Man, I’ve got to get to a few other stadiums this year! It seems like all of my entries are about Anaheim. It is steadily becoming a second home for me…
I attended this game by myself. Michelle was prepping for wedding things with her family and I ended up selling my extra tickets on craigslist. I arrived at the Home Plate Gate at about 4:30pm for the 7:05 start. When I got there, here’s how many people were around.
While time passed I realized that there would be a pretty light crowd for batting practice. I remember thinking I’ve got to to better than one baseball today. I knew this would be my last game for a while so I was hoping to have a really good time even though I was by myself.
A BP regular named Terry introduced himself to me as we were waiting for the gates to open. He then started talking to a guy that would race out to the pavilion with me at 5:00… we ran the whole way and I stayed right on his heels. Unfortunately, there were no Easter eggs to be found. I did end up introducing myself and found out his name is Rob, I had seen him at nearly every BP I’d been to at Angel Stadium since last summer so it was nice to finally meet. I owe my first ball of the day to Rob’s generosity, actually. Kendry Morales smashed a deep drive over both our heads and we both were running for it as the ball bounced through the seats. Rob was just a few feet ahead of me but he definitely gets the assist on this one for letting me have the ball even though he totally got to where it was first. Thanks, Rob. Later I saw San Diego ballhawk, TC, in the stands (who I recognized from Zack’s blog) and said hi to him, too. I was making all kinds of new acquaintances at this game!
Terry stayed down near the foul pole but Rob, TC, and I each made a nice catch (or two) up in the pavilion during Angels BP. I was right about BP being a lightly attended affair. Here’s the crowd during the first half of BP:
Rob’s in the navy blue shirt, TC’s in the black. It did fill up a bit by the time the White Sox finished. But, by that point I’d done the majority of my snagging for the afternoon. I would never have expected the Angels to hit more home runs than the White Sox during batting practice but that’s the way it went. After that first Morales snag, I didn’t have to wait long for the next one. Again, Morales stepped into the cage (batting from the left side) and launched one about six rows deep and a section to my right. I ran through a row and up an aisle and throw another half row and caught it on a dead run about six inches about six inches above the seats. That one felt good! I looked at the clock and it was 5:05pm. Two baseballs in five minutes! Not too shabby…
It slowed down a bit, though, and I didn’t snag another ball until the last round of Angels BP. Erick Aybar (showing a bit more power of late) smacked one that just cleared the 18 ft. wall in right and I moved a bit to my left to catch it. Ball #3 on the day and the 56th ball in my collection!
I figured, as the Angels headed into their dugout and the White Sox began to hit, that I’d get at least that many baseballs during their portion of BP. They’d been hitting bombs the day before. Nope–it’s like the Sox forgot to eat their spinach on this day. A few homers went to left field and two or three got it near me… but I wasn’t close enough to any of them to snag ’em. I had Jim Thome positioned perfectly but he failed to hit any homers in BP… and he’d hit at least a dozen up to the seats on Memorial Day. ::sigh::
I did manage to get the attention of D.J. Carrasco (in the #53 jersey, above) after he signed a few autographs near the foul pole. He started talking to Octavio Dotel (on the right, above), who’d been messin’ with a few Sox fans: faking tosses to them, saying he would sign ALL the autographs they wanted–from 18 ft. below them, etc. and then D.J. fielded a ball. I called out for it from about ten rows back, “Hey, D.J., how ’bout one up here, please?” He looked up and said, “What happened down here?” gesturing toward the Field Level seats near the pole.
“I dunno… I’ve been up here.”
He responded, “Down here, man. A lot of foul balls to get.”
“I’ve been trying to catch home runs. I figured you guys would be hitting a bunch out up here.”
He said something to Dotel, who looked at me and then Dotel said, “Naw… I threw one to her, and that guy over there.” They were determining if I was worthy of being tossed a ball. I pointed to my White Sox hat as I walked down to the edge of the wall… they saw my hat and D.J. said, “Alright, you gonna catch it?”
I told him, “You want me to go long? Yeah, I’ll catch it.” He laughed and I put my glove up. He threw me a strike… and he threw it hard. Remember that conversation for later.
Perfect. I thanked him and told him he’d pitched well the night before. He said, “Thanks,” and that was my fourth ball of the day. Sweet!
BP kind of died after that… I got dissed by Matt Thornton for the second day in a row. I even tried the, “How about a ball for another Matt?” that had worked on Matt Palmer two weeks earlier. No luck.
I headed down toward the White Sox dugout as batting practice wrapped up and I saw a player signing near the camera well along the first base line. I asked a friendly Sox fan who it was. He told me it was Chris Getz. As you may recall, I am a fan of this kid. So, I determined I should try to get his autograph. And get it I did, after wriggling through the mass of fans trying to get his attention. It’s a little sloppy but I like the #17 he signed, when I saw him get his first hit in the big leagues last summer in Chicago he wore a different number. Here’s his signature on my ticket stub from the game:
Then I settled in for the matchup behind the dugout. No infielders warmed up before the first inning, so no baseball there. And, try as I might, I couldn’t get Paul Konerko to toss me a third out ball all game long. I was close to one but rather than trample the little kid next to me I opted to stay stuck at four.
A lot of foul balls came near me but I couldn’t get a glove on any of them. That’s my new goal: to catch a foul ball… as it seems that my next baseball will put my at thirty for the season (a humble goal I set for myself in April). Foul ball, here I come.
The game was alright… the Angels lost 4-2, which wasn’t terrible considering the slaughter they suffered the night before. There were 38,040 fans in attendance… about 5,000 less than the previous evening. Bobby Abreu hit his first home run of the season… maybe that’ll get him going. Vlad got a hit, his first since coming of the DL… it was a single (BAH!). And Joe Saunders pitched well, giving up only 3 earned runs in 6+ innings. Bartolo Colon pitched for the White Sox (remember when he won a Cy Young Award in ’05?) and only gave up one run, and though the Angels tried to mount a comeback against the bullpen, it wasn’t meant to be.
As I was positioned behind the dugout trying to get a ball (or the lineup cards from Ozzie, which came soooo close to me) MLBallhawk, John Witt appeared next to me. After we both didn’t snag anything at the dugout he mentioned that he was going to hang around for some autographs after the game, if possible. He gave me a couple tips and we talked for a while. The coolest thing that happened was that D.J. Carrasco came out and was talking to his family. I’d seen a kid ask him for an autograph… so, I pulled the ball he’d thrown me out of my bag and walked over to him.
“Excuse me, D.J., could you sign my baseball, please?”
He said, “Sure,” and I handed him the ball and a pen.
As he was signing it I mentioned, “You actually threw me that ball during batting practice today.”
And then he said, “Yeah, I remember you–up top, right? And you caught it!”
I laughed and replied, “Yeah! Did you expect that I wouldn’t?”
“You’d be surprised how many fans don’t know how to handle using a glove,” he said, handing the ball back.
We laughed, I thanked him and said, “Have a good night!”
4 baseballs (and 2 autographs) at this game…
It may be June 22nd before I get to another game… there’s a chance I’ll be able to get to the Padres/Angels on June 13th… I’ve got a little something to do this weekend: marry my lovely fiancee!!! Then it’s her graduation the weekend after that and then a Caribbean cruise for the honeymoon! So, baseball is on the backburner for a while. Thanks for reading!