I was all excited for this 3:05pm start. Why? Well, I was out of class and could get to the park in plenty of time, the gates were set to open two hours early, and I was hoping for a small crowd. Plus, there was a Postseason Rally after the game… maybe I could snag a piece of equipment.
I was there when the Home Plate Gate opened at 1:00pm, as were a few other regulars (John, Chris, and Rob) and when I ran in I saw an entirely empty field:
Bummer… it would be a long afternoon. Usually if there’s no BP at a day game the gates open ninety minutes before the game. Now we had an extra half-hour to kill. The four of us regulars chatted behind the dugout for a minute… then I figured I’d take a walk. I checked the outfield/pavilions for stray Easter eggs. Nada. Next, I went to the bullpens… I saw a groundskeeper prepping the visiting team’s pen and asked him if there were any baseballs he could spare sittin’ around in there. He looked, then shook his head and said, “Nope, sorry. But thanks for being so polite about asking.”
Hmm… finally I saw a few players emerge from the dugouts. Scott Feldman started stretching and running in the outfield and Matt Palmer started playing catch with Sean O’Sullivan near third base. I headed toward the Halos… though I didn’t snag their warmup ball, Sean O’Sullivan signed a ticket for me.
A little while later some more Angels came out to throw. I hung out nearby and, while most fans were seeking autographs, I got a warmup toss from Jose Arredondo. Great! I’d gone to thirty-eight consecutive regular season games in 2009 and snagged at least one baseball at each game! I was thrilled! Action on the field was limited for a while so I went over to the Ranger dugout again, knowing that they’d come out to throw shortly. They did:
And I snapped this cool picture of C.J. Wilson (who’d thrown me two baseballs in this series):
But Chris was focused on snagging a baseball near C.J. so I headed to the foul pole where Eddie Guardado was warming up. I’d talked to Eddie in the first game of the series and wished him a happy birthday coming up on October 2nd… I didn’t know if he’d remembered that so I asked him, “Hey, Eddie, are they going to throw you a party tomorrow? Maybe tonight on the plane?”
He laughed and kept throwing. I followed up with, “Just wanted to make sure I got you a Happy Birthday before you guys left town.”
I never asked him for a ball… but this sort of interaction had proved rewarding when I’d talked to Shane Loux earlier in the season. Sure enough, five minutes later when Guardado finished I was sitting in a seat about forty feet from him and he tossed me his baseball. It was falling short and I leaned forward as far as I could in the middle of the row I was standing in. The ball hit off the seat in front of my glove… and I normally would’ve just hopped over the row and grabbed it. There wasn’t anyone else near me at that point… but the ball took a crazy ricochet and, from the fifth row, bounced back onto the field! I hoped Eddie was going to give me a second chance–after all, it was his bad throw and not my lack of catching ability that resulted in the ball going back on the field. I ran over one section and then down a few rows so I was much closer to him and asked for another shot. This time it was easier to get it to me… and I caught it (of course). It was a filthy, grass-stained, heavily used baseball:
Chris ended up with a ball, too. And we collectively decided that our chances for a ball were better back on the Angels side, as new players had emerged from the dugout to warm up. I just missed out on Jered Weaver’s baseball… back out to the bullpens I went… I saw Kevin Millwood getting ready for his start:
Then I hung out near the Angels for the remainder of the pregame stuff. Once the infielders started playing catch I stood about eight rows back from the field. Erick Aybar threw his baseball toward me but a barehanded fan snagged it in the row ahead of me. Good catch!
A minute later I moved a bit to my right and called out to Maicer Izturus who fired the ball into my glove! Great–three baseballs with no BP! That’s more than I snagged on Tuesday and more than I snagged on Wednesday–when there WAS batting practice!
Anywho, the game was set to start and I found a seat, with Chris and Rob, behind the visitor’s dugout. Chris got his first 3rd out ball… ever! And then left for another spot in the stadium but John sat in his vacated seat. Here was my view of the action:
Nice, huh? And John, Rob, and
I got to stay here for the whole game–none of us snagged a ball during the game but we got to talk baseball the whole time which was fun.
The Rangers beat up on the Angels pretty badly in this one… the score ended up 11-3 Rangers. I wasn’t concerned though… when you have Bobby Wilson playing first base you’re not sending out your A-team, you know?
Since a bunch of people who were just there to see the rally after the game would be let in at the conclusion of the eighth inning, Rob and I went behind the Angels dugout for the eighth. I actually was able to score a front row seat… and took a couple of pictures of Angels players hanging out in the dugout:
What’s with those goofy looks, guys? Funny.
Somebody threw a bunch of bubble gum to the fans, too… a shower of Dubble Bubble came down on us in the ninth inning. And I had a great view of Julio Borbon’s “wardrobe malfunction” in the ninth, too:
Kevin Millwood pitched a complete game against the Salt Lake Bees… and got the win. The game ended and the Angels threw a couple of baseballs… but no equipment… they still had a few games left in Oakland.
There was a pretty good crowd on hand for the Postseason Rally and it included the Golden Knights parachuting down onto the field:
Then some Angels players spoke to the crowd:
Speakers included Torii Hunter, Chone Figgins, Bobby Abreu, and Jered Weaver. As they spoke, Rex Hudler and Steve Physioc ran the show and called out to other Halos as they walked across the field to the team bus, all while being applauded by the hometown fans. I left as the players left and took this photo on my way out:
The Angels were headed to Oakland… then they’d meet up with the Boston Red Sox back in Anaheim the next week. ALDS in Anaheim! Go Halos!