Category: Dailies

4/13/11 at Angel Stadium

Just 16 hours after I left the Big A on Tuesday night I was back–Wednesday afternoon–2:00pm.  And the gates were set to open at 2:30 for the 4:05 game between the Angels and Indians.  I was by myself for this one–almost everyone I knew had school or work and event though I had an extra ticket I ended up just keeping it in my backpack to maybe get an autograph on it.

Since the Home Plate Gate doesn’t open earlier than any other gate afternoon games and only a handful of people know that, I didn’t bother getting in line (at the right field entrance) until five minutes before the slated opening time.  I hung out here for the first few minutes I was on site:
4.13 tunnel wide.JPGThat’s the tunnel that leads into the stadium in right field.  There’s one in left, too.  The crucial part about my stop here was… well, here’s a closer look:
4.13 tunnel close.JPGBatting practice was underway!.  Awesome… sometimes even at 4 o’clock games teams won’t take BP.  Granted, fans couldn’t even get into the stadium until the last 5-10 minutes of the home team’s BP session, but I was glad there would be at least a little bit of BP to work with.  Also, upon further review… that’s Kendrys Morales taking grounders at first base.  He’s still yet to play in a game this season.  What’s takin’ so long?  He’s always makes BP a bit more interesting!

I ran in at 2:30 along with a handful of other fans… I’d been first in line and I was the first one to the right field seats but the ushers, I’m sure, had already snatched up the Easter eggs, as there weren’t any to be found.  And the Angels didn’t hit a single ball out to right.

valbuena batting bp 4.13.JPGWell, I stayed in the pavilion in right for all the Indians lefties and after about 15 minutes I lined up a homer from Luis Valbuena (right) and caught it on the fly in the third row of Section 238.
spot of catch valbuena 4.13.JPG
And, sadly, that would be the only ball I snagged during BP.  Coaches and players ignored my requests for tossups, I didn’t get close to another homer, and I was late getting to the dugout… so I missed out on a chance there.

So, having gotten on the board but having also had a sub-par BP… and since there were no longer any players on the field… I grabbed a bottle of water, ate some snacks I’d brought with me, signed up for the designated driver program (doing so will get you a voucher for a free soda), and took pictures of the one baseball I’d caught since running inside the stadium.  This is my favorite one:
valbuena ball 4.13.JPGScuffs, scrapes, dirt and grass, fraying seams… lovely.

My next stop was the third base line for Angels throwing.
angels warmups 4.13.jpgWhile over there I didn’t get a ball from Brandon Wood or Peter Bourjous… but I did get them to sign my 2010 Angels team ball… so it wasn’t a total waste of time.

a. cabrera 4.13.JPGI went to the Indians’ dugout after the national anthem in hopes that O. Cabrera and A. Cabrera’s pregame baseball they were throwing around would end up in my glove… but it didn’t.  O. Cabrera decided one more throw was necessary, and then A. Cabrera decided one MORE throw was necessary, and they ended up taking the ball into the dugout with them.

Back to the Angels’ side I went–and I parked myself behind their dugout about six rows back.  I snapped a photo of Ervin Santana, the day’s starter for the Halos and, later, I took a photo of Austin Kearns as he batted.  Note the many empty seats.  The lovely thing about a 4pm game.
santana 4.13.JPGkearns at bat 4.13.JPGAnyway, I missed out on the third out toss from the Angels after the top of the first and headed over to the visiting team’s side.  The Angels went quietly in the bottom of the first and when Bobby Abreu grounded out to first baseman Matt LaPorta to end the frame I was waiting on the other side of the dugout.  He tossed me the ball and, well, look:
laporta switch ball 4.13.JPGGah!  It’s the infield warmup ball!  Still has a commemorative logo though–which is great!  But I was a little bummed that I didn’t get the gamer.  Oh, well.

After that I tried to get a third out ball at the Angels dugout but inning after inning it just didn’t pan out for me.  It was fine though, because I got to stay in my seat as Santana pitched a strong seven innings, allowing just three runs.  I snapped a bunch of action shots:
hafner swing 4.13.JPGwells foul ball 4.13.JPGSantana gave up an Adam Everett single leading off the eighth and that was it for him.
santana done 4.13.JPGI really like that photo–though it makes it look like he’d just given up a home run or something–it was a solid start.
downs in to pitch 4.13.JPGScott Downs came in from the bullpen and gave up a hit to get Everett to third… then a fielder’s choice to get the out at home.  One out and runners on second and first–then a wild pitch and then a groundout that allowed the tying run to score.  That was it for Downs…

Fernando Rodney came in to the 3-3 tie…
rodney gets the ball 4.13.JPG… and struck out Carlos Santana to end the inning.

No one would score again until a sac fly by Jeff Mathis ended the game in the 12th inning.  A Halo victory and I was on my way home.

Advertisements

4/12/11 at Angel Stadium

The commemorative baseballs were out in full force at the ‘Big A’ so I was back just three days after my first regular season game.  Michelle and I each took off a bit early from work so we could make it to the stadium for BP.  Here I am at the front of the Home Plate Gate line before they opened at 5:00:
matt at front of line 4.12.JPGI was the second one to the right field seats so I didn’t bother looking for Easter eggs very thoroughly and instead went up to the wall overlooking the players shagging baseballs in the outfield.

One of the players out there was Hank Conger and as he fielded a ground ball I asked him, “Hey, Hank, could you throw that ball up here, please?”

He did–a nice, easy toss to me in the front row–and just like that I was on the board for the day.  The ball was a standard baseball and I decided I’d make sure to find a young fan to give it away to before I left that night.

About five minutes later I had a home run lined up and it ended up falling just a few feet short and bouncing toward a player in center field.  As it turns out, that player was Francisco Rodriguez and when he retrieved it I asked him in Spanish if he could throw it back up.

He looked up, gestured, and I took a couple steps back just in case his throw was short… it wasn’t… and I had baseball number two on the day.

Here’s the spot where I snagged it:
spot of rodriguez toss 4.12.JPGI moved a few sections to my left, closer to straight away right field, and ended up getting Ball #3 from rookie pitcher Tyler Chatwood.  He tossed it up to me in Section 238 after he fielded a ball and turned around and saw me waving.  I yelled out, “Right here, Tyler!” and that was all it took.

I turned the ball over in my palm to reveal a 50th Anniversary logo!  Nice!  Shortly after that the Indians came out to stretch, throw, and hit and I thought, “Wow!  Three balls from the Angels and the Indians can really hit… plus I’m one of, like, eight guys in an Indians hat in the whole stadium!  This is gonna be great.”

cabrera warmup 4.12.JPGAnd wouldn’t you know it?  I didn’t snag another ball for the rest of BP.  No toss ups from Indians pitchers, no mores caught in the seats from the many, many Indians lefties, no toss up at the end of BP at the dugout… and even though I was near Orlando Cabrera as he finished up his pregame throwing I didn’t get that ball, either.

I sat back down with Michelle as the game started up thinking of what could have been… but I looked at the commemorative ball I’d snagged from Chatwood and decided to change my mind.  I had some excellent souvenirs and I was at a ball game with my wife–no need for frustration, right?

I gave the Conger ball to a kid before the game started and the Rodriguez ball to a little guy on our way out of the stadium.  That made me feel even better… but on to the game!

Our friends, Beth and Randy, who we’d gone to Indians/Angels games with on 7/27/09 and 4/26/10 (and Randy came to a A’s/Angels game with me alone on 4/8/09), would be at this tilt, too… and when they arrived we met them at their seats with this view in front of us:
4.12.11 left field panorama.jpgNot too shabby, just barely in home run range.  I joked with the people around us when Michelle and I left to go to our seats that they’d have to fend for themselves without my glove around to protect them…

And after we grabbed some ice cream and made it to our seats here:
4.12.11 upper view panorama.jpgNot so great… but I was still having fun!  Anyway, after we got to those seats Mark Trumbo hit his first home run about a section away from where Beth and Randy’s seats were… and after talking with Beth at the end of the game I determined I wouldn’t have been able to snag it over/through the row full of fans.  Still, it was Trumbo’s first career jack–and some security folks came to get the ball… they traded something to the guy who caught it–Randy and Beth made it sound like they just traded a ball for a ball…

Talk about a missed opportunity.  After that, my uncle (who was also at this game), texted me to say that we should come sit with him in Section 126.  So, we did… here’s a photo from Section 126:
haren pitch 4.12.JPGAnd did I mention that Dan Haren was throwing a shutout?

And it would end up being a one-hit shutout!  And the game was over in two hours and fifteen minutes.  The Angels won it, 2-0.

We met up with Randy and Beth after the game to chat for a bit and then headed out to the car–it turned out to be a great night.  And… I had tickets to the next day’s game!

4/9/11 at Angel Stadium

Finally!  My first regular season game at good ol’ Angel Stadium… and there was a good crowd on hand as I waited (along with a few other ballhawks) for the gates to open at 4:00 for the 6:05 game.
ballhawks at gates.JPGBut, the horror!  4:00 came and went and the gates didn’t open… 4:10… nothing… 4:15… finally, some movement at the gates and we were allowed to pass through security.  When I got up there I encountered something I hadn’t seen at a ballpark since the late ’90s.  They tore my ticket… tore the bottom of it right off along the perforated edge.  Weird.  I found out later they were having scanner issues… and after keeping us waiting for fifteen minutes they knew they just had to let us in.  Thanks, Angels management, for not waiting until who-knows-when to let us in.

I ran in and the Angels were in the midst of BP.  My first destination was the right field pavilion.  And, wouldn’t you know it?  In the twenty or so minutes the Angels were hitting only one baseball flew up to the pavilion… and BP regular Rob ended up with it.  Mark Trumbo sure hit some bombs to left field and center field, too!  Without Kendrys Morales in the lineup the pavilion loses a bit of luster in terms of catching baseballs… though Trumbo will occasionally get one up there, I hear.

When the Blue Jays pitchers came out to throw I made my way over to the first base line and snagged my first baseball from a Blue Jays righty pitcher… all I know is he was Caucasian and relatively short.  I wish I knew who it was because here’s the ball he threw to me in the fourth row:
1st commemorative 2.JPGBAM!  Commemorative baseball!  Beautiful!

Jose Bautista was up in the first group of Jays hitters so I moved to left field.
behind bullpen during bp 4.9.11.jpgI figured he could reach the seats past the bullpens–well, he made it to the bullpens with some of his shots and one or two of them bounced out… one went just a couple feet over my head!  But he finished and the next group started and I was still stuck on one baseball.  But, just look at the bullpen…
bullpen baseballs 4.9.JPGIf only someone had been around toss one or two or three baseballs up to the fans.  ::sigh::

I moved down to section 101, near the field next to the foul pole.  That’s where I got the attention of a couple Blue Jays pitchers…
blue jays pitcher that threw me a ball.JPGWell, the guy on the right (who I don’t recognize) threw me a ball while I was in the tenth row of the section.  I ended up giving that one away to an usher and told her to find a kid to give it to for me.  For that transaction I was back in right field for the few Blue Jays lefties–again the pavilion wasn’t kind to me.  I’d end batting practice with just two baseballs.

I tried for a ball during the Angels warmups and then again on the Blue Jays side for theirs… no dice.

I took a seat here:
field level third base.jpgAnd stayed there as the game started… and when Jeff Mathis tried a snap throw to first base–he got Bautista!  And that was the third out in the top of the first–and I was at the dugout as Trumbo ran in from the field–and check this out:
trumbo toss commemorative.JPGYES!  A rubbed up game ball from the Angels–commemorative!  From Mathis to Trumbo to me–I was thrilled and I didn’t care if I caught another ball all night.

OK, maybe that’s not true… I tried for a foul ball or two as they came near me.  When my uncle arrived, who had ended up giving me a ticket to the game, I told him on the phone I wasn’t near our ticketed seats.  He joined me near the dugout.  Did I mention it was beanie night?  I am definitely more excited about my beanie than he is about his.

matt running back to seat.JPGMy uncle, Ivar, is the one who first started taking me to Angels games and the one who took this photo that I wrote a whole blog entry about.  I know a lot about the game based on my uncle taking me to a bunch of games as I grew up and I am thankful for that now.

He’s a season seat holder and has been for quite some time.  It was fun to spend so
me time with him and chat about the game and baseball in general.  One inning, as I tried for a third out ball again he snapped this photo (left) of me running back to “my” seat from the dugout.  I didn’t get the ball but I had fun trying.

I knew I’d have to leave the game a bit early on this night because I had planned to pick Michelle up from work when she finished running a theatre event.  So, as the night went on and Mike Scioscia argued a call at third…
sosh arguing a call.JPG… and a kid ran to steal third as part of a promotion…
kid running by sosh.JPG… and batters swung at pitches and fouled them off and pitchers came into the game… I stayed right where I’d been with my uncle.

Snapping pictures the whole time:
rivera swing and miss.JPGpalmer set.JPGWe hung out a dozen rows back from the dugout for the whole game…
takahashi warmup.JPGbautista foul ball.JPG… except after the seventh inning stretch when I ran over to the Blue Jays’ dugout.
izturis base hit.JPGlind on first.JPGAnd I took some photos–but the main event over on that side was when Howie Kendrick grounded into a double play to end the seventh inning and Adam Lind tossed me the rubbed up gamer at the dugout.
lind commemorative toss ball.JPGIt has a grass stain from the trek it took through the infield and a bit of wear over the 1961 on the logo… not quite as clear as the Trumbo ball… but I’ll take it!  That was my fourth ball of the night–and the third commemorative one.

Jordan Walden came in to keep the score tied in the ninth and did his job–he looks sharp as the Angels’ new closer with Fernando Rodney setting him up.
walden 4.9.JPGleaving the stadium 4.9.JPGAnd then my uncle and I had to leave–I know, I know, “You left a tied game in the ninth inning, Matt?!?!”

Yep–I did.  Grown-up responsibilities and such.  He took this picture (right)as we headed out of the stadium.

I would hear the game on the radio as I drove to pick up my wife, then I snapped a few photos of the day’s haul while I waited a few minutes for her to finish up at work:
three baseballs i kept 4.9.JPGWe heard the end of the game on the radio on the way home, a 6-5 Angel victory after over five hours of play–in the 14th inning.

The Trumbo ball close up:
trumbo ball up close.JPGAnd super close up:
trumbo ball super close.JPGPretty, ain’t it?

I’d be back for the Indians against the Halos a few days later…

3/27/11 at Angel Stadium

This would be quite the full day.

It started with me (and Michelle) waking up at the crack of dawn and heading up to the stadium.  March 27th was the day of the Angels 5k and Fun Run at the stadium.  I’s signed up at the beginning of the month for the 5k and I’d been training for it for a couple of weeks.  I’ve always enjoyed running and wanted to make sure I didn’t embarrass myself.  We arrived at ten minutes to seven and Michelle decided she would stay in the car while I ran.  I couldn’t blame her–it was early and the weather was less than ideal.  There was rain in the forecast and I was just hoping to get through the run before it got too wet.

I started about 500 people back and, though I can’t show you through pictures (because I was running), there were easily four times that many people there.  I had a clip-on transmitter on my shoe that would track my time–as I crossed the starting line the clock already had counted up to about a minute… and when I crossed the second checkpoint (at the halfway mark) the clock was around 16 minutes… and when I approached the finish line the clock was ticking up toward 30 minutes.  I crossed the line at 30:03… my goal had been to come in under 30 minutes and since I knew I could easily take a minute off my time (based on how long it took to get up to the starting line) I was thrilled!

I drank some water, got a free hat and a Clif bar, and headed back over to the car to find my wife.  When I got there she took a photo of me post race:
post 5k run.JPGOh, yes… I grew a beard over the off-season.  It has since been shaved off… sorry to scare you there, readers.

At that point it was about 7:45am and Angels FanFest was set to open up at 8:00… but I’d promised Michelle coffee and, quite frankly, I needed a rest.  We headed to Starbucks–I changed clothes once we got there–we got breakfast and waited for the rain to pass… it had started drizzling right when I got back to the car after the race.

At around 9:30 we headed back to the stadium for FanFest.  It was a bunch of vendors, autograph stations, merchandise booths, and photo ops.  We each got autographs from Chris Pettit and Andrew Romine and then we stood in a long line to get Hank Conger’s autograph:
autograph line 3.27.JPGWhile we were there we noticed you could get your photo taken with the Rally Monkey:
rally monkey rubcube 3.27.JPGSo we stood in that line, too, and got this picture:
mandmwithrallymonkey1.JPG–which I was kind of disappointed in once I saw it.  I mean, we’re like six feet from the monkey!  C’mon!  At least we look cute.  That monkey is licking the mini bat at this point, I think.

Anyway, we left FanFest after an hour or so–and went to get snacks for the game that afternoon.  We’d need to be back by noon to get free parking for the game and, sadly, we found out once we were back with our snacks that the gates wouldn’t open until 1:00.  Bah!

So I ran inside at 1:00 to see the Padres on the field taking BP:
first view of field 3.27.jpgAnd after a few minutes I convinced someone wearing number 95 on the Padres to toss me a baseball–I was on the board for the day.  Here’s the guy who threw it (left) and the spot where I caught it (right):
padre 95 1.JPGwhere i caught the first ball 3.27.JPGWhile I took those photos I heard someone yell, “Comin’ in!” and I looked up, then to my right as a ball smacked off a seat ten feet away from me… surprising since a righty was up to bat.

Well, I ran over and snagged that ball for my second ball on the afternoon.  It was hit by this guy:
righty padre 1.JPGrighty padre 2.JPGAny ideas?  Let me know…

spot of 2nd ball 3.27.JPGWell, here’s the spot where I grabbed my second ball of the day–and the only one that got hit up to the pavilion while I was there.  And that was pretty much it for BP.  Not bad–two baseballs in about 30 seconds.  I only had about 15 minutes of batting practice to work with so I can’t
complain.

I met up with Michelle and hung out with her for a bit–and then headed toward the Angel dugout when they came out for pregame throwing.  It was nice to see the field up close.
third base panorama pregame 3.27.jpgI got shut out there but I went to the Padre dugout after that and got my third baseball of the day thrown to me by Logan Forsythe near the camera well.

And then we enjoyed the game from right behind the Padre dugout:
haren izturis leg kick.JPGHa–they’re both kicking their leg…

Eventually, the folks who actually had those seats arrived and we relocated to the outfield with this view:
home run seats 3.27.JPGI was hoping to get a home run but the only homers hit this day would go to center field.  Bummer.

Toward the end of the game, with the score 9-2 Angels we moved here:
first base panorama 3.27.jpgAnd as the Angels wrapped up the victory I got behind the Padre dugout to try to snag a postgame baseball… but all the Padres went into the dugout without tossin’ up a thing… except for the last player to leave the field.  A short, Latino pitcher from the bullpen who I later identified as Samuel Deduno tossed me a rubbed up baseball as he headed down the steps for my fourth baseball on the afternoon.

And, though it took him several tries, a nice, elderly usher took a photo of Michelle and I as we left the park.
mandmpostgame.JPGIt had been a long day–lots of running–and we were both exhausted.
4 baseballs 3.27.JPG
Not a bad start to the season,,. a good run, four baseballs, three autographs, some swag from FanFest, an Angels win, and a lot of fun.

And later that night I checked online to see my official results from the 5k… I came in at 28:46, not fantastic, but I ran faster than I expected!  It would be over a week before my next game, with the Angels heading out on the road.  I was anxious for them to get back because I knew that when they did return they’d be using commemorative baseballs and hopefully some of those would have found their way into the BP buckets…

My next game would be on April 9th.  More to come soon, loyal readers, and happy 2011 baseball season to all of you.

9/29/10 at Angel Stadium

I know, I know, the 2011 season has already started and I’m just NOW getting up my last entry from 2010.  What a lazy bum I’ve been, right?

Sorry, loyal readers–I’m sure you’ve been on the edge of your collective seat just waiting to see how this last game went.

The Angels had been eliminated from the playoffs and it was a Wednesday afternoon game against the A’s, who also weren’t a playoff team.  I was hoping for some autographs, some baseballs, a good seat, and a low turnout.  I got ’em all…

The day started with me running into the stadium to see no batting practice happening. Bummer…

An A’s player had just finished throwing and I ran down near the field to see it was Dallas Braden, who’d thrown a perfect game earlier in the season.  I politely asked for the ball as he ran into the dugout.  He tossed it up over the dugout roof.  Number 275 in my ballhawking career!

A moment later Braden popped back up to chat with someone he knew and I got his autograph–I’d have gotten it on the ball he threw me but it was pretty beat up.  Instead, I had him sign my ticket stub for that day’s game.

The only action on the field at that point was some unknown pitcher throwing just past the Angels’ dugout.
kohn pregame throwing 9.29.JPGIt turned out to be Michael Kohn–but I didn’t get the baseball he was using so… whatever.  I did, however, get his autograph on my team baseball.  And later, when a few more Angel pitchers came out to the field I got autographs from Matt Palmer, Francisco Rodriguez and Fernando Rodney on the same team ball.
rodney autographs 9.29.JPGThat’s Rodriguez and Rodney on their way over to appease the fans…

After that I ran over to the visiting team’s dugout where a bunch of Oakland players had come out to throw.  I ended getting the autograph of Gio Gonzalez before Chris Carter and Rajai Davis finished throwing and Carter tossed me my second baseball of the day when they finished.  He spotted me in the fourth row behind the camera well and lobbed it over all the folks pressed up against the wall near the field.
carter warmup 9.29.JPGThanks to Mr. Carter!

I saw that day’s starting pitcher, Bobby Cramer, walking in from the bullpen and thought he (or his catcher) might have a baseball with them.  Cramer, who was appearing in just his fourth major league game, was surprised anyone knew who he was.  He looked up and when I asked him if he could throw me a ball he smiled and pulled out the one in his glove and underhanded it to me!  Sweet!

As the game got underway I had positioned myself in the gorgeous sunshine right behind the Angel dugout:
behind angels dugout 9.29.jpgThere weren’t many people around and those that were retreated to the shade so I had plenty of room on my left:
view to my left 9.29.JPGAnd on my right:
view to my right 9.29.JPGI was hoping for a foul ball at some point… and I could always try for a third out toss.  The odds were in my favor.

Joel Piniero dueled with Cramer until the Angels broke through on a Howie Kendrick groundout in the third.  Since my section had filled up a bit I decided to play both dugouts for a third out toss… I ran to Oakland’s dugout, then back to the Angels’ dugout each inning.  In the top of the fourth I sat down on the aisle as Rajai Davis was walking up to the plate for the A’s.

Well, after a few pitches he fouled one off in my direction but it fell short and landed in the dugout.  I was eight rows back from the dugout and someone on the Angels tossed a ball up over the roof… I stood up, moved toward the aisle, jumped, and caught the ball barehanded!  My glove was on the seat in front of me… I had been drinking some water…

The folks behind me complained–but I was psyched!  My last ball of the season (as it would turn out) was a beautiful rubbed up foul ball from an Angel… really, from an A… but it got tossed up by someone in the Halo dugout.  Here’s a photo of where I caught it:
spot of foul ball 9.29.JPGI took that later while I was back over at the Oakland dugout.  The orange circle shows where I was standing as I nabbed it.  I also saw a creepy Santa Claus sitting in the sunshine and chatting with kids:
creepy santa 9.29.JPGWeird!  And back and forth I went, trying for third out baseballs–but to no avail.  The score was tied in the ninth inning.  Both starters had gone seven innings given up just one run each.  The bullpens were trading zeroes and the Angels got a bit of a rally going in the ninth… I was behind their dugout for that:
bases loaded bot 9 9.29.jpgBut they failed to score… I figured I needed to be close to the dugout in case of a walk off win… which didn’t happen in the bottom of the tenth when the A’s used five infielders:
five infielders 9.29.JPG4 baseball 9.29.JPGIt took until the eleventh on a single by Torii Hunter to score Jeff Mathis.  Walk-off!  And I ended the day with four baseballs…278 lifetime.  The Angels celebrated on the field and I wedged into the front row behind their dugout, hopeful that they’d throw some baseballs, batting gloves, or something… they didn’t.  I knew they had to finish the season in Texas but I thought maybe they wouldn’t need the occasional bat or helmet.  I ended up without any goodies post game…and the Angels still weren’t going to the playoffs.  And neither were the Dodgers… and neither were the Padres.  No SoCal playoff baseball was tough–but I made it through and I’m psyched for 2011.

More to come soon…

9/25/10 at Angel Stadium

You know, I’ve got no excuse for not getting these last couple of entries from the 2010 season up… but on the bright side, you get to read a baseball entry about a month early because I fell behind on my blogging!

Winning, anyone?

So, this game on the 25th of September out in Anaheim was the last Saturday home game the Angels would have and the last time I figured there would be guaranteed batting practice going on–so I had to be there.  Michelle came with me and, as usual, we got there early, I ran in as soon as the gates opened and I hoped for a successful day of snagging.

The Angels were hitting as I made it to the the right field seats and since there weren’t any Easter eggs around I played each of the batters hoping they would go yard.  My first chance of the day came after a blooper from one of the other ballhawks in the pavilion.  A guy who’s a regular at BP had a homer lined up and I was rushing in from his right side.  Seeing he was in position for the catch in the second row I put on the breaks and stopped about six feet from him. He had a perfect snag set up but the ball bounced off the heel of his glove and back down to the field.  He cursed at himself and walked a section to his left hanging his head…  but I could see the ball still sitting on the warning track 18 feet below me.  Reliever Michael Kohn walked over to pick it up.  I think he must have seen what had happened because after I asked him to toss the ball up he made a comment about making sure I could catch it.  I said, “Yeah, gimme your best shot!”  He lobbed an easy one up to me and sure enough, it was the bobbled ball (with just one distinct mark on it–from where it had hit the warning track).

Shortly after that the relievers ran off the field:
9.25 kohn tossup spot.JPGIn the above photo you can see Kohn in the center of the shot and the spot where I was when he threw me the ball, right there in the first row.  I was on the board for the day.  I thought briefly about offering it to my fellow snagger but I knew that if someone tried that with me I would have politely refused… so I kept the ball but agreed to give it away to a young fan later that night.

The first group of White Sox hitters were all righties and Juan Pierre (who, in ten years in the majors has hit 14 home runs) so I hung out near the foul pole in right field hoping for a slicer down the line.  A few balls came close but they all seemed just a bit out of reach.  That short wall is tough to judge sometimes.
9.25 rf pole panorama.jpgWell, eventually I got my shot off the bat of Juan Pierre.  The ball went slicing down the line, took a bounce off the wall to my left and skittered to me across the dirt of the track.  I leapt up onto the wall, leaned out over, stretched out as far as I could and made the backhanded snag.  The ball was worn, with brown and green stains all over it–but it was mine and looked perfect to me.

Despite my best efforts to snag a BP homer from the White Sox, there just weren’t more than a couple to be had and, though I made it to their dugout after BP–nothing got tossed up my way.  I sat down with Michelle and convinced her to head over to the Angels’ side with me for their pregame throwing.  It paid off…

I’ve mentioned before that Howie Kendrick and Peter Bourjos end their warmups by throwing knuckleballs to each other.  Well, on this warm evening they did just that… and as they finished Howie ended up with the ball so I stood up and yelled, “Right here, Howie!  Show me the knuckleball!”  Wouldn’t you know it?  He did… he threw a pretty darn good flutter-ball that arched over the first six rows and settled inside my black Mizuno.  Three on the day!

After the anthem I ran back over to the visiting team’s dugout as their players began throwing.  At this point in the season some September callups were in the lineup and I think that, due to my rosters, I was one of the only people in the stadium that knew that number 22 on the Sox was Brent Morel.  He’d only appeared in about 15 games for them in 2010 and as he finished throwing I called out to him for the baseball he’d been using.  I was here:white sox near cam well 9.25.JPGAnd as Morel ran to my left he tossed me the ball from the steps of the dugout, over the camera well shown here:
morel toss over cam well 9.25.JPGI tried to give the ball away to the kid in the Sox hat two photos above but he told me he didn’t want it.  So, back to my wife I went–we grabbed food and sat down to watch the game from these seats:
9.25 our seats.JPGMostly, I was hoping for an Angels win and looking forward to seeing Manny Ramirez hit for his new team.  I only got to see one of those things though…

Scott Kazmir was pitching for the Halos and he gave up five runs in less than four innings.  Ugh.  He’d earn his 15th loss of the season as the Angels, who started out well with two runs in the first, wouldn’t score for the rest of the game.  Manny laced a double off Kazmir for an RBI.  Juan Pierre got an RBI, too.  So, that was… good.  And I ended up with four baseballs–I gave away two of ’em.  But the Angels fell to 75-79 on the year and I knew the playoffs were in doubt.  still, a crowd of more than 40,000 came out to cheer on the Halos and that’s saying something.  Hopefully, 2011 will be a better year.

Angels – Projected 2011 Lineup

OK, so after today’s shocking trade that sent Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera to the Blue Jays for All-Star outfielder Vernon Wells I spent some time thinking about the lineup for the season.

1. Izturis
2. Kendrick
3. Morales
4. Hunter
5. Abreu
6. Wells
7. Bourjous
8. Mathis
9. Aybar

Bench:
Callaspo
Willits
Wood
Wilson
Conger

What do you think?

Potentially, we’ve got an outfield of Wells/Bourjous/Hunter… or that could shift depending on who the DH is on any given day.  Bobby Abreu figures to split DH/outfield time.

The infield likely will be Callaspo/Aybar/Kendrick/Morales… the odd men out in that situation are Maicer Izturis (who’s actually higher on the Angels’ depth chart than Callaspo but more prone to injury) and Brandon Wood.  Those two can play any infield position between the two of them–so we have backups should anyone go down.

Mathis figures to get the bulk of the catching duty with his former roommate heading to Canada and he’ll be backed up by Bobby Wilson and, soon enough, Hank Conger.

Willits will continue as a backup option in the outfield/pinch runner.

With a starting rotation that projects as:

1. Weaver
2. Haren
3. Santana
4. Piñiero
5. Kazmir

And a bullpen of newly-acquired lefties Takahashi and (also former Blue Jay) Downs along with Jordan Walden, Fernando Rodney, Francisco Rodriguez, Kevin Jepsen, and a couple others… I’m feeling pretty good.

Is this enough to take down Texas and the always-dangerous A’s?  We’ll see…