9/10/09 at Angel Stadium

I donated blood about two weeks prior to this game.  In addition to the
snacks and drinks they provided to all the donors the Red Cross gave us
coupons, an Angels hat, and a voucher for two free tickets to this game
between the Angels and Mariners.  At about 4:35 I parked, headed to the
Red Cross table under one of the big red hats at the Big A, and then
met Chris at the front of the line… we were pretty much the only
people in line at that point.

My strategy when the gates opened was a change from my normal
activity.  Since the Angels would be facing lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith I
knew that they’d all be batting from the right side of the plate. 
Therefore, it made little sense for me to run to the pavilion in right
field… nothing would’ve been hit out there because the Angels would
only have one left-handed batter who’d have hit at the point we ran
inside.  It might seem complicated or like I thought about it a bit too
much… but it’s kind of like a manager leaving a righty reliever in to
face a lefty batter because the batter can’t hit this one pitch he
throws or he’s struck out twelve times out of forty… just statistics
but sometimes they work out.  Sometimes you can play the percentages
all you want and it really doesn’t do you any good.

5:00pm–gates opened and off I went, sprinting left instead of right. 
It felt weird… but I got out to the left field seats first, scanned
the ground for Easter eggs… nothing.  Dang.

Up to the left field pavilion just behind the bullpens.  I’d never been out here for BP:
behind the pens.JPGBut it didn’t take long to get my first baseball of the day.  Robb
Quinlan fielded a ball in the outfield and then tossed it to a player
in the bullpen… or, rather, at a player in the bullpen.  I didn’t
ever see this person but I heard Robb say after he threw the ball,
“Well, you need to pay attention then.”  Presumably he wanted to scare
that person and he succeeded.  The mystery bullpen person threw the
ball back to Robb and then I called out to him and held up my glove. 
He fired a strike right to me (over both pens) and I thanked him. 
Cool!  I knew I wasn’t going to go home empty-handed.  The ball had a
PRACTICE stamp on the sweet spot.  More on this ball later.

At this point in time (about 5:10) I was one of two people in the left
field pavilion, the other being a young man named Scotty who I had met
earlier in the afternoon.  He got a ball that was a homer by some Angel
and the ball took a friendly bounce, rolled up the grassy slope in
center field, and he picked it by reaching over the fence.  Then he ran
off toward right field.

After Scotty left I was the only fan out there again.  There had been a
ball lying in the Mariners bullpen since I’d arrived but since M’s
pitching coach Rick Adair had been going over some drills with the
previous night’s starting pitcher, Ian Snell.  When he finished and
Snell started to head out of the bullpen I asked Adair, “You guys gonna
win this one tonight?”  He shrugged and smiled and instead of me asking
for the ball lying in the pen he tossed me the one he’d been using with
Snell.  I hadn’t asked for it but I certainly appreciated it.  I
thanked him, wished him well in the game, and headed off to the right
field foul pole as the Halos finished their second round.

Now, I have learned where to hang out during Ichiro’s BP cuts… but it
hadn’t paid off for me in the series.  Nevertheless, I took up my usual
spot about a half-dozen rows back just fair of the pole as the Angels
finished and the M’s started up.  In his second round of cuts Ichiro
knocked a ball way out… but it went into the tunnel between the right
field pavilion and the lower right field seats.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t
have given that ball a second thought but two days prior I had seen a
guy wearing sunglasses and an Aramark uniform in there and he’d tossed
a couple of baseballs to fans.  I looked over into the tunnel and, sure
enough, the guy was there and he’d retrieved the ball.  He looked at me
and I asked him, “Are you allowed to toss those over?”

He didn’t do anything other than shrug and reach his arm back–he was
going to throw it.  I took a few steps back from the fence and held up
my glove.  His aim was right on.  Ball #3 on the day… I wish I could
say I caught that Ichiro homer on the fly… but an Ichiro BP homer is
an Ichiro BP homer.  Cool.  I should really find out that Aramark guy’s
name.

I headed up to the pavilion in right after that.  I knew the M’s had a
few lefties still to hit and I figured I might catch a homer.  I almost
did… and this time I didn’t make an error.  I got assaulted.  A ball
got hit and I tracked it, heading to my right.  I got under it, reached
up as high as I could.  I was going to have to jump.  I bent my knees,
fully extended my glove, and–OUCH!

I didn’t know what happened at first.  I felt pressure on my head, my
cap got knocked off and I heard the ball hit someone’s glove.  I turned
around an some old guy had hit me with his forearm from behind in order
to catch the ball.  I was irritated… but I figured he’d apologize for
knocking into me and I would say it was all right and congratulate him
on his catch.  He didn’t… he just laughed and held up the ball, very
pleased with himself.  I minute later I talked with Chris and he’d said
he’d seen it and “was I OK?”  I was… but I’m not too fond of that old
guy… nor are many of the other regulars, as it turns out.

Well, on to happier news.  A Mariner pitcher threw me my fourth ball of
the day.  I couldn’t tell who it was but he’s the guy in the center in this photo.  The one not looking up toward the camera, the one who isn’t Felix
Hernandez:
not felix but who.JPGAny ideas?

BP wound down after that and Chris and I ran down to the dugout as the
players came off the field.  I saw Chris get a ball from a coach and
then he said, “Did you see that?”

I said, “Yeah, you got a ball.”

“Yeah, but if I was smaller and cuter I could have had a bat.”  I
looked… yep, a little kid had received a bat from a player.  Further
down, right where the good seats met the Diamond Club seats, another
kid was receiving a bat from a Mariners player.  I didn’t know who he
was, but on a whim I yelled to him as he approached the dugout, “Hey,
could you spare the batting gloves, too?”  He was already removing
them, didn’t even look, and tossed them up as he went down the steps. 
One of them hit the dugout and fell back down.  The other one came
straight to me.  I snagged it with my non-glove hand.  Wow!  My first
piece of equipment from a major league player (aside from the 122
baseballs, of course)!  I had to find out who it was.  I’d gotten a
good look at him.  A Mariners player, Caucasian, pretty fair skinned…
a batter (so it wasn’t a pitcher, obviously)… and then I though about
the bat.  I ran over to where it had been handed over and asked who’s
it was but the person who had received it had already been taken away to
check it with security.  Dang…

Well, after some sleuthing at home I was able to determine that the
generous batting glove thrower was M’s catcher Rob Johnson.  Many
thanks to him.  Here’s a pic of it:
johnson batting glove.JPGChris had to leave so we grabbed some free sodas on his way out and I
wandered a bit, found a seat as the national anthem was about to start
and realized I recognized the performer:
kenny g.JPGThat’s Kenny G… he played the anthem and when he got to “the land of
the free” he held the “free” note for, I’m not kidding, about a
minute.  It was really impressive!

OK, so before the game started Jose Lopez played catch with Adrian
Beltre in front of the dugout.  When they finished I was standing in
the third row and had my glove up.  No one else was noticing that
Beltre wanted to toss his baseball into the crowd… since there wasn’t
anyone younger or cuter he tossed it to me.  Sweet!

I ended up in three different seats throughout the game.  All near each
other and all awesome.  In the first inning I was here:
field level first base angel stadium cropped small.jpgAnd in the second the Angels went up 2-0 on a Torii Hunter home run. 
Here’s Torii being congratulated as he heads back into the dugout.  I
think this photo’s amusing because Mike Scioscia is clearly about to
smack Torii on the butt.  Baseball rituals…
hunter congratulates.JPGI took a few photos of Ken Griffey Jr. because I figured that this
might be the last time I ever got to see him play.  Who knows if he’ll
retire after this season?
griffey 1.JPGgriffey 2.JPGJohn Lackey was dominating the Mariners… he only allowed five hits
(three of them to Bill Hall) and was still in the game after the Angels
got him a third run in the seventh.
lackey1.JPGI was watching from here:
my view seventh inning.JPGJust hoping for a foul ball… nothing came close though.

As Lackey took the hill in the ninth I was right behind the Angel
dugout… how close?  Well, I zoomed in with my camera as Franklin
Gutierrez made the second out.
gutierrez.JPGGriffey (seen in the above photo)
popped out in foul ground to give Lackey his eighth career shutout…
his first since ’07.  It was a great game–a quick game, too.  By 9:25
I was looking through the concourse for a kid with a glove.  Remember
that Robb Quinlan ball?  Well, I decided that (as long as I snagged at
least one after that) I’d give it away after the game.  I meandered
through the field level as folks exited for at least five minutes and
the only kid with a glove that I found was talking to his folks about
the ball he’d already gotten that night.  I decided to keep it
temporarily and give it away when I was at the game on Saturday.

That’s right–Angels/White Sox day game on Saturday! I hope there’s
BP–it’s the FOX game of the week so I’m guessing they’ll take batting
practice… but you never can tell for sure.

Here are the five baseballs I snagged:
five baseballs.JPGI realize as I write this that I went to every game in the Seattle
series and the Angels won all three of them.  That’s the first time
I’ve been at every game of a sweep.  Cool!  The Halos AL West lead is
now five games.

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6 comments

  1. cookandsonbats

    Matt, ball #4 came from newly acquired Mariners pitcher, Ian Snell. If you put “Ian Snell glove” into google images, you’ll see a bunch of head shots where he is holding up that same glove.

    09INDIANS – you are right, that is Franklin hitting, but Matt was referring to Griffey standing above Franklin in the dugout (in the upperleft portion of the picture).
    -Todd
    http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com

  2. chasicle

    Good work on that batting glove, never gotten anything myself, so I’m very impressed. The 10th happened to be my BEST EVER outing ever. We probably bumped into each other, but since you have no idea what I look like, I doubt you’d remember. Anyways, I was the first person into the stadium that night, probably a second before you, ran to right, and instantly saw a ball land in the seats just beyond first base. Then literally 10 seconds later, another came to the same spot. Since I had no competition, I had two balls in 15 seconds. Then I ran to the furthest “well” just past the foul pole in right field and stayed there the rest of BP. Scooped up three off the dirt, had one thrown to me, and got a homer (Ichiro?) that I reached for, but since the sun was in everyone’s eyes, it hit off the top of my glove, rattled around the seats, and rolled right next to me. Got 7 on the night, beating my record by a mere 5 balls. 🙂

    I ended up sitting in right field the whole night to “try” for a Griffey homer, but of course nothing came my way.

  3. bloggingboutbaseball

    YANKEEHATER – Yep. That’s the guy. Know his name?
    09INDIANS – I’ll just keep it with the rest of my collectible stuff–it’ll be a fun story to tell. 🙂
    TODD – Thanks for that. I updated my records… and you are absolutely right about that photo. Thanks for clarifying that for me.
    JULIA – Thanks… it was a fun series to be a part of.
    CHASICLE – Wow–that’s an impressive outing. Next time we’re at the stadium together come up and say, “Hi.”

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