It was a long day. It was a good day. It was a fun day at the ballpark.
I left my apartment in Irvine at about 10:45am. I got to the stadium
at five after 11:00 and met up with Chris (aka cjpyankee) at the Right
Field Gate. We checked to see if screens were set up for BP by peering
down the tunnel in right. Nada. There would be no batting practice…
we found out later the players all hit in the indoor cages. ::sigh::
I was resolute… I was going to snag a ball anyw–
Where was my ticket? I’d left it in the grasp of the sun visor of my
car… ugh. I ran all the way across the parking lot, grabbed the
ticket out of my car… it was 11:27 and the gates would be opening in
three minutes. The closest gate to me was on the left field end of the
park. I headed there and, to my surprise, there was literally no one
in line! Lucky day, huh? A lot of Angels fans instinctively head to
the Home Plate Gate because that one opens earlier than the rest… for
night games. For day games they all open together. I was the first
ticket to be scanned and I ran in to the park… and saw little
action. A couple of Angels were long tossing. A few were stretching:
Eventually, Chris made his way over… we chatted and went wherever the
action was. I’d seen Brian Fuentes throwing in the bullpen:
He took his baseball with him. Jose Arredondo and Rafael Rodriguez
finished tossing their ball around and Arredondo threw it to–not me.
Hmm… Jered Weaver finished tossing with Darren Oliver and Chris ended
up getting that one.
It’s funny, when there’s no BP there really is a lot of roaming to
do… I headed to the dugout and had a conversation with a guy in
street clothes… turns out he was a friend of Juan Rivera’s, he was
here from Venezuela, and he got to be in the dugout for some reason.
Trevor Bell had missed a throw and a ball was sitting out on the
warning track in right field. Chris and I hovered over it until a
security guard ignored our requests and picked it up and took it away.
Bummer… We went to the first base dugout. No White Sox to be found
anywhere. After that, very little happened for a while so I got myself
my designated driver wristband.
Eventually, Chris and I saw Mark Salas (Chicago’s bullpen catcher)
start to make his way across the field. We ran all the way around the
stadium to meet him out at the bullpen. When we got there and he got
there we started up a conversation with him. He said he’d hook us up
with something… you may notice in the photo to the left that he is holding two baseballs. He told us if he gave them to us we’d have to give them to the little kids off to our right. Juan Nieves and starter John Danks joined him after a
while… and then someone from the Angels gave Nieves a bunch of
baseballs to give to those aforementioned little kids. There were
four kids and Nieves had five baseballs… the fifth one got tossed up
to me. Cool! No shutout–take THAT day game with no batting practice.
After that, the White Sox players FINALLY came out to the field and
started running and throwing. I told Chris I was going to head over
there. I went up the steps… waved to Chris… didn’t see him for the
rest of the day.
I got down to where the players were just as Gordon Beckham finished
playing catch with Chris Getz. I called out for the ball but I was in
the second row and, unfortunately for me, the kid in front of me had
tremendous coordination. He reached up and nabbed it.
I grabbed my free soda and found a seat:
I alternated between this seat and one other. Hot, hot heat in
SoCal equals fans sitting in the shade… not in their super-pricey
seats. I got pretty close to a couple of foul balls but couldn’t get a glove on either of them.
The fourth inning ended with Howie Kendrick flying out to Alex Rios in center field. As the White Sox came off the field a few little kids rushed down to the bottom of the aisle and started asking Mark Kotsay (the first baseman) for the ball… which he didn’t have. I kept my eye on Rios as he jogged in. I was in the third row, standing up, and called out, “Alex!” He tossed it right to me and a White Sox fan almost fell on me trying to get it for himself. I made the clean catch and casually walked up to my seat about ten rows back. This was the view (so you have an idea of how much ground I covered to get down there:
The older couple sitting next to me asked me if I’d gotten it. I replied in the affirmative and the older fella asked to see it… I showed him the rubbed up gamer and then compared it to the Nieves ball. I told them about how the balls get rubbed up for game use and how I collect them and how I give some away to kids. They really were a great couple and they told me I had to protect them if a foul ball came near… well, nothing came near, and as the shade of our seats went away so did they. By about the seventh inning, with the White Sox up 3-0, I decided to roam a little… I headed out to the right field corner in case either of the Angels batting left-handed decided to pull a homer down the line.
When A.J. Pierzynski was up I was here:
But he didn’t hit a homer either… but I did see my favorite usher, Barbara, out in the right field pavilion and I presented her with the Robb Quinlan ball from Thursday the 10th, telling her she could keep it or she could give it away to a little one, but she’s always been really friendly and I figured I’d trust her judgment as to what to do with the ball.
For Jermaine Dye’s at-bat I was here:
Well, darn. No homer. So I went over to the bullpens. I talked to D.J. Carrasco for a minute about this game he was playing along with Randy Williams:
They were tossing baseballs and trying to get them to land on the beam above their heads and stay there. I wished ’em good luck and headed over to far right field again for the Angels portion of the eighth. They scored twice. But not by home run. Darn again. It was now 3-2… Bobby Jenks came in and recorded the last two outs of the eighth… I headed for the White Sox dugout for the end of the game and found a seat in the second row:
You know what happened? The Angels tied it up in the ninth! Free baseball!
But then the White Sox scored a run on a Kevin Jepsen wild pitch (after Brian Fuentes let two men get on base while recording just one out). It was 4-3 and the Angels couldn’t come back in the bottom of the tenth. The game went final. I tried to get a ball at the dugout only one came up–way to my left. Ozzie Guillen tried to throw the lineup cards up but they hit the edge of the dugout roof and fell back inside. Third base coach Jeff Cox picked them up a minute later but slid them to a kid who didn’t even know what they were. :sigh:: Being an adult has it’s downsides, I guess… especially if you’re trying to collect baseball memorabilia.
Anywho, I jogged out to my car after that, doing my best to beat traffic out of the stadium. Most of the 37,390 fans had stuck around until the end… surprising for an Anaheim crowd!
The Angels are on the road next week but I may be making it to a Dodger game or two. Stay tuned!