we enjoyed the game.  A small disappointment was that Brian Giles threw the first warmup ball into the stands… but nothing else came that way.  They stopped thowing the warmup ball and the only homer was by Manny to RIGHT field.  Oh, well.  We all had a really fun time and, since this was a belated birthday present, my sister had paid for the tickets!  Sweet!

Karl and I with our treasures:
Padres Game 09.08.08 066.jpg
My streak is now officially a streak.

  • 5 games with at least one ball.

I’ve got tickets to all four Angels/Mariners games this weekend. 
Michelle will be with me on Friday.  Garrett will be joining me on
Sunday.  I’m psyched–though the Angels just clinched their division
with a loss by the Rangers after my Halos beat the Yankees.  K-Rod will
be going for his record-tying and record-breaking saves.  Who’s
excited?!?  ME.Padres Game 09.08.08 065.jpg

Oh, and the Dodgers won.  It ended up being 6-2 after the Padres bullpen blew a 2-1 lead in the late-goings.  So, the Dodgers won by four runs just like they did when I went to Dodger stadium last week.  Oh, and I’ll close with my first blog-related Photoshop image.  I’m new at this:

petco panorama.jpg

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