I really didn’t have any intention of going to this game until about 36 hours before it actually happened. July 23rd happened to be the birthday of a good friend of mine named Garrett (who you might remember me mentioning in this entry from back in May). He didn’t have any big plans when I called him up so Michelle and I invited Garrett and his roommate, Julian, also a good friend, down to the OC for some baseball action. I found some cheap tickets on StubHub and the plan was set: Michelle and I would go to batting practice and the guys would drive down from L.A. for the start of the game. We were psyched to spend an evening with friends and I was extra jazzed because I hoped to snag a Twins Metrodome commemorative baseball. I hoped that they’d brought a few with them on the road trip.
We got to the stadium at 4:45pm (ugh… traffic) and got a surprisingly good spot in line. When the Home Plate Gate opened I ran out to right field but on my way I stopped mid-stride. There was nobody hitting!
But the cage was up…
But there was nobody hitting!
But– Oh, what the heck!?! I ran the rest of the way out to the pavilion anyway hoping to find an Easter Egg. Sure, the one day that the Angels aren’t hitting (I later realized they got in from their roadtrip at about 3:00am, hence the lack of BP) is the day most of my competiton is nowhere to be seen for the first five minutes. Look:
Four fans, three ushers. Not including me… I was the first one out there. I took this photo after I’d checked… no baseballs to be found.
My favorite usher did welcome me by laughing at me (my rush out to the pavilion only to be sorely disappointed seemed to amuse her) but otherwise the first fifteen minutes in the park were uneventful. I snuck past the field level ushers and down to the Twins dugout where I attempted to get a ball from Brendan Harris. He tossed it over my head… but then the Twins started hitting! My first ball of the day was a foul ball by a right-handed Twins player. I didn’t see who because, for once in my batting practice life I actually wasn’t paying attention to the batter at all! I was making my way back down the first base line toward the outfield in preparation to ask a pitcher or two for their warmup ball. I was in the first row and I heard a THUNK a few rows behind me and about twenty feet closer to the foul pole. I knew that sound! A ball had hit one of the seats and, could it be? No one else had paid attention to it. I rushed over as people turned their attention from the field to the mysterious source of that THUNK (and the guy running toward where the sound had come from) and I pulled baseball #1 of the day (and #75 in my lifetime collection) from its spot stuck in the seat. Not commemorative. 😦
A few minutes later I asked infielder Brian Buscher if he could please spare a baseball. I used his first name and said please and he pulled a ball out of his back pocket and flipped it to me. Simple. Easy.
Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer were hitting with the second group so I ran up to the pavilion and, get this, I couldn’t snag a ball for the rest of BP. I was just a bit off when homers were hit. I saw a few go right over my head when I thought I’d lined ’em up perfectly. Bah!
Anywho, I watched the Twins end BP early and run off the field. I ran over to Michelle and told her I was headin’ back down by the dugouts. And before you knew it I was here:
Hey, what’s that out there on the batter’s eye? Well, the Angels had revealed the 2010 All-Star Game logo that day–there it is:
Oooh! Anyway, Michelle came and met me on the Terrace Level after I watched some Angels players warm up:
Then we hung out and waited for Garrett and Julian to show up… we knew they were going to be a little late (ugh… traffic). Here’s the view:
We got kicked out of those seats a few minutes after that photo was taken so we took a walk and decided we were hungry. We went to Beach Pit BBQ, in my opinion it’s the best food Angel Stadium has to offer. We sat down in deeeep left field to eat our meals. Delicious, and the view wasn’t bad either:
After the first inning our friends called us. They were at the Left Field Gate so we met them there and then headed up to the View Level… our seatswere waaayyy up in the nosebleeds but I’d seen some decent seats in a nearly empty section and THAT’S where we stayed for the whole game:
Not too shabby. The game was great! The Angels trailed from the first inning, 3-0. They made i
t close with two runs in the bottom of the fifth but the Twins scored again in the sixth. Going into the bottom of the ninth the score was 5-3 Twins.
Joe Nathan was in the game with his under 1.30 ERA. It wasn’t looking good for the Angels. By this time we had all moved down to the Field Level (at Garrett’s request) to watch how the game ended. Gary Matthews Jr. and Howie Kendrick provided RBI singles in the ninth inning to tie the game! Kendrick hit was a lucky miracle dribbler up the middle that Nathan got a glove on. It rolled toward second and shortstop Nick Punto was all set to snag it and step on the bag to end the game but it hit the base and he couldn’t get a hand on it! Mike Napoli scored from third and we had some free baseball coming up! I was thrilled! Like, literally, I thought the game was over because there were two outs, two strikes, and that little roller was sure to be nabbed for the last out. I was right behind the Twins dugout thinking I might get a baseball tossed–but this comeback was way better! I ran back up to the group and high-fived the guys and Michelle. Brian Fuentes came in and shut down the Twins in the top of the tenth. About half of the 38,145 were still around in the bottom of the tenth when Mike Napoli doubled home Chone Figgins to win the game! We were there–it was awesome! The Angels came back AGAIN against an All-Star closer this time. One thing I can tell any Angels fan reading this is: don’t leave early. Especially with this team, you never know what’s gonna happen.
Then we headed back to the cars… it was a great birthday night for Garrett (who turned 23 on the 23rd = golden birthday) with the Halos winning a tight game.