Results tagged ‘ Nelson Cruz ’
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)
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
Sunday June 27th was a long day. Literally, it was a long day, that’s not a complaint. We left our house at around noon, stopped at a convenience store for water and batteries, and headed to the ballpark. It was a 7:05 start. Why did we leave so early you ask?
Let me explain….
My friend Dirk and I had been talking to a gentleman that is a season ticket holder who mentioned all of the autographs he gets at the games he goes to. At any given moment he can pull a ball out of his bag that has been autographed by a Ranger. You name them, he has their autograph. Naturally, Dirk and I were very intrigued and inquired how he came about them. He then told us that he stands by the parking lot tunnel that the players drive into either before or after games. Some players stop and some don’t, but he says of all the times he’s been out there he has come away with at least one autograph. That settled it, we had to do this.
We had actually made one attempt at getting some autographs prior to this afternoon. Dirk and I went out there after the game on Thurs. 6/10, the only problem was the next day was an away game so all of the players were in a hurry to get to the airport to head to Milwaukee. At least we got a feel of where to go, plus we saw what some of the guys’ rides were.
So that brings us to this day. It was a weekend game as well as a 7:05 start, so we loaded up our daughters to make our first true attempt at getting some Rangers autographs.
Here’s a photo I took of the girls shortly after we arrived at the tunnel….
The area was nothing more than a median, like on a roadway. There are two fairly tall pine trees that offered really good shade, as well as there being a decent breeze to make it even better.
We got there at around 12:30 and there was already about 8-10 other people there who said no one had stopped yet, and only a handful of people had been by so we knew we were in good shape.
Our first autograph would come from the manager, Ron Washington….
The photo on the left is of Dirk, his daughter Kaitlyn, and my daughter Sarah. The one on the right is just Sarah. I took two photos of each autograph so Dirk would have one of his daughter and I would have one of mine. Just a semi-unnecessary explanation of why there’s two pictures of each.
There were periods of inactivity between autographs, and during one of these periods I realized that I was in dire need of a bathroom. I had drank a bottle of Mountain Dew on the way there and was now paying for it. I didn’t want to have to walk anywhere, but I didn’t have a choice. Long story short, I had to walk about a quarter of a mile to a youth ballpark located just outside the Rangers’ ballpark. By the time I returned, the girls had gotten Nelson Cruz’ autograph and just finished getting catcher Matt Treanor’s….
Just for the record, I don’t know the lady that’s in the photo, I just wanted to document what Treanor drove. And in case you’re wondering, we got Washington on a baseball, Cruz signed a hat that Sarah wanted to get a bunch of autos on, and Treanor signed a ball. If I had been there, I would’ve had Cruz sign a ball and Treanor sign the hat, but oh well. We were happy to have them period.
The next one that stopped was hitting coach Clint Hurdle….
The fifth and final autograph for today would come from pitcher Chris Ray….
…. who would also sign Sarah’s hat.
Pretty cool! In all, we were out there for about two hours and came away with 5 autographs. Of course there were guys that drove by and didn’t stop, but that’s understandable. I didn’t expect to get all of the teams’ autos today. We were completely satisfied with what we came away with.
At around 2:30-2:40 we left and headed over to Pappasito’s for a late lunch. Gotta love Mexican food!
After stuffing our faces we headed back over to the ballpark and walked in the gate at around 4 o’clock. There was a pregame concert by Los Tigres del Norte so the gates were opened earlier than usual, but it didn’t matter because when we got out to the left field seats we saw this….
The ballpark hosers. Yes, the cage was up but, I’ll admit, I was still a little scared because we usually don’t see them until after batting practice. After about 5 minutes of uncertainty a guy walked out and set an empty bucket by the screen in centerfield. Yes!
I shouldn’t have doubted that there would be BP, but I haven’t ever been in that early before so it threw me off.
Within the next fifteen minutes the Rangers would come out to stretch and throw….
…. and five minutes after that, they would start to hit and I was forced to stare at these for at least 10 minutes….
…. which, I’m sad to say that I would not get.
I would get on the board though when a kid next to me dropped a toss up into the gap that I would reel up with my device and give to him. He was thrilled, because he thought he was out of luck. When he saw me get it and slowly bring it up, he was ecstatic. I love doing that, because it’s a double win. I get to count it because I reeled it up, plus this kid in particular got his very first Major League baseball. It doesn’t get much better than that.
I came within inches of catching my first BP homer on the fly. I leaned as far over the rail as I could but was still about two inches short and the ball fell into the gap directly underneath me. Unfortunately, there just so happened to be a guy walking by down there that would pick up the ball (before I could tell him not to) and toss it up to someone else. Oh well, that’s the way it goes sometimes.
That was it for the rest of batting practice for me. Seriously, for both teams. Now if I wanted to start counting toss up “assists”, I would have cleaned up. I must have pointed to 6-8 different kids at various points of batting practice and every one of them got the ball. I even toyed with the idea of pointing to myself a couple times for fun but thought better of it. The kids would get their ball and run off to show someone what they got. That may have been my problem. If I had not pointed and just let them stay around, maybe I would’ve had more gap-retrieval opportunities. Who knows?
If you’re wondering why Sarah wasn’t by me trying for her own toss ups, it’s because she and Kaitlyn were by the left field foul pole up under an overhang in the shade. It was hot. Very hot.
Once the Astros’ BP concluded I walked a couple sections over to where Dirk was and we noticed a ball in the middle of the visitors’ bullpen. It wasn’t placed there, but hit there during batting practice. I asked the closest security guard if I could swing my device out to knock it closer and he said go for it. It was about 6-8 feet out from the wall so it took a few throws but it worked. I would soon reel it up for our 2nd and final ball of the day. Dirk would end up with 3 of his own (all with his device), and I had to fight off a little disgust at never being able to out-snag him.
We next went to track down the girls and go sign up to be designated drivers and get our free soda coupons. There’s two different places in the ballpark and if you do both, you get two coupons which is cool because Sarah and I both would get free drinks.
Along the way we saw the Silver Boot trophy which is what the winner of the two Rangers/Astros series receives….
I’ve been told that the boot is a size 13. In case you were wondering…
The four of us didn’t sit together this game. Sarah and I were in the upper deck on the first base side, and Dirk and Kaitlyn were in the bleachers in left-center.
Here’s a picture from our seats….
…. of the second appearance of the day by the Ballpark Hosers.
The camera I was using was given to me just that morning by Dirk, so I had to get the hang of using it. I had grown so used to my wife’s camera from using it for a couple years, that this new one was a whole new animal.
Here’s a shot of where I stood during batting practice….
I know you can’t tell where I’m talking about, but it was above the “g” in the blue Samsung sign in left-centerfield.
Here, let me test out the zoom and show you a closer look….
Come to think of it I was actually across the aisle from the spot above the “g”, but who’s keeping track?
I asked Sarah what she wanted me to take a picture of next and she said the Texas flag, so I obliged….
…. with both “Texas” flags.
The pregame festivities included a tribute to Hispanic heritage….
…. as well as the TCU baseball team, who had just been eliminated from the College World Series the previous day….
I also took a few shots of the Rangers during their pregame warmups….
The photo on the top left intrigued me because it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a catcher throw to a catcher. The photo on the bottom right was taken about 5 seconds too late. That’s Vladimir Guerrero getting stretched by the trainer and Josh Hamilton behind him (or above his head, however you want to describe it). Josh had gone about 10-15 feet away from Vlad and got down on his belly and “army-crawled” all the way to him. When he got there, he did something (I didn’t see what) to scare the he!! out of Vlad. I saw him crawling, looked away to get my camera ready, and looked back to see Vlad and Josh laughing. I wish I had seen what he did, but at least I saw some of it.
I mentioned before that Dirk and his daughter were sitting in the bleachers, well I zoomed in as far as I could and this is where they were sitting….
If you click on the photo you’ll see two red arrows pointing to Dirk and his daughter. I told him to call me around the third or fourth inning to see if there were any empty seats that Sarah and I could have.
Somewhere around the fourth inning he said there were two available in the row behind him, so we headed that way and when we got there I took this photo of Sarah….
…. behind section 53 in left-centerfield.
While sitting in the outfield I took the following two pictures of different angles of the park….
…. and I must admit that I like them both.
As far as the game goes, the Rangers scored early and often accumulating 10 runs by the end of the 6th inning, and that would be all they would need to defeat Roy Oswalt and the Astros. 10-1 was the final. Josh Hamilton hit the second longest home run in the history of the Ballpark in Arlington. It was a 468 foot, two-run mammoth shot to the 2nd deck above the Rangers dugout in right field.
The game was exciting on all fronts and capped off what was an all around great day of baseball.
Time of Game: 2hrs. 38mins.
Next Game: Wed. 7/7 vs. Cleveland
I was real fired up for this game, being that it was the first home game for the Rangers since May 23rd, plus the fact that I was attending this game with my aunt Lori, I was ready.
We got to the park at around 4:05 and stood in line until 4:35 when the gates would finally open. It was hot standing in line, so I knew it was going to be a scorcher during batting practice, but that’s okay I was eager to get snagging.
When we reached the left field seats, the scene was basically the same as it has been the last couple of games I’ve gone to. It was me, a vendor that was out of uniform, and two other guys for the first 30 minutes of BP.
I wouldn’t have to wait long to get on the board either.
Within the first five minutes Josh Hamilton was working on his opposite field power again. I say again because I had snagged an oppo homer from him at this game. Today I would snag another for ball #1 of the day. I didn’t catch it on the fly though, it hit a section to my right and I ran over and picked it up out of the empty row.
Rangers pitcher Derek Holland, who is currently on the disabled list, was in left field directly in front of me and I noticed the hair on the back of his head looked completrly shaved, so I got his attention and asked him if he shaved his head, and he lifted his hat and sure enough it was all gone. I gave him a thumbs up and let him get back to work. A few minutes later he tossed a ball to a guy a section to my right, so the next time he had a ball in his hand I called his name, but to no avail.
The wall in left field has a video board that is actually in the gap between the stands and the outfield wall. Here is the best photo I have to show this….
Sorry for the bad exposure, but it served its purpose. I was actually standing directly above the Min/Oak game summary that’s the 2nd from the left.
That entire video board is air cooled, meaning that there huge fans that are constantly running to keep this thing cooled off. I’m telling you this because after two unanswered call outs to Holland I felt that he probably couldn’t hear me. I then started to realize why I never try for toss ups in the first place. I feel uncomfortable doing it, like I’m trying to compete with little kids, though were none around yet.
About 5 minutes later something odd happened. I’m not sure if Holland did something to get my attention or if I just happened to look at him, but he flashed a ball at me and fired it from about 30 yards away directly into my glove for ball #2. How cool is that? I yelled out a quick thank you and stuck it in my bag.
It wasn’t my first official toss up, but it’s the first one I have gotten without having my daughter Sarah with me.
So, once again I was at my personal record of two (2) balls. I have achieved this total on three different occasions and wanted so desperately to surpass it.
I kept waiting. Nothing was falling into the gap in front of me or the visitors’ bullpen to my left, so I was left with trying to snag on the fly, something I have never done. A little while later a ball finally landed in the gap and I was all over it. Or so I thought. By the time I got my retriever out of my bag and made my way over to the spot I needed to be I noticed that I would not be able to snag this one. Well, not without potentially wasting a lot of valuable time going after just one ball. You see, the ball had come to rest in front of the video board. The best way to describe it is, the wall that the players on the field would hit if they ran into it is actually chain link fence (yeah let that sink in a moment). Then there is about a 5-6 inch space before you get to the actual video board itself which is bolted into the concrete. After that is a 3-4 foot walkway between it and the stands. There, clear as mud? Good.
The ball had landed in front of the video board, but to the very end of it. I possibly could have swung my retriever to try and knock it out to where I could raise it up, but didn’t want to risk losing out on balls that were hit into the seats. So I forgot about it.
Not too long after a Rangers rightie that I couldn’t identify hit a bomb that was going to land way behind me to my right, so I took off up the aisle beside me and made to the appropriate row a split second after the ball hit about two seats in. I grabbed the ball off the ground for ball # 3. Yes! Finally I had outdone two balls. The only downer was Sarah was not with me. When I got home and told her about it she was upset for a moment then smiled and said we would set our own record! I love my daughter!
The Rangers finished up a short while after I had snagged my third ball, so I went to sit with my aunt who had been sitting in the shade this whole time. We watched the first 5 minutes or so of the Rays’ portion and after seeing no balls hit out in that time we decided to head elsewhere. By this time the gates had opened to the rest of the fans, it was hot, I really didn’t want to try and outsnag kids (Fridays are fireworks games so the kids are out in force), so we went over to the Rangers hall of fame since my aunt hasn’t seen it yet.
From there we made our way out to the centerfield gift shop and I was treated to a new t-shirt by my awesome aunt. I got a red Nelson Cruz player shirt. I’m really growing fond of him.
After the shopping we got drinks and cheese fries and headed to our seats in the upper deck. Section 339 row 1 seats 9 and 10. The best part about these seats is the fact that the sun was behind us! See ….
The game was slow. By slow I mean it was a 7:05 start and by 9:00 it was just the fourth inning! So food was a big player this evening. After the cheese fries there was kettle corn, a hot dog for my aunt, a cheeseburger for me, sunflower seeds, ice cream, and of course drinks. Lemonade was the drink of choice tonight.
There was some offense to be seen, Josh Hamilton (my favorite Ranger and possibly favorite player) hit a solo shot in the fourth inning. Rookie first baseman Justin Smoak hit a 2 run shot of his own in the second. The Rangers were down 4-0 before Smoak’s tater, then exploded for 7 runs in the bottom of the fourth to lead 9-4. The Rays would add single runs in the 6th and 7th but would fall short, losing 9-6.
The starting pitcher for the Rangers was the normally on fire C.J. Wilson. Although tonight he would only last 5 innings, giving up 5 runs (3 earned) on 6 hits, with 5 strikeouts and 4 walks, while picking up his fouth win. Neftali Feliz came in to pick up his 15th save of the season.
Here’s a goofy shot of the 3 balls that I came away with tonight….
Time of Game: 3hrs. 10mins.
Next Game: Not really sure, either Thurs. 6/10 vs. the Mariners or Fri. 6/18 in Houston
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
Well, I actually missed a game entry. I went to the 5/12 game against the A’s, took a few pictures, saw some good baseball, didn’t snag any balls, but had a fun time at the ballpark.
There. That’s got to be the shortest game summary on mlblogs.
I also went to the Thursday 5/20 game against the Orioles. I left work at 5:30 so batting practice wasn’t going to happen, but my friend Dirk and I figured that seeing as there was no promotional giveaway this game, and they were playing the Orioles, the odds were pretty good that the crowd would be pretty small. It was.
Tonight was all about the foul ball.
Even with leaving work much later than I normally do on game day, we still walked through the gate at around 6:15. It was a 7:05 start so we had some time to kill.
We went back into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame like we did at this game and thankfully there was more stuff to look at this time. They had the second floor open so we went up there to check it out and I took some photos with my phone looking out toward the field….
This next photo is actually an old pic that I wanted to use as an example to show where the above photos were taken from….
If you click on the last photo you’ll have a better look at the two red arrows in right field numbered 1 and 2. The location of the #1 arrow is where I took the first two pictures above. The location of the #2 arrow is where I took the photo looking out to the sports park behind centerfield. It actually looks to be tied into the centerfield offices (the white part of the stadium from left center to right center), but you get to that point through the second level of the hall of fame which I never knew before. After figuring that last part out when we went back out to the field level, Dirk and I started in with the “so this where the “other half” watches the game from” jokes. What can I say, we are easily amused.
Our seats for this game were in the third row of the bleachers in left centerfield, which we only stayed in for an inning or two. They were in this vicinity….
Click the photo and you’ll notice the red arrow just to the left of Green’s Hill, that’s the best visual I can give of where our seats were.
By the end of the second inning we had already moved around to the third base side to go for foul balls. Usually, we will wait until the end of the third at the absolute earliest, but there were just so many empty seats that we had to give it a shot. Thankfully it worked.
We were treated to 35 total hits, 20 by Texas and 15 by Baltimore. The Rangers hit three home runs (1 each by Nelson Cruz, Vladimir Guerrero, and Matt Treanor) on their way to a 13-7 victory. It was a welcome change from the 3-2 and 4-3 games that we have become accustomed to so far this season.
As for the foul balls, they would elude us once again. The closest we came at this game was one that was caught about 10-12 rows in front of us. Oh well, we’ll get one eventually.
That’s about it for this game, nothing else to report. The Cubs are coming in this weekend for a three game set and we are trying to make the Saturday tilt. It’s a 6:05 start with a post-game concert so there’s no telling how crowded it will be. I’ve heard on local talk radio that the ballpark is anticipating 110,000 people over this three game weekend. That comes out to around 37,000 a game. I hope they’re wrong, I really don’t want to fight all that madness.
Time of game: 3hrs. 34mins.
Attendance: 17,304 (That I can handle!)
Next game: Possibly, Sat. 5/22 vs. the Cubs
Well the day had finally arrived, Opening Day.
It started to feel like it had been forever since the last regular season home game I got to attend at the grand ‘ol ballpark, but it was here and I was happy.
The game was a 1:05 start and the gates were set to open at 10:00, so there was not much time to rest and enjoy the off-day in the morning. I had to get moving!
I was attending this game with my friend Dirk and he came and picked me up at my house at 9:00. We stopped at Taco Bell on the way and grabbed some burritos to take in to the park with us, went to will call and got the tickets, and made it to the left field seats at around 10:15.
Too bad batting practice wasn’t going to start until 10:30. Meh.
We found a spot we felt was going to work for us, so we put our bags down and got out our gloves and cameras.
Here’s a picture I had Dirk take of me before batting practice started….
….and here’s one of the centerfield offices….
Once batting practice got underway, this was the view to my right….
The view to my left was so much worse I didn’t even want to take a picture of it.
While the Rangers were hitting the Blue Jays came out into the outfield to start throwing, and I took a picture of my favorite Jay, Scott Downs….
For those that may not know, my daughter Sarah and I had a pretty cool encounter with Mr. Downs at a game last season.
You can read that entry here.
The Rangers took BP from 10:30 to 11:10, then the Jays hit from 11:20 to 12:00. During the Rangers’ portion there were not many homeruns hit our way, nor were there players tossing balls into the crowd that had found there way to the warning track.
The Blue Jays’ portion was completely different. It seemed like every other ball was a homerun that came to left field. It was so much fun, the only problem was how crowded it was. Moving was nearly impossible, and Dirk and I were on the first row. But Dirk had some more device opportunities in the visitors’ bullpen, and I was able to pull one up myself. It would turn out to be my only ball of the day and #2 on the season.
After batting practice concluded we made our way to our seats to get ready for the pregame festivities. This was the view from our seats….
Once the pregame activities started this was displayed on the video board….
I wanted to take photos of some of the players during the introductions, but my camera doesn’t zoom too far, so I waited until both teams had been announced and took this one….
I usually stand pretty still during the national anthem, but I couldn’t control myself and took this picture before it ended….
** One observation: At least they felt it important enough to turn the lights on for a 1:05 start. It was rather cloudy, but still, lights? **
I also snapped a photo of the flyover by some F-16s….
Then there was a paraplegic veteran that parachuted out of a helicopter and delivered the ceremonial first pitch ball to Roger Staubach….
That’s Roger in the jeans and Nolan Ryan in the suit. Ian Kinsler caught for Staubach who threw a chest high (standing up) strike.
Finally, the moment had arrived. The first pitch….
…. that was taken for a strike, which we all know means the Rangers are going all the way this year. No? Maybe it’s just me then.
The game was great from the start if you’re a Blue Jays fan, if not, it was brutal.
Scott Feldman gave up a two-run homer in the first to Vernon Wells, and a solo shot in the third to Aaron HIll which put Toronto up 3-0. Meanwhile, the Rangers didn’t even have a hit until the bottom of the seventh.
As for the bottom of the seventh, that’s when new Ranger Vladimir Guerrero stepped up to the plate to lead off the inning. Now, you’ll have to forgive me because I don’t remember the exact count, but a couple of pitches before Vlad got the Rangers their first hit, he hit a mammoth foul ball. By mammoth I mean, third level, even with the top of the foul pole mammoth.
Yeah, it was amazing.
To top it off, it looked like he barely even swung the bat!
Once Vlad got the first hit, it seemed like they just kept coming after that. Nelson Cruz stepped up with two men on and proceded to hit a three-run homer to tie the game at 3-3.
In the top of the eighth young Ranger reliever Neftali Feliz gave up the go ahead run to put the Rangers behind 4-3.
By the bottom of the ninth Dirk and I had already found different seats along the first base side, where we got to see Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit the game-winnng RBI single, and watch the players rush the field….
What a great way to end a great day, Rangers win 4-3.
Now if only the rest of the season could be like this!
Time of game: 2hrs. 36mins.
Next Game: Not 100% sure, but probably Sun. 4/25 vs. Detroit
This game, just like the one I went to on Saturday, was attended strictly from a game watching standpoint only.
The weather was better this day, but not good enough to offer any batting practice. That makes at least three games in a row that I have been to that have not had BP.
Oh well, at least there was baseball!
Now that you know that, this entry is going to be shorter than normal. I took some photos at this game, but not of the stadium. This game I decided to take some photos of some of the players.
But first, a look at the field from our seats….
…. and the centerfield message board just prior to gametime….
“It’s baseball time in Texas!” Quoting the great Ballpark in Arlington announcer, Chuck Morgan.
The next one is of Rangers left fielder David Murphy….
Is it me, or does he look like he was just caught relieving himself on the grass? Probably just me.
Those are the only pictures I took from those seats. Our seats were pretty good, by the way, straight away left, first row. Not bad, but we moved after the third inning to our new favorite foul ball spot on the third base side.
Here’s Marlon Byrd at the plate….
I mainly took this one, because I was wearing his t-shirt at this game.
This next guy should not need any introduction….
…. but just in case you still don’t know who this is, it’s perennial gold-glover Omar Vizquel.
That guy is amazing in the field. I’ve personally seen him play three different infield positions this season and do superb at all of them. He’s awesome.
Speaking of awesome, what about this guy….
….come on, don’t tell me you don’t know who Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez is!?
10-time gold glove winning catcher. World Series winner. Definate first ballot hall of famer.
The pictures of Pudge were mainly so I could have proof that I watched him play in person.
By now you should be able to tell the camera angle has changed. We moved behind homeplate at the end of the eighth inning.
Here’s another that I like, it shows David Murphy at the plate with Nelson Cruz on deck….
We didn’t have any close calls in our original foul ball spot, and for the first couple batters, we didn’t have any behind homeplate either.
Until the top of the ninth.
Oakland A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki stepped into the batter’s box, batting right handed, and proceded to foul off the very first pitch. I was one seat over from the aisle seat and this foul ball came screaming back over the screen, and I had just enough time to jump out of my seat and reach across my body with my glove while jumping as high as I could (which isn’t very high I might add) only to miss the ball by mere inches. It didn’t touch my glove, but it came as close as it could without hitting it.
I turned around to see where the ball went, and it hit something; a step, wall edge, I’m not sure, all I know is that I had my back to the field and the ball hit whatever it hit and ricocheted over two sections to my right.
So close, so very close.
That was it for this game, Rangers lose 8-0. Two shutouts in a row.
Time of game; 2 hrs. 45 mins.
Next game: Fri. 9/18 vs. the Angels
BTW — There was ice cream to be had this game, and here are the helmets I came away with….
I only had one, the other two I found. I promise!
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.