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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
Well, just like I did for this entry I am going to combine two games into one entry.
I didn’t have a camera for either game because my oldest daughter has it with her on vacation in Colorado. So that leaves me without one. It’s okay, I’ll have my own eventually.
Game #1 on Tuesday 6/22 was pretty cool because of the seats my friend Dirk and I had. We got tickets on StubHub that were the same ones we had for this game against Detroit. Right next to the visitors’ bullpen.
I love these seats!
For batting practice, we got inside the park at around 5:30 and had a good 30-40 minutes of the Pirates’ BP. Dirk was able to snag 3 of his own, while I managed only 1. The one I got was a toss up behind the Pirates’ dugout by a guy that I assume is in the front office or something because he was wearing a dress shirt and dress pants. The Pirates were clearing the field and this gentleman was walking toward the dugout with a ball in his hand. As he got closer he started scanning the people behind the dugout, so I held my glove up and he tossed it to me. Whew! If not for that one I would have been shutout, and I’ve had enough of those this season.
As for the game, since I sat on the end last time we were over there, this time was Dirk’s turn.
The Pirates as an organization were very impressive to me this game. Especially for a team that seems to be struggling like they are. For instance during batting practice, while I was behind the dugout Andrew McCutcheon was signing autographs on the third base line. He must have stood there for 20 minutes! It was amazing. Then during the game it seemed like all of the bullpen guys were interacting with the crowd at some point.
At around the start of the fourth inning Octavio Dotel came into the bullpen and sat right on the other side of the wall from Dirk. When he walked up he asked how we were doing and if we were enjoying the game (even though the Pirates were losing at the time). Later on in the game I told Dirk that I would buy his ice cream if he Octavio’s autograph for us. After a few moments of hesitation we both had one of these….
… that would put an exclamation point on a great evening!
The Rangers won 6-3 thanks to trio of homers. A solo shot by Michael Young, a three run shot by Julio Borbon, and a solo jack by my man Josh Hamilton. Good times!
At some point during the game I noticed a lineup card taped to a wall in the bullpen and told Dirk that we needed to stick around for a little bit afterward so I could try and get it. First I asked the security guard working the ‘pen what happens to it after the game (I actually knew, but wanted to make it clear that I was not going to be a nuisance), and he said they usually throw it away. I asked if I could ask someone for it and he said go for it, so I did.
I asked I guy that came out and was grabbing all of the towels off the ground, and he walked over took it off the wall and came and handed it to me.
Yes! I’ve been wanting one of those for so long, it felt great to finally have one.
Here’s a picture of it that I took the next day….
I like how the Rangers’ hitters are color-coded. It took me a moment to figure out their system but from what I can tell the black lettered hitters are righties, the red ones lefties, and Smoak in blue letters is a switch hitter. Pretty cool how they designate them. I also like how it has the old Ranger logo above the lineup!
It’s very cool to me and I plan on getting it laminated in the very near future.
That’s it for the first game, now onto the second one….
This game was not planned at all. Dirk had been messing around online and found tickets for this game in the exact same seats we had at the previous game.
I was somewhat hesitant to go at first, because he and I would be taking our daughters on Sunday, we had just gone two nights prior, so I was torn. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to go, I always want to go, but I wasn’t to thrilled with having to call my wife and see how she felt about it. And honestly, I don’t like to be away from home too much, so I didn’t want to push it.
Well, my wife didn’t mind so we were off.
We got inside the park at almost the same time as the Tuesday game and caught about the same amount of batting practice.
Dirk changed it up a little this game, I stayed in true “left field” in the seats while he went over to “left-center field” in the bleachers.
I would get on the board within the first 10-15 minutes or so when Brendan Donnelly came to retrieve a ball by the wall in front of me. I had an idea that he might toss the ball up, but I couldn’t see him so I wasn’t sure. I paused for about 5-10 seconds waiting with my glove ready to snag a random no-look toss up, when all of a sudden there it was. I said I was ready, but apparently I wasn’t. The ball was about a foot to my left, but I had maybe a second to react, and I missed it and it fell into the gap. At least I was able to get it with my retriever!
That’s all I would get in the left field seats today. I didn’t really come close to any others, and before too long all of the kids in the park must have seen how generous the Pirates were being and decided to crowd all around me and start shouting for balls.
For the third straight game I went behind the visitors’ dugout. I don’t know what prompted me to start doing this, but I have. The first game was against Seattle and I got some great shots of the the guys in the cage, and I guess I was just drawn in by the close proximity of everything so I kept it up the last two games against Pittsburgh. I was tossed a ball last game by some random guy, and wouldn’t you know it but the same exact guy hooked me up again this game. Pretty sweet! I gave that ball to nearby kid that was trying to get autographs with his mother.
When BP concluded and I met up with Dirk, I decided that I just might change my strategy for future games. I mentioned earlier that Dirk had gone to the left-center bleachers, well he ended up with 6 on the day. That particular area is comprised of three sections and is probably 30 yards long. Dirk ended up going back and forth from end to end as parents would call him over to use his retriever to get the ball out of the gap that their child had dropped after getting it tossed to them by a Pirates player. What a deal! Even though he gave them all to the kids they were supposed to go to in the first place, they still count toward his totals because he snagged them. From now on, he and I are going to tag team that area, one on one end and the other one on the opposite end. With as generous as the visiting teams have been lately it sounds like a pretty good plan.
The game was good, the Rangers came back to win in walk off style 6-5 thanks to Vladimir Guerrero’s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.
Octavio Dotel, the Pirates’ closer that we talked to some on Tuesday came back out around the fourth inning again and recognized us. I had given him my free taco voucher that the ballpark gives out if the Rangers score a run in a specific inning, and I asked if he used it and he said he couldn’t find the restaurant. He may have been lying, but it felt good to have a conversation with a big leaguer. I would soon have much more than just a conversation with him too.
To cut to the chase, at some point in the game Octavio took my phone. Yes, you read that correctly, he took my phone. Not to be mean, or to steal it (like he couldn’t afford it!), but to be funny. I don’t know how long he had it, but I had it setting on a knee high wall next to me that is about head height to him. He grabbed it and handed it to the guy next to him to hide under his leg. When I went to grab it to check the other scores, it wasn’t there. I started to look at my feet, in the gap in front of me, in my backpack, in Dirk’s backpack in case he was trying to be funny, behind me, and it was nowhere. After around 10 minutes I started to panic, mainly because it’s an iPhone that is not under warranty and I really didn’t want to have to replace it.
I asked Octavio (we’re on a first name basis now), if he saw it on his side of the wall, and he played dumb for a second and then reached over to his teammate and got it back from him and gave it to me.
Man! What a dizzying array of emotions that swept over me in the next few minutes. Relief, at having it back. Slight embarrassment, from he and the rest of the bullpen laughing at me. And also hysteria. No the good kind. It was hard to stop laughing for a bit because after the rush of emotions stopped and reality began to sink in, I was beginning to realize that I was just pranked by a Major League baseball player!
Who else can say that?! Better yet, who else can say that that also has a blog to share it with the world?
Needless to say, I was thrilled to have such a cool story to tell. I already had gotten his autograph at the previous game, so to try and get something in return I mentioned his cap that was laying on top of the wall in front of him. I even went out of my way to say after the game, and he seemed to half-heartedly agree, but they lost. At the time fo the prank the Pirates had the lead, hence the good mood, since they wound up losing I was out of luck.
Oh well. As I said, the story is worth it.
The Pirates had another lineup card taped to the wall like the one I had gotten Tuesday night, and I told Dirk that if I was able to get it, that I would give it to him.
I did. Along with a smaller sheet of paper that I couldn’t decipher from that far away, but here it is….
It seems to be the Pirates’ way of documenting stats on that game’s starter as well as the bullpen guys. Kind of different but it’s definitely worth keeping.
And here’s a ball that I had autographed by bullpen catcher Heberto Andrade….
What an awesome two nights of baseball!
Time of Game: 2hrs. 45mins.
Time of Game: 3hrs. 6mins.
Next Game: Sunday 6/27 vs. the Astros
This would turn out to be a very enjoyable day at the ballpark for me. Aside from the fact that my daughter Sarah was not with me (that would have made the day perfect), it was just a great day all around.
My friend Dirk and I headed to the ballpark at around 2-2:30ish in anticipation of a large crowd and we wanted to be close to the front of the line to get in with the other season ticket holders. When we arrived at the gate, which would eventually open at 3:30, there were around 15-20 people in line. Not too bad. When we get in we head straight to left field and most others head to right field.
When we finally got in and made our way to the left field seats this was the scene for the first 30 minutes….
Including myself and Dirk (who is at the far end of these left field seats in the red shirt and tan shorts) there were only five (5) of us! For the first full 30 minutes!
It was amazing, but honestly I don’t know why I didn’t come away with 10 or more balls.
I stayed toward the left field foul pole like I have been doing a lot lately (to no avail), and after about 2-3 minutes Rangers’ rightie Michael Young hit one my way that I was slow to react to and eneded up picking it up off of the ground for ball #1.
Yes, that felt good! I had grown really tired of my current dry spell and was very relieved to have it end.
Not too long after my first snag, Josh Hamilton’s group had come up to hit and Josh was apparently working on his opposite field power, because he hit one about 5 rows deep two sections to my left that hit a seat and bounced into the gap in left field. It actually landed just to the right of where the guy in the red shirt and blue hat is in the previous photo. I headed over there with my retriever (in case you’re new to this blog or you forgot, I can’t use the glove trick anymore according to stadium security) and reeled it up within a minute for ball #2. Which I’m sad to add ties my personal record that I have achieved on two other occasions, here and here.
By this time I was feeling really good, and we still had about 10-15 minutes before the gates opened to everyone else! I was already thinking of at least three balls. I didn’t want to get greedy, I just wanted to break my personal one game record.
By the way, I showed you the view to my left earlier, well here’s the view to my right….
Just before the gates were about to open up to the rest of the fans, a ball was hit my way. It was coming right down the line, and all I had to do was go up one row (I was already on the aisle) and move in about 4 seats. The problem was I got there about a second after the ball did. It hit off the back of a seat and flew back on the field. Man!
Just in case you’re wondering, by this time my last report from Dirk was he had 5 balls. That’s the upside to where he was, he could snag them out of the visitors’ bullpen to his left, as well as the gap in front of him. It also helped that he was able to catch two on the fly (something I have never done).
Anyways, once the gates opened I didn’t spend much more time over by the foul pole. I made my way over to where Dirk was so I could be in a better spot once the stands started to fill up. Which didn’t take long either. Here’s a photo just 10 minutes after the stadium opened to the public….
It only got worse from there. This was my closest competition….
That was directly in front of me. There were five more just like these to my left. That’s okay though, I’m not complaining. Kids deserve to snag balls just as much as I do. It’s just that I saw my chance at breaking my record eventually vanish into thin air.
At this point, I was stuck on two balls, and Dirk had snagged seven (7). I think I will work my way a little closer to him next game. He would’ve had 8, but the guy standing right next to him decided to put his hand inside the pocket of Dirk’s glove just as he was about to make a basket home run catch. I hope it stung. Oh well, that stuff happens.
When batting practice was wrapped up we made our way out to the concourse to get some drinks. We had stopped at Taco Bell on the way to the park, so our food was already taken care of. Gotta love those value menus!
Our seats were in the third level behind home plate, so we decided to head that way to eat and escape the sun. This is what it looked like from up there….
Not too bad if I say so myself.
As the first pitch drew near I wanted to try and get a photo of Derek Holland delivering that pitch. My camera is not the best for long distance shots so this is the best I could do….
When we got to our seats we knew there would probably be no chance for us to move down to the lower level like we try to do most games, so we settled in with the intention of staying there the whole game.
After a few innings I started to talk to the gentleman to my left. He was in his mid to late 50s I would say, and he was there with his father who was most likely in his 70s. The son was in town from Philadelphia and had taken his father to this game. With my dad living in Arizona and me wanting so badly to go to a game with him I thought this was pretty cool. I asked the man about Philly, if he’s a Phillies fan, if he goes to a lot games. He told me that Citizens Bank Park either has or had a 63 consecutive game sellout streak. Wow. God bless the Ballpark in Arlington!
At one point the man got up to go to the concession stand and his father leaned over the empty seat, got my attention, and proceded to thank me for keeping his son company. What do you say to that? I simply told him the pleasure was all mine, and he started to tell me about how he grew up in upstate New York, and that all of his boyhood memories were of watching Ruth, then Gehrig, and all of the greats play live. I could’ve listened to him for hours, though it was only around five to ten minutes. Shame on me, but I never got either of their names. I would really like to thank both of them for making my night at the ballpark even much more enjoyable.
What a great evening! But it gets better.
I can’t remember the exact details, but to the best of my recollection in around the second inning, a foul ball was hit to the second level, first base side just past the media boxes behind home plate. Nothing special right? Foul balls are caught by someone every game.
A few innings later, a foul ball was hit to the exact same spot as the one I just mentioned, and the same guy caught it.
…. under the big red arrow. That is a zoomed in look of my view of his seat.
When he caught the second foul ball I knew I had to take this picture, and I wanted to mention it in this entry. As time progressed I decided that I wanted to get down there and talk to the guy, so when Dirk and I were ready to move down to the lower level we stopped on the way to find him. Oddly enough as we were about to go in the tunnel toward his section he came out of the nearest bathroom. Perfect. Now I didn’t have to look like an idiot in front him and everyone else, I could just look like an idiot to him!
I started off by asking his name (which is Chase Eriksen) and just some basic questions about how he felt. You know the drill, what did you think, what was your reaction, those vanilla questions. I then told him that I wanted to get some pictures of/with him to potentially use in an article on the mygameballs.com website. After a short explanation of what exactly that site was, we got to the picture taking.
Here’s Chase with his snags….
…. and just because this is my blog, here’s the two of us with his snags….
He was a real good sport. I know it must have been weird having a complete stranger come up to you and want to take pictures with you, asking your name.
Oh, I forgot to mention that he was in the emergency room just that morning with a kidney stone. At the time I was talking to him he had still not passed it, but was all hyped up on pain medication and almost didn’t even go to the game. I’m sure he was glad he decided to go.
Chase, I hope you’re “passed” the worst of it now. If you’re interested, you can read the article that Alan Schuster wrote about this event here.
See, I told you it was a great evening. What else could you want?
Oh yeah, there was a game on the field. It was a good game, a close game throughout the whole thing. Other than the fact it sounded like there were more Cubs fans than Rangers fans, and also that the Rangers ended up losing, it was a very exciting game. The Rangers hit two home runs (one by Nelson Cruz and one by Vladimir Guerrero). The game was tied 3-3 after the 4th and stayed that way into the 10th. The Cubs then began to pinch hit three straight left handed batters against Darren O’Day who gave up two runs. The Rangers got one back in the bottom of the inning but that’s all they could muster.
Rangers lose 5-4. Dirk and I’s record at the ballpark this year fell to 8-1.
The Rangers lost and Sarah wasn’t with me, but today was still a very memorable day at the ballpark for me.
Here’s a couple looks at the two balls I snagged today….
Time of game: 3hrs. 8mins.
Attendance: 46,180 (yuck!!)
Next game: Fri. 6/4 vs. Tampa Bay
My wife and kids were out of town this weekend visiting family, so I had the weekend to myself.
Hmmm, what to do?
Well, the Tigers were in town for a four game set and my friend Dirk had found two tickets online for this game, so off we went.
The Rangers have a Friday promotion going this season that they call Firework Fridays. In the promotion they offer tickets for $10 on tickets regularly priced up to $25, as well as $5 parking that is regularly $12, and a post game fireworks show. Oddly enough it’s that last fact that brings out all of the people.
It was a 7:05 start, which means gates would open at 5:05, and season ticket gates open at 4:35.
We were in at 4:35.
The last game we attended there was no batting practice, so we were a little more excited than normal for this game. We wanted to get back on the board.
We got over to the left field seats as quickly as we could only to find that the cages were not up for BP.
Two and a half hours before the first pitch, what in the world were we supposed to do now? Apparently, since the Rangers got in from Boston so early in the morning they couldn’t have batting practice.
The only thing left to do was wander and take pictures.
Dirk and I got these pictures of each other at the visitors’ dugout….
I’m the handsome fella on the right by the way.
Here’s what “BP” looks like with no cages….
Kind of hard to have batting practice huh?
Anyway, we went to get food and drinks, and along the way I got this photo….
…. from the area just outside the Diamond Club, where you can get a buffet for $27.95.
After getting some much needed grubbage, we went over to the Rangers Hall of Fame. Before this year it had been known as the Legends of the Game Museum, which touched a little of everything across the entire league. Apparently, that was too much to ask of the ownership or somebody, because it is now strictly just devoted to the Texas Rangers. I guess that’s okay, the old museum cost $6 in addition to your game ticket, and the new one is free.
We weren’t in there too long, but I was able to get some pictures. This one is of the trophy that the winner of the Lone Star series (Rangers vs. Astros) receives at the conclusion of the two series (one series in Arlington and the other in Houston)….
This is my friends Dirk and Shawn under the division championship banners from the ’90s….
That’s it from the Hall of Fame. It’s still under construction so there wasn’t much else to see.
We headed over to the visitors’ bullpen to just double check and see what was going on and saw this….
Do you see it? Let me give you a closer look….
The left part of the arrow is pointing toward a ball, and the right side is pointing to the lazy security guard that wouldn’t even get up and kick, throw, roll, or toss the ball to us. I was about to fling my glove out from the left as you look at the picture when he stopped me, and said that I could not use my glove. I could only use a ball retriever.
His words, not mine.
My response was, “A glove IS a ball retriever!” He said that he agreed with me, but was only relaying what he was being told.
We didn’t spend much more time trying to get it, since there was no use, so we went to our seats which were actually where the three guys are standing to the left of the bullpen two photos back.
My seat was right on the rail that separated the bleachers from the bullpen. Sweet!
This next photo is just to show how much velocity is behind the pitches that the pitchers make….
If you click the above picture you can really see how deep those dents are. Kind of a random shot, but I liked it.
Just like this one….
Obviously, that was later in the game, but I wanted to stay in the “random” moment.
I was able to grab a short video on the camera of the bullpen guys being silly. I don’t know how else to upload it so just click the following link. (Be prepared, it’s a 14 second video that takes a couple minutes to load. If you take the time to upload it I think you’ll enjoy it.)
Here’s a shot of starting pitcher Max Scherzer and pitching coach Rick Knapp….
For that last photo I actually had to stick the camera out past the railing and turn it toward the opposite end of the bullpen to take it. I couldn’t see what I was doing, but I think it turned out okay.
As far as the game is concerned, it was exciting. Scary at times, but exciting nonetheless.
The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st inning thanks to Vladimir Guerrero’s two-run homer (Man, am I glad we signed that guy!). They added a run in the 4th with a bases loaded walk to rookie Justin Smoak to go up 3-0. Miguel Cabrera hit a two- run single in the top of the 5th to cut the Rangers’ lead down to one. Michael Young added an RBI groundout to put the Rangers up 4-2, and that was it for the scoring until the 9th inning.
In the top of the 9th the Rangers sent out Neftali Feliz to get the last three outs of the game. With two men on and two outs, Austin Jackson had a 13 pitch at bat that culminated in a game tying, two run single. Man!
In the bottom of the 9th with one out and one man on, Elvis Andrus swung through strike one and fouled off strike two. Both fastballs. On the third pitch Andrus smokes one up the middle for a walk off single and the Rangers win 5-4. Bring on the fireworks!
What a great game to attend! When you watch a game on television that gets close like this one, you don’t get near the same feeling as when you’re actually at the game. What a rush.
For those of you out there that have seen Monty Python’s “Holy Grail”, you might get a kick out this next photo. I took this of the pitcher the Tigers had warming up in case the game went into extra innings….
“We are the knights who say ni!”
Sorry, I just thought that was amusing.
Time of Game: 3hrs. 4mins.
Next Game: Sunday 4/25 also vs. Detroit
To say that I was excited about this day would be an understatement. I was pumped for this day. Partly for the fact that this would be my first doubleheader in 5 or 6 years, but also for the fact that in the month of August, the Rangers only had 10 home games and I only made a couple of them.
I was in serious need of some baseball!
With all of the anticipation and build-up I was feeling heading into today, I would soon find out that things would take a serious downturn.
I had taken off half of the day to get to the ballpark at around 1:30 or so, since the first game was scheduled to start at 4:05 I read online that the gates would open at 2:05, and my friend Dirk and I would run in for batting practice.
First sign of downturn: We got to the gate at around 1:45 and were told by the stadium employees that the gates weren’t going to open until 2:30. Great.
Second sign of downturn: While waiting in line, I realized that I had once again forgotten my camera.
Third sign of downturn: After running inside and heading to the left field seats, we noticed that the field was not set up for BP.
(Insert long, exasperated exhale here)
Well, there wasn’t anything to do. The Rangers pitchers were in RF stretching, and only a handfull of Blue Jays pitchers were in LF throwing. Dirk and I checked the gaps for balls, more out of habit than anything else. I put on my Jays hat and stood along the LF railing hoping to get a ball. Nope.
We had such high hopes heading to the ballpark. Weekday afternoon game, kids were back in school, it was almost a guarantee that we would have an awesome day. Add to that, the fact that we were the only two in the LF stands…..man!
Anyways, the Blue Jays pitchers didn’t stay on the field much longer, and almost everyone else in the stadium was crowded around the RF corner to watch the Rangers stretch, so we found our own ways to pass the time.
Dirk noticed a trash can in the visitors’ bullpen that was right below us as we looked over the railing. That may seem odd to point out, but when I looked closer, I noticed that the only thing in that trash can was the previous game’s visiting bullpen lineup card.
Oh man, we had to figure out a way to get that!
I quickly scanned the immediate vicinity, and there was no one. Literally, no one was around. The closest usher was five or six sections away, and he was busy talking to 3 other ushers.
Dirk decided to put gum on the bottom of his ball retriever and try to reel it in that way (because he thought it was laminated), and it would have worked except for the fact that there was still masking tape on the card and it was sticking to the trash bag. Plus the fact that the gum was smearing all over the lineup card, and since Dirk realized it wasn’t laminated after all, we soon abandoned that mission.
The next plan of action was to get food and drinks. That mission was easily accomplished.
Our seats were in the lower level of RF, and once the game started, we sat there for the first three innings. That’s when noticed how empty the stands were, and proceded to move to the third base side, about 20 rows behind third base.
That was our foul ball spot for the entire first game.
We had one close encounter in around the 5th inning. A left-handed batter for Toronto (don’t know who) hit a high foul in our direction. I saw it the whole way off of his bat, and it was coming in my general direction. I had to move to my right about 10 feet, but it didn’t take long for me to be in line with it. Right at the last second I noticed that it was falling short, so I leaned over the seat in front of me as far as I could, stuck my glove out, and still missed it by about a foot. The ball hit the concrete between the rows and bounced over my head and was caught by a bare-handed man about 4 rows back.
So close, yet still so far away.
We got to see some good baseball in both games. The Rangers won both by the score of 5-2.
The one negative of the evening was in the 3rd inning of the 2nd game, when Michael Young pulled a hamstring running to first. He left the game, and is set to have an MRI the following day (today 9/2). Hopefully, it’s not real bad. They need him on the field for this stretch run.
Sadly, I have nothing more to report other than the fact that I got a Diamondbacks ice cream helmet. Well, that and Josh Hamilton finally added to his homerun total. He hit two in the 2nd game to give him 10 on the season.
Time of game: (Game 1) — 2 hrs. 38 mins. (Game 2) — 2 hrs. 54 mins.
Next game: Sat. 9/12 vs. the Mariners
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)
Since the last two games that I attended were minor league games, I was WAY overdo for some Major League Baseball.
We arrived at the gate at around 4:40 or so, and waited as patiently as we could for 5:00 to get here. When it finally did, we raced to the LF stands just in time to see this….
The Mariners were just coming out to stretch.
So, that gave Dirk and I time to check the gaps and stands for balls, which we found none. The Rangers must not have come out for BP today. Oh well, they’ve done that before.
Once the Mariners started hitting, we weren’t sure how it was going to go for us. We had been to a BP earlier in the year where the M’s hardly hit anything into the LF seats. Griffey and Ichiro have no problem supplying the people in the RF seats with balls, but we were skeptical of the righties on the team. After the first 10 minutes or so, that skepticism would soon fade away.
Dirk and I positioned ourselves on the railing, one section over from the visitors’ bullpen. Like I mentioned, there wasn’t much action for the first 10-15 minutes, but after that we had some shots at balls. At one point we were as close as 2-3 feet apart, and at that point some high school-aged kid thought that would be a perfect place for him to stand.
“Do you REALLY think you have ANY shot at a ball, standing between two adults with gloves?” That’s what I thought, not said.
I usually let a lot of things go, mainly to avoid any potential confrontations, but this kid was making it especially difficult for me to keep my mouth shut. All that came out of his mouth was negative. Some examples:
“Hey how ’bout a ball?” And when they would throw the ball in to the bucket, “Oh nice, real good. Way to appreciate the fans.”
Or when a player would go to retrieve a ball on the warning track, “I got jipped out of a ball earlier.”
Not to mention, he was responsible for Dirk and I both dropping a homerun ball. He bumped into Dirk and the ball fell in the gap, but Dirk was able to get it anyway. He bumped into me, and the ball skipped off the end of my glove and into the glove of a guy behind me.
First, don’t force your way into a space you shouldn’t be in, and then act like a (insert your own word here) while you’re there.
Second, no one gets jipped out of a ball. You either snag it, or you don’t. Plain and simple. Yes, I hold him responsible for missing a HR ball, but I blame myself also. I could’ve been more assertive, but that’s not who I am. I also don’t think that “entitles” me to whine to the players on the field like they owe me a ball.
Sorry for that rant, that guy just really got on my nerves.
Back to batting practice….
As I mentioned earlier, the skepticism in the M’s righties was short-lived. There were a lot more balls hit into the LF seats than we expected. Of course, there was a fairly decent crowd on hand, I guess because of it being cap night. So, our range was limited, leaving us to helplessly watch numerous balls fall into the gloves/hands of others.
At one point, a ball fell in the gap and Dirk gave me the heads up to go and get it. We take turns with gap balls, it’s kind of a routine between the two of us. So without any hesitation, I was on it.
I got to the spot where I figured the ball would be, looked down and scanned the area, and noticed the ball was in an odd spot. Here’s a photo I took a little while later to show the ball’s position….
This angle is actually looking down and to my left. The point of the arrow is in the exact spot that the ball was in.
The first plan of action was to get the ball out of that spot and into a position more directly underneath me. To do that, I had to lower my device (I decided to lower the device instead of my glove because it’s smaller, and I thought it would fit in that small space better) and swing it left to right approximately 6 feet. It was a little awkward at first, so it took me a few tries, and on the third or fourth swing I was interrupted by this guy….
Seattle pitcher David Aardsma.
He walked over and picked the ball up, and my first thought was “Cool, this guy’s gonna save me the trouble and just toss it to me!”
Turns out I was wrong.
Mr. Aardsma proceded to walk back up the stairs that lead into the visitors’ bullpen and throw the ball as hard as he could back toward the bucket.
There were so many thoughts going through my head at that point, that I didn’t say a word. What could I say? He didn’t have to give it to me. I had no legal right to that ball. To say I was mad though would be an understatement.
Partly for the fact that I was wearing a Mariners hat!
Oh well, there’s nothing left for me to say, except….
You have now been given a Zack Hample-esque “Powell Jinx”.
Consider this your official notification.
As numb as I was by this point, and as disinterested in BP as I became, I still managed to get 1 ball out of the gap. It helped, but there was still some pent up bitterness inside.
This ball turned out to be my 6th of the season, and 10th lifetime.
Batting practice ended with no more balls and no more incidents to report. It honestly couldn’t end fast enough.
We went and got our free drink vouchers after signing up to be designated drivers, cashed them in, and then got food. I had my usual cheese fries and Dr. Pepper, and felt much better!
We got to our seats with our food just in time for starting lineups and the national anthem. This was the awesome view I had from my seat….
I really can’t complain since Dirk bought my ticket, but still, how about a little “obstructed view” notice or something? Come on, Rangers!
The view of the game wasn’t really that bad, especially since the Rangers hit two homers on either side of us while we were out there.
We stayed in those seats until the top of the 5th, when we decided to go for ice cream.
A little back-story….
The last time I was at a Rangers game, I made my own ice cream helmet sundae in a roundabout way, and I fully intended to do the same thing this time, until we walked up to the ice cream booth and saw an amazing sight. They were using these….
I had no idea that a little piece of plastic could change my whole attitude!
After getting our ice cream, the next mission was to find a spot to eat it. Well, we found one. Section 15, on the lower level third base side, just past the infield. Here’s the view…
One odd thing that happened while we there….
A foul ball was hit about one section over to our left, and a guy in an aisle seat stood up and put his glove up, and let the ball bounce right off of his palm. Nothing special, right? It happens all of the time. Well, just keep reading….
A little while later, with a different pitcher on the mound and a different batter at the plate, another foul ball found its way to the exact same guy, and once again he muffed it! It hit off of his palm just like the first one did, and someone else got it just like the first one.
How weird is that? I heard about a guy in Oakland that had a similar experience in 2006, but he had a better turnout.
I thought that was worth sharing.
As the game wound down, instead of going behind homeplate like we usually do, I wanted to go over by the visitors’ bullpen to try and get a ball from the bullpen catcher. When we got over there, we saw this….
See the two pink backpacks? One is on the left end of the bench, and the other one is on the ground behind the white chair. That is “Seattle Mariner Rookie Initiation” at its finest.
I also saw this….
You see the ledge next to Phillips #62? Just in front of him, to the right? Knight helmets. I have no idea what those are for. More initiations? Maybe Mr. Todd Cook will leave a comment on this. He’s the biggest M’s fan that I know of. I’m curious to know what’s up with those.
The game was exciting from a Rangers fan point of view. Derek Holland pitched a perfect game into the 5th inning when he gave up the only Mariner hit until the top of the 9th.
Michael Young hit two homeruns, and Hank Blalock, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Marlon Byrd each hit one out to give the Rangers a 7-0 lead.
Holland retired the first two batters in the top of the 9th, then walked one and gave up his second hit of the game. Rangers manager Ron Washington made a pitching change with 2 outs in the 9th.
Warner Madrigal came in, walked one to load the bases, gave up an RBI single, then finally got the 3rd out.
Holland struckout 10 batters on the night. Rangers win 7-1.
Here’s a photo of the ball I got, and also one of some tickets I found after the game….
Next game: Mon. 8/17 vs. the Twins
And for the record – I didn’t get a ball from the Mariners’ bullpen catcher like I had hoped.
One parting shot of the Mariners’ bullpen guys walking off the field. Sorry for the blur, but I zoomed in as far as I could….
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.
Well, the 2009 All Star break is upon us, and as I write this, the State Farm Homerun Derby is this evening. Wow! Where did the first half go?
I wanted to stop and take a second to look back on the season so far, to see what stands out to me. Now, as a Texas Rangers fan, my thoughts and views will probably be somewhat biased.
I never would have thought that at the A.S. break, we would see Manny Ramirez have more homeruns than Josh Hamilton, since Manny was suspended 50 games, but it’s true. To date, Manny has 9, and Josh has 6. Now, in Josh’s defense, he’s missed some games due to injuries (which were also unexpected).
Also, where did the homerun stroke from Nelson Cruz come from? 22 HRs so far, after hitting 7 all of last year!? Granted, he has seen a lot more playing time this year, but I don’t think anyone expected this kind of performance from him.
You can also turn to Chris Davis and his unbelievable defense at first base, but as you then look at his offensive numbers, they leave much to be desired. So much so, that Chris finds himself down in the minors. Hopefully it’s only temporary. He’s shown that he can hit major league pitching, though not consistently. The talent’s there, now the mental aspect of the game needs to catch up.
I know there’s more that would come to mind if I kept going (like Ian Kinsler getting snubbed in the voting, Michael Young making his 6th straight A.S. game, Hank Blalock, Andruw Jones, Elvis Andrus, and many more), but I want to know what your thoughts/memories are.
What stands out to you? Who has impressed you? Who has disappointed you?
I’d like to know, and not just about the Rangers, I want to know about all teams.
This post is going to be, I assume, primarily for my fellow Rangers fans out there. Although, I would welcome the opinion of any fan to this entry, just keep it clean!
We’ve now reached the end of June (close enough), and the Rangers have let their 4.5-5 game lead in the division slip away. They have the worst team batting average in the majors for the month of June, and now they have a 5 game losing streak. The only player in the lineup with an average over .300 is Michael Young, who on the flip-side is batting only .218 with runners in scoring position.
The last time that the Rangers had a 5 game losing streak, was back in April when they started 3-0 then lost the next 5 and everyone was writing off the season. You can read what I wrote about that here . Since then, the Rangers have gone on to lead the division most of the way thanks to the Angels dealing with their own injuries and lack of run production. During that time, manager Ron Washington was given a contract extension after some fans wanted him gone in April.
Adding to this sudden quandry is Josh Hamilton. He started off the season slow, and talk began to spread of him over-extending himself last year. Then, he seemed on his way out of whatever “funk” was holding him back, then came the injuries. Groin strain, abdominal tear, hernia scare, multiple stints on the disabled list, now here we are less than three weeks away from the All-Star break, and it doesn’t look too promising that Josh will participate. As of today, 6/24, he has said that he could possibly play in the game, but most likely will pass on the Home Run Derby, the main event that everyone wants to see him in.
Don’t read anything into that. I’m not voicing any opinion there, just stating the facts as I know them at the present moment. Personally, I think Josh should do what is in the best interest of himself and the Texas Rangers, which is probably what will transpire anyway. He can’t afford to take the chance of playing and getting hurt worse, when his team is currently fighting for the division lead and in desperate need of his bat in the lineup.
With all this being said, the Rangers are still ahead of schedule. The mentality of the coaching staff and the front office heading into this season, was they were planning on 2010 being the year of the pennant run. 2009 was a toss up, a crap-shoot, and here they are with the opportunity to head into the All-Star break with either a tie or the lead in the division.
All of you “it’s the same ‘ol Rangers” fans out there that think the worst after one loss, or want Chris Davis gone, stop for a minute and think about the last time we were able to complain about a first place team.
So, I want to hear from you. What do you think?