www.pirates.com/tweetoffer Enter in COUPON CODE “MLBwayneMLB” for discounted tickets to Pittsburgh Pirates home games!!
A new season of professional baseball is here again. The 2011 baseball season will kick off for most as early as April 1st. For me, well, I will be in Oakland California enjoying Opening Day at the Oakland Coliseum.
When I go to a baseball game to ball hawk I like to hope for the best possible odds. Fighting large crowds of people is always something a Ballhawk has to endure no matter what baseball stadium he/she goes to. We all consider the weather, and most importantly, something that doesn’t always get taken into consideration, is the give-away, and the promotional nights that most Major League teams have at the stadiums. Lets face it. Awesome give-away nights fill seats. Its just the name of the game. But what give-away fills the most seats? What give-away is most desired? What give-away is the most sought-after? When I was a kid it was photo-baseballs, and bat nights that filled the house. Now its that beloved bobble-head figurine!
Bobble-heads are collectors items. All ages come to the stadiums on bobble-head nights to add to their ever growing collection of unique and rare bobble-heads. I for one am not a collector of those cute little bobble-heads. I have one, and I gave it to my mother. It was the Bret Saberhagen Cy Young Bobble-head that the Royals gave away last season. My mother doesn’t even know what a Cy Young award is let alone who Bret Saberhagen is. But it doesn’t take away from the cute factor of Bret’s little head bobbling around as you walk by him as he’s perched by her jewelry box.
So in this column for MyGameBalls.com I thought Id put together some Bobble-head history facts, and then list the current bobble-heads that will be given away to fans this year. Depending on who you are knowing this information could either save you a headache of going to the game fighting large crowds to be first in line or create more excitement while shagging baseballs during BP. Either way. Knowing is half the battle.
Some of the first bobble-heads ever created for the Major Leagues were in the 1960s. These bobble-head dolls were made out of papier-mâché. Each baseball team received these dolls, and they all looked the same minus the uniforms. It wasn’t until the 1960 World Series where player specific dolls were created, and sold during the World Series. Those players were Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Roger Maris, and Roberto Clemente. Unfortunately, since the dolls were constructed out of papier-mâché most have not survived.
From the 60’s to the 90’s the bobble-head went through many dramatic changes. The dolls were constructed out of ceramic after the failed papier-mâché didn’t work out. Unfortunately, the ceramic nodders were expensive to produce, and fans weren’t taking much of an interest. It wasn’t until 1999 when the San Francisco Giants handed out 35,000 Bobble-heads of Willie Mays that really captivated the audience. The new bobble-heads primarily made out of plastic were cheap to construct, and the fans loved them.
After the year 2000 bobble-heads became such a craze that you could even contact a company to have them customize a bobble-head for you. Bobble-heads became so advanced that they even had matching scars, tattoos, hair color, eye color, and lifelike facial features.
So here is the 2011 list of bobble-heads that you can get for free during the season. With paid admission of course.
Buck Showalter June 25th
Brian Matusz August 6th
Racing Gracie ( Mark Grace ) April 28th
Kirk Gibson August 6th
Chris Young August 27th
Fan Voted Bobble-head September 24th
Frank Thomas April 12th
Frank Thomas April 29th
Roger Bossard June 12th
Beer Vendor Bobble-head August 4th
Mark Buerhle August 20th
Starlin Castro April 5th
Tyler Colvin April 19th
Geovany Soto July 14th
Mike Hargrove August 13th
Joey Votto April 30th
Dusty Baker July 12th
Jonny Gomes July 23rd
Kansas City Royals
Willie Wilson June 4th
The Angels of Anaheim
Kendrys Morales May 24th
Dan Haren June 28th
Angels Gnome August 18th
Michael Bourn April 10th
Hunter Pence April 30th
Chris Johnson May 14th
Bill Brown/Jim Deshaies broadcasters June 11th
Bret Myers July 13th
Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw May 17th
Don Mattingly June 1st
Hong Chih Kuo June 14th
Andre Ethier July 17th
FernandoMania July 26th
John Axford April 24th
Casey McGehee May 22nd
Zack Grienke June 12th
Craig Counsell August 14th
Randy Wolf September 25th
Rickey Henderson April 30th
McHammer 80’s theme July 17th
Ray Fosse August 16th
New York Mets
Mr Met April 18th
Felix Hernandez April 9th
Ichiro Suzuki May 6th
Neil Walker May 21st
Nelson Cruz June 20th
San Diego Padres
Bud Black May 7th
Toronto Blue Jays
Jose Bautista April 3rd
Roberto Alomar July 31st
San Francisco Giants
Cody Ross June 4th
Aubrey Huff June 25th
Buster Posey July 10th
Tim Lincecum August 27th
Saint Louis Cardinals
Stan Musial April 24th
Matt Holliday August 28th
The most expensive bobble-head today is The Beatles Bobble-head, and its priced at $32,000 dollars.
After the Yankees losing out on their number one target , Cliff Lee, the Yankees are still unsure about Andy Pettitte. Pettitte has expressed multiple times that he is leaning towards retirement, and the Yankees organization should plan ahead without him. More talk surrounding the Yankees concerning Marcus Thames have coaxed them to seek other options for the outfield. One option would include signing Andruw Jones. Jones, 33, batted .230 with 19 home runs and 48 RBIs in 107 games for the White Sox last season while seeing time in all three outfield positions. Jones also has experience in the DH spot. Thames on the other hand played more DH position for the Yankees last season than the outfield.
One of the bigger news in the Major Leagues right now is the deal between Matt Garza, and the Chicago Cubs. Its been said that the Tampa Bay Rays are looking to receive quite a bit of prospects for Matt Garza. Chris Archer who won the 2010 Minor League Pitcher of the Year award, Brandon Guyer who won the 2010 Minor League Player of the Year award, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, catcher Robinson Chirinos, and outfielder Sam Flud would all go to the Rays for Matt Garza. Most prospects posting some above average numbers, and fans already speculate the Rays losing Garza would not be playoff contenders in the upcoming seasons. The Cubs, if aquired Garza would have a strong pitching rotation that would include Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Tom Gorzelanny, and Carlos Silva.
There has been light talk of Albert Pujols up and coming contract. Sources say that something needs to happen before spring training or else Pujols wont be available for talk about contracts during the season.
Joe Torre will be looking to latch onto a position as a MLB executive VP. Since the former manager of the Yankees, and the Dodgers has left that important managerial position he has been seeking other employment within baseball, and has been steadily talking to Bud Selig to become the executive VP of operations for MLB.
A lot of people would call me crazy if I told them the time I drove nine hours from St Louis, Missouri to Arlington, Texas to watch a baseball game, spend seven hours in a hotel room, and then drive nine hours back. Well, I guess Im crazy. I was excited as ever to go to this baseball stadium. Its been said that the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is among the top stadiums that is fan friendly. The security is so relaxed it nearly makes me want to move to Arlington just so I can attend Rangers games all season long. The only real problem I had was with another fan. I was wearing my infamous “A-Roids” shirt, and somebody that was sitting in the left field seats commented on it.
“A-Rod? Wow, buddy. You really shouldnt be wearing that shirt here.” The woman explained to me. At first I didnt know if she was being hostile or joking.
“Excuse me? Well, it doesnt say “A-Rod”. It says “A-ROIDS”.” I said.
“Oh, well. It looks like A-Rod. Your backpack strap was blocking it.” She said back to me.
“I apologize for my backpack strap blocking that.” I sarcastically replied.
“Well, maybe you shouldnt be wearing that shirt because it looks like “A-Rod”.” She said.
“Well, I hope people can read!” I laughed.
“Wow, how rude. Calling someone you dont know illiterate.” She looked up at me scoffing.
“I didnt call-you know what, nevermind.” And I found a new place to ballhawk.
The great thing about this stadium is there is little to no restrictions. There arent any fancy gates to keep fans out from behind home plate, there arent any red taped areas or walls or any other type of obstruction to keep fans from walking anywhere they want to. So I did just that. I walked around the entire stadium. The Rangers side of the stadium was filling fast, and the thing is I wasnt really worried about getting a baseball. The gates had opened up at 4pm, and the game started at 7pm. I just wanted to be here. I just wanted to be apart of this. This would be history if the Rangers won it tonight.
Also worth mentioning in the picture below look who was at the ballpark as well? I wasnt surprised though…
Yup! Peter Gammons was there as well! He is a baseball GOD! I wonder when that man is going to retire? Hopefully never! It was great to see him! Aside from that, that was all that was really popping on the Rangers side of the house. I couldnt say the same for the Yankees side though. I guess Arlington was just too far from New York for anyone to come out and support their team.
Thats what was popping on the Yankees side. Nothing. So I wandered the stadium some more. I played the outfield a little bit, and the Rangers were putting a lot of baseballs in the seats. Along with plenty of toss ups. But I just couldnt get a good position for any opportunity. I thought about playing the Batters eye, but I just wasnt aggressive enough. Those baseballs would come in hot, and the general age range of fans running out there was anywhere from five years old to about nineteen. But it seemed dangerous. A lot of slipping, and sliding, and running into each other. I watched for about ten minutes though, and witnessed the smaller kids just get TRAMPLED, and shoved around! I mean, it was nasty out there. The security guards would come out after the ball was secured by a fan, and usher everyone back over the railings. But it was pretty awesome that they let fans run out there. Of all the stadiums that Ive been to that have the grassy Batters eye, they wont let you go out there. In fact, if you do, they try to take the baseball back, and send you packing.
This was the view from where the Batters Eye is at. Notice the near empty seats around the infield? This was about twenty minutes AFTER the gates had let everyone in. Really, I had about a good 35 minutes of free roaming the stadium before hoards of people started to come in. It was simply amazing. I figured the stadium would be packed by now.
I continued to wander the stadium. I continued to wander the outfield looking to pounce on my first baseball of the ALCS. To no avail it just never happened during the Rangers BP. The Yankees started to trickle onto the field, stretching, and tossing baseballs around. I walked over to the third base side, and waited for a unique opportunity to grab a baseball. I lined up behind Chad Guadin, and A.J Burnett. A.J threw the baseball high, and Chad deflected the baseball into the seats. I reached for it but it was too high. He pulled a second ball from his back pocket, and continued to play catch. A.J continued to overthrow, and miss his targets but nothing else came my way. I thought about asking for baseballs but I didnt want to beg. Especially to the Yankees while wearing Ranger gear. ( I didnt bring my Yankees hat )
It was nearing the end of BP, and I still didnt have a baseball. I really wasnt all that concerned though. I really just wanted to find my seat, sit down, and read the ALCS program. My feet hurt, I was tired from the drive, and my shins, and knees had taken a beating from knocking into the old plastic seats in the stadium. I was just tired, and wanted BP to end. For the first time in my life I wanted BP to end. When it did I was thoroughly relieved, and scampered to concessions for some much needed water.
My seat was awesome. I was in the front row in the left field seats. I had a great angle on the Yankees bullpen, and if any ball that was hit well enough for a home run I would most certainly have caught it. So once Phil Hughes, and Jorge Posada came out of the bullpen to warmup, it started to pour. I mean, it was raining so hard I thought that they would cover the field, stop the color guard, and put the game on hold. Not one fan moved from their seat. The color guard continued to march out onto the field. The Marine Corps continued to hold the Texas state flag steady in the Batters Eye. The National Anthem singer started the song, and it continued to rain. The rain tapered off just as the grounds crew started to unroll the tarp. The National Anthem ended, and the color guard marched off the field. Rangers fans held steady. The Marine Corps started to roll the Texas state flag up, and the rain stopped. This game was going to start. Rain or no rain. I was EXCITED! As the Yankees piled into the bullpen, I hollered down to the pitching coach to throw me a baseball, and he graciously meet my demands despite my Rangers gear. I got my first baseball of the night, and sadly it was the only one I got. But I didnt care.
With Josh Hamilton to my left, and David Murphy to my right, and one hell of an awesome group of fans behind me this was probably the most exciting game I have been to in a long, long time. I loved every minute of it. I shouted, and screamed, and cheered, and whistled, and trash talked Alex Rodriguez, and I just had one hell of a time in Texas! It was so great I even got on Tv!
Yeah, I know. You can barely see me. But that was me!! They were awesome seats. Im not going to pretend that nobody reading this blog entry doesnt know that the Rangers won it, and earned a much deserved trip to the World Series. They did win 6-1 if you had been living in a cave for the last few weeks. It was an awesome game. After Vladimir Guerrero broke the game wide open with a two run double, and then Nelson Cruz hit a two run home run, I knew it was as good as gold. The Rangers were going to the World Series. The fans knew it, the players knew it, the whole world knew it! The stadium was so explosive! The fans were cheering, and yelling, and screaming, and ….it was literally…the energy…the emotions..people were crying, and laughing, and hugging….even Josh Hamilton had a hard time containing himself. He would look back at the fans every so often, and smile. He knew. They all did. How could they NOT??
The defining moments. What made it so sweet?
Alex Rodriguez striking out to end it all. Thats what made it so sweet. Alex Rodriguez is so hated around the league its unbelievable. Seattle hates him, Boston hates him, Kansas City hates him, Texas hates him…. and for him to strikeout to send the Rangers to the World Series on a pitch that he probably wouldve liked back…made it OH SO SWEET!!!
Dog pile on the hill ensues….
The Yankees take a walk home…
American League Champions…
HELLO WORLD SERIES!!!!
Congratulatory celebrations, awards presentations, and Nolan Ryan speaks to the fans.
It was a great night to be a Rangers fan at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.
Game; New York Yankees vs Texas Rangers October 22nd 2010 Game 6 of the ALCS
Game Balls; One
I know Im beating a dead horse by blogging about steroid use in professional sports. I have been thinking about this for a long time, and I wanted to finally blog about it. A lot of people dont care if athletes use steroids. In fact there are quite a few people out there that encourage the athletes to use them so they can witness better performances on the field. Well, I think thats absolutely selfish. Its wrong, and it degrades the sport.
Remember this guy? Sure you do. Thats Mark McGwire. He broke the single home run record that was formly held by Roger Maris. We all remember that day. September 8th 1998. Steve Trachsel on the mound facing McGwire. There it went. Over the left field fence. Number 62. The lucky stadium worker that found it, in my humble opinion, should have made some kind of deal with MLB for finding that baseball. Or kept it. McGwire would finish the season with 70 home runs. Sammy Sosa finished with 66 that season. And we all know that three seasons later, this guy would break that 70 home run mark.
Yup. Barry Bonds shattered that record with 73. A remarkable season for him. Barry Bonds has so many awards to his name its not even funny. Hes played with two teams his entire career ( Pittsburgh/San Francisco )and hes played in 14 all-star games. Quite the player, you’d say. So when exactly did these two players decide to start taking steroids? Well, McGwire in many interviews this last January said he used them when he first got to Oakland. He also put the blame on Jose Canseco. Jose Canseco even wrote a book on the steroid use thats taking place in baseball. Canseco also stated in an interview on the Chelsea Lately show that he wasnt trying to “out” baseball players. He was simply trying to identify a problem in the league, and get other players to back him up on it. Well, it all backfired on you Mr. Canseco.
So in the end with Bonds, and McGwire, was their entire career a total wash? Should all of their statistics have an asteriks by it? Rafael Palmerio tested positive on August 1st 2005 for steroids. He went before a congressional hearing, and denied ever using them. Canseco stated that he personally injected Palmeiro with steroids. Oddly enough, our good friend Rafael is a member of the 500 HR, 3000 Hit club. Palmeiro isnt offically retired. He just hasnt played baseball since 2005. Whats he waiting for? This whole steroid thing to blow over? To make sure his stats will stick before he retires? Who knows.
The following players were connected to steroids, either use or possession, in the Mitchell Report:
Paul Lo Duca
Exavier “Nook” Logan
The following players were cited under “Alleged Internet Purchases of Performance Enhancing Substances By Players in Major League Baseball.”
Gary Matthews Jr.
The following players were linked through BALCO
So what has all this madness done to our beloved American sport? In my opinion it has ruined it. Although, the home run chase back in 1998 probably saved baseball from the horrid 1994 baseball strike, but since then I think its done some serious damage. A lot of these players on the list have come forward, admitted they were wrong, apologized, and moved on. I guess in a sense, I should too. But recently when I got my hands on the Mitchell Report I was heartbroken that a lot of these players that I thought would have nothing to do with steroids had taken them or at least were accused. Their accomplishments arent real to me anymore. Theyve cheated the game. Theyve used performance enhancement drugs to propel themselves to do above and beyond what they normally arent capable of doing. Dont get me wrong. You still have to be an athlete to play this game. You cant just be some shlub off the street, eat some steroids, and magically hit 70 home runs in one season. I think these guys are incredible athelets for being able to do what they do. But Id rather see them hit 70 home runs by working hard, spending extra time in the batting cage, and with the batting coach, and studying each pitcher before they face them. They probably did that…but steroids helped them throw, hit, and run faster.
So because these players can perform beyond their normal capabilities it increases their value as a player. People say ” oh so what. So he took steroids. He can hit 500 foot home runs now. He can hit over 60 in a season.” Sure. Thats great. We all love seeing home runs. But now are beloved favorite player thats sending bombs to the outfield now wants to be paid millions on top of millions because hes doing that. And it doesnt help that guys like Scott Boras are encouraging that. So you ask ” well, whats the problem?” Well, Ill tell you what the problem is. Now simple people like you, me, and the rest of the baseball fans out there cant sit in seats behind home plate. Or we cant sit in seats behind the dugout. Why? Because this guy injecting himself with trash, and hitting a thousand home runs a game is making so much money that they have to raise ticket prices. They have to charge $10.00 for a beer. They have to charge $30.00 for two hotdogs, and a soda. Thats the problem. For a family of four, they have to sit in the cheap seats on the 500 level deck because four tickets at the field view are $70.00 a pop. Get what Im saying?
But I digress. The only think that keeps a crowd from coming to the ballpark is a losing team nowadays. And Im fine with that. I just think its criminal for these players to get paid so much money, and the fan is the one that loses out. Anyone that comes to the stadium shouldnt be limited to where they can sit to watch the game of baseball.