Tagged: jordan walden

7/21/11 at Angel Stadium

Just hours after leaving Angel Stadium I was back in line for more… waiting for the gates to open.  Well, I wasn’t waiting long.  It was a day game after a night game and the pregame crowd was pretty light.  There was absolutely no one at any gate but the Home Plate Gate so I took a walk around the stadium.  During my walk I passed the right field tunnel and looked down it to see there were no BP related activities going on.  I had figured as much.  I saw a group pf Rangers pitchers walking toward the outfield… that was it.  Devin rode by me on a bike and asked if anything was goin’ on.  I said there wasn’t much happening–he debated whether or not to even head inside.  I’d see him (and his wife and granddaughter) inside later.  I passed the players’ parking lot and then the left field tunnel… again, all I saw were a few Rangers pitchers in the outfield… and I ended up at the Left Field Gate.  Chris was waiting there, too, so we talked for a few minutes before 11:00am rolled around and we sprinted in to the seats.  As soon as I saw the field I noticed a bunch of Angels pitchers playing catch.  I took this photo a minute later:

The folks throwing are (from left to right) Dan Haren (in the navy undershirt), Tyler Chatwood (throwing with someone just out of frame), Jordan Walden, a trainer throwing to Haren, Rich Thompson, Hisanori Takahasi’s translator (throwing to Thompson), Takahashi (with his arms out), and Scott Downs.  Downs and Takahashi are laughing–at a poor throw by one of them, I think.

You may notice that closer Jordan Walden isn’t throwing with anyone.  He was the odd man out in this warmup–so, from about three rows back in the stands I called out to him, “Hey, Jordan!  You need someone to throw with?”  He turned and smiled, waved, then he said, “What, you wanna throw?”

I said, “Yeah, I’ll throw with you.”  He kind of waved his glove and said, “Nah, I can’t.”  He’s still new to the big leagues–I don’t think he’s aware yet that, yes, he can throw a ball to a fan… then ask for it back… and so on.  He’s still kind of humble.  Walden chuckled and started to turn around and I said, “C’mon, I’ll throw with you.  Really!”  I held up my glove.  Walden kind of looked around (I think to see if anyone was going to tell him ‘no’ to what he was about to do.  Then he grabbed a ball, wound up, and tossed it to me.  I caught it, then threw it back.  Then he threw it back to me–and this continued for a solid minute or so until another pitcher, recent call-up Horacio Ramirez, jogged to the field.  I threw the ball back to Walden and he smiled, nodded his head, then turned around to warm up with, you know, a professional player.  I called out, “Thanks, Jordan!”  And then I moved a section to my right… keeping my eye on the pair.  I talked with Chris for a minute, then Rob… and then I moved back toward my left when I could see that Ramirez and Walden were finishing up:

As they closed the gap between them I made sure there was plenty of space around me–I was just hoping Walden would end up with the ball.  I asked him, “Jordan, could you throw me that ball, please?”  He had started to tuck it into his glove–then he saw me and his body language signaled to me that he knew he should toss it to me–that it would mean way more to me than anyone else.  And he threw it right to me.  I yelled a huge, “Thank you!” to him and had a new favorite baseball in my collection.  Now, I’ve never caught a home run–I’ve gotten a couple foul balls… but those, to me, aren’t nearly as special as this one.  I got to play catch with the closer of my home team and then he threw me the ball–AND it was commemorative!  Then, Walden started signing autographs:

Fans flocked to him and I noticed which way he was moving up the line–and I got into a spot along the wall–and while I was waiting for him I got Rich Thompson and Tyler Chatwood to autograph a 2011 team ball I’ve been working on.  And then Walden got to me and I asked him to “sign it on the sweet spot, please.”  Then I told him, “That ball is going on display in my home.  Thanks so much, I appreciate it.”  And check it out:

He even put ASG ’11 on it.  New.  Favorite.  Baseball.

The day was a success at that point.  I didn’t need to snag another ball or even have a good seat.  Heck, the game could’ve gotten cancelled and I’d have gone home happy.  But, thankfully, it was a gorgeous day–the game would be played–and I wasn’t done getting baseballs OR autographs.

I got Colby Lewis’ autograph near the Rangers’ dugout after all the players had cleared the field but him.  Here was the view of the field a minute after I got the Lewis autograph:

Then it was dead for about twenty minutes.  Zero player activity.  During the dead time I photographed the Walden ball and took a seat in the shade–there, I took a picture of where Tommy Hunter had thrown me a baseball the day before:

Hunter was standing to the left of the Summer Concert Series sign (LUDACRIS!) and I was standing to the right of the staircase behind the batter’s eye.  Nice arm, huh?

A little later, some Angels came out to throw and after Howie Kendrick warmed up he tossed his ball… to someone else.  But then he went to the ball bag and pulled out two brand new 50th baseballs and one went a section to my left, the other one went to me… someone tipped it and I had to pick it up off the ground… but it was still in great shape!  The spot of the catch can be seen in the photo to the right.

Then, Kendrick started signing autographs and I got him on my 2011 team ball.  I debated having him sign the ball he’d just thrown to me–but I opted not to go that route since I already have his signature on a ball from last year right on the sweet spot.  Moments later, when when Maicer Izturis finished his warmup tosses with Erick Aybar  he lofted me the ball.    The row I was in was empty– which was good because as he was running his underhanded toss was a bit off the mark.  I moved a couple of steps to my right and I caught it here:

All three baseballs were commemorative.  Yay!

Before the game started I had gotten five autographs and three baseballs–with no BP!  And I was all set to enjoy a fantastic pitching matchup.  Jered Weaver vs. CJ Wilson.

Here was my view of the game’s first pitch:

Since it was a day game and attendance was lighter than usual, I was able to jog back and forth between the home dugout and the visitor dugout for each inning.

Unfortunately, the two starters were striking guys out left and right and I was almost always on the wrong end of the dugouts.  It was frustrating–but at least I was getting my cardio workout for the day.

In the second inning the Angels managed to score a run without getting a hit thanks to an error by Endy Chavez in center field.  I took a photo (left) of the scoreboard to mark the occasion–it was a pretty important run.

Wilson and Weaver were mowing down their respective opposition.  And the most tense moment in the game game in the sixth inning, when Weaver worked around a bases loaded jam:

Um… that half of a third base coach is due to my panorama-making software.  Hmm.

And he went back out for the seventh before giving way to Scott Downs in the eighth and then Jordan Walden (my new best friend) in the ninth.

Remember that one unearned run?  That was the only run of the game!  And the Angels got the win, 1-0.  I didn’t snag anything else once the game started but I still had a blast.

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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?

4/9/11 at Angel Stadium

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8/28/10 at Angel Stadium

After losing two of three to the Rays I was hoping that the Angels could keep some playoff hopes alive by beating up on the Orioles.  It was a cool Saturday afternoon in Anaheim, and my sister-in-law and her boyfriend would be meeting Michelle and I at the game.

This was also a way for us to relax before the big move.  Michelle and I would be moving out of Irvine to a new apartment the very next day…

When the gates opened I ran in and set up shop in right field.  I was hoping to catch a homer on the fly for my first baseball of the evening but I settled for a ball from new reliever, Jordan Walden.  BP regular Devin had a ball glance off his glove and fall back to the field… I happened to be nearby and asked Walden if he could spare it.  He could–and I was on the board.

The ball was in really great shape.  There were just two marks on it.  One brown spot from where it hit the warning track after the miscue in the stands and this:

jordan walden ball 8.28.JPG

Bleh… a big ol’ PRACTICE stamp.

I went down to the corner in right for the remaining portion of Angels BP.  And didn’t catch a darn thing.  But here’s a photo of Walden, who throws 99 MPH, by the way.

walden warmup.JPG

The Orioles came out to throw and I watched them from field level as the Angels finished up their portion of batting practice.

orioles bp 8.28.jpg

After a few minutes of nothing slicing toward me down the line I headed back upstairs, knowing that a couple of their lefties hit the ball pretty well.  But the next ball I caught was thrown, too, by Alan Dunn.  His throw was a little off, and I had to barehand it since it was heading to my right a bit but I made the catch leaning over the wall in the spot shown below:

alan dunn spot 8.28.JPG

And the ball had a pretty neat-looking mark on the logo:

alan dunn ball 8.28.JPG

Before BP ended I had noticed a ball that got hit to deep right field, hit the wall… and stayed there.  Can you see it?

stuck ball 1.JPG

How ’bout now?

stuck ball 2.JPG

It got stuck on the bottom of the scoreboard… I’d never seen that before.

Anyway, that was it for batting practice.  I was a bit frustrated… I didn’t even get anything at the O’s dugout.  So, I chatted with my group (who’d all arrived by that point) and we walked over and found a place to sit down over third base as the Angels came out to throw.

8.28 warmup 1.JPG
8.28 warmup 2.JPG

Peter Bourjos and Erick Aybar ended up with baseballs after they were done throwing… and when Bourjos threw his to someone a section away I turned my attention to Aybar.  Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw a baseball floating through the air.  I wasn’t hallucinating… no, remember that in a previous post I mentioned that Bourjos and Howie Kendrick like to end their warmups by throwing knuckleballs to each other?  Well, a knuckler came flying in toward me–I pivoted, threw my glove up, and caught it… and looked to the field (to my left) to see Howie Kendrick there–he must have had another baseball in his pocket.

howie kendrick ball 8.28.JPG

Another interesting mark.  Thanks, Howie!

I went back to the group again and we decided to watch the first inning or two from the seats we’d found, then get dinner, then head up to the view level (in potential foul ball seating).

I made an attempt to get a third out ball after the first inning but failed… and then we all grabbed our things, got some grub, and ended up here:

view level spot 8.28.JPG

I like these seats because: 1) I snagged my first foul ball just to the left of this section and 2) the row in front of me was empty and in front of that row is a camera well where no one sits.  It’s the most empty space around in the upper levels in Angel Stadium.

Well, to make a long story short, the Angels couldn’t score any runs… and the crowd was less than abuzz since the teams involved weren’t heading to the playoffs, and no foul ball came near us… though one ended up about two sections to my left.  The score was 5-0 Baltimore by the time they’d batted in the eighth.  At least we all got free candy jars as a giveaway item.

We moved down to the lower level:

terrace concourse panorama 8.28.jpg

And I went for a third out toss at the end of the eighth.  I made my way down near the Oriole dugout and when Alberto Callaspo grounded out to end the frame I stood up in my seat in the third row.  I’d been watching Ty Wigginton all night as Baltimore ran off the field: he wasn’t one of those first-basemen who tossed the ball to the front row… no, he threw the ball a bit deeper, and he seemed to be seeking fans that were on their feet.

Sure enough, I yelled out, “Ty!  Right here, man!  Ty!”  And Wigginton fired the ball to me in the third row as all the little kids filed down to the front.  It was a beautiful, rubbed-up gamer.  Thanks, Ty!

Well, that made my night right there.  I walked back to the group and sat down excitedly, then took a picture of my prize:

wigginton ball 8.28.JPG

Nice!

The scoreboard told me there were over 43,000 fans at the game but by the ninth inning, down by five–most of them had left.  I tried to get something post-game from the O’s but didn’t succeed.

postgame 8.28.JPG

Oh, well… four baseballs, a candy jar, and a night with the family got me charged for the big move.

At home (our new home!), this is how the room looks as I organize my things after a game…

after a game organizing.JPG

Thanks for reading.

8/25/10 at Angel Stadium

::whew::

There was a lot of running around over the twenty-four hours between the start
of yesterday’s game and the end of this one.  The Rays were still in town
and the Angels were looking to salvage the series by winning this day game
after losing the first two games.  The Rays were trying to stay even with
the Yankees and maintain their share of the “best record in
baseball.”  It was a gorgeous summer day in Orange County.

As soon as the stadium opened I headed inside and down to the field seats just
past first base.  There, I scored some points in the myGameBalls.com Photo
Scavenger Hunt by getting a photo with All-Star pitcher David Price.

matt and david price 8.25.jpg

I also got his autograph on my ticket.  There was no BP going on so I
didn’t have a lot to do for ninety minutes.  Luckily, the weather was
great, there weren’t many fans, and I was able to get a few more autographs.

Kevin Jepsen and Jordan Walden came out of the Angel dugout to stretch and
throw.  I was pretty sure Walden ended up with the ball when they were
finished… anyway, he started signing autographs along the outfield wall and I
got him on a ticket stub.

walden signing.JPG

He kept signing and worked his way toward the infield… and when he was
through I asked if he could spare the baseball in his glove–and he told me he didn’t
have one.  Sure enough, he held up his glove and it was empty.  I
guess he’d handed over to someone at some point in the autograph process. 
While I was near the dugout I saw DL-laden Maicer Izturis down there and he was
signing for the few fans that recognized him.  I tossed him the team
baseball I was working on and he signed it for me… in black ink… from a pen
he was holding that another fan had thrown to him.  All the other
signatures were in blue–but an autograph’s an autograph.  I thanked him
and headed back toward the outfield.  Hoping to get a warmup toss from
Scot Shields after he finished throwing, I had to settle for his autograph on
my team ball–in blue.  I was still sitting on zero baseballs but had four
autographs at that point… that’s the best part about day game pregame
activity: it’s relaxed and the players and team staff members are approachable
and friendlier than usual.  For example, I’ve never seen Shields sign
before.  It was nice to get his autograph… he’s not stellar like he used
to be, but he’s been a good, solid pitcher for the Angels since 2002.

After getting shunned by Ervin Santana and Fernando Rodney (big surprise) I
headed back to the Rays’ side of the field where a trainer had come out in
preparation for the players to emerge from the dugout, I assumed.

rays chris.JPG

I ended
up having a pretty nice chat with this guy, Chris is his name.  I couldn’t
find him on the Rays’ website but his initials are CW… and he helps the
players get loose, plays catch with anyone that needs a partner, throws
football-style passes to Evan Longoria, and occasionally throws BP, so he told
me.  Anyway, he was pretty cool and I liked his shades.

Shortly after talking with Chris I ran toward the visiting team’s dugout and
got their skipper’s autograph on a ticket stub.  I already had Joe Maddon
(and Maicer Izturis AND David Price, for that matter) but it was good to get
him again.

8.25 callaspo toss spot.JPG

I grabbed a drink (free) and headed back to the third base line where the
Angels had come out to throw.  I got myself into the middle of a bunch of
fans and called out to Alberto Callaspo as he finished playing catch.  He
tossed the ball to me in the first row (just behind the “Diamond Field Box Seats” (or whatever they’re called) and I had to fully extend my arm and
lean just slightly to the left in order to catch it.  I took a photo (right) of the spot where I made the catch.

It helps to be able
to use Spanish to ask for baseballs… I mean, it’s great to be able to ask for
baseballs in different languages and I’ve gotten at least two by using Korean,
two using Japanese, and about ten using Spanish.  Thanks to relatively new
Angel, Alberto Callaspo, I wouldn’t get shut out on this sunny, BP-less
afternoon.  I had now gone to sixty-seven games and snagged at least one
ball at each one.  That streak goes back to September of 2008.

another look at field box seats.JPG

I went back over to the Rays’ side as their players were warming up.  There, I took a picture from a different angle of where I snagged the Callaspo ball (left)… you can see how that special section of box seats separates fans from the field and players.  So, I was in the first row of the non-box seats… which is technically the second row.

I didn’t snag another ball or autograph from a player but I did get a baseball tossed to me from coach George Hendrick.  I decided to keep the Callaspo ball and give away the Hendrick one.  I found a little kid nearby and made his day (and his dad’s).  They were thrilled to receive it.

The game started and I spent the top of the first behind the Angel dugout…

longoria socks.JPG

1. Check out Longoria’s socks.

2. Check out all the empty seats!

And I spent the bottom of the first behind the Rays’ dugout.

8.25 first inning view.jpg

No third-out toss for me… and no foul balls anywhere near me which was a bummer because I had a ton of room to run:

8.25 foul ball room to my left.JPG

After the first inning I relocated to the right field pavilion because the crowd out there was light and during day games more home runs tend to make it out there.  As you may recall, I was within five feet of Bobby Abreu’s walk-off homer about two weeks earlier

8.25 view from pavilion.jpg

I saw BP regular Rob out there in the stands and he and I chatted throughout the game.  No homers got hit out toward right field but Mike Napoli did hit a grand slam to left field.  The Angels would crush the Rays on this afternoon, 12-3.  Their offense decided to wake up, how ’bout that?  Also, I watched as a fan who was sitting about four rows from the field down the right field line got nailed by a foul ball.  It wasn’t a scorcher that took a hop into the seats or a line drive that he didn’t have time to see.  It was a fly ball that Rob and I watched, I knew it was going foul.  A half a dozen fans moved out of the way of it.  This one guy did not.

fan hit by ball.JPG

He’s down on the ground in that photo… being tended to.  The woman in white bending down is pretty much blocking the guy that got hit.  Rob and I saw it and heard it hit him.  That sound… I guess I should’ve felt bad for him… or sympathetic.  But I just kept thinking, if you’re that close to the field: PAY ATTENTION!  He got taken away by paramedics after a few minutes… he walked up the steps under his own power so I imagine it was just a bad bump on his head/face/leg/arm.  Wherever he got hit.

matt and reggie jackson jersey 2.jpg

So, I got some sun, a couple of baseballs, five autographs, and saw the Angels win.  All in all, it was a good day.  Toward the end of the game I tried to snag a ball from the bullpen guys… but failed… also I didn’t catch a home run in left field either.  I saw a fan wearing a Reggie Jackson Angels jersey–more scavenger hunt points.  Note: I actually have that jersey but mine’s the home white and not the road gray.

By the end of the game there weren’t a lot of fans left in the stands… the Angels were up by nine runs and it was pretty hot by that point.  Rob and i kept thinking, “This is what it’s like to be at a Pirates game.”

late in the game 8.25.jpg

As a colleague said to me recently about the Angels, “They’re just so mediocre this year.”