The Indians were in town for a few days and, since my friend Randy (who I’ve mentioned in blogs before) is always down for the Tribe, I was heading to the game and Michelle, Randy, and his girlfriend, Beth, would meet me there a little after 7:00.
I got an early start, didn’t hit any traffic, and parked with plenty of time to get into line so I took a few pictures. Here’s a photo of the Big A:
And a panorama of the stadium taken from the parking lot.
I still think that Angel Stadium is one of the best stadiums to visit. It’s clean, the employees are friendly, and it’s affordable. Plus, the Angels are a great team!
I headed past the Left Field Gate:
Down the promenade toward the Home Plate Gate:
Until I got to where the lines had been set up:
I was the first one in my line. A few minutes later BP regulars John, Chris, and Rob showed up. John and I played catch for a few minutes and we all talked strategy for the day. My plan was to head straight in to left field since the Angels would be facing a lefty. All their switch hitters would be batting from the right side… I was the only one of the four of us that wanted to head that way. Cool, no competition.
5:00 came and we headed inside. I was the first one to reach the seats and this was my view:
The pavilion in left field is separated from the playing area by both teams’ bullpens so not a lot of homers (even in BP) go up there.
Well, the first Angels group consisted of Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Hideki Matsui. Torii took a big cut at a pitch and launched it into left field. It went just to the center field side of the bullpens, hitting some seats and then settling in one of the rows. I had a decision to make–there was no one in that section… yet. There wasn’t anyone in the pavilion area at all. But it wasn’t as easy as just making a beeline for the ball. To get from the lower left field seats to the pavilion you have to run up the steps and around–let me show you:
The photo above (taken in the ninth inning) shows the route I ran after the ball. Feel free to click on it for a larger view. I left my backpack near where I’d been (the white circle) and sprinted to the circle with the X. I got there moments before Terry, another regular who’d walked to the section, arrived. I snagged the ball and he looked at me strangely. “How’d you know it was there?”
“I saw it get hit when I was way over there,” I said, gesturing. A second later another home run landed in the seats above us and bounced right to Terry. My backpack! I ran back to the lower seats, deposited the ball, the 167th in my life, and went back to my hobby–snaggin’ baseballs.
Some Angels pitchers were nearby and after a little while Scott Kazmir fielded one and hung onto it. He still had it a few minutes later so I yelled out, “Hey, Scott, could you thrown one over here, please?” I stepped back away from the wall… he held the ball up and fired it from forty feet away–over the heads of the folks in front of me–and I had my second baseball of the day.
I’d previously missed out on a screamer down the line because the guy near me saw my reaction and jumped up, hung over the wall, and snagged it first. But after I’d labeled the Kazmir ball another one came dribbling out to the track. It was moving pretty slowly and was an easy grab for Ball #3. That was it for the Angels portion of BP, though Rob had come over to left field by that point as well and I watched a ground rule double go a few feet over my head and Rob ran, leaped, and snagged it for a cool catch of his own.
We both headed to right field when the Indians started hitting–they’ve got some lefties that can really smash the ball!
I called out to a few players for toss ups but got ignored by Jake Westbrook and Kerry Wood. After a while, some lefty, either Grady Sizemore or Shin Soo Choo, drilled a ball deep into the stands. I couldn’t make the catch on the fly but the ball went over my head, hit some seats, and bounced nicely into the fold of a chair one row above me. I climbed over and snagged it for my fourth ball on the afternoon. The next snag would be a BP homer as well, this one off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera. He hit it high and deep, to the center field area of the pavilion and up about ten rows. I tracked it well, headed
up the stairs and–just missed making the catch. I was still able to grab the ball as it rolled across the concrete nearby. Five!
But despite quite a few more homers, I couldn’t get close to any of them and at 6:15 I ran down to the first base line and waited for BP to end. It did and both Chris and I ran toward the dugout. I was near the home plate end of the dugout as the Indians trotted in and someone threw me number six on the day. I never saw the player or coach’s face. Just the arm after I pointed to my Indians cap as he headed into the dugout.
Michelle, Beth, and Randy still hadn’t arrived so I made myself comfortable in the seats near the dugout. Eventually the Indians came out to warm up.
Maybe a few of them would play catch. After the national anthem Choo came out and threw with someone–but they didn’t throw their ball into the crowd. But Andy Marte played catch with Luis Valbuena and when they finished I stood up and yelled out, “Andy! Right here!” from the fourth row. He looked up and tossed me the ball. The lady in front of my screamed because she saw it at the last second and reached up, mostly out of fear, I think. And then smiled and sighed when she saw my glove over her head. The guy sitting to my right was amazed. He asked me, “Did he just throw you that ball?” I replied in the affirmative and he asked, “How’d you get him to do that?”
Well, I knew his name, was in Indians gear, stood up, made myself noticeable, called out to him–
“I guess he saw my hat.”
After that I moved back a few rows and the game was under way. I took some great action shots. Like Jered Weaver throwing the second pitch of the night:
And Erick Aybar running between second and third after he hit his first homer of the year:
And a couple others:
In the bottom of the first Michelle called me to say they’d arrived. I waited until the inning ended, tried for a third out toss from Russell Brayan, I let the kid in front of me get it even though I’m prety sure it was meant for me… but I didn’t want to fall on the little dude… and then I met them at our seats on the 500 level.
I showed them. Can you tell my wife was impressed? Michelle and I have both been working a lot and it would be so great to have some relaxing time at the ball game. So, for a while at least, I put catching baseballs out of my mind so we could just enjoy the game. But first, food. They were all hungry so Randy and I bought refreshments–hot dogs, sausages, Chinese food, drinks–oh, yeah! It took a while but it was all delicious and we all hung out in Section 524 for most of the game. It was a light crowd (not surprising–a Monday against the Indians) which, at Angel Stadium, means 35,000 or so. The seats I gotten were through eBay for six bucks each and I sure couldn’t complain. I love eBay.
Here was the view:
I decided to take a panorama from the highest point of the stadium (like I did last year):
And we watched the Angels, who were up 3-1 after the second inning, take on Randy’s Tribe. The last time we all watched a game together was back in July of ’09. In that game the Indians came back to beat the Halos in a thriller–for Randy. This time would they do it again? Bobby Abreu hit a two-run bomb in the sixth inning to make it 5-1. In the eighth we left our upper level seats.and found seats with this view:
It was 5-2 at this point because Austin Kearns had homered as we walked down the ramps… I was a little nervous. Fernando Rodney got the last two outs of the eighth… the scored stayed 5-2 going into the ninth. Brian
“Makes Me Nervous” Fuentes was called in to close it out.
Fuentes struck out Choo leading off the inning, then Travis Hafner reached first on a throwing error by Brandon Wood. Fuentes struck out Branyan, then walked Kearns… yikes. Finally, Fuentes struck out Jhonny Peralta to end it. Whew. Not pretty–but he struck out the side.
Predictably, the Indians didn’t toss anything up at their dugout and we all made our way out to the parking lot. Michelle and I parted ways with Beth and Randy but first we all posed for a picture.
It was a great game, a fun time, and the Angels won! So I was ecstatic.