7/15/10 at Angel Stadium

I’d barely had time to rest since the All-Star Game and I was back, driving along the 55 to the 5 to the 57… and I arrived plenty early for the AL West showdown between the Angels and the Mariners.

I was pretty pleased to see such a light crowd at the gates. 
I ran in and started searching the right field seats for Easter eggs.  No luck. 
I spent ten minutes of batting practice chasing homers and when Hideki
Matsui blasted one ten rows over my head I took off after it.  Another
fan snagged that one but as I walked back to my normal BP spot I
spotted Ball #1 in one of the last rows of the pavilion.  The gates had been open for more than ten minutes and I couldn’t believe it.  There were, at that point, at least twenty people in the seats… I looked at the guy next to me.

“Did you drop this?”  He said he didn’t.  So, I picked it up.  Wow–crazy… the only other time I had found a ball after the first minute or so of the stadium being open was earlier in the season at PETCO Park.

After a few more minutes I ranged to my right a nabbed a home run from an Angels
player on a bounce, just beating out a couple of other guys for it.  I think it was Torii Hunter that hit it but it could have easily been Mike Napoli or Juan Rivera… I never got a good look at the batter.  I gave that ball away to my favorite usher.  She usually finds a young kid to give the balls away to but I always tell her she’s welcome to keep ’em for herself if she wants.

Once the Mariners came out to throw along the first baseline I hung out near the foul pole:
ms come out to stretch.JPGAnd from there I got
closer David Aardsma to toss me Ball #3 after he finished playing catch.

The next ball I snagged came with an error attached to it, sadly.  I was right at the wall in the corner when some Mariner lofted a ball toward me.  I couldn’t tell if the ball would fall short of the seats and then bounce off the warning track or if it would clear the fence for a home run.  I backed up a couple steps, anticipating the bounce.  Then, I changed my mind: at the last second I reached forward over the wall as far as I could and, luckily, I had guessed right.  I
certainly could have caught it… but in my haste to get into position I
extended a bit too far and couldn’t make the basket catch.  The ball smacked off the heel off my glove and fell onto the warning track.  It hurt–I mean, like, it hurt my hand and my pride.  The ball had rolled away from the short wall just enough that I couldn’t reach over and scoop it up.  I expected that the nearby security guard would simply flip it back toward the bucket but he didn’t.  The
guard must have been preoccupied and that gave Jamey Wright the chance
to walk up, shake his head at me, and say, “Two hands, man.  Come on…”

Then he underhanded Ball #4 to me.  So, it counts as a thrown ball and not a hit ball.  I was glad to get the snag but bummed that I’d made such a poor play on it.  I gave that ball away to a nearby kid and ran back up to the pavilion but I didn’t snag any other baseballs during BP.  I ran to the dugout as the Mariners headed in but didn’t get anything there… I did see Mike Sweeney playing catch with a kid that, I assume, was his son.
sweeney catch with kid.jpgSweeney’s from the area and always has family and friends around when the Mariners play the Angels.  I’ve talked to him a couple of times.  He’s super nice and always signs autographs if fans are polite about it.  He’s a real cool guy in my opinion.

Michelle met up with me after the teams had warmed up (and I hadn’t snagged a Mariners warmup ball–booooo!) and we got food together.  We decided to watch the first few innings from the Terrace Level and we talked about
how small the crowd seemed after the ASG events we’d seen. 
And I, of course, planned to try for a third out ball each time the M’s came off the field.

In the bottom of the first inning I was behind the M’s dugout when Hideki
Matsui ended the frame by grounding out to second base (like he’s done
way too much this year).  Chone Figgins threw the ball to Justin Smoak and I was actually sitting right over the dugout in the first row as the Seattle players jogged in.  The recently traded Smoak had the ball in his glove and I didn’t even have to stand up… nobody else cared about the ball.

“Justin!  Right here!”  I held up my glove and waved it a bit–Smoak lobbed the ball, it bounced off the dugout roof and right into my glove.
smoak baseball.JPGIt was, quite literally, the easiest third-out toss I’d ever gotten.  For your reference, here was the view I had of the players coming in:
ms after bot of first.JPGNeither of those guys is Smoak, in case you were wondering.  Those two guys are Michael Saunders and Franklin Gutierrez but you get the idea: I was right there.  A moment later I jogged back to Michelle on the Terrace Level.

We’d end up moving down to the Field Level in the middle innings once the crowd had been established and we could see some open seats.
7.15 sunset panorama.jpgI was hoping for a foul ball but none came near us.  It was a fun game and pretty relaxing.  I’d never been so glad to see an attendance of “just” 41,000.
Michelle left a little after nine and I played for home runs through the last couple of innings.  First, I was in right field:
7.15 rf homer territory.jpgThen I tried left field:
lf homer territory 7.15.JPGBut no homers were hit.  I was behind the Angels dugout as they locked down the win:
7.15 ninth inning dugout.jpgI tried for a toss-up behind the dugout as the Angels came off the field but came up with nothing.  After this game I took a well-deserved two-week break from attending games… I realized I was pretty darn tired.  Still, a fun win to see… 8-3, Angels.  My next game would be at the end of the month, right before my birthday.

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