Tagged: chris

8/3/11 at Angel Stadium

I was back at the Big A for a mid-week game against the Twins.  I always love to watch the Angels play the Twins because they’re very similar teams year in and year out.  I arrived at about 4:30 and waited for the gates to open at 5:00.  Michelle would be meeting me when she got out of work so I spent the time talking with a few of the BP regulars (like Chris and Rob).  It was a fairly good crowd once we all ran inside and I headed up to the pavilion, as both teams would be taking a lot of hacks from the left side of the plate since two righties, Joel Piniero and Scott Baker, would be facing off.

The seats filled up pretty quickly and almost every row had one or two people blocking paths to get from one section to another.  I managed to snag a Mark Trumbo opposite field shot that bounced in the fourth row after about twenty minutes.  I ran to my left and the ball ended up going over my head–so I climbed a row of seats and snagged it off the cement.  And here it is:

That photo was taken in the concourse shortly after batting practice ended.  Ball #337.  And the first one of the day.  Later, one of the last Angel home runs during batting practice was a shot by Russell Branyan and I sprinted a full section to my left and mid-stride was able to jump up, fully reach out and above me and snag the ball on the fly at the spot shown here:

That’s Rob in the white, sleeveless shirt on the right of the above photo.  I felt good about that jumping catch (and later a couple of people commented on what a good catch it was).  But one guy didn’t like it–he claimed that ball was hit right to him and that it was hishe was going to catch it and, not only that, he was going to give it to his son for his ninth birthday.  Whoa.  One–he didn’t have a glove.  Two–he had been sitting down.  Three–he had a beer in his hand at the time.  Really… he was so prepared to catch a 400 ft. shot going 80 mph.

If he had presented his concern/plan in a calm and polite way I would have probably given him (or his son) a baseball.  Instead, he was belligerent and said things like, “Yeah, you better walk away,” as I went to put the ball in my backpack.  A minute later, now that I was another full section away from him, he approached me (in a pretty aggressive manner) and started cursing and berating me.  Not a good example to set for your birthday boy, sir.

The other regulars (and the ushers in that area of the stadium) all know me and know I play by the rules.  If I’d thought I had done anything wrong (or they had suggested that I had truly not made a wise decision in making such a great catch that happened to be in front of that guy) I would have given the ball right over.  But, barring that–there was no way I was going to reward his crass behavior… what a lesson for his son, huh?  If you cuss and yell at people, that’s how you get things you want!

Here’s the ball, BTW:

After the Angels hit, the Twins started their BP session and the seats filled up a bit more at that point.  Here was the view to my left:

That’s Chris in the white hat and shirt.  And here was the view to my right:

I went on with my day and snagged my third baseball off the bat of a Twins lefty (I don’t know who).  I caught it on the fly in the third row of Section 237.  Here’s the spot of the catch:

And that kid in the blue shirt looking at the camera is Chris’ girlfriend’s little brother, Brandon.  He’s on his way to catching a ton of baseballs himself–I’m pretty sure he caught at least two at this game.  I ended up with three baseballs–all hit–two of ’em caught on the fly.  And one was a 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball.  Not a bad batting practice session.

I ran to the Twins’ dugout after BP but didn’t get anything there… nor did I get a ball from either team during their warmups before the first pitch, try as I might.

I was tired–and sweaty.  It had been really hot–but it cooled down to about seventy-seven degrees at game time.  Tired and sweaty was a beautiful combination for when my wife arrived at the stadium.  She was glad to see me anyway and we decided to get some food and sit down with this view:

Michelle and I watched the game from out there and, though I tried for a third out toss at the Angels dugout a couple of times, I was content to just hang out with her and enjoy the summer evening.

Then, as I was coming back from getting a soda in the third inning I watched Peter Bourjos smack a deep drive into the left field corner.  I saw a guy move into the aisle–he was wearing a white shirt–and reach up and make a great catch about eight rows deep in the stands.  Then he did a fist pump and turned a bit and I recognized this guy:

Rob!  Nice snag on the fly, dude!

After that, I continued to watch the game with Michelle as the Twins pounded out five homers against the struggling Joel Piniero.  It wasn’t pretty.  The Angels were down 9-4 when Michelle decided to head home in the seventh inning.  I walked her to the gate and we got this photo together before she left:

Then, I went and found a seat here:

And then here:

No third out baseballs came my way…

And then the Angels, down 11-4 in the ninth, tried to mount a comeback while I sat here:

It didn’t happen and the game went final.  The Twins tossed a couple baseballs up after the game but nothing came my way.  Still–a fun night at the stadium.

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7/7/11 at Angel Stadium

It was a warm summer evening in Orange County and I was psyched about hats.  Not just any hat, however… no, I was psyched about the Angels Flashback Hat promotion at Angel Stadium.  I’m usually not too excited about a stadium giveaway (SGA) but I actually really liked the hat I’d seen on the Angels’ promotions page.

I’d been planning to go to this game for about a month and a half along with Michelle.  Cool hat giveaway, plus I love watching the Seattle Mariners play–they’re fun to watch (and have quite a few powerful–in BP–lefties this year).

Unfortunately, Michelle got pretty sick and hadn’t recovered fully by the day of the game.  So, I got her blessing to go to BP with both tickets, get two hats, chase a few baseballs, then return home.  I probably could have stayed for the whole game but I wanted to make sure she was doing well at home.  Off I went and I got to the stadium at about 4:45.  There was already a substantial crowd:

I grabbed a spot in line near Devon, and headed inside.  I nabbed my first free hat and ran out toward the right field seats.

Once there, I watched as only one home run got hit up to the pavilion during Angels BP.  I didn’t get it.  I did, however, ask Jordan Walden to throw me a baseball.  And he did.  But there was an extra step that led to me getting the ball.  I saw Walden field a ball in the outfield.  Instead of asking for it right away I said, “Hey, Jordan!  Congrats, man!”  He had just been named an All-Star that day.  He looked up and said, “Thanks,” and gave me a thumbs up.  A few minutes later he fielded another ball and I asked him if he could toss it up.  He ignored the other five people who were blindly shouting, “Can I have a ball?” to everyone on the field and fired up Ball #1 on the day.  I thanked him and wished him luck at the All-Star Game.  The ball he threw me had a practice stamp and a few grass and bat stains on it  And check out the cool scuff mark:

I’m guessing that it must have hit some concrete and then gotten back into the bucket somehow.  Like it bounced off a seat or two.

That would be the only ball I’d get from the Angels.  Hisanori Takahashi threw a ball up after I asked him in Japanese… but he threw the ball to an Asian fan on my right… I think he was confused as to who asked in Japanese for the ball.  But I wasn’t worried… I knew that Ichiro hit first in the first group of Mariners.  And I knew that he hit absolute bombs during BP.

I moved over into straightaway right field and only had to wait a minute until Ichiro started pulling the ball into the stands.  He hit homer after homer and, luckily, I nabbed a brand new commemorative baseball off his bat

I wish I could say it went from his bat to my glove directly… but it didn’t.  I still want to say I caught it on the fly though because the ball, follow me on this one, flew six to ten feet over my left shoulder.  I turned around and my view of its landing spot was obscured by a fan in the row behind me–but only for a second as the ball suddenly bounced back toward me.  Facing away from the field now, I leaned to my right and caught the ball.  I quickly inspected it, saw the commemorative logo, did a little jig (not really) and then noticed that it didn’t have a single mark on it anywhere.  It clearly didn’t hit one of the dark green seats of Angel Stadium… so what caused it to bounce back toward me?  The only explanation I’ve come up with is that it hit another fan (or a fan’s glove) and then went bouncing my way again.  So, since a player can have a ball bounce off his teammate and catch it before it hits the ground to get the out, I’ll say that I caught it on the fly.  Thoughts?  Here’s the ball:

It looks absolutely brand new.  As a matter of fact, I didn’t even write a 324 over the “ings” in “Rawlings” since this was my 324th baseball snagged.  I left it clean and pure, like the baseballs being sold for $24.99 in the Team Store.

Not three minutes later, on Ichiro’s next turn in the cage, I ranged a section to my right and snagged another BP homer from the future Hall-of -Famer… this one was a standard Selig ball.  I made the snag from this spot:

Things slowed down a bit after that and I kept just barely missing out on some of the shots the lefties were puttin’ in the seats.

Rob made a catch on a ball in the row in front of me at one point.  My glove was right behind his.  I had it positioned, the ball was descending, and at the last possible second his glove rose up from under mine… he didn’t push me out of the way or deflect the ball or knock into my glove… he just got three inches in front of it.  A clean play for sure.  I congratulated him on the snag.  Rob is, FYI, well over the 1,000 ball mark in his lifetime–and he only plays for hit baseballs which makes his quantity of baseballs snagged rather impressive, actually.

Ball #4 of the day came courtesy of lefty Jason Vargas.  He’d been hanging out with Felix Hernandez (who has rather poor aim when tossing balls to fans during BP).  After Hernandez missed me by four feet earlier in the BP session when trying to throw me a ball, Vargas scooped a ball off the warning track and tossed it right to me.  The spot of the catch is shown in the photo above and to the left.  I was in the first row.  And Vargas is the Mariner on the left in the photo.

Thanks, Jason.  This ball was almost brand new, with just one small black mark on it.  The most interesting thing about that particular ball, however, is that one of the holes through the leather was too big or maybe misaligned… or the stitch got pulled too tight.  Take a look:

Interesting, huh?  Since all Major League Baseballs are made by hand, this is bound to happen.  I’m just kind of surprised that this ball hadn’t been marked as BLEM (for “blemish”) or PRACTICE.  You couldn’t use it in a game, right?

The Mariners ended BP at 6:25, as I expected, and I raced to their dugout.  I didn’t get anything tossed to me there, unfortunately, and after that, I walked out (along with Chris) to the gates.  We each had an extra ticket to get scanned–we did so, got our extra hats, and parted ways.  I walked around the stadium through the concourse:

I stopped at the Guest Relations office for a second to grab some water–and while there I noticed a wall of old giveaways:

Can you tell what they all are?  I’ll let you know that I have (or have had and then sold/given away) ten of the giveaway items pictured above.  Like I said… I’m not usually too into giveaways at the stadium.  I headed home as the crowds filed in and I made it there as the first inning got underway.  Here are the four baseballs from the day:

The Angels would get the W for Jered Weaver, making his final start before the All-Star Break–he’d be named the AL starter with a record of 11-4 and an ERA of 1.86 after the first half of the season!  Cy Young Award, anyone?

6/16/10 at Angel Stadium

I originally wasn’t going to go to this game but I got a text message from my friend, Dennis, on Tuesday saying that his and a pal from school, Chris, would be going.  Chris is from Wisconsin and wanted to catch the Brewers while they were in town.  Long story short – Michelle had to work that evening so I accepted their invitation.

I picked the guys up at 1:45 and we got to the park at about 2:05.  I love it when I don’t hit traffic in SoCal.  Chris had never been to Angel Stadium before so we took a long walk around to the front of the ballpark and he got his picture under the big hats while I bought the tickets for us.

There was a huge line at the Home Plate Gate but since this game would be starting at 4:05 I knew that all the gates would open at the same time… so we walked down to right field.  There were about three people in line there, including BP regular Rob.  I chatted with Rob for a while and Dennis and Chris played catch with an extra baseball I’d brought.  I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing an extra baseball with me to games nowadays because I want to give at least one away every time I’m there.

At about 2:30 the gates opened and Chris and I sprinted up to the right field pavilion.  I explained to him the importance of getting into the stands as quickly as possible to find Easter eggs or just be the only one there for a few precious seconds.  Somehow, we weren’t quite the first ones to arrive but I will say that I was the only one who thoroughly checked the seats for baseballs… because I found one in the second row of the furthest section of the pavilion.  Ball #1 on the day and #205 in my lifetime!

Once we’d scoured the seats I recognized that there weren’t going to be too many home runs hit out by the Angels… the wind was blowing toward left field and we had missed most of the first round of BP with the late opening time.  So, after Hideki Matsui and Bobby Abreu finished their cuts I went down near the foul pole in right field.  While there I watched as the Brewers came out to the field to stretch and then the Angels finished up.

I got shut out by this group of Brewers pitchers:
group of brewers pitchers.JPGThough they had a lot of time tossing baseballs to each other to read the various messages written on the balls.

My next baseball came off the bat of Casey McGehee.  I didn’t know it was him at the time–but a righty on the Brewers sent a ball slicing down the right field line and I was able to leap up on the wall, lean over, and scoop it off the track.  I analyzed the stance of the batter to figure out it was McGehee once I got home.

Before I get to much further into this entry I should point out that Dennis actually snagged a ball as we were both up in the pavilion.  Once the Angels finished hitting and Prince Fielder stepped into the cage I made sure to be back up in the stands 400+ feet from home plate.  After seeing Fielder hit the day before I knew he could launch some bombs up there.  I played about halfway up the pavilion and Dennis played even further back.  I got close to one shot from Fielder but it wound up two rows below me.  A few minutes later though I had one lined up that ended up flying ten feet over my head.  Dennis was a few rows behind me–the ball hit his glove, bounced out, but he was able to recover and snag the baseball.  The Brewers had written SICK! on that one.  I was really happy for him.

I took this photo during the game that shows where I found my first ball of the day (the red circle) and where Dennis snagged the Fielder homer (the white square):
where we snagged baseballs 6.16.JPGI went down to the foul pole again after that and eventually I saw my friends up in the pavilion again.  Though at that point they’d put snagging baseballs at a secondary priority:
dennis and chris with beer.JPGAnyway, I wouldn’t snag my third baseball until the end of batting practice (even though I thought for sure Chris Capuano would hook me up–he really liked my shirt).  But I’d snag Ball #3 on a toss up from a kid who had been fielding with the players.  I had asked bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel for a ball as he came in from the field.  The kid was near him and he’d said something to the kid like, “You can give him that one.”

Hanel started transferring baseballs into a bag and the kid tossed me the ball.  There was a blue line through the sweet spot on that one (no cool saying on it).
blue line through brewers baseball.JPGThen the kid went into the dugout.  Hanel finished what he was doing a moment later… and I had moved a bit to my left.  Then he spotted me and tossed me Ball #4 on the day!  He must not have known tif the kid had actually thrown me the ball–but he’d pulled one out of the bucket that had a practice logo–not just a stamp on the sweet spot.  I’d seen one of these before:
practice logo brewers baseball.JPGSo, I ended BP with four baseballs.  Dennis had one and Chris hadn’t gotten one.  When the Strike Force came by shooting T-shirts and Nerf baseballs I snagged a little Nerf ball and handed that one to Chris.  I figured he could at least have a souvenir of his first trip to the stadium that way.

We walked around the concourse and eventually ended up in some seats on the Terrace Level just past third base.  I saw some Angels warming up and tried to get a ball from them.
6.16 angels warming up.JPGNo luck there.  I sat behind the Angels dugout until the middle of the first, hoping for a toss up.
6.16. 1st inning 2.JPG6.16 first inning 3.JPGNo luck there either.  So, I went back and found Dennis and Chris.  We all decided to grab seats behind the Brewers dugout.  At day games in Anaheim the visiting team’s dugout is on the sunny side of the stadium and fans all sit in shady seats when possible–we were able to find warm, sunny seats (plenty of them) right near the dugout.  I didn’t take any pictures there… but take my word.  They were good seats.

Jim Edmonds was playing first base for the Brewers, as Fielder was their DH on the day.  Each inning I tried for a third out toss but Edmonds either threw the ball a section over from us or the inning ended in a strikeout…

Until the bottom of the fourth.  Brandon Wood popped out to Edmonds to end the frame.  There weren’t a bunch of little kids rushing down to the dugout for some reason… usually by the fourth inning of a game a dozen little kids have caught on to the pattern of rushing down there to get a ball.  Anyway, I was pretty much the only person at the bottom of the steps as the Brewers came off the field and I called out for the ball: “Jim!  Right here, please!  Hey, Jim!”

Edmonds flipped the ball right to me–a gamer–rubbed up from a great player and a former Angel.  I was thrilled!
edmonds baseball 209.JPGSo pretty.

I went back to the seats and showed the ball to my friends.  Then I explained to Chris the strategy behind third out tosses.  We agreed that he would try the next one–but the fifth inning ended in a strikeout and then we got booted from those seats when the actual seatholders arrived… in the fifth inning.  The end of the fifth inning!  Whatever.

We headed up to the top levels of the stadium and walked around a bit.  We ended up finding seats with this view:
6.16. upper deck seats b.jpgAnd we stayed there until almost the end of the game.  As the top of the ninth ended and the Angels were up 5-1, I went to the Angels dugout as Fielder batted.
fielder bats in 9th.JPGAnd I got shut out there.  Oh, well.
6.16 five baseballs.JPGFive on the day and an Angels win on an awesome summer afternoon makes for a pretty darn good baseball experience.

I decided to get super-closeups of the gamer from Edmonds.  Here’s what a baseball looks like from an inch away:
closeup 209.JPGcloseup 209b.JPGMy next game would be at PETCO down in San Diego.

4/10/10 at Angel Stadium

I got back from New York on Friday–and on Saturday I convinced Michelle that we should head to an Angels game.  I was psyched and ready for a real game at the stadium this time (I’d already been to an exhibition nine days earlier).  We didn’t have tickets in advance but we got to the ticket window near the gates at 4:40, bought two tickets, and got in line.  Shortly after Michelle and I arrive I saw Chris and chatted with him about his offseason and a little while later we saw Rob and Terry.  I’ve written about all these guys before, remember?

The gates opened at 5:00pm and I was off–running to the pavilion in right field.  Rob was right in front of me heading up the escalator and I zoomed by him and made it out to the seats first.  I ran down the staircase, checking each row of seats.  As I got to the second row I saw a ball rolling… down into the first row.  What?  There are NEVER any Easter eggs in Anaheim!!!  It probably had just been hit out to the seats just before I got there.  As I scooped up Ball #1 on the day (and the 161st of my life) I thought back and this was only the 2nd game at Angel Stadium in which I’d found a ball.  The last time it happened was 7/27/09 and I’d found two of them!

I’d forgotten my camera on this abrupt trip to the ballpark but Michelle had hers and she agreed to snap a few pictures during BP.  She typically sits and reads in the shade out of the way of flying baseballs so the pictures are a little far away (or blurry) but she got some good ones.

Here I am tracking a home run (well, I thought it would be a home run):
tracking home run.JPGA minute later Bobby Abreu was batting and I had been talking to Rob about Abreu hitting anything out in BP.  He said, “I’m still waiting for him to hit one out up here.”  And then he did–the ball went screaming into the pavilion behind us and to our right.  It landed in the 10th row, took a high bounce as we were approaching it and in the picture below you can see me grabbing it just before Rob got there:
race for homer.JPGHey, that’s my backpack in the seat just below Rob’s right arm…

I had to wait until almost the end of the Angels’ portion of BP.to get my next ball–but it was a great moment.  I’d been hanging out on a staircase in right center.  Mike Napoli was swinging and I knew he had good opposite field power.  He smacked one that had a chance to make it up to the pavilion.  I ran a full section to my left, down the staircase to the first row and reach out over the wall just to my left.  The ball hit the pocket of my glove just in front of the wall… I kind of hit the wall, too.  But it was worth the bruise on my leg to make that catch.  It was my first ball caught on the fly in the 2010 season.  I can still catch, go figure.

Michelle snapped a series of pictures at some point during BP that I turned into a panorama:
4.10 bp panorama arrow.jpgIn the above photo you can see a red arrow (click on the pic if you need to) and it’s pointing to me.

It was a pretty light BP crowd.

Since I knew that not many A’s had home run power to right field I decided to play down the line near the foul pole.  I got a good spot… and at some point Michelle took a photo of me in my A’s garb:

Shortly after he finished his warmup throws, Andrew Bailey threw me Ball #4 on the day.  There were a few slicers and foul balls that whizzed by but I couldn’t get a glove on any of them.

I moved down to the closest section to the dugout that I could.  At Angel Stadium you’re not allowed to go close to either dugout until BP is over unless you have a ticket to that section… which is weird.  That’s the opposite policy that most other stadiums have.  Usually you get kicked out of dugout seats at the end of BP.  Anyway, for the last few minutes of batting practice I was here:
end of bp.JPGAnd then as the A’s trotted in I sprinted to their dugout and Brad Ziegler tossed my my fifth baseball.  Sweet!

I found Michelle sitting in the outfield and she took a photo of me with the baseballs I’d snagged:
five baseballs 4.10.JPGThe only other thing I got (other than stomach pain from the gross buffalo boneless wings I ate) was one of those soft baseballs the Strike Force shoots out of an air cannon.  I tried for warmup tosses before the game and then tried for a third out toss in the bottom of the first… and then Michelle and I decided to find some seats in the upper level to watch the game. 

Before we went upstairs we went to check something out… I had heard that the Rally Monkey would be making an appearance at this game.  And that you could have your picture taken with said monkey.  Now, I’d never seen the Rally Monkey before and I didn’t know if it would be an actual monkey or someone in a monkey suit. 

Actual monkey:
rally monkey.jpgSuper cute li
ttle guy, but the line was super long… so we were fine with just getting a picture of the little critter.

Here’s a photo from where we decided to park ourselves:
our seats 4.10.JPGIt was a great game!  It could have been better but, still, we had a lot of fun.
matt michelle 4.10 angels game.JPGBen Sheets pitched against Jered Weaver and Weaver gave up one run in six innings against Sheets’ three runs given up in six innings.  But Weaver didn’t get the win.  Erick Aybar and Jeff Mathis made base-running mistakes and Kevin Jepsen and Scot Shields each gave up a run so we went into the ninth inning tied at 3-3.

Michelle and I watched the last inning and a half from here:
field seats 4.10.JPGFernando Rodney would throw a shutdown ninth.

shocked faces.JPGIt was exciting!

Bobby Abreu doubled with one out in the ninth… and then Torii Hunter was intentionally walked by Craig Breslow to get the lefty-lefty matchup against Hideki Matsui.  Well, Matsui laced a double just fair down the right field line to score Abreu and the place went nuts!

4-3 Angels.  It was a good time–and we headed out to the parking lot with smiles on our faces.  On the way out I gave away two of the baseballs I’d snagged (and I had already given one away to my favorite usher during the game).  I’m basically giving away most of the balls I snag this season unless their special/commemorative… I’ll run out of storage space eventually anyway.  So, I’m making tons of kids (and parents) happy.  Heck, I’ve snagged twelve baseballs and given away more than half of them to ushers and kids already.

Ah… it’s nice to have baseball back again!

9/28/09 at Angel Stadium

Hi, everyone.  Let me kick off this entry by saying that I was contacted by the creator of myGameBalls to contribute to the site by being a columnist.  My first one went live on Monday and you can check it out here.

All right… to the game.  I knew that I would only be able to stay for batting practice for this game.  I had a school meeting that night (and I had made dinner plans with my wife, too).  So, I was hoping for two things:  a great BP and an Angels clinching victory… the latter I wouldn’t get to see… in person.

5:00pm arrived and Rob, Chris, and I ran in.  Also in attendance was Leigh from SD and TC from down there as well.  I hooked Leigh up with a ticket since he had hooked me up the month before for a Padres game.  We all took off… I was the first one out to the pavilion in right field and as I jogged through the front row looking for Easter eggs (there were none) I heard the crack of Kendry Morales’ bat and looked up in time to see a BP homer land in the seats near me.  I picked up Ball #1 of the day on a bounce.  I thought, “Man, I wish I could’ve caught that one.”

I’d get another shot.  In his next round of swings Morales lifted one that was maybe gonna clear–maybe gonna hit–that 18ft. wall in right-center field.  I was in the first row and I started heading right, side stepping through a whole section.  It was hit too far for me to catch it… my outstretched glove was about two feet shy of the ball…

It hit the seats and took a hop up in the air and back a row.  Then it trickled out into the aisle and I snagged it for my second ball of the evening.  Sweet.  Two from Kendry–but neither one had actually been caught.

The stands were starting to fill up a bit at this point.
bp at 511.JPGThat’s about ten minutes after the gates opened.  See how a lot of the fans are shielding their eyes?  Well, that’s because if you’re in right field during batting practice at Angel Stadium the sun is brutal.  Case in point: the view from near the foul pole in right…
killer sun.JPGBack to snagging, I moved closer to right-center, then back toward right, based on the hitter.  When Morales stepped up again I set myself right in the middle of where those first two baseballs had been hit.  He smacked one deep and I knew I had a chance at this one, as well.  I was in the fourth row and I drifted to my right just a bit.  I felt bodies closing in around me as I camped underneath it.  At the last second I reach up and out and felt the ball smack the pocket of my glove right as I got hit from the left side… not hard… just enough that the guy who’d been running over to catch the ball couldn’t stop and skidded into a sort of bear hug… awkward.  He patted me on the back as if to say, “Good catch.”  No harm done… Rob was on my right.  They’d both been closing in on the ball and, had I not positioned myself well beforehand, I would’ve been blocked from getting it at all based on their positioning and reaction.  Lucky me!  Three on the day and all from K-Mo.

After that round of BP I headed down to the foul pole in right field as the Rangers pitchers came out to throw.  I saw Chris down there and eventually he asked me about a pitcher wearing number forty-nine.  I said, “That’s Jason Grilli.”
grilli throws.JPG“Really?  Cuz I ‘m pretty sure I asked him once before and he told me, ‘That’s not my name.'”

I was puzzled so I said, “Hey, Jason, how ya feelin’ today, man?”

He looked over and said, “Real good, man.”

I looked at Chris and shrugged.  Yep, it was definitely Jason Grilli.  After he finished throwing he tossed me the baseball he’d been using.  He, I would learn, is one of the more chatty pitchers on the Rangers staff and I would totally believe that he might tell a fan that he wasn’t who he was, just to mess with them.  After that interaction I made sure to wish Eddie Guardado a happy birthday (in Spanish)… he was born on Oct. 2nd.  He thanked me and continued warming up while I ran back up to the pavilion.
bp at 543.JPG
That’s Chris right in front of me and I took this picture at about 5:45pm, just so you can see the crowd that had started to arrive.  I didn’t snag anything else until after BP finished though I did see Grilli launch a ball to a fan in teh upper deck.  Pretty cool!  I ran down to the dugout as the Rangers came off the field and hoped someone would toss one to me after noticing my Rangers cap.  Sure enough, C.J. Wilson jogged in and threw a ball right to me as he headed down the steps.  Five balls in Anaheim is a pretty decent outing and I was thrilled–even though I had to leave for my meeting at school that night but I made sure to meet up with Leigh and Chris and take this picture of our haul for the afternoon:
matt chris leigh.JPGFor those that are new to this blog, I’m in the middle, Leigh is on the right, and Chris is on the left.  Matt: 5 (though you can’t see ’em all), Chris: 3, Leigh: 1… and the Angels won 11-0, clinching the AL West for the third consecutive year.

Here was the view as I headed out to my car… and everyone else was arriving for the game:
leaving the stadium1.JPGWeird.  Anyway, I followed it on MLB Gameday from my laptop at school.  I had tickets for the whole week so I knew I’d get to celebrate the very next night at another trip to the park.

9/10/09 at Angel Stadium

I donated blood about two weeks prior to this game.  In addition to the
snacks and drinks they provided to all the donors the Red Cross gave us
coupons, an Angels hat, and a voucher for two free tickets to this game
between the Angels and Mariners.  At about 4:35 I parked, headed to the
Red Cross table under one of the big red hats at the Big A, and then
met Chris at the front of the line… we were pretty much the only
people in line at that point.

My strategy when the gates opened was a change from my normal
activity.  Since the Angels would be facing lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith I
knew that they’d all be batting from the right side of the plate. 
Therefore, it made little sense for me to run to the pavilion in right
field… nothing would’ve been hit out there because the Angels would
only have one left-handed batter who’d have hit at the point we ran
inside.  It might seem complicated or like I thought about it a bit too
much… but it’s kind of like a manager leaving a righty reliever in to
face a lefty batter because the batter can’t hit this one pitch he
throws or he’s struck out twelve times out of forty… just statistics
but sometimes they work out.  Sometimes you can play the percentages
all you want and it really doesn’t do you any good.

5:00pm–gates opened and off I went, sprinting left instead of right. 
It felt weird… but I got out to the left field seats first, scanned
the ground for Easter eggs… nothing.  Dang.

Up to the left field pavilion just behind the bullpens.  I’d never been out here for BP:
behind the pens.JPGBut it didn’t take long to get my first baseball of the day.  Robb
Quinlan fielded a ball in the outfield and then tossed it to a player
in the bullpen… or, rather, at a player in the bullpen.  I didn’t
ever see this person but I heard Robb say after he threw the ball,
“Well, you need to pay attention then.”  Presumably he wanted to scare
that person and he succeeded.  The mystery bullpen person threw the
ball back to Robb and then I called out to him and held up my glove. 
He fired a strike right to me (over both pens) and I thanked him. 
Cool!  I knew I wasn’t going to go home empty-handed.  The ball had a
PRACTICE stamp on the sweet spot.  More on this ball later.

At this point in time (about 5:10) I was one of two people in the left
field pavilion, the other being a young man named Scotty who I had met
earlier in the afternoon.  He got a ball that was a homer by some Angel
and the ball took a friendly bounce, rolled up the grassy slope in
center field, and he picked it by reaching over the fence.  Then he ran
off toward right field.

After Scotty left I was the only fan out there again.  There had been a
ball lying in the Mariners bullpen since I’d arrived but since M’s
pitching coach Rick Adair had been going over some drills with the
previous night’s starting pitcher, Ian Snell.  When he finished and
Snell started to head out of the bullpen I asked Adair, “You guys gonna
win this one tonight?”  He shrugged and smiled and instead of me asking
for the ball lying in the pen he tossed me the one he’d been using with
Snell.  I hadn’t asked for it but I certainly appreciated it.  I
thanked him, wished him well in the game, and headed off to the right
field foul pole as the Halos finished their second round.

Now, I have learned where to hang out during Ichiro’s BP cuts… but it
hadn’t paid off for me in the series.  Nevertheless, I took up my usual
spot about a half-dozen rows back just fair of the pole as the Angels
finished and the M’s started up.  In his second round of cuts Ichiro
knocked a ball way out… but it went into the tunnel between the right
field pavilion and the lower right field seats.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t
have given that ball a second thought but two days prior I had seen a
guy wearing sunglasses and an Aramark uniform in there and he’d tossed
a couple of baseballs to fans.  I looked over into the tunnel and, sure
enough, the guy was there and he’d retrieved the ball.  He looked at me
and I asked him, “Are you allowed to toss those over?”

He didn’t do anything other than shrug and reach his arm back–he was
going to throw it.  I took a few steps back from the fence and held up
my glove.  His aim was right on.  Ball #3 on the day… I wish I could
say I caught that Ichiro homer on the fly… but an Ichiro BP homer is
an Ichiro BP homer.  Cool.  I should really find out that Aramark guy’s
name.

I headed up to the pavilion in right after that.  I knew the M’s had a
few lefties still to hit and I figured I might catch a homer.  I almost
did… and this time I didn’t make an error.  I got assaulted.  A ball
got hit and I tracked it, heading to my right.  I got under it, reached
up as high as I could.  I was going to have to jump.  I bent my knees,
fully extended my glove, and–OUCH!

I didn’t know what happened at first.  I felt pressure on my head, my
cap got knocked off and I heard the ball hit someone’s glove.  I turned
around an some old guy had hit me with his forearm from behind in order
to catch the ball.  I was irritated… but I figured he’d apologize for
knocking into me and I would say it was all right and congratulate him
on his catch.  He didn’t… he just laughed and held up the ball, very
pleased with himself.  I minute later I talked with Chris and he’d said
he’d seen it and “was I OK?”  I was… but I’m not too fond of that old
guy… nor are many of the other regulars, as it turns out.

Well, on to happier news.  A Mariner pitcher threw me my fourth ball of
the day.  I couldn’t tell who it was but he’s the guy in the center in this photo.  The one not looking up toward the camera, the one who isn’t Felix
Hernandez:
not felix but who.JPGAny ideas?

BP wound down after that and Chris and I ran down to the dugout as the
players came off the field.  I saw Chris get a ball from a coach and
then he said, “Did you see that?”

I said, “Yeah, you got a ball.”

“Yeah, but if I was smaller and cuter I could have had a bat.”  I
looked… yep, a little kid had received a bat from a player.  Further
down, right where the good seats met the Diamond Club seats, another
kid was receiving a bat from a Mariners player.  I didn’t know who he
was, but on a whim I yelled to him as he approached the dugout, “Hey,
could you spare the batting gloves, too?”  He was already removing
them, didn’t even look, and tossed them up as he went down the steps. 
One of them hit the dugout and fell back down.  The other one came
straight to me.  I snagged it with my non-glove hand.  Wow!  My first
piece of equipment from a major league player (aside from the 122
baseballs, of course)!  I had to find out who it was.  I’d gotten a
good look at him.  A Mariners player, Caucasian, pretty fair skinned…
a batter (so it wasn’t a pitcher, obviously)… and then I though about
the bat.  I ran over to where it had been handed over and asked who’s
it was but the person who had received it had already been taken away to
check it with security.  Dang…

Well, after some sleuthing at home I was able to determine that the
generous batting glove thrower was M’s catcher Rob Johnson.  Many
thanks to him.  Here’s a pic of it:
johnson batting glove.JPGChris had to leave so we grabbed some free sodas on his way out and I
wandered a bit, found a seat as the national anthem was about to start
and realized I recognized the performer:
kenny g.JPGThat’s Kenny G… he played the anthem and when he got to “the land of
the free” he held the “free” note for, I’m not kidding, about a
minute.  It was really impressive!

OK, so before the game started Jose Lopez played catch with Adrian
Beltre in front of the dugout.  When they finished I was standing in
the third row and had my glove up.  No one else was noticing that
Beltre wanted to toss his baseball into the crowd… since there wasn’t
anyone younger or cuter he tossed it to me.  Sweet!

I ended up in three different seats throughout the game.  All near each
other and all awesome.  In the first inning I was here:
field level first base angel stadium cropped small.jpgAnd in the second the Angels went up 2-0 on a Torii Hunter home run. 
Here’s Torii being congratulated as he heads back into the dugout.  I
think this photo’s amusing because Mike Scioscia is clearly about to
smack Torii on the butt.  Baseball rituals…
hunter congratulates.JPGI took a few photos of Ken Griffey Jr. because I figured that this
might be the last time I ever got to see him play.  Who knows if he’ll
retire after this season?
griffey 1.JPGgriffey 2.JPGJohn Lackey was dominating the Mariners… he only allowed five hits
(three of them to Bill Hall) and was still in the game after the Angels
got him a third run in the seventh.
lackey1.JPGI was watching from here:
my view seventh inning.JPGJust hoping for a foul ball… nothing came close though.

As Lackey took the hill in the ninth I was right behind the Angel
dugout… how close?  Well, I zoomed in with my camera as Franklin
Gutierrez made the second out.
gutierrez.JPGGriffey (seen in the above photo)
popped out in foul ground to give Lackey his eighth career shutout…
his first since ’07.  It was a great game–a quick game, too.  By 9:25
I was looking through the concourse for a kid with a glove.  Remember
that Robb Quinlan ball?  Well, I decided that (as long as I snagged at
least one after that) I’d give it away after the game.  I meandered
through the field level as folks exited for at least five minutes and
the only kid with a glove that I found was talking to his folks about
the ball he’d already gotten that night.  I decided to keep it
temporarily and give it away when I was at the game on Saturday.

That’s right–Angels/White Sox day game on Saturday! I hope there’s
BP–it’s the FOX game of the week so I’m guessing they’ll take batting
practice… but you never can tell for sure.

Here are the five baseballs I snagged:
five baseballs.JPGI realize as I write this that I went to every game in the Seattle
series and the Angels won all three of them.  That’s the first time
I’ve been at every game of a sweep.  Cool!  The Halos AL West lead is
now five games.