Tagged: chone figgins

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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5/28/10 at Angel Stadium

The Mariners were in town for the first time this season and Michelle and I would start our anniversary weekend off by heading to a game to welcome Chone Figgins (and Casey Kotchman) back to the Big A.

I had one goal for this evening: snag baseball number 200.  I was sitting on 198 baseballs as we arrived–so I would be happy as long as I ended up with two on the night.  As we got to the gates there were huge lines.  We arrived a little later than I like to because there was a ton of traffic.  Luckily, I knew a few people close to the front and I was able to go in with them.  Michelle volunteered to hang back.

I ran in to left field and headed down near the foul pole.  When Michelle arrived I was still on zero but I had high hopes.  She started snapping pictures since she’d forgotten to bring a book with her.  Usually Michelle reads during BP… this time though she played photographer and got some good shots.

Here I am, excited, despite the fact that the teenager to the right just snagged a ball and I didn’t get it:
start of bp 5.28.JPGI noticed Joe Saunders in the bullpen.  I’d had a brief conversation with him two days earlier and he’d tossed me a ball.  As he came out of the bullpen I called out to him and he recognized me.  As he walked to the field I told him about myGameBalls.com and wished him well.  Michelle got this photo of our conversation before he started his pregame running with some other pitchers:
talking with joe 5.28.JPGIf you can’t find me right away just look at the photographer in the green shirt.  I’m to his right in the above photo.  And Joe’s on the field, obviously, drinking his Gatorade.

After that I went back to the wall and eventually was able to get on the board for the day by scooping a ground ball off the track.  I’m not sure who hit it but I was able to lean out and grab the ball as it rolled along the dirt.  Here I am just after snagging it:
inspecting first ball of the day 5.28.JPGI had a shot at one other ball.  It was a BP home run hit by someone on the Angels.  I didn’t get it but Michelle took two photos of the action as it unfolded:
tracking bp homer 5.28.JPGchasing bp homer 5.28.JPGIn the first photo we’re tracking the ball.  It would end up going over our heads.  The second photo shows me and one other guy getting to where we thought it had settled.  He ended up with the ball even though I’d gotten in front of him in the chase for it.  I overran the ball by a row.  Bummer.

Michelle was snapping photos all through BP and she ended up taking the following, which I turned into a panoramic shot:
5.28.bp panorama b.jpgI’m in it… can you find me?

The Angels would be done with their hitting soon and I’d seen the Mariners come out on the other side of the stadium to stretch.  Pretty soon, pitchers would be throwing over on the first base line.  I had been talking to the father and son duo immediately to my right all through BP and before Michelle and I switched sides of the stadium I handed over career ball #199 to the kid and told him, “Here you go.  But the deal is, if you use all these tips I’ve been telling you and you or your dad get another ball, give this one to an even littler kid then you, OK?”  The father was in shock, he asked, “Are you sure?  I mean, that’s your ball, you got it.”  I told him it was my pleasure and the little boy thanked me.  With that, we were off to the right field area.

Not long after we got there I remembered how I’d gotten baseball #100.  And I remembered that I had no idea who I got it from .  And I remembered that I was pretty frustrated by that.  So, I made sure to pay extra close attention to who was hitting and who was throwing nearby.  There were a bunch of Mariners right in front of me.  Some of them had their numbers showing, some didn’t.  The player directly in front of me:
kanekoa 200 1.JPGWas Kanekoa Texeira.  I had to check my Seattle roster to find out.  I’d never heard of him before.  But you can all read the Wikipedia entry of the guy who threw me baseball number two hundred.  And it wasn’t the one he was warming up with.  Some Mariner in the cage hit a ball that ended up bouncing off the wall and stopped near where he was throwing.  He leaned down to pick it up and as he did I checked my roster and then yelled out, “Texeira!  Texiera!  Right here!”  I didn’t know how to say his first name (now I know it is cahn-eh-KOH-uh) but I was the only person who knew his last name and he stopped his motion of throwing the ball back to the bucket and instead threw it right to my waiting glove in the front row.  Woo!

I took a couple other photos of Texeira to document the occasion:
kanekoa 200 2.JPGkanekoa 200 3.JPGAnd as of June 3rd he’s a member of the Kansas City Royals.  Them’s the breaks.  Maybe when the Royals come to Anaheim I can get him to sign the ball for me.

After that I took it pretty easy during BP.  I had reached my goal and I was ecstatic.  I mean, I didn’t stop trying to snag completely:
over the wall 5.28 1.JPGover the wall 5.28 2.JPGBut I didn’t go all out either.  Toward the end of BP a ball came to rest near the foul pole.  I wasn’t really close to it but I noticed that nobody had even tried to reach over for it.  I walked down the steps and got near the ball.  There was a little girl standing right over the spot where it was.  A security guard was walking over to the ball–and I knew he’d just toss it back and then nobody could have the ball (except the Mariners, I guess).  I quickly asked the woman near the little girl (who I assumed was her mother), “Can I try to get it?”

She looked sort of confused.  In her hesitation the security guard was getting closer so I told the woman and her daughter: “If you let me squeeze in front of you I can get that ball.”

They wordlessly, but excitedly, moved out of the way and in one quick move I jumped out, balanced myself on the stone wall, grabbed the ball in the tip of my glove and then came back up with it.  The mother looked at me like I had just done a magic trick.  I asked her, “Now, where’s the little one?”  The young girl came out from behind her mother’s leg and I held my glove open with the baseball still inside.  She looked up at her mom as if to ask, “Is it okay?”  Once her mom nodded she grabbed the baseball with a big smile on her face and they both thanked me.

201 and counting… I ran down to the dugout at the end of BP and got shut out there.  Michelle and I grabbed some dinner after that… and dessert after that.  Mmm… monkey bread and funnel fries!

figgins at bat 5.28.JPGWe watched the game from the 200 level out between first base and right field.  It was a pretty crowded game but we only had to shuffle around for actual seatholders one time.  I ran to the M’s dugout for tries at a third out ball but didn’t snag anything during the game… I was okay with that though.

The Angels jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a fielder’s choice and then a groundout… but only mustered five hits for the whole game.  The offense looked silly… against Seattle.  Which is saying something.

ichiro on first 5.28.JPGCliff Lee was up against Scott Kazmir and Cliff Lee won… big time.  He struck out 10 over eight innings.  The Angels scored three runs (two earned) and that wasn’t enough.  Seattle actually hit the ball.  Go figure… they scored eight runs.  Six off Kazmir and two off Scot Shields, who has been awful.  His ERA is, at the time of this posting, 6.86.  Ugh.

Anyway, I was hoping that the Mariners would toss up something at the dugout after the game (and we moved pretty close for the ninth inning)  I took the following photo late in the game:
matsui foul ball 5.28.JPGIt’s a foul ball… heh… look at Mike Napoli.  The M’s didn’t throw anything up.  Except for Casey Kotchman, who passed a bat up over the dugout that was just to my left.  The teenager next to me who got it had flopped down on the dugout at the end of the game, then there was a little girl to his right, then there was me.  I thought Kotchman was giving the bat to the little girl.  The teenager ended up with it because I wasn’t aggressive.  Next time there’s a bat up for grabs I won’t be so nice because I was kicking myself all through the fireworks show:
fireworks 5.28.JPGWhich was fun.  And Michelle and I got a couple of friendly ushers to take our photo together as we kicked off our anniversary with a fun night at the ballpark:
matt michelle 2 5.28.JPGAnd we headed home… where I took another photo of the one ball I kept that night:
ball 200 2.JPGNumber 200!

7/23/09 at Angel Stadium

I really didn’t have any intention of going to this game until about 36 hours before it actually happened.  July 23rd happened to be the birthday of a good friend of mine named Garrett (who you might remember me mentioning in this entry from back in May).  He didn’t have any big plans when I called him up so Michelle and I invited Garrett and his roommate, Julian, also a good friend, down to the OC for some baseball action.  I found some cheap tickets on StubHub and the plan was set: Michelle and I would go to batting practice and the guys would drive down from L.A. for the start of the game.  We were psyched to spend an evening with friends and I was extra jazzed because I hoped to snag a Twins Metrodome commemorative baseball.  I hoped that they’d brought a few with them on the road trip.

We got to the stadium at 4:45pm (ugh… traffic) and got a surprisingly good spot in line. When the Home Plate Gate opened I ran out to right field but on my way I stopped mid-stride.  There was nobody hitting!

But the cage was up…

But there was nobody hitting!

But–  Oh, what the heck!?!  I ran the rest of the way out to the pavilion anyway hoping to find an Easter Egg.  Sure, the one day that the Angels aren’t hitting (I later realized they got in from their roadtrip at about 3:00am, hence the lack of BP) is the day most of my competiton is nowhere to be seen for the first five minutes.  Look:
DSCF3002.JPGFour fans, three ushers.  Not including me… I was the first one out there.  I took this photo after I’d checked… no baseballs to be found.

My favorite usher did welcome me by laughing at me (my rush out to the pavilion only to be sorely disappointed seemed to amuse her) but otherwise the first fifteen minutes in the park were uneventful.  I snuck past the field level ushers and down to the Twins dugout where I attempted to get a ball from Brendan Harris.  He tossed it over my head… but then the Twins started hitting!  My first ball of the day was a foul ball by a right-handed Twins player.  I didn’t see who because, for once in my batting practice life I actually wasn’t paying attention to the batter at all!  I was making my way back down the first base line toward the outfield in preparation to ask a pitcher or two for their warmup ball.  I was in the first row and I heard a THUNK a few rows behind me and about twenty feet closer to the foul pole.  I knew that sound!  A ball had hit one of the seats and, could it be?  No one else had paid attention to it.  I rushed over as people turned their attention from the field to the mysterious source of that THUNK (and the guy running toward where the sound had come from) and I pulled baseball #1 of the day (and #75 in my lifetime collection) from its spot stuck in the seat.  Not commemorative.  😦

A few minutes later I asked infielder Brian Buscher if he could please spare a baseball.  I used his first name and said please and he pulled a ball out of his back pocket and flipped it to me.  Simple.  Easy.

Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer were hitting with the second group so I ran up to the pavilion and, get this, I couldn’t snag a ball for the rest of BP.  I was just a bit off when homers were hit.  I saw a few go right over my head when I thought I’d lined ’em up perfectly.  Bah!

Anywho, I watched the Twins end BP early and run off the field.  I ran over to Michelle and told her I was headin’ back down by the dugouts.  And before you knew it I was here:
DSCF3007.JPGHey, what’s that out there on the batter’s eye?  Well, the Angels had revealed the 2010 All-Star Game logo that day–there it is:
DSCF3006.JPGOooh!  Anyway, Michelle came and met me on the Terrace Level after I watched some Angels players warm up:
DSCF3018.JPGDSCF3019.JPGThen we hung out and waited for Garrett and Julian to show up… we knew they were going to be a little late (ugh… traffic).  Here’s the view:
third base terrace cropped.jpgWe got kicked out of those seats a few minutes after that photo was taken so we took a walk and decided we were hungry.  We went to Beach Pit BBQ, in my opinion it’s the best food Angel Stadium has to offer.  We sat down in deeeep left field to eat our meals.  Delicious, and the view wasn’t bad either:
left field lower cropped.jpgAfter the first inning our friends called us.  They were at the Left Field Gate so we met them there and then headed up to the View Level… our seatswere waaayyy up in the nosebleeds but I’d seen some decent seats in a nearly empty section and THAT’S where we stayed for the whole game:
Not too shabby.  The game was great!  The Angels trailed from the first inning, 3-0.  They made i
t close with two runs in the bottom of the fifth but the Twins scored again in the sixth.  Going into the bottom of the ninth the score was 5-3 Twins.

DSCF3075.JPGJoe Nathan was in the game with his under 1.30 ERA.  It wasn’t looking good for the Angels.  By this time we had all moved down to the Field Level (at Garrett’s request) to watch how the game ended.  Gary Matthews Jr. and Howie Kendrick provided RBI singles in the ninth inning to tie the game!  Kendrick hit was a lucky miracle dribbler up the middle that Nathan got a glove on.  It rolled toward second and shortstop Nick Punto was all set to snag it and step on the bag to end the game but it hit the base and he couldn’t get a hand on it!  Mike Napoli scored from third and we had some free baseball coming up!  I was thrilled!  Like, literally, I thought the game was over because there were two outs, two strikes, and that little roller was sure to be nabbed for the last out.  I was right behind the Twins dugout thinking I might get a baseball tossed–but this comeback was way better!  I ran back up to the group and high-fived the guys and Michelle.  Brian Fuentes came in and shut down the Twins in the top of the tenth.  About half of the 38,145 were still around in the bottom of the tenth when Mike Napoli doubled home Chone Figgins to win the game!  We were there–it was awesome!  The Angels came back AGAIN against an All-Star closer this time.  One thing I can tell any Angels fan reading this is: don’t leave early.  Especially with this team, you never know what’s gonna happen.

We had an usher take our picture after the game:
STA74460.JPGFrom left to right: Julian, Michelle, me, Garrett

Then we headed back to the cars… it was a great birthday night for Garrett (who turned 23 on the 23rd = golden birthday) with the Halos winning a tight game.

The two baseballs I snagged in BP:
DSCF3085.JPGAnd wouldn’t you know it–I’d be heading out to the stadium AGAIN rather soon…

5/9/09 at Angel Stadium

The stage was set for a pitching duel… Zack Greinke (6-0) vs. Joe Saunders (4-1).  I attended this game with a friend I know through a schoolmate, Gavin.  He’s a big Cardinals fan and wore his #51 Willie McGee jersey… here he is (in awe of… something) with the crowd before the gates opened:
5.9.09 at Angel Stadium 006.JPGI was out to snag some baseballs so I wore my Angels button-up with a blue T-shirt underneath.

We got to the stadium at about 3:40pm for the 6:05pm start.  There wasn’t much of a crowd and I thought, “Today might be a great BP day.”  Gavin and I played some catch and then at 4:02 the gates opened.  I had mentioned to Gavin that my plan was to run in and try to find an Easter egg… he volunteered to keep up with me and said, “It’s part of the experience.”  We took off for right field and as I headed into the field level I saw dozens, maybe hundreds, of little kids along each foul line.  Gwah?!?  As it turns out, it was one of the Little League Days that Angel Stadium hosts.  I was disheartened… no Easter eggs… just lots of kids more adorable, and more likely to have a ball tossed to them, than me.  Gavin and I decided we had no choice but to head up to the pavilion.  Look how many little kids were already there (note the foul pole area, too):
5.9.09 at Angel Stadium 007.JPGThis was the view to my left (can you see Gavin?) and all the kids were frantically yelling, “OVER HERE!” whenever a ball came within thirty feet of them.  I tried to get Matt Palmer to toss up a baseball but to no avail.  I like him… he’s now 3-0 for the Halos this season, a thirty year-old rookie.  After a while, Maicer Izturis, batting from the left side (with Greinke, a righty, pitching that night) walloped a ball. I was three rows back from the wall, moved a section to my left and lined it up pretty well.  My only concern was that it would go over my head… a few gloves popped up in front of me but I had my eyes locked on that ball as it fell.  At the last second I jumped up and stretched out my arm–

–and felt the ball hit my glove as I fell back just enough to loose my footing.  I ended up half sitting, half laying on the row of seats behind me.  No pain… just a snowcone catch and my first BP homer caught on the fly since Giambi’s blast back in Opening Week.  I have to admit, that one felt good.  I figured that with all the kids around one ball was likely to be my total for the day.  For the rest of the Angel BP time nothing came near me.

The Royals were coming up so I darted into the concourse and switched into my royal blue cap and shirt.  A friendly usher named Barbara who works in the pavilion section noticed me and said, “What is this?  You’re a traitor!”  I told her not to worry… it was only for BP and she laughed.

5.9.09 at Angel Stadium 011.JPGI saw Ron Mahay and a few other pitchers standing below me in right-center but every time he fielded a ball my requests were drowned out by a chorus of higher pitched voices.  There were literally hundreds of kids at this batting practice!  AACK!  The Royals were puttin’ too many in the seats so Gavin and I headed down to the foul pole in right (I’d seen an opening).  Barbara stopped me and asked if my trick had worked.  “Not yet,” I said as we jogged by.  We got down to the field and squeezed in just fair of the pole.

Before too long a Royals righty pulled one down the line.  It caromed off the wall twenty feet to our right and I was out and over the edge of the wall… I snagged it as it rolled along and that was my second of the day!

5.9.09 at Angel Stadium 015.JPGAt that point BP was close to ending so I told Gavin the plan for the rest of the evening… we’d follow the Royals to their dugout, try to get a ball, then grab some seats in the section near the dugout.  As it turns out, after some of the Royals stretched and a girl sand the anthem (poorly), Mike Aviles and Alberto Callaspo played catch (Can you see it in Aviles’ glove in this photo?) but Aviles tossed the ball to the section on my left.  After the game started I figured we’d get kicked out of our pirated seats.

Nope.

In the bottom of the second inning Juan Rivera grounded out to Callaspo at second.  He threw the ball to Billy Butler, playing first, and I was already up and waving my arms.  Butler saw me and tossed it up… it went a bit to my right so I had to lay out across the dugout but I caught it and I had a beautiful, rubbed up game ball for my third of the day!

There wasn’t any snaggin action for the rest of the night.  But the craziest thing was that we never got kicked out of our seats.  We watched the whole game from the third row behind the Royals dugout!  Another third out toss came close and Gavin had a chance to catch it but it went just over his head (and actually hit the elderly lady behind us–don’t worry, she was fine).  The game itself was a thing of beauty.
5.9.09 at Angel Stadium 023.JPG5.9.09 at Angel Stadium 016.JPG
Greinke and Saunders had quite a duel going.  In the third inning GMJ (Gary Matthews, Jr.) doubled, Erick Aybar sacrifice bunted him to third, then Chone Figgins hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring the Angels’ first (and only)
run.

Some action shots:
5.9.09 at Angel Stadium 018.JPG
5.9.09 at Angel Stadium 021.JPGEach pitcher was dealing.  Greinke allowed only four hits, Saunders allowed five.  In the eighth inning Saunders faced a two on, one out situation.  Willie Bloomquist had reached on an error by Aybar… his throw to first pulled Kendry Morales off the bag.  Miguel Olivo singled, then Aviles bunted the runners to second and third.  With a 1-0 lead, Joe Saunders faced what could have been has last batter in Coco Crisp.  Crisp hit the ball sharply to third but Chone Figgins looked Bloomquist back, then tagged Olivo heading from second to third!  Two outs.  David DeJesus hit the ball sharply to third base as well and Figgins made a great play and got the out at first.  Saunders was pumped, the 39,776 in attendance were pumped, and Saunders would finish to get his first-ever shutout with a one-two-three ninth.  He only needed 101 pitches.  Greinke took the loss… a complete game loss.  His ERA had skyrocketed to 0.51.

Nothing got tossed up from the Royals dugout after the game but I did manage to find a few ticket stubs as we left.  What a game!  Here we are at the end of the night:5.9.09 at Angel Stadium 041.JPG
5.9.09 at Angel Stadium 042.JPGAnd me with my three snagged baseballs.  Numbers 49, 50, and 51 in my collection:
5.9.09 at Angel Stadium 045b.jpg

9/14/08 at Angel Stadium

It seems like I was just here… blogging… because I was.  This was my fourth game in four days.  I’d never been to more than two consecutive games before this weekend.  I was tired but determined to make it a great day, as it might be my last game of the year (unless someone hooks me up with playoff tickets).  I arrived at the stadium a little later than I would have liked.  It had been open for five minutes or so when I headed inside.  To my surprise, I saw this:
Angels Game 09.14.08 001.jpgThe Mariners were taking batting practice!  I wasn’t really prepared for that so I quickly put on my Seattle hat and ran to right field.  I debated between heading up to the pavilion and staying down on the field level.  I chose the field, which ended up being a good call because no baseballs made it up to the pavilion except a couple that got tossed up there… and it was crowded.  Each Sunday home game the Angels have Family Sunday and kids get all kinds of cool stuff and get to participate in fun activities.  So, Sundays at Angel Stadium = lots of kids.  I hung around near the foul pole.  I just missed one that scooted by me off the bat of an M’s lefty.Angels Game 09.14.08 004.jpg 
Then, the Mariner pitchers started throwing right in front of where I was standing.
  Angels Game 09.14.08 009.jpg

R.A. Dickey began warming up and I asked him if he could teach me how to throw a knuckleball.  He laughed and said, “That would take too long.”  I’ll assume he meant that in the it’s-hard-to-learn way and not the you’re-not-good-enough way.  I like that guy.  I like anybody that can throw a knuckleball.  Here’s some trivia for you:

  • R.A. stands for Robert Alan.
  • Robert Alan Dickey is MISSING the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm (which is the one that gets replaced when a player has Tommy John surgery).
  • There are only 3 players in the big leagues currently that throw a knuckleball.  Can you name them?

Angels Game 09.14.08 011.jpgAnywho, I watched R.A. for a while and saw Ryan Rowland-Smith throwing a few yards further down the field.
ryan rowland-smith.jpgI yelled, “Ryan, will you sign an autograph when you’re done?”  He turned.  He had on those crazy-huge-baseball-player-day-game-sunglasses.  He gave me a nod.  True to his word, as soon as he was done he game over and signed a ticket stub from Thursday night’s game for me.

rowland-smith auto.jpgWell, the players finished throwing and the shortened BP session ended and I walked down near Seattle’s dugout as I had each of the past three games.  I sat near some Mariners fans, chatted and waited for some guys to play catch after the anthem.  They came out, as usual:
Angels Game 09.14.08 021.jpgBut, alas, I couldn’t get their attention as they headed into the dugout.  No baseball for me… but I had a whole game to go!  It was a bright, sunny day in Anaheim and that meant that spectators weren’t sitting in their awesome field level seats because they wanted to stay in the shade.  I didn’t mind, and hung out in the fifth row for the whole game!  I didn’t have to move at all.

Picture time.  I love me some photos:

Angels Game 09.14.08 029.jpgAngels Game 09.14.08 039.jpgErvin Santana pitched well, striking out three and walking one while allowing two runs through seven innings.  He was in line for the win after Mark Teixeira absolutely KILLED a ball to dead center.  It went 432 feet and was his 10th home run as an Angel, his 30th this season, and his 200th career blast.  Angels 3, Mariners 2.

As Big Tex touched home plate:
Angels Game 09.14.08 035.jpgThen Scott Shields blew the lead in the eighth.  Ugh.  3-3 tie and I thought, “Hey, maybe we’ll see some free baseball today.”  Tied in the bottom of the ninth,  Reggie Willits (one of my favorite Angels) led off as a pinch hitter and grounded out:
Angels Game 09.14.08 091.jpgAfter that, I saw M’s first base coach, Eddie Rodriguez, with a baseball in the dugout (I’d gotten down to the first row).  I asked him if he could spare it and he rolled it to me across the dugout–and some punk teenager tried to snag it from out of my glove.  Eddie wears #1 for the Mariners, you can see him in action in many of my photos from previous entries, and he used to work for the Nationals/Expos. I had almost given up hope for a ball.  Sweet!

Then Sean Rodriguez hit a deep drive.  A walkoff home run maybe?  No, Ichiro went back on it, tracked it, jumped at the wall… and it bounced off the wall about a foot above his glove!  Rodriguez made it to third.  Wow!  Triples are freakin’ exciting to watch.  That hit prompted Seattle manager, Jim Riggleman, to do something I’d only ever seen a couple times, and never actually witnessed in person.  He opted to go with the five man infield by pulling Ichiro in from right field to play between shortstop and second base!  Crazy, right!  I love it when rare stuff happens at a ball game.  Stuff like that keeps people (or me, at least) fascinated with the game.  Here, count the infielders:
Angels Game 09.14.08 093.jpgIt didn’t matter though, Chone Figgins was up next and he hit one to the wall in right field that scored Rodriguez.

I saw two triples, two walkoff wins, a knuckleballer, a record breaking performance, and a sweep by the Angels, all in the four game series!
Angels Game 09.14.08 094.jpgThe Halos celebrated in the infield with Figgins and I almost got a second ball… J.J. Putz tossed one just to my left as he trotted in from the bullpen.  Then, Sean Green, who’d thrown me a ball the night before, started signing a few autographs.  I got him to sign a stub from that day’s game.
green auto.jpgAll in all, I did what I set out to do:  I had a great time at the game!  Now it’s time to gear up for school.  UC Irvine starts up again soon.  Go Anteaters!

Psst… in case you were wondering, the three knucklers are R.A. Dickey, Tim Wakefield (you knew that one, didn’t you?), and Josh Banks (he plays for the Padres).  According to the knuckleball article on Wikipedia, there are a couple of players in the minors right now that throw it, too.