I started this blog in April of this year, with my first entry talking about the “wishy-washy” Rangers fans out there. And that entry has, so far, turned out to be my only real rant on this blog. Until now.
I have developed a new pet peeve (sorry if I spelled that wrong). Now, just so you know, I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas area, so I can only speak about what I see at The Ballpark in Arlington. Though I have been told that this happens just about everywhere. With all that being said, my new pet peeve is:
PEOPLE WHO GO TO A GAME & WEAR GEAR OF A TEAM THAT’S NOT EVEN PLAYING!
Can I just say, that this crawls all over me like a hill full of fire ants! Now, I can already hear some of you out there: “But I never get to see “my team” in person, and I have to support them somehow!” Or: “That’s where I’m from, and I’m going to support my “home team”.
Those are two valid points, and I can identify with both, since I was born in Cleveland and live in Texas. And, I really like the Arizona Diamondbacks, because I lived there when the stadium was being built & I voted on the team name and colors. But I’ll be d***ed if I’m going to wear either of those teams’ gear to a Rangers/Angels game, or any other team that the Rangers may be playing!
I’ll wear them in the comfort of my home, in front of my television. Not because I’m ashamed of either one of those teams, but for the simple fact that, if I’m going to spend my hard earned money to go to a game at the Ballpark in Arlington to watch the Texas Rangers play, I’m going to make sure that my current “home team” sees me wearing their colors, and not the colors of a team in another state!
One of the blessings that come from living in “The United States of America”, is that we all have freedom. Freedom to say what we want to say (most of the time!). Freedom to believe what we want to believe. Freedom to worship who/what we want to worship. Freedom to root for whatever team we want to root for, regardless of where we live. I’m not trying to say that if you go to a Rangers vs. Whoever game, that you HAVE to root for the Rangers. That’s not my point. My point is, if you’re going to make the monetary and time commitment to go to your local Major League Baseball ballpark, and you plan on wearing MLB attire (I hope you don’t wear NFL/NBA/NHL attire!), you can at least be kind enough to the players of those two teams that you are going to see, to wear one of those two teams’ gear.
Simple as that. Why is that so difficult?
If you are going to a game, and you don’t have anything or you don’t want to wear anything of those two teams, then wear normal/neutral clothing. At least then the players can look into the stands without having to wonder why they are so meaningless, that you have to buy stuff of another team. Okay, that may be a little extreme, but I think you get my point.
I know some of you (or maybe most of you for that matter!), probably think that I’m way off base here, and I very well may be, but at least I have the freedom to write about the way I feel.
A very hearty “Thank You” to all of the soldiers, past and present, that have given me this gift of freedom.
At the start of the season, my friends Dirk, Sam, Shawn & his dad Donnie, and myself decided to get tickets to this game. It was a 3:05 game on a Saturday, so we were going to drive down that morning, catch BP, see the game & drive home that night. Sounds easy enough right? Well, it was, kind of. Here’s us at 8:00 in the morning before hitting the road….
From left to right: Me, Sam, Dirk, Shawn, Donnie
We took my minivan, because the only other choice was Dirk’s Dodge Dakota, and we didn’t think 5 grown men would fit in there too well on a trip that was 4 hours one way. Not the coolest ride in the world, but we were comfortable! The DVD player helped too, watched “The Rookie” on the way down, and “Major League 2″ and “Field of Dreams” on the way home. Well, they watched and I listened.
We got to Houston and found a parking lot at around 12:30 or so. Thankfully, the lot was only $5 and it was about 5-6 blocks from the stadium. Here’s a random shot as we piled out of the van….
This was our first view of the stadium as we walked up the street….
We made our way around the stadium to find the Will Call booth, and made it there at about 12:45ish. Here’s Shawn, Dirk, and Sam at the window….
And this is the line at the Home Plate entrance, which we decided to use since we were right there….
When we finally made it inside, I ran around to right field. I didn’t take one photo along the way, because my only thought was all the balls I was missing out on, since the Astros were already taking BP. This is the 1st photo I took from inside the park, which is where I stayed for the Astros portion of BP….
Minute Maid Park has a retractable roof, for those of you that don’t know, and it was closed due to potentially bad weather. The centerfield wall is made of HUGE glass panels that open when the roof is open, and in front of the glass is a train track for the homerun train. Anytime the Astros hit a homerun, the train whistle blows and the train rolls down the track. Except for today, for some reason, it didn’t move at all. But here’s a look anyway….
See the seats out in left field? Those are the Crawford Boxes, and underneath that section is the visitors’ bullpen. Kind of different, but still cool to me anyway.
I came close to 2 balls during the Astros’ BP, closer than I have ever been and not gotten them. The 1st was a HR that I misjudged, and it cleared my glove by no more than an inch. I thought it was coming right to me, and it did. I thought I could jump and get it, but I couldn’t. I was upset, the ball hit the empty row behind me & flew back on the field, oh well, there was more BP to go. The 2nd was another HR that I played perfectly. I was on the aisle and the ball was hit straight to the staircase I was at, and all I had to do was go down about 2 steps, here it comes…, raised up my glove, getting closer…, about 10 feet away…, then right at the last second, some (@*&$#!) very anxious guy stuck his glove in front of mine and snagged it. To say I was upset with that one would be an understatement. I wasn’t mad at the other guy (I was at first) as much as I was mad at myself for not positioning myself right in the first place. That one took a little longer to shrug off, but I did, ’cause there was still more BP to go.
I met up with the guys for the Rangers’ portion of BP. They were one section over towards center. I didn’t even get close to any this time, but Shawn was able to snag a HR on the fly from Hank Blalock. Pretty cool too, he ranged about 10 feet to his left and snagged it between about 2-3 other people. I was happy for him, then I realized it’s kind of sad that we had to travel all the way to Houston just to snag a ball during Rangers’ BP.
Towards the end of the Rangers’ batting practice, Shawn noticed Josh Hamilton along the 3rd base line signing autographs. He wanted to get his BP ball signed, and I had my 2008 HR Derby ball with me (bought it on ebay). I have taken it to every game I have gone to since I bought it, with the intention of getting Josh to sign it, so far unsuccessfully. There was a TON of people over there already, and we didn’t know how much longer he would be signing, so we ran over there as fast as we could (getting told by security to slow down along the way). When we finally got over there, we squeezed our way down to the railing, just as Josh was making his way past our spot. He was slowly making his way toward the outfield, and we knew he would start coming back our way. Here’s a shot as he passed by the first time….
He did come back over, in fact he came over right next to Shawn, because there was a young boy from the “Make a Wish” foundation that was trying to get a bat signed. Josh signed the bat, posed for a couple photos with the boy, and took off towards the dugout. Pretty cool moment. No autographs for us though, but that’s okay, that young man had his “Wish” come true for sure.
The game itself was good, the Astros got on the board first with a Miguel Tejada solo homerun that had to be reviewed by the umpires. First time for the Rangers to be involved in a review of a HR. They wanted to make sure that a fan did not interfere with the ball as Nelson Cruz was trying to make a play on it at the RF wall. It was ruled a HR. Oh well. The Rangers got theirs later in the game!
After about the 3rd inning or so, Dirk and I decided to wander the stadium. We made our way from our seats in RF, towards centerfield. Minute Maid Park has a pretty cool “Wall of Fame” in straight away center. (It’s not officially called that, but I like that name). They showcase Jeff Bagwell and his 449 career homeruns. Here’s a photo of Dirk in front of it….
Each one of those white dots is an actual ball that has been fastened (I’m not sure how) to the wall. They’re all rubbed, scuffed, and smeared in different ways, which leads you to believe that they are actual game-used balls.
Also on the “Wall” is a photo timeline of Craig Biggio’s 3,000 hits. It’s pretty cool, if I liked the Astros I may have been more interested and taken some pictures. What I did take a photo of is the Homerun Pump. Here’s the pic….
From what I can tell, it does nothing more than keep track of the homeruns hit at Minute Maid. And I’m not sure if it’s just the Astros’ HRs, or all of them. Does anyone know?
After seeing the pump, we walked over to LF behind the Crawford Boxes, which are what those left field seats are called because Crawford Street runs right behind the wall at left field. Here’s a couple views from that spot….
While we were standing there, Nelson Cruz hit his 2nd HR of the day off the CF wall. Followed immediately by Hank Blalock’s solo shot that landed 3 rows in front of our seats! Figures. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, we wouldn’t have had any shot at getting that ball (even though the guy who caught it threw it back).
Here’s a shot of the centerfield concourse area….
So, we continued on our journey around the park, stopping in the obligatory gift shop to see what they offer that the Rangers don’t. Which is nothing, by the way. Although Dirk did purchase some Astros inflatable bats for his 2 kids.
This is what the concourse behind our seats looked like….
We made our way back to our seats somewhere around the 7th inning, and stayed there until the end of the game. The Rangers won 6-3, thanks to Nelson Cruz blasting 2 HRs. Scott Feldman went 6-2/3 innings and picked up his 3rd win (3-0).
And, of course, we did our usual “scavangering” (is that a word?) after the game, and I came away with 3 ice cream helmets, 4 cups (their cups are pretty cool compared to the Ballpark in Arlington), and some tickets. Here’s what they look like….
The trip home was somewhat of an adventure. When we reached the van after the game, we realized that one of the tires was flat on the van. After about an hour delay, we were on our way home, after stopping for some Mexican food of course.
Next game: Monday 5/25 vs. The Stankees….
I was looking forward to this game for two reasons: 1st-The Rangers were just getting back from a 7 game road trip, and 2nd-Josh Hamilton was going to make his first start after coming off the 15-day DL.
My friend Dirk & I got to the ballpark right at 5:00, and made it into the left field seats at about 5:10, so there were already people in the stands since the gates open at 5:05. Oh well, it wasn’t that crowded, so I still felt pretty good about our chances.
The Rangers were already hitting when we walked in, so we ran down to the front row, but out of about 12 hitters, 2 of them were righties (and we were in LF). We thought about moving to RF, but it was too crowded, so we decided to stick it out in left.
During the Rangers portion of BP, I think only one or two homers were hit in our direction, and the closest I could get was about 5 feet away. Blah. I got C.J. Wilson’s attention once when a ball rolled to the wall & he came over to get it. I called his name and held up my glove, and he looked right at me, and then threw the ball back in. Nice.
During the Mariners portion of BP, I still thought we had a good chance, because I had printed out their roster, coach list, & even made a cheat sheet of about 7-8 players with their photo, last name, & jersey #.
It came in handy only from the standpoint that I was the only one around shouting out first names, while everyone else was forced to shout #s since their warmup jerseys didn’t have their names on them. A few guys turned to look when I called their name, but I think it was because they were surprised that anyone actually knew them.
The Mariners’ BP was different for me, because the first 15-20 minutes or so was all of the lefties. Some would try to go opposite field, but they never reached the seats.
Then finally, the righties came up. Yay! It was short lived. Not only do their right handed hitters not have big time power, but I don’t think 1 of their balls hit the seats. As opposed to the lefties, which includes Ichiro, AND Griffey. (I was starting to think that we probably should have fought the crowd in RF).
Watching Griffey hit was pretty cool. I can’t remember, but in all the years that I have gone to baseball games, I think this may have been my first time to watch him take BP. And boy did he put on a show! He still has it, that’s for sure.
Batting practice came and went, and I was left empty-handed. I guess I had gotten a little spoiled, since the last two games I went to that had BP, I was able to come away with a ball each time. Oh well, there’s always next game!
Just in case you haven’t noticed, I didn’t take any pictures at this game. My wife needed the camera this same night, so I had to do without. Maybe that’s why I was shutout, I felt awkward even being there without a camera. Is that weird?
Our seats were in left field, and we stayed there until the 4th inning, when we decided to move to the 2nd level behind home plate to go for foul balls. Didn’t get any, but I still like going up there.
In the bottom of the 8th, we moved down to the 1st level behind home plate on the 1st base side. Nothing there either, but you can’t beat that view!
The game itself was good. Scott Feldman pitched 6-1/3 innings, giving up 1 run on 4 hits, with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts, and getting a no-decision. Derek Holland picked up his 1st win in his young major league career, and Eddie Guardado got the save.
Rangers win 7-1, Hamilton hit a 2-run homer in the seventh to break a 1-1 tie, and opened up a six-run rally.
Time of game – 2 hrs. 50 mins.
Attendance – 16,564.
Next game – 5/23 in Houston.
I didn’t originally plan on going to this game. I WANTED to go, I want to go to every game, but I hadn’t planned on it.
Thankfully, it was a 7:05 start due to it being the Sunday night ESPN game, so it gave me a little extra time to see if I could make it or not.
I was given a voucher for (1) free ticket to any home game, and I knew there would be batting practice today, and I also knew that this would be my last chance to see Zack Hample in action during BP. The next thing I know, I’m talking to my friend Dirk on the phone and we’re trying to make arrangements to get out there. After he talked with his awesome wife (that day was actually her birthday!), and I talked to my awesome/beautiful/understanding/amazing wife, it was settled. Sunday night baseball was in our sights!
We stopped and picked up our friend Shawn along the way, got to the ticket office, and made it inside the gate at around 5:10. The gates opened at 5:05, so there was already a fairly decent crowd for BP….
Shawn is in the center with the Hamilton jersey, and Dirk is on the very left with the blue shirt, camo hat, and glove. It doesn’t look like a lot of people in that photo, and it really isn’t, but that was taken right after we got there. It didn’t take long for the place to get crowded (well, crowded by our standards at least). There wasn’t any special giveaways or promotions, just ESPN, I guess that was enough to get some extra people out of the house on Sunday night.
For whatever reason, the Rangers did not take BP today. I overheard others say that it was because of the long game the previous night. Whatever! It ended at midnight, yes, but it’s not like this was a noon game, or a 3:00 game for that matter. It was a 7:05 game! Give me a break, I truly hope that was not the reason.
My one and only ball of the day came off of a deflection by Shawn. He was two rows behind me to my right, and a ball was hit right to him. I think he misjudged it or something, because it hit off his forearm on his glove side (yes, he was wearing a glove) and fell into the row between us, and right into my waiting hand! Just for the record, I beat Zack by about a second. Also for the record, I listened to Shawn say at least 3-4 times that day that the ball was really his. Like I told him, if it was his, he would have caught it. Right? Right.
Here’s another photo I took toward the end of BP….
I found out later, on Zack’s blog, that the guy in the gray shirt & red shorts in the previous pic, is another seasoned ballhawk named Dan, and apparently he’s local. Great. Just what I need, more competition. (Dan, if you’re reading this, I’m only kidding).
After BP was over, I wandered around and took some pictures….
The next two photos are of the glorious outfield gap….
This one is from the last row behind home plate, in the upper deck….
This is my photographic proof that Jerry Jones/ the Dallas Cowboys, or football in general, is not bigger than baseball….
The next group is my amateur attempt at a four-way….
I think I still need some practice, but not bad, I guess.
Right before the 1st pitch, I decided to get some cheese fries & a Dr. Pepper (my favorite ballpark meal!), so I could get it out of the way early. And, I was hungary, so it served two purposes.
Our actual ticketed seats were in section 10, which is in the lower level on the 3B side, just shy of the foul pole. The only photo I took from that spot was of the ESPN camera crew that was not too far away….
We stayed in those seats until the 3rd inning or so, and made our way to the 2nd level behind home plate on the 3B side, to go for foul balls. Here’s Shawn telling Dirk how he missed that BP ball (or so I assume)….
We were in that location until around the 7th inning, when we left to go down behind home plate. Our level 2 spot was okay, except for the fact that most of the batters that night were righties, so all of their foul-backs went to the opposite side of the field. Figures. Oh well, it was still pretty cool seeing everything from up there.
Our view from behind home plate was, of course, great….
That’s the great Michael Young in the above picture.
No foul balls back there either, although while we were down there, one was hit to the section we were in on the 2nd level. Of course. Doesn’t it always work like that?
The Rangers won 5-1, behind a strong showing by Matt Harrison (2-2), and a game lead-off homerun by Ian Kinsler (9). Time of game 2:53, attendance 20,132.
Here’s a photo of the ball I got during BP….
Next game….who knows.
This game was a toss up. The weather was horrible almost all week, and it culminated in what turned out to be a VERY bad storm. Batting practice was not meant to be, but we still had to make the decision whether to go or not. By we, I mean my friend Dirk and I. Well, at first it was the two of us, and then it turned into the two of us, my daugher Sarah, his son Ryan and daugher Kaitlyn.
So we decided to go anyway.
As we made our way from the parking lot to the ballpark, it started raining. We went to the box office on the 3rd base side to get our tickets for the night, and made our way to the 3B gate, and it was raining. By the time we got in line at the gate it was 4:35, and there was a fairly long line (well, long by our standards) and it was raining. The promotion for the night was a Nolan Ryan statuette to commemorate the 18th anniversary of his 7th no-hitter. It was a pretty cool figurine, but it brought a lot of people out to the ballpark that may not have been there on an ordinary night.
Here’s what it looks like….
The gates actually opened about 15 minutes early, because it was raining. Not just raining, but absolutely POURING. So, we got an early jump on….. nothing.
See, this is what nothing looks like….
Nice. Did I mention it was raining?
That’s the reason we almost didn’t come. But, it gave us time to wander around, take pictures, and meet up with someone I’ve wanted to meet for a while, Zack Hample.
I know, it looks like I just ran a marathon, but it’s rain. I promise. No really, I mean it!
After some more wandering, we decided to head down to get a good spot on the 3rd base side, and when we got there, we were just in time to see them remove the tarp. The 1st of 3 times that evening. Our grounds crew is OUTSTANDING.
Once the tarp was off the field, some of the White Sox were in left field warming up. And I got the chance to take a picture of Zack in action….
Zack’s the one with the backpack and the White Sox costume.
Actually, I took more pics & followed Zack around for a while (with his permission of course), and if you want to see more of that, you’ll have to check out HIS BLOG.
Anyway, so the game was going good until the end of the 4th, when the skies opened up…again.
By this time it was about 9:30 or so, and we really didn’t want to wait it out, since we had 2 little girls with us, and they needed to get to bed. So we made our way to the parking lot, and I took this rainy/blurry picture before climbing into Dirk’s truck….
Rangers won 9-6 (at around midnight). Actual time of game – 2 hrs. 37 mins. Total rain delayed time – 2 hrs. 27 mins. Attendance – 26,673 (yeah right!).
I know rain serves a purpose, but tonight was just too much for me. Hopefully next time, Mr. Sun will make an appearance.
I went to this game with my friend Dirk and we arrived early enough for batting practice. Unfortunately, the weather was a little sketchy all day, so we didn’t know if there would be BP (or a game for that matter!). So, we weren’t REAL surprised when we walked in through the 3B gate & saw this….
In case you can’t tell, the A’s are in left field & the Rangers are in right. As you can see in the 1st photo, the cage and screens are set up for BP, but they were only stretching (you can see tarps covering the mound & batter’s box). The sun was going in & out of the clouds for about the 1st 30 minutes or so, then they finally got under way.
But first, let me back up a little bit.
As we were standing in the left field stands, we noticed two balls on the warning track in straight away centerfield. We didn’t know if the Rangers started to hit & then stopped or what. So my mind starts to race & I’m thinking of all the potential balls that could have fallen in the gap between the field and the stands (the Ballpark in Arlington has a 3-4 foot gap all the way around the outfield wall, but only part of it is glove trick accessible). There weren’t any where we standing at that point, so the decision had to be made where the next/best place to go should be. I decided to take my camera & go to the bleachers in left-center & check that gap, while Dirk stayed with our stuff in left.
There were already two guys sitting in the front row of the section I was heading to, but I didn’t think they had a “ball-retrieving” device (& I was right). As I made my way down past the first few rows, I couldn’t help but look in the empty rows anyway. I knew those 2 guys had to have canvased that whole section, so I didn’t expect to find anything, but about 4-5 rows down, there was an “easter egg” laying there waiting on me! Ball #1!
For those that may not know the “ballhawk lingo”, an easter egg is a ball that is found in the stands somewhere (like an egg hunt except with baseballs!).
Needless to say, I was pretty happy! Especially when one of those guys noticed me pick it up & told his buddy & the ensuing look on his face was priceless.
Wouldn’t you know, I had my camera in my hand this whole time & I didn’t take one photo. I saw the ball & could’ve taken a photo, but that rush came all over me & I ran about 10 feet to get my hands on it. It may seem like I am making a big deal out of just one ball, but I am NOWHERE near Zack Hample status (or any of the other experienced guys for that matter), so ANY ball I get is a big deal.
So, after I got the ball & reality started to come back, I walked down to the railing anyways to check the gap for any potential balls. No luck. Oh well, I had one & I was happy anyway.
Shortly after my emotional roller coaster, I made my way back to Dirk & explained the whole thing to him. Wouldn’t you know, his 1st response was to see the photos! I’m still kicking myself for that!
Batting practice finally got underway, but the Rangers didn’t hit, just the A’s. It was okay, because I left my Rangers hat off & also had a roster that I had printed out to use for shouting out the players’ name instead of their #. What ended up happening, is I told a little kid next to me a certain player’s name, because he seemed real determined to get a ball from him but only yelled out his #. After I told him the guy’s name, he yelled it a thousand times (very loudly I might add), but it paid off for him since he got not 1 but 2 balls from him in BP. Brat. I shouldn’t have helped him. I’m just teasing, I loved it. I wish someone would have helped me like that when I was a kid. The coolest part, was the kid’s father was behind me the whole time. He tried to have his son give one of the balls to me, but I refused. He did the work, he keeps the rewards.
Dirk & I stayed in straight away left field all through BP trying to get a homerun on the fly. Only problem is the A’s only true long-ball hitter is Jason Giambi who’s a lefty. Oh well, I had one & I was happy!
We made our way to our seats before the lineup announcements & here’s the view we had….
Not bad, if I say so myself.
We stayed in our seats until the top of the 7th, when we couldn’t take the drunk guy next to us one more batter. Isn’t it amazing how one person can ruin your whole game watching experience?
So we made our way behind home plate to try for foul balls, which is what we had planned since the 1st inning, when it seemed like every batter hit one back there. Until WE got there, that is. We did have one close call, when a ball hit an empty seat about 2 rows in front of us to our left, then proceded to make a HARD 90 degree turn to our right & ended up 1 section over in the hands of a guy in the same row as us.
I’ve never seen anything like that before in my life.
The view was good though….
The game itself was good, the Rangers fought back from being down 3-1 & tied 4-4, to win it 5-4. No homeruns for the Rangers, but one big moment came in the bottom of the 6th, when Chris Davis was ejected for arguing a called 3rd strike.
Attendance was only 12,627, probably because of the weather. We found some stray tickets & programs (and 1 forgotten shirt), & made our way to the parking lot.
Here’s a photo of my “easter egg”….
And here’s the extra tickets we found after the game….
Next game — Sat. 5/2 vs. the White Sox….