Today marked the day of a new age. A new baseball season and a new way of life. Baseball is slowly turning into a glamorous shot of reality of shot clocks, smaller strike zones and over-priced foods that barely cater to our taste buds. My favorite players were slowly fading out while the new, young rookies quickly filled their void.
I watched Albert Pujols for about 25 minutes while sitting in the lower first base seating bowl after the Mariners had taken their hacks in the batting cage. He looked tired and ready to retire, to be honest. There he stood, barely following the routine stretches that the trainer was directing. Like he had been in the Major Leagues so long that he was above all of the stretching and running and conditioning. It was for the rookies, his face said.
Eventually he picked up a baseball and played catch with Erik Aybar for about five whole minutes…
…then he stood behind the batting cage and talked to Jay Buhner for nearly the rest of batting practice. He did get into the cage, though. Pujols took about six total swings never once putting one into the bleachers. He never interacted with any fans, signed any autographs or even acknowledged our fan-existence.
I reminisced with a friend of mine about the time when Pujols was playing with the St. Louis Cardinals. Him and Matt Holiday would crush during BP. It was when I visited Coors Field for the first time some time ago and I thought it was quite impressive. The two All-Stars on the Cardinals were really putting on a show.
Now the stark reality of old age and being a veteran icon sets in. No real need to show the youngsters that you can crush BP home runs. Mostly, no one is interested in you anymore. It’s all about the Mike Trouts and the Mike Moustakas, and the Clayton Kershaws. Take a seat, Pujols.
After shagging six baseballs from around the stadium, I found myself out in centerfield. Mariners games are always a lot of fun for me, and for many years I was always happy about the food. Recently, with the rising prices of everything within in the confines of the stadium, the flavor has diminished. Maybe the flavor had been removed to pay for the new shot clock out in centerfield.
I tried a slice of pizza like always. Satisfying; killed the hunger pains immediately. Then I tried what’s called a “Baconburg”. I asked the guy what exactly a baconburg was and he replied with, “It’s a hamburger with bacon…” Ohhhhh, okay. Thanks for clarifying, smartguy. The bun was stale, the mayo seemed old and the whole thing kind of fell apart in my hands. I was not impressed to say the least.
The game itself blew by. David Freese blasted a two-run home run to centerfield to a fan who couldn’t hold on for the catch but was rewarded with the baseball anyway. Two sections over from where I was sitting. McClendon talks a big game but it feels like the Mariners are picking up right where they left off from last season. Barely any run support for their ace on the mound…and the defense is trying.
Safeco is in a unique location in Seattle…
…because we always get awesome sunsets.
The plane ride into Denver couldn’t have been any worse. I normally don’t get airsick but I really felt like I was going to lose it at any moment. But I stayed strong. Once I got into Denver I had about 50 minutes to get off the plane, get my luggage, get my rental car, and get to the stadium. Coors Field wasn’t hard to find at all. So I was able to drive the 24 miles pretty quickly. There was some heavy traffic due to an earlier accident but I was able to find parking and get inside without any trouble. Although, I didn’t make the beginning of batting practice but It really didn’t make a difference. At Coors Field the fans have to stay in the left field bleachers for the first 30 minutes of BP. Then after that they allow everyone to roam as they please. Why they have these rules? I’m not sure. Another strange rule Coors Field has is you have to stay behind row ten when around the dugouts unless you have a ticket for rows one through nine. Even during BP. A lot of people come to the stadiums seeking autographs and with that stupid rule in place its nearly impossible to accomplish any of that.
I expected to find some loose baseballs laying in the rows but there was nothing. I’m pretty sure the guards that were pretending to clean the seats scooped them all up. The way things turned out was pretty disappointing. I figured, as I stood helplessly in front of a barricaded section with just a simple yellow plastic chain, that the sections would be opened up in uniform. But no. As the Cardinals came out onto the field the security guards opened the sections one at a time. Starting with the ones on my far right. So any chance I had at finding any loose baseballs in the rows would be gobbled up by the small group of fans running down to the front row three sections over on my right. Finally my section was opened and it seemed like the guard took forever to lower the yellow plastic chain. I don’t know why the stadiums have these stupid rules in place.
I stayed on the third base side for quite sometime. But the Cardinals baseball players seemed to ignore any request for an autograph or a baseball. One guy beside me asked Eduardo Sanchez for a baseball after he was done warming up and he turned to lob it directly to a kid instead. I thought that was kind of rude because the guy asked for the ball first and wasn’t demanding at all. Then he tried to get an autograph from Ryan Franklin but was told there were no autograph signings during BP. (Which was a lie) I just couldn’t believe the attitudes the Cardinals were giving their own fans! I decided to abandon my spot on the third base side and try the first base side. But I was greeted with equal treatment from Kyle Lohse. He was busy fielding baseball after baseball in right field and denied every fans’ request for a baseball. I could see that this three game home stand between the Rockies and the Cardinals at Coors Field was going to be a tough one in regards to snagging baseballs. But some good news is that some baseballs did trickle into foul territory on the first base side so I made a mental note of that and devised a game plan for Saturdays game. The only problem with Saturdays game is that it would be Todd Helton t-shirt day. That means a larger attendance turn-out.
So that brings us to the end of batting practice. I moved in behind the Cardinals dugout with about twenty minutes left. Well, I really didn’t know how long the Cardinals would be on the field so I really had to just guess when BP would end. I didn’t want to take any chances so I made sure I was behind that dugout. Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols were busy slugging it out to see who could hit the longest BP home runs and clearly Matt Holliday is the better man. It was pure entertainment and the fans absolutely loved every minute of it. I must admit, it was quite the sight to see Holliday drop some serious bomb-age. He was putting them nearly out of the sections in deep left field.
And that was it. BP was officially over. I stood behind the dugout in hopes to get one of the coaches attention to throw some baseballs into the crowd. And at that moment Mark McGwire emerged with a couple baseballs. I was actually shocked to see him. Or maybe surprised? I really can’t explain the feeling. It was just…different to see him. Anyway. He lobbed a baseball into the crowd, and I took a few steps to my right, reached way across my body and somehow managed to catch the baseball. Unfortunately, some dude had the tips of his fingers on the baseball as I caught it and he tried to rip it free from my glove. He made some comment that Mark McGwire had intended to throw the baseball to him and I just laughed at that idea. He started to call me names and then complained to security that Mark McGwire threw him the baseball and that I should give it back. But I wasn’t about to give the baseball to him after all the name calling. And I made sure to just walk away before security insisted that I give the ball to him. All in all? I think it was a fair catch on my part, and I feel a little better about being nearly ran over by that one dude at Safeco Field that came out of nowhere on 5-5-2011 at Safeco Field Although, I didn’t appreciate being cussed at and security not stepping in sooner. But hey. You win some and you lose some. Right?
The Rockies got blown out. 10-3 was the final score but it was a very interesting game for the first four innings. It was pretty much back and forth between the two teams until Colby Rasmus got hot and drove in three runs throughout the game. I had pretty awesome seats. They were right by the right field railing on the field end of the row. And I also witnessed Ryan Spilborghs throwing multiple baseballs into the right field seats. I’m glad to say that I got to experience some time at Coors Field but after this weekend I’m also proud to say that I’m not coming back. One thing I really thought was awesome was the Batters eye and the bullpens. Take a look.
Game; May 27th 2011 St Louis Cardinals vs Colorado Rockies
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $32.80 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $14.25 this season
The Athletics were on the verge of being swept by the Cardinals. It wasnt really fun to watch. It was like a Major League team beating up on a Little League team. Quite pathetic if you ask me. Sometimes these interleague match ups are just so one-sided it makes me sick to my stomach. If the A’s wanted to win this, and avoid losing a fifth game in a row, they would have to battle hard.
Kevin Kouzmanoff was the unsung hero of this game though. He had a four for four afternoon, and put one in the seats. But Matt Holliday also hit TWO home runs into the left and left center field bleachers. I knew I should have bought tickets there! I just knew I should have! Oh well. I cant win them all. As long as Im trying though.
My first and only baseball came after the game from the pitchers that strolled in from the bullpen. Im not sure who it was so I can not give you the name. But one of the highlights was Kevin Kouzmanoff stayed well after the game to take pictures with fans, sign autographs, and just **** chat with everyone. I should have jumped on the chance to take a picture with him but I didnt. I dont know why. I could have easily got in there for a picture. I guess I just wanted to soak up the moment. Even Dallas Braden came out for a moment to see what was going on but hurried back inside the clubhouse. It was really a great series and I am glad I was apart of it.
The A’s won, by the way, 3-2.
Game; June 20th 2010 Oakland Athletics Vs St Louis Cardinals
Game Balls; One
Another glorious day at the ballpark! Busch Stadium always has something interesting going on here. Yesterday ( if youve been following along ) I was able to snag a baseball out of the garden using my glove on a string trick. Those who are ballhawking pros knows that, that trick came from Zack Hample. So I want to give credit where credit is due. I dont want to steal another mans trick and claim all the glory. So there you have it.
Today wasnt as exciting as yesterday though. It was really hot outside and I kind of just wanted to chill out. I did find some fans that had McGwire and Canseco jerseys at the stadium though. That kind of brings back memories of the 80’s and 90’s. The Bash Brothers.
As laid back as things were today I really didnt do a whole lot. I kind of chilled out in the bleachers and then I spent a lot of my time in the concourse trying to stay cool. You laugh. Im serious. As batting practice came to a close I casually strolled into the lower third base seating area like I had done this a hundred and one times. It was nothing to me anymore. I waited for the National Anthem to end and then I fixed my A’s hat back on my head. I straffed some rows and got into position. Mark Ellis again was playing his usual pre-game warm up game of catch with another player I couldnt regonize. It looked like Dallas Braden though. But I wasnt for sure. Usually pitchers dont warm up like that. But whatever.
I wasnt sure if Mark Ellis had remembered yesterday but it was still worth a shot. I made sure security wasnt going to rain on my parade and I raised my glove as Mark Ellis was finishing up. He saw me and arched a beautiful toss my way and I nabbed it. It was a lot of fun catching those baseballs.
After the catch I placed the baseball in my backpack and I headed towards my seat out in the bleachers. I watched the entire game just relaxing. It kind of felt good to just chill out and enjoy the game instead of racing around the stadium like a madman trying to catch baseballs. Dont get me wrong. Thats why I loved coming to the games but today I just wanted to rest.
Matt Holliday again put a bomb into the seats and I really started pondering if I should start sitting out there for a Holliday home run ball. Chances are if I start sitting out there he will either quit hitting home runs all together or he will start hitting them into the right field seats. Anyway. The Cardinals wont he game 4-3 after Jason Motte having to come in to rescue Ryan Franklin.
All in all I had a pretty decent time.
Game; June 19th 2010 Oakland Atheltics Vs St Louis Cardinals
Game Balls; One
This was going to be an exciting game. When was the last time I saw the Oakland Athletics play some good ol` fashion baseball? Its been a very long time. I think the last time I saw the Athletics was when I was a youngster watching Mariner games in the Seattle Kingdome.
Of course when I got inside the stadium Tony La Russa was in the outfield shagging baseballs. I offered him to throw me one and he simply told me that the batters would knock one my way. I even pleaded with money. But good ol` Tony was stubborn in his ways and refused to toss me one. So I had to wait on grounders. My typical day down the third base line turned into me running up into the bleachers in Left Field because a lot of the Athletics players were throwing baseballs at the wall to see how they would carom. Most baseballs that were thrown into the wall simply died and just dropped onto the warning track. Other players wanted to see how well the baseballs richoceted off the signs above the flower garden over the left field wall. Not very.
As the players continued to throw baseballs against the walls one was thrown against the sign. CLANG!! And the ball just dropped right into the flower garden. Fans reached, and strained to reach the ball. And even some baseball players tried to reach over and get it. They even used baseball bats to try and swat it back onto the field. As I wandered over there I started to get my glove ready to lower it down to snag the ball. I tied the shoestring onto my glove and pulled the rubber band over it as well. I inserted the Sharpie pen, and then looked around to see if security was enroute. This was my chance. I excused myself through the fans.
“Here. Let me try.” I started to gently lower the glove over the railing and I dropped it right onto the ball. I knew I had it.
” Wow!” A man exclaimed next to me as he watched.
” Youre going to me on Tv!” He said.
I reeled up the glove and pulled the baseball out. I was off to a good start. As I was walking away another ball landed in the garden and some of the fans looked to me as if ” Hey, can you get the ball?”
I sarted walking over and I noticed that security was on their way down to get the baseball. I only had maybe a few seconds to get this one. As I was putting my glove together for another attempt the security guard looked to me and shook his head. Busted. I decided against going for it even though I probably had plenty of time to get it.
As batting practice game to a close I routinely walked over to the vistors side of the house and patiently waited for the National Anthem to begin and end. As it did the Athletics began their quick warmup tosses, and stretches. I was in line with Mark Ellis as he played catch with Kevin Kouzmanoff. It was too easy. I quickly had my second baseball of the night.
Matt Holliday quickly put the Cardinals on the board with a first inning bomb into the left field seats. The Cardinals pretty much cruised to a 6-4 victory. The umpires were being stingy for some reason or maybe it was all the kids in the front rows that got the baseballs.
Game; June 18th 2010 Oakland Athletics vs St Louis Cardinals
Game Balls; two