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.
Well once again I skipped a game. This makes twice just this season that I have done that. I don’t know why, I just get busy I guess.
The game I missed was Monday 7/5 against Cleveland. I snagged two in batting practice both via the toss up, one from Darren O’Day (who tried to hit the bullseye and just about got the bullseye below the belt, on purpose I’m sure) and the other by Neftali Feliz. Rangers lost 9-3. Bleh.
Okay, on to today. I had taken 1/2 a day off of work today because there was going to be a special guest at this game and I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of time to hang out before the game. So I left work at noon, got home and waited impatiently for 2:00 when my friend Dirk would pick me up and we would head to the ballpark. We went over to the home plate gate and picked up the special guest and his friend, and we went to Pappasito’s for some mexican food. Man I love that place!
We chatted and stuffed our faces and arrived at the season ticket holder gate at around 4:10ish. We got our bags checked and tickets scanned and booked it on over to left field for batting practice. Our guest and his friend stayed in left field while Dirk and I went over to the bleachers in left-center.
Within a few minutes I had my first ball. One fell in the gap right in front of a boy to my left, so I reeled it up and handed it to him. He was excited and his father was grateful which made the whole thing good. My second ball would come the exact same way not too long after and as I tried to hand the ball to the same boy (he was the only kid in the area) he told me to save it and give it to another kid who didn’t have one yet. What a great kid! So, I did as he asked and as I was putting my retriever in my backpack I heard Dirk yell “BRIAN!” Then a split second later I hear “BANG!”. A ball had sailed through the front row railing and clanged off the bleacher bottom right beside me. I picked the ball up off the ground, gave Dirk a puzzled look, and put the ball in my bag. Within the first 30 minutes or so I had matched my single game record of three, and I have to admit that I began to get a little giddy at the thought of there still being about another full hour of BP left.
Oh the possibilities….
You may have noticed by now that I haven’t posted any pictures yet. Well, I didn’t take any during BP, don’t ask me why. I guess everything was happening so fast at the beginning that I didn’t even think about it. I took a couple later on though so be patient.
All of those possibilities that I referred to a second ago, well they didn’t last long, as I got nothing during the Indians’ portion of batting practice. Actually, I shouldn’t say “nothing” because I did get one ball, and I must say it’s the weirdest way I’ve snagged a ball yet.
As I said earlier, Dirk and I were in the left-center bleachers which is the same place we’ve gone the last four games or so. He’s on one end and I’m on the other. I’ve developed a habit of looking in his direction every now and then, I guess to see if he happens to be snagging one when I look or something who knows, but with about 10 minutes or so left of batting practice I look over and see a ball on the ground rolling towards me.
What?! I know that I had kept track of every ball hit, so where did this one come from?
That was just so you know what I immediately thought. Naturally, I walked over and picked the ball up and I asked Dirk if it was his, and he said no. I asked the little boy behind Dirk that he had just given a ball to, and he too said no. There was another boy a couple rows back that said he thought it had come out of the Indians’ bullpen after a pitcher had deflected a throw from his catcher and the ball went into the bleachers. As odd as it may sound, I found that to be the only viable explanation and accepted it. I then handed it to that same boy.
So, I ended up with four balls. As anti-climatic as it was, I had beaten my previous single game record of three by one ball. I guess I just had higher hopes, oh well, it was still cool.
Once batting practice had concluded Dirk and I decided to get a photo with our special guest and his friend, and here it is….
From left to right: Dirk, Kenny from Milwaukee, Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohanek, yours truly, and my other friend Shawn who arrived as BP was ending.
That’s right, Happy was in Arlington. I was so stoked when he told me he was coming down that I could hardly wait for this day to arrive, and I wasn’t disappointed. Nick is one of the coolest dudes I’ve met, so laid back and easy to talk to. I don’t what I was expecting, if anything, I think I just had a couple of reservations about meeting someone in person that before today I had only emailed. Is that weird? Probably.
Anyways, we had a blast. After BP we just kind of wandered the stadium. Nick and Kenny had gone to the previous night’s game, so he had already done his picture taking. We took him over to the Rangers Hall of Fame for a little bit, and he seemed to enjoy seeing some of the history of the team.
As for the game, our seats weren’t together. Dirk and I had our mini plan seats that were up in the third level, and Nick and Kenny had seats next to the hill in centerfield.
While we were in our seats I tried to zoom in on Nick and Kenny….
…. who you can see just to the left of the cameraman’s black umbrella. Nick is in the yellow shirt with his glove in front of his face. Funny, I didn’t know Nick was camera shy?!
Oh! I forgot to mention something that happened after the group photo above. I had brought my official “Happy Youngster” t-shirt to this game with the intention of having Nick sign it.
Here’s a shot as it went down….
I told Nick after the game that I would send him a picture of it hanging on my wall, so after he sees it, you’ll see it here.
Anyways, I tried to get more used to the camera Dirk had given me by taking some zoomed in game pics.
Here’s Josh Hamilton after his first hit of the game….
Here’s a couple more of Hamilton leading away from first….
I took more game pics of Hamilton at the plate, guys in the field, but they were all blurry so I deleted them. I guess I need more work with the image stabilizer.
I met someone else at the game tonight, Jeremy Hyman and Alex (I’m not sure if Alex is his brother or a friend). If you don’t recognize the name they are the ones from the blog: 30 Stadiums in 60 Days. Jeremy is a recent college graduate that decided to load up his car and tour all 30 MLB stadiums in two months. Can you believe that! I would love to do that and told him so, to which he said that he has heard that from everyone he’s talked to. He and Alex are both great guys, really taking in and enjoying every moment of their journey. After talking with them for about 10 minutes or so I bid them farewell and told them we’d stay in touch via the blogs.
Dirk and Shawn and I spent the rest of the game in left field. We didn’t get anything out there, in fact the closest we came to a homer was in the top of the fourth when Jayson Nix hit a solo shot two sections to our left that a guy in the front row bobbled and dropped into the gap. Now, I didn’t get a picture of where the ball actually came to rest because I’m a dork and didn’t think about it, but to save time trying to type out an explanation I’m gonna give you an idea from an old picture I have….
Now I must say that it doesn’t look like that any more. This picture is from two seasons ago when there was a manual scoreboard in left field. Now it’s a digital video board that is air cooled so most of the walkway back there is taken up, but the outfield side of the wall is still the same and the arrow is pointing to where the ball landed. It’s not completely flat, it’s recessed about a half inch or so, so the ball had a fairly good resting place.
The guy that dropped it was sick, he couldn’t believe he missed it (he would’ve had it if he were wearing a glove), and he stared at it for the rest of the game.
At that point, our minds were racing with ideas of how we could get that ball. We figured the quickest and easiest way was to throw our retriever at it and hope we hit it on the first try. We decided to wait until after the game so as not to draw any unwanted attention to ourselves but it wouldn’t matter. Somewhere around the seventh inning we noticed some comotion over there where the guy was sitting and a few minutes later Shawn went to look and said the ball was gone. Someone must have climbed up the wall from down below and gotten it.
Oh well. That’s okay.
The rest of the game was good, the Rangers came back to win 4-3.
After the game we all walked out of the park, said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.
Jeremy and Alex: It was great to meet the both of you, I hope to live vicariously through you for the next few weeks!
Nick and Kenny: You two are a couple of studs. You are more than welcome down here anytime (next time don’t stay in Dallas!). Nick, I’m glad I finally got to meet you bro. You truly are a class act.
Time of Game: 2hrs. 56mins.
Next Game: Wed. 7/28 vs. Oakland