I don’t even know where to start.
Last night, July 7, 2016 at approximately 9:01 p.m. I changed the channel on my television to channel 4. What I saw next shook me to my core.
People running in every direction with the sound of gunshots ringing in the background. “What in the world is going on?!?” was the first thing I remember coming out of my mouth. As the minutes passed I became more and more aware of what was going on. I’m not going to relive the details here at this time, I don’t think any of us would benefit from that. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about there are more than enough avenues on the internet to find out the details. My purpose for this post is strictly to outline my thoughts/concerns/struggles following last night’s events.
I’ve always been an optimist. Yes, I have my moments when I need to lay down on the floor in the middle of a store and throw a fit, metaphorically speaking of course, but more often than not I’m positive. I look for the good in people. I use the word “look” because that takes more effort than reading book covers. You tend to find what you are looking for, if you look for the good you’ll eventually find it, the same with the bad. I don’t like bad things, so I don’t look for them. Why am I saying of all this?
Last night was a result of an individual or group of individuals that set out with the intent of doing harm. As much as harm as they could cause, at an event that was organized to speak out against the violence that took place earlier in the week in Minnesota and Louisiana. Can you see the irony here? I am in full support of anyone and everyone that wants to exercise their right to freedom of speech. I have nothing against the group that participated in the march/protest. Whether I agree with them or not doesn’t matter, I’m not against them and I like to believe that I if ever planned or attended a march in downtown Dallas that they would respect my rights also.
What I can’t wrap my head around is how someone can get to the point where they show up somewhere with the full intention of taking lives. Not “a” life, but lives. I have no comprehension of this and I don’t want it either.
What I do know is what the Bible says about how we are supposed to treat one another:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4: 8
If you read the first one from the book of John in your Bible you will notice that the words are in red, that means those words came directly from the mouth of Jesus Christ, so they must be important.
I don’t know about you but I’m going to do what my Lord said.
With fervent love,
To say that I was anxious for this day would be an understatement to say the least. My last Opening Day was 2011, five years ago.
I. Was. Past. Ready.
First pitch was scheduled for 3:05 and the gates were set to open at 12:05 so at 11:00 my friend Dirk and I were in line. This was my first photo of the day:
Hello Ballpark, my old friend…!
Now that all was right in the world again the only thing left to do was wait an hour until the gates opened. Quick story about what happened during our wait, we were actually first in line at the security point in front of us. There were five or six checkpoints at the third base gate where we were located. When there was close to 20 minutes left a couple that looked to be in their late 20s early 30s walked up to the table in front of us (we were in a bag check line) and proceeded to set their bags down and wait to get in. Umm… excuse me?!?! Can you kindly get your @$$es to the back of the line?!?!? That’s what Dirk and I said to each other under our breath not outloud. As frustrating as it was and as poor etiquete as it may have been, nothing was said or done. What good would it have done? Honestly I didn’t want to mess with it. It was Opening Day and I didn’t want to start it off negativly.
Finally the moment arrived and we were free like cattle released from the corral. The third base gate is approximately 50-75 yards from the left field stands which is where we usually head for batting practice. There was one guy who beat us to the stands and he was greeted by a ball from an usher who had just picked it up out of the stands. Crap. Oh well, bring it on!
It felt great to be there for Opening Day:
The last photo was taken after the Rangers finished their portion of BP which took a little over an hour. I couldn’t believe how long they were out there. Action was slow in the left field seats except for toss ups that went to the kids interspersed along the railing. At one point I saw Josh Hamilton go to the seats by the first base dugout to sign autographs and I toyed with the idea for a minute of going over there. I was carrying a ball in my backpack that I wanted to get Josh to sign. It’s a 2008 Home Run Derby ball. After weighing my options for about 5 minutes I made the trek through the seats on the third base side and behind home plate to get my ball signed. When I reached my destination the next objective was getting myself into position to obtain said autograph. When I found the spot I thought would suffice I took this photo:
Hamilton acutally got a foot or so closer than that before he was approached by a news guy on the field and got distracted for five minutes and then went the other way to sign autographs after that. By this time I had been over there for ten minutes and was thinking about potential balls that I had missed out on by being over here so I gave up and went back to left field. After being back in the LF stands and catching Dirk up on my unsuccessful voyage, I looked back to see if Hamilton was still over there and he was. With only 3 or 4 people around him.
Oh well. I started to remind myself that this was game 1 of 81 that would be played this year and I knew I was going to be back.
As for the snagging side of things I didn’t get anything. In either session.
To be honest that didn’t really bother me. I took time out of batting practice to try and get an autograph and I basically refuse to ask for toss ups if my kids aren’t with me so it’s no big deal. I was off work, at the ballpark, on Opening Day, and unlike New York and Cleveland the weather was amazing.
Once batting practice wrapped up for both teams we headed over to the Captain Morgan club in CF to get some grub. After we filled our bellies it was time to head to our seats.
Let’s do this thing boys!!!!:
“It’s baseball time in Texas!!” I love Chuck Morgan, public address announcer for the Rangers.
Our seats were up in the 3rd level, section 339 row 1 seats 13 and 14, not very good seats at any other game but for Opening Day who cares?!? We were there.
My favorite part of the festivities, announcing the lineups. Following the lineups, the National anthem:
Felix Hernandez started on the mound for the visiting Seattle Mariners and had a no-hitter with a 2 run lead going into the 5th inning. In the bottom of the 5th the Rangers rallied for 3 runs on all of 1 hit. No it was not a 3-run homer. The first run came off a bases-loaded walk followed by a bloop single to left off the bat of Prince Fielder that scored Elvis Andrus. Seattle shortstop Ketel Marte booted a sure double-play grounder from Adrian Beltre that allowed the go-ahead (and eventual game-winning) third run.
Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn save number one of the new season.
It was the offensive explosion we were hoping for, but to witness a one hit, three run victory over King Felix!?! Yes please!!
It more than lived up to the anticipation I had built up for months in my head. The only other thing I could say is “HELLO WIN COLUMN!!”
Time of game: 2 hours 38 minutes
Next game: No telling…
In recent months I have been reminiscing while reading past blog posts and fighting the urge to start back up again. Obviously I caved.
With Josh Hamilton resigning with the Rangers and having his press conference today, I felt the juices flowing again. Granted I don’t attend games with the regularity of recent years I still live and breathe baseball.
Some of you that read this may have no idea who I am given the fact that my last post was April 2011. Hopefully in the coming months you can find something on here that’s worth reading. I plan on writing a little something in the next day or so about Hamilton to get used to blogging again.
If you want, leave a comment and a link to your blog and maybe we can swap stories.
To be continued…
Well, it was finally here. Opening Day.
What would this season bring following such an amazing World Series run?
Who knows, but I was very anxious to find out!
Dirk and I attended this game and we were joined by our friends Shawn and Kendall. For reasons that are beyond me, I cannot get my photos to upload from this game so you’re just going to have to imagine what I’m describing.
Game time was 3:05 and the gates were scheduled to open at 12:00. Since Dirk and I purchased a 20 game mini plan for this season we were given season ticket holder i.d. cards that get us in 30 minutes before everyone else for most games. I say for most games because we were unsure if they would apply to this game.
At 11:30 the gates opened, our tickets scanned and bags checked, and we made our way around to the left-centerfield bleachers. The cages were up, bu the only action on the field at this point were two Rangers on the first base side stretching.
We figured that we had at least 15-20 minutes or so before they started hitting, so I asked Shawn if he wanted to have a catch while we were waiting and he agreed. What proceded to happen was a three-way (easy now!) catch that included Shawn, myself, and I guy who’s name I don’t know but he was on the opposite side of the centerfield hill from us.
That’s right, we played catch over Green’s Hill in center.
Let me tell you, that’s a longer throw than you would think. Everything was cool until Shawn tried to push it and heaved one a lot farther than he should have and the ball ricocheted to a spot that was out of our reach. Game over. Thanks Shawn.
It didn’t matter because a few minutes later the Rangers were hitting.
Yes! It seemed like a year had gone by since I had taken in batting practice. I’m sure that’s how all the ballhawks feel during the first BP of the season. Anyways, it was great to finally be back at it.
Things got off to a slow start for me. I had picked the corner of the bleachers in left-center that was right next to the hill in centerfield which is where I spent a lot of time last season. I didn’t have any action until later in the session when there was a little boy on my right and Colby Lewis had fielded a ball at the wall just in front of me. I got Colby’s attention, held up my glove and pointed at the boy next to me, and he threw it right into the pocket of my glove. I then turned and opened my glove and let the boy take it out himself. He couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old and was wearing a glove and was so excited. His dad was behind him (without a glove) and was just as happy as his son. I asked if that was his son’s first ball and he said yes. That made it even better for me.
Just the thought of giving a ball to young kid that is eager to get one, wearing a glove, being courteous, yet maybe a little unschooled in ballhawking 101, is enough to make me grin from ear to ear. Add to that the fact that sometimes it just so happens to be their first one ever?! Well, it just doesn’t get any better than that for me.
Anyways, BP was still pretty slow for me, though I was able to pull two different balls out of the gap in front of me that other kids had dropped. I was good with three balls. Especially since the Red Sox were in town and batting practice was crowded. I would’ve been content with one ball, so three was great to me. Dirk ended up with five so I’ll have to wait to outsnag him in 2011.
Our seats for the game were in the upper deck on the first base side towards the outfield. Section 340, row 14. Not the best place to watch a game from, but hey, we were there.
We watched the game from there until around the fourth inning when we went down to the gift shop in centerfield to look around for something that Dirk could get his kids. After a short spell in the a/c we made our way over to left field where Shawn and Kendall were sitting. They had told us that there were a couple open seats in the row in front of them, so we filled them.
The seats were directly behind the foul pole in left field, so viewing the game wasn’t great but it was better than where we were sitting earlier. An inning or so prior to us getting there, Kendall had a homerun slip off his fingers and land in the hands of the guy behind him. Mike Napoli hit a go ahead three run homer that just wrapped around the foul pole and skimmed off Kendall’s bare fingers. He had his glove, but had taken it off to do something else and didn’t have time to get it back on before it was already on him.
The game itself was good. The Rangers were down at first then came back to win it 9-5 in the bottom of the 8th inning. Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, and Mike Napoli all went deep for the Rangers. David Murphy hit a pinch hit, go ahead double down the 3rd base line in the bottom of the 8th that got a rally going.
The atmosphere was awesome out there at this game, which is how it usually is on opening day but this one was better. Probably because of the way they finished last season, who knows. Nonetheless, it sure it cool not having so many Boston fans in the stands nowadays. What a beating that got to be in the past.
We fought the madness after the game, but didn’t mind since we witnessed a win and took some all around great baseball.
Time of Game: 3 hrs. 28 mins.
Next Game: Saturday 4/2 (Probably BP only)
Even as I write this at 7:15 CST the morning after the Texas Rangers won the deciding game 5 in St. Petersburg to advance to the ALCS for the first time in franchise history, and after watching countless replays of the final out recorded by Elvis Andrus to insure the victory, and watching all of the post game interviews, even now I must admit that I’ve had to fight back a few tears.
What else can be said?
I just find it so hard to come up with the words I feel best describe what I’ve witnessed not just this postseason, but all season.
I’m not going to look back over the season and point out the highs and lows of what has become a very magical season (not yet anyway). No, right now I’m content with taking it all in, enjoying the moment as long as I can because who knows when I’ll have this chance again.
After attending game 3 of the ALDS this past Saturday I got my first taste of live playoff baseball, and man was it great. Even though they lost the game the feeling in the ballpark was amazingly intense. One could get used to that feeling really easily, but as the fans of the ’90s Rangers found out it can end just as easily.
11 years after their last postseason appearance I’m quite content with taking it one game at time.
And what a time it is to be a Texas (Rangers) Baseball Fan!
You know, I’m a real sucker when it comes to off-the-wall baseball stories and this one is no exception.
I’ve attached an article that was posted on the Big League Stew section of Yahoo’s MLB section of their website.
This is an article about a Houston Astros fan that leaves his girlfriend hanging.
You can read the article here and be sure to watch the video that is included, that’s the best part.
As a self-proclaimed “Texas Baseball Fan” I feel it is almost my duty to share some of my thoughts on the auction that concluded early yesterday morning to determine ownership of the Texas Rangers.
Well to be perfectly honest, my first thought was “It’s about time!” Good grief. Could this have been drug out any longer?! Probably, but I was truly tired of hearing about it.
So it falls to Rangers Baseball Express which consists of Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and the one and only Nolan Ryan.
Good. That’s the way it should have been all along.
When I heard the news that television magnate Rupert Murdoch was adding his name to the bidding list I had to chuckle. What else was going to happen? It was starting to seem as if everything was shaping up to keep RBE from acquiring the franchise.
Thank God that didn’t happen!
Technically, it’s still not “official”. The owners still have to approve the sale at the next owner’s meeting which is scheduled for Thursday, August 12, but this appears to be just a formality. What’s funny is at the beginning of the week when there seemed to be multiple potential bidders for the Wednesday auction, I had heard something that may be a rumor but I’m not sure. Apparently there was/is an addendum or caveat to the whole auction. Some entity; MLB, the court, someone held the authority to overturn the final high bid.
Example: Let’s say that the group that included Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban had the highest final bid at auction end. This particular entity could overrule the bid and make the runner-up the new highest bidder.
Of course this led to speculation that this was all a way to keep Mark Cuban out of Major League Baseball. For those that may not know, the MLB “suits” do not particularly care for Mr. Cuban’s ownership style.
Whether any of this is true and factual, we may never know. Though it sure made for some hot sports opinions to be tossed around our neck of the woods in the last week or so.
Another detail that I heard ….
Back when RBE made their initial bid for the Rangers which I believe was in December or January, they were asked to raise this initial bid by another 25 million dollars to compensate for the land and parking lots. They declined. In the months since, the Hicks Sports Group (the previous owners) removed the land and parking lots from the sale, and during the auction RBE upped their bid another 60-65 million and lost the land and parking lots because they wouldn’t agree to pay an additional 25 million.
Again, this could be hearsay, but it sure added an odd dimension to this whole saga.
So where do I stand on this? As I stated earlier, I feel that Nolan Ryan and his group should have had this thing all along. The fact that it drug out as long as it did didn’t help them, the team, the fans, or anyone, but now that it’s just about done they can go about business as usual.
Like signing potential free agents, making plans for ballpark improvements, resigning manager Ron Washington, moving forward with the franchise and putting this whole mess behind them.
Being a fan, I am very excited to see what the remainder of this season has in store as well as next season. We may be in for changes we have never thought of now that we have an ownership team that “knows” baseball and has the franchise and fans in mind over themselves.
It’s getting harder and harder for me to attend weekday games because I can’t always leave work as early as I’d like, and if I can’t make it for all of batting practice part of me doesn’t want to go at all. Call me weird, but that’s how I feel.
As it turns out, I figured out that even if I leave work just 30 minutes early (5:00 instead of 5:30) we can still make it to the ballpark by 5:30 and catch the last 30-40 minutes of the visiting team’s BP. Not bad, but still not as good as getting in 30 minutes earlier than everybody else.
This game was one of the times we got there at around 5:30 and there was a pretty decent crowd in the left centerfield bleachers so we hung back a few rows until some of the younger fans started to wander off and we claimed a couple spots in the corner next to the A’s bullpen.
My first ball of the day came within the first 5 minutes of us being there when a kid muffed a toss up and it landed in the gap. He was about 5-6 feet to my left and I was all over it. I took the ball over to where I was standing previously and handed it to a little boy around 5 years old who was wearing a glove but had not yet gotten a ball. He and his father were very thankful and that made it all worth it.
As I was reeling that ball up, Dirk was getting his one and only ball of the day out of the bullpen so we were both now on the board!
The A’s weren’t hitting many our way today and the ones that were in our direction weren’t even close to hitting the seats. Right field on the other hand was getting peppered with balls, but there’s always SO many kids over there that it’s just not worth it.
At one point a ball had to come to rest on the grass edge of the warning track directly in front of me. The only problem was I completely surrounded by kids, so I knew that if that ball were to reach the seats I would not be the one to snag it.
Well, I was wrong.
There was one pitcher in particular that was having fun with the crowd today during BP. He’s a former Texas Tech Red Raider so I guess he felt like he was “at home” this series. He came over and stood right next to the ball that was right in front of me and wouldn’t pick it up. Every 30 seconds or so he would bend down like he was going to pick it up and once the chorus of “Here!, Here!s” started he would stand back up and leave the ball on the ground. After the first couple of times I caught on to what he was doing but the younger ones weren’t as quick. That’s when I started to think that he would just flip the ball backwards without looking and I figured that would be my one and only shot at it.
I was right.
After about a minute or two of messing with the kids, he leaned over to pick the ball up with his glove and just sort of flung it directly off of the grass. Kind of cool if you ask me because it was going to be a win win for me either way. I would either get to reel in another ball out of the gap or I would just catch it and hand it over to someone. Turns out it was the latter. The ball was about a foot over my head on my left so I reached up with my glove and caught it in the pocket. I didn’t even touch the ball, I just opened my glove and let the boy on my left take it out.
“Who was the pitcher?”, you may be asking. Well, it was none other than Mr. Perfecto himself, Dallas Braden.
Not too shabby if I say so myself.
That would be it for me during batting practice although I can finally say that I outsnagged Dirk! That made it all worth it!
Wednesdays are Dollar Dog nights at the Ballpark in Arlington so after getting our free drink coupons from the designated driver booth we got some dogs and found a place to stuff our faces.
This game was exciting from a baseball fan standpoint but frustrating from a ballhawk standpoint. There were so many people at this game that we couldn’t find a spot to move to like we usually do. Actually, we did find a spot to move to but we did it too early and were asked for our tickets. Oh well. Rules are rules right?
So for a good majority of the game we stood against the wall out in left field. If you haven’t seen it, it looks like this….
If you click on the photo and enlarge it the wall is red and had Lucas Oil on it.
I don’t mind it over there, it has great home run potential, I would just rather be able to sit somewhere out there instead of standing but oh well.
Turns out it didn’t matter anyways since we didn’t have even one close call. As Rangers’ manager Ron Washington says,”that’s the way baseball go!”
The Rangers would go on to lose this game by the score of 3-1. I don’t like watching them lose, especially in person since this is only the 2nd loss I’ve witnessed in 19 games attended this season.
I originally was going to use this game to gain some ground in the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt but after taking about three pictures I realized they weren’t correct, so I will have to try again another day.
Here’s a couple that I got during the game….
…. of Fox Sports Southwest reporter Jim Knox on the left and TV analyst and former MLB player Steve Busby on the right.
Even though my team lost it’s always fun to be at the ballpark. I truly feel at home there.
Time of game: 2 hrs. 40 mins.
Next Game: Tues. 8/10 vs. the Stankees (I’ll explain why later….)
This entry is going to be relatively short and sweet because I didn’t take very many photos this time, and the photos I did take are all player photos.
My friend Dirk and I had very high hopes for this game, being the first home game for the Rangers after the All Star break, our first game to attend in nearly two weeks, and the outside shot at an All Star game ball (like I mentioned in my previous entry). All of these things combined made for a higher than usual level of anticipation.
When we reached the stands at around 4:30 we noticed that the cage was up for batting practice but the Rangers weren’t hitting. No big deal really, it’s kind of hit and miss for them to have BP anyway. By the time it reached 5:15 there were still no players on the field. For either team. To make matters worse, someone had set an empty bucket out in centerfield for the ball return.
This is when Dirk and I got very antsy.
Finally at 5:25 or so the Angels came out to throw and stretch so I went over behind their dugout not thinking they would hit. While I was there I took some photos.
Here’s the best one I could get of Bobby Abreu….
…. and here’s a couple of Hideki Matsui….
…. and how about Torii Hunter ….
…. and speaking of Hunter, he would go on to hit me my one and only ball during batting practice that just happened to be my very first home run to catch on the fly! That may not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but after a couple years of snagging balls and reading about other guys catching multiple homers during BP, I have really been trying for one of my own. Man what a feeling!
So, I guess you can tell by now that the Angels did in fact start to hit. The bleachers that we normally set up in got reasonably crowded today so I knew that my range was going to be limited. Within the first 5 minutes or so a ball landed in the gap about two sections to our left and Dirk was all over it for his one and only ball of the game.
The Hunter homer was actually pretty cool, to me anyway, because I’ve read numerous times of balls being hit “straight to someone”. Well that’s never happened to me, at least not until today. Dirk was to my right and we were both in the first row of the left centerfield bleachers right next to the bullpen. Hunter hit one that started out towards the bullpen but quickly started to tail in our direction, actually towards me. I just wasn’t sure about the distance, but I prepared anyway. I leaned over the belt-high railing a little to make sure I could reach it and I noticed Dirk’s glove slowly coming into my view.
Let me back up a little….
Dirk is fully aware of my need to catch a homer on the fly. He has told me numerous times that he would back off to let me catch one and I have taken his word on it.
Okay, back to the story….
Once I noticed Dirk’s glove getting closer and closer I had to give the old “I got it!’, and once I did he pulled his glove back and within seconds “Smack!”. I had it.
Finally! What a cool feeling!
I have to say that it’s just as I hoped it would be.
After high-fiving Dirk he admitted that he had gotten caught up in the moment in trying to catch it himself and if I hadn’t said anything he may have fought me for it. Now that I got my first one out of the way I can tell I’m on my own from here on out.
Our seats for this game were in section 50 row 1. For those of you that may not know where that is, it’s directly between the hill in centerfield and the Rangers’ bullpen in right-center.
Here’s an idea of where they were….
…. under the red arrow (don’t forget that you can click on the photos to enlarge them).
These seats gave us a great view to watch our starting pitcher warm up….
…. Mr. Cliff Lee.
What a stud! This was our first time to see him pitch in person and he did not disappoint. He went 8-1/3 innings, striking out 4, giving up 2 runs (both earned), and walking none.
Not only was this our first time to see Lee pitch in person, but it was also Lee’s first win as a Ranger so that was pretty cool too.
What an electric atmosphere at the ballpark this game. I don’t know if it was Lee, the fact that the Rangers hadn’t played at home in over two weeks when they were swept in four games by Baltimore (Baltimore?!), or both but it was great. Especially when Neftali Feliz came in to get the final two outs of the game and also record his 27th save of the season. I truly hope the Rangers win the division and make the playoffs. Man that would be awesome!
Speaking of Feliz, here he is earlier in the game sitting in the bullpen….
…. on this end of the bullpen.
The Rangers would go on to win 3-2. Michael Young hit another home run.
The closest we would come to a ball this game was around the 4th inning when Nelson Cruz hit a double off the wall directly below me, and Angels’ centerfielder Torii Hunter threw a 3rd out ball about 10 feet to our right. That was it.
But we had a great time.
Time of Game: 2 hrs. 44mins.
Next Game: Wed. 7/28 vs. Oakland
As I stated in this entry I have set a goal of snagging a Target Field ball (at least one) when the Twins come to town in August.
Since it’s the All Star break and I have nothing else to do but think of the next game I’m going to, I’ve come up with another goal.
After reading many blogs over the past couple years of ballhawks that snag commemorative balls at the weirdest moments (like snagging a World Series ball the next season at a BP of a team that wasn’t even in the Series the prior season), I began to think of the All Star game ball.
The A.S. game is being held in Anaheim, who’s in the same division as the Rangers. What are the chances that some of those A.S. balls will find their way into the Angels’ batting practice bags/buckets?
It’s possible right? It has to be possible.
So there you have it. My goal is to be at the first game when the Angels come to town next week. They will be in for a four game set from Thursday 7/22 until Sunday 7/25 and I will be at the Thursday tilt with the sole purpose of potentially snagging an All Star game ball.