Tagged: white sox

9/25/10 at Angel Stadium

You know, I’ve got no excuse for not getting these last couple of entries from the 2010 season up… but on the bright side, you get to read a baseball entry about a month early because I fell behind on my blogging!

Winning, anyone?

So, this game on the 25th of September out in Anaheim was the last Saturday home game the Angels would have and the last time I figured there would be guaranteed batting practice going on–so I had to be there.  Michelle came with me and, as usual, we got there early, I ran in as soon as the gates opened and I hoped for a successful day of snagging.

The Angels were hitting as I made it to the the right field seats and since there weren’t any Easter eggs around I played each of the batters hoping they would go yard.  My first chance of the day came after a blooper from one of the other ballhawks in the pavilion.  A guy who’s a regular at BP had a homer lined up and I was rushing in from his right side.  Seeing he was in position for the catch in the second row I put on the breaks and stopped about six feet from him. He had a perfect snag set up but the ball bounced off the heel of his glove and back down to the field.  He cursed at himself and walked a section to his left hanging his head…  but I could see the ball still sitting on the warning track 18 feet below me.  Reliever Michael Kohn walked over to pick it up.  I think he must have seen what had happened because after I asked him to toss the ball up he made a comment about making sure I could catch it.  I said, “Yeah, gimme your best shot!”  He lobbed an easy one up to me and sure enough, it was the bobbled ball (with just one distinct mark on it–from where it had hit the warning track).

Shortly after that the relievers ran off the field:
9.25 kohn tossup spot.JPGIn the above photo you can see Kohn in the center of the shot and the spot where I was when he threw me the ball, right there in the first row.  I was on the board for the day.  I thought briefly about offering it to my fellow snagger but I knew that if someone tried that with me I would have politely refused… so I kept the ball but agreed to give it away to a young fan later that night.

The first group of White Sox hitters were all righties and Juan Pierre (who, in ten years in the majors has hit 14 home runs) so I hung out near the foul pole in right field hoping for a slicer down the line.  A few balls came close but they all seemed just a bit out of reach.  That short wall is tough to judge sometimes.
9.25 rf pole panorama.jpgWell, eventually I got my shot off the bat of Juan Pierre.  The ball went slicing down the line, took a bounce off the wall to my left and skittered to me across the dirt of the track.  I leapt up onto the wall, leaned out over, stretched out as far as I could and made the backhanded snag.  The ball was worn, with brown and green stains all over it–but it was mine and looked perfect to me.

Despite my best efforts to snag a BP homer from the White Sox, there just weren’t more than a couple to be had and, though I made it to their dugout after BP–nothing got tossed up my way.  I sat down with Michelle and convinced her to head over to the Angels’ side with me for their pregame throwing.  It paid off…

I’ve mentioned before that Howie Kendrick and Peter Bourjos end their warmups by throwing knuckleballs to each other.  Well, on this warm evening they did just that… and as they finished Howie ended up with the ball so I stood up and yelled, “Right here, Howie!  Show me the knuckleball!”  Wouldn’t you know it?  He did… he threw a pretty darn good flutter-ball that arched over the first six rows and settled inside my black Mizuno.  Three on the day!

After the anthem I ran back over to the visiting team’s dugout as their players began throwing.  At this point in the season some September callups were in the lineup and I think that, due to my rosters, I was one of the only people in the stadium that knew that number 22 on the Sox was Brent Morel.  He’d only appeared in about 15 games for them in 2010 and as he finished throwing I called out to him for the baseball he’d been using.  I was here:white sox near cam well 9.25.JPGAnd as Morel ran to my left he tossed me the ball from the steps of the dugout, over the camera well shown here:
morel toss over cam well 9.25.JPGI tried to give the ball away to the kid in the Sox hat two photos above but he told me he didn’t want it.  So, back to my wife I went–we grabbed food and sat down to watch the game from these seats:
9.25 our seats.JPGMostly, I was hoping for an Angels win and looking forward to seeing Manny Ramirez hit for his new team.  I only got to see one of those things though…

Scott Kazmir was pitching for the Halos and he gave up five runs in less than four innings.  Ugh.  He’d earn his 15th loss of the season as the Angels, who started out well with two runs in the first, wouldn’t score for the rest of the game.  Manny laced a double off Kazmir for an RBI.  Juan Pierre got an RBI, too.  So, that was… good.  And I ended up with four baseballs–I gave away two of ’em.  But the Angels fell to 75-79 on the year and I knew the playoffs were in doubt.  still, a crowd of more than 40,000 came out to cheer on the Halos and that’s saying something.  Hopefully, 2011 will be a better year.

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3/27/10 at Camelback Ranch

My Spring Training excursion started the previous day.
sunrise.JPGFriday morning we left Orange County at 7:00 in the morning and made the drive along the 10 freeway to Arizona.  We got there around 1:00pm, put our stuff down at the hotel, and made the 10 minute walk into downtown Scottsdale.  I would have loved to catch the Angels and the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium but it was sold out so our group (which consisted of Michelle and I and four of our friends) spent the afternoon and evening at various restaurants at bars enjoying our brief Spring Break.

On Saturday morning, the morning of our trip to Camelback, Jesse (who attended a game with me on 9/2/09 at Dodger Stadium), Randy (who’d gone to a game with me on 4/8/09 and 7/27/09), and I got up and made it to the complex around 9:30am.

Camelback Ranch opens four hours prior to the day’s game, which gave us plenty of time to explore.  The facility is fantastic and sprawling.
outside stadium.JPGIn the photo above you can see the stadium gates on the left, a crowd waiting for the Dodgers to emege from their clubhouse in the center, and a body of water on the right.  A man-made river/lake separates the White Sox training facilities from the Dodgers facilities but the casual fan can roam pretty much anywhere they want.  Highlights of the morning included watching Matt Kemp hit off a tee in the batting cage:
kemp in cage.JPGWatching White Sox minor league guys practice their pitches:
white sox minor league pitchers.JPGAnd welcoming the Dodgers as they made their way from the clubhouse inside the stadium (which wouldn’t open until 11:30–bummer) to their practice field:
dodgers to field.JPGNote Manny on the tricycle for grownups.  James Loney was a bit late:
late loney.JPGI’ll go back to the White Sox minor leaguers for a minute.  Watching them warm up I snagged the only baseball I’d snag that day.  What?  I know, it kind of sucked but the stadium was sold out and I only had 30 minutes of BP to work with.

A guy named Zach Piccola had a throw from a teammate tip off his glove and land on the grassy hillside I was standing on.  I ran over and picked it up.  It was a ROMLB and I looked at the players on the field.  Piccola was looking at me and seemed to be wondering if I was going to keep the ball.  I made a gesture to communicate that I could simply give it back to him.  He didn’t seem to care too much (as there was a bag of baseballs a few feet from him.  He shrugged… I decided to toss it back to him.  I really didn’t care too much about it anyway.  I was just excited to be there.

I headed to one of the Dodger minor league fields for a minute:
dodgers minor league field b.jpgWell, after that I watched the Dodgers run some infield drills with Joe Torre standing  in the middle of the field calling plays:
infield drills dodgers.JPGAnd a little while later the three of us watched some PFP which was really cool.  We could hear everything the players and coaches said to each other and anytime a pitchers missed a grounder or a throw they had to run to the outfield wall and back… with one other guy of their choosing.
pfp 1.JPGpfp 2.JPGMost of the players picked poor Clayton Kershaw to run with them.  Pickin’ on the young guy.

At about 11:15 I went into the–well, it was kind of a foyer of the stadium.  I watched while at least a half dozen homers landed on the RF berm and were picked up by a staff member and given to little kids.
waiting to be let in camelback.JPGFinally, at 11:30 everyone was let in and I ran around to some rocks near the back of the berm checking for Easter eggs… but none were there.  It was a great place:
camelback berm bp b.jpgBut it was kind of a depressing BP.  Sure, it was great to get to run around freely without fear of smacking my thigh on an armrest, but it was so crowded and by the time we got inside the stadium there weren’t many baseballs being thrown or hit to fans.  I got close to two homers.  One came down to a sprint to the rocks between me and one other guy.  I lost.  And one bounced off the warning track and about two feet over my head as I ran to my left to try to get to it.  BP ended at 12:00pm and the guys and I past the far right field lawn:
camelback rf panorama b.jpgAnd to my seats.  The six of us (including the girls that were on their way) had seats in different sections.  While we were waiting for the ladies Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman started playing catch down the right field line and a few other Mariners started stretching.
figgins kotchman catch.JPGI didn’t get a ball but I did get Milton Bradley to sign my ticket for that day.

I went back to my seat–they were pretty great seats that Michelle and I had:
camelback our seats panorama b.jpgAnd the girls showed up at about 12:15.  We all kind of split up at that point but before the game started I got Jack Wilson to sign a card I’d brought with me.

After that I kind of just relaxed in the warm Arizona sun–actually we had shady seats–and though I tried for a third out toss or two, I really just sat with Michelle and enjoyed the game.
lopez foul.JPGmanny on first.JPGGuess what?  It was a sold out crowd of 13,000 people–lots of Dodgers fans.  I really enjoyed Camelback Ranch but the next time I go I’ll do so for a White Sox game during the week.  A Dodgers game on the last weekend of ST is just really crowded.  Camelback is a beautiful facility, for sure, and it’s totally worth checking out.
camelback end of game panorama b.jpgAfter the game (which the Dodgers won… thanks mostly to Charlie Haeger’s knuckleball) we headed back to our cars.  Michelle, Jesse, Alison, and I made a quick stop in downtown Phoenix to take a look at Chase Field:
chase field exterior.JPGWe went into Friday’s Front Row Sports Grill and took a look at the field:
front row restaurant panorama b.jpgIt looks like an amazing facility–I’m rather fond of retractable roofs–and Jesse and I vowed to come back to watch a game at some point.

Then we headed back to Scottsdale for dinner and another relaxing evening.  There was another game the next day… Giants and Padres.

9/12/09 at Angel Stadium

It was a long day.  It was a good day.  It was a fun day at the ballpark.

I left my apartment in Irvine at about 10:45am.  I got to the stadium
at five after 11:00 and met up with Chris (aka cjpyankee) at the Right
Field Gate.  We checked to see if screens were set up for BP by peering
down the tunnel in right.  Nada.  There would be no batting practice…
we found out later the players all hit in the indoor cages.  ::sigh::

I was resolute… I was going to snag a ball anyw–

Aw, man.

Where was my ticket?  I’d left it in the grasp of the sun visor of my
car… ugh.  I ran all the way across the parking lot, grabbed the
ticket out of my car… it was 11:27 and the gates would be opening in
three minutes.  The closest gate to me was on the left field end of the
park.  I headed there and, to my surprise, there was literally no one
in line!  Lucky day, huh?  A lot of Angels fans instinctively head to
the Home Plate Gate because that one opens earlier than the rest… for
night games.  For day games they all open together.  I was the first
ticket to be scanned and I ran in to the park… and saw little
action.  A couple of Angels were long tossing.  A few were stretching:
angels warming up.JPGEventually, Chris made his way over… we chatted and went wherever the
action was.  I’d seen Brian Fuentes throwing in the bullpen:
fuentes warming up.JPGHe took his baseball with him.  Jose Arredondo and Rafael Rodriguez
finished tossing their ball around and Arredondo threw it to–not me. 
Hmm… Jered Weaver finished tossing with Darren Oliver and Chris ended
up getting that one.

It’s funny, when there’s no BP there really is a lot of roaming to
do… I headed to the dugout and had a conversation with a guy in
street clothes… turns out he was a friend of Juan Rivera’s, he was
here from Venezuela, and he got to be in the dugout for some reason.

Trevor Bell had missed a throw and a ball was sitting out on the
warning track in right field.  Chris and I hovered over it until a
security guard ignored our requests and picked it up and took it away. 
Bummer… We went to the first base dugout.  No White Sox to be found
anywhere.  After that, very little happened for a while so I got myself
my designated driver wristband.

mark salas.JPGEventually, Chris and I saw Mark Salas (Chicago’s bullpen catcher)
start to make his way across the field.  We ran all the way around the
stadium to meet him out at the bullpen.  When we got there and he got
there we started up a conversation with him.  He said he’d hook us up
with something… you may notice in the photo to the left that he is holding two baseballs.  He told us if he gave them to us we’d have to give them to the little kids off to our right.  Juan Nieves and starter John Danks joined him after a
while… and then someone from the Angels gave Nieves a bunch of
baseballs to give to those aforementioned little kids.  There were
four kids and Nieves had five baseballs… the fifth one got tossed up
to me.  Cool!  No shutout–take THAT day game with no batting practice.

After that, the White Sox players FINALLY came out to the field and
started running and throwing.  I told Chris I was going to head over
there.  I went up the steps… waved to Chris… didn’t see him for the
rest of the day.

I got down to where the players were just as Gordon Beckham finished
playing catch with Chris Getz.  I called out for the ball but I was in
the second row and, unfortunately for me, the kid in front of me had
tremendous coordination.  He reached up and nabbed it.

I grabbed my free soda and found a seat:
found my seat.JPGI alternated between this seat and one other.  Hot, hot heat in
SoCal equals fans sitting in the shade… not in their super-pricey
seats.  I got pretty close to a couple of foul balls but couldn’t get a glove on either of them.

The fourth inning ended with Howie Kendrick flying out to Alex Rios in center field.  As the White Sox came off the field a few little kids rushed down to the bottom of the aisle and started asking Mark Kotsay (the first baseman) for the ball… which he didn’t have.  I kept my eye on Rios as he jogged in.  I was in the third row, standing up, and called out, “Alex!”  He tossed it right to me and a White Sox fan almost fell on me trying to get it for himself.  I made the clean catch and casually walked up to my seat about ten rows back.  This was the view (so you have an idea of how much ground I covered to get down there:
ground to cover.JPGThe older couple sitting next to me asked me if I’d gotten it.  I replied in the affirmative and the older fella asked to see it… I showed him the rubbed up gamer and then compared it to the Nieves ball.  I told them about how the balls get rubbed up for game use and how I collect them and how I give some away to kids.  They really were a great couple and they told me I had to protect them if a foul ball came near… well, nothing came near, and as the shade of our seats went away so did they.  By about the seventh inning, with the White Sox up 3-0, I decided to roam a little… I headed out to the right field corner in case either of the Angels batting left-handed decided to pull a homer down the line.
right field corner.JPGWhen A.J. Pierzynski was up I was here:
pierzynski atbat cropped smal.jpgBut he didn’t hit a homer either… but I did see my favorite usher, Barbara, out in the right field pavilion and I presented her with the Robb Quinlan ball from Thursday the 10th, telling her she could keep it or she could give it away to a little one, but she’s always been really friendly and I figured I’d trust her judgment as to what to do with the ball.

For Jermaine Dye’s at-bat I was here:
dye atbat.JPGWell, darn.  No homer.  So I went over to the bullpens.  I talked to D.J. Carrasco for a minute about this game he was playing along with Randy Williams:
carrasco game.JPGThey were tossing baseballs and trying to get them to land on the beam above their heads and stay there.  I wished ’em good luck and headed over to far right field again for the Angels portion of the eighth.  They scored twice.  But not by home run.  Darn again.  It was now 3-2… Bobby Jenks came in and recorded the last two outs of the eighth… I headed for the White Sox dugout for the end of the game and found a seat in the second row:
morales swing.JPGYou know what happened?  The Angels tied it up in the ninth!  Free baseball!

But then the White Sox scored a run on a Kevin Jepsen wild pitch (after Brian Fuentes let two men get on base while recording just one out).  It was 4-3 and the Angels couldn’t come back in the bottom of the tenth.  The game went final.  I tried to get a ball at the dugout only one came up–way to my left.  Ozzie Guillen tried to throw the lineup cards up but they hit the edge of the dugout roof and fell back inside.  Third base coach Jeff Cox picked them up a minute later but slid them to a kid who didn’t even know what they were.  :sigh::  Being an adult has it’s downsides, I guess… especially if you’re trying to collect baseball memorabilia.

Anywho, I jogged out to my car after that, doing my best to beat traffic out of the stadium.  Most of the 37,390 fans had stuck around until the end… surprising for an Anaheim crowd!

The Angels are on the road next week but I may be making it to a Dodger game or two.  Stay tuned!

5/26/09 at Angel Stadium

Man, I’ve got to get to a few other stadiums this year!  It seems like all of my entries are about Anaheim.  It is steadily becoming a second home for me…

I attended this game by myself.  Michelle was prepping for wedding things with her family and I ended up selling my extra tickets on craigslist.  I arrived at the Home Plate Gate at about 4:30pm for the 7:05 start.  When I got there, here’s how many people were around.

To my left:

IMGP3197.JPG

To my right:

IMGP3196.JPG

Behind me:

IMGP3199.JPG

And the gates in front of me:

IMGP3198.JPG
While time passed I realized that there would be a pretty light crowd for batting practice.  I remember thinking I’ve got to to better than one baseball today.  I knew this would be my last game for a while so I was hoping to have a really good time even though I was by myself.

A BP regular named Terry introduced himself to me as we were waiting for the gates to open.  He then started talking to a guy that would race out to the pavilion with me at 5:00… we ran the whole way and I stayed right on his heels.  Unfortunately, there were no Easter eggs to be found.  I did end up introducing myself and found out his name is Rob, I had seen him at nearly every BP I’d been to at Angel Stadium since last summer so it was nice to finally meet.  I owe my first ball of the day to Rob’s generosity, actually.  Kendry Morales smashed a deep drive over both our heads and we both were running for it as the ball bounced through the seats.  Rob was just a few feet ahead of me but he definitely gets the assist on this one for letting me have the ball even though he totally got to where it was first.  Thanks, Rob.  Later I saw San Diego ballhawk, TC, in the stands (who I recognized from Zack’s blog) and said hi to him, too.  I was making all kinds of new acquaintances at this game!

Terry stayed down near the foul pole but Rob, TC, and I each made a nice catch (or two) up in the pavilion during Angels BP.  I was right about BP being a lightly attended affair.  Here’s the crowd during the first half of BP:
IMGP3202.JPGRob’s in the navy blue shirt, TC’s in the black.  It did fill up a bit by the time the White Sox finished.  But, by that point I’d done the majority of my snagging for the afternoon.  I would never have expected the Angels to hit more home runs than the White Sox during batting practice but that’s the way it went.  After that first Morales snag, I didn’t have to wait long for the next one.  Again, Morales stepped into the cage (batting from the left side) and launched one about six rows deep and a section to my right.  I ran through a row and up an aisle and throw another half row and caught it on a dead run about six inches about six inches above the seats.  That one felt good!  I looked at the clock and it was 5:05pm.  Two baseballs in five minutes!  Not too shabby…

It slowed down a bit, though, and I didn’t snag another ball until the last round of Angels BP.  Erick Aybar (showing a bit more power of late) smacked one that just cleared the 18 ft. wall in right and I moved a bit to my left to catch it.  Ball #3 on the day and the 56th ball in my collection!

I figured, as the Angels headed into their dugout and the White Sox began to hit, that I’d get at least that many baseballs during their portion of BP.  They’d been hitting bombs the day before.  Nope–it’s like the Sox forgot to eat their spinach on this day.  A few homers went to left field and two or three got it near me… but I wasn’t close enough to any of them to snag ’em.  I had Jim Thome positioned perfectly but he failed to hit any homers in BP… and he’d hit at least a dozen up to the seats on Memorial Day.  ::sigh::
IMGP3204.JPGI did manage to get the attention of D.J. Carrasco (in the #53 jersey, above) after he signed a few autographs near the foul pole.  He started talking to Octavio Dotel (on the right, above), who’d been messin’ with a few Sox fans: faking tosses to them, saying he would sign ALL the autographs they wanted–from 18 ft. below them, etc. and then D.J. fielded a ball.  I called out for it from about ten rows back, “Hey, D.J., how ’bout one up here, please?”  He looked up and said, “What happened down here?” gesturing toward the Field Level seats near the pole.

“I dunno… I’ve been up here.”

He responded, “Down here, man.  A lot of foul balls to get.”

“I’ve been trying to catch home runs.  I figured you guys would be hitting a bunch out up here.”

He said something to Dotel, who looked at me and then Dotel said, “Naw… I threw one to her, and that guy over there.”  They were determining if I was worthy of being tossed a ball.  I pointed to my White Sox hat as I walked down to the edge of the wall… they saw my hat and D.J. said, “Alright, you gonna catch it?”

I told him, “You want me to go long?  Yeah, I’ll catch it.”  He laughed and I put my glove up.  He threw me a strike… and he threw it hard.  Remember that conversation for later.

Perfect.  I thanked him and told him he’d pitched well the night before.  He said, “Thanks,” and that was my fourth ball of the day.  Sweet!

BP kind of died after that… I got dissed by Matt Thornton for the second day in a row.  I even tried the, “How about a ball for another Matt?” that had worked on Matt Palmer two weeks earlier.  No luck.

IMGP3207.JPGI headed down toward the White Sox dugout as batting practice wrapped up and I saw a player signing near the camera well along the first base line.  I asked a friendly Sox fan who it was.  He told me it was Chris Getz.  As you may recall, I am a fan of this kid.  So, I determined I should try to get his autograph.  And get it I did, after wriggling through the mass of fans trying to get his attention.  It’s a little sloppy but I like the #17 he signed, when I saw him get his first hit in the big leagues last summer in Chicago he wore a different number.  Here’s his signature on my ticket stub from the game:
getz auto.jpgThen I settled in for the matchup behind the dugout.  No infielders warmed up before the first inning, so no baseball there.  And, try as I might, I couldn’t get Paul Konerko to toss me a third out ball all game long.  I was close to one but rather than trample the little kid next to me I opted to stay stuck at four.
IMGP3233.JPGIMGP3248.JPG
A lot of foul balls came near me but I couldn’t get a glove on any of them.  That’s my new goal: to catch a foul ball… as it seems that my next baseball will put my at thirty for the season (a humble goal I set for myself in April).  Foul ball, here I come.
field level angels.whitesox panorama.jpgThe game was alright… the Angels lost 4-2, which wasn’t terrible considering the slaughter they suffered the night before.  There were 38,040 fans in attendance… about 5,000 less than the previous evening.  Bobby Abreu hit his first home run of the season… maybe that’ll get him going.  Vlad got a hit, his first since coming of the DL… it was a single (BAH!).  And Joe Saunders pitched well, giving up only 3 earned runs in 6+ innings.  Bartolo Colon pitched for the White Sox (remember when he won a Cy Young Award in ’05?) and only gave up one run, and though the Angels tried to mount a comeback against the bullpen, it wasn’t meant to be.

As I was positioned behind the dugout trying to get a ball (or the lineup cards from Ozzie, which came soooo close to me) MLBallhawk, John Witt appeared next to me.  After we both didn’t snag anything at the dugout he mentioned that he was going to hang around for some autographs after the game, if possible.  He gave me a couple tips and we talked for a while.  The coolest thing that happened was that D.J. Carrasco came out and was talking to his family.  I’d seen a kid ask him for an autograph… so, I pulled the ball he’d thrown me out of my bag and walked over to him.

“Excuse me, D.J., could you sign my baseball, please?”

He said, “Sure,” and I handed him the ball and a pen.

As he was signing it I mentioned, “You actually threw me that ball during batting practice today.”

And then he said, “Yeah, I remember you–up top, right?  And you caught it!”

I laughed and replied, “Yeah!  Did you expect that I wouldn’t?”

“You’d be surprised how many fans don’t know how to handle using a glove,” he said, handing the ball back.

We laughed, I thanked him and said, “Have a good night!”

4 baseballs (and 2 autographs) at this game…
IMGP3263.JPGIt may be June 22nd before I get to another game… there’s a chance I’ll be able to get to the Padres/Angels on June 13th… I’ve got a little something to do this weekend: marry my lovely fiancee!!!  Then it’s her graduation the weekend after that and then a Caribbean cruise for the honeymoon!  So, baseball is on the backburner for a while.  Thanks for reading!

5/25/09 at Angel Stadium

red white sox hat.jpgAh, Memorial Day… at the ballpark that translates to red hats for teams that normally don’t wear them.

And remembering those that fight for our freedom.

Those hats look dumb on any team that doesn’t have red in their uniform.  Just my opinion.

OK, so Michelle and I got to the stadium early and headed in to, hopefully, have a good BP.  On this particular trip I decided to head to left field instead of right.  Big mistake.  I had thought that, since the White Sox were sending John Danks, a lefty, to the mound that the Angels righties would be pounding the ball out my way.  Nope.  No homers anywhere near me!  A couple grounders along the wall but I couldn’t snag any of them.  And I very possibly overheard a conversation about some sort of banned substance intended for Ervin Santana.  Said Orlando Mercado, bullpen catcher for the Angels, to a fan he knew, “Yeah, call your brother.  Tell him we need that pill for Santana.  He was supposed to call me three days ago.  Tell him we need that stuff.”  Sketchy, right?  The fan then got on his cell phone and called his brother, supposedly, then told Mercado that it was all set up.  If Ervin Santana gets busted for anything this season, you heard it here first.

Anywho, I got nothin’ during the Angels portion of batting practice… but Michelle snapped this photo of my efforts:
STA74021.JPGThe kid in the SALMON jersey to my right would yell, “BALL!  BALL!  BALL!” at the top of his little lungs every time a baseball was anywhere near us.  The guy in the red asked him, “That ever work for you?”  Then he told him it would help to say”please.”  Good job, sir… all our ears thank you.

I told Michelle I was heading to the pavilion in left field for the White Sox… and I went, switching hats along the way.

I was gettin’ no love in left field and it wasn’t until about 15 minutes before BP ended that I snagged my first ball of the day.  By the way, Jim Thome put on a show!  I didn’t catch any of his homers but, boy, they were all monster shots!

No, my catch came off the bat of the always-loathed-in-Anaheim A.J. Pierzynski.  I was about five rows back from the wall and I really didn’t have to move much.  I took a step or two to my left and SMACK!  The ball found my glove… I was thankful.  I’d been worried about the shutout–and a homer had sailed over my outstretched glove two minutes prior.  Sadly, this would be the only ball I snagged all day.

5.25.09 at Angel Stadium 005.JPGA coach came by and picked up ALL of these and didn’t throw any of them to anyone.  He said, “You’ll get a ball… you’ll all get a ball… because we hit a lot of homers.”  Cocky… and, c’mon… really?  I think the White Sox are just stingy.  Bummer.

You know what else was a bummer?  The fact that the Angels lost the game 17-3.  You know what’s ridiculous?  The Angels only got four hits.  The White Sox got 24 hits and three of them were home runs (and not ALL of us got one, coach!).  And, by the way, the person who ended up with Thome’s homer THREW IT BACK!  And it was a lousy throw.  Now, normally I’m like, “Sure, a visiting player hit a homer, if you want to throw it–throw it.”  I wouldn’t do it.  I’d keep it.  Or, if I had caught this particular home run, I would have given it to Thome because it was the homer that put him ahead of Mike Schmidt on the All-Time Home Run List.  13th all time!  And this $chmuck (did you know MLBlogs won’t let you type *******?) just threw it back.  Well, it was collected and taken into the White Sox dugout where, I’ll assume, it was given to Thome.  Good for him.  I’d have asked for an autographed bat or something… but that’s just me.  Enough with the hypothetical…
5.25.09 at Angel Stadium 040.JPGThe reality was that my Halos were losing, badly, despite the return of Vladimir Guerrero to the lineup.  He went 0-for-4.  Man, tearing a pectoral muscle is something I NEVER want to do… geez.  By the end of the fifth it was 14-3.  And even though there were to be fireworks after the game… people left.  Like they do.  But I don’t… you never know when something like this will happen!
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Chris Getz went two for five.  I’ll always root for Chris Getz.  Why?  Well, I happened to be at the game, last year in Chicago, when he got his first major league hit.  So I’ve got a small connection to that guy.

Michelle and I moved from “our seats” up in the 400s to “our new seats” five rows behind the White Sox dugout.  Not too shabby.  I hoped for a foul ball (still never gotten one) or a third out toss… but I had no luck.  I’d never seen them lose by 14 runs before… hooray for new experiences… ?  We stayed until the end… and I was thinking I might get a ball or something from the dugout after the game.  No luck there.  Oh well…

At least there were fireworks.
5.25.09 at Angel Stadium 061.JPG5.25.09 at Angel Stadium 056.JPG1 baseball, 43,177 people.

A fun night with my lady.

Tons of pictures.

Woo! 

Photo From My Past

Back on November 30th, 2008 I posted an entry about my fantastic year of baseball-related stuff.  Included in that entry was the photo you see below.
young matt at angels game.jpgIt’s me at a ball game back when I was roughly 10 years old… that’s what I thought, anyway.  Well, curiosity got the better of me and I started checking around to see what I could find out based on the information I could pick up from the picture.  Let me tell you, Baseball-Reference.com and Baseball Almanac.com are magical, wonderful, inspirational places to visit when you’re bored and in front of a computer.  Not only did I figure out when this picture was taken, I learned everything about the game that day.  I’d like to share it with you.

I started with me.  I look about ten or eleven.  I guessed that based on my pudgy face and the logos I saw on my shirt and hat that this game took place in 1993 or so… and obviously this game happened before Angel Stadium’s big renovation.  It’s a day game… that narrows things down a bit.  Also, The Angels are at home playing against the White Sox.  Little by little I pieced together what I could by looking at the details of this pic.  See the catcher?  Two things… enlarge the image and you can see his name ends in “RE” and he’s up out of the crouch.  So, I thought, “How many catchers did the White Sox have between 1992 and 1995 (a broad span, just to be certain)?”  Answer: one.  Michael Eugene “Mike” LaValliere whose nickname (besides Mike) was Spanky played for the Chi Sox from 1993 to 1995.  Now, why would he be up on his feet like that?  A wild pitch, maybe?  I figured that the batter looked a bit relaxed so I assumed that there was an intentional walk going on.

Are you bored?  Because this was really exciting for me to piece together.  Day game.  Angels/White Sox.  Spanky’s catching.  He only played 142 games for the White Sox and in how many of those games did a pitcher intentioally walk a batter?  And who’s the home plate umpire?  He’s wearing #33 so that helped a lot.  Man, I love old baseball stats.  And who’s that batter?  A large, right handed batter who looks to be African-American and who is worth walking intentionally…

It was like a treasure hunt.  I’ll cut to the chase:

The above picture was taken on August 7th, 1994.  Pitcher Dennis Cook is intentionally walking Bo Jackson in the 8th inning.  The ump you see is Durwood Merrill (who umped until 1999) and though you can’t see him, Harold Reynolds (who now works for ESPN) is on deck.  Tim Salmon doubled earlier in the inning and is on second base… and the third base umpire you see in the background is Joe Brinkman.

It makes sense… this crazy photo.  My uncle, who took the photo and brought me to this and many games, would never have paid for such good seats.  I’m certain we snuck down there to get a picture as Bo was batting because my uncle thought it was cool–he’s got the same last name as me.  Also, this game was on August 7th… I usually got to go to a game for my birthday which would have been that week… I would have just turned eleven.

The attendance that day was 21,921.  Not bad, right… well, at that time the stadium was still used for baseball AND football (the Rams played there) and the capacity was 64,593.  No wonder it looks so empty… plus, if OC fans were anything like they are now most of them have left by the 8th inning.  This game went 12!  It was probably a great game and I wish that I remembered it… ah, photos.  The Angels lost that day, 10-5.  The White Sox tied it at 5 in the ninth and then scored five more runs in the 12th.  Game over.  But look at that smile on my face!

Seven weeks until the World Baseball Classic!

8/12/08 at U.S. Cellular Field

This blog should have come long ago but I’ve been traveling and my access to the internet has been limited.  My second ever trip to the Windy City
(and Michelle’s first) included my first trip to a White Sox game.  I had
my Sox hat, my Royals hat, my glove (and the trick), Sharpies, Field tickets
and a lot of excitement.  I was unfamiliar with the train schedule, but we
were able to take the Red Line south from our hotel to 35th St.  From there, it was just a
quick walk across the bridge to U.S. Cellular.  Here’s what we saw as we
walked up:

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I was psyched for BP!  Michelle told me to just go do my thing and she’d
try to catch up.  Batting practice was pretty awful.  Sure, I was
thrilled to be in a new stadium, but the White Sox were only hitting for a few
minutes once I got to a spot in the outfield.  There were a ton of people
with gloves, AND the Royals just couldn’t hit any to the seats.  I decided
to head over to where I saw some pitchers (Ron Mahay and Gil Meche) shagging
fly balls and I donned my Royals cap.  Not only did they not even look up
at me when I politely asked for a ball, but they specifically threw every ball
they got back in–nobody got ANY from these two!  Long story short: I got
shut out in BP and I was really concerned that my streak of consecutive games
with at least one ball would stop at, well, one.  Come to think of it,
that’s not even a streak at all. 
Michelle and I headed to our seats in Section 129.  Here’s the
view:

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Not too shabby, eh?  Anywho, after we explored a bit, I saw some players
come out on the visiting team’s side for warm-ups.  Billy Butler, David
DeJesus, Mark Teahan, and a few others were right at the foul line in front of
our section.  I headed down to the field and couldn’t believe that
security didn’t bug me right away.  I was ten feet from the players! 
Again, however, I was shut out.  No ball… no autograph… nothin’. 
Man, those Royals are stingy… maybe I’d be in a funk too if I played for a
team that hadn’t had a winning season since 2003.  Not lookin’ any better
this year, guys.  I did get super-close to see them… here’s a photo:

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Well, the game started (at 7:11pm because the White Sox have an agreement with
a certain convenience store chain) and I was a bit dejected.  My best hope was to catch a foul ball or make
it down to a dugout to get one tossed to me. 
The game was one-sided from the beginning.  Get this–a home run, a home run, a home run,
a home run… then five more runs.  It was
ridiculous.  The Royals couldn’t put
together much of anything against Javier Vasquez (Javy, as Sox fans say).  And, in his major league debut, Chris Getz
smacked his first big league hit and nailed down his first RBI to boot.  He’s
below in the photo after being congratulated at first base by coach Harold
Baines.  The game ended up being 9-0.

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I won’t keep you in suspense… I DID get a ball.  One.  It
is the tenth ball in my collection… hooray for double digits!  It was from Ross Gload (on the right in the above picture), the only non-stingy
Royal I saw all night.  After the eighth
inning he jogged to the dugout, looked up to me standing just behind the dugout
in a royal blue cap, tossed the ball straight to me, and then probably went to
commiserate with the rest of his sub-par team. 
Man, at least they aren’t the Nationals.

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This wasn’t the best game I’d ever seen, but I did have a
blast.  It’s a great looking park, I had
an Italian Beef Sandwich, Michelle had her first Chicago-style Hot Dog… and we
both had a lot of fun just being in a new environment.  Note the kid on the right being way too interested in what’s going on with us.  It makes me laugh every time.

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Before we left, I got a picture of the grounds crew putting the tarp on the field because there was rain in the forecast for later that night.  It made for a pretty cool shot.

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I’m heading to Angel Stadium tomorrow (Saturday) to see the
Angels play the Twins, so expect another blog soon.