Ahhh! Baseball is back! And since I missed the Mariners home opener, I figured a nice first game of the year on Wednesday would suffice! And it was truly remarkable and one to remember! There were a couple big reasons why I wanted to attend this game. The number one reason was to meet Bud Norris. If you’re following me on Twitter, you’ll know I tweet at him a lot concerning the fact that he’s been able to keep Angels Slugger Albert Pujols to a ridiculously low batting average. Which I find that incredible. Also, here’s a little back story on Norris. When I was out in St. Louis, I sort of met him at Busch Stadium. He came out of the stadium after the game and signed a few autographs and I was able to snag an autograph from him. I started following him from then on and he’s made amazing progress in his career through hard work and determination. This year, Norris got the opening day nod for the Houston Astros.
The other reason why I wanted to attend this game was to gauge how the Astros play in the American League. I’m sure by now everyone knows that the Astros moved from the N.L Central to the A.L West and so far they’ve adapted quite nicely. I’m slowly becoming an Astros fan, believe it or not. Yeah, yeah, my loyalty still lies with Seattle just because I was raised in the area for 90% of my life and grew up watching the Mariners in the Kingdome, but every once in a while I like to shift my loyalty to other teams and especially to my favorite players.
A few days prior to this game, I decided to come up with some alternative charity ideas because this year I’m not chasing baseballs in stadiums like I have in the past. Those days are probably in the books, folks. It was fun while it lasted. The reason behind my decision (not like anyone cares) to stop chasing baseballs like a mad man is because I want to enjoy my time at the stadium. I want to try different foods and catch up with friends and talk to people and take awesome pictures and not worry so much about how many baseballs I can snag. So this year, I’m donating money to certain charities. Here’s the breakdown:
For every Mariners win (on the road and at home) I will donate $1.00 to the Seattle Humane Society. I created Snagging Baseballs for Puppies, just so you know, so I’m a huge dog lover AND I’ve got inside connections with the Seattle Humane Society because of that.
For every win that Bud Norris puts up, I will be donating $2.00 to the Candle Lighters. And the Candle Lighters is a charity that Norris is involved in. So I’m pretty stoked to be able to donate some cash towards that. Also, in conjunction to every win he posts, I’ll be donating $50 for every shut out win he throws!
And finally, for every baseball Shawn Bosman snags, I’ll be donating .10 cents to the Wounded Warrior Project.
This year is going to be awesome! So let’s get to Safeco, shall we?
So I’m down on the lower level, right? The Astros are starting to trickle out and I’m looking for Bud Norris! I couldn’t find him anywhere for the better part of batting practice. And then, he appeared out of the dugout! I was standing next to two Astros fans but it wasn’t hard to spot him. I pointed at him and sort of waved and got an awesome wave back! So now all I had to do was wait. I wanted to ask Norris in person how he’s able to handle Pujols so well!
I wandered around in the lower seating bowl and snapped a few pictures of the new Edgar’s restaurant (which I visited later) and of the new big screen. Here’s the shot of Edgar’s:
Pretty awesome, right?? Well it was equally impressive walking around in there. The only thing I didn’t like is that they took out the seats. It’s basically standing room only in there and I since my knees are shot from tens years of military service, I can’t stand on my feet for an entire baseball game. Which sucks because I’d love to stand in there and watch a game. It’s all good, though. I had incredible seats behind the Astros dugout, anyway.
So batting practice was about to finish up, the grounds crew started pulling the BP equipment up and then the Astros started to run off the field. The four of us who were standing down the third base line started to yell and wave our arms at Norris and he came running over! Oh, it was awesome! I’d finally get my chance to meet this guy and ask him all about King Albert in person! Norris came over and started shaking hands and he signed an autograph or two and then I asked:
“Bud, so I have to ask you. In all seriousness, how do you manage to tame Albert Pujols?” I asked.
You see…for two seasons now, I’ve been tweeting to Bud about Pujols. Honestly, I am really impressed how he’s able to handle him. I even wrote up an amazing blog entry on A View From the Bullpen regarding Norris and his ability to wreck Pujols batting average. Click here to read it.
As soon as I asked him that question, I received a second handshake from him sort of like, “Oh, YOU’RE the guy who tweets me about Pujols!” Norris responded smiling, “I get that question from everyone.” he then added, “Pujols is a very aggressive first-pitch hitter, isn’t he.” he said.
“Yeah, he is. He is indeed.” I said. “So you just sort of go after that.” I continued.
I think he then said something along the lines of exploiting his [Pujols] weakness or something like that. And it makes total sense! If you really watch Pujols, I mean, like, really watch him, he is an aggressive first pitch hitter. And as a pitcher, if you can throw him some nasty stuff that he will swing at, you can get ahead of him in the count and just wreck his day! It was an amazing conversation to say the least.
I wished him luck on his season and off he went into the dugout. What a day so far. After BP finalized, I gulped down a free soda, ate me a cheeseburger (which is $9.00 now) and went to check out Edgar’s. The coolest thing was this:
Crazy, right? You can look right into the visiting team’s bullpen! How cool is that?! After that, I went and found my seats and waited for the Mariners game to begin, Here was my view:
Great seats right near home plate.
The Astros started pounding on the Mariners early just like the previous game and they didn’t let up until it was over. Shocked about how well the Astros played this road series, I couldn’t help but to secretly smile a little under my Mariners cap adorned on my head. I had a feeling the Mariners pitching wasn’t as strong as everyone has been claiming, and even though it’s just two weeks into the season, I’m thinking this might be a long season for Mariners fans if this keeps up.
The good news is that Safeco Field has ten different types of beers on tap to help drown people’s’ sorrows AND they have a humongous scoreboard out in centerfield! Plus, the hat trick is pretty neat. If anything, go to a Mariners game for the hat trick.
Real quick before I close this entry. I’ve added a couple more dates to my Chicago trip. I’m participating in some batting practice with the Royals Alumni at Kauffman Stadium on September 14th and then I’m heading to Busch Stadium on the 15th to watch the Cardinals vs the Mariners. Then I’m heading to Chicago (as most of you know) for a week and some change to visit US Cellular and Wrigley. Come say hi if you can. Also, I’m adding a Los Angeles trip and my trip to AT&T Park on May 3rd is nearly done. I just have to buy plane tickets.
My trips to the Oakland Coliseum, Safeco and Angels Stadium are pretty spur of the moment since I can pretty much make those one day trips. So anytime I can see the Astros play with Bud Norris pitching, and I have the day off and whatnot, you can pretty much count on me going to those games.
Okay, that’s a wrap! Until next time, faithful followers!
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The last game that the Reds were going to be in town. It has been a great series against these two teams. With the Reds now in first place a win for them meant they would be two games up on the Cardinals. A loss would mean back to a first place tie. Both teams have Thursday off ( travel day ) so they would resume play on Friday. The Cardinals would host the Milwaukee Brewers for the weekend series, and the Reds would travel to Washington D.C to face the Nationals. What does that mean for me? Well, I have to buy a Brewers hat before Fridays game!
Adam Wainwright decided to stop as he entered the stadium to sign some autographs. Colby Rasmus also stopped to sign, and Jaime Garcia stopped as well. If youre interested in getting autographs from Cardinals players most of them drive in behind the baseball stadium. You have to get there early, and on nice days there are quite a few fans down there waiting.
Once inside the stadium things looked rather promising. The Cardinals had already taken batting practice, and left the field. So it was just the Cincinnati Reds on the field, and they were about 10 minutes into their warmups, and conditioning on the field. Jonny Gomes was rather responsive to the fans, and within five minutes he threw five baseballs into the stands. One which he threw randomly into the seats but I couldnt find it in time. As I ran up the steps, and searched frantically down the rows I could hear other foot steps pounding on the concrete. I knew my time was limited. Fans were climbing down the seats, and eventually someone found it. Bummer. That would have been my first one, and my second one from Gomes on the season.
I stood behind Bronson Arroyo, and he had about three baseballs at his feet. So I asked him about three times for a baseball as fans were asking him for his autograph. Bronson Arroyo declined autographs because he has carpal tunnel. Whats interesting enough is he declined the surgery needed to fix his problem because it only has a 60% success rate, and if it doesnt work out for him he is done as a Major League baseball player. Well, he can always fall back on his music.
You can get on Youtube.com, and watch some of the videos people have posted of him singing. Its really not that bad. I picture him as a country singer but its more like Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. It really brings me back to when I used to live in Seattle. I might actually purchase his album next time Im in Cincinnati. Maybe.
So after Bronson Arroyo hooked me up with a baseball, and Gomes threw one into the seats I eventually got Gomes to throw one right to me. It would have been awesome to have gotten that one in the seats but at least he was nice enough to throw another one. So that was two. Gomes also came over, and signed some autographs. Hes a pretty cool dude, and I love his mohawk haircut. Hes really down to earth, and has a great sense of humor. I love those baseball players that make the experience fun. Guys like Arthur Rhodes, and Brandon Phillips that dont want anything to do with the fans really put a sour taste in my mouth. But not everyone can be awesome like Gomes or Bronson. In fact before Bronson left the field, and because he cant sign autographs…
That would be yours truely, and my new found friend Bronson Arroyo. Look! We have matching hats! He was really nice about it too. We made small talk, and he took some more pictures. I had a fan take a picture of me with Bronson in agreement that I would take one of him with his kid with Bronson. So it all worked out.
Johnny Cueto, and Fransico Cordero walked passed everyone but paid us no mind.
I had tickets to sit in the outfield bleachers on the aisle but I decided to not sit out there when I was offered to sit down by the dugout by the autographer group. Ive made some friends at Busch stadium which is ideal in this hobby. Having friends in high places means better seats, more baseballs, and a better experience. Although, Im still tracking Albert Pujols 400th career home run he hasnt quite came close enough for me to really worry about it. Im thinking he will hit it out around August/September time frame. If he doesnt go into another 20 game slump. Which I predict that he will. So I still have some time to sit whereever I want in the stadium.
During the game some fool ran out onto the field. I failed to get any pictures. Sorry folks. I even looked around on Google.com for an article. The last fan to run out onto the field at New Busch Stadium was in 2007. It took six security guards to subdue the guy. This time it took two, with a clean tackle by one of the security guards that incidentially got his face cut open on the tackle. Ill find out on Friday if hes okay. Im sure he probably is.
By the sixth inning I decided to start my relocation process to get behind home plate to get a baseball from the umpires. As I left Miguel Cairo kept calling out to the fans. As I was walking up the stairs I looked back to see fans pointing, and calling to me. I stopped to further investigate, and Miguel Cairo kept pointing to me, and holding up a baseball. I started back down to the dugout, and he tossed me a ball, and threw up the peace sign. I thanked him, and headed back up the stairs. Wow. That was weird. I guess he saw me make about five thousand attempts for a baseball down by the dugout, and then saw me leaving so he hooked me up with a baseball. Who knows. But I was happy. That was number three.
I used last nights ticket for section 156 to dupe security. The ticket was a print out from Subhub.com so I just kept it folded so all they had to read was the section number, the row, and seat number. They never bother to unfold the ticket to look at the actual date of the game. So I always keep those tickets on hand in case I get stopped by security. I dont know how many people have actually thought of that trick but if you get good seats at Busch from Stubhub try to keep the ticket in good condition. Fold it up in four parts, and only allow the security guards to see the section. Act like you belong. Just kind of let them glance at the ticket, and they will allow you entry without any problems. But scout an empty seat out first before you head over to those sections. That way you can sit right down, and not look like you dont belong.
Once the game ended, I had to climb over some seats to get to the first row. Once there I waited for the umpire. Unfortunatly this time he handed all the baseballs out to kids, and pretty girls. What a drag. He spoiled my four game baseball night.
Game: Cincinnati Reds Vs St Louis Cardinals June 2nd 2010 7:15pm
Game Balls: Three
Another miserable day at the ballpark. Its May, and the crappy weather is still around. I can not wait for June-July baseball. Really, I can not wait. I hate coming to the ballpark, and wondering if batting practice will happen or not. It sits on my shoulders like a 2-ton bag of bricks. When there isnt batting practice, I get a real sick feeling inside of me. Not because the chances of me not getting a baseball are very high, its because I dont want to lose my streak! Alright. Enough ranting.
So batting practice was in full swing when I got to the stadium. I went to the right field gates to peak in, and sure enough the cage was set up but nobody was batting. So I returned to the thirs base gates, and waited. I thought about trying my luck on some easter eggs in the centerfield bleachers. I thought about it for probably the majority of the time I sat at the third base gates. I almost went. I held my position. It really did pay off this time. Once I entered the stadium, I was beat down to the base line wall by an older gentleman. He had a glove, and a backpack so I knew he was serious. But what he didnt see were two baseballs laying right underneath the front row directly behind him! I didnt hesitate. I wanted to take a snapshot but I needed to secure the baseballs. Two easter eggs were all mine! ( Note; on Mygameballs.com those two baseballs put us at lifetime baseballs 19,000 )
It wasnt long before another serious ballhawk showed up. Here is my competition.
The guy in the red coat, and the other guy in the grey t-shirt. Each one of those guys got one baseball a piece. I started the evening out with two. So I felt pretty good. Two more slow rollers came down the line, and those were easily snatched up by some other folks. We also had a hot chopper hit right to us, and I backed up to play it on the hop but I got hungup on the seats. Soon after that one, another one was hit right into the seats. It hit down in a seat that wasnt occupied, and I easily got it. After that happened one of the ushers showed up with a glove, and stood right in front of me. He scooped up an easy grounder that was headed right for me. I really hate it when these guys come out, and block others from getting a baseball. Its happened twice now, and its looking like my spot is no longer available. So I moved on.
I moved around the diamond looking for stray baseballs that maybe a coach or a player would throw me, but to no avail it didnt happen. I wondered if three was going to be my number tonight, and as I looked back down to my spot the usher had left, but batting practice was about to end. So I went up, and got me some grub, and waited on the Nationals to come out, and warm up. As soon as they did I perched on the spot, and called out to Ian Desmond. But he nodded to me, gestured that he was going to give the ball to a little kid. Well, I hate to encourage that in ball players because everyone is a fan, so I just eye-balled him hoping that would help change his mind. No dice. Adam Kennedy also had a ball, and I called out to him. No dice from him either.
And that was it. No other baseballs came my way. The umpires leave the field directly behind home plate. So if you have tickets to the expensive seats you can get a baseball from them. I think those tickets are like $230.00 but theyre all you can eat. Well, Im not spending $230.00 to sit behind home plate to wait on an umpire to throw me a baseball. I guess if I were desperate. But Im not.
Game: St Louis Cardinals Vs Washington Nationals May 17 2010 7:15pm.
Game Balls: Three