Game two of the four game set between the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners. Thursday night the Mariners barely hung onto a vitcory with a 1-0 win. That was with Felix Hernandez on the mound. Tonights match up would be between Tyson Ross and Michael Pineda. Pineda seems like a strong starter for the Mariners so I expected a huge crowd tonight. But really, it was about average. So I wasnt too concerned. I figured batting practice would be a little heavy as far as competition but it really wasnt too bad.
Once inside I searched around for easter eggs but none were found. The Mariners jogged off the field about as soon as I got inside too. And the Athletics were somewhat late to start BP. So I quickly switched hats and ran over to the other side. Like I said. Not a whole lot of competition.
That was the crowd for about the next thirty minutes. Unfortunatly, niether the Mariners OR the Athletics managed to park any baseballs in any of the seats in the entire stadium. I was kind of surprised that the Athletics didnt hit more home runs during BP. They have Matsui, Pennington, Kouzmanoff, Willingham, and Crisp. All of those players have plenty of power. I guess they were working more on the mechanics of their swing than anything else. Coco Crisp put a few deep but nothing further than the warning track. He did slice one into the seats that took a ridiculous bounce off the stairs and pegged a would-be baseball chaser right in the face. I think it hit him in between the eyes. In the picture below you can see him sitting by the security guard filling out his personal information.
The next turn of events was so awesome. I moved down to the front row of the seats and really all I was waiting for was an overthrow from Bobby Cramer who was playing catch with Kevin Kouzmanoff. When they got done throwing the baseball back and forth I called out to Kevin to throw the ball to me. He was kind of standing there watching the infielders taking some fungos from Mike Gallego so I thought why not? He turned towards me and tossed the baseball to me. I made a clean catch and I quickly thanked him. Kevin started flapping his glove at me like he wanted me to throw the baseball back to him. I thought for a moment that he wanted to give me a different baseball or something. So I lobbed the baseball back to him. Then he pointed at me with his glove. So I got ready and he hurled the baseball back to me. Wow! Playing catch with Kevin Kouzmanoff?! I totally felt like I was 12 years old again playing catch with my ol` man. It was really cool! Some of the fans around me turned green with envy and started making remarks like; ” Wow, this dude is playing catch with Kevin Kouzmanoff.” And then I had an older couple behind me saying I better catch the ball everytime. I held back a smile. I wanted to play it Johnny Cool.
Kevin then zig-zagged the baseball back and forth in his hand at me which meant he wanted to throw some knuckleballs. I havent ever caught a knuckleball before and from what some catchers in the Major Leagues have said about catching them, well, theyve claimed its sometimes very difficult to catch them. He started throwing and if you have ever caught a knuckleball before, yes. They do dance around and flutter just like a butterfly. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me at first. My throws were a little off the mark partly because I was nervous and partly because I had my hoodie on with my backpack still on my back. But I think I threw some pretty sharp curveballs to him. After about five or six minutes of playing catch, he pointed at me with his index finger after he threw the baseball back to indicate that the ball was now mine and we were done playing catch. I thanked him again and I just watched him walk to the infield. Awesome.
I wandered around the stadium to the other side to watch the Athletics finish up their portion of batting practice.
Usually Mike Gallego stands on this side to hit fungos to the infielders. But he wasnt over here today for some reason. When the Athletics jogged off the field I quickly switched hats back to my Mariners and patiently waited for Adam Kennedy, Chone Figgins, and Luis Rodriguez to come out to stretch and toss the ball around. Chone Figgins has this routine he does. Let me break it down for you.
Assuming the start time is 7:10. ( Which it normally is except Saturday games. Saturday games are seemingly trending to 6:10 start times. )
6:30pm- Opposing teams batting practice ends.
6:35-6:40pm- Chone Figgins and Luis Rodriguez come out of the dugout heading towards the first base foul line.
6:40pm- Hoards of Mariner fans flood the front row seeking autographs from Figgins and Rodriguez.
6:40-6:45pm- Figgins and Rodriguez play a quick game of catch to loosen up.
6:45pm- Figgins motions to the autograph seeking fans an “In a minute” finger sign. ( No, he doesnt flip them off. )
6:50pm- Adam Kennedy comes running out of the dugout as Figgins is stretching. Rodriguez jogs back to the dugout.
6:50pm-6:55pm- Figgins starts signing autographs.
6:55pm- Adam Kennedy starts signing autographs and then quickly runs off the field with baseball inside glove. ( Good time to ask for it. )
6:55pm- Figgins runs off the field after Kennedy and tosses baseball into the crowd ( Figgins is very selective of who he tosses the ball to. )
Immediatly after Figgins tosses the baseball into the crowd I switched hats and darted over to the Athletics side of the stadium. Mark Ellis, Chad Pennington, and Daric Barton would soon emerge from their dugout to play a friendly game of catch right out in front of it. If you stand in just the right spot ( Like I did ) and as soon as they are done playing catch you can almost always count on Mark Ellis to toss the baseball to you. ( Which he did ) Ellis isnt selective or bias like Figgins is with who gets the baseball. Its more of a first come first serve basis. Which I like. So here is the picture breakdown.
Rodriguez and Figgins playing catch…
Then Luis Rodriguez comes over to sign some autographs…
Security moves in to protect Rodriguez from aggressive autograph collectors, and dangerous small children…
Adam Kennedy comes out of the dugout to start his stretch routine…
I forgot to mention that the Mariner Moose sometimes comes down this way too. So if you like socializing with mascots…
After the Mariner Moose runs by thats when all the action unfolds. Rodriguez is the first to run off the field, quickly followed by Kennedy, and then Figgins. So if you play it right you can probably come away with two baseballs down here. After that I took off towards the Athletics side where I switched hats and waited on Mark Ellis.
Here is Mark Ellis playing catch. He only throws anywhere from 5-7 throws and then he quickly returns to the dugout. So unless youre like, right there ( Like me ) you wont be able to get his attention. And security isnt that strict at Safeco like people say. You just have to avoid them and dont stand by them or anything. And if they ask if you have a ticket to be down in the area I just tell them Im taking pictures and Ill be gone before the game starts. Heres a fun fact; Mark Ellis is now tied for leading toss ups by players with Jonny Gomes and Todd Helton with three. Here is my full list.
The game was pretty awesome. Pineda put in some work and held the Athletics from scoring any runs. So did the Mariners bullpen. And Brandon League even collected his fifth save of the season. Thats quite impressive.
Game; April 22nd 2011 Oakland Athletics vs. Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $8.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $5.25 this season.