Just 16 hours after I left the Big A on Tuesday night I was back–Wednesday afternoon–2:00pm. And the gates were set to open at 2:30 for the 4:05 game between the Angels and Indians. I was by myself for this one–almost everyone I knew had school or work and event though I had an extra ticket I ended up just keeping it in my backpack to maybe get an autograph on it.
Since the Home Plate Gate doesn’t open earlier than any other gate afternoon games and only a handful of people know that, I didn’t bother getting in line (at the right field entrance) until five minutes before the slated opening time. I hung out here for the first few minutes I was on site:
That’s the tunnel that leads into the stadium in right field. There’s one in left, too. The crucial part about my stop here was… well, here’s a closer look:
Batting practice was underway!. Awesome… sometimes even at 4 o’clock games teams won’t take BP. Granted, fans couldn’t even get into the stadium until the last 5-10 minutes of the home team’s BP session, but I was glad there would be at least a little bit of BP to work with. Also, upon further review… that’s Kendrys Morales taking grounders at first base. He’s still yet to play in a game this season. What’s takin’ so long? He’s always makes BP a bit more interesting!
I ran in at 2:30 along with a handful of other fans… I’d been first in line and I was the first one to the right field seats but the ushers, I’m sure, had already snatched up the Easter eggs, as there weren’t any to be found. And the Angels didn’t hit a single ball out to right.
Well, I stayed in the pavilion in right for all the Indians lefties and after about 15 minutes I lined up a homer from Luis Valbuena (right) and caught it on the fly in the third row of Section 238.
And, sadly, that would be the only ball I snagged during BP. Coaches and players ignored my requests for tossups, I didn’t get close to another homer, and I was late getting to the dugout… so I missed out on a chance there.
So, having gotten on the board but having also had a sub-par BP… and since there were no longer any players on the field… I grabbed a bottle of water, ate some snacks I’d brought with me, signed up for the designated driver program (doing so will get you a voucher for a free soda), and took pictures of the one baseball I’d caught since running inside the stadium. This is my favorite one:
Scuffs, scrapes, dirt and grass, fraying seams… lovely.
My next stop was the third base line for Angels throwing.
While over there I didn’t get a ball from Brandon Wood or Peter Bourjous… but I did get them to sign my 2010 Angels team ball… so it wasn’t a total waste of time.
I went to the Indians’ dugout after the national anthem in hopes that O. Cabrera and A. Cabrera’s pregame baseball they were throwing around would end up in my glove… but it didn’t. O. Cabrera decided one more throw was necessary, and then A. Cabrera decided one MORE throw was necessary, and they ended up taking the ball into the dugout with them.
Back to the Angels’ side I went–and I parked myself behind their dugout about six rows back. I snapped a photo of Ervin Santana, the day’s starter for the Halos and, later, I took a photo of Austin Kearns as he batted. Note the many empty seats. The lovely thing about a 4pm game.
Anyway, I missed out on the third out toss from the Angels after the top of the first and headed over to the visiting team’s side. The Angels went quietly in the bottom of the first and when Bobby Abreu grounded out to first baseman Matt LaPorta to end the frame I was waiting on the other side of the dugout. He tossed me the ball and, well, look:
Gah! It’s the infield warmup ball! Still has a commemorative logo though–which is great! But I was a little bummed that I didn’t get the gamer. Oh, well.
After that I tried to get a third out ball at the Angels dugout but inning after inning it just didn’t pan out for me. It was fine though, because I got to stay in my seat as Santana pitched a strong seven innings, allowing just three runs. I snapped a bunch of action shots:
Santana gave up an Adam Everett single leading off the eighth and that was it for him.
I really like that photo–though it makes it look like he’d just given up a home run or something–it was a solid start.
Scott Downs came in from the bullpen and gave up a hit to get Everett to third… then a fielder’s choice to get the out at home. One out and runners on second and first–then a wild pitch and then a groundout that allowed the tying run to score. That was it for Downs…
No one would score again until a sac fly by Jeff Mathis ended the game in the 12th inning. A Halo victory and I was on my way home.
Originally, I was going to go to the game on the 14th rather than the 15th but I ended up heading to a cool video game event in L.A. instead. To make up for it I convinced Michelle that we should head to this game (where they’d be giving away fedoras) and she agreed.
Also, I was excited to Jim Edmonds play in his first game in Anaheim since he’d left the Angels in a trade in 1999. He’d returned on Monday but hadn’t played since there was a lefty pitching for the Halos.
I arrived to watch the Angels take on the Brewers at 4:45. I ended up very close to the front of the line–there was a pretty busy crowd outside just before the gates opened:
There had been two guys in front of me… the first guy went inside… the second guy had a backpack… that was too large… and instead of stepping to the side he decided to argue with the security dude for a sold minute. I and a few other people started telling him to move so we could go in and he finally did… I grabbed my fedora and jogged up to the pavilion, knowing I probably missed out on a baseball or two.
With no Kendry Morales to hit bombs out to right field, the pavilion is a pretty boring place after the first round of Angels BP. After I didn’t catch anything in the first round I headed down to near the foul pole. After Bobby Abreu takes his hacks he comes out to right field and fields some fly balls that one of the coaches hits to him. When he finished up he tossed the baseball they’d used into the crowd. Me and one other guy were near it–he didn’t have a glove but he was in front of me. The ball deflected off his bare hand and landed at my feet. I grabbed it, then he grabbed for it–and ended up grabbing and crushing my hand. I held onto the ball–then I stood up, looked at him, and he let it go.
“Oh, sorry,” he said and took a step back. I checked out the ball. It was a standard practice ball with a little black stamp–nothing too incredible about it–and I handed it to him.
“Oh… are you sure, man?” I told him I was–he thanked me. I went back to work.
Once the Brewers started hitting I headed back up to the pavilion because I knew Prince Fielder would be hitting. And hit he did… he peppered the stands with baseballs and I couldn’t get my glove on even one of the ten to twelve baseballs he hit up there. Just bad luck–I was either too low or too high in the stands. Luckily, Corey Hart fielded a ball that wasn’t quite a home run and tossed it up to me once he saw my Brewers hat.
During my last trip to PETCO in San Diego I’d seen the Brewers play and some of their BP baseballs are marked with words and phrases… and some are just marking with a boring line through the sweet spot. The ball from Hart was marked with “ANDROID.” A little while later (and two sections over to my right) I got a toss-up from catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The ball was heading to my right so I reached out and over a girl who was eating peanuts (and not paying attention) to snag the ball barehanded.
Note to that girl: don’t sit where there are a bunch of baseballs flying around and focus on peanuts. You will get hit in the head.
That ball said “FIGURE IT OUT” on it. Here they are:
I love it. The players seem to, too. Whenever someone would field a baseball in the outfield I could see them look to see if it had writing on it. Then they’d throw the ball to players near them to share the information before throwing it back to the bucket.
I was at three baseballs as BP ended and I ran down to the dugout. I got shut out there.
Michelle arrived after that and I met her out on the concourse and we grabbed food. We sat down with our barbecue as I noticed two Brewers players emerge from the dugout to play catch–I headed down there but they finished throwing before I made it down the steps. So, I finished my dinner with Michelle and we ended up watching the first few innings from here:
It didn’t take very long for the Angels to fall behind. The Brewers had brought their offense with them to Anaheim, beating the Angels 12-2 on Monday night and on this night the Brew Crew put up two runs in the first and four runs in the second.
The Halos got a run in the eighth inning on doubles by Kevin Frandsen and Maicer Izturis but the Brewers had also put one up in the top half. It wasn’t pretty. 7-1 was the final but the good news was that since Michelle didn’t have to be at work until 11:00am the next day she got to stay for the whole game with me. We headed down near the dugout for the final two innings and she snapped a bunch of pictures:
I told her, “Take picture of Jim Edmonds.” She did:
He went 2-5 that night but in this at-bat he struck out. I’d gotten his autograph earlier in the day… which I was pretty psyched about.
I waited for the players to come in and toss a baseball or two up–one baseball got tossed… somewhere to my left. Despite my old school Brewers colors I got no love from the Crew as they came off the field. I’ve found they are surprisingly stingy–at least on the road. Maybe it’s because their guys hit so many baseballs out of the park. They have to make up for it.
So I ended the night with a below average three baseballs and the Angels lost–badly. It took Ervin Santana those two innings to settle down–and Dave Bush for the Brewers just seemed unhittable. It didn’t seem, to me, like he was doing anything spectacular… but I’m not standing in the box.
We left after that… but not before getting our picture taken in our fashionable stadium giveaway items.
Ooohh… and as it turned out, I’d get to head back to see the Brewers and Angels the very next day, too.
I knew my wife would have to be at work during this game so I made plans with my friend, Josh to head out to see the Angels play the A’s on a Friday night.
You might remember Josh if you’ve been reading this blog for a while. He’s been to a couple games at Dodger Stadium with me (on 9/2/08, 5/2/09, and 9/18/09)… but we’d never been to Angel Stadium together before. It turned out to be a pretty cool night.
After lunch with Michelle we played video games at my apartment before leaving for Anaheim at about four o’clock. We parked, walked to the Home Plate Gate, saw BP regular, Terry there (and he let us stand at the front of the line with him), and we waited for the stadium to open. About this time, I heard a voice say, “Are you Matt?”
“Yes.” I looked and saw a boy of about thirteen to my left. He said, “I read your blog.” I said, “Cool! What’s your name?”
His name’s Kevin and he was there with his dad. He’s left some comments on this blog as m_kemp_27. He’s a nice kid and would end up snagging a few baseballs of his own on the night.
I told Josh, “Now, I’m gonna run in to left field.” He said he’d run with me but when the gates opened he lagged behind and I kept going. As it turns out, I would snag two baseballs before he even got there… he stopped to use the restroom.
BP was fully underway and here was my view:
When Josh walked down the steps toward me near the foul pole I tossed him the ball I had just plucked off the dirt. It had been hit by some Angel batting from the right side… most were… as today they’d be facing a lefty.
It had the following imprint, likely from the bat used to hit it. Any ideas?
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I mentioned that I’d snagged two by the time Josh got there… well, as soon as I made it to the seating bowl I looked for any baseballs hiding in the stands. None were to be found… but as I set my backpack down to get my camera Bobby Abreu hit a ball that sliced foul and into the seats.
The ball was two sections over to my right–but I got a great jump on the ball and it was only me and one other guy going for it. He was running left from near the infield and I was running right from near the pole. We got to the ball at the same time and closed in on it from either side. Luckily, it was still rolling and I know that at Angel Stadium baseballs will trickle down row after row. So, while he positioned himself in the row the ball was in at the time we arrived, I positioned myself two rows closer to the field… the ball rolled right to me. And that was number one on the day… and you know about Ball #2.
A few minutes later, Ervin Santana fielded a ball near the warning track. I moved to my left and called out to him and he tossed it right to me. Ball #3 and Ball #185 of my lifetime.
At about this point I told Josh, “Wow… three from the Angels. You’re like a good luck charm, dude.” He hadn’t snagged a ball but that’s not really his thing anyway… he was enjoying the shade and the relaxing atmosphere.
I told him I was going to head over to right field when the A’s came out to hit. He said something about not wanting to be in the sun–but he came with me anyway–and we headed down toward the the opposite side of the stadium:
Kevin’s in the above photo near the foul pole wearing the green hat and shirt with a 2 on the back. I was able to scoop a ball off the warning track a few minutes later that had been hit by a right-handed batter on the A’s. I ran to my right, jumped up on the wall at the right moment, and made the snag.
About this time I saw Kevin again… he asked if he could hang out with me for a bit and learn some tips… I told him, “Sure, man,” and then I talked to him for a while and told him about heading to the dugout at the end of BP.
Well, Kevin got a ball a little while later. I ran to the dugout and got Ball #5 from a trainer as the A’s headed off the field. Kevin was nearby and he and his dad decided they would sit behind the dugout until they got kicked out. I left to regroup with Josh. We watched Mr. Perfect, Dallas Braden, warm up. He’d be pitching against Joe Saunders… both of them wear 51… weird.
And when the A’s came out to play catch I headed back to the dugout. There, I got former Cub Jake Fox to toss me my sixth ball of the day.
Now, I should mention that my personal record of baseballs snagged at one game is seven. I’ve done it four times… at three different stadiums (Angel Stadium, PETCO Park, and Citi Field)… but I’d never cracked seven.
Also, each inning I’d try for a third out toss from the A’s at there dugout. One time when I headed over there I saw Kevin… he’d snagged at least two baseballs at that point in the evening and I helped him figure out who had thrown him one before the game.
In the bottom of the fifth inning with two outs, Brandon Wood popped out to Daric Barton at first base. I was about six rows behind the dugout and as a bunch of little kids rushed down to the bottom of the steps I simply stood up and waved my arms. “Daric, right here!” I shouted. And as he jogged in, Barton tossed me my seventh b
aseball. I looked down at it and was disappointed. Why? Because he had switched the actual game ball with the infield warmup ball he’d used. First basemen do that sometimes… I have no idea why. But my disappointment lasted only a moment, as I had again tied my record. It was only the sixth inning and I knew I had to try to snag one more ball before the night was over. I kept hoping for a foul ball and a few came close over the closing innings.
In the ninth, Josh and I moved nearer to the visiting team’s dugout.
The game had been great up to that point. It was a good BP, we were talking about baseball the whole night, the Angels were winning 4-0, we’d seen some excellent defensive plays, and Joe Saunders was staying in to pitch the final frame.
I will happily say that I have now been present for both of Joe Saunders’ complete game shutouts in his career (he threw one last season against the Royals and Zack Greinke). The Angels won it, four to nothing, and I was in a great mood. I was still stuck at “lucky number seven” though.
Now, we were behind the A’s dugout at the end of the game because the Angels dugout is super-crowded after a home win. Plus, there were fireworks coming up and the game had been fast… about two hours and fifteen minutes. So, I took a chance and trotted down to the dugout as the A’s came off the field. As expected, none of the players wanted to thrown anything up. They silently trudged down the steps and into the dugout… one bullpen pitcher tossed a ball ten rows behind me. And that was it… they were gone.
But right as I was about to leave a kid in A’s gear appeared in the dugout. I wondered if he was the same kid I’d seen last season on the field shagging BP balls. Anyway, he had a ball in his hand he was planning to throw to the crowd. I was the only one in an A’s hat and I thought it was a sure thing. This’ll be number eight! But he started to walk away… saw a young Angels fan a little further down the dugout and said to the teen, “Take off your hat.” I knew what he was doing. He didn’t want to toss the baseball to someone in Angels gear. The fan didn’t get it… and wouldn’t take off his hat. So, the A’s kid turned around to face the field and tossed the ball backwards, like a bride tossing a bouquet. It was up for grabs… and I was the only one with a glove out of the six or so people still around. I leaned out over the dugout and made the catch. Ball #8! And #190 of my career… I was so excited that I gave three baseballs away on my way out of the stadium that night, two to a pair of brothers who weren’t more than ten years old, both had gloves, and would’ve gone home empty-handed. I was so psyched… I had Josh take the following picture:
Me with my (personal) record-setting baseball. A new game high, a great night at the park with a friend, and an Angels victory.
And, yes, there were fireworks:
And the game was over so quickly that Michelle and I had time to make it to a sports bar later that night to celebrate our other friend’s birthday. It was a really great evening!
And remembering those that fight for our freedom.
Those hats look dumb on any team that doesn’t have red in their uniform. Just my opinion.
OK, so Michelle and I got to the stadium early and headed in to, hopefully, have a good BP. On this particular trip I decided to head to left field instead of right. Big mistake. I had thought that, since the White Sox were sending John Danks, a lefty, to the mound that the Angels righties would be pounding the ball out my way. Nope. No homers anywhere near me! A couple grounders along the wall but I couldn’t snag any of them. And I very possibly overheard a conversation about some sort of banned substance intended for Ervin Santana. Said Orlando Mercado, bullpen catcher for the Angels, to a fan he knew, “Yeah, call your brother. Tell him we need that pill for Santana. He was supposed to call me three days ago. Tell him we need that stuff.” Sketchy, right? The fan then got on his cell phone and called his brother, supposedly, then told Mercado that it was all set up. If Ervin Santana gets busted for anything this season, you heard it here first.
Anywho, I got nothin’ during the Angels portion of batting practice… but Michelle snapped this photo of my efforts:
The kid in the SALMON jersey to my right would yell, “BALL! BALL! BALL!” at the top of his little lungs every time a baseball was anywhere near us. The guy in the red asked him, “That ever work for you?” Then he told him it would help to say”please.” Good job, sir… all our ears thank you.
I told Michelle I was heading to the pavilion in left field for the White Sox… and I went, switching hats along the way.
I was gettin’ no love in left field and it wasn’t until about 15 minutes before BP ended that I snagged my first ball of the day. By the way, Jim Thome put on a show! I didn’t catch any of his homers but, boy, they were all monster shots!
No, my catch came off the bat of the always-loathed-in-Anaheim A.J. Pierzynski. I was about five rows back from the wall and I really didn’t have to move much. I took a step or two to my left and SMACK! The ball found my glove… I was thankful. I’d been worried about the shutout–and a homer had sailed over my outstretched glove two minutes prior. Sadly, this would be the only ball I snagged all day.
A coach came by and picked up ALL of these and didn’t throw any of them to anyone. He said, “You’ll get a ball… you’ll all get a ball… because we hit a lot of homers.” Cocky… and, c’mon… really? I think the White Sox are just stingy. Bummer.
You know what else was a bummer? The fact that the Angels lost the game 17-3. You know what’s ridiculous? The Angels only got four hits. The White Sox got 24 hits and three of them were home runs (and not ALL of us got one, coach!). And, by the way, the person who ended up with Thome’s homer THREW IT BACK! And it was a lousy throw. Now, normally I’m like, “Sure, a visiting player hit a homer, if you want to throw it–throw it.” I wouldn’t do it. I’d keep it. Or, if I had caught this particular home run, I would have given it to Thome because it was the homer that put him ahead of Mike Schmidt on the All-Time Home Run List. 13th all time! And this $chmuck (did you know MLBlogs won’t let you type *******?) just threw it back. Well, it was collected and taken into the White Sox dugout where, I’ll assume, it was given to Thome. Good for him. I’d have asked for an autographed bat or something… but that’s just me. Enough with the hypothetical…
The reality was that my Halos were losing, badly, despite the return of Vladimir Guerrero to the lineup. He went 0-for-4. Man, tearing a pectoral muscle is something I NEVER want to do… geez. By the end of the fifth it was 14-3. And even though there were to be fireworks after the game… people left. Like they do. But I don’t… you never know when something like this will happen!
Chris Getz went two for five. I’ll always root for Chris Getz. Why? Well, I happened to be at the game, last year in Chicago, when he got his first major league hit. So I’ve got a small connection to that guy.
Michelle and I moved from “our seats” up in the 400s to “our new seats” five rows behind the White Sox dugout. Not too shabby. I hoped for a foul ball (still never gotten one) or a third out toss… but I had no luck. I’d never seen them lose by 14 runs before… hooray for new experiences… ? We stayed until the end… and I was thinking I might get a ball or something from the dugout after the game. No luck there. Oh well…
A fun night with my lady.
Tons of pictures.
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:
The 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.
Then, the Mariner pitchers started throwing right in front of where I was standing.
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?
Anywho, I watched R.A. for a while and saw Ryan Rowland-Smith throwing a few yards further down the field.
I 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.
Well, 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:
But, 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.
Ervin 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:
Then 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:
After 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:
It 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!
The 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.
All 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.