Tagged: josh

6/19/10 at PETCO Park

About a month prior to this game I got a text message from a friend of mine.  He told me that for Father’s Day he was flying down from San Francisco (where he lives) to San Diego (where he grew up) to take his dad to a game.  He wanted a few of us from college to go with him.  As it turns out, Jason, Josh, Brendan, and I would attend this game… and since I had committed to donating blood that morning before making the trek down to SD I asked Jason to get me my ticket ahead of time.  That worked out well because after I donated a pint of O+ at the Red Cross donation site, I headed down the 5 freeway and made it to downtown San Diego at about 2pm for the 5:35pm game between the Padres and the Orioles.

I had a little time to kill so I checked out the ticket windows:
619 padres ticket windows.JPGAnd went in the Team Store:
619 padres store.JPGThen I walked past all the Park at the Park gates:
619 park gate 1.JPG619 park gate 2.JPGAnd saw these adorable dogs in a nearby office:
619 2 awesome dogs.JPGThe other guys would be arriving toward the end of batting practice.  At 3pm the Park at the Park opened and I ran in to the beach in center field.
view from the beach 6.19b.jpgThere wasn’t anyone hitting when I got there–a few Padres were throwing near the right field line but I ended up just sitting around for about ten minutes.  Finally, BP was under way and… well… take a look at the below photo:
619 beach scene.JPGSo, Oscar Salazar was running from right field to center field and back again.  I was near the fence.  A baseball had come to rest about thirty feet from the fence.  When he got close to center field I yelled out, “Oscar!”  He looked over and then I asked him for the baseball in Spanish.  In one move he turned to run back toward right field, grabbed the ball, and flipped it underhand to me–I had taken a few steps away from the fence–but the ball was heading over my head so I backpedaled–right through that pile of plastic toys–and made the catch over my head.  I was on the board.

At 3:30 the stadium would open–and I’d still have just the one baseball.

That would change pretty quickly.  I had decided to hang out on a staircase in the left field seats.  After a couple of close calls, a Padres righty launched a homer a bit to my right.  I moved down the stairs, across half a section and watched the ball hit off a seat over my right shoulder.  It took a bounce in the row behind me, hit a fan’s hands, then rolled down to the first row… just to my right as I was facing away from the field.  I snagged it as it trickled away from me for Ball #2 on the afternoon.

I was getting text updates from the guys as they made the trip down from L.A. and then to Jason’s folks’ house, then onto the trolley–they still hadn’t arrived as the Orioles took the field.  I ran around to the third base line as the O’s pitchers started their pre-game throwing.  It was there that I got bullpen coach Alan Dunn to toss me my third baseball.  A few minutes later, rookie Jake Arrieta tossed me a ball as he finished throwing.  I’d moved about twenty feet closer to home plate.

About ten minutes later I saw Garrett Atkins playing catch with another Oriole and I positioned myself nearby.  When they were through I held up my glove and said, “Hey, Garrett, right here, please.”   And that was ball #5 on the day.
619 atkins catch.JPGI had pretty much exhausted my options along the left field line at that point so I went back to left field–this time to the second deck.  I know that every now and then a powerful righty can launch a homer or two up there.  Here was my view:
second deck view bp 6.19b.jpgAnd unfortunately, only one home run got hit up to the second level… and it was two sections away from me.  I did have a bit of luck up there though.  I’d tried calling out to various players to toss a ball up to the second level.  They all ignored me or didn’t even give it a shot.  I knew it could be done though… I’d caught two toss ups there back on 7/21/09 from a couple of Marlins.  Toward the end of BP a bald-headed trainer was fielding near the left field corner and I yelled out to him–and he launched up Baseball #6 on the evening.  Here’s a photo:
619 trainer 2nd deck.JPGThe box is around the trainer and I was standing at the red circle (along the railing in the second row).  I got some cheers from a few people nearby because I had to lean way out and over to make the catch since the throw had been falling a little short.

I was at the dugout as BP ended but didn’t snag a ball there.  The guys had just arrived and so I went to get a drink (and a Frequent Friar lanyard) before heading up to the second level above third base where our assigned seats were.  I met up with everyone and decided to spend the game in my seat:
panorama from our seats 6.19b.jpgI had a shot at a foul ball… maybe… but it was nice to just relax and enjoy the great weather and the great ball game.

It was nice to chat with my friends… and the game was pretty exciting.  The Padres and Orioles scored in the first.  It was 3-1 Padres.  The Orioles scored two more in the third–and then two more in the sixth to take the lead, 5-3, on an Adam Jones home run.  Kevin Millwood was set up for his first win of the season.  My friends were very emotional about the game:
619 bren and josh.JPGVictor Willis (formerly of The Village People) sang YMCA–badly–at the seventh inning stretch.  I think he forgot the words at one point.
619 village person.JPGI went down to the Field Level for the ninth inning and told the guys I’d meet them after the game.  Since the Orioles were winning I went behind their dugout:
view from field level 6.19b.jpgThe Padres made it interesting though and got a run in in the bottom of the ninth–and the tying run was on third… when the final out was recorded.  Tense, fun, a fantastic game… plus, there was a Kyle Blanks bobblehead giveaway and we all got coupons for free tacos from Jack in the Box.

The night’s baseballs:
619 six baseballs.JPGI stopped in Lemon Grove to say good night to the guys and to Jason’s parents.  Then it was a two hour drive north on the 5.

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5/14/10 at Angel Stadium

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:
5.14 bp foul ball panorama b.jpgWhen 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?
closeupball2.JPGBut 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:
a's pitchers warmup.JPGKevin’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.

braden warmup.JPGWell, 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.

About this time I was thinking I had a shot to do it.  Josh and I sat on the Field Level with this view:
hopes for a foul ball.JPGI was hoping for a foul ball… I mean, look at the space around us.  Look at the row we were in!

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.
view in 9th inning.JPGThe 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.
saunders pitching well.JPGI 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:
eighth ball of the day.JPGMe 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:
5.14 fireworks.JPGAnd 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!

9/18/09 at Dodger Stadium

Another game at Dodger Stadium?  Well, not just any game.  This was a Dodgers game against the rival Giants.  Have you ever been to a Giants/Dodgers game, either in San Francisco or Los Angeles?  It’s like a Yankees game against the Red Sox or a Cardinals game against the Cubs… but more angry.  Who knows why they’re all so angry at each other?  Anyway, I headed out to L.A. from Irvine to my buddy’s apartment in Glendale.  Josh just got back from four months of working on a cruise ship and he happens to be a big Giants fan.  So are Brendan and Jason and Marty.  I went to college with all of these guys:
friends 2.JPGFrom left to right: Marty, Josh, Brendan, Jason

Brendan and Marty are from the Bay Area, Jason lives there now, and Josh didn’t like baseball until he started hanging out with these guys in college… so he’s a Giants fan now, too.  I still like the Angels.  The last time I’d been to a game with Josh was in May, before he went cruisin’.  I saw a game with Brendan earlier this season in Anaheim, Jason went to a WBC game with me… and I’d never been to a ball game with Marty.

Anyhow, I was in Glendale at 4:00pm… I was hoping to get to the stadium for all of BP but since it wasn’t my call and this wasn’t all about me and trying to catch baseballs we left when Marty got there after work at 5:20.  I tried to get into the field level of the stadium after we parked but just missed the window (they won’t let you in without a Field Level ticket after 5:40pm)… it was 5:45pm.  Now, this wasn’t a big ballhawking outing but that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to try to at least snag SOMETHING.

I’d never been before, but I had no choice but to check out center field for BP.  Basically, the Dodgers let you stand on the field in center, right where the wall normally is.  They put up a cheap plastic fence that’s about four feet high and you can pray that a ball gets hit out there or that a player will toss one into the crowd.  Here was they view from the back of the section:
back of cf section.JPGAnd here was my view once I wiggled into a spot right along the fence:
cf bp.JPGI called out to a few Giants but only one balled got tossed… to a kid decked out in Giants gear.  Good for him.  I saw a ball get launched to dead center.  It was going to clear the mini-wall so I started back, through the crowd, and it ended up flying over my head just a bit to my left (as I was facing away from the field).  All those people around and it hit the concrete cleanly and took a big bounce.  I was still too far from it…

I squeezed back into the front row again.  Barry Zito was fielding just in front of the center field crowd and he rolled a ball back for the kids to fight over.  It trickled up next to the fence and they went at it.  Eventually, he shagged a fly ball within earshot of me and I said, “Hey, Barry, could you throw that one over here, please?”  He turned, saw my outstretched glove and lobbed it.

It was going to be a tough play… I knew it was meant for me but I couldn’t move to either side.  The ball was descending just a bit to my left so I leaned as far as I could while still keeping my arm fully extended and trying not to fall over the shabbily zip-tied together mini-fence.  Meanwhile, a dude in Dodger duds saw the ball and elbowed me trying to get it.  I kept my glove just a few inches further out than his and made the catch.

Whew!

Now that my streak was still active I took my leave from the front row.  I figured that if something got hit to center field over the fence then I’d go for it but I’d get out of the confines of the first row of fans.  Once I had a few feet around me I looked at the ball I’d caught.  It had a nasty gash on it:
ball scuff.JPGWhat do you think that’s from?

Knowing that BP would be ending shortly I left center field and headed up to the Loge Level, where my ticketed seat was, and hoped I could get a Giant to toss one way up to me.  Here was my view for the end of BP:
loge rf.JPGI called out to a few players but nobody wanted to try out their arm… not even as they made their way off the field and I was over the dugout.  Oh, well… one ball snagged.  I went and found my friends as the game started.  Here was our view:
sunset.JPGNot the best seats for snagging but it was a great section to be in and catch up with your friends.  And check out that sunset!  It was a great time, made even more exciting by the back and forth nature of the game.  We were all psyched when Pablo Sandoval smacked a three-run home run:
pablo .JPGHAI-YAH!  And we watched to see if Randy Johnson would come into the game (he didn’t):
johnson bullpen.JPGscoreboard.JPGSure, my Giants gear-clad friends got booed a bit as they got up from their seats, but that happened to EVERYONE in SF garb.  But the Giants ended up winning 8-4… and Manny even hit a homer into Mannywood–ooh!  In the eighth inning I decided to try for foul balls behind the plate.  I alternated sides based on if a righty or lefty was up.  Rafael Furcal fouled one to my left and, had I not been blocked by an elderly couple in the next section over I’d have had it.  I ended up about six feet from my second-ever foul ball.

I was back with my buddies when there were two outs in the ninth.  Brian Wilson closed it out for the San Francisco win!

After the game a slightly drunk SF fan snuck into this photo:
awkwardguy.JPGThe reactions of my friends make me laugh.  There were fireworks after the game, too.  And at Dodger Stadium they let fans down onto the field to watch ’em.  We stayed in our seats but here was the scene down below:
field fireworks.JPGAnd here’s the show:
finale3.JPGAnd Jason photographing the fireworks:
jason fw.JPGWe headed out through the parking lot after that and–“WOW”–we all thought, we made it through a Giants win at Dodger Stadium without any immediate threats of stabbings, without being called f—–s, without any physical violence coming our way.  It was a good drive home.

5/2/09 at Dodger Stadium

If you read my blog regularly you probably know that Dodger Stadium is my least favorite stadium of ALL the stadiums I’ve ever been to.  There are ridiculous rules and segmented, separate levels and sections and the fans there can make or break the experience for anyone.  If you don’t read my blog regularly, shame on you… and NOW you know.

Also, I left my digital camera in my overnight bag at my friend Josh’s apartment.  Good thing my cell phone has a decent camera.

OK, so Josh (my friend from college who lives ten minutes from Elysian Park) and I left at about 4:30pm and headed to “Dodgertown,” as they now call it.  Whatever.  Surprise… we hit some traffic:
0502091639.jpgLuckily, the traffic cleared up and we were able to park near the stadium and walk up toward the entrance.  Here, a security guard (not a cop) who took his job too seriously yelled at us: “We don’t open ’til 5:10!”  OK… so we waited until 5:00… and we walked in.  Nobody stopped us.  We got to the Left Field Pavilion before the gates opened for BP.  Here was the crowd:
0502091707.jpgPretty promising, eh?  We played catch for, oh, two minutes and then a security guard (not a cop) in a golf cart came by and told us… and I quote:  “Guys, there’s no throwing here.  This is where people walk.”  Oh… sorry, I can’t play catch at this baseball stadium.  Stupid Dodger Stadium.

So we went in… I did not find any Easter Eggs.  And I think three baseballs made it into the stands during all of Dodgers BP.  Here’s my view:
0502091716.jpgI was a bit worried I’d get shut out but things were looking up because I changed into my Padres ensemble.  I had the hat, I had the jersey, I had Chase Headley in front of my shagging baseballs.  Eventually I got his attention and pointed to the Padres logo across my chest.  He said, “Yeah!  I like that.” And he grinned.  The next baseball he fielded got tossed right to me.  Two sections over I got shunned by Walter Silva and Heath Bell (maybe I should’ve mentioned Zack Hample’s name).  Batting practice ended after that and I had one baseball and a Loge level ticket.  No chance to get down near the dugouts… but maybe I’d end up with a foul ball.  Before the game started Josh and I went to our actual seats (and I took this picture a bit later):
0502091913.jpgThen I watched Chris Young (the Pads’ starting pitcher) warm up…
0502091853a.jpgAnd I failed to get a ball tossed up to me by anyone.  After a few innings we decided to get better seats.  So we did:
0502092031.jpg
And we stayed here for the rest of the game… which went into extras.    I was hoping for a foul ball but nothing came near us.  Bummer.  Still a good game though.  The Padres got a run in the first, the Dodgers got one in the third.  That was it until the 10th… and the Padres only managed three hits (Chis Young pitched well) and Andre Eithier ended it with a smash into right field and sent the fans home happy.  I have to admit that I was kind of hoping the Padres would win.  They didn’t.  The Dodgers are now 9-0 at home this season and, quite frankly, are pretty much a lock to take the division.  I’m guessing they’ll win it by fifteen games.  Just wait.

One ball, a crowd of 47,680.  Chase Headley = my new favorite Padre.

By the way, people talk about the charm of Dodger Stadium.  I’d like to say:  I don’t see it.  It’s an ugly park.  Want proof?  Here’s a photo of a leaky, weird crack in some metal right in the middle of the pavilion… right at the bottom of those staircases… right in a walkway.  It was dripping gross water into a big garbage can.  Yuck.
0502091825.jpg

3/23/09 at Dodger Stadium

The Final!
IMGP2515.JPGI attended this game with my three of my friends: Josh, Jason, and Jeff.  We got to the ballpark about a half hour before game time (no need to try to go to BP… see my last entry).  We approached and saw a plethora of fans including these guys with giant fans and samurai garb (who’d been featured on ESPN on Sunday during the game).
IMGP2512.JPG
IMGP2600.JPGThey gave fans “rally towels”of varying colors as they entered… they have the consistency of a washcloth that’s been run through the laundry 200 times…mine was blue.

Jeff had a ticket for the Top Deck and Jason had one for the opposite side of the Reserve Level from where Josh and I had seats but we all managed to sit together just past first base near Section 32.  Tonight it would be Korea vs. Japan for all the World Baseball marbles.

We saw little flags set up on the field before the game (you can see them in the photo below) and it definitely looked like some pregame ceremonies were in the works.
IMGP2517.JPGThen…
IMGP2525.JPGFlags and fireworks and drummers, oh my!
IMGP2532.JPGOoohh… fancy!

And after three national anthems played by the live orchestra (of which the USA’s was way too long) and some streamers…
IMGP2536.JPG…the game was under way.  It started off slow if you’re like Jason and want a baseball smashfest every time you go to the park.  Korea was getting no hit through three innings and Japan was on top 1-0.  In the 5th inning, Shin-Soo Choo, who hit a three-run blast on Saturday, smacked a homer to right center to tie the game at one.  The Japanese went ahead 3-1 in the late goings but the Koreans scored a run in the eighth and another in the bottom of the ninth off a wild Yu Darvish to tie it.  Extra innings!  Dodger Stadium was bouncing with the energy of all the fans.

Later I found out the attendence was 54,846–more than I’d ever seen at a Dodger game.  And it seemed like nobody had left.  The game came down to Ichiro… he came through for Japan, knocking a two-run single up the middle to give his team a 5-3 lead that they held though the bottom of the 10th.  Two-Time WBC Champions:  Japan.
IMGP2590.JPGIt was a fun night out with friends and with fans from all over.  Great energy and a lot of excitement.  Whatever MLB decides to do with the WBC (the next one’s scheduled for 2013… so as not to conflict with teams prepping for the Olympics in 2012) I hope to still be able to attend.  These games are always a blast!

IMGP2543.JPG

Baseball Collector Photos

Hi, everyone!

It’s not baseball season.  That’s sad… but good ol’ Zack Hample asked for all the folks that read his blog and collect baseballs to send a photo of themselves with their collection.  I’m PHOTO #26.  I was one of the thirty-two people that responded and you can see his blog entry with all of us and our stuff here:

http://snaggingbaseballs.mlblogs.com/archives/2008/11/your_photos.html

Mine is by no means the most impressive of the lot… it’s cool to see the different ways people display their baseballs as well as the people that have helmets, batting gloves, bats, etc.  Maybe someday I’ll snag a cool memento like that!

Thanks, Zack, for the chance to be featured on your site.

Here’s what’s up in the mind of Matt regarding baseball:  I’m going to get tickets to the World Baseball Classic when it’s at Dodger Stadium in March.  I’ll be going with Michelle, my fiancee, and my buddy, Josh.  Also, I hope to go to the Angels home opener this year on April 9th!  Other than that I’ve just been concentrating on school, my shows, wedding details, and occasionally checking to see the trades and deals that have and haven’t gone down.  I hope the Angels come away with some star this offseason…

Until next time…

9/2/08 at Dodger Stadium

Here is why I was excited about this game:

1. I had the chance to hang out with my buddy, Josh, at a ball game.
2. I was trying to extend my baseball streak in a new venue.
3. I was hopefully going to meet Zack Hample and get him to sign a copy of his book for me.

Here is why I was not excited about this game: It was a Dodger game at Dodger Stadium.
Allow me to explain.  I’m not a Dodgers fan… I have nothing against the team.  They’re a good team.  I do, however, have an issue with Dodger fans (and I’m generalizing).  Mostly, they are OK… but I can’t ever go to a Dodger game without the sneaking suspicion that I might, just might, get shanked in the kidney by some drunk, illiterate tool that can’t handle the fact that his (or her) team might not win every single game.
I’ll give you an example of a Dodger fan at his worst in just a bit.

Josh and I got to the stadium at 4:45pm for a 7:10 game.  The parking lot hadn’t even opened yet, so we lined up Josh’s car to get in.  Here’s Josh:
Dodgers Game 09.02.08 007.jpgWe played catch, ignored some dudes trying to sell imitation Dodgers gear, chatted, offered to let a kid throw the ball once (and he did… right down a hillside.. he was only six years old)… and then the gates opened at 5:10.  We had a Preferred Parking Pass that we got along with our tickets via uclaterry on eBay… a new favorite seller of mine.  I would have preferred Field level seats but Josh was buyin’, so I couldn’t complain.
Dodgers Game 09.02.08 004.jpgWe parked in the lot and hurried down to the left field bleachers.  The Dodgers have an interesting approach to BP: they open up the field.  Like, you can stand on the warning track in center field and try to snag.  We determined that would be way too crowded, though, and that more balls would head for the seats in left anyway.  Well, we must’ve been right on because as soon as I headed up the stairs to the stands I saw a guy in a Padres cap and shirt wearing his glove just waiting for a ball to snag.  I had to do a doubletake, but sure enough, it was Mr. 3700 baseballs, Zack Hample.  I watched him for a second and then introduced myself.
Dodgers Game 09.02.08 014.jpg
“Hi.  Are you Zack?”
“Yeah.”
“Hi.  I’m Matt, I’ve left some comments on your blog and I brought the book like you said.”

He was cordial, but hard at work, too.  He seemed like a cool guy and had a very firm handshake.  I told him that as soon as he had some time I would love to have him sign my book and he said he, of course, would be happy to.  As I scurried along for my own snagging I kept an eye on Zack, watching his technique.
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After a while I convinced Mike Adams, a reliever for the Pads, to toss me a ball. For comparison, I saw Zack snag three in that time (plus he got one before Josh and I even got there)!  Later, Dodger fans started giving Zack some crap because he wouldn’t give any balls to kids.  They didn’t know that he usually DOES after BP is over.  Whatever.

I asked him, “People hassling you?”
“Yeah,” he said, “but they don’t get that I give away baseballs all the time.”  The guy bending down on the right side of the photo was a real jerk to Zack.
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Dodger fans.  Yuck!  And now for MY story of confrontation.
Zack had signed my book and wished me luck (and Heath Bell of the Padres could’ve signed my book, too, apparently)… but he had to run to the Field level before the end of BP.  It involves that walrus-sized dude in the red shirt right there.  So, I attempt to catch a ball that clears the fence and my glove is outstretched next to another glove.  Our gloves bump, the ball hits ’em, and neither of us gets the ball.  Bummer, no big deal, right?  Wrong!  I see this HUGE Mexican guy next to me and he starts swearing up a storm.  F this and F that and F you!!!  In front of his little kid that he was trying to catch the ball for!!!  I’ll give you an exact quote from this walrus:
“What’re ya f***in’ pushin’ me for?  I’m f***in’ tryin’ to catch the f***in’ ball for my kid, eh?!  You, back the f*** off!  I’ma f***in’ throw you over this f***in’ railing.  You want that?”

I didn’t want that, obviously, but I also knew that he was probably all talk and if I stayed a few yards from him he couldn’t hit me if he wanted to.  A Dodger personnel person saw it and told me he knew I didn’t push anyone.  I just said to the fat dude, “Nice mouth in front of your kid.”  And I was done.  Who the f*** wears a red plaid shirt to a Dodger game anyway?
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Well, that was it for me for BP.  One ball (shown to the right), but my streak was alive and well!  Josh and I headed for our seats in foul ball range on the Loge.  And in the first inning Juan Pierre smacked one that curved juuuuussst a little too far from us.  The game went on… at one point the Dodgers were up 8-0.  Manny hit ANOTHER home run.  Andre Eithier had a chance at the cycle but was a double short.  Most fans left after he grounded out in the 8th.  And another foul came really close but was just out of my reach again.

I saw Zack snag a few more balls at the Padres dugout during the game.  He ended up with ELEVEN.  That man is insane!  The score ended up being 8-4 Dodgers.  I had a great time!  One of the best parts about going to a non-Angels game is that I usually don’t care who wins or loses and I can just enjoy baseball.  Ah.
Dodgers Game 09.02.08 044.jpgNext up… PETCO Park on Sept. 9th!  I hear it’s good for snagging.  I’ll be there with my sister, her boyfriend, and Michelle.  Woo!