Thanks to my lovely girlfriend for showing me how to do panoramic pictures using just my iPhone, I took this picture of outside Safeco Field on Felix Hernandez bobble head night:
From where I was standing was the start of the line to get into the ‘Pen and the line, as you can see, literally went along the stadium, underneath the overpass and back around the adjacent building and down the street. We showed up about an hour and forty minutes before the gates opened and there were about 15 people ahead of us in line. This is the latest I’ve ever showed up to a game for a bobble head and this was the end result…
…score!! King Felix Bobble heads! The crowd was enormous and there wasn’t many opportunities to snag so I headed out to the ‘Pen and hoped for something. It wasn’t long before I was able to squeeze into the front row and catch a ground rule double that bounced into the crowd and was bobbled by about four people before I finally got my glove on it. The next one came in on my right (I ended up giving up my spot) and again was bobbled by about five people before I ended up with it. Not sure who hit both. Honestly, I couldn’t wait for the game to get started so I could sit down. Waiting in line for hours on end takes a tremendous toll on me and quite frankly I’m sick of it. There’s a good chance I’m done collecting these bobble heads.
My seat was up in section 187 which sucked because I’m trying to catch a home run baseball this season. Safeco Field is huge and has lots of good areas to snag one but it’s tricky. Paying close attention to the line ups and who’s pitching generally gives good insight on where to sit. The bullpen area takes up a lot of home run territory and getting an opportunity to catch one out of there is next to impossible. A broad stroke of luck is definitely in order. The right field seating is probably the best place and obviously odds increase with low attendance. With Nelson Cruz hitting so many bombs, it was hard pressed not to just stay in the ‘Pen for the game.
I made my way over to the dugouts and took another panoramic picture:
Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre had to put on a show by mashing a barrage of home runs into the right field seats. It was quite impressive and reminded me of the games I went to at Coors Field where I watched Matt Holiday and Albert Pujols do the same thing.
With Felix Hernandez on the mound for the game, it would more than likely end in a Mariners victory.
Quick game recap: Robinson Cano scores on a sac fly from Seth Smith in the fourth. The Rangers get one back in their top half of the fifth on a ground out to Brad Miller. Mike Zunino crushed one to center field (upper deck, mind you) in the bottom of the fifth to answer back and then in the sixth inning, Miller triples in Kyle Seager and King Felix goes 8 innings, strikeouts 12 and Fernando Rodney comes in and slams the door in the Rangers faces. Boom. The game lasted three hours on the nose.
So how’s that new shot clock to speed the game up working out for everyone? The games are still going three hours plus. I asked a bunch of people on Twitter what their opinions were on the whole issue and this is what I received:
Lots and lots of good opinions that I truly respect and understand. If people have “other things to do” then maybe seeing a baseball game in the evening time isn’t going to work out. The game of baseball is a mental battle that generally takes place between the pitcher and the batter. It’s not supposed to be action packed. This isn’t football or soccer. It’s a game of wits. It takes time. Furthermore, if people have “things to do” then why do I see a vast majority of fans double fisting beer cups and getting sloppy drunk at game? I pay anywhere from $18-40 dollars for a ticket to see a game of baseball. With the rising cost of tickets, food and other concessions, I don’t want the game to be cut short because people have “things to do” or they’re bored or there isn’t enough action to entertain their feeble minds. The game will be played the way it’s played and people like Robert Manfred who try to shorten the game and change things around are a disgrace to baseball. If you don’t want to sit in a stadium for three hours watching baseball then don’t. Leave in the seventh inning or leave in the sixth. Fans who love the game shouldn’t be cheated out of their experience because bandwagon fans who show up only when the team is successful want a faster-paced game.
This movement created by pseudo-fans will soon die out when they realize they can’t speed up perfection.
The last baseball game of August 2011. The Los Angeles Angels were in town for a four-game series and I was able to attend at least one of them. I bought tickets to sit out in the outfield but I ended up spending the entire game standing in the newly refurbished ‘Pen area. It was quite interesting to say the least. It wasn’t as crowded as a weekend game though so I really had a chance to catch a home run ball. Sadly, none were hit in my direction.
When I got into the stadium it seemed like the security guards were playing extra hard to moderate who got a baseball and who didn’t. These security guards had “Alcohol Enforcement” on the back of their shirts not “Baseball Enforcement”. In my opinion it really seemed quite ridiculous to be as active as they were when it came to who got a baseball and who didn’t. Of course, they made sure every little kid within sixteen square miles got a baseball and some of the older crowd started to complain directly to them. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to let them know they were getting to me. At one point of the of the security guards out-snagged a fan to give a baseball to a kid. I thought that was pure 100% ridiculous.
Willy Mo Pena finally tossed up a baseball after minutes of yelling at him and the kid that the baseball was intended for dropped it into the centerfield gap. Like always. I stepped in before security could go down there and get it and glove tricked it out of there. I handed it off to his mother instead of the kid and told him that the next baseball he gets he needs to share. Now who’s the baseball moderator? HA!
When it was time to run up the stairs and wander the rest of the stadium I ran down to the third base seating bowl and watched an awesome show put on my Blake Beaven and Dan Cortes. If you asked Dan Cortes for a baseball he wasn’t going to toss it to you. He was going to rear back and fire some serious heat. And if you missed it? Serious injury would ensue or you wouldn’t come up with the baseball. It was really hilarious. Unfortunately, I didn’t get him to throw me one. But this guy got a couple thrown to him:
It was pretty funny. Dan really launched them at him and when the baseball hit the seats after a miss it would bounce all over the place. I thought about playing behind the guy but every time I got closer he would move farther away. So I just took the picture of him instead and let him have his fun.
The Mariners jogged off the field as the Angels came out and I decided the best place to get my second baseball of the day would be here:
Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing came my way. Not even an overthrow, missthrow, underthrow, sideways throw or a foul ball. I knew that as soon as I left my spot something would happen. I left anyway and I didn’t bother to watch over there to be disappointed. I wandered the bullpen, and the ‘Pen area, the Party deck and back around to the bullpen looking for an opportunity to snag a baseball. I finally decided to stay on the party deck for the rest of the Angels portion of batting practice. A few home runs were hit out to my general area and as soon as I ran for one a player tossed a baseball up right where I was standing. Truly frustrating. Plus I had security to deal with. They seemed to be out-snagging everyone. Including the players on the field. I felt, not only me, but other fans were truly being ripped off by these two security guards. Here was my view while standing on the party deck:
During the last few moments of BP, I got Joel Pineiro’s attention and he launched a baseball my way. Of course I had three determining factors of why I didn’t catch the baseball. 1.) Pineiro’s throw was high, 2.) Some drunk dude next to me stuck his elbow into my ribcage and, 3.) The sun was directly in my field of view. The result? One of the nicer security guards got blasted in the collar-bone by the baseball. I heard the sickening sound of a Major League Baseball connecting with human flesh and bone, and when I looked back I saw the security guard leaning against the fence covering her entire face. I thought she got hit in the nose or something. But she didn’t. And when I looked back at Joel, he was motioning to me how close I came to catching it. I just shrugged at him and motioned back with my hands signaling I missed the catch by mere inches. Heres a Seattle Mariners Security Guard Fun Fact for you; that’s the second time that specific security guard has been hit by a Joel Pineiro throw.
Batting practice came to an end and I left the ‘Pen area to find my seats. Here’s a view:
I didn’t stay here that long though. Maybe a few innings. I watched the entire game from the ‘Pen. Or the Party Deck as some like to call it. I normally don’t stand out there because it’s so crowded and anytime a baseball lands on the party deck everyone spills their beers on each other as they try to catch the baseball. The awesome part of sitting out here is look at the running room to my right…
…and check out my running room to my left…
The only bad part of the picture above is the railing in my way. But other than that, what great seats.
Here’s a picture of the Kings Court:
If you’ve never been to a Mariners game before and don’t have any idea what the “Kings Court” is, well, simply put? It’s a section at Safeco Field where fans buy a ticket in, they get a yellow “King Felix” shirt, a huge “K” sign and they all sit together. Everytime Felix Hernandez strikes someone out everyone in that section goes nuts. It’s quite entertaining. Unfortunately the crowds at Safeco Field aren’t quite as large as they were towards the start of the season. So the Kings Court was kind of wimpy during the game.
Game; August 31st 2011 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $168.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $41.80 this
I arrived at Safeco Field sitting on 198 lifetime baseballs. Well, not literally sitting on them but I have about 198 baseballs at home. Give or take a few from giving some away every once in a while. This is what I initially saw when I ran out to the party deck after receiving a very cool and stylish Seattle Mariners fleece blanket:
That’s Jason Vargas and Felix Hernandez. Vargas is on the right. I called out to both of them quite a few times and I finally got Jason Vargas to throw a baseball towards me. unfortunately, he either lost his grip on the baseball or just under/over estimated the distance and this was the result:
Can you see the baseball? It’s in the corner on the left side by the garage door lookin` thing. The ball actually bounced on the railing before it landed over there. The good news is Jason Vargas saw the whole thing go down, and he flapped his glove at me to let me know he would try again. The more good news is that the security guard on the other side of the fence also saw the whole thing and came over to get some other baseballs that were on the grass behind the centerfield wall.
I was very shocked when the security guard hooked up myself and another adult instead of every kid in the stadium. I was also shocked when five seconds later Jason Vargas whistled at me and tossed me another one. The ball in the picture above is actually my 100th baseball on the season, and the one Jason Vargas tossed me is my 200th lifetime baseball. In the Ballhawking world that’s quite a milestone. Eventually I’d like to make it to 1,000 baseballs. Since I already snagged two baseballs in under five minutes I figured I’d go chase down some loose baseballs in the seats. I headed over to the staircase and waited twenty minutes before the rest of the stadium opened up. All these people…
…were waiting in line to go up these stairs…
…and I, of course, was leading the way. Once the they allowed us entry it was a race to the top. And when I got to the top and scurried down some rows I found this:
How awesome is that? My 201st lifetime baseball. And my third of the day. And since I was already up here behind the manual scoreboard in left field I decided to play the corner. It’s always a pretty good spot mostly for toss-ups but the occasional home run ball also lands here.
Brandon League and Jeff Gray were both talking to a few WhiteSox players and Brandon League actually had a baseball in his glove but he was way too far away to call for it. I would’ve ran down there and asked Brandon for it but I had a better plan. Dan Cortes. He was also down there talking to some WhiteSox players and he also had a baseball in his glove. And the best part about it was him and I weren’t a million miles away like Brandon and I were. I knew I only had one shot at this and I had to time it just right.
As soon as Dan started to walk away I called to him. Of course he didn’t hear me right away so I called to him again. When he turned around I flapped my glove at me and he rifled a laser right to me. The ball hit off the tip of my glove, bounced once on the railing, bounced over my head, bounced twice on the seat arm rest behind me, some dude swiped at it, then it trickled down in-between the seat back and the actual seat into my glove waiting underneath. Feeeww! Talk about a close call! Or close calls! How many lucky bounces was that? Like, seven? Holy crap! I just stood there frozen as the ball bounced all over the place. I did have my glove trick ready to go, as always, so if the ball landed down into the manual scoreboard it wasn’t like I wouldn’t have been able to get it back. I was just worried that another fan would’ve grabbed it on one of those weird bounces. But no one ever got it and it never really went anywhere. I couldn’t believe it.
Do you want to read about another crazy bouncing baseball? You might as well continue reading. You’ve read this far. Okay, so after capturing my fourth ball of the day I went down to the third base side to maybe catch a grounder. This was my view:
The first baseball that came my way ended up here…
…and my competition was very little. Anything that can within my wing span would be gobbled up for sure. Ready for another crazy bouncing baseball story? The next baseball that came near me hit the fence that you can see in the above photo and then went up in the air, landed on the baseball that you can see in the above photo and ended up bouncing right to me. Can you believe THAT? The ball ricocheted off the fence, landed on the baseball sitting on the grass and ended up bouncing right to me!
Since batting practice at this point was drawing to a close I wanted to give away at least one baseball to the cutest kid I could find. I ran back down to the ‘Pen area and searched for the first cute kid I saw. unfortunately, I didn’t get a good picture of the cuteness but you could imagine how cute this little kid is. And the way he said “thank you” was even more cute.
The kid in the “Ichiro” jersey is the one I have the ball to. Lots of cuteness. Oh, and here is a picture of my 200th baseball.
Amazing. Simply amazing. I wandered around the stadium for a little while longer until all the players were off the field. I got this final picture of Juan Pierre getting his picture taken with a cute baby. See! More cuteness!
Safeco Field was full of cute babies today.
As for the Mariners game? Not so cute. The Mariners were beaten by a score of 4-2. Olivo went deep for the Mariners but Brent Lillibridge hit a monster two-run dinger to seal the deal for a WhiteSox win.
Game; August 26th 2011 Chicago WhiteSox vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $165.25 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $40.90 this
A lot has happened in the last few days. I’ve received a ton of questions about that Ichiro look-alike guy that I blogged about on 7-29-2011 at Safeco Field. Apparently he interfered with a fair ball down the first base line a couple of games ago, got the baseball, gave it to a fan and then got ejected for doing so. You can probably find the video of it on the Mariners website under highlights. Anyway. I don’t know the specifics of what his intentions are or why he does what he does. He’s probably just another huge Ichiro fan. In Seattle we get a lot of street shows so I just lumped him in with the rest. Also in my blog entry on 7-29-2011 at Safeco Field I mentioned that I had met Seth McClungs mother. Well, Seth McClung contacted me and informed me that was not his mother. Here’s how I assumed it was. The woman started rambling on about how she had a son in the Major leagues and that he played for the Milwaukee Brewers. Or was drafted by them and was in single A baseball. So I googled all and any former and current draftees by the Brewers and Seth McClungs’ name came up in all my search results. So naturally I just assumed. Not the case. I do apologize for that mistake.
Here is the Ichiro look-alike grabbing the fair ball hit by Dustin Ackley…
…and then finding out it was a fair ball…
…and then being ejected…
…even Ichiro Doppelgangers don’t stand a chance against Safeco security.
Today’s game started promptly at 1:05pm. For that reason alone I wasn’t going to attend the game because I’m on a mission to snag 200 lifetime baseballs. I only need like seven more. Plus I have a streak of 85 consecutive games of catching at least one baseball at a game. Since there is a possibly that BP wouldn’t happen it makes snagging baseballs that much harder. But I went anyway. When I ran into the stadium at 10:40am I saw this…
Holy. Crap. That’s Jack Wilson, by the way, pitching to his son. Look at all those baseballs! Sure I’d get at least one, right? His son was even hitting them over the centerfield wall. And when he did so I asked the security guard if he could possibly throw one up to me. His answer? “I can’t give them away.” Whatever, dude. I hate it when those security guards lie like that. I’d rather be ignored then lied to.
By then the centerfield party porch started to fill up and Jack Wilsons kid wasn’t able to hit anything remotely close to us. But he did have some good pop. But I did see this…
I also noticed that the batting cage equipment wasn’t behind the centerfield wall like it normally would be on a 1:05pm game. Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve attended afternoon games with batting practice before. But it’s not a normal thing. So when I noticed that the batting cage equipment was gone I quickly lined up at the stairs to be the first one down on the third base side. But then at the last-minute I noticed all the Mariner players lining up on the first base side. They all had gloves and baseballs too. You know what that meant? Long toss! I jumped out of line and ran to the other side of the ‘Pen and lined up at the other staircase. As soon as they let us go I raced down to the first base side and got behind Josh Bard and his throwing partner. As a result I nearly caught TWO overthrows simultaneously. One of them nearly bounced over the tarp and into the seats but it ended up being scooped up by a grounds crew member. He rubbed the dirt off of it and in mid-toss to me Josh Bard stopped him and took the ball back. Bummer.
But as soon as Josh Bard was done playing catch with the baseball he started to walk away and underhanded it to me. I had to jump for it a little though.
After that I ran over to line up behind Felix Hernandez and Jason Phillips.
I still really wanted a baseball from Felix and I was thinking this is as close as it’s probably going to get this season. As soon as I walked up behind them Felix lost control of his throw and the baseball sailed into the seats. I yelled “Heads up!” as loud as I could and then chased down the baseball. Of course Phillips needed the baseball back and I happily tossed it to him. He then told me to “stick around” because he was going to toss me the baseball once he and the King were done with it. Awesome! That’s what I did. I “stuck around”. Sure enough after fifteen minutes of “sticking around” Phillips tossed me the baseball. Speaking of sticking around…the ball that Felix and Phillips were playing with was so rubbed up with pine tar my fingers actually stuck to the baseball.
I waited around for more overthrows that might have occurred for maybe another ten minutes and then I walked over to the third base side of the stadium to see if I could get one of the Tampa Bay Rays players to throw one to me.
Now. Pay very close attention here. Do you see the player standing way out in center field by the “Dave” sign? That’s Dan Cortez. He just got called back up to Seattle from Triple-A Tacoma. While I was standing around waiting for some more Rays players to come out and start throwing I noticed that Dan Cortez had tried to hook up a fan with a baseball. And guess what happened? Yup! The fan bobbled it and it dropped down behind the center field wall gap. I was all over that. I ran up the stairs, sprinted around the concourse, down the stairs into the ‘Pen area and arrived at the party porch in center field. I assembled my glove for the glove trick, lowered it down, scooped up the baseball and handed it off to the nearest fan. That was number three on the day. I even welcomed Dan back to Seattle and he gave me the “rock and roll” hand signal.
When James “Big game” Shields came out to toss the baseball around I switched back to my Rays hat and wandered down to the left field corner of Safeco. Of course the game would be starting soon and I was ready to be kicked out of the section at any moment. I was surprised when it didn’t ever happen.
After James was finished playing long toss he came over and started signing autographs…
…and then he signed some more…
…and then he took a break and caught some highlights on the jumbo-tron…
…and then he signed my ticket stub…
…and then we took a picture together…
…and then the Seattle Mariners went on to win the baseball game by a score of 3-2. And they only allowed one hit!
Game; July 30th 2011 Tampa Bay Rays vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $155.80 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $38.20 this
As soon as I walked into Safeco Field there was a deep drive hit by one of the Mariners that was headed towards the Mariner’s bullpen. The ball actually cleared the bullpen and landed inside the ‘Pen area. It took a nasty bounce off the walkway, ricocheted off the back wall near the team store and then started rolling towards the stairwell that led up to the rest of the stadium. Since the ball was rolling away from me I really didn’t have a chance. My buddy Josh, who also has an account on www.Mygameballs.com , was trying to run it down. I watched the entire thing play out and it looked like some stadium employee was going to beat him out. I was kind of shocked to see a stadium employee trying to chase a baseball while a fan was trying to get it. But in the end, Josh got the ball. So it all ended well.
When I was premitted to enter the rest of the stadium I was racing down the sections towards the front row and a sharply hit line drive nearly took my head off. It bounced into the seats and bounced right back to me. I made the easy catch. It kind of reminded me when I was at AT&T Park and a ball smacked off the seats right back to me. If you want to read about that you can here. I’m really enjoying those lucky bounces.
This the view of where I stood to play foul balls. It was a really good spot and there were hardly anyone else at the stadium during BP. So I pretty much had the whole front row to myself.
See that security guard standing there? He’s a new guy. And he totally sucks at being the new guy. More on him later though. Here is a closer look at him.
Within the next twenty-minutes a bullet was hit right at me. It took one bounce on the dirt and I was able to snag it off the bounce. It came in so fast and smacked right into my glove. The small crowd behind me started to clap and I gave them a quick curtain call. It was kind of cool. I figured after that catch people would start to filter down beside me. But no one really came over. Then Jeremy Hellickson missed a throw from his throwing partner and the ball sailed into the seats. Some guy with his son picked it up and then Jeremy started yelling into the infield for someone to throw him another baseball. The guy offered the baseball to Hellickson but I didn’t see him throw it to him. So I offered my baseball as well that I had caught earlier. Hellickson told me he would throw it right back to me. So as I was pulling the ball from my bag, Jeremy tossed me one. I bare-hand caught it because I took my glove off to get a baseball from my bag. After I caught the ball I thanked him but I didn’t realize it belonged to the guy next to me. He started to put up a fuss and I asked him if it was his. I immediatly gave it back to him and he extended his hand for a handshake. I was a little embarrased for him because of how he overreacted and I explained to this adult that I wasn’t trying to take his baseball away from him. As the conversation took place a baseball was hit towards us and it bounced off the screen into the first row. I was able to bobble it enough to keep it in front of me and scoop it up. I wanted to give the ball to his son but because of the nasty attitude at first I decided to hold on to it. David Price came out of the dugout and tossed him one anyway. And then later during BP they got another one tossed to them by Jeremy Hellickson.
Josh and I decided to stand near the dugout towards the end of batting practice. Josh got J.P Howell’s attention and even got him to toss a baseball towards us. I thought Josh was going to go for it, and Josh thought I was going to go for it. It kind of reminded me when an outfielder and an infielder are both chasing after a towering pop-up and with all the crowd noise, and running towards it, both calling for it, and then at the last moment we both hit the brakes and it plunks down in front of us. That’s kind of what happened. The ball bounced off the padded wall and rolled back onto the field. And wouldn’t you know. Remember that security guard I showed a picture of earlier? He came over, picked up the ball, gave us the evil eye, and tossed it to some autograph hound. I.Couldn’t.Believe.It. J.P Howel was cool enough to toss us another one and I made sure Josh got it this time.
I wanted to get a couple pictures with some Tampa Bay Rays. I was really surprised when David Price stopped to sign autographs. So I took that opportunity to meet him and get a picture with him. He was really cool about it while laughing and joking with the crowd. Here’s the pictures that I got with David Price. (Courtesy of Josh)
Here are a couple pictures of David Price signing autographs with me trying to get into position for a picture. It was hard because there were like a million people trying to get his autograph. So I had to just be assertive otherwise it wouldn’t of happened.
Here’s one more.
Those are kind of some “behind the scenes” pictures for your viewing pleasure. After BP Josh and I headed out of the stadium to get some gormet hotdogs. If you ever come to Safeco Field make sure you get one. We got the Edgar Dog but they also have Buhner Dogs, Griffey dogs, and Felix dogs. They’re so tastey. The hotdog stand is located out in front of Qwest Field. And those tastey numbers look like this.
That’s just the basics the hotdog comes with. They have a whole table full of things you can put on your hotdog. From hot sauce, to spicey mustard, to ketchup, relish, and pickles. The list goes on and on. There is no extra charge for the goodies either and the hotdog is about $4bucks. While we were eating Josh showed me the baseball that he caught after it took a nasty bounce off one of the seats. Here’s the result of that.
Yeah. That’s a small hole that somehow the seat put into the baseball. I don’t know where the ball hit on the seat but that is pretty amazing.
The Mariners went deep four different times. Jack Cust went deep, Justin Smoak went deep and rookie Carlos Peguero went deep twice! With all those home runs not one came even close to me. The Mariners dished out 8 runs and Felix Hernandez struck out 11 to beat the Rays 8-2. It was a pretty awesome game.
When I got home I made sure to thank David Price via Twitter for the autograph. Here is his response.
|David Price (@DAVIDprice14)
6/2/11 11:17 PM
No problem! 1.2.3. Cheeeese RT @MLBwayneMLB: @DAVIDprice14 Thanks for the picture today at #SafecoField
I sincerely appreciate it.
Game; June 2nd 2011 Tampa BayRays vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $50.95 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $25.75 this
It was Felix Hernandez bobblehead giveaway day at the Safe. I figured people would be lined up at the gates at 10:00am. But when I got to the stadium there were only three people ahead of me. In fact when it was time for the gates to open there wasnt much of a line behind me. The security guards opened three gates at the right field entrance instead of the conventional two. So that allowed me to be the first one inside.
Once inside the search was on. The Mariners were already in the cage taking their hacks so there were bound to be some easter eggs in the seats. There were a few kids that were finding them and holding them up with joy. And finally after a few minutes of searching I too got to hold one up with joy. But I didnt. I took off for the third base foul line.
Batting practice was dead. The Mariners or the Indians didnt have anyone putting anything into the bleachers. It was kind of a disappointment. The Indians were reluctant to toss anything into the seats as well. So it was a tough day.
Once the game started I went up to my seat. I picked to sit in the center field bleachers for the series. That was probably the biggest mistake ever. It was so cold up there with the wind blowing and being that high off the field. I really wasnt dressed well enough either. So I knew I wouldnt last long. Here are a few pictures I took while being up there.
There was a pretty good sized crowd but I actually thought there would be more people because of the bobblehead. The attendance came out to around 30,000 people but Im betting a lot of people showed up, grabbed their bobblehead, and then just went home.
Heres a picture that I took around the fifth inning. You can see in the background that there were a lot of empty seats.
Seattle actually played a pretty good game. Doug Fister only allowed two runs and those two runs came from a throwing error by Milton Bradley. Somehow he missed the cut-off man and the ball ended up in the Cleveland dugout. Im not entirely sure how that happened. Since the game was pretty close many Mariner fans stayed to include the ones behind the dish. The place I had to get to, to try and snag my second ball on the night. Of course security was posted up again where they put out their little signs to keep people from walking down while the ball is in play.
Once I got passed security I found quickly found a seat and sat down. There was a guy behind me that told me I was blocking his view to homeplate. I kind of laughed but I moved for him anyway. Soon after that some teenager came running down and actually tried to climb over the Diamond Club seating and sit there. He was quickly escorted back up. Once Chris Perez took the mound it was a done deal. Perez slammed the door on the Mariners for his third save of the season and I scampered down to the umpire tunnel. He tossed two up but none within reach.
Game; April 9th 2011 Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners
Opening Day for the 2011 MLB season is finally here. I drove 741 miles to Oakland California to watch the Oakland Athletics home opener against the Seattle Mariners. I have never been to this stadium before and I wanted to go here before the Athletics got a new stadium. Who knows when that will be but the rumors are circulating that in 2015 they will be moving to the San Jose area. The fans I talked to about it laughed and told me that, that rumor has been around for the last five years.
I got to California Thursday evening and enjoyed some family time farther south of Oakland. It was my cousins 27th birthday and since I was in town ( or in the state rather ) I thought it would be a nice surprise to see her and the rest of my family. The birthday cake was very delicious. So compliments to the chef. Friday morning I headed back to Oakland to grab a hotel room. I stayed at the Hilton Executive Suites about 2 miles from the stadium. It was a very nice room and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay. If youre ever in Oakland stay there. Trust me.
I caught the Phillies/Astros game prior to leaving for the stadium. It was such an awesome game too. The Phillies came all the way back in the bottom of the ninth to win it with a John Mayberry Jr RBI single. Watching that game really pumped me up. I couldnt have been more ready for this game to start at the Coliseum. But I had so much time and so many photos to take.
Here are two pictures of the view from my hotel room. They view was not at all impressive but it will give you an idea of where I stayed.
Anyway. Enough clowning around in the hotel room. The sun was out and it was time to see the stadium! As I approached the front gate ( the Coliseum is very easy to get to, by the way ) there was just one lone security guard standing in my way. As I rolled down my window he was already telling me I was too early. I told him its never too early for baseball and he waved me through. I finally made it!
Since the stadium had been built in 1966 I didnt expect much. In fact I thought the stadium would be more run down than what it was. It was in pretty good condition. Even for a structure that has survived a couple of earthquakes. So there I am. Standing directly in front of this beast. Of course I had to explore the grounds and take as many pictures as possible. My first mission was to find out where the players entered and exited the stadium. Since it was an older stadium I assumed it had an underground tunnel system. Plus when the Coliseum was built they also built the Oracle.
Thats where the Golden State Warriors NBA basketball team plays. Im not sure if the Oracle was specifically built for that NBA team or what. But thats what they use it for now. As I was exploring I was interviewed by KGO newstalk 810 AM radio station. I was initially asked if I lived in this area and I said no. The conversation goes something like this;
“Do you mind if I ask you a few questions, sir?” The reporter asked.
“No, go right ahead.” I replied.
“What do you think about the 10% tax increase in the San Leandro area?” She asked. I initially thought it was a tax increase for renovations for a new stadium. But I had to ask to be sure.
“Whats the tax increase for?” I questioned.
“Its a sales tax increase.” Said the woman.
“Oh.” This wasnt about baseball at all! It was a political question and to be honest I really wasnt prepared to answer. So I didnt really give a very intelligent answer. So we will just leave it at that. The interview lasted a few more minutes and I have yet to search for it on the internet. ( If they even put it in some kind of archives file )
I continued looking for the players entrance and exit and I was quickly intercepted by another reporter. This time it was from KCBS 740 AM. This interview was actually about baseball. The reporter was interviewing fans for opening day and asking questions like; “Do you think the Athletics are going to the playoffs this year? ( No ) and do you think the Athletics should get a new stadium? ( Yes ) and how well do you think Hideki Matsui will fit into the A’s organization? ( Not very ). It was a very interesting interview and I had a lot of fun with it. The guy complimented me on my quick thinking and ability to spit stats, player bios, and baseball history. I was actually more pleased with myself that I remembered so much! He told me I was a true baseball fan. I appreciated the compliment.
After the radio interviews I came across another baseball fan. He asked me if I were from around the Oakland area ( mainly because I had my A’s hat on ) and I told him I drove all the way from Seattle to watch the home opener. ( I also explained I had my Mariners hat in my backpack )
His name is Benson and he is from Southeast Asia. he actually flies out to see Major League games and the Oakland Coliseum is his 17th Major League stadium he has been to. After this game he is flying to Cincinnati to go to Great American Ballpark and then Busch Stadium after that. I told him all the tricks and tips I knew about Busch Stadium. And some stuff about GABP. Benson had a lot of interesting knowledge to share with me about baseball where he comes from. Did you know that baseball players in Taiwan only get paid if they are a starter? Did you know that their training differs so much from American baseball that the coaches make a pitcher pitch 200-300 times to get the pitches perfect? That results in a lot of injuries. Did you know that baseball players over there get paid a tenth of what big leaguers in America get paid? Very interesting stuff.
Benson is also very knowledgeable specifically about the stadiums. Like, where the players enter and exit.
See the tunnel? Benson found that and told me about it. So I ran down here to get a picture. Thats where the players enter and exit both the Coliseum and the Oracle. Since Benson is an autograph collector ( much like I was two years ago ) he finds this stuff out just by walking around the stadium. We exchanged emails and he also told me that he got a picture of me while I was talking to the reporter for KCBS 740 AM. He told me he would email me the picture when he got home. It was pretty awesome talking with him about baseball. He has a lot of autographs from players that come out to Taiwan to play baseball.
By 3pm the game finally sold out and I was the first one in line. Thirty-minutes before the gates opened up there was virtually no one in line. Fifteen minutes prior to the gates openining up a small line started to form. The ushers confirmed that the game was sold out and they even mentioned that tomorrows game would only see about 15,000 fans. I really thought the whole series would be sold out.
Of course I was the first one inside and I started snapping pictures right away. See how the seat bottoms sort of sag in the rows? Yeah. I cant tell you how many times I bashed my legs up running through the rows trying to catch a foul ball. I had to actually give up chasing them down to save on injuries. It was that brutal. Anyway. I went into this game with 97 baseballs so I was looking for my 100th. I was only three away. As the Athletics were playing catch in the outfield and shagging fly balls a lot of fans were calling out to Jerry Blevins, one of the Athletics pitchers. I just let them do the calling and when he turned to fire a baseball our way I held up my glove and he launched me number 98. Moments later the Mariners started to come out onto the field. So I disappeared for a while to switched hats.
See the security guard in the picrure? I call him the Enforcer. He is not one to mess with. The good thing is he has a bum knee. So he is very, very slow. The slower they are the better. Thats what I say.
Once the Mariners came out onto the field it was very easy to get baseball number 99. Miguel Olivo is very responsive to the crowd and after he was done playing catch he was obviously looking to toss the baseball to someone. So I just called his name from about four rows up, held up my glove, and he underhanded me my 99th baseball of my collection. It was that easy. Now it was all about the 100th. Would it even happen today? All of a sudden it felt like someone dropped a ton of bricks on my shoulders. One baseball away from a milestone. I really wanted it to be a foul ball during the game and I had really great seats for that to happen too. I decided to run to the other side of the stadium. Batting practice was in full swing ( no pun intended ) and I had plenty of time. The awesome thing about the Coliseum is there is a concourse walkway that you can walk to get to the other side of the field and not have to cut up through the stadium like at Kauffman or Safeco. Its pretty awesome. Thats the only thing I really liked.
On the other side I saw this.
Was it really going to be this easy? Surely not. Not to spoil the rest of the blog entry but I didnt get my 100th baseball on Opening day at the Coliseum. I didnt want it to be like that because going into the next game trying to get that one baseball really puts the pressure on.
But I did enjoy watching the Mariners beat the Athletics though. Here are some pictures from the Opening Day ceremony.
Here is a picture I took during the introduction of the players. Notice all the empty seats? I guess thats sold-out Oakland style.
The Athletics took an early two-run lead thanks to Josh Willinghams two run home-run. But as the A’s defense fell apart the Mariners capitalized on all the errors and routed the A’s for the victory. Chone Figgins, who only hit one home run all season last year, blasted one into the left-field seats. It was a very well played game by the Mariners with smart base running and a powerful performance by King Felix.
The Oakland Coliseum staff needs to do some serious weeding around the seats too.
Game; April 1st 2011 Seattle Mariners Vs Oakland Athletics