5/12/10 at Angel Stadium

the big a.JPGA Wednesday game at my favorite ballpark… at 4:05pm?

Yeah, the Angels have moved their getaway day games from the BP-less
12:35pm starts to the BP-filled 4:05pm starts.  I had a tip that the
teams took batting practice at these games but I’d yet to attend one.

Also, the gates would only be opening 90 minutes prior to the game as
opposed to two hours before.  Bummer… but at least there was going to
be batting practice, albeit shorter than usual.

Instead of going through the Home Plate Gate as I usually do (because
that’s the one that opens two hours early for night games), I went over
to the Right Field Gate knowing that I’d be that much closer to the
pavilion and that the line would be nice and short.  I saw John Witt
over there, too, and besides the two of us… here was the crowd:
pregame crowd at rf.JPGThe Home Plate Gate had at least 100 people hanging around.

Well, the gates opened up and I ran in and up… but somehow still
wasn’t the first fan in the pavilion area.  Weird… I guess the first
guy in line another gate got let in a minute before I did… long story
short… no Easter eggs.  We caught the end of Angels BP but I caught
zero baseballs in the ten minutes the home team was hitting.  I did have
a quick conversation with Scott Kazmir though.  I asked him if it was
true that if Reggie Willits hit a home run during BP he had to run a lap
around the stadium.  He nodded and said, “Yep.”

“Well, that explains why I’ve never caught a BP home run from him then.”

Scott said, “Yeah, when he’s up it’s funny, baseballs are just bouncing
off the outfield walls.”

The Angels headed in a minute later and the Rays came out to hit.

BP had a nice, light crowd today.  The biggest irritation was people
sunning themselves in prime snagging territory.
light bp.JPGAfter about ten minutes of there being very few baseballs hit into the
stands I started asking players for tossups.  Willy Aybar was fielding
in right-center and, to be honest, I wouldn’t have known it was him due
to the fact he was wearing a cover-up over his number.  Damn those
cover-ups, making my roster useless!

Anyway, some Rays pitcher complemented him on a running catch by saying,
“Nice one, Willy.”

The next time he fielded a ball I called out, “Hey, Willy!”  Without
even stopping to see that I had a Rays hat on he turned and fired the
ball to/at me.  I mean, he rocketed that thing!  scooped up the
grounder, pivoted, and fired like he was making a throw from shortstop
to first base.  I was caught a little off guard but I made the catch in
front of my face.  man, it had the velocity of a hit baseball… someone
nearby said, “It’s a good thing you caught it.  That coulda done some
damage.”  Yeah… to my face.  But I’ll take it.  Cool–on the board for
the day!

Sadly, that was it for Rays BP for me.  As the were winding down I
headed to their dugout.  There, I got a trainer (or someone) to toss me
my second ball of the day.  He was stout and blonde and after I asked
him if he could spare a baseball (he was standing next to the bucket) he
threw it right to me… then tossed seven or eight others into the
crowd, too.  Nice guy.

At that point there wasn’t much to do… but I knew the Angels Strike
Force would come out to shoot T-shirts and plush baseballs into the
crowd so I went toward right field.  I’d seen these launches enough
times to know that the T-shirts fly into the View or Club Levels… the
baseballs make it to the back of the Field Level.  So, I stood two rows
from the back of the section, caught one… then walked toward home
plate along with the Strike Force as they shot off more souvenirs. 
Really, I was hoping a T-shirt would fall short of its target in the top
levels and I’d grab it… but I ended up snagging a total of three of
those squishy little baseballs.  The last one I got by making a nice
basket catch while running to my left.  It’s kind of fun… it’s like BP
snagging but safer and the wind really catches the ball.  Anyway, I
gave one away to an older lady that wanted one and another away to a
little boy near the dugout.  Then I sat down to wait for the game to
start.

I missed out on a warmup ball from the Rays–but I had this view for the
first inning:
5.12 field level panorama b.jpgAnd I had this to my right:
empty row to my right.JPGPeople don’t like to sit in the sun, plain and simple.  So that first row out of the shade stays pretty empty.  Come on, foul ball…  sadly, none came my way.  Michelle and I had
dinner plans so a little before 5:00pm I left the game to meet her and
some friends.  I had stayed long enough to try for a third out ball
twice… but I came up empty.

So, two baseballs.

The stadium was pretty empty for this game as I was leaving… here’s the view from the parking lot:
leaving the park 5.12.JPGWant a closer look?
so many empty seats.JPGAll those empty seats… oh, well.

I’d be back again soon…

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