Weeks before I knew the Angels would be facing off against the Yankees in the ALCS I purchased tickets for both Game 4 and Game 5. I ended up with school commitments on both of those days. So, being the good student that I am, I put both pairs of tickets on StubHub. The Game 4 tickets sold… and I’m glad I wasn’t there for that blowout. The Game 5 tickets didn’t. I called around and got my friend, Julian (who loves the Yankees), to pay me for the ticket. I got someone to cover for me at school and told J that I’d meet him at the ballpark. I readied my stuff and made it to the stadium thirty minutes before it opened.
There was already a HUGE line of people waiting to get in:
And I hoped that I would know someone that might be close to the front of the line. Sure enough, I saw John Witt (aka MLBallhawk) in the last of the five lines. He invited me to slip in next to him and as soon as the gates opened we were off to the races. John headed down near the foul pole and I ran straight up to the pavilion. When I got there I didn’t find any Easter eggs but I saw Scot Shields shagging baseballs in right. I was kind of surprised to see him because he’d been on the DL all season. I yelled out a hello to him and a moment later he pointed up to the sky. A fungo had been hit a bit too far and ended up hitting the seats five rows behind me and to my left. The ball ricocheted right back to the field. Scot went over, picked up that ball and one other, tossed one to a guy down on the field level, then looked up toward me. He gestured with his glove, like I should hold mine up… I did and he fired the ball right to me.
“Thanks, Scot–it’s good so see you back out here!”
He gave me a thumbs up and I headed a few sections over toward center field. Rob was there… John ended up coming up to the pavilion, too. The sun’s tough in Anaheim if you’re trying to snag baseballs. It’s tough when there’s a 7:00 start… it’s tougher when it’s a 5:00 start. With my shades on and my cap low I still had trouble tracking some homers. Once though, with Kendry Morales hitting, I stayed with a ball as it got smashed toward right-center and sprinted through a row and across a whole section. I drifted further to my right and lost it in the sun for a moment… I stuck with it, kept drifting, and then I saw the silhouette falling toward me again. I reached out with my left hand across my body and made the backhanded catch. Whew. The couple behind me were a bit stunned. I heard the guy say, “Wow. I didn’t even see it.”
Shortly after that the Yankees came out and started throwing along the right field line. Here’s a panoramic I snapped:
The Yankees began hitting and peppered the right field seats with baseballs and, while I was close to quite a few (and banged my ankle pretty badly on a seat), I didn’t catch anything else during BP. It was exciting though; the Yankees sure can hit the ball. I’ve never been to a more active batting practice than that one. Lots o’ fun–but lots o’ people, too.
As the Yankees came off the field, I was right behind their dugout… but nobody tossed a baseball anywhere near me. I hung around for a minute and took this picture:
See that baseball with the Metrodome logo? I had seen an acquaintance of mine catch one of those during BP… I hoped somebody might toss one up my way… but the basket got emptied and everyone headed into the dugout.
Sights around the ballpark:
It was energetic and lively… and there were A LOT of Yankees fans. I’d say it was 50/50–Yankees fans to Angels fans. As the anthem was sung there was a flyover by some fighter jets:
And The Kingfish, Tim Salmon, threw out the first pitch. I was good to see him back:
I went to the last game Tim Salmon ever played… they cut a big ’15’ into the grass for that game to honor him. They’ll retire his number some day…
And then I settled into a seat behind the Yankee dugout temporarily… it didn’t start out looking too good for the Angels. Derek Jeter singled on the first pitch of the game:
And then Johnny Damon reached first… does anyone else see how he’s basically cheating in the picture below?
But John Lackey got the next three Yankees in a row to get out of the jam.
After half an inning I had to move… still no Julian. I took a great panoramic shot while I was waiting though:
He sent me a text message in the bottom of the first: “Parking!” I found a new set of seats. It took him thirty more minutes to get to the gate… then he called and said he’d printed the wrong ticket… the one I’d used to get in. Ugh–but I’m a stage manager and I prepare for these kinds of things. I’d printed his actual ticket. Just in case… I left “my” seat that I’d found on the field level and went to find my friend. I got him inside and told him where our ticketed seats actually were, adding, “But my goal is for us never to have to sit in them.”
We went back to the seats I had just vacated. They were still open… we plopped down in them and I got pictures like this:
And we stayed there through four innings! Finally, two ladies (Yankees fans) showed up and claimed the two aisle seats. But seats 3 and 4 were still empty… we sat back down.
The Angels had jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning… and despite both teams putting runners on in almost every inning, the score stayed that way until the seventh. We were still here:
Oh, man! No one had claimed our seats. Sure, we kept looking over our shoulders like the next person coming down the aisle was our doomsday bringer. But it didn’t happen! It was all Angels until the Yankees roared to life with six runs in the top of the seventh. J went crazy, along with all the NY fans. I was seriously worried. It was 6-4… and the Yankees had a solid bullpen. But the Angels found a way… they struck back with three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to retake the lead! That photo right above this paragraph is of Kendry Morales hitting an RBI single. I don’t think anyone sat in their seats from the 7th on… we were all standing, cheering, booing, crying, laughing, yelling, chanting, praying–etc.
At one point a random dude decided to take a walk on the fountains in center field. They even showed it on TV… I hope he had fun:
Jered Weaver came out of the pen and had a dominant eighth inning. The Yanks brought in Mariano… he did his thing, keeping it a one run game:
As the Angels were retired in their half I remember thinking, “Are they gonna leave Weaver in or bring in Fuentes?” They brought in Fuentes… and that made me nervous. But he nailed down the first two outs pretty easily. Then came Alex Rodriguez, who’d hit a home run off Fuentes back in New York days earlier. They intentionally walked him. Good idea, Angels. Then, Matsui walked and Fuentes hit Cano with a pitch. Ugh… bases loaded… two outs. Ninth inning and Nick Swisher up to bat. The count went full–I couldn’t believe I was watching this–and FINALLY Fuentes got Swisher to pop up to shortstop.
The Angels forced a Game 6… which they’d lose… I had told Julian as we left the park, “If it makes you feel any better, you’ll get to see ’em win on TV.” Sure enough… but, man, that was the most exciting game I’d ever seen. Wow. Just wow.
We took a couple photos as we left and I snagged some ticket stubs, too. Here’s me with Julian:
And a blurry shot of me with my two baseballs… and the renovated Big A behind me (it’s all LED-crazy now!):
Oh, and we saw Kelsey Grammer; apparently he’s a Yankees fan. He was sitting in the next section over from us… so was some guy who used to be on The Sopranos. What a game… wow.
Hi, everyone. Let me kick off this entry by saying that I was contacted by the creator of myGameBalls to contribute to the site by being a columnist. My first one went live on Monday and you can check it out here.
All right… to the game. I knew that I would only be able to stay for batting practice for this game. I had a school meeting that night (and I had made dinner plans with my wife, too). So, I was hoping for two things: a great BP and an Angels clinching victory… the latter I wouldn’t get to see… in person.
5:00pm arrived and Rob, Chris, and I ran in. Also in attendance was Leigh from SD and TC from down there as well. I hooked Leigh up with a ticket since he had hooked me up the month before for a Padres game. We all took off… I was the first one out to the pavilion in right field and as I jogged through the front row looking for Easter eggs (there were none) I heard the crack of Kendry Morales’ bat and looked up in time to see a BP homer land in the seats near me. I picked up Ball #1 of the day on a bounce. I thought, “Man, I wish I could’ve caught that one.”
I’d get another shot. In his next round of swings Morales lifted one that was maybe gonna clear–maybe gonna hit–that 18ft. wall in right-center field. I was in the first row and I started heading right, side stepping through a whole section. It was hit too far for me to catch it… my outstretched glove was about two feet shy of the ball…
It hit the seats and took a hop up in the air and back a row. Then it trickled out into the aisle and I snagged it for my second ball of the evening. Sweet. Two from Kendry–but neither one had actually been caught.
The stands were starting to fill up a bit at this point.
That’s about ten minutes after the gates opened. See how a lot of the fans are shielding their eyes? Well, that’s because if you’re in right field during batting practice at Angel Stadium the sun is brutal. Case in point: the view from near the foul pole in right…
Back to snagging, I moved closer to right-center, then back toward right, based on the hitter. When Morales stepped up again I set myself right in the middle of where those first two baseballs had been hit. He smacked one deep and I knew I had a chance at this one, as well. I was in the fourth row and I drifted to my right just a bit. I felt bodies closing in around me as I camped underneath it. At the last second I reach up and out and felt the ball smack the pocket of my glove right as I got hit from the left side… not hard… just enough that the guy who’d been running over to catch the ball couldn’t stop and skidded into a sort of bear hug… awkward. He patted me on the back as if to say, “Good catch.” No harm done… Rob was on my right. They’d both been closing in on the ball and, had I not positioned myself well beforehand, I would’ve been blocked from getting it at all based on their positioning and reaction. Lucky me! Three on the day and all from K-Mo.
After that round of BP I headed down to the foul pole in right field as the Rangers pitchers came out to throw. I saw Chris down there and eventually he asked me about a pitcher wearing number forty-nine. I said, “That’s Jason Grilli.”
“Really? Cuz I ‘m pretty sure I asked him once before and he told me, ‘That’s not my name.'”
I was puzzled so I said, “Hey, Jason, how ya feelin’ today, man?”
He looked over and said, “Real good, man.”
I looked at Chris and shrugged. Yep, it was definitely Jason Grilli. After he finished throwing he tossed me the baseball he’d been using. He, I would learn, is one of the more chatty pitchers on the Rangers staff and I would totally believe that he might tell a fan that he wasn’t who he was, just to mess with them. After that interaction I made sure to wish Eddie Guardado a happy birthday (in Spanish)… he was born on Oct. 2nd. He thanked me and continued warming up while I ran back up to the pavilion.
That’s Chris right in front of me and I took this picture at about 5:45pm, just so you can see the crowd that had started to arrive. I didn’t snag anything else until after BP finished though I did see Grilli launch a ball to a fan in teh upper deck. Pretty cool! I ran down to the dugout as the Rangers came off the field and hoped someone would toss one to me after noticing my Rangers cap. Sure enough, C.J. Wilson jogged in and threw a ball right to me as he headed down the steps. Five balls in Anaheim is a pretty decent outing and I was thrilled–even though I had to leave for my meeting at school that night but I made sure to meet up with Leigh and Chris and take this picture of our haul for the afternoon:
For those that are new to this blog, I’m in the middle, Leigh is on the right, and Chris is on the left. Matt: 5 (though you can’t see ’em all), Chris: 3, Leigh: 1… and the Angels won 11-0, clinching the AL West for the third consecutive year.
Here was the view as I headed out to my car… and everyone else was arriving for the game:
Weird. Anyway, I followed it on MLB Gameday from my laptop at school. I had tickets for the whole week so I knew I’d get to celebrate the very next night at another trip to the park.
The Angels were back home after a road trip and I was psyched to be back at the stadium. I met up with Chris and a buddy of his before the gates opened at we headed in at 5:00pm.
I was not a Gold Glove-caliber fan for this game, lemme tell you that much. Before we get into details, check this out:
See that baseball out there? It was a homer hit by an Angels player that bounced on the batter’s eye and settled right there on the rocks. I kept thinking of a way to nab it… but came up with zero good ideas (read, ideas that wouldn’t get me kicked out). I’d imagine a cameraman probably ended up with it.
On to my BP blunders. Most notably, Kendry Morales knocked a homer out to me… like, to me. I was lined up perfectly and no one was near me. I had it in my sights, reached my glove up to catch it about a foot above my head… and it tipped off the end of my glove. Ugh. Luckily, it didn’t take a weird bounce and I ended up with the ball anyway. But, man, I was down on myself–I shoulda caught it on the fly.
That was it for Angels BP… the Mariners were out and I know where Ichiro hits ’em so I headed down near the foul pole in right field. I came close on a few of them but actually didn’t snag anything else until the last round of M’s batting practice. My second ball of the day was a grounder that cut along the wall and ricocheted off the corner. I leaned out and picked it off the warning track before it stopped rolling. A few minutes later Jason Vargas tossed a ball to where I was standing about ten rows back. It wasn’t specifically to me, or anyone… I jogged to my right after a fan tried to catch it barehanded and failed. I picked it up off the ground (and later gave that one away to an girl in an Angels jersey). Three baseballs… not bad but I had expected more from myself as BP ended. I ran down toward the dugout as the Mariners came off the field.
As everyone headed in a coach (who I later identified as Alan Cockrell) spotted me and tossed a ball over the crowd in the first row–to me in the fourth row. Error #2 for me on the day. I took my eye off the ball for a split second and I misplayed it. It hit off my glove and bounced down toward the dugout… but I was quick to recover, lunging for it and snagging it before anyone else even knew I missed it. But I knew. Argh…
I felt how an infielder must feel after botching a play (like a grounder went right through his legs) but that run doesn’t end up scoring. It’s like, “Well, things turned out all right. But I should have done better.”
It was Japan Day at the ballpark and so there was a pretty cool pregame display or taiko drumming and martial arts:
Anywho, I sat down to watch the game after I couldn’t get a warmup ball from any of the M’s… here:
And I moved every now and then between that view and a couple others but stayed pretty much in the same area, trying for foul balls and 3rd out balls… no dice.
I was stuck at four baseballs on the day and that was fine. It was a great pitcher’s duel. Scott Kazmir (in his Angels home debut) faced Felix Hernandez for the second time in a week-long period. Kaz gave up a solo home run to Franklin Gutierrez and that was it for the scoring…. until Brian Fuentes blew the save.
King Felix had allowed two runs (one earned) and the Halos were up 2-1 in the ninth. I was behind their dugout, ready for the win. But Mike Sweeney blasted Fuentes’ second pitch of the night out to center and–tie game. The Angels loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth but couldn’t get the run home.
To the tenth… Matt Palmer kept the Mariners scoreless in the inning and Erick Aybar delivered a walkoff hit to score Bobby Abreu! Angels win! And I only saw two baseball get tossed into the crowd… oh well.
Remember when I went to a sports bar called Throwbacks earlier in the week? Well, Michelle and I ended up with raffle tickets which ended up being exchanged for free tickets to this game! What’s better than going to a baseball game? Going to a baseball game for free.
And this: And this:
And it kept going. There must have been a thousand people there… it was ridiculous. Sadly, I was sure that many of those people toward the end of the line wouldn’t get Figgy’s autograph because the signing would end at 1:00. I grabbed a free pouch of juice and went to my backup plan. I’m a stage manager by trade, I always have a backup plan. Today it was heading to an AT&T store in Seal Beach to a Howie Kendrick signing. That event worked out better for me.
I got to the parking lot and headed up toward the store at about 11:30 (when the event was to start). As I headed toward the back of the line I passed by Anaheim regular, Chris (aka cjpyankee), and said hello. I continued to the back of the line. When I got there I heard, “Matt!” and looked up. Chris waved me over to him and led me up to his spot in line which his girlfriend had been holding. I thanked them and wished them both a happy belated birthday. Then we went inside and I snapped a photo of Howie before having him sign a ticket stub for me.
After we got out of the store Chris and Ariana (sp?) left and I decided to jump back into line. It took about thirty-five minutes to get through the twisting (mostly in the shade) line and back up to the front of the store. When I was about to get inside for the second time I saw AM830’s Jorge “Pollo” Sevilla, the station’s Promotions Manager. I knew from my previous experiences at Angels events that he was THE MAN to talk to about tickets. When I saw him I introduced myself and casually asked, “Hey, Pollo, you guys givin’ away any tickets today?”
He grinned and said, “Man, I don’t have very many.” He then proceeded to pull a stack of them out of his pocket and hand me two tickets to a game in September against the Mariners. Yes!! I thanked him and headed inside to get Howie’s autograph again.
Then I headed home, straightened up the apartment with Michelle, and got ready for the game. After some confusion with some friends over who might be joining us at that evening we set out to pick up our friend Amanda before grabbing food. We ate, talked, and I dropped Michelle and Amanda off across the street at a Starbucks while I parked and got in line. Who should I see again in line? Chris and Ariana. Chris has become a pretty good ballhawk this year and you can check out his blog here. We chatted a bit about his trip to New Yankee Stadium and my trip to Kauffman Stadium and at 5:00 the gates opened and we flooded in. I was sprinting out to right field and as soon as I got up the escalator and could see the field I stopped dead in my tracks.
Yep… the cage was up but no one was hitting. Gwah?!? Oh, yes, the Angels weren’t going to hit after they amassed an amazing THREE hits with ZERO runs the night before. Ugh.
I saw BP home run catcher extraordinaire, Rob, jogging about five seconds later so I figured I’d just finish my trek up to the pavilion, beat him there, check for Easter eggs, then regroup. Boy, I would have felt dumb if I’d let Rob passed me and there were three or four baseballs sitting up there. But there weren’t any… so I simply chalk that up to a round of cardio exercise that I could get in. Nice.
The only players on the field were a few Angels pitchers. I jogged alllllll the way around to the third base line thinking there was a small chance they’d throw me a ball. No luck. The Angels didn’t hit at all.
Eventually the A’s started stretching in front of their dugout so, in preparation for their hitting I headed past the bullpens, through the center field family section, past the pavilion (again) and over to the seats near the foul pole where I saw Chris. We chatted again for a few minutes, both of us were now in our A’s gear, and FINALLY some batters started hitting. Right about that time Michelle and Amanda showed up after having made a stop at the Team Store.
I was really excited because I was sitting on ninety-nine career snagged baseballs and the next one I got was going to put me in triple digits. A’s pitchers were throwing in front of me, batters were knocking baseballs all over the field… then I saw it.
A ball trickled foul and came to rest near the wall between the A’s dugout and the foul pole. It was about ten feet to my left and ten feet to Chris’ right. We both moved toward it and I squeezed into the front row excitedly saying to the female fan near the ball, “Excuse me, can I try to get it?” I knew I could get it. I just would’ve felt bad forcing someone to move out of the way. She obliged, I leaned out and over, and I
snagged my seventy-second ball of the season and the 100th baseball I’d snagged ever.
Now I felt conflicted… I was jazzed to have snagged the ball but I was confused because I had no idea where it came from. I asked the people nearby me, including Chris, where the ball came from. Apparently, it had been hit by an A’s batter. That’s all I knew… all I still know about it. Oh, well. Nothing’s perfect. I had the ball. I let out a contented sigh.
Chris congratulated me and we both went back to work. He headed up to the pavilion (and ended up snagging one up there that I saw… I think) and I hung out around the foul pole in right field. Five minutes later a ball rolled to the warning track near the wall where the outfield seats end and there’s a big gap where the wall opens up and leads to a tunnel used for trucks and storage. There were a couple of fans that couldn’t reach the ball as I jogged up and said, “Hey, guys, let me try to grab it.”
I did. Ball #2 on the day… again, I had no idea who hit it. I had two baseballs and both were hit by the A’s and I didn’t know who hit either of them.
A few more baseballs came over my way but I couldn’t quite get a glove on anything… I had a BP homer lined up but it hit the foul pole and I missed out on it. Dang… and Trevor Cahill ignored me for about twenty minutes straight.
BP ended at 6:15 and I followed the players in toward the dugout but didn’t snag anything there. I went over to chat with the girls for a while, chugged some water (it was HOT), then saw a player signing autographs. I just missed Mark Ellis and his lousy signature but I got Adam Kennedy to sign a ticket for me and I got to talk to him for a minute about how we both gre up in Riverside, CA. He’s a big inspiration to a lot of kids who play (or played) baseball growing up out there. After that I got Cliff Pennington to sign and Brad Ziegler as well.
I watched Adam Kennedy and Mark Ellis play catch and when they finished I asked Adam for the ball. Turns out that Mark Ellis had their actual warmup ball and Adam had just pulled one out of his pocket(just to throw to the crowd… what a guy). Ellis threw me the ball he had and I yelled, “Thanks!” Then I went to change out of my sweaty A’s shirt.
And each time the Angels had two outs I ran to the dugout to try for a third out ball… but both innings ended in a strikeout and the ball got rolled back to the mound. The three of us decided to head to the View Level since the stadium was getting crowded. We found seats above third base but got kicked out of them within ten minutes.
It was 11-7 after the A’s got a run in the ninth and Brian Fuentes came on to close out the game. With one out in the ninth I ran down to just behind the Angels dugout (and I mean ran) and I tried to get a ball or something from the Halos as they came off the field before then running back up to the View Level to watch the fireworks with the ladies from our primo, home plate seats.
I didn’t catch anything after the game but can you find me in this above photo?
Angel Stadium’s Big Bang Friday fireworks are pretty fun to see. I played with the fireworks setting on my camera:
And we took a few photos together before heading out for the evening… here are the girls:
And I made sure to get a picture with the three baseballs I snagged that day.
I was exhausted when we finally got home… it had been a loooong day.
Monday: PETCO Park – Padres vs. Nationals
Wednesday: Dodger Stadium – Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks
Thanks for reading!
Now that the holiday weekend was over (and the crowds had dissipated–hopefully) it was time to hit up another game.
The Texas Rangers were in town and my Halos were locked in a tie for first place with ’em. Thankfully for Michelle and I, a division rivalry series didn’t attract as many fans as fireworks and Rally Doodle Dandy monkeys did.
We arrived at the stadium at about 4:40pm and met San Diego ballhawk, Leigh (and his girlfriend) under one of the big hats. I had two extra tickets to this game that I had planned to sell and Leigh just happened to be in the area. The masses rushed in at 5:00pm and I was the second one out to the pavilion while Michelle headed to a shady spot to read a magazine. Here was my view at the start of BP… straight ahead:
To my right:
To my left:
BP regular, Rob, was there, too… no Easter eggs were to be found but Bobby Abreu (who’d been taking fungos in right field) had just picked up a ball and was eyeing it. I ran down to the first row and asked him if he could please toss it up in a mix of English and Spanish. He gave it a pretty good inspection and then nodded to me and tossed it up! Ball #1 of the day and the 63rd of my ballhawking career. When I looked at it I could see why Abreu wanted to get rid of it:
Pretty scuffed up, lots of stains… but a perfect souvenir for any fan!
It was 5:04pm and I was on the board. It’s always a good feeling to get that first ball out of the way… it lessens the stress.
Matt Palmer, one of my favorite Angels, was shagging baseballs in center field with two other pitchers. He fielded one and looked like he wanted to play catch but the other two guys were talking to each other. He took a few mock windups then I yelled, from 18ft. up, “Hey, Matt! I’ll play catch with you.” He looked up (this was the third time I’d had a short conversation with him) and he said, “Really?” Then he started laughing… I hit my glove and held it open. He wound up and threw his best attempt at a knuckleball right to me for Ball #2 on the day! A fan near me said, “Whoa, knuckleball!” But I managed to catch it, then I took it out of my glove and got ready to throw it back to him (not knowing if he really wanted me to just keep it). Palmer looked up and then gestured that I didn’t need to throw it back. Cool! It was 5:07pm.
A few minutes later a ball was smacked up toward the pavilion by Kendry Morales. I was about six rows back from the wall and it was a line shot that I couldn’t quite catch on the fly but I was about two feet from it when it hit the seats and, luckily, it didn’t take a crazy bounce. Ball #3 was mine and it was only 5:11pm… I had high hopes for the rest of the day…
At this point in time Rob and Leigh had also gotten a ball or two and BP was starting to fill up. I knew the Rangers had some pop in their bats so they were sure to be peppering the stands with baseballs… sure enough, a few came up toward us in the seats but I was always just a bit to far from them. One took a crazy bounce over my head… one deflected off a glove in front of me, one disappeared under a pile of little kids. I was having a good time anyway. Thanks, Michelle, for snapping some photos.
Vincente Padilla picked a ball up off the track and two teenagers started begging him for it. He nonchalantly tossed it up without really looking and, though it was just to the right of me, I didn’t knock the teens out of the way. They, however, were not wearing gloves and they let the ball fall back to the field. Padilla picked it up again and as he did I asked him for it. He looked straight up at me, saw my Rangers hat, pointed, and tossed it right to me… I turned to see if the two kids were still there but they were pestering some other player already… so I kept it. Ball #4 (at 5:39pm)…
The funniest part of BP was that whenever Josh Hamilton would step up to the plate, dozens of people (including me) would move back ten to fifteen rows from where they’d been. It was Josh’s first day back from the DL… and, though he tried, he didn’t put on much of a show. I think he hit two into the seats and one to dead center (to the rocks). I wasn’t close to either of the balls hit to the pavilion. I think Rob ended up with one though.
As a matter of fact, I didn’t snag anything else for the rest of the day. It had started so well… but I did see Jason Grilli teasing some fans about throwing them a ball. One of them asked him to throw it hard (or fast?) and he proceeded to launch one over everybody to the very top of the pavilion. It was pretty funny.
BP ended about twelve minutes early so I was caught off guard (and Michelle had gone to walk around) but I managed to get down to the field in time to get Doug Mathis (no relation to the Angels’ Jeff Mathis) to sign my ticket:
I like that he signed right over Joe Saunders’ face. Ha!
Then I headed toward the dugout and sat for a minute while I tried to get in contact with my wandering wife… she was on the terrace level and was on the phone with her mom. I found her and then headed back to the dugout to try to get another autograph.
Omar Vizquel was signing from the dugout so I couldn’t toss him a ticket. I decided, “He’s probably goin’ to the Hall of Fame one day… I should really get him to sign something.” So, I took my Rangers cap out of my bag, clipped a Sharpie to it and tossed it down to him…
TA-DA! I was pretty excited about that. Omar’s been one of the best shortstops in the game for, like, twenty years. A long time… perhaps that’s why his signature is so blah… it really doesn’t look like his name at all, does it?
Michelle came down and we watched the pregame stuff happen. Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus played catch but tossed the ball to a kid twenty feet from me. We watched the first inning from the super-primo seats:
But got kicked out by the actual seatholders before it ended. We headed up to the view level (our seats were in Section 530, Row G) but we took up residence in an almost vacant section in the 400s just above first base… a decent foul ball spot.
The game was great! We were down by two after the first but Jeff Mathis knocked a three-run homer to give us the lead. Here he is after rounding the bases:
The Angels never gave up that lead. Jered Weaver pitched well and the Angels ended up with nine runs on nine hits.
We moved back down to the field for the eighth inning. I failed to get a ball from Hank Blalock as the Rangers came off the field… then we headed to the Angels dugout for the ninth.
Michelle snapped this action shot of Jarrod “Salty” Saltalamacchia fouling a pitch straight back:
The Angels beat the Rangers by five runs and were a game in front of them in the AL West by night’s end.
My next game will likely be someplace NOT in Anaheim… ooohh! I know I’m going to two games in St. Louis (on Aug. 1st, for my birthday, and 2nd) and I am 99% sure I’ll be at an Angels/A’s game in Oakland coming up on the 19th of this month. I may get to another game or two before then (or between those dates).
Originally I was going to attend this game with Michelle but one of her girlfriends was in town, so I sold the extra ticket on craigslist and headed out by myself…
Traffic was rough so I didn’t arrive at the Home Plate Gate until 4:50pm (only ten minutes before opening). There was quite a crowd due to it being a giveaway day: Rally Doodle Dandy – a beanie baby, patriotic, rally monkey. I know, exciting, right?
Normally, I’d have been pretty bummed to have to stand at the back of that line. Lucky for me, I spotted BP regular, Terry, at the front of the line and he welcomed me alongside him. YES!
I ran in, received my monkey, and was off for right field. Another BP regular, Rob, was out there as I arrived in the pavilion, already looking for Easter eggs. We both searched, found nothing, I lost a BP homer to a girl nearby… then an usher said, “Did you guys find that one that bounced around up here?” WHA–??? How could we have missed it?
Rob took off and came back a minute later; he’d snagged it. Boy, it was one of those days of BP. The Angels were hitting a few to seats. Rob got another one, that same girl got another one… I was still stuck at zero. I hassled Matt Palmer about his recent shave-job and had a brief back and forth with him. After a while an Angel righty, who I am fairly certain was Jeff Mathis, he was Caucasian, wore hi-sox, and smashed the ball toward right center… good opposite field pop (maybe Napoli, though he played in normal sock in the game), that headed toward me. I took a step down and over to my left, I was camped under it. Yes! But at the last second I see a glove rise up next to mine–the gloves touch, the ball deflects away and we both lunge for it. I get the favorable bounce and snag it as it’s falling through a seat. I look up and there’s Rob–that guy is everywhere! He ended up with, I think, four by the time BP was over. I was just excited to be on the board! And then… nothing during the O’s portion of BP… I couldn’t get Mark Hendrickson or coach Alan Dunn to toss anything to me. Some homers were hit but I couldn’t quite get to any of them. Boy, Baltimore’s got some pop in their bats… and a lot of strong lefties! I just kept missin’ by just a few rows…
I could’ve had a BP homer on the fly but I opted not to lunge across a few small kids like some middle-aged guy in the front row… I think he hit his head on a cupholder though… karma.
As BP ended at 6:30pm I still had just the one ball but I was thrilled because my streak was still alive. I’ve now attended 12 games and gotten at least one baseball at each of them. Last season my streak went up to 8… but was snapped at this game last September.
I waited to see who’d be playing catch… three pairs of Orioles played catch and I didn’t get any of those baseballs. It just wasn’t my day for snagging! I did take quite a few photos from my prime seat as the game got going:
Note: Chone Figgins – 5′ 8″, Aubrey Huff – 6′ 4″ It just made me laugh to see the two of them standing together:
I also took this pic of me with my new primate friend:
Thrilling. I was two rows behind the dugout and I figured I would just move whenever the real seatholders came along. They never did! There were four seats on the aisle in Row D that never were occupied–except by me. Any inning that ended with a strikeout, I thought, I would be sure to get a ball from rookie catcher, Matt Wieters (pronounced WEE-ters), but he kept rollin’ ’em back to the mound. BAH! But, I couldn’t complain… I’d purchased a ticket for $7.00 and I was in the best seats in the stadium, close enough to get a peek at manager Dave Trembley’s lineup cards:
The Angels got on the board first, in the bottom of the 4th with a solo blast by Bobby Abreu:
Then, the O’s tied in in the top of the 5th but my Halos came back with four runs in the bottom of the 5th, three coming from Abreu’s second homer of the night!
The Angels led 5-1, then the O’s got one back when Luke Scott homered in the 7th…
WHOA–I got so excited about Abreu’s two dingers I almost forgot to mention my second snag of the day. Kendry Morales flied out to left to end the 4th. Nolan Reimold caught it and the team started jogging in. I stood up, decked out in orange and put my glove up. I figured I had a chance even though I was a bit far from where the players were leaving the field (I was closer to home plate than first base). When he crossed the foul line Reimold looked toward me and tossed a perfect gamer right to me! Check it out:
No smudges or marks at all, really… NICE!
My snagging was officially done at that point. I’d stay at two for the rest of the game. I soaked up the game, though, and the great pitching, the homers, and the good defense by the Angels. Here’s a picture I snapped once I was able to get down into the first row:
I set my camera on the dugout, set the 10-second timer and ended up watching a play unfold as the shutter clicked.
Wow… I really look like an Orioles fan… I swear that’s actually an orange Angels T-shirt! It’s from the ’07 All-Star Game… the one where Vlad won the Home Run Derby.
Lackey pitched a strong eight innings… the Angels were up by three runs, so…
I moved to the Angels dugout for the 9th. Brian Fuentes only needed eight pitches to retire the side and record his MLB-leading 23rd save of the season! I saw a girl next to me get a bat… about five baseballs came up over the dugout–and I walked away empty-handed. No dugout luck, post-game, for me… again.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’d been doing plenty of stuff in that time… you know, getting married, moving my wife in, going on a Caribbean honeymoon cruise, etc. !!!
It was our first baseball game as a married couple… Awwwww… and, yes, that’s a Darth Vader shirt I’m wearing. I’m a nerd.
It felt great to be heading out to the Big A again. Tonight, my Angels were takin’ on the red hot Rockies… and Michelle and I got to the stadium at about 4:30pm for the 7:05 start. I guess you could say I was a little anxious. We parked, quickly walked through the lot and around to the Home Plate Gate, and here was the view when we arrived:
Cool! First in line… it was a sunny afternoon, but not too warm… and at 5:00pm the gates opened and I was off to the races. I still run out to the outfield every time I’m at BP. I’ve yet to find an Easter egg in Anaheim. Are there ever any out there?
Before I get into the details of the day any further I’d also like to mention that this was my first game with my fancy new camera: a Fujifilm FinePix S5700. It was a wedding present from Michelle and it’s awesome. I was out in right field and I saw Michelle way over along the first base side in the Terrace Level:
She’s eating chips in the photo, by the way.
BP was underway… it took a while but my first ball of the day came in the last round of Angels BP. I’d been up in the pavillion seats but for the last round (as no serious poer threats were hacking) I headed down near the foul pole in right. Gary Matthews Jr. took some swings from the left side (as a righty was pitching for the Rockies that night) and he launched one that I knew was going to be a homer. I was near the wall and I saw the ball fly off the bat, took off across a section, up five rows and looked up just in time to see the ball fly right in line with the SoCal afternoon sun… even with sunglasses on and my cap brim low I lost it in the light but I kept moving to where I thought it would land. I just hoped it wouldn’t smash down onto my skull… what a bummer that would be.
As it turns out, I had tracked its trajectory pretty well. The ball landed in about the 10th row… just a few up from where I was… it bounced off some seats and along a row. I hopped over some seats and nabbed it. My first ball of the day and my thirtieth of the season! I labeled with a 30–oops! It was my 58th career ball–I was just so excited to have met my goal I set back in this entry from October of ’08. Thirty may not be a big deal to seasoned ballhawks out there… but remember, I’m still in my first full season of ballhawking. I got in two months last year, but by MLB standards, I’m still a rookie.
The Rockies had come out and started stretching and the Angels finished hitting so I headed back up to the pavillion, now clad in a Rockies cap. I knew the lefty big boppers (Stewart, Hawpe, Helton) would be hitting and I was hoping to catch at least one homer on the fly.
After a few minutes, bullpen coach Jim Wright threw a baseball up to a girl in a Rockies jersey, then looked up for another person he could toss one to (he shook off a guy in an Angels hat, gesturing to his own jersey) and I waved. He noticed my cap and tossed up my second ball of the day. I didn’t even have to ask!
The Rockies were launching quite a few into the seats but BP had also gotten pretty crowded by that point.
Eventually, I was standing in the second row (over the ‘N’ in SPONGETECH) and a Rockies batter smashed a line drive toward the pavillion, I could tell it had a chance to make it out over that 18 ft. wall so I ran out of my row, down the aisle and cut across the first row to just about over the ‘LIGHT” of BUD LIGHT. I reached out and made a backhanded catch just in front of the wall (and in front of that guy in the red shirt (who hadn’t even seen the ball). In reality, I don’t think it really would’ve been a home run. Probably, it would have just hit off the top of the wall. Anyway, I got a few compliments on that snag and I felt good about it… it felt great to catch one in the air.
That would be my last snag of the game, however. I was fine with it. I was up to my average and I was happy to just watch the game with Michelle, eat, and play with my new camera.
Brad Hawpe connected with a pitch and knocked a three-run blast to right field just a fraction of a second before I snapped this photo:
Man, the Angels got killed… it ended up being 11-1. The Rockies pitchers only allowed three hits
, one was a homer by Kendry Morales. Here’s Morales as he touched home plate.
We had a pretty good time and by the seventh inning stretch most of the fans started to leave so Michelle and I headed down to just behind the Rockies dugout for the final innings. She took a few shots of me heading down to the dugout after the final out was recorded.
I came away empty handed:
But three more snags for the season total and I was glad to be in a stadium again.
I’m planning to be at at least one of the Angels/Orioles games next week and I’ll probably be there for a Rangers/Angels game, too.