Guess what? I’d been listening to sports talk radio and I ended up winning two tickets to the Angels/Blue Jays matchup on the 3rd of May. I had high hopes for this game, as it came the day after Jered Weaver threw a no hitter at Angel Stadium… the 10th in club history. The evening before that, Jerome Williams had shut out the Twins on only three hits. Dan Haren would be taking the mound on this particular evening and I figured, if things progressed, it would be a shutout on Tuesday, a no hitter on Wednesday, and a perfect game on Thursday. Makes sense, right?
I’d be ready–I got to the stadium nice and early. I was the third person in line. I would be the first person to reach the seating area…
Well, did you read anything about a perfect game? Nope. But that was a ridiculous thought… even though Haren made a similar comment to the media (jokingly).
There would be no perfect game… though Brandon Morrow got close. This one would end up being all Blue Jays. But let’s get on to batting practice. I was third in line and Michelle decided to sit in the shade and read and make a couple of phone calls. I raced in and up to the right field seats at 5:05pm. There weren’t any baseballs to be found lying around but I did see Weaver in right field with Bobby Wilson and David Carpenter and took advantage of the empty stadium and the relative silence by congratulating him. He responded kindly and went back to work.
And about five minutes later, Wilson tossed me my first ball of the evening. It had a few grass and dirt scuffs and the word PRACTICE was stamped on the sweet spot. I’d gotten several of these stamped baseballs and I turned around looking for a kid to give it to, but there weren’t any in the section. I trotted up the stairs and handed it to an usher to give away for me–and I saw him make a little boy’s day by handing the ball over to him about five minutes later.
The next ball I caught came from [former] closer Jordan Walden. He’d already tossed a couple of baseballs into the stands… one in particular to a little kid to my left. Well, this little kid (who already had two baseballs of his own–one from Walden) decided to ask for the next baseball that Walden fielded. The pitcher looked up at him and shook his head no, then I piped up, “Hey, Jordan, how about one for the big kids?” It’s the first time I’ve ever used that line… and wouldn’t ya know it? It worked. He flipped up baseball #2 on the day and I gave that one away to a different usher a little while later.
Unfortunately for the BP regulars in Anaheim, the Angels have quite a few righties that can hit the ball pretty far. I call that unfortunate because a lot of baseballs fly out to left and center fields–and there are bullpens and a pile of Disney-era rocks that prevent us from snagging said baseballs. Boy, we sure hope Kendrys Morales (the lone bat from the left side with any power) gets taken out of the first group of BP hitters… at least Mark Trumbo and Albert Pujols hit a few the opposite way into right field for us. I couldn’t get a glove on any other baseballs while the Angels were hitting though.
I went down to first base side of the stadium as the Blue Jays came out to throw… but no matter where I went–I couldn’t get their attention… so when a round of lefties started hitting I ran back up to right field. I came close to snagging two baseballs on the fly… but close was all I got. One was a shot to the first row of the pavilion by Adam Lind. The other was a bomb about five or six rows back that San Diego ballhawk TC snagged since my leap was about six inches too short. Speaking of TC, you can see him in this photo:
But the real reason I took that is LOOK AT HOW MUCH SPACE THERE WAS! I should have been close to double digits–note the time–the stadium had been open for forty-five minutes. It was just a struggle to snag anything through Blue Jays BP.
The day would pick up for me a bit at the end of batting practice though, as I got three baseballs thrown my way as the Blue Jays ran off the field. The first came from pitcher Drew Hutchison as he headed down the dugout steps. I quickly put that one in my pocket and, as the coaches finished rounding up all the baseballs from BP, hitting coach Dwayne Murphy threw me a ball in the fourth row. But a huge guy with a beard in the third row reached out and caught that one in front of my face… then he looked at me and said, “You already got one.” Well, actually, I’ve already got three. Then Murphy, who must have seen what happened, lofted another ball my way–this one with a much higher arc. And I caught it by reaching out as far as I could, shocking the bearded fellow in front of me. I went on my way to track down my lovely wife, who’d found a spot in the sun to read her book on the field level in foul territory.
We grabbed sandwiches (which were delicious… and cost us $9.75 each) and some Cracker Jack and headed out to left field. Pujols was still sitting on zero home runs for the year so I figured he was kindly waiting until I was in attendance so that he could hit it to me–ready and waiting–in the left field corner.
For pregame throwing I hung out by the Angel dugout. Only one pair played catch (Trumbo and Howie Kendrick) and the second baseman kept the ball. I ran to the visiting team’s side and watched as Brett Lawrie threw with Kelly Johnson–then Johnson went into the dugout and Yunel Escobar took over. Well, I was on Lawrie’s end of the dugout, a few rows back, and Escobar ended up with the ball. I was the only one asking if he could toss it up though–so he did… from about forty feet away. Escobar underhanded it about twenty feet high and everyone seated around me just stared as it fell perfectly into my glove.
The blue circle represents where Escobar was standing and the red circle shows where I actually caught the ball.
Want to know what happened during the game? A blue Jay homer for three runs and a Mark Trumbo error for two more. And that was it. Morrow limited the Angels to only three hits and shut them out. The 28,000 people had little reason to cheer throughout the evening. So, when Michelle got a phone call from her sister we walked over to the concourse behind the Blue Jays’ dugout in the eighth inning. By the ninth I was here:
And I watched as Trumbo doubled–but that was as much of a rally as the Angels got going. That was their third and final hit of the night. Trumbo was stuck on second base and Morrow got his complete game shutout. By that point I was here:
Right behind the Blue Jay dugout as they came off the field. But I didn’t see any souvenirs come my way.
It was a pretty lousy night for Angels fans–I made a young kid’s evening a little happier by giving him a baseball I’d brought with me from a previous game as we left the stadium. I’m always up for a ball game but this particular one wasn’t even close to being up there amongst my favorites. Michelle and I enjoyed our time together–and I simply hoped the next Angel game we’d attend would have a better outcome.