There was a lot of running around over the twenty-four hours between the start
of yesterday’s game and the end of this one. The Rays were still in town
and the Angels were looking to salvage the series by winning this day game
after losing the first two games. The Rays were trying to stay even with
the Yankees and maintain their share of the “best record in
baseball.” It was a gorgeous summer day in Orange County.
As soon as the stadium opened I headed inside and down to the field seats just
past first base. There, I scored some points in the myGameBalls.com Photo
Scavenger Hunt by getting a photo with All-Star pitcher David Price.
I also got his autograph on my ticket. There was no BP going on so I
didn’t have a lot to do for ninety minutes. Luckily, the weather was
great, there weren’t many fans, and I was able to get a few more autographs.
Kevin Jepsen and Jordan Walden came out of the Angel dugout to stretch and
throw. I was pretty sure Walden ended up with the ball when they were
finished… anyway, he started signing autographs along the outfield wall and I
got him on a ticket stub.
He kept signing and worked his way toward the infield… and when he was
through I asked if he could spare the baseball in his glove–and he told me he didn’t
have one. Sure enough, he held up his glove and it was empty. I
guess he’d handed over to someone at some point in the autograph process.
While I was near the dugout I saw DL-laden Maicer Izturis down there and he was
signing for the few fans that recognized him. I tossed him the team
baseball I was working on and he signed it for me… in black ink… from a pen
he was holding that another fan had thrown to him. All the other
signatures were in blue–but an autograph’s an autograph. I thanked him
and headed back toward the outfield. Hoping to get a warmup toss from
Scot Shields after he finished throwing, I had to settle for his autograph on
my team ball–in blue. I was still sitting on zero baseballs but had four
autographs at that point… that’s the best part about day game pregame
activity: it’s relaxed and the players and team staff members are approachable
and friendlier than usual. For example, I’ve never seen Shields sign
before. It was nice to get his autograph… he’s not stellar like he used
to be, but he’s been a good, solid pitcher for the Angels since 2002.
After getting shunned by Ervin Santana and Fernando Rodney (big surprise) I
headed back to the Rays’ side of the field where a trainer had come out in
preparation for the players to emerge from the dugout, I assumed.
up having a pretty nice chat with this guy, Chris is his name. I couldn’t
find him on the Rays’ website but his initials are CW… and he helps the
players get loose, plays catch with anyone that needs a partner, throws
football-style passes to Evan Longoria, and occasionally throws BP, so he told
me. Anyway, he was pretty cool and I liked his shades.
Shortly after talking with Chris I ran toward the visiting team’s dugout and
got their skipper’s autograph on a ticket stub. I already had Joe Maddon
(and Maicer Izturis AND David Price, for that matter) but it was good to get
I grabbed a drink (free) and headed back to the third base line where the
Angels had come out to throw. I got myself into the middle of a bunch of
fans and called out to Alberto Callaspo as he finished playing catch. He
tossed the ball to me in the first row (just behind the “Diamond Field Box Seats” (or whatever they’re called) and I had to fully extend my arm and
lean just slightly to the left in order to catch it. I took a photo (right) of the spot where I made the catch.
It helps to be able
to use Spanish to ask for baseballs… I mean, it’s great to be able to ask for
baseballs in different languages and I’ve gotten at least two by using Korean,
two using Japanese, and about ten using Spanish. Thanks to relatively new
Angel, Alberto Callaspo, I wouldn’t get shut out on this sunny, BP-less
afternoon. I had now gone to sixty-seven games and snagged at least one
ball at each one. That streak goes back to September of 2008.
I went back over to the Rays’ side as their players were warming up. There, I took a picture from a different angle of where I snagged the Callaspo ball (left)… you can see how that special section of box seats separates fans from the field and players. So, I was in the first row of the non-box seats… which is technically the second row.
I didn’t snag another ball or autograph from a player but I did get a baseball tossed to me from coach George Hendrick. I decided to keep the Callaspo ball and give away the Hendrick one. I found a little kid nearby and made his day (and his dad’s). They were thrilled to receive it.
The game started and I spent the top of the first behind the Angel dugout…
1. Check out Longoria’s socks.
2. Check out all the empty seats!
And I spent the bottom of the first behind the Rays’ dugout.
No third-out toss for me… and no foul balls anywhere near me which was a bummer because I had a ton of room to run:
After the first inning I relocated to the right field pavilion because the crowd out there was light and during day games more home runs tend to make it out there. As you may recall, I was within five feet of Bobby Abreu’s walk-off homer about two weeks earlier…
I saw BP regular Rob out there in the stands and he and I chatted throughout the game. No homers got hit out toward right field but Mike Napoli did hit a grand slam to left field. The Angels would crush the Rays on this afternoon, 12-3. Their offense decided to wake up, how ’bout that? Also, I watched as a fan who was sitting about four rows from the field down the right field line got nailed by a foul ball. It wasn’t a scorcher that took a hop into the seats or a line drive that he didn’t have time to see. It was a fly ball that Rob and I watched, I knew it was going foul. A half a dozen fans moved out of the way of it. This one guy did not.
He’s down on the ground in that photo… being tended to. The woman in white bending down is pretty much blocking the guy that got hit. Rob and I saw it and heard it hit him. That sound… I guess I should’ve felt bad for him… or sympathetic. But I just kept thinking, if you’re that close to the field: PAY ATTENTION! He got taken away by paramedics after a few minutes… he walked up the steps under his own power so I imagine it was just a bad bump on his head/face/leg/arm. Wherever he got hit.
So, I got some sun, a couple of baseballs, five autographs, and saw the Angels win. All in all, it was a good day. Toward the end of the game I tried to snag a ball from the bullpen guys… but failed… also I didn’t catch a home run in left field either. I saw a fan wearing a Reggie Jackson Angels jersey–more scavenger hunt points. Note: I actually have that jersey but mine’s the home white and not the road gray.
By the end of the game there weren’t a lot of fans left in the stands… the Angels were up by nine runs and it was pretty hot by that point. Rob and i kept thinking, “This is what it’s like to be at a Pirates game.”
As a colleague said to me recently about the Angels, “They’re just so mediocre this year.”