Tagged: brian fuentes

5/10/10 at Angel Stadium

My Angels were finally back home after a miserable road trip where they went 2-8.  Ugh.  But I was glad to see them and glad to head to my sixth game of the year…

I would be meeting up with Michelle when she finished work so I headed into the stadium at 5:00 by myself and ran straight out to the pavilion in right field.  There weren’t any baseballs to be found so I just hung out and waited for the home runs to come.  They didn’t.

Well, more accurately, Hideki Matsui hit a home run one section to my left.  I ran for it but Rob was positioned better than I was and he caught it on the fly.  That was the only homer hit near me–luckily I recognized Kevin Jepsen and asked him if he could throw me a ball.  He did and I was on the board for the day.

The Angels portion of BP was boring and I was thrilled when the Rays came out to start their practice.
end of angels bp.JPGI figured they would be peppering the seats but apparently the coaches on Tampa Bay’s roster have been instructing them to not pull anything… so they weren’t hitting for much power.  Strangely, despite the lack of batting practice I didn’t have the presence of mind to take any other pictures than the one above… so… sorry.

Lance Cormier was shagging baseballs in right field and I asked him to thorw one up when he got one.  Eventually he did.  He fielded the ball, turned to me, fired, and launched it about five feet over my head.  Despite my full extension and my well-timed leap I couldn’t get my glove on it and the ball hit two rows behind me and ricocheted to the feet of a fan ten feet to my right.  I looked and Lance and shrugged.  He looked right back at me and tapped his hand on his chest a couple times.  I knew what he was telling me: “Sorry.  That one’s on me.”  I’d made my best effort… he just overshot me.  When he moved over to center field a little bit later I saw him again and said, “Lance, you gotta give me one more try, please!”  He nodded but he didn’t field another ball.

At about 6:15 I headed down to the field level seats near the foul pole in preparation to run to the dugout at the end of BP.  I was about five rows back from the wall… and BP was wrapping up.  Cormier ran toward right field from right-center and caught a ball.  As he was slowing down I yelled out to him and held up my glove.  He made up for his error a half hour earlier by throwing me a perfect strike over the heads of the fans hugging the wall.  Thanks, Lance.

Later on in the evening I took a photo of where the overthrow happened (the white circle), where the catch was made (the red circle) and where Cormier was for each throw (the red X).
cormier throws.JPGAs BP ended I headed for the dugout and hung back in about the third row.  As the Rays came off the field I saw coach Bobby Ramos with a few baseballs.  He had tossed one to me a moment before I actually was looking at him though and my late reaction caused the ball to tip off my glove and roll to the left to another fan.  Ramos stopped on his way into the dugout and shook his head at me, smiling.  I made a big production of adjusting my hat and glove, assumed a ready position, then gestured to him  to say, “Come on, one more and I’ve got it.”

Ramos laughed and pretended to wind up and throw another ball.  Then lobbed an easy one to me which I, of course, caught with no difficulty.  I thanked him and headed back toward the outfield.

Michelle hadn’t arrived yet and the Angels were about to start launching T-shirts and Softee balls into the stands so I kind of followed along with them from the right field pole to the visiting team’s dugout.  Along the way I caught three of the soft, Nerf-style baseballs.  A new record… sort of.  Previously I’d caught two in one game.  One got launched over my head and I made a nice basket catch on it with my back to the field.  I gave that one away to an older lady nearby and I gave another one away to a little boy.

Michelle arrived at about that time and we were both STARVING so we got dinner and sat in the Terrace level to eat and chat about our days.  I’d been at school all day and she had been at work.  It was nice to hang out together (as it always is) and catch up with the happenings of our lives.  We sat in section 227 and here’s a panorama:
view from section 227 b.jpgAt the conclusion of each inning I tried to get tossups from the Rays at their dugout but I failed each time.
me not getting a ball.JPGIn the above photo a guy one row in front of me stuck his hand up and deflected the ball thrown to me by Carlos Pena back into the dugout.  Also, a boy in the front row got two tossups in consecutive innings.  It was just bad luck, is all…

And I was less than happy as I headed back to my seat.
defeated.JPGBut we watched the Angels get out to a 4-0 lead through seven innings.  At about 9:15 Michelle decided to leave to head home and get ready for bed.  She gets up at 6:30 for work.  I walked her out to the gate and said goodbye before heading back in to the stands.  I found a seat on the field level right behind the Rays’ dugout.  Can you spot the baseballs?garza delivers.JPG
hunter takes.JPGI hung out there and watched Blown Save Fuentes live up to his namesake.  Aargh…
fuentes warmup.JPGThe Angels couldn’t score in the bottom of the ninth and the tenth went scoreless, too.  In the bottom of the eleventh inning, Kendry Morales hit a single to left field (against the shift).  Reggie Willits, who had come into the game to pinch run for Matsui, sacrifice bunted Morales to second and Juan Rivera came to bat.  Grant Balfour (ball four?) threw a wild pitch which got Morales to third base.  Then, Joe Maddon pulled out the old five infielders trick.  Take a look:
rays five infielders.JPGI love it!  The last time I’d seen this technique used in a game was on 9/14/08.  There were only two outfielders since Ben Zobrist came in to play the infield (he even grabbed a different glove from the dugout).  Look at how the coaches are positioning everyone… Carl Crawford and Gabe Kapler were playing shallow left and right field, respectively, and Rivera lifted one to right center.  Kapler got to it, made the catch, but it was deep enough to score Morales!  Boo-ya!

I was thrilled to see the Angels win a game–they’d had such a horrible road trip.  The club really needed a win and I was worried when Fuentes blew it in the ninth.  But the night turned out well and I made my way to my car and headed home.

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4/26/10 at Angel Stadium

The Indians were in town for a few days and, since my friend Randy (who I’ve mentioned in blogs before) is always down for the Tribe, I was heading to the game and Michelle, Randy, and his girlfriend, Beth, would meet me there a little after 7:00.

I got an early start, didn’t hit any traffic, and parked with plenty of time to get into line so I took a few pictures.  Here’s a photo of the Big A:
the big a 4.26.JPGAnd a panorama of the stadium taken from the parking lot.
parking lot big a b.jpg
I still think that Angel Stadium is one of the best stadiums to visit.  It’s clean, the employees are friendly, and it’s affordable.  Plus, the Angels are a great team!

I headed past the Left Field Gate:
lf gate 4.26.JPG
Down the promenade toward the Home Plate Gate:
promenade.JPGUntil I got to where the lines had been set up:
home plate gate 4.26.JPGI was the first one in my line.  A few minutes later BP regulars John, Chris, and Rob showed up.  John and I played catch for a few minutes and we all talked strategy for the day.  My plan was to head straight in to left field since the Angels would be facing a lefty.  All their switch hitters would be batting from the right side… I was the only one of the four of us that wanted to head that way.  Cool, no competition.

5:00 came and we headed inside.  I was the first one to reach the seats and this was my view:
lf corner bp.JPGThe pavilion in left field is separated from the playing area by both teams’ bullpens so not a lot of homers (even in BP) go up there.
lf pav.JPGWell, the first Angels group consisted of Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Hideki Matsui.  Torii took a big cut at a pitch and launched it into left field.  It went just to the center field side of the bullpens, hitting some seats and then settling in one of the rows.  I had a decision to make–there was no one in that section… yet.  There wasn’t anyone in the pavilion area at all.  But it wasn’t as easy as just making a beeline for the ball.  To get from the lower left field seats to the pavilion you have to run up the steps and around–let me show you:
path i took.JPGThe photo above (taken in the ninth inning) shows the route I ran after the ball.  Feel free to click on it for a larger view.  I left my backpack near where I’d been (the white circle) and sprinted to the circle with the X.  I got there moments before Terry, another regular who’d walked to the section, arrived.  I snagged the ball and he looked at me strangely.  “How’d you know it was there?”

“I saw it get hit when I was way over there,” I said, gesturing.  A second later another home run landed in the seats above us and bounced right to Terry.  My backpack!  I ran back to the lower seats, deposited the ball, the 167th in my life, and went back to my hobby–snaggin’ baseballs.

Some Angels pitchers were nearby and after a little while Scott Kazmir fielded one and hung onto it.  He still had it a few minutes later so I yelled out, “Hey, Scott, could you thrown one over here, please?”  I stepped back away from the wall… he held the ball up and fired it from forty feet away–over the heads of the folks in front of me–and I had my second baseball of the day.

I’d previously missed out on a screamer down the line because the guy near me saw my reaction and jumped up, hung over the wall, and snagged it first.  But after I’d labeled the Kazmir ball another one came dribbling out to the track.  It was moving pretty slowly and was an easy grab for Ball #3.  That was it for the Angels portion of BP, though Rob had come over to left field by that point as well and I watched a ground rule double go a few feet over my head and Rob ran, leaped, and snagged it for a cool catch of his own.

We both headed to right field when the Indians started hitting–they’ve got some lefties that can really smash the ball!
rf pav 2.JPGI called out to a few players for toss ups but got ignored by Jake Westbrook and Kerry Wood.  After a while, some lefty, either Grady Sizemore or Shin Soo Choo, drilled a ball deep into the stands.  I couldn’t make the catch on the fly but the ball went over my head, hit some seats, and bounced nicely into the fold of a chair one row above me.  I climbed over and snagged it for my fourth ball on the afternoon.  The next snag would be a BP homer as well, this one off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera.  He hit it high and deep, to the center field area of the pavilion and up about ten rows.  I tracked it well, headed
up the stairs and–just missed making the catch.  I was still able to grab the ball as it rolled across the concrete nearby.  Five!

But despite quite a few more homers, I couldn’t get close to any of them and at 6:15 I ran down to the first base line and waited for BP to end.  It did and both Chris and I ran toward the dugout.  I was near the home plate end of the dugout as the Indians trotted in and someone threw me number six on the day.  I never saw the player or coach’s face.  Just the arm after I pointed to my Indians cap as he headed into the dugout.

Michelle, Beth, and Randy still hadn’t arrived so I made myself comfortable in the seats near the dugout.  Eventually the Indians came out to warm up.
DSCF3025.JPGhafner sizemore.JPGMaybe a few of them would play catch.  After the national anthem Choo came out and threw with someone–but they didn’t throw their ball into the crowd.  But Andy Marte played catch with Luis Valbuena and when they finished I stood up and yelled out, “Andy!  Right here!” from the fourth row.  He looked up and tossed me the ball.  The lady in front of my screamed because she saw it at the last second and reached up, mostly out of fear, I think.  And then smiled and sighed when she saw my glove over her head.  The guy sitting to my right was amazed.  He asked me, “Did he just throw you that ball?”  I replied in the affirmative and he asked, “How’d you get him to do that?”

Well, I knew his name, was in Indians gear, stood up, made myself noticeable, called out to him–

“I guess he saw my hat.”

After that I moved back a few rows and the game was under way.  I took some great action shots.  Like Jered Weaver throwing the second pitch of the night:
weaver 2nd pitch.JPGAnd Erick Aybar running between second and third after he hit his first homer of the year:
aybar home run trot.JPGAnd a couple others:
cabrera takes.JPGmatsui swings.JPGIn the bottom of the first Michelle called me to say they’d arrived.  I waited until the inning ended, tried for a third out toss from Russell Brayan, I let the kid in front of me get it even though I’m prety sure it was meant for me… but I didn’t want to fall on the little dude… and then I met them at our seats on the 500 level.

michelle with baseballs.JPGI was happy to see all of them.  They asked me if I’d caught a ball…

I showed them.  Can you tell my wife was impressed?  Michelle and I have both been working a lot and it would be so great to have some relaxing time at the ball game.  So, for a while at least, I put catching baseballs out of my mind so we could just enjoy the game.  But first, food.  They were all hungry so Randy and I bought refreshments–hot dogs, sausages, Chinese food, drinks–oh, yeah!  It took a while but it was all delicious and we all hung out in Section 524 for most of the game.  It was a light crowd (not surprising–a Monday against the Indians) which, at Angel Stadium, means 35,000 or so.  The seats I gotten were through eBay for six bucks each and I sure couldn’t complain.  I love eBay.

Here was the view:
view from section 524 b.jpgI decided to take a panorama from the highest point of the stadium (like I did last year):
2010 angel stadium panorama1b.jpgAnd we watched the Angels, who were up 3-1 after the second inning, take on Randy’s Tribe.  The last time we all watched a game together was back in July of ’09.  In that game the Indians came back to beat the Halos in a thriller–for Randy.  This time would they do it again?  Bobby Abreu hit a two-run bomb in the sixth inning to make it 5-1.  In the eighth we left our upper level seats.and found seats with this view:
back down to the field.JPGIt was 5-2 at this point because Austin Kearns had homered as we walked down the ramps… I was a little nervous.  Fernando Rodney got the last two outs of the eighth… the scored stayed 5-2 going into the ninth.  Brian
“Makes Me Nervous” Fuentes was called in to close it out.

Fuentes struck out Choo leading off the inning, then Travis Hafner reached first on a throwing error by Brandon Wood.  Fuentes struck out Branyan, then walked Kearns… yikes.  Finally, Fuentes struck out Jhonny Peralta to end it.  Whew.  Not pretty–but he struck out the side.

Predictably, the Indians didn’t toss anything up at their dugout and we all made our way out to the parking lot.  Michelle and I parted ways with Beth and Randy but first we all posed for a picture.
parking lot group.JPGIt was a great game, a fun time, and the Angels won!  So I was ecstatic.

The prizes of the day…
seven baseballs 4.26.JPGThanks for reading.

9/9/09 at Angel Stadium

I got a late start… and picked up my buddy, Dennis.  We hit traffic.  We ended up getting to the stadium right at 5:00 and I ran (he walked) out to the pavilion.
mariners angels marquee.JPGI saw regulars Rob, TC, John, and Chris already running around.  Today was a day of close calls.

After a few unsuccessful snagging minutes ticked by in the pavilion I headed down near the foul pole as the Mariners came out to throw:
ms pitchers warmup.JPGI kept being just out of place.  I recall four instances of being just a foot away from a baseball or a second too late… it was pretty frustrating.  Dennis had brought his glove along but ending up sitting in the shade and talking on his phone for the majority of BP.  Not his thing.  I saw all my ballhawking colleagues snag at least one ball and after being in the stadium for over an hour I was still stuck at zero.

Thank goodness for Bruce Hines.  With about ten minutes left of batting practice Mr. Hines fielded a ball in right field and looked to the crowd.  He was going to toss it but he couldn’t decide who to give it to so he lofted it about thirty feet high.  It was a bit to my right so I scurried down the row (about the eighth or ninth from the field) and camped under it.  I happened to be about six inches taller than the guy next to me and he didn’t have a glove.  I felt it hit the pocket of my glove and I yelled a big thank you out to Bruce.  People nearby clapped… whatever… I’ll take the polite applause.

Whew.

Shutout averted.  As the Mariners headed to the dugout Chris and I raced over… I called out to Alan Cockrell (he’d thrown me a ball the day before), he saw Chris in his M’s gear right next to me and tossed him the ball he’d been holding.  Chris thanked me (because he’d forgotten his roster and didn’t know the old coach’s name) and then we parted ways.  I grabbed a drink and went to search for Dennis who’d gone to get food.  We met up in some seats and watched the first three innings from just past first base.

Then we got booted by an usher when the actual seatholders showed up (an hour late).  We wandered a bit, I ate some Rally Monkey Bread from the Katella Grill stand, and we ended up on the opposite side of the field in equally great seats.  Our view:
And we got to stay there for the rest of the game.  The Angels had a four-run first and didn’t score again until Juan Rivera’s two-run homer in the eighth.  The Mariners scored two runs off Jered Weaver… and one off the Angels bullpen but the Halos hung on to win it 6-3.  Weaver got his fifteenth win and Fuentes kept the ball at the end of the game… it was his fortieth save of the year.

Torii Hunter got interviewed by Jose Mota after the game… right in front of me:
DSCF3123.JPGAnd after that Dennis and I headed back to Irvine.  A good game with a good friend… one baseball as a souvenir… not too shabby.

7/27/09 at Angel Stadium

How long’s it been since I’ve blogged?  AAGH

OK, so back in April I went to a game in Anaheim with my buddy, Randy.  During that trip I found out he was a big Indians fan and we determined that we’d go to a game (and take our significant others with us) when Cleaveland was in town in July.  July 27th was the day we’d chosen.  Since Randy and his girlfriend, Beth, were at work they agreed to meeting us after batting practice.  Michelle and I went to BP and, upon our arrival, I was allowed the first spot in line thanks to BP regular, Terry.  He told me he wanted me to get inside first and “beat Rob” out to the pavilion.  Rob and I are the two guys who always race out to right field and rarely find any Easter eggs…

Today, however, I was the first one out there… and I went immediately to the front row of the right field pavilion and saw the first Easter egg of my ballhawking career!  It had a nifty “scab” on it from where it must have hit the seats.  The top layer of the ball had been peeled back and stained dark green from the seats of Angel Stadium.  Pretty cool… if I remember later I’ll put a picture up.

Shortly thereafter I ran a section to my left, searched up and down the rows and then found Ball #2 on the day sitting on the ground under a seat.  The second Easter egg I’d found–EVER!  As soon as Michelle walked up to the pavilion, with Terry, I showed her the ball and gave it to her.

Then–after a fantastic start–I snagged no other baseballs all evening!  WHAT?!?

Two in two minutes and NOTHING for the rest of the day… not just the rest of BP… the rest of the day.  Yep, I was in the stadium for four more hours and couldn’t get another baseball anywhere!  BP was pretty lightly attended:
DSCF3003.JPG
And yet, very few homers were hit… and I couldn’t get anyone to toss me a ball except Tony Sipp.  He fielded one near the wall and I called out for it.  I was the only one who knew his name.  He looked up, made eye contact with me, and fired it–

–it went five feet to my right… into the glove of a thirty-something dude.  I couldn’t reach far enough over.  ::sigh::

I went down to the foul pole for the latter part of BP.
DSCF3008.JPGI watched the pitchers warm up and got Winston Abreu to autograph my ticket stub.

BP ended and Michelle and I met up with Beth and Randy when they arrived.  We got some delicious grub from Beach Pit BBQ and headed up to our seats.

Almost every time I go to a game I get to see SOMETHING that I’ve never seen before.  Tonight was pretty significant.  After falling behind early, the Angels hit back to back to back home runs!  Three in a row–it was totally cool and I was glad to be there for that.

Here we have Erick Aybar diving back into first base:
DSCF3013.JPGThe Angels took a 6-4 lead into the ninth inning and turned the ball over to Brian Fuentes.  He promptly gave up four runs on four hits. and the Angels couldn’t come back against Kerry Wood in the bottom of the ninth.  Man, that was frustrating but Randy was super-thrilled!  His hometown boys won a game on the road for him so I had to be at least partially happy.

We all had a lot of fun (though I didn’t take many photos) and my baseball collection would be at eighty-three when I headed off to St. Louis…

7/19/09 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

111.JPGMichelle and I knew months ago that we’d be heading up to the Bay Area in July and I’d checked the Angels schedule to see if they would be playing the A’s.  Sure enough, the Angels and Athletics met up right out of the All-Star break.  Due to our busy schedule (and wanting to see all of our Bay Area-based friends) we could go a game either on a Saturday or a Sunday.  I picked Sunday because both games were during the day and Saturday’s was a day game after a night game.  It was the Angels–away from Anaheim.  The last time I’d seen them play on the road was in July of 2005 in New York against the Yankees.

I hoped there would be batting practice at this day game after a day game…

Look to the left–ooh!  My first view of the stadium…

When we got to the stadium at 10:55am there was already quite a bit of a line:
112.JPGIt was Kurt Suzuki T-Shirt Day at the Coliseum… complete with pooka shells printed on the neck.  By the time I got to right field and took my first look at this new (to me) stadium it was already 11:05.
113.JPGThere were a dozen people already there and the only people fielding baseballs in right were two batboys… a friendly Oakland fan told me they never toss anything up.

After a few minutes I headed over to left field and Michelle took some photos that I turned into this panorama:
coliseum left field cropped.jpgIt was a bit more crowded but there were plenty of righties hitting and some pitchers shagging in the outfield.  The A’s hit about two or three baseballs to the stands… none near me.  And I saw a few balls thrown to fans… nothing to me.  I wasn’t nervous about getting shut out because I was one of a handful of Angels fans in the stadium.  The A’s wrapped up BP at about 11:35am (the Angels were scheduled to start hitting at 11:40).  I took off the green and put on the red: my circa 2004 Darin Erstad T-shirt.  I chatted with Michelle while we waited for the Angels to take the field.
136.JPGI’d seen a few pitchers come out to throw along the first base line… but no hitters were anywhere to be found.  11:40 came and went… still no hitters.  Oh, no!  Groundskeepers started taking the cage down… I was still without a baseball.  I told Michelle the Angels weren’t going to hit and we took off for the field level.  I got over to the line just as the pitchers were finishing but nobody threw their ball anywhere.

To get over my disappointment and not snagging a ball during (severely shortened) batting practice I figured I’d go for autographs.  Our actual seats for the game were in Section 111, just behind the Angels dugout.
coliseum field cropped.jpgYes, I actually paid for these seats. Got ’em for less than 72 bucks for two on StubHub… sometimes you find some good deals on that site.  Be sure to check it out.

146.JPGFirst up was Matt Palmer, who has grown his facial hair back since the last time I talked to him.  After that I got backup catcher Bobby Wilson’s signature and then some of the Angels came out to play catch and stretch.  After getting snubbed by Howie Kendrick and Chone Figgins as they finished throwing I got Gary Matthews, Jr. to throw me my first ball of the day.  YES!  No shutout for you today, Oakland Coliseum!  I also saved a little kid’s life on this snag, by the way.  Gary threw the ball from about fifty feet away but it tailed to my right a little bit.  I stretched as far as I could and made the catch in the front row of the stands… right in front of a boy about six years old who had his hands down by his sides.  He and his family hadn’t even seen it coming.

Now I was psyched.  I had a ball and two autographs and it was still an hour before gametime.  Jeff Mathis was catching John Lackey’s warmup session:
184.JPGSee the ball?  Look over the “c” in Athletics.

I saw Brian Fuentes heading out toward the bullpen… he stopped to talk to a family he knew and I waited patiently until–aannndd a little kid ran right up and asked him for his autograph.  He looked down and said, “Hang on.”  I lined up right behind the little dude and a minute later I had the All-Star’s autograph.  I made sure to thank him for taking the time.

I saw Erick Aybar tossing with a trainer back along the first base line.  When they finished I yelled, “Erick!  Over here!” and as he was walking toward the dugout he threw me Ball #2 on the day.  Someone behind me said, “Good catch.”  Really, I’d just stood there and he threw it right to me.  I didn’t have to move an inch.

Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders were signing autographs nearby and since I’d already gotten Joe’s (three times–on stubs from his complete game in May) I decided to hang out and get Jered’s.  He reached up across the dugout and signed this ticket:

Then Stomper came by in a little car and I took his photo because, well
, I love mascots.
195.JPGAnd a little later Robb Quinlan signed a few and I got him, too!  Five autographs in one day–that’s a record for me!

About this time the game was getting started and, man, it was a great one.  In the second inning though, Michelle and I toured the stadium.  As this was our only trip to the Coliseum, possible ever, we wanted to take a good look around.  Plus, it got us out of the sun for a while…214.JPGLook at that concourse–pretty ordinary… that’s right off of first base.  And…
221.JPGWalking behind the batter’s eye… pretty dead out there.  Yuck–so much concrete.  Cold, unfriendly, Oakland Coliseum.  Blah.

Then we ended up in deep left field:
left field upper cropped.jpgBefore going down to the third base line:
third base line cropped.jpg255.JPGA’s starter, Brett Anderson, who didn’t allow an Angel to reach base until he had two outs in
the seventh inning, gave up two hits and no walks in eight shutout
frames–and lost!  Michelle and I watched a great duel between Anderson and John Lackey, who went nine innings and got the win!  Brian Fuentes picked up the save in the 10th inning after Bobby Abreu hit a line shot out to right that produced the game’s only run!  Here he is touching home plate after the homer.

About three other balls got hit really well, too… but they were just too high up and the wind caught ’em.  Jason Giambi hit a blast to center that I thought was gone but Matthews grabbed it on the warning track.

So, my impression of the Coliseum is this: ordinary.  It wasn’t lousy by any means.  It was nice (the ushers were a bit grumpy–nothing new).  My expectations were low so I wasn’t disappointed.  There’s absolutely NO personality to this park and I see why they’re not selling many tickets (aside from the fact that the A’s are lousy this year)… who wants to really come back to the Coliseum day after day?  Not me.  The attendance was 18,539… less than half of what I’m used to in Anaheim.  But it was great to see it with my own eyes, watch a game with my wife, enjoy the beautiful weather (surprise, surprise!), and snag three baseballs…
285.JPGWhat?  Yep, the third ball of the day came from recently promoted (and playing first base) Brandon Wood.  He recorded the third out of the sixth inning and jogged toward the dugout.  Normally, Chone Figgins gets the third out balls and tosses them, at home and, apparently, on the road.  This time, however, Wood tossed it right to me while I was in position behind the dugout!  Cool!  I love to look at the difference between a rubbed up game ball and a BP ball.

So long, Oakland–I may never see another game at your Coliseum.  I’ll leave you with some more photos, enjoy!

Angels:
201.JPG188.JPG

A’s:
206.JPG199.JPG

234.JPG262.JPGAnd for some reason MLBlogs won’t let me delete this picture… so here’s Bobby Abreu taking a practice swing before stepping into the box in the first inning:
202.JPG

7/2/09 at Angel Stadium

Originally I was going to attend this game with Michelle but one of her girlfriends was in town, so I sold the extra ticket on craigslist and headed out by myself…

Traffic was rough so I didn’t arrive at the Home Plate Gate until 4:50pm (only ten minutes before opening).  There was quite a crowd due to it being a giveaway day:  Rally Doodle Dandy – a beanie baby, patriotic, rally monkey.  I know, exciting, right?
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 001.JPGNormally, I’d have been pretty bummed to have to stand at the back of that line.  Lucky for me, I spotted BP regular, Terry, at the front of the line and he welcomed me alongside him.  YES!

I ran in, received my monkey, and was off for right field.  Another BP regular, Rob, was out there as I arrived in the pavilion, already looking for Easter eggs.  We both searched, found nothing, I lost a BP homer to a girl nearby… then an usher said, “Did you guys find that one that bounced around up here?”  WHA–???  How could we have missed it?

Rob took off and came back a minute later; he’d snagged it.  Boy, it was one of those days of BP.  The Angels were hitting a few to seats.  Rob got another one, that same girl got another one… I was still stuck at zero.7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 004.JPG  I hassled Matt Palmer about his recent shave-job and had a brief back and forth with him.  After a while an Angel righty, who I am fairly certain was Jeff Mathis, he was Caucasian, wore hi-sox, and smashed the ball toward right center… good opposite field pop (maybe Napoli, though he played in normal sock in the game), that headed toward me.  I took a step down and over to my left, I was camped under it.  Yes!  But at the last second I see a glove rise up next to mine–the gloves touch, the ball deflects away and we both lunge for it.  I get the favorable bounce and snag it as it’s falling through a seat.  I look up and there’s Rob–that guy is everywhere!  He ended up with, I think, four by the time BP was over.  I was just excited to be on the board!  And then… nothing during the O’s portion of BP… I couldn’t get Mark Hendrickson or coach Alan Dunn to toss anything to me.  Some homers were hit but I couldn’t quite get to any of them.  Boy, Baltimore’s got some pop in their bats… and a lot of strong lefties!  I just kept missin’ by just a few rows…

I could’ve had a BP homer on the fly but I opted not to lunge across a few small kids like some middle-aged guy in the front row… I think he hit his head on a cupholder though… karma.

As BP ended at 6:30pm I still had just the one ball but I was thrilled because my streak was still alive.  I’ve now attended 12 games and gotten at least one baseball at each of them.  Last season my streak went up to 8… but was snapped at this game last September.

I meandered down toward the Orioles’ dugout, no one was signing autographs.  I sat… watched the pregame entertainment during the national anthem: Navy Seals skydiving…
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 015.JPGand…
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 017.JPGand finally…
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 022.JPGOoh…

I waited to see who’d be playing catch… three pairs of Orioles played catch and I didn’t get any of those baseballs.  It just wasn’t my day for snagging!  I did take quite a few photos from my prime seat as the game got going:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 031.JPG7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 025.JPG

7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 042.JPG7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 045.JPGNote:  Chone Figgins – 5′ 8″, Aubrey Huff – 6′ 4″  It just made me laugh to see the two of them standing together:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 051.JPGI also took this pic of me with my new primate friend:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 009.JPG
Thrilling.  I was two rows behind the dugout and I figured I would just move whenever the real seatholders came along.  They never did!  There were four seats on the aisle in Row D that never were occupied–except by me.  Any inning that ended with a strikeout, I thought, I would be sure to get a ball from rookie catcher, Matt Wieters (pronounced WEE-ters), but he kept rollin’ ’em back to the mound.  BAH!  But, I couldn’t complain… I’d purchased a ticket for $7.00 and I was in the best seats in the stadium, close enough to get a peek at manager Dave Trembley’s lineup cards:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 052.JPGMore photos:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 056.JPG7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 061.JPGThe Angels got on the board first, in the bottom of the 4th with a solo blast by Bobby Abreu:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 068.JPGThen, the O’s tied in in the top of the 5th but my Halos came back with four runs in the bottom of the 5th, three coming from Abreu’s second homer of the night!

The Angels led 5-1, then the O’s got one back when Luke Scott homered in the 7th…

WHOA–I got so excited about Abreu’s two dingers I almost forgot to mention my second snag of the day.  Kendry Morales flied out to left to end the 4th.  Nolan Reimold caught it and the team started jogging in.  I stood up, decked out in orange and put my glove up.  I figured I had a chance even though I was a bit far from where the players were leaving the field (I was closer to home plate than first base).  When he crossed the foul line Reimold looked toward me and tossed a perfect gamer right to me!  Check it out:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 136.JPGNo smudges or marks at all, really… NICE!

My snagging was officially done at that point.  I’d stay at two for the rest of the game.  I soaked up the game, though, and the great pitching, the homers, and the good defense by the Angels.  Here’s a picture I snapped once I was able to get down into the first row:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 119.JPG
I set my camera on the dugout, set the 10-second timer and ended up watching a play unfold as the shutter clicked.

Wow… I really look like an Orioles fan… I swear that’s actually an orange Angels T-shirt!  It’s from the ’07 All-Star Game… the one where Vlad won the Home Run Derby.

Lackey pitched a strong eight innings… the Angels were up by three runs, so…

7.2 angel stadium field level edited.jpgI moved to the Angels dugout for the 9th.  Brian Fuentes only needed eight pitches to retire the side and record his MLB-leading 23rd save of the season!  I saw a girl next to me get a bat… about five baseballs came up over the dugout–and I walked away empty-handed.  No dugout luck, post-game, for me… again.

My two baseballs on the night:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 139.JPGOh, well.  It was a quick game (2 hours, 14 minutes), a good game, and I was glad to head home to my wife!  Happy 4th, everyone!