Game two of the three game series between the Cincinnati Reds, and the St Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals won the first game of the series which created a first place tie. I was thoroughly excited to be at the stadium today to watch this game. The Reds have been playing awesome baseball, and I really wanted them to take first place back.
Once I got to the stadium I ran around to the left field gates to see if batting practice was going to take place. What I didnt expect was 1,000 D.A.R.E students to already be in the stadium. They filled the first base side seats, and were being given some kind of lecture about drugs. So I raced back to the third base side gates, and pulled up some real estate.
Once the gates opened I knew that any chance of finding an easter egg was out the window. In fact once I got inside, and saw that both base lines were lined with kids, and parents I knew this would be one of those days at the ballpark. I was able to squeeze my way inbetween some kids, and waited patiently for something to come down the line. I didnt have to wait long before most of the Reds were done warming up, and Jonny Gomes kind of hinted to me that he was going to toss me a baseball. I dont know what it was but after we made eye contact I kind of knew that he was looking for a Cincinnati fan to toss a ball to. I nodded to him slightly, and put up my glove to about chest high. He tossed me a gem, and I quickly thanked him. I was standing by an older woman that had two kids with her that was astonished that Gomes threw me that. Well, at least the streak stayed alive, and I didnt have to really fight for a baseball.
Batting practice actually ended early for a D.A.R.E police car parade around the baseball field.
The people down by the dugout at the bottom of the picture were trying to get Dusty Bakers autograph. Him, and Mike Leake walked over to sign some autographs for the fans. If you get inside the stadium early enough you can get yourself a spot by the dugout just like these fans are doing, and probably get some pretty good autographs from players. Most of them walk over by request, and sign.
The game was an absolute edge your seat, well played, amazing baseball game. Probably the best game I had seen all year. Also note that before the game Scott Rolen came over to sign autographs, and I hooked him up with “Good Luck Knucks”. What did Scott Rolen do? Two home runs, and a double for the evening. He did very well. If youve been keeping up on my blogs throughout the season I also gave “Good Luck Knucks” to Dan Uggla when the Marlins came to Busch Stadium, and he hit a home run as well. As the season continues I kind of put a fine tune on my Good Luck Knucks. You know like personal rules that make it so it works everytime. I should probably write up a blog entry about my Good Luck Knucks.
So the game was a success for the Reds. They won despite having Nick Masset on the mound for an inning. I will tell you something else about the Reds bullpen. Arthur Rhodes ( despite him not being very fan friendly ) he has became such an asset for the Reds. With an ERA of .43 he has held just about every batter hes faced this season at bay. I really enjoy watching him pitch. By winning this game against the Cardinals the Reds were now back in first place in the National League Central division. So tomorrows game would be even more important to win because that would allow the Reds to gain some ground on the Cardinals. Unfortunatly for the Reds, the Cardinals had Chris Carpenter on the mound against Sam LeCure. LeCure got called up because Homer Bailey is on the DL with some shoulder problems or something like that. So we shall see. I was desperatly trying to come up with a way to jinx Carpenter so hed have a bad game but I couldnt think of anything.
As the ninth inning neared I beat out security again to get a baseball from the home plate umpire, and I was successful again in doing so. There wasnt much competition for a baseball, and the home plate umpire put it right in my glove. How about that. I didnt even have to catch it. So I made out pretty well at Busch. Two baseballs, and a Reds win!
Game: Cincinnati Reds Vs St Louis Cardinals June 1st 2010 7:15pm.
Game Balls: Two
This is me. Relaxing, and getting into the zone at Busch Stadium. It was hot, and muggy. But I felt good. I was well hydrated, and ready for some foul ball action. As I waited for the gates to open I watched Arthur Rhodes walked right by me, and into the stadium. Most of the baseball players come in this entry door on Stan Musial Dr. Just for future reference if youre after a certain players autograph.
Just passed the memorabilia stand there is a set of double doors. They go in there. Anyway. So the gates finally opened up, and I raced down to the third base side. For some reason the players were slicing everything to the first base side. The majority of baseballs were going over there. I thought about going over there to shag foul balls, but I knew as soon as I did that they would start hitting them to the third base side. So I stood my ground. My decision paid off, and it wasnt just moments later when I hot ground ball came my way. I mean right to me. The ball took a nasty bounce, and hit me right in the wrist, and then trickled down into my glove but rolled out onto the dirt. I frantically grabbed for it, and reeled it in as other people were reaching for it. I usually field those pretty cleanly but this one kind of got away from me.
See the usher thats standing on the field? Usually he stands right in front of me. But not today for some reason. He didnt even stand remotely close to me. I also noted that he doesnt come out with his glove anymore, and he doesnt stop any ground balls that come towards the fans. It think upper management recieved a complaint that the ushers were interfering with batting practice too much. I would have to agree, and support the complaint or the decision to keep the ushers out of the way. Fans should know the risk theyre taking when they stand this close to the field during batting practice. In fact Ive seen more people hit by overthrows from players than actual baseballs off the bats.
It seems like I get more baseballs within the first two hours after the gates open when there isnt batting practice. Ive only been able to get one baseball during batting practice at Busch stadium, and Im really thinking I need to change up my strategy. I pretty much ignored the Reds as they warmed up, and a few overthrows happened but nothing went into the seats. I positioned myself behind Jonny Gomes, and his throwing partner to catch another overthrow while batting practice resumed. As I was standing there I ended up chatting with an older gentleman from Quad Cities Illinois. Him, and I talked probably the rest of batting practice, and I totally lost focus. But we were talking baseball. We agreed on a lot of topics like steroids, players salaries, what the players have to pay for, what they dont have to pay for, etc etc etc. I mean we talked it up. Before I knew it batting practice was over.
Before we parted ways he asked me where I was sitting, and I told him I had purchased cheap bleacher seats because I chase foul balls. He offered me the aisle seat in the row he was sitting at which was about four rows up from the field. They were awesome seats, and I got to sit there for free. I told him I had to have the aisle seat though. I explained my ball snagging stats, streaks, and just about everything else to help convince him to allow me to take the aisle seat. So I wanted to dedicate this blog entry to Charlie, and his wife Mary for allowing me the opportunity to sit with you both. Charlie is a Vietnam Veteran, and he shared something with me. He did four years in Vietnam with only a two week break somewhere in the middle of all of that. Can you believe that? Four years in combat with only a two week break. He also said he “sometimes” got weekends off. Wow. I thanked him for his service, and it really was a delight to sit next to him. Thanks again Charlie. I will see you in September!
Three foul balls came to my location. The first one was a hot chopper that bounced all over the place, and It was just out of reach as I ran to the railing. The second one ( if I would have stayed in my seat ) I would have easily grabbed. It took one bounce, and right between everyone sitting in front of me, and bounced right off my vacant seat. I was too busy running to the railing to snag it on the fly. The third, and final one rolled to the wall, and bounced off the wall which sent it rolling along the wall right to the ball boy. I didnt even get up to make an attempt. If I did I would have got that ball. I couldnt believe I didnt get up, and go get it!
So then this happened.
And then this started.
Thirty minutes later….
And guess what else? Scott Rolen still gives, and gets a lot of love in St. Louis.
So after making it through my third official rain delay of the season, mis-playing foul balls, and having an interesting conversation about baseball with Charlie I had to explain that I would leave these wonderful free seats for more baseballs. Charlie, and Mary were okay with that, and we made a deal to meet up again in September for the final series against the Reds. I was excited to meet such great people! So off I went to get one final baseball from the umpire.
I didnt waste any time. Security had their hands full with fans leaving so I took that opportunity to dart right through, and down into the large swarms of people. I could hear security calling to me but I ignored her. I quickly found a vacant seat, and slumped down in my seat. I broke out my cell phone, and pretended to make a call. Security of course came wandering down the steps to find me but I blended in. As the final out was recorded I quickly made my way to the umpire exit area, and got the home plate umpires attention. He tossed me a gem, and I was out of there. I didnt wait around for the bullpen players. I rarely have any luck with those guys anyway.
Superman was in town. Im not sure what kind of crisis was going on in down town St. Louis. But whatever it was Im sure he had it under control.
Game: St Louis Cardinals Vs Cincinnati Reds May 31st 2010 3:10pm
Game Balls: Two
I love baseball history. Great American Ballpark is full of history. Well, not the actual stadium. I mean the Cincinnati Reds have a lot of history. They put banners along the third base side of the stadium like this one…
And this one…
And this one. This is my all time favorite Reds highlight. Mainly because in my opinion no one will ever come close to breaking this record. Pete Rose was one of the greatest players in all of professional baseball. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame despite what he did. Period.
And of course we cant forget this one…
The man that got caught snoozin` in the Mariners clubhouse. The man that doesnt want to retire. The man that says he still has some gas left in his tank. Ken Griffey Jr is another one of my all time favorite players. If he had stayed healthy his entire career there would be no doubt in my mind that he would be the one that broke the all time home run record. Not Barry Bonds.
The crowd was light today. Here is a picture of my favorite security guard that told me to have a seat yesterday. I didnt press my luck with him today. I worked the dugout instead. ( No batting practice today ) I made small talk with one of the security guards that was running people off left, and right. The only reason why he let me stay was because I actually had a ticket for the section right behind the dugout. I bought one ticket on the aisle for $30 dollars off Stubhub.com. Can you believe that? On the aisle no less! Anyway. So he let me stay. I asked him about some of the rules as well. He told me that unless you have a ticket you cant stand behind the dugouts during batting practice. If you want to go stand in a different section but have a ticket for infield box level you can. But you have to stand three rows back, and once the crowd thickens you have to stand in the row.
As I was standing there some Reds players started heading to the dugout. I identified one player. J.R Towles.
Kind of a strange picture, I know. Its the only one I could find. Anyway. So I called out to him, and held up my glove. He threw me a perfect strike, and I thanked him. The security guard got a kick out of how easy I got a baseball. I mean, he was talking to me about how other fans try so hard to get one, and they never do. I just smiled. I wasnt about to tell him how many baseballs I usually get at games. More Reds players were on their way over to the dugout, and I started to wave my hand, and glove in the air.
See the guy in the blue shirt with the hat on? He saw me catch the baseball thrown by Towles. So this guy started busting my chops about it when I was trying for another baseball. He told me since I already got one I should let other fans get one. What other fans? In this picture do you see any other fans trying to get a baseball other than me, and this guy in the blue shirt? If I had turned around, and taken another picture of the stadium seating there were even LESS people behind me! Most of the fans were trying to get autographs. Not baseballs. I paced back, and forth in the row, and he stayed right in front of me. He would look back to make sure where I was, and make adjustments as I did. I was really annoyed. I finally said something to him.
” What are you trying to do here, sir? Are you trying to keep me from getting another baseball or are you trying to get you a baseball?” I asked as I paced.
” You already got one.” He said again for like the fifth time.
” I promise you I will leave this stadium with more than one baseball today. I got one yesterday, and Ive gotten at least one baseball in the last 30 games Ive attended in a row.” I said. I didnt want to air my stats, but what the heck.
“ Youve got enough. Let others get one.” He finally looked back at me as he spoke.
All I could do was laugh. I told him how ridiculous he sounded, and I made my way over to the Reds bullpen area.
Look. A sign that says players arent allowed to sign autographs, or throw baseballs to the fans. Moments before I took this picture Aaron Harang was busy signing two autographs inside the bullpen for some fans. Maybe family members? I dont know. It was memorial day so maybe some lucky soldier, and his wife got to take a tour of the bullpen, and meet Harang. Anyway. The security guards continued to mean mug me as I took pictures so I decided to leave.
The game was finally under way, and I had awesome seats behind the dugout. I had on my Astros hat so I was pretty much guaranteed a few baseballs. Just like at Kauffman Stadium when Todd Helton threw me three baseballs. After the bottom of the first ended Hunter Pence came trotting over to the dugout. He had caught the final out of the inning so I raised my glove, and he tossed a high arching throw right to me. All I saw was about four or five hands taking swipes at the baseball. I caught the ball, and chuckled at all the attempts to catch it. The people next to me high fived me, and told me it was proabbly because I was wearing an Astros hat. Yeah. Probably. Then some guy behind me told me to put on my Reds hat, and get a baseball from a Reds player. I told him I would have to run to the other side of the stadium to do that. It was too hot to be running around for baseballs.
The game was a straight pitchers duel. Not one run was recorded. The bottom of the sixth had ended, and Lance Berkman ended up with the baseball. I raised my glove, again and hollered out to him. He tossed me a perfect throw, and I squeezed down on the ball. People behind me of course started to make their comments about how I had two baseballs now, and I should be giving them to the kids. But I did have some encouragement from some fans in front of me. They told me to keep doing what I was doing. I had planned to.
Finally the game reached the bottom of the ninth. I had made my move to where the umpires left the field just in case of a walk-off.
The Reds failed to score in their bottom half the of the ninth inning. So into extra innings we went. But it didnt take long for the game to end. The Astros scored two off of a Lance Berkman double into right center, and the Reds couldnt get any runs across home plate. After the finaly out I stood up, dodged a security guard and slinked up against the plexi-glass window. See the stairs? Yeah. I was RIGHT in front of them. The umpires started heading towards the stairs, and I asked for a baseball. The umpire nearly underthrew me so I had to stretch a little, and basket catch it. As soon as I got the ball some lady behind me started huffing, and puffing. She protested to her husband that I was the guy catching all the baseballs from the Astros, and I had like six! Really, lady? I had four. Anyway. She shoulder brushed passed me to get down to where I was to get a baseball but by the time she got there the home plate umpire had given out all the baseballs or was out of sight. I could hear her complaining all the way up into the main concourse. It was extremely slow getting out of Great American Ball Park.
Game: Cincinnati Reds Vs Houston Astros May 30th 2010 1:10pm.
Game Balls: Four