I totally forgot about the start time of 6:10pm. Which meant I got a late start leaving for the stadium. Which meant Id be stuck in Saturday afternoon Seattle traffic. Which meant I probably wouldnt be the first one at the gates. Which would probably cost me a baseball or two. So that sucked.
When I got to the stadium no one was there at the right field gates. It was about 35 minutes until the gates opened and I was shocked. Usually there is a small crowd by now but not today. It was in fact Easter weekend. Maybe people had better things to do than attend Mariners batting practice.
When I ran inside Jaime Navarro and Michael Pineda were in right field shagging baseballs. They usually stick the rookies in right field during batting practice because the more experienced players or the players with more seniority dont have to deal with the fans as much. Thats something you probably didnt know. Anyway. As batting practice continued there were a few baseballs hit into right field but nothing close. And since Jaime Navarro was with Michael Pineda I knew it was going to be nearly impossible to get a baseball from those two. Im pretty sure Jaime Navarro hates me. Ive spoken to him quite a few times and I usually get the cold shoulder. Mainly because Ive been saying his name wrong. I really didnt think about that until I started poking through a Mariners program left on a seat in the outfield. Ive been calling him “Jamie” and his name is pronounced ” Hy-may”. ( spelled Jaime ) Maybe he will forget my face and let by-gones be by-gones.
So as the front row slowly started to fill up with would-be ball snaggers, I dont know who hit it, but the ball was sliced gently over to the front row but didnt quite have the distance or the momentum to make it to me. I reached for it and of course the security guard had to give his two cents.
” I can’t give it to you, man. Ill get in trouble.” He said.
” Yeah, I know.” I said back. But what I wanted to say was this; ” Yeah, I know. You cant touch or pick up any baseballs because youll get in trouble or get fired. But as soon as a five year old kid comes running down here youre free to do whatever you want with the baseball. Ive heard it all before, bud. You dont have to give me a line. You can just say ” I cant give baseballs to adults.”
Of course when JAIME Navarro came walking over towards it and I asked him for a little help and he graciously waved at the security guard to just give me the baseball. HA! But you could tell in his face that he didnt want to give me the baseball. He was actually cringing at the thought. I politely thanked him anyway and wandered out of the aisle to let the others have a go.
When I got to the other side of the stadium ( It felt like hours had passed going from one end to the other ) the Athletics were coming out onto the field to start warming up. I wanted to line up behind Jerry Blevins and Brad Ziegler to try and snag an overthrow. The crowd was light so I actually had many options of who to stand behind.
The problem, as you can see, was the dorky, red-headed, security guard standing there. ( No offense to Red-heads ) He’d probably get plunked first before I caught any overthrows from Blevins. Not only that, anything down the line he would surely stick his weak little foot out to stop it from going any further. Most of those security guards have good intentions..if they’d just stay home.
Once the pitchers completed their warmup tosses for the evening I headed up the line some more to get a better angle on Hideki Matsui. Here’s a picture of him before I got closer.
After I got down there it wasnt long before Kevin Kouzmanoff walked over and started signing autographs. I easily got him to sign my ticket stub for the game and I thanked him for the awesome game of catch the day prior. He happily obliged and we parted ways. Moments later Brad Ziegler came walking by towards the dugout so I chased him down for a quick picture as he signed autographs for fans.
I climbed over a few rows of seats to get around in front of the dugout. Brad Ziegler has a great charity foundation called Pasttime for Patriots and since Im a military veteran myself I thought it would be awesome to thank him for his foundation. So I did just that and he smiled warmly at me. I also had two Army wristbands that I got while in the service that I wanted to give to him but I knew he was kind of in a hurry to get into the clubhouse to get ready for the game. So I held off on giving them to him. I figured tomorrow would be a better day since its a Sunday game and the baseball players really dont do a whole lot before the game.
After I could get in all the social activities with the Athletics I could around the infield I headed out to the outfield for some action. Unfortunatly I seriously picked the wrong spot. I was literally surrounded by little kids. Even though I had on my Athletics hat I knew that any time one of the players tossed me a baseball I would have the ever nagging urge to want to make a kids day. I didnt have a problem with giving baseballs away to kids but I also wanted to get my numbers up for my charities. I also got a picture of one of my favorite players, David DeJesus, hanging out in right field.
Everytime a baseball was hit to David this little girl would scream at the top of her lungs that she needed a baseball and that this was her first baseball game and that she’s never, ever, ever, ever gotten a baseball before and that she absolutely needs a baseball. Of course her parent(s) were no where in sight. She was just a lone renegade on a mission to get a baseball. Well, David DeJesus FINALLY threw one up to us. Luckily for me I caught it and I pointed at him in thanks. He pointed back at me and then kind of waggled his finger as an instruction to give the baseball to one of the kids standing around me. I made the mistake of pointing to the little girl beside me. David nodded and waved his glove at me. So I handed the baseball to the little girl. It did shut her up for about five minutes..but no one received a thank you. The little girl ran back to her Mother or Aunt or whoever was watching her at the time and happily exclaimed that she got a baseball. ” Did you say thank you?” The parental figure asked. ” Yes!” The little girl stated.
Now enter little girls brother. Literally crying tears and leaning on the railing claiming he will never get a baseball while the parental figure tries to calm him down made me cringe. If I got another baseball It would be my duty to hook this little kid up with it. But I refused to give a child their way because theyre throwing a temper tantrum or crying or whatever. When I was growing up I never got what I wanted by doing such. So I wasnt going to condone that type of behavior and reward it by giving up the next baseball. And Jerry Blevins came over to help DeJesus out. So I knew he would be throwing a few baseballs up into the crowd.
Now everytime a baseball came out to right field I got to hear ” My brother needs a baseball!” “Give that one to my brother! He really needs a baseball!” ” No, dont throw it in this time! Give it to my brother! This is his first game he has ever been to! He needs that baseball!”
I wanted to tear my ears off. Seriously. Her high ear piercing shrieks were giving me a headache. But there was a really good chance I could get a ball from Blevins. And the opportunity finally came. Blevins fielded a slow roller near the wall and I called out to him.
” Jerry! Would you toss that one up please!” I called out to him. Jerry looked at me and gave me one of those Johnny Cool upnods and then turned to fire it at me. He feigned the throw and then turned to fire it towards the batting practice ball bucket that was at the top of the diamond. Then without hesitation he turned laughing and pointed at me.
“Here you go!” He yelled as he fired me a strike. The ball slapped into my glove and I quickly pocketed the baseball into my pullover pockets. Yeah, I felt bad about the kid that was still crying. But the thing is…he didnt have any baseball gear on, no glove, no Mariners hat, nothing. He just sat there with his head down crying. He was making absolutely no effort to get a baseball. So I did the next best thing. I told him where and how to get a baseball. I explained Chone Figgins little pre-game routine, and I told him that just because Mark McGwire cried doesnt mean you can cry. There is no crying in baseball.
Finally batting practice came to an end. I was utterly relieved. My head was still pounding from all of those kids screaming. Since it was military appreciate day at Safeco I wandered down to the Mariners dugout to snap some pictures. It was so busy with photographers, and fans alike in that area the security guards didnt even bother to run fans out.
Here are some pictures.
After the ceremony and the National Anthem were completed, Chone Figgins started to head off the field and I quickly jumped all over that opportunity. Since there were a ton of people down in front of me and I didnt have a whole lot of room to run to get his attention I just started jumping up and down in the row I was in. He threw the baseball high and way to the right of me. So I had to reach way across my body, and stretch way out over the row of seats to catch it. I dont know if he intended to throw it to me or someone behind me but I ended up with it anyway. All I heard was ” Catch it! Here it comes! Get it! Get it!” and then when I caught it all I heard was groans of disappointment.
I sat in the outfield and ate a small personal pan pizza from one of the pizza places in the outfield. Gross. I think it made me sick to my stomach. And to make things worse here was my view for the first 30 minutes of the game.
The view was pretty bad. The sun was right in my face and I thought to myself that this would be the time when I home run ball was hit right to me. The time when I couldnt see. Aside from that, some annoying Athletics fan would say swing everytime a Mariner player was at bat and a pitch was thrown from the Athletics. It was truly annoying. The Athletics won 9-1 anyway. So after about a few innings of trash talking between the swing guy and some other Mariner fans, the Mariner fans were forced to end their trash talk when the Athletics started raking hits off Jason Vargas.
Game; April 23rd 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $9.60 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $6.00 this season.
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.
The Oakland Athletics were in town for a four gate set. I was pretty excited to see them. David DeJesus is one of my favorite players and I got to watch him a lot when he played for Kansas City. Now that he is an Athletic I will probably get to see him more. Also worth mentioning is Coco Crisp. Hes a very unique player with a very unique name ( His real name is Corvelli Crisp ) and last week he had a very unique hair style. Kind of reminds me of Oscar Gamble…
Unfortunatly for the Seattle crowd he had his hair braided. So no one got to see the big hair during the game. Maybe he will unbraid his hair again sometime during the season.
More big news. My charity project Snagging Baseballs for Puppies was featured on the Seattle Humane Society Facebook page! Check it out! I think that is really neat. I really do appreciate that and Id like to thank the staff that was behind making that happen. Its a good feeling to be able to help out. Since I love baseball and dogs so much, and I really dont have the time to own a dog myself I figured Id do the next best thing. So a special thank you goes out to the Seattle Humane Society and all those working hard to help out our furry friends. And a BIG thank you to those that have pledged towards my charity projects so far. It means a lot.
Once inside there werent any easter eggs to be scavenged. I guess the security guards are working extra hard to make sure any baseballs hit into the seats are thrown back onto the field. My competition was light but I continued to search for them anyway. You never know where one might be hiding. Ive found them tucked away under seats or in a seat…and sometimes a baseball will take a lucky bounce and end up in a cup holder. As I was looking around, Im not sure who hit it, but whoever did really mashed the ball about 15 rows up from the foul pole in foul territory. Maybe even deeper. I sprinted towards the area where it was hit and I had one other guy looking for it. All I heard was ” Its rolling down.” ” Its rolling down.” ” Its rolling down”. So I stopped hurdling seats and started to carefully walk down the aisle until I found it.
When the Mariners jogged off the field I started my way over to the third base side of the stadium. Thats generally where the opposing team starts to warm up. At least the pitchers do. There wasnt much going on except Dallas Braden missing a throw that nearly took out a blonde lady sitting in the first row. She was of course rewarded a baseball for her bravery.
Heres a picture of Brad Ziegler and Jerry Blevins who I lined up behind and hoped for an overthrow.
Jerry Blevins is the player closest to me. I didnt want to call out to him for a toss up this early because the Athletics were going to be in town for four games. So I had to keep an ace up my sleeve. Usually the players take the same spots on the field for pre-game warmups. So it would be pretty easy to get a toss up from Blevins. I got a toss up from him on Opening Day at the Coliseum. As batting practice continued I took the next picture to show how much competition was really there. As you can see in the below photo…not very much.
Down at the front of the row you can see a hulking man with long hair. He got two on the day and if you look further down the row you can see the blonde lady sitting down that nearly got pegged by Dallas Bradens throwing partner. As soon as I took this picture, ( I think Coco Crisp hit it ) there was a deep drive into foul territory. I turned to make a mad dash for it but some tall, lanky guy was standing right in my path. I was pretty much boxed in the row. The guy turned and I really expected him to give chase too. But he just stood there with his hands in his pockets in utter shock of how far the ball traveled. I felt kind of helpless.
As batting practice came to a close Gio Gonzalez was up the baseline from me signing autographs. I took this quick picture before he started running towards me.
What you dont see in this picture is by the screen that protects fans from hot line drives out of the cage were two baseballs sitting on the grass. Kind of like how I asked Tom Wilhelmsen for a baseball as he jogged off the field. Well, I used the same tactic with Gio Gonzalez. I asked really nicely and told him I appreciated it. He gathered up the baseballs and tossed me one and then another one to fan down the line. See? Without me asking for a baseball they would have just sat there for the grounds crew to scoop up and toss them in a bucket on their Gator as they picked up the batting practice equipment. So besides me getting a baseball another lucky fan got one too. It was a win win.
After batting practice came to a close I got some quick dinner and then contemplated my next move. Chone Figgins and Carlos Peguero came out to warm up, and Chone Figgins started playing catch with Adam Kennedy. I didnt even think to put on my Mariners hat ( I had switched to my A’s hat after the Mariners portion of batting practice had ended ) but If I did I would probably be talking about how I got my third baseball at this point. I stood around on the Mariners side of the stadium waiting on Chone Figgins and Adam Kennedy to get done playing catch.
That little black speck on the base line is Figgins glove. It also had a baseball inside of it. As Adam Kennedy ran off the field he looked right at me and I held up my glove. But he denied me. It probably had something to do with wearing my Athletics hat while asking. Chone Figgins also walked off the field and flipped the ball to a Mariners fan in the front row. Well, lesson learned.
After the National Anthem played I wandered back over to the Athletics side of the stadium and I tried to get Mark Ellis to throw me one but it seemed like he already had a fan picked out. The good thing is security didnt harass me at all. I think I was asked once If I had a ticket to be seated down in the lower box but I said I wasnt going to sit down here. I was only down here for pictures. Which was the truth anyway. Another good thing about Safeco is the crowd is so thin that you can literally walk through the rows from one side to the other. Instead of having to exit the seating area, walk up through the main concourse, and back down. Then you have to face security and all that jazz. So I just wandered carefully through the rows to get from first base side to third base side and vice versa.
Adam Kennedys home run was the only run of the game. The ball was hit about 10 feet to my lower left. Meanwhile, I was busy trying to check in to the game using my MLB At Bat 2011 application on my iphone. Had I been paying attention? I would have came up with that baseball. It would have been no question. Heres the video in case you want to look. Im in the white jacket walking down the aisle. I was trying to find the ball and then as I turned down the row I finally saw it. But it was too late. You can see me walking away in defeat. It was pretty sad.
After the home run by Kennedy I wandered around the stadium and finally went down into the ‘Pen. The security guards were right. Its just one big drunken party down there. Here are a few pictures I managed to take.
I think security had to tell two different guys to stop trash talking the players in the brief five minutes I was down there. Im sure security has their hands full in that area.
After that I went up to the home plate area. Since the Mariners had the lead and the A’s had one last shot at either tying the game up or scoring ahead, the game would end after the top half of the ninth if niether of those things happened. So I waited patiently for the first out to be recorded in the top of the ninth. Once the ball was in play and the second out was recorded I scooted passed security and started to make my way towards the umpire tunnel. Mark Ellis popped up to Miguel Olivo to end the game. As soon as Ellis made contact and I saw that it was a pop up I ran down to get a good position on the tunnel. About five other people started jumping seats into the Diamond Club to get closer to the umpires as they walked off the field, and security was right there to kick them out. Even AFTER the game you cant sit in the Diamond Club seating.
Ed Hickox started his decent into the tunnel and he handed one fan a baseball. I held my glove up for him to hit me but he disappeared under the tarp covering the tunnel. I stood there for an additional moment and it was like magic. All of a sudden a baseball appeared on the tarp. I quickly grabbed it with a bare hand. I really couldnt believe it. Some guy behind me said something along the lines of “Yeah, lets get four more baseballs.” Im not sure if thats what he said or if he did say it, Im not sure who he was directing it at. But anyway. Alls well that ends well.
Game; April 21st 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $7.60 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $4.75 this season.
Todays game started promptly at 6:05pm. Today was also the day that I would be attending another game but I would be looking to score my 100th career baseball to add to my collection. Talk about pressure. Anyway so I marched downstairs to eat some breakfast. The hotel provided a very nice spread and I was happy to take full advantage. On my way back to my room I managed to stumble and fall UP the stairs where I dumped some food and nearly lost the handle on my juice. Was it really going to be one of those days? Surely not.
As I arrived at the stadium that same lone security guard was again in my way. He stopped me and informed me to backup and go through the “pay” lane. I ended up having to shell out $17 bucks to park. I guess I cant complain. But the Athletics havent been to the playoffs since 2006 so parking should be A) free or B) not $17 dollars. Im just saying.
Once I made it inside where I safely parked my vehicle I started wandering around the stadium again. I took some pictures of the Athletics history. Check out these next batch of photos.
Pretty awesome stuff. Oh, I forgot to mention in yesterdays blog. As I was taking pictures and messing around with my phone Michael Saunders, Tom Wilhemsen, and Jamey Wright walked passed me. In the picture above this was where they walked by. Of course I was wearing my A’s hat so I didnt stop them for any autographs or pictures.
Here are some more pictures of Athletics history.
I bet you didnt know all of that about the Athletics. They are a pretty successful team throughout the years I will say. Thats one reason why I think they should get a new stadium. Maybe not move all the way to San Jose. But a new stadium should be in order.
Take a look at this next picture. Its the rules of the stadium. They have a lot. ( Like all stadiums ) But this particular rule sign was placed at a gate that is not used for entry. And I could not find another one like it near a gate that is used for fans to gain entry into the stadium. Here. Take a look.
Under the “not permitted” part I circled the artificial noise-maker part because during the game there were many fans that had cowbells, trumpets, drums, and other various noise making devices. And only one fan was ejected because he kept blowing his trumpet into some ladys ear. He was intoxicated so thats probably one of the main reasons why he got kicked out. Also containers carrying liquid of any kind, wouldnt that cover just about everything? Kind of redundant to …well, nevermind.
Once inside the Mariners were already on the field. Batting practice was kind of slow. There wasnt much hit into the seats but there was one baseball that I had a fairly good chance of getting. It was hit a section up from me and when I went chasing for it there were about five other people chasing after the ball too. I ran up the stairs and started hopping over the seats like a dummy. I should have just let gravity do its work and I would have had the baseball. So after I lost it I ended up catching it in the corner of my eye going back down the rows. So I started hopping back over seats and I didnt get my leg up high enough which I ended up bashing my knee right into a seat back. It pretty much knocked the wind out of me and I ended my pursuit. That hurt.
I took it easy during batting practice trying to nurse my knee a little so I ended up heading over to the left field area. Mariners bullpen coach, Jaime Navarro was out there shagging fly balls. He tossed a few to some kids but basically ignored me when I asked for one. Not one on the Mariners roster except Milton Bradley could reach the seats. So I wasnt about to go stand around in the outfield bleachers. By the time I got up there batting practice would be over.
After batting practice concluded I looked for a decent spot to wait on a foul ball. I sat over on the first base side about two sections up from the field. I thought security was going to come over and boot me out but since the stadium was not even half full they pretty much left me alone. As I sat and waited for the game to start Jason Vargas started warming up in the bullpen. So I cautiously wandered down closer for a few pictures.
By this time it was about seven minutes to game time. Not one security guard came down to run the fans out. Not even the Enforcer. I was really shocked. So I kept standing there.
Five minutes until game time. Still no security guards. I even looked over my shoulder a few times and they were all up at the top of the concourse yapping their gums off. So I just kept standing there. When Vargas was finally done warming up he tossed the ball towards the dugout and it rolled underneath the bench. I waited for the Mariner pitchers to approach the bullpen but Jaime Navarro walked over first. I asked him if he saw Vargas warm-up baseball underneath the bench and he said he couldnt see it. I was leaning over the bullpen like a jackass and the nearest security guard walked over and pushed on my shoulder slightly. I guess that was his way of telling me not to lean over the bullpen and to go find my seat.
The game was very entertaining. It was very similiar to last nights game too. The Athletics took an early lead and throughout the game their defense just fell apart. The Mariners again showed off their smart base running skills, and Chone Figgins showed off his power with a deep drive to centerfield to score Ichiro from third base. By the seventh inning the Mariners had climbed back in the game to take the lead. Unfortunately I was still without my 100th baseball. Here is how it played out.
Jason Phillips, the Mariners bullpen catcher, would throw Michael Saunders and Ichiro a warm-up baseball to play catch in between innings. Michael Saunders would play catch with Milton Bradley and Ichiro would play catch with Jason Phillips. When the Athletics were ready to take their at-bats, Ichiro and Saunders would then end their game of catch by throwing the baseballs back to Phillips. He would then remove his glove and go sit back down. I watched this all throughout yesterdays game and todays game. And what I particularly paid attention to was what Jason Phillips did with the baseballs towards the end of the game. Sure he gave one or two away during the game but he also gave away two more right before the bottom of the ninth. So in essence I was hoping and praying that the Mariners would be leading the game going into the ninth. And they were.
One other thing I paid attention to were the security guards. They walked down to the area where I would need to stand but they also run back up the stairs right before Ichiro and Saunders both threw the baseballs back to Phillips. So I had to plan this just right and act with such precision it drove me batty.
The top of the ninth came and went. Ichiro, Saunders and Bradley jogged out to their positions in the outfield. Jason Phillips took a few steps towards the foul line. He threw Saunders a baseball. The security guard wandered down to take position in front of the field. Phillips lobbed Ichiro a baseball. I waited. My heart was racing. The advertisments came to an end on the Jumbotron. Ichiro finished playing catch with Phillips and he threw the baseball back in with a high arch. ( signaling that he was finished ) The security guard slowly wandered back up the stairs. I stood up. Saunders threw his baseball back to Phillips. I made my way slowly down the stairs towards the field. As Phillips turned around I held up my glove and joined about five other Mariner fans in calling his name. He saw me and lobbed me the baseball. All I saw were other hands trying to make the catch. Barely missing by inches. I secured the baseball in my glove and gave my thanks. Number 100.
Game; April 4 2011 Seattle Mariners Vs Oakland Athletics
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
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
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