May 2011

5-5-2011 Safeco Field

Batting practice was extremely slow. The Mariners were completely ignoring everyone in the centerfield ‘Pen area. Even friendly shout-outs from the fans like, “Hey, how are you doing today?” were blown off from them. I don’t know if they were all having a bad day or it was just one of those unfriendly days. So I decided to line up at the stairs early. The Mariners didn’t have anyone that could hit a baseball to the centerfield seats anyway. As soon as I lined up someone hit a monster bomb towards the vistors bullpen. The ball clanged off the bullpen bench overhang and shot right at a group of people. They all scrambled for it and somehow it got loose and rolled underneath the staircase. I darted around the stairs and gave chase but I was immediatly blind-sided by some middle-aged man that wanted the baseball more than I did. He shouldered me into the wall, and knocked my hat off in the struggle as he kicked the ball from my reaching grasp. I wanted to give chase and spear tackle him into the nearest brick wall. I was furious. I said a few choice words and decided it wasn’t worth it. If I engaged in physical violence with this shmuck I’d probably get thrown out of Safeco Field. That just wasn’t my style.

     Before the horn blew to allow us into the rest of the stadium I did witness a baseball hit into the seats on the first base side. So at the last moment I changed my decision to go up the centerfield steps instead of the bullpen stairs that led into left field/3rd base area. It paid off too. Well, I did have to run the entire outfield concourse and then chase down three sections. After that I diligently scoured the seats until I found the baseball. A security guard was watching me the entire time and smiled when I found the ball. I was lucky the baseball didn’t get free from a seat support then roll all the way to the bottom of the section. At least I got my cardio in for the day. 

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I lined up behind these two Texas Rangers. I could not identify them and I was hoping for an overthrow. The ball sailed high and to the left and it landed about six rows up when it happened. I jumped over the first two rows and saw that some girl was running farther up then she had to. Gravity is my best friend. The ball just trickled down to the row I was standing in and I reached over the seats to scoop it up. “I didnt know which row it was in.” The girl said with a laugh.

After that I decided to hang around the Rangers dugout.

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After batting practice concluded the Rangers pitching coach had a baseball in his hand. He was looking to toss it someone. So I gave him an upnod and sure enough he tossed me the baseball. It was the nastiest, most dirtiest baseball I have ever put my hands on. It also smelled of some kind of chemical. Maybe rosin. Im not sure what was on the baseball but it made my backpack stink for days.

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Here’s another picture of the baseball out of focus this time.

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After that I waited for the game to start. I even asked one of the security guards if I could stand in her section and wait on the warmup baseball. She told me I could stand in row 12 and back. She then proceeded to tell me it would be impossible to get a warmup baseball because the Rangers don’t always throw the ball into the crowd. And sometimes they leave the field on the other end of the dugout. And sometimes they give the ball to a kid. I just stood there and stared blankly at the roof. I even noticed a little trap door while she was talking.

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The trap door is the little white speck in the middle of the picture. It was very interesting. Anyway. After being denied by the Rangers on the warmup baseball I took my seat in the outfield and patiently waiting on a home run ball that never came my way. I keep telling myself that If I sit out there long enough I will be the guy that the baseball comes directly to.

 

 

Game; May 5th 2011 Texas Rangers vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; Three

Attendance; 14,205

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $26.00 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $10.00 this season.

 

5-4-2011 Safeco Field

     Since yesterday was so successful I considered entering the stadium from the centerfield gates again. With no one even at the gates one hour prior to them opening I decided to pounce on the opportunity. Once inside I let the fans get Erik Bedard’s attention and I held up my glove when he looked our way. He threw the ball very low and it actually came close to hitting the top of the wall. So I had to lean way out and make a quick scoop for the catch. The Mariners were being pretty generous to us in the ‘Pen. They tossed up about eight baseballs in that thirty minute time span.

     Right after I had caught the Bedard toss up the Mariners started to yell “Heads up!” And I saw Erik Bedard pointing skyward. The ball clanged against the railing and ended up falling down into the gap behind the wall. It wouldnt be as easy as assembling my glove for the glove trick to get the ball this time. The ball actually landed in the corner way out of reach. 

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     In the picture above the ball used to be sitting in the corner. But I swung my glove out to knock it down and it ended up scooting behind the fence. You can barely see it but its there. So I wandered over to the nearest, most friendly security guard I could find and told them that a baseball was down in the gap behind the fence. Of course she didnt take my word for it and had to investigate herself. “Sure enough! There is a ball there!” She said. Yeah. I asked her how she would go about getting it and she told me she had to wait for the keys to unlock the gate near the Mariners bullpen. She then would climb down a latter and get it. As I was asking how that particular procedure went down there was a high drive deep to centerfield. The ball cleared the wall and landed in the grassy area behind the batters eye. I quickly ran over to the railing and waved my glove at the security guard. He hooked me up and I thanked him.  

     Once the security guard climbed down the stairs and got the bseball she asked if I had already gotten one. I told her I had and she gave it to the nearest kid. At about that time it was nearly 5:05pm. Time to line up at the stairs. As soon as the horn blew I was off! I sprinted up the stairs and ran down into foul territory searching for any easter eggs left behind by security. I found one by the wall and then I found another one tucked away underneath a seat.

     As the Mariners left the field and as the Texas Rangers started to come out onto the field I quickly switched caps and found a nice cozy spot on the third base foul line. Taylor Teagarden and Zachary Phillips ended up playing catch in front of me. It wasn’t long before Teagarden missed the throw from Phillips and I was able to snag it before it broke my face. Teagarden waved for me to keep it since they were done anyway. I nodded to him in thanks and moved in behind Ryan Tucker and Colby Lewis. It wasnt but three throws later I got pegged in the left thigh by an overthrow. It didnt hurt at first so I just laughed it off. I figured they would at least reward me with a baseball for taking a Colby Lewis fastball to the leg. But no such luck. ( No, that’s not why I stood there ) At least now I can say I was hit by Colby Lewis.

     As batting practice continued I could really start to feel the pain from the overthrow. I figured I’d have a huge bruise by the end of the game. My leg just throbbed all night and I even considered seeking out some genuine Safeco Field medical treatment. Im sure all they would give me would be an ice-pack and maybe some tylenol. As I was standing there some guy was on the phone and thanked me for protecting him while he was talking to his wife. It turns out that guy used to play in the Major Leagues. He was drafted in 1986 by the Atlanta Braves and played in the Minor Leagues for the Phillies for quite some time. I was never able to find any official MLB stats on him but his name is Ken Sirak. He lives in Beaverton Oregon now and Im pretty sure he runs a business. He mentioned a few times that he had clients that bailed on him so he had to come to the game alone. Anyway. I got a couple pictures snapped with me sitting next to him.

 

 

 

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     Here is another one…

 

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     It was really cool to talk to him about baseball. He knew so much about the sport ( obviously because he played for many years ) but we also talked about the steroid era. He played college ball with Lenny Dykstra and Jeff Kent and he told me those guys used steroids all the time. In fact it was just part of the game back then. Dykstra was an obvious user anyway.

 

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     The Mariners played decent baseball. Unfortunatly they lost with Pineda on the mound. But he struck out nine batters and FINALLY gave up a home run. Or two.

 

Game; May 4rd 2011 Texas Rangers vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; Five

Attendance; 13,429

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $24.80 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $9.25 this season.

 

Brad Ziegler Watch, #2

     It is that time again for another Brad Ziegler Watch. If you’re just now reading my blogs I will fill you in. When the Oakland Athletics came to town at the end of April, I hooked Brad Ziegler up with some U.S Army wristbands because he has an awesome foundation. Its called Pastime for Patriots. So read about it and help out if you can. Or you can get involved in the charity work that I do for the Seattle-King Co. Humane Society. Just a thought. Since I hooked Brad up with those wristbands and since they came from ME they will bring him and the Oakland Athletics some good luck this year. I gave them to him on April 24th 2011. Since then lets see how he has been doing…

On 4/26 Brad pitched against the Angels of Anaheim. He pitched two and a third innings and struck out one batter.

On 4/27 Brad pitched against the Angels of Anaheim. He pitched one inning and recorded his first save of the season. Thats also his 19th save of his career.

On 5/01 Brad pitched against the Texas Rangers. He faced one batter and gave up one hit. The Athletics win, 7-2.

On 5/02 Brad pitched against the Texas Rangers and faced one batter which he ended up walking. The Athletics win, 5-4.

On 5/04 Brad pitched against the Cleveland Indians and faced one batter. He gave up one hit.  The Athletics win, 3-1.

 

     So you see? The wristbands are giving him good luck. We will see you next time on another Brad Ziegler Watch.

 

 

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5-3-2011 Safeco Field

 

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       I think I can pretty much say that I regret not entering Safeco Field from the centerfield gates from the start. After all its an additional 30 minutes of batting practice. There is a potential to get at least one baseball before the rest of the stadium opens. Not only that but it basically gives me a birds eye view of foul territory. I can watch which security guards pick up what baseballs and who throws what back. Its an excellent advantage in any case.

     The Texas Rangers were in town for a three game series. Josh Hamiliton was still injured but he was supposed to be taking some cuts in the cage during BP before the second game. Plus the Rangers had Mike Napoli, Ian Kinsler, Mitch Moreland, and Adrian Beltre. All with great power. So I was predicting plenty of home run balls this series. Outside the gates before they opened I got to brag about my ball snagging stats for a little while to a father/daughter duo. The daughter claimed it was her first game and she really wanted a baseball. Isnt that special.

     Once I ran inside I was restricted to just the ‘Pen area. But it was still pretty awesome to see these guys warming up in the bullpen. It wasnt long before I got Tom Wilhelmsens attention and requested a baseball from him. He threw it way to my right, and I had to reach across my body to make the catch. Unfortunatly, I didnt catch it and the guy next to me bobbled it and it went down into the gap behind the wall. Glove trick time! I quickly scanned for security to make sure they werent on the way to get it. I assembled the rubberband around the outside of my glove, opened my glove up with the sharpie pen, and quickly lowered it down towards the ball. I immediatly started to get “Ohhhs” and “Awwws” from the crowd. After realizing the rubber band wasnt on right I pulled my glove up and re-adjusted. Back down. And pulled my glove up with ball in tow.

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     In the picture above you can see Tom Wilhelmsen way out in the distance. You can also see the gap between the wall in the lower left part of the picture. Its quite a large gap and it usually does a great job of swallowing up home runs or dropped catches. Wilhelmsen did not see me pull up the ball out of the gap so on the next ball that HE caught he lobbed it my way. And I gave it to the girl that I met outside the gate. She politely thanked me. So that was a plus. And since that was a catch made by me I will count it in my collection.

     At about 5:05pm I left the outfield area and went to line up at the staircase that led up to the rest of the stadium. At 5:10pm the horn blew to allow the rest of the fans to enter the stadium. I raced up the stairs and headed down towards foul territory on the third base side. I had watched a few foul balls land out there but I wasnt sure if the security guards were going to pick them up or leave them alone. On the first base side most of the baseballs get scooped up by security and later handed out to kids or thrown back onto the field. Well, on the third base side niether of that happened. Today anyway. When I ran over there I managed to find two easter eggs.

  Then I lined up behind Pedro Strop and Darrin Oliver to catch any overthrows.

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     And it happened. It started to rain and Oliver and Strop seemed to be very sloppy in their game of catch. The ball took a sharp bounce and came at me. It dropped at the last moment and got stuck under the wall padding. I grabbed it and quickly offered it back to Strop. But he pulled out a second ball from his back pocket. On about the third throw, Strop overthrew Oliver. Oliver pointed at me and then Strop asked if they could use the baseball I had snagged from their first overthrow. I tossed it to them and then within three seconds a foul ball came crashing down in the section to my left. I dug it out of the seats and took my place back behind Strop and Oliver. Once they were done they tossed me the baseball. That would be my sixth baseball in less than an hour.

     Some lady wandered over to me and asked how many baseballs I got and since Im not a good liar I told her I had four. ( I really had lost count when she asked ) She also asked if she could have the baseball I had in my glove. She went on about being my best friend and would do anything for it and blah blah blah. So like a sucker I gave it to her. Then she asked if she could have one more for her adopted Japanese family. She went on again about being my best friend and all this crap. I told her I would work on trying to get another baseball for her.

     I went and stood in the outfield for about fifteen minutes and while I was out there I witnessed the lady I almost gave two baseballs to get one on her own. And to make matters worse when I was over on the first base side trying to get a Chone Figgins toss up she was over there with BOTH baseballs getting them signed by the Mariner ball girls. Ball girls? Are you serious? Or maybe they were grounds crew members. Im not really sure. So what do you call those types of people that Ballhawk from Ballhawks?

     I tried to get a warmup ball from the Rangers out in front of their dugout before the game started but they ended up entering the dugout on the opposite side to where I was standing.

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     The game was actually very exciting too. Not only did Fransico Liriano throw a no-hitter for the Minnesota Twins but Erik Bedard was flirting with one through nearly five innings.

 

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     I hung out in the outfield seats for about three innings before I moved down into the ‘Pen area. It was less crowded and there werent as many drunks as I predicted there would be at todays game. I pretty much had the entire Texas Ranger bullpen standing area to myself. So if a home run ball did reach the ‘Pen it would have been all mine. Unfortunatly, no home run balls reached either bullpen. But todays game went really well.

     I also got an article on MyGameBalls.com about snagging my 100th baseball. If youve been following my blog youll know I snagged that puppy at pretty much the end of the game at the Oakland Coliseum. I seriously didnt think it was going to happen. Heres the article in case you want to read it.

 

     Can you identify this guy? He was at the game. Ill give you a hint; he plays rock and roll.

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     Death Cab for Cutie; Ben Gibbard maybe? Awesome.

 

Game; May 3rd 2011 Texas Rangers vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; Six

Attendance; 12,759

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $22.40 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $7.75 this season.

Brad Ziegler Watch, #1

The last Seattle Mariner Sunday game I hooked Brad Ziegler, relief pitcher for the Oakland Athletics, up with a pair of US Army wrist bands. Now these arent just any wristbands. Theyre wristbands from ME. So in essence they will bring Brad Ziegler and the Oakland Athletics some good luck this year. So since I gave him the wristbands on 4/24/2011 lets take a look at his numbers thus far. Shall we?

On 4/26 Brad pitched against the Angels of Anaheim. He pitched two and a third innings and struck out one batter.

On 4/27 Brad pitched against the Angels of Anaheim. He pitched one inning and recorded his first save of the season. Thats also his 19th save of his career.

That is it so far. I will update my Brad Ziegler entries every week or so to keep a lookout on how he is doing.

This concludes Brad Zielger watch, #1.

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