Hi, everyone. Let me kick off this entry by saying that I was contacted by the creator of myGameBalls to contribute to the site by being a columnist. My first one went live on Monday and you can check it out here.
All right… to the game. I knew that I would only be able to stay for batting practice for this game. I had a school meeting that night (and I had made dinner plans with my wife, too). So, I was hoping for two things: a great BP and an Angels clinching victory… the latter I wouldn’t get to see… in person.
5:00pm arrived and Rob, Chris, and I ran in. Also in attendance was Leigh from SD and TC from down there as well. I hooked Leigh up with a ticket since he had hooked me up the month before for a Padres game. We all took off… I was the first one out to the pavilion in right field and as I jogged through the front row looking for Easter eggs (there were none) I heard the crack of Kendry Morales’ bat and looked up in time to see a BP homer land in the seats near me. I picked up Ball #1 of the day on a bounce. I thought, “Man, I wish I could’ve caught that one.”
I’d get another shot. In his next round of swings Morales lifted one that was maybe gonna clear–maybe gonna hit–that 18ft. wall in right-center field. I was in the first row and I started heading right, side stepping through a whole section. It was hit too far for me to catch it… my outstretched glove was about two feet shy of the ball…
It hit the seats and took a hop up in the air and back a row. Then it trickled out into the aisle and I snagged it for my second ball of the evening. Sweet. Two from Kendry–but neither one had actually been caught.
The stands were starting to fill up a bit at this point.
That’s about ten minutes after the gates opened. See how a lot of the fans are shielding their eyes? Well, that’s because if you’re in right field during batting practice at Angel Stadium the sun is brutal. Case in point: the view from near the foul pole in right…
Back to snagging, I moved closer to right-center, then back toward right, based on the hitter. When Morales stepped up again I set myself right in the middle of where those first two baseballs had been hit. He smacked one deep and I knew I had a chance at this one, as well. I was in the fourth row and I drifted to my right just a bit. I felt bodies closing in around me as I camped underneath it. At the last second I reach up and out and felt the ball smack the pocket of my glove right as I got hit from the left side… not hard… just enough that the guy who’d been running over to catch the ball couldn’t stop and skidded into a sort of bear hug… awkward. He patted me on the back as if to say, “Good catch.” No harm done… Rob was on my right. They’d both been closing in on the ball and, had I not positioned myself well beforehand, I would’ve been blocked from getting it at all based on their positioning and reaction. Lucky me! Three on the day and all from K-Mo.
After that round of BP I headed down to the foul pole in right field as the Rangers pitchers came out to throw. I saw Chris down there and eventually he asked me about a pitcher wearing number forty-nine. I said, “That’s Jason Grilli.”
“Really? Cuz I ‘m pretty sure I asked him once before and he told me, ‘That’s not my name.'”
I was puzzled so I said, “Hey, Jason, how ya feelin’ today, man?”
He looked over and said, “Real good, man.”
I looked at Chris and shrugged. Yep, it was definitely Jason Grilli. After he finished throwing he tossed me the baseball he’d been using. He, I would learn, is one of the more chatty pitchers on the Rangers staff and I would totally believe that he might tell a fan that he wasn’t who he was, just to mess with them. After that interaction I made sure to wish Eddie Guardado a happy birthday (in Spanish)… he was born on Oct. 2nd. He thanked me and continued warming up while I ran back up to the pavilion.
That’s Chris right in front of me and I took this picture at about 5:45pm, just so you can see the crowd that had started to arrive. I didn’t snag anything else until after BP finished though I did see Grilli launch a ball to a fan in teh upper deck. Pretty cool! I ran down to the dugout as the Rangers came off the field and hoped someone would toss one to me after noticing my Rangers cap. Sure enough, C.J. Wilson jogged in and threw a ball right to me as he headed down the steps. Five balls in Anaheim is a pretty decent outing and I was thrilled–even though I had to leave for my meeting at school that night but I made sure to meet up with Leigh and Chris and take this picture of our haul for the afternoon:
For those that are new to this blog, I’m in the middle, Leigh is on the right, and Chris is on the left. Matt: 5 (though you can’t see ’em all), Chris: 3, Leigh: 1… and the Angels won 11-0, clinching the AL West for the third consecutive year.
Here was the view as I headed out to my car… and everyone else was arriving for the game:
Weird. Anyway, I followed it on MLB Gameday from my laptop at school. I had tickets for the whole week so I knew I’d get to celebrate the very next night at another trip to the park.