9/14/08 at Angel Stadium

It seems like I was just here… blogging… because I was.  This was my fourth game in four days.  I’d never been to more than two consecutive games before this weekend.  I was tired but determined to make it a great day, as it might be my last game of the year (unless someone hooks me up with playoff tickets).  I arrived at the stadium a little later than I would have liked.  It had been open for five minutes or so when I headed inside.  To my surprise, I saw this:
Angels Game 09.14.08 001.jpgThe Mariners were taking batting practice!  I wasn’t really prepared for that so I quickly put on my Seattle hat and ran to right field.  I debated between heading up to the pavilion and staying down on the field level.  I chose the field, which ended up being a good call because no baseballs made it up to the pavilion except a couple that got tossed up there… and it was crowded.  Each Sunday home game the Angels have Family Sunday and kids get all kinds of cool stuff and get to participate in fun activities.  So, Sundays at Angel Stadium = lots of kids.  I hung around near the foul pole.  I just missed one that scooted by me off the bat of an M’s lefty.Angels Game 09.14.08 004.jpg 
Then, the Mariner pitchers started throwing right in front of where I was standing.
  Angels Game 09.14.08 009.jpg

R.A. Dickey began warming up and I asked him if he could teach me how to throw a knuckleball.  He laughed and said, “That would take too long.”  I’ll assume he meant that in the it’s-hard-to-learn way and not the you’re-not-good-enough way.  I like that guy.  I like anybody that can throw a knuckleball.  Here’s some trivia for you:

  • R.A. stands for Robert Alan.
  • Robert Alan Dickey is MISSING the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm (which is the one that gets replaced when a player has Tommy John surgery).
  • There are only 3 players in the big leagues currently that throw a knuckleball.  Can you name them?

Angels Game 09.14.08 011.jpgAnywho, I watched R.A. for a while and saw Ryan Rowland-Smith throwing a few yards further down the field.
ryan rowland-smith.jpgI yelled, “Ryan, will you sign an autograph when you’re done?”  He turned.  He had on those crazy-huge-baseball-player-day-game-sunglasses.  He gave me a nod.  True to his word, as soon as he was done he game over and signed a ticket stub from Thursday night’s game for me.

rowland-smith auto.jpgWell, the players finished throwing and the shortened BP session ended and I walked down near Seattle’s dugout as I had each of the past three games.  I sat near some Mariners fans, chatted and waited for some guys to play catch after the anthem.  They came out, as usual:
Angels Game 09.14.08 021.jpgBut, alas, I couldn’t get their attention as they headed into the dugout.  No baseball for me… but I had a whole game to go!  It was a bright, sunny day in Anaheim and that meant that spectators weren’t sitting in their awesome field level seats because they wanted to stay in the shade.  I didn’t mind, and hung out in the fifth row for the whole game!  I didn’t have to move at all.

Picture time.  I love me some photos:

Angels Game 09.14.08 029.jpgAngels Game 09.14.08 039.jpgErvin Santana pitched well, striking out three and walking one while allowing two runs through seven innings.  He was in line for the win after Mark Teixeira absolutely KILLED a ball to dead center.  It went 432 feet and was his 10th home run as an Angel, his 30th this season, and his 200th career blast.  Angels 3, Mariners 2.

As Big Tex touched home plate:
Angels Game 09.14.08 035.jpgThen Scott Shields blew the lead in the eighth.  Ugh.  3-3 tie and I thought, “Hey, maybe we’ll see some free baseball today.”  Tied in the bottom of the ninth,  Reggie Willits (one of my favorite Angels) led off as a pinch hitter and grounded out:
Angels Game 09.14.08 091.jpgAfter that, I saw M’s first base coach, Eddie Rodriguez, with a baseball in the dugout (I’d gotten down to the first row).  I asked him if he could spare it and he rolled it to me across the dugout–and some punk teenager tried to snag it from out of my glove.  Eddie wears #1 for the Mariners, you can see him in action in many of my photos from previous entries, and he used to work for the Nationals/Expos. I had almost given up hope for a ball.  Sweet!

Then Sean Rodriguez hit a deep drive.  A walkoff home run maybe?  No, Ichiro went back on it, tracked it, jumped at the wall… and it bounced off the wall about a foot above his glove!  Rodriguez made it to third.  Wow!  Triples are freakin’ exciting to watch.  That hit prompted Seattle manager, Jim Riggleman, to do something I’d only ever seen a couple times, and never actually witnessed in person.  He opted to go with the five man infield by pulling Ichiro in from right field to play between shortstop and second base!  Crazy, right!  I love it when rare stuff happens at a ball game.  Stuff like that keeps people (or me, at least) fascinated with the game.  Here, count the infielders:
Angels Game 09.14.08 093.jpgIt didn’t matter though, Chone Figgins was up next and he hit one to the wall in right field that scored Rodriguez.

I saw two triples, two walkoff wins, a knuckleballer, a record breaking performance, and a sweep by the Angels, all in the four game series!
Angels Game 09.14.08 094.jpgThe Halos celebrated in the infield with Figgins and I almost got a second ball… J.J. Putz tossed one just to my left as he trotted in from the bullpen.  Then, Sean Green, who’d thrown me a ball the night before, started signing a few autographs.  I got him to sign a stub from that day’s game.
green auto.jpgAll in all, I did what I set out to do:  I had a great time at the game!  Now it’s time to gear up for school.  UC Irvine starts up again soon.  Go Anteaters!

Psst… in case you were wondering, the three knucklers are R.A. Dickey, Tim Wakefield (you knew that one, didn’t you?), and Josh Banks (he plays for the Padres).  According to the knuckleball article on Wikipedia, there are a couple of players in the minors right now that throw it, too.

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