Results tagged ‘ home run ’
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)
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
Well, this was going to be the last regular season home game for the Rangers. It was also Fan Appreciation Day, which means every half inning the video board would show a section, row, or specific seat that would win anything from autographed memorabilia to discounts at the gift shops. It’s always fun to wait and see if you win something. This will be my third consecutive year to go on this day, and I have yet to win anything (today included).
I attended this game with my daughter Sarah, my friend Dirk, and his daughter Kaitlyn and son Connor. I had purchased these tickets last weekend at the Angels game, and bought upper deck seats knowing we would be bringing the kids and expecting to be in the shade.
This is what it looked like from our seats….
Looks like I made the right choice!
Here’s our view of the action….
Yes they’re tiny, but we knew what was going on.
I was really hoping to add to our ice cream helmet collection today, being the last game of the season and everything, but today the Rangers decided to do away with using all the MLB teams as they have done recently and use only red Rangers helmets.
We already have some of those, but I noticed something different about these. Here’s a picture that I took later to show what I mean….
I have never seen an ice cream helmet with the MLB logo on it. I thought it was pretty cool, and worthy to be included in this entry.
The game was good. The Rangers jumped out to a 5-0 lead and held it most of the game.
Here’s some more shots from the upper deck….
I love that last one.
And here’s one of the kiddos….
At the end of the 7th inning we moved down to the third base side to try one last time for a foul ball, but got nothing. This was our view though….
The Rangers lead 5-0 until the top of the 8th when the Rays cut that lead down to 5-3. Marlon Byrd added a solo homer in the bottom of the inning, which brought out Frank Francisco to save the game in top of the 9th. Sounds easy enough right?
He allowed the tying run to score before Ron Washington pulled him with the bases still loaded and only one out. Rookie Neftali Feliz came in a got a ground-out, but the go ahead run scored on the play. The Rangers would go 3 up, 3 down in the bottom of the 9th and lose 7-6.
That one hurt.
It should have been a sweep, but instead they fell another game behind the Angels in the west.
Here’s a picture of a helmet I found after the game that I have absolutely no idea what it was used for, but I thought it was cool so I kept it….
Time of game: 3 hrs. 3 mins.
Next game: Playoffs? Or April 5, 2010. Opening Day vs. the Blue Jays
This game wasn’t decided upon until Saturday afternoon (8/1), when my friend Dirk and I were talking, and we realized that this was the last home game for the Rangers for a while, so we got our two daughters and we were off.
The recent weather for the area was on and off rain with cool temperatures. Not today. The rain was nowhere to be found, and the sun was out in full force.
Figures. Thursday, when we went by ourselves, it was cool and the sun was in and out of the clouds. Today, we take our daughters and we’re roasting, just like we were on this day.
When we got inside the stadium and went to the LF stands, the Rangers were hitting.
Woohoo! I haven’t seen them hit in a while, but it was short lived.
I barely made it to the first row in LF and I saw a ball land in the gap, but by the time I was able to get my stuff out, someone was already down there tossing it up to someone else. Blah.
Then, a couple Rangers righties (Marlon Byrd and Andruw Jones I think) started jacking the ball to the back of the LF seats. There’s a wide cross-aisle and a wall with a scoreboard at the back of that aisle, and they were hitting the wall! I was too low and too far to the left to even think about going for those.
After about 10 minutes, they were finished. Time to check the gaps and get ready for the Mariners.
Nothing in the gaps. And by 5:45, when the M’s should be about 10 minutes into batting practice, this was the scene on the field….
What?! No way, they HAD to come out and hit, right?
Well, we killed about 5 more minutes and went to RF to check the Rangers’ bullpen and the gap over there, and this was the scene then….
(Insert prolonged exhale here)
What you can’t tell from the previous photo, is that there’s two Mariners players in RF playing catch. Yippee.
So, the next plan of action was to find food, drinks, and A/C in whatever order we could get it, and we started with cooling off in the centerfield gift shop. We then made our way behind home plate for our usual “designated driver” free drink coupons and headed toward the concession stands for nachos, cheese fries, and two Dr. Peppers.
We bought cheap, upper deck tickets for this game, so we went up there to eat and watch the first few innings of the game. This was the view when we sat down….
I love the shade!
You can see that the cage from batting practice is still on the field. Soon thereafter it was removed and the grounds crew started chalking the batter’s boxes….
And finally, the finished product….
I must have seen that done a hundred times, and it still intrigues me to this day.
A little while later, the Mariners bullpen guys made their way to the visitors’ bullpen (notice the pink backpacks!)….
The game went pretty smooth through the first few innings, so it wasn’t long before we made our way to centerfield for the kids’ sportspark. The girls did the slingshot game….
….and, they hit some balls off of a tee….
We sought some much needed refuge under the misting fans also….
Sarah’s proud of her $1 Drumstick!
Once the game playing concluded, we were on a new mission: Foul ball spot.
Section 14, lower level toward the back of the section. About row 21-23, I can’t remember for sure. Here’s another view….
You know the cool part about the photo above of Michael Young at the plate? It culminated in this….
It was a solo shot in the bottom of the 6th that tied the game at 2-2. The very next inning, in the bottom of the 7th, Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a 2-run homer that put the Rangers in front to stay at 4-2.
No foul balls…..again.
At least the Rangers won, that’s more important.
On the way out of the stadium, the girls were able to get their picture taken with Josh Hamilton! Check it out….
He just stood there and smiled, what a great guy!
By the way, did you notice the stack of cups in Sarah’s hand (on the left)? She actually had twice that many, but I gave some to Dirk. She got a little carried away.
Here’s a photo of the extra tickets I found after the game….
Time of game: 2 hrs. 14 mins.
Next game: Mon. 8/17 vs. the Twins (long road trip for the Rangers)
Once again the Rangers had a strong showing in the Home Run Derby, and once again they came away with a runner-up finish.
I’m sure we all remember the show that Josh Hamilton put on last year. 28 home runs in the first round, numerous shots over 500′, the entire crowd at Yankee Stadium chanting his name, you couldn’t have asked for a better night. Well, you could have. He could’ve won.
This year, Hamilton chooses to sit out. Numerous weeks on the disabled list, with his most recent return merely a week or two ago, not to mention his team being in the middle of a highly contested pennant race, have left him thinking of more than the self-inflating Home Run Derby.
In his place, steps Nelson Cruz. Cruz came on strong towards the end of last season, posting decent numbers offensively, as well as showing off his cannon of an arm in the outfield.
This year, Cruz has hit 22 Home Runs in the first half to lead the Rangers, while enjoying very consistent playing time. He made the All Star roster due to the Angels’ Torii Hunter’s injury, and the fact that Cruz was the next highest player in the fan vote. The roster spot is his, as well as a spot in the Derby lineup.
With most of the attention in St. Louis going to the homecoming of Ryan Howard, and St. Louis hero Albert Pujols, it came as no surprise that Nelson Cruz seemed to go unnoticed. The national media had little knowledge of Cruz, so did the national crowd. All they knew, was Nelson Cruz plays for the Rangers, and that Josh Hamilton also plays for the Rangers, and everyone knows who Josh Hamilton is.
Now it’s time for the Derby, and who leads off the show? Nelson Cruz. Who ties Prince Fielder for the first round lead? Nelson Cruz. Who hit twice as many home runs in the first round as Albert Pujols did? You guessed it, Nelson Cruz. Who finished second to Prince Fielder? Um, yeah, Nelson Cruz.
I’m not going to harp on the fact that Cruz finished second, and that for two years in a row now, the Texas Rangers have finished second in the Derby. No, I choose to look at the positives. For two years in a row, the Rangers have been in the spotlight at the Home Run Derby. Yes, Josh’s spotlight may have seemed a lot brighter, and maybe it was, but don’t discount Nelson Cruz.
Here’s a guy that wasn’t even originally supposed to be there at all, and he turns around and shows up Albert Pujols in front of his home crowd! That’s not supposed to happen. Pujols was the favorite going into the Derby, he had the advantage. It was his for the taking, and he didn’t do it. Not because of a lack of effort, I believe Pujols works as hard as, if not harder, than anyone in the game.
It just wasn’t his night.
It was Cruz’s night.
Even though he finished second, and even though Prince Fielder hit the shot of the night at 503′, I truly believe this was Nelson Cruz’s coming out party.
From relative obscurity as an outfielder for the Texas Rangers, to a guy who outdid Albert Pujols in his home stadium, and gave Prince Fielder a run for his money on national television, Nelson Cruz is unknown no longer.
Everyone has now seen what he can do. Everyone has now seen the power he has. Everyone has also seen that the Texas Rangers are made up of more than just Josh Hamilton and Michael Young.
And with the Rangers fighting for the division lead coming out of the All Star break, everyone will also see that the Texas Rangers are not the team they used to be. They don’t need to win the Home Run Derby.
“Teams” don’t bask in individual achievements.
“Teams” play for October.
Like I said, another derby, another second, but, the Rangers are winners because they are now one step closer to getting the respect that they deserve.