Tagged: twins

9/3/11 at Angel Stadium

I headed off to Angel Stadium for the 6:05pm game at 3:00pm, got there at about 3:25pm, and waited in line for the gates to open.  This Saturday night game would have a postgame concert after it ended (by Ne-Yo–who’s very popular, I’m told).  A big crowd was expected.  I had contemplated driving down to see the Padres play instead but decided on a game in Anaheim.  I’m glad I did.

After playing catch with a few regulars for about ten minutes I got back in line just before 4:00pm, when the gates were set to open, and readied myself for my sprint out to right field.  Typically, my routine consists of tightening and retying my shoelaces, a little bit of stretching, unzipping the pockets of my backpack (so security folks can check it quickly), and placing my ticket (bar code up) in my hand.  Well, I did all that and still wasn’t the first fan in the gates–but luckily a lot of the early arrivals to the stadium were planning to get autographs, not baseballs.  And I was all by myself for a good twenty seconds in the pavilion.  Sadly, it didn’t really help me: no Easter eggs, no toss ups, no BP blasts hit to the seats during my first moments out there.

My first baseball of the day was tossed up by rookie pitcher (and former Redlands East Valley Wildcat) Tyler Chatwood.  He threw it to me in the first row (shown above), it had the word PRACTICE stamped on its sweet spot (shown below), and I’d eventually end up giving that ball away to my favorite usher, Barbara, who’s always out in the right field pavilion.  She finds a little kid at some point during the game to give the baseballs to after I hand them off to her–and the fact that I’ve got a good reputation with the ushers around the park is certainly helpful.

Baseball #2 on the day came via Mark Trumbo and some of his opposite field pop.  The rookie righty hammered a ball that ended up bouncing in the second row of Section 238 as I and a couple other regulars closed in on it.  Lucky for me, the ball didn’t ricochet out of the row it had landed in and I grabbed it a second before the next nearest fan.

This one, too, had a practice stamp on it  (that was quite off-center), along with a blue smear over the logo.  Does anyone know how baseballs get those blue streaks and smears across the leather?

The next group of Angels started hitting soon after and in his second set of swings Russell Branyan hit four consecutive blasts into the right field seats.  The third of four came down in the tenth row of Section 239 and I nabbed that ball (again, it marked as a practice ball) as it rolled through a row.  Then, before the Angels left the field I was able to get my glove on a Bobby Abreu homer in Section 236.  I wasn’t able to catch that ball on the fly, either, but I sprinted through a full section to get to it and was nearby right as it landed and then rolled to my feet near/above the right field tunnel.  Here’s the spot where I picked it up as it bounced around:

By this point the Twins had come out to throw along the right field line and I was thinking to myself, “Wow.  Four baseballs from the Angels–that’s more than usual.”  After Matt Capps finished his warmups I was standing in the fifth row of Section 133 and held up my arms while yelling, “Matt!  Over here!”  Capps lofted the ball over the handful of fans in the first couple rows and into my waiting Mizuno for Ball #5 on the day.  And this one was commemorative!  Lately I’ve noticed that the visiting teams to Angel Stadium tend to have more of the commemorative baseballs than the Angels.

At that point I decided to play the short wall in the right field corner as there was still some space to move around along it.  After a few minutes an unknown Twin hit a ball that I was able to scoop off the track.  I gave that one to a kid nearby (he and his buddy are in the photo to the right)–and I told his friend with him that if another one came that way I would try to snag it on his behalf.

Not five minutes later, a Twins lefty smacked a fly ball our way.  At first I wasn’t sure if it would hit the grass and roll to the wall, hit the dirt and bounce over the wall, or clear the wall and end up in the seats.  I was at the wall when the ball was hit, then hen the ball was at its apex I took a step back, thinking it definitely would not hit the grass.  As it descended I came to the conclusion it wasn’t going to be a home run either–it wasn’t.  The ball hit the packed dirt of the warning track and bounced high over everyone’s head in the first row–and over mine in the second row.  I hurdled the seats behind me and snagged it in the fourth row.  Then, with a smile on my face, brought it to the second kid I’d been talking to and said, “I’m a man of my word.”  I handed the ball over and the two kids were thrilled.

A few minutes after that another lefty on the Twins hit a ball that rolled toward the wall in right field.  It was a bit to my right and there were those two kids I’d given baseballs to, reaching out for the ball but not coming close.  The ball settled about six inches out from the short wall and after they each tried their hardest to get it, I asked if I could give it a shot.  Since I was, “The guy who gave us the baseballs,” they moved aside and I was able to stretch out and pluck the ball off the warning track.  That one, as it turned out, was commemorative–and almost brand new.  Karma, everyone, if you do something nice it tends to work its way back to you.  The two kids had baseballs and I ended up with a commemorative one for myself.  Here’s Ball #8:

And at about that point BP was winding down–as it ended I ran to the Twins’ dugout and as Nate Dammann jogged into the dugout he flipped me a beat up and stained commemorative baseball!

That made 362 baseballs in my lifetime and that one from Dammann was my ninth on the evening.  A new record for me!  I’d previously snagged eight on two separate occasions and now I had pushed my record one step closer to double digits!

I thought I had a really good shot to get there, too, since I still had pregame warmups and the entire game to get one more ball.  But wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t snag another for the rest of the night!

I tried to get one from the Angels after they did their throwing.  I tried to get a ball from either first baseman (Mark Trumbo and Luke Hughes), I tried to get a foul ball… and all I got was a lot of exercise.

The game was pretty exciting though.  The Angels got out to a quick lead when Trumbo hit his first career grand slam (and his 25th homer of the season) off Twins starter Brian Duensing in the first inning.

The way Jered Weaver had been pitching all year everyone in the stadium was sure that would be all the offense the Halos needed.  But the Twins got three runs in the second and three more in the fourth–and that tied the game at six.  Weaver definitely wasn’t at his best.

Vernon Wells smacked a solo homer in the fifth to put the Angels up for good–and they’d add three more runs in the sixth with a home run, an error, a single, another single, and a double.  10-6 was the final and Weaver got the win–but he didn’t look great.  5IP, 8H, 6ER, and 3BB to go with his eight strikeouts.  The bullpen shut the Twins down though.  Mike Trout had three hits and six of the nine starters had at least one RBI.  The win put the Angels 3 1/2 games behind Texas AND there was a post-game concert on tap: Ne-Yo.

Apparently he’s a pretty big deal.  This was the final concert of the Summer Concert Series and girls go crazy for this dude.

I’d heard maybe one of the songs he sang on the radio but I’d at least heard of him before so I’m not totally uncool.  I watched as Angels and Twins players and their families took in the show from their corresponding dugout.  Howie Kendrick and Ervin Santana played with their kids on the grass–it was cute.  And I left before Ne-Yo’s last song so I could beat the traffic.  It was a record-setting night for me–but that double-digit game has still eluded me–we’ll see if I can make it happen before the end of the season.

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8/3/11 at Angel Stadium

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the ball, BTW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rob!  Nice snag on the fly, dude!

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

Then, I went and found a seat here:

And then here:

No third out baseballs came my way…

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

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

7/24/09 at Angel Stadium

So, while I didn’t plan to go to the game on Thursday until the day before, it led to me going to this game… just as unexpectedly.  Here’s how it went down…

At the game on 7/23 I’d heard an announcement that said Angels outfielder Reggie Willits would be signing autographs at a store in the Tustin Marketplace… which is about ten minutes or so from where I live.  After the game that night I told Michelle, “I have some free time tomorrow.  I think I’ll go to the signing, Reggie’s a fun player to watch.”  I thought it would be cool to have his autograph (and as I found out the last time I’d attended a signing, there are often cool giveaways).

Well, at 11:00am on Friday the 24th I headed to the Marketplace and waited in line and got Reggie Willits to sign two ticket stubs from 2007 (when he was third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting) and posed for this picture with him:
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I also got a few coupons, some baseball cards, and four tickets to that night’s game against the Twins!

I called Michelle, who was running some crucial errands, and told her that I wanted to at least go to batting practice… and maybe stay for a few innings.  We had dinner plans for that night a bit later on in the evening.  I tried to get rid of some of the other tickets, too… and I did… eventually.  The plan was that I’d hit up BP and leave the game so I could be home by 8:30pm for dinner… she was cooking.  I love my wife!

At 4:30pm I was outside the Home Plate Gate with, yet again, hopes of snagging a Metrodome commemorative baseball.  While in line talking to BP regular, Terry, I’d mentioned the extra tickets I had and he suggested I try to give them (or sell them) back to the box office… I headed over there and saw a young couple in the ticket line.

“Hey, are you two about to buy tickets?” I asked them.

“Yeah.  Why?” the guy said.

“Well, here.  How about you guys just take these?  I’ve got these extra tickets that were a giveaway earlier.  I’m not gonna use ’em.  Why don’t you guys take them?”

“Wha-”  They are both stunned.  “Really?”

“Yeah, really.  Here you go.”  And I handed them over.  “Enjoy the game.”  I saw them later during BP… I was glad to help out a young couple.  It felt good!
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On to batting practice… I ran in and the Angels were actually hitting!  Whew.

Knowing that the Twins were starting lefty, Francisco Liriano (and therefore, nearly all the Angels would be batting from the right side) I decided to head to the right field foul pole to play for slicers and bouncers down the line.  My strategy paid off.
bp right field lower cropped.jpgNo, I didn’t get a player to toss me that ball sitting on the grass.  I did, however, judge a slicing ground rule double pretty well.  Some Angel righty lofted one high in the air and, while people jockeyed for position along the wall to scoop it up, I ran back a few rows, thinking it would hit the warning track.  It did–and took a hop even over MY head and into an empty row.  After a couple of settling bounces I snagged it before anyone else was anywhere near me.  That was the 77th ball in my collection.

About five minutes later Robb Quinlan was hitting and knocked a ball down the right field line.  It had enough momentum to get to the short wall near the pole so I positioned myself, jumped up, hung over the wall, reached out–

–and snagged it while it was still moving, just before it hit the wall.  I had timed it perfectly… think of it like the inverse of an outfielder leaping up to take away a home run–kind of.  Baseball #2 on the day!

The Twins started hitting and they had a few lefties that I knew could hit some bombs so I headed up to the pavilion.  It was, by that point, pretty crowded up there:
DSCF3093.JPGBefore too long I snagged another ball from the friendly arm of Matt Guerrier.  He fielded one in right and I called out, asked him by name, said “please” and he tossed it up.  Boy, even Major League players have trouble throwing a ball UP to someone… first Chris Coghlan down in SD… now Guerrier.  His throw sailed wide… luckily, I was able to move five feet to my right and reach out as far as I could to catch the ball right in front of a lady’s face.  She was about 45 years old and had been looking the other way and never saw the ball.  Another facial contusion prevented by a humble baseball collector. 

A left-handed Twins hitter (Caucasian; not Morneau or Mauer) was launching a few to the seats.  He hit one deep to right field and I knew it was gonna make it out… I started running to my right.  Like, full on sprinting through the ninth row from the wall.  I raced through a full section and half of another one and made the catch!  Lo and behold, I can still actually catch home runs in BP… it had been a while.  My last homer caught on the fly was on June 22nd when the Angels played the Rockies.  I was up to four baseballs on the day!

BP ended soon after that catch (the Twins stopped hitting at 6:10pm–usually BP lasts until at least 6:20.  I jogged down to the visiting team’s dugout and waited for the game to start.  I was just one person and there were a ton of open seats.  I watched the Angels warm up across the field.  Chone Figgins threw with Howie Kendrick:
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Here’s Brandon Wood talking to Justin Morneau…I like to assume he’s asking him for some pointers on how to play first base:
DSCF3117.JPGBetween the time I got there and the time I left (during the fourth inning) I probably moved four or five times.  I was even told by an usher while I was stupidly sitting in the first row  (don’t do it–the ushers know the season seatholders… you’re more likely to get kicked out if you’re up in the front) that I should return to my ticketed seat.  I didn’t… and it paid off.

Bobby Abreu was caught attempting to steal second base in the bottom of the third inning.  It caught everyone a bit off guard but I knew that was the third out–and that the second baseman, Alexi Casilla, still had the ball.  As the Twins jogged off the field I was right on the other side of the dugout and I called out for the ball.  There was a teenager on my right, a girl, and she was just yelling and begging for the ball–she didn’t even know who had it.  After Morneau was out of sight, she went, “Aww…” and then Casilla, probably not used to having the inning ending ball, was reminded by a teammate that he should toss it to the crowd.  Well, it was just me and this girl… Casilla turned his back to the stands and tossed the ball up in the air.  I was taller (and had a glove on) so I got it.  I would have probably given it to this girl but as the ball got thrown, she yelled, “NO!” and pulled my right arm down to keep me from getting it.  How rude!  Then she had the audacity to ask me, after I’d caught it, “Can I have that ball?”  No “please.”  I looked at her and said, “No,” and left the section.

1.  Don’t grab other people to prevent them from getting a baseball.
2.  Don’t, then, ask them for the ball you just tried to prevent them from getting.

How rude.

Anyway, I watched a few more minutes of the game from the Terrace Level:
3rd inning terrace level cropped.jpgThe Angels had already scored two runs on a homer by Robb Quinlan and Joe Mauer hit a homer (his first of two on the night) a moment before I snapped this photo:
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…with one out in the top of the fourth inning–there weren’t going to be any no hitters to be seen this evening in Anaheim and it was about time for me to leave anyway.  I gathered up my things as Mauer rounded the bases and made the walk through the concourse, down the ramp, past the usher (who was handing out coupons for a free taco from Del Taco) and out into the parking lot through the Left Field Gate:DSCF3150.JPG
The sun had just set and the sky was beautiful.  I really wasn’t used to leaving the stadium at this time.  I made sure to take a panorama of the sky and the park as I left for the night after a great time enjoying a summer afternoon/evening viewing the national pasttime:
left field gate sunset.jpgI called Michelle and said I’d be home for dinner at 8:30, as planned, walked to my car, and listened to the game on the way home.  The Angels would end up winning 6-5.  Five baseballs in a BP session and 3+ innings and goin’ home to a freshly cooked meal… not a bad night.

7/23/09 at Angel Stadium

I really didn’t have any intention of going to this game until about 36 hours before it actually happened.  July 23rd happened to be the birthday of a good friend of mine named Garrett (who you might remember me mentioning in this entry from back in May).  He didn’t have any big plans when I called him up so Michelle and I invited Garrett and his roommate, Julian, also a good friend, down to the OC for some baseball action.  I found some cheap tickets on StubHub and the plan was set: Michelle and I would go to batting practice and the guys would drive down from L.A. for the start of the game.  We were psyched to spend an evening with friends and I was extra jazzed because I hoped to snag a Twins Metrodome commemorative baseball.  I hoped that they’d brought a few with them on the road trip.

We got to the stadium at 4:45pm (ugh… traffic) and got a surprisingly good spot in line. When the Home Plate Gate opened I ran out to right field but on my way I stopped mid-stride.  There was nobody hitting!

But the cage was up…

But there was nobody hitting!

But–  Oh, what the heck!?!  I ran the rest of the way out to the pavilion anyway hoping to find an Easter Egg.  Sure, the one day that the Angels aren’t hitting (I later realized they got in from their roadtrip at about 3:00am, hence the lack of BP) is the day most of my competiton is nowhere to be seen for the first five minutes.  Look:
DSCF3002.JPGFour fans, three ushers.  Not including me… I was the first one out there.  I took this photo after I’d checked… no baseballs to be found.

My favorite usher did welcome me by laughing at me (my rush out to the pavilion only to be sorely disappointed seemed to amuse her) but otherwise the first fifteen minutes in the park were uneventful.  I snuck past the field level ushers and down to the Twins dugout where I attempted to get a ball from Brendan Harris.  He tossed it over my head… but then the Twins started hitting!  My first ball of the day was a foul ball by a right-handed Twins player.  I didn’t see who because, for once in my batting practice life I actually wasn’t paying attention to the batter at all!  I was making my way back down the first base line toward the outfield in preparation to ask a pitcher or two for their warmup ball.  I was in the first row and I heard a THUNK a few rows behind me and about twenty feet closer to the foul pole.  I knew that sound!  A ball had hit one of the seats and, could it be?  No one else had paid attention to it.  I rushed over as people turned their attention from the field to the mysterious source of that THUNK (and the guy running toward where the sound had come from) and I pulled baseball #1 of the day (and #75 in my lifetime collection) from its spot stuck in the seat.  Not commemorative.  😦

A few minutes later I asked infielder Brian Buscher if he could please spare a baseball.  I used his first name and said please and he pulled a ball out of his back pocket and flipped it to me.  Simple.  Easy.

Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer were hitting with the second group so I ran up to the pavilion and, get this, I couldn’t snag a ball for the rest of BP.  I was just a bit off when homers were hit.  I saw a few go right over my head when I thought I’d lined ’em up perfectly.  Bah!

Anywho, I watched the Twins end BP early and run off the field.  I ran over to Michelle and told her I was headin’ back down by the dugouts.  And before you knew it I was here:
DSCF3007.JPGHey, what’s that out there on the batter’s eye?  Well, the Angels had revealed the 2010 All-Star Game logo that day–there it is:
DSCF3006.JPGOooh!  Anyway, Michelle came and met me on the Terrace Level after I watched some Angels players warm up:
DSCF3018.JPGDSCF3019.JPGThen we hung out and waited for Garrett and Julian to show up… we knew they were going to be a little late (ugh… traffic).  Here’s the view:
third base terrace cropped.jpgWe got kicked out of those seats a few minutes after that photo was taken so we took a walk and decided we were hungry.  We went to Beach Pit BBQ, in my opinion it’s the best food Angel Stadium has to offer.  We sat down in deeeep left field to eat our meals.  Delicious, and the view wasn’t bad either:
left field lower cropped.jpgAfter the first inning our friends called us.  They were at the Left Field Gate so we met them there and then headed up to the View Level… our seatswere waaayyy up in the nosebleeds but I’d seen some decent seats in a nearly empty section and THAT’S where we stayed for the whole game:
Not too shabby.  The game was great!  The Angels trailed from the first inning, 3-0.  They made i
t close with two runs in the bottom of the fifth but the Twins scored again in the sixth.  Going into the bottom of the ninth the score was 5-3 Twins.

DSCF3075.JPGJoe Nathan was in the game with his under 1.30 ERA.  It wasn’t looking good for the Angels.  By this time we had all moved down to the Field Level (at Garrett’s request) to watch how the game ended.  Gary Matthews Jr. and Howie Kendrick provided RBI singles in the ninth inning to tie the game!  Kendrick hit was a lucky miracle dribbler up the middle that Nathan got a glove on.  It rolled toward second and shortstop Nick Punto was all set to snag it and step on the bag to end the game but it hit the base and he couldn’t get a hand on it!  Mike Napoli scored from third and we had some free baseball coming up!  I was thrilled!  Like, literally, I thought the game was over because there were two outs, two strikes, and that little roller was sure to be nabbed for the last out.  I was right behind the Twins dugout thinking I might get a baseball tossed–but this comeback was way better!  I ran back up to the group and high-fived the guys and Michelle.  Brian Fuentes came in and shut down the Twins in the top of the tenth.  About half of the 38,145 were still around in the bottom of the tenth when Mike Napoli doubled home Chone Figgins to win the game!  We were there–it was awesome!  The Angels came back AGAIN against an All-Star closer this time.  One thing I can tell any Angels fan reading this is: don’t leave early.  Especially with this team, you never know what’s gonna happen.

We had an usher take our picture after the game:
STA74460.JPGFrom left to right: Julian, Michelle, me, Garrett

Then we headed back to the cars… it was a great birthday night for Garrett (who turned 23 on the 23rd = golden birthday) with the Halos winning a tight game.

The two baseballs I snagged in BP:
DSCF3085.JPGAnd wouldn’t you know it–I’d be heading out to the stadium AGAIN rather soon…

8/23/08 at Angel Stadium

Back home in California after more than a week exploring the Midwest…
My attendance at this game was a bit unexpected.  Brendan, a college buddy of mine, was visiting the area from San Francisco.  On Friday he mentioned that we should catch a game so I logged in at StubHub to find some seats for the next day.  I found some for about twenty bucks a piece for the six of us that were going.  Here’s a picture of all of us:
STA72969b.jpgFrom left to right: Brendan, Sophie (his girlfriend), Katie, Josh (her boyfriend), Michelle (my fiancee), me.
So, print-at-home tickets in hand, Michelle and I left Irvine at about 2:45pm for the game.  The plan was for Brendan and Josh to each call Michelle when they got to the stadium because we all knew I’d be running around frantically trying to snag baseballs.  We were in line at 3:30 or so and at this point I’d like to point out that I am new to these baseball snagging ways.  Since we didn’t decide to go to this game until the day before it happened, I found myself without a Twins hat… I rooted through all my baseball gear and found the closest Twins memorabilia I had.  A 2007 Johan Santana All-Star T-shirt.  To try to better my chances at getting balls from the Twins I decided to fashion a makeshift hat using a navy blue Angels cap I already owned.  I printed out a Twins logo and taped it over the Angels logo.  Sure, it didn’t look perfect but from 100 feet away I was sure it would fool the average ballplayer.  Here I am outside the park before BP started (you can see the orange Santana shirt in my hand):
STA72937b.jpgAs soon as I was inside I rushed to the left field seats to see if I could find a ball that’d been hit out before the gates had opened.  No luck there, but I was able to get a great spot right next to the foul pole in left, where quite a few liners bounce around.  Plus, K-Rod, Ervin Santana, and a few other pitchers were throwing around that spot.  I didn’t have to wait too long for my first ball of the day.  Before Michelle had caught up to me (she met Josh and Katie just after the gates opened to give them their tickets) a line drive bounced off the short wall in foul territory and rolled right toward the pole… and me.  A security guard was nearby, just waiting to throw the ball back to the infield, but I was able to lean out and over and pick the ball up in my glove just before it stopped rolling.
A note about the security folks at Angel Stadium: They HAVE to throw balls that stop on the playing field back in to the infield to be reused.  They aren’t just being jerks if they won’t give you a ball.  There are two instances in which they are allowed to give fans baseballs.  1. When the ball has gone into the stands and then out onto the field again (bouncebacks, ricochets).  2. When the ball goes into an out-of-play area like a maintainence tunnel, bullpen, etc.  Most of the security folks are pretty nice if you talk to them… but they just have to do their job.
I saw the Twins start to head out onto the field and the Angels weren’t hittin’ more to the stands in left so I figured I’d ask the pitchers to give me a ball (a longshot since there were so many little kids around me).  Just then, a liner came down the line, bounced into the stands thirty feet to my right and I heard gasps.  Apparently, a kid of about ten (who didn’t seem to have a glove with him) had gotten hit in the torso by it.  He looked like he was OK, but he was rubbing his shoulder a bit.  A few Angels saw it happen and Steve Soliz walked over to the kid and handed him a ball.  I thought, “Cool, how nice for that kid.”  Then K-Rod (who would record his 49th save that night) walked over and gave the kid ANOTHER ball!  At that point I was thinking, “Dude!  He gets two balls for not paying attention to what’s happening on the field and not having a glove?!?”  I guess I’m just getting bitter in my old age… of twenty-five.
No worries, it was time to change clothes anyway.  I went from red hat and red shirt to navy blue (faux Twins) hat and orange shirt.  I hoped that it would pay divedends.  As Josh, Katie, Michelle and I headed over to the right field bleachers an Angel Stadium usher said to me, “Whoa… go easy on us tonight.  You guys have already won two in a row.”  We all had a good laugh at that… at least my gear had fooled ONE person.
Once we were in right field I noticed that most of the Twins shagging balls were wearing the cover-ups ballplayers have during BP that cover their numbers.  It was tough to recognize most of them, but after a few minutes a Caucasian Twins player tossed a ball to me after I asked quite politely:  Any chance I could have that ball, please, sir?”  It pays to be polite!  He was right-handed.  I think it might have been Scott Baker or maybe Adam Everett.  It was at that point that I remembered that I didn’t know who had hit me my first ball… it was a right-hander and at that point Howie Kendrick, Robb Quinlan, and Gary Matthews Jr. had been batting.  Who knows?
Brendan and Sophie showed up at that point and batting practice was over after I failed to get a ball from Joe Nathan… who was throwing most of them up to fans.  Dang.  We headed up to our seats in Section 427.  Here’s the view:
STA72940b.jpgI had planned to move down closer to the field late in the game (which ended up being 5-7 Angels) but I was having a great time with all of my friends so I kind of forgot about it until the end of the eighth inning.  I had already tied my record so I decided to stay put and just relax and savor a Halos win.
The game was great!  It was 1-6 at one point but the Twins made it close with four runs in the fifth.  Jon Garland and Nick Blackburn both exited before the sixth and Mark Teixeira hit a line drive homer late in the game (it hit the top of the short wall in right) to make it 5-7… that’s how it stayed.  Woo!  Fireworks… then a walk to the cars.  We didn’t even need the Rally Monkey.
STA72964b.jpgI might make it to another Angels game this week… but we’re moving Michelle from one apartment to another before school starts up… so I might not make it to a game until Sept. and I have a trip to PETCO lined up!