Results tagged ‘ baseball ’
Oh, man! Where do I begin!? I still can not believe I made a trip out to Tokyo Japan to watch the Mariners and the Athletics play the 2012 season opener! And while I’m typing this blog entry, I’m still in Japan! Okay, so I guess I should start at the beginning so you can read why I came out to Japan in the first place. Well, for obvious reasons I absolutely love baseball. And I will literally travel to the ends of the earth to watch a baseball game. I’ve been a Seattle Mariners fan since 1989 but I really don’t give a crap who plays. I just want to see some baseball and shag some balls in the bleachers. The reason why I want to shag baseballs is because I have a new charity I’ve managed to put together with the help of the Seattle Humane Society called Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. I’m not going to get into full detail of how my charity got started or why I do it because I have so much to blog about.
So there I am at the Sea-tac airport. I took a quick flight to Los Angeles which eventually I’d take a connecting flight to Narita International Airport outside of Tokyo about 80km. Tokyo has an airport (which would have made this trip way less stressful if I landed there) but its way more expensive and pretty hard to get a flight in. So I had to settle for Narita. Which was fine. Here comes the interesting part. While I was sitting in LAX minding my own business and chowing down on some outrageously overpriced cheese sticks, I realized I had left my baseball tickets to the game in Tokyo at home. I sat there for a moment in complete awe of how stupid I could be. I didn’t bother to search my bags because I knew where I had left them. I didn’t want to panic either because that never accomplished anything. I immediately sent a tweet out to the Mariners on Twitter and asked if anyone had an extra ticket lying around that they could leave at will call or something. I knew it would be a long shot and to be honest, I really wasn’t counting on them to come through like that. I jumped on the phone and called the Mariners ticketing office and explained the crisis. After being put on hold several times, the end result was unless I could come up with some kind of conformation number from whoever I bought the tickets through, there was little they could do. Still not in panic mode. I figured I’d buy a ticket from a someone on the street once I got there or I’d just sight see for several days. On the other hand, I really didn’t want to go to Tokyo Japan unless I was more or less guaranteed a ticket to the game. After sitting around and not really knowing what I was going to do, another person from the Mariners staff called me. She explained that there wasn’t much they could do and I nearly cut her off and told her I understand blah blah. But that little nagging voice in my head told me to let her finish.
It was probably a good thing too because we actually made some headway on the ticket crisis issue. I remembered taking a picture of my ticket and posting it on my blog under this blog entry many months ago when the actual ticket arrived in the mail. She requested that I send that picture to her via email and she’d correspond with me through email until the crisis was resolved. So I reluctantly boarded the plane to Japan and waited patiently for 14 hours to get some kind of confirmation from her. When I got to Japan, of course, my cellphone didn’t work and I had no way to check my email. I had made a couple of friends that I sat by on the plane over, and I piggy backed off of his wi-fi from his phone to my phone. I checked my email and to my surprise this is what the email said…
Thanks. Glad you had the photo. I’m just waiting for confirmation from my guy in Tokyo that he can leave you a ticket for Wednesday’s game. When I get that I’ll email you back. Happy travels. Hope the rest of the trip is uneventful, in a good way.
Wow. Just wow. It’s like the Mariners staff are into some kind of wizardry to get things done for their fans. And just on a side note, when I was going to Cardinals games at Busch Stadium, the staff there treated their fans like absolute crap. It is the complete opposite at Safeco Field. Yeah, sure. I get into the occasional run-in with security, but that’s because I’m having fun. And security doesn’t want anyone having fun.
I immediately email her back and told her how much I appreciate her help and how much I appreciate her handling this situation and then I get this email…
The ticket will be at will call (under Gate 22, near Vicky’s restaurant). Hope that makes sense when you get to the Tokyo Dome have fun.
Holy. Crap. It went from “there isn’t a whole lot we can do…” to THIS! I was literally jumping around my hotel room when I saw this email! Like, how do they do these kinds of things?! I’m thinking the Mariners staff are some kind of mafia. Like, all they had to do was pick up the phone, call some dude in Tokyo Japan and be like, “Hey. I got some guy that bought a ticket and left it at home. I don’t think I need to explain further.” and they’re all, “Oh, of course! Already taken care of!”
Oh, and by the way. Here are some things I learned very quickly about Japan. Well, at least in the area I’m staying in. It’s a town or a city or a province or a neighborhood or whatever they call it, called Ueno. It’s a 10 minute walk to the Tokyo Dome and a short 2-4 kilometers from every other major tourist attraction like the Tsukiji Market, the Sony Building, and the Ginza Brand Street. All worth seeing. Taxi drivers are almost useless. Very few actually can read a map and many have very limited english vocabulary. On top of that, they’re very expensive. Use as a last resort. Also, don’t rely on other Americans to help you out. They’re about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. At least the ones that I encountered. Some guy walked up to me while I had my face stuck in a map and asked me where I was trying to go. I told him the name of my hotel and this was after I had spent ten minutes trying to explain where I needed to go to about 14 different cab drivers. You could imagine how irritated I was at this point. He insisted that Japanese people can understand english. They just can’t speak english. Or they’d rather speak Japanese instead because they’re too embarrassed that their english sucks. Or something like that. Anyway. They guy was a complete jerk, he kept interrupting me when I was trying to explain that his logic was flawed…finally I just stared at him until he told me “good luck” and walked away.
When I got to my hotel room it was about 1am Tokyo time so it was immediately lights out for me. When I woke up the next day it would be about 13 hours before opening day and about nine hours before I’d be at the Tokyo Dome. I spent the good part of the morning dinking around in my hotel room, trying to figure things out like the air conditioner heater thingy in the corner of the room. I got it to turn on but it kept turning off and then back on. It was weird but whatever. Tv was extra yen and breakfast wasn’t free either. So I decided to grab an egg mcmuffin at McDonalds around the corner because there was literally nothing open until about 11am. Yeah, how American of me. Eating at McDonalds in a country that serves squid and octopus and clams and anything else you can think up. And I eat an egg Mcmuffin. After my breakfast, I ventured out in search of the Tokyo Dome. Side note; the Tokyo Dome will be my 14th stadium at which I snag a Major League baseball, providing I get inside in-time for BP and all that other junk. Here are some random pictures I took of Ueno and Tokyo as I walked towards the Dome:
Here is another random picture of some shrine I passed by…
…and then a random vending machine full of drinks:
These vending machines are everywhere, by the way. As I continued walking towards Tokyo I could start to see the amusement park rides peeking over the tops of some skyscrapers. The Tokyo Dome area is actually called, Tokyo Dome City and it really is a city inside of a city. I was supposed to meet up with Zack Hample at the dome closer to the late afternoon so I had plenty of time to explore the surrounding area. Here’s a picture of the Tokyo Dome City peeking out:
And here is the Tokyo Dome in full view:
This thing is gigantic, to say the least. They call it the “Big Egg” and for good reason. From the air it resembles a giant egg. Naturally, I couldn’t get a picture of it from the sky so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Remember how I said that the Tokyo Dome is like a little city? Well, here is further proof:
This is the shopping district. They have a Starbucks, a bunch of Japanese shops, great places to eat and this:
Yup! Even an Eddie Bauer! I didn’t bother to go inside because, well, I wasn’t too interested in it. What I was interested in was eating some food! I stopped at this place to try what they had on their menu:
I didn’t get anything really off the wall like a plate of squid or live octopus tentacles. I ordered a very delicious plate of chicken and penne pasta in tomato sauce with parmesan cheese. And it was awesome! Here, take a look…
…doesn’t that look fantastic? I’m telling you. It was so good I wanted to order another. It cost about 1,000 yen which is about, what, ten bucks in USD? It was so worth it, though. Also, another side note. Yen goes fast in Japan. Especially Tokyo. It’s very expensive to buy things in this city so it’s best to try to be frugal if you’re going to stay for a long period of time.
I did a little bit more window shopping and then I finally met up with Zack Hample. Zack is known for snagging over 5,000 baseballs over a span of like, twenty years. I expected him to have a good couple of days at the Tokyo Dome because from what I saw in pictures from the Mariners, the Tokyo Dome is virtually pretty much open to run around in. Other than the high walls in the outfield, it seems like a great stadium to ballhawk in. I could be wrong though. I haven’t ever been inside the stadium but my opportunity was right around the corner.
Zack and I did a little catching up inside a restaurant while he got something to eat and then soon after if was back to exploring and taking pictures. Here are a couple random pictures around the Tokyo Dome:
Here’s one more of a statue of the coach for the Tokyo Giants outside a sports memorabilia store that sold everything regarding Japanese players and Yu Darvish:
Like Ichiro, Yu Darvish is huge in Japan too. For obvious reasons. Alright, so back to the ticket crisis for a moment. When Zack and I parted ways to go get into our respective lines to enter the stadium, I was without a ticket, right? And in that email it said to go to will call which was located under gate 22. I wasn’t quite sure where “under gate 22″ was located and with a huge disadvantage with the language barrier, it made things extra tough. I talked to multiple guards and asked them if they spoke english before I engaged in conversation to explain my dilemma. My major response? “Let me see your ticket!” I tried very hard to explain that the Tokyo Dome was in possession of my ticket. But to no avail…until a Japanese/American that spoke fluent english overheard my problem. He became my translator and my new best friend. After about five minutes of going back and forth with the security guard, I was instructed to go see a ticket booth located in the court-yard. When I went over there I had to explain my problem all over again to the ticket booth window girl who didn’t speak english either. Somehow she understood what I was telling and she literally walked me to the area underneath gate 22. It was all making sense now. And to make things even better, she brought me to a guard that spoke english as well. So I explained the whole situation and he explained that they’d have a ticket ready for me….at 6pm. GAH! The Gates opened at 4pm to the Tokyo Dome and I pleaded to the guard that I needed to get in sooner than 6pm. I needed to get inside at 4pm! I could not miss batting practice! The guard kind of just shrugged at me and told me to come back at 6pm. If I did come back at 6pm, would I have to explain the whole situation again to someone else that didn’t speak english? I mean, what was going to happen? Chances are I’d have to go see another ticket booth and explain the whole fiasco again and again, losing valuable time inside. I decided to wait it out.
I walked back to gate 11 where Zack was sitting and explained to him what had happened. Zack was a little more prepared that I was, apparently. He busted out an extra ticket and told me he wanted the ticket stub back in pristine condition. I happily obliged and thanked him. The reason why Zack had two tickets was because like a few stadiums in the United States like Dodger Stadium and Wrigley, you need a ticket to get into the lower seating bowl and the outfield. The Tokyo Dome may have worked the same way. We wouldn’t know anything until we got inside. My plan was this, though; I’d go inside with Zack’s ticket, pass it off to him once inside, attending batting practice, leave at 6pm, go seek out my will call ticket, re-enter, and watch the game. It seemed solid. But I was concerned about thing. What if I couldn’t get back inside? What if when I explained my situation to someone who didn’t speak english, I’d be forever locked outside? I wanted to see at least one baseball game in the Tokyo Dome. And why leave when I’m already inside? My mentality was I’d just cross that bridge when I had to. Not force myself to cross it prematurely. So I stayed inside. I also want to state that my deepest gratitude goes out to the Mariners staff that worked hard to get my ticket to will call. I will never forget this trip.
When the gates opened up, I had a ticket to gate 22. Zack’s ticket was to gate 11. And since we were at gate 11, I wasn’t sure if I’d even gain access to the stadium from this gate. They might make me walk all the way around to gate 22. Here’s two photos of the line. This is in front of us…
…and this is behind us…
…and when the gates opened, we had to have our bags checked and we had to have our persons searched with a metal detector. They required all keys, wallets, cellphones and lighters to be placed either in your personal bag or a clear plastic bag so they could view the contents. It was truly the security from hell. And when I showed the guard my ticket, he started explaining to me that I couldn’t enter here and blah blah and I continued to say things like “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” and “I won’t do it again, I’ll go in and walk around.” and that seemed to have done the trick! He let me inside and Zack and I were off towards left field!
I wasn’t sure how security would react to two crazy America boys running amuck in the Tokyo Dome snagging baseballs, but I didn’t care! Here we were inside the Tokyo Dome snagging baseballs in Tokyo Japan! And my first baseball game from Johnny Gomes!
unfortunately, it wasn’t one of those fancy commemorative Japan baseballs I’ve been hoping to get and it wasn’t the first baseball of the 2012 season either. Zack had snagged a baseball moments prior to my Johnny Gomes toss-up. So props to Zack for snagging the first baseball of the 2012 Major League Baseball season! And props to me for snagging the second! Zack and I decided to stay out of each others way during BP, and I knew he’d put up strong numbers. My whole goal was to snag at least two baseballs a game and attend 50 games this season. I thought about trying to snag three a game which would give me a total of 150 on the season but I wanted to keep it simple this season. Last year, I snagged a total of 135 baseballs and the year before that I snagged a total of 87. So to snag 150 baseballs this season would be awesome, indeed. And it sure would help my charity. But it’s all good. I want to have fun and not really stress about numbers this year, anyway.
The thing about the Tokyo Dome is this; it’s really easy to catch baseballs here. I mean, really easy. And the security guards that roam the bleachers like this guy…
…has a whistle and every time a baseball comes within his vicinity of the bleachers, he starts blowing on that thing like no tomorrow. And then all his other security guard buddies start doing the same. So even if you don’t see the baseball initially off the bat of the player that hit it, you can bet one is coming your way when the security guard of your section starts blowing his whistle. The downside to all of this is, if you physically catch one of these baseballs that’s hit into the stands, that security guard that was blowing on his whistle will come down and take the baseball away from you and throw it back onto the field. But any player that throws a baseball to you, you get to keep. Make sense? And Zack had to find all of this out the hard way when he caught a baseball and the guard snatched it right from his grip! Zack put up quite a fight about it, too. And I just stood by laughing.
I got a chance to ask Jerry Blevins how spring training went for him and he kind of shook his hand in response at me. “It was alright, I guess. I feel pretty good.” he finally said. Jerry Blevins is one of my favorites just because he’s so nice to fans and so goofy on the field some times.
There were a few things I wanted to accomplish at the Tokyo Dome while I was there. The first thing was to get a toss-up from a player that I’ve never received a toss-up from before. Be it come from the Athletics or the Mariners, I didn’t really care. Another thing I wanted to accomplish was reach my two ball minimum snagging goal. Which at this point I was just one more ball away from accomplishing that. The third thing on my list was to get Felix Hernandez to toss me a baseball. But since he was starting tonight, that wasn’t going to happen. I also wanted to get Shawn Kelley to toss me a baseball as well. I had plenty of opportunity to snag some home run baseballs, but the reason why I really didn’t pursue them that hard was because I didn’t want it to turn out to be a commemorative baseball and then one of those pesky guards takes it away from me. I’d be pissed! So I left the majority of the home run baseballs alone. I figured Major League teams don’t come to Japan very often, and some of these other local fans would probably like to make a few catches. Have at it, I say!
When the Mariners finally came onto the field as the Athletics were finishing up their portion of batting practice, I made my way over to the foul line to watch:
I was pretty excited to see the Mariners for the first time this season. I’m not going to lie. Tom was there, Charlie, Brandon, Coach Navarro (even though he hates me) and Shawn were all lining up to play long toss and warm up. It was a sight to see!
I tried to get one of the Mariners attention to toss me a baseball, but I was out of range. I was too deep in the stands and the Tokyo Dome really isn’t like the US stadiums. The stairs don’t allow for maximum height to see over the row in front of you and there is pesky netting that covers most of foul ground to keep fans that aren’t paying any attention to batted baseballs, safe. I immediately took off and ran the concourse to set up in right center field. I saw Shawn Kelley and a few other players wander out that way, so I followed suit.
Here’s a quick picture I took of Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmson:
I kept track of the time because I had about an hour to catch my second baseball. I wanted to get it done and finally sit down too. My feet were killing me from walking around Tokyo all day. When I finally found my spot out in right center, I called to Shawn and George every time they caught a baseball. At one point, I climbed down to about the third row, made eye contact with Shawn, flapped my glove at him, called his name, and asked politely for the baseball. I was shocked when he didn’t toss it my way. I mean, a white guy in a foreign land asking for a baseball from another white guy? I thought it was the perfect secret weapon. Apparently not. But I was cool with it because I had all season to get a baseball from Shawn Kelley. And eventually it would happen. Maybe not in Tokyo and maybe not even in Seattle.
Over the PA system in the Dome they announced that Mariners batting practice was going to end in about five minutes. I was still without my second baseball at this point. I noticed Zack had scored a baseball from Jesus Montero fairly easily. It was time to switch gears and go after the rookie. I climbed through the rows and found my opportunity. Montero had thrown about five or six baseballs into the crowd at this point, so I thought my chances were pretty slim. I called to Montero like nobodies business! “JEEESSSUUUUSSSS!!!” I yelled. He looked through the crowd and I was jumping up and down in the row waving my arms like a wild man! He gave me one of those quirky little smirks and then reared back his arm to launch the baseball. I wasn’t sure if he was going to air mail me or throw it right to me, so I took a step back in anticipation for a high throw. The ball sailed my way…
…and the ball landed snuggly into my baseball glove! Awesome! I just caught a toss-up from the newly acquired rookie of the Seattle Mariners! I guess that makes things a little bit better about the trade for Pineda to the Yankees.
And that pretty much concluded batting practice. I snagged my two baseballs, and I think Zack snagged like twelve or something like that. It was a pretty successful day here at the Tokyo Dome and now it was time to venture off and find food!
When I hit the concourse, it was so packed it was hard to move around. And Japanese people really don’t have one of those space bubble thingies that Americans have. They’ll get right up on you and have no problem with it. I really didn’t like it much but since I was probably the biggest and most tallest person inside the Tokyo Dome at the time, I really didn’t let it bother me. Plus, Japanese people are very honest people. I always worry about being pick pocketed in large crowds but I heard that crime in Japan is virtually non-existent. Well, whatever. I was hungry. Here are some photos of the food concession stands inside the Dome:
And here’s a picture of Zack trying to get some food:
We ended up ordering a chicken thingy on a stick. I think it was the only safe thing to really eat there. And of course, a cup of water. It came to about 500 yen which is pretty expensive. There were no water fountains inside the Dome so we had to buy water from the concession stands. That sorta sucked. After we ate, Zack and I started to wander the stadium. We found a stair case that we literally talked our way up since it was being blocked by a security guard. And when we got to the top, we continued to go up even though it looked like we weren’t supposed to be up there. And this was the end result:
It was a door that led out to the third deck of the stadium! Haha! Eventually, a security guard came running up to us and told us in hand gestures to come down and find a seat. We didn’t get scolded or yelled at or even ejected from the stadium. I was kind of relieved at the fact that nothing happened. The guard didn’t even ask for our tickets. And since I didn’t technically have one on my person, I could have been in some trouble, I suppose. But it was all in good fun. Here are a few pictures of the Tokyo Dome from that door before the security guard shut us down:
Pretty awesome, huh..? Yeah, I thought so too.
After that little adventure, the pre-game ceremony was about to start. I took a few pictures of the field as both the Japanese flag and the American flag were brought out onto the field by both respective countries color guard. It was pretty awesome, really.
And finally when the baseball game got under way, Zack and I sort of just wandered the stadium. We sat in various seats and the only time security really hassled us was when we stood for long periods of time. The security inside the Dome is very observant and quick reacting when someone is blocking someone elses view. Which I totally understand having to watch baseball games in America where no one really cares if they’re blocking each others view. It was kind of nice. Here are some more various photos from around the stadium:
And one more:
Felix Hernandez threw a pretty good game and so did Brandon McCarthy. Every time Ichiro came up to bat the flash bulbs would start flashing and everyone would go nuts. And since Ichiro went 5-4 on opening night, that was pretty special for Japan. Ichiro seemed to be back in true form which would make this season pretty awesome if he was able to gain over 200 hits again. Dustin Ackley put one in the seats in the fourth inning but the Athletics answered right back with a run of their own. The game eventually went to extra innings with the Mariners winning 3-1 with the help of another Dustin Ackley RBI and Ichiro bashing a single up the middle to score Ackley from second base. The game was exciting and after the game, no one wanted to leave. I guess it being opening day and all…but I wanted to get the hell out of there and get some sleep! I took one last photo and see if maybe you can recognize who they are. Ready?
And then, of course, this blog wouldn’t be complete without a few pictures me, right?
Here is a picture of me holding up my Gomes and Montero snags:
That pretty much concludes day one in Japan! Well, actually I’ve been in country for about a day and a half. At this point, maybe two days. It’s been really fun with times of frustration. But that’s only because of the language barrier and is definitely expected. Everything I want to see and do is pretty much within walking distance and the food is pretty awesome to try. Tomorrow I plan to wake up early and make it to the fish market. I’m pretty excited about that! So until then…
I’m snagging baseballs for puppies again this season for the Seattle Humane Society! If you want to check out my charity information, just click here!
Last season, with the help of all of you, we were able to raise over $250 dollars! This year I’d like to break $300!
Today’s game snagging Highlights: Oakland Athletics Vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 44,227 Baseballs snagged: two (toss-up from Johnny Gomes and Jesus Montero )
Total baseballs snagged this season: 2
Total baseballs snagged last season: 135
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $1.48
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00
Total number of donors this season: 4
Total number of donors last season: 7
I’m finally doing it. I’m finally submitting my blog to Major League Baseball to be in the front page of their website for fans. And what A great time to do it. Right before my trip to Japan! If you’re new to reading my blog, I’ve mentioned this trip last year. And I’ve talked about it a little bit in the previous months. I’m really excited and I’ll be boarding the plane at roughly 9am Monday morning. I’ll be returning Friday and I should be able to have my blog entries up about the trip shortly after attending the games. Zack Hample is also going to Japan and he leaves tomorrow. If you don’t know who Zack Hample is, check out his website here. He’s published a few books on baseball that I highly recommend you read.
Anyway. Back to this Jumbo MLB thingy. I think the most important reason why my blog should be a headliner on MLB.com is because I have a really super-awesome charity going on right now. And I’ve upped my efforts by contacting Major League Baseball players that have charities as well and doing a sort of one-for-one exchange on donations. So far I’ve only gotten Bud Norris to respond to me on Twitter. I made sure to hold up my end of the bargain by donating $5 dollars to his charity called Candlelighters CCFA. It’s a noble cause and I fully support these baseball players. My own charity is called Snagging Baseballs for Puppies in which I have teamed up with the Seattle Humane Society to help raise money for the dogs and cats at the local shelters in my area. Last year I raised $257 dollars with seven different pledges. This is basically how my charity works: you make a pledge of say, $0.01 cent a baseball. I head down to a Major League Stadium. I snag as many baseballs per game that I possibly can. At the end of the season I tally up said baseballs snagged, send you an email that you have provided me, and you donate said amount as pledged. Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, that’s because it is.
The second reason why I think my blog should headline MLB.com is because I am a combat veteran of the United States Army. It would be super cool to get a former soldier up there doing his thing. Major League Baseball recognizes the troops and I think that is absolutely awesome. There are two baseball players that I know that I have come into personal contact with last season that also support the soldiers, among many more. Brad Ziegler is one, and he has a charity called Pasttime for Patriots and Zach Britton. Britton helps out with the Wounded Warrior Foundation. And here’s a short video of Britton talking about his involvement in the Wounded Warrior Foundation:
I’d like to personally thank Zach Britton for his involvement in this. It means a lot to me and I know it means a lot to many soldiers that have been injured due to combat. Thank you very much, Zach, and I look forward to watching you play some baseball this season!
Alright, folks! That’s all I got for now! My next blog entry will more than likely be coming from Japan, so be on the look out for that! If you haven’t followed my blog yet, now would be a good time! I’m going to get with AT&T either tonight or tomorrow and see if I can’t get some kind of international plan so I can at least tweet some stuff to everyone. If you want to follow me on twitter, just click here! Annnnd one other minor detail. My next two blog entries will hopefully be about all the media I’ve been involved in and an exclusive interview with the king of snagging baseballs himself, Mr. Zack Hample.
Brandon League is new to Twitter. We all know that. League was asked during Seattle Mariners Fan Fest, which I attended, if he’d get a Twitter account. I wasn’t there when the question was asked but I could imagine League’s response. Maybe a quirky smile and an “I’ll think about it” response was probably not out of the question. Anyway, to make a long story short, the Mariners put on a contest through Twitter asking fans around the United States, and more importantly, Brandon League fans, to help Brandon come up with a Twitter handle. Well, yours truly won that contest. I tweeted a few Twitter handles that Brandon would possibly choose and lo and behold, Brandon picked “@BrandonLeague43!” The Mariners ultimately followed me on Twitter, @MLBwayneMLB, and sent me a DM explaining that I had won the contest! How cool is THAT?!
Soooooo we exchanged information, I waited by my mailbox for three weeks and finally this arrived…
…how freaking cool is that?! Here’s a close up of what Brandon put on the baseball:
And here’s the final tweet telling the world that I won the contest! BAM!
So there you have it, folks! What a great experience and thank you so much, Brandon, for the baseball! And thank you, Mariners, for the card! It’s very heart warming! I’ll see you all at the Safe!
Whenever fan fest rolls around in January I get super-stoked about baseball. In nearly a month catchers and pitchers will be reporting to their respective spring training headquarters. The best part about baseball is it starts in the spring time. The grass is starting to get that freshly cut smell, the weather is warming up and best of all summer is right around the corner.
Just to give you a little background on myself and my fan fest experiences, well, I’ve been to many. I’ve attended a Kansas City Royals fan fest where I was able to get Kevin Sietzers autograph and Brett Saberhagen as well. The thing about the Royals fan fest is it’s not really set up to be fan friendly. It’s all about the autographs. When you walk in you have to immediately pick a line to stand in for four hours and hope and pray that one of your favorite players will be signing in the line you have chosen. It’s all about luck. I’ve also attended the Cincinnati Reds fan fest. That was a little different but again, it’s all about what line you pick and how fast you get there. Same with the St. Louis Cardinals winter warmup event. Pick and line. Stand there.
Well, my friends. This year I attended the Seattle Mariners Fan Fest of 2012. If you’ve ever dreamt about attending a fan fest, this is the fan fest you need to attend. I’m serious. Not only do you get to shag fly balls in the outfield like this…
…but you also get to face Felix Hernandez in the visitors batting cage underneath the stadium:
Yes, I’ve had better at-bats, but when you’re facing the King it’s kind of hard to get on base (even in the batting cages).
The best part about the Mariners Fan Fest was the interaction with the players. Down by the Mariners dugout the Mariners put together a little event called the “Dugout Dialogue”. Certain players that came to the fan fest get brought out onto the stage to take questions from Rick Rizzs, Mike Blowers and Dave Valle. And then they open it up to the fans to ask them questions. A lot of the questions ranged from “whats your favorite food” to “who’s your favorite player growing up”. But what do you expect from cute little nine year old baseball fans. And that’s the beauty of it. After the event ends fans are encouraged to get autographs from their favorite players. Myself, I was able to get Miguel Olivo on a baseball bat, Jason Vargas signed my 200th baseball he tossed me last season and I got Dan Wilson and Mike Blowers on my ticket stubs. I was able to chat with Mike Blowers a little bit and talk with him about how I watched him play in the Kingdome back in the 90’s with my father and that I’d be taking a trip out to see the Mariners and Athletics in Japan this March. It was a lot of fun.
Here’s a couple of pictures I was able to get with a few favorites…
…the voice of the Mariners, Rick Rizzs…
…and the man in charge of all the tasty food at Safeco Field, Chef Jeremy.
As you can see so far, I had an amazing time. In fact, a lot of the players walked freely around the stadium (with security of course) talking with fans, helping with pitching mechanics in the bullpen and free hitting tips and advice. Casper Wells was one of those guys that was just walking around. A few of my friends at Safeco are die-hard Casper fans and they were able to get his attention. He walked over to them and they talked for a while and then good ‘ol Casper Wells delivers some hot coco to these lovely ladies!
Its one thing for a professional baseball player to walk over and sign a bunch of autographs and stuff but to actually interact like this with the fans? It’s truly remarkable!
That’s what fan fests is all about. Not just standing in line waiting for an autograph you may or may not get. That’s just my opinion though. We all have our special ways we like to connect with players.
During fan fest on Saturday the Stache Mob was more or less born. These ladies pictured below…
…drew funny little mustaches on their fingers for Brendan Ryan when he came up on stage for his portion of the dugout dialogue. Before things got started, they asked Brendan if he’d pose with them for a picture. He happily obliged them and said he’d get it done after the dialogue event. We all waiting in anticipation and unfortunately, the dialogue kind of went over in the time allotted and Ryan was carted off the stage by the Mariner staff. But. The awesome thing about Brendan Ryan is that he yelled to the group of ladies he’d get the picture done on Sunday . It made everyone feel pretty special that he was going to make it happen. And when Sunday rolled around? Brendan Ryan did not forget:
You can read all about how this unfolded in more detail in my other blog that I’ve created called; A View From the Bullpen.
Here are a few pictures from the Seattle Mariners dugout dialogue sessions…
There was so much to do and so much to see. Mariners Fan Fest would’ve easily lasted a week and probably still had people coming at the end. It was amazing to be able to walk on the field and play catch in the outfield with friends. It was awesome to connect with the players and ask questions. You know, to understand where they’re coming from and their stand point on issues and the seasons to come. It was fantastic! Even though I love to travel and experience different stadiums and events held by Major League Baseball, I think I’m sold on coming back to the Mariners Fan fest for years to come!
If you’ve been following me on Twitter (@MLBwayneMLB) you’ll know that I’ve submitted an application to the MLB Fan cave. Along with that application submission I had to come up with a short, two-minute video of why I deserve to be the fan in the cave this year. Well, I completed it. After about twenty tries. The good thing is I saved all of the blooper videos for you to watch! How awesome is that!? I’d say that’s a real treat. So sit back, relax and be prepared to watch some of the most ridiculous videos you’ll ever see….well, maybe not that ridiculous.
Two days ago I toured Safeco Field. The weather was mildly miserable but I was totally excited to see inside the Safe once again. Here’s a picture of what Safeco Field looks like in January:
Yeah, it’s pretty miserable. Safeco Field is much better in the spring. And with baseball playing on the inside. Once I got my ticket, which by the way they never checked, I took a few pictures of the memorabilia they had on sale. Broken bats, used jerseys, pictures of former players, autographed baseballs, just to name a few. I took this picture of a Ryan Rowland-Smith autographed baseball for two reasons: he’s one of my favorite players and his signature is really awesome. Here, take a look for yourself…
…wouldn’t you agree? And I would’ve bought it but I don’t buy memorabilia. I’d rather get my own autographs. It’s a lot better experience to meet the players instead. Besides, in 2007 I was able to obtain a Ryan Rowland-Smith original outside the stadium when he played for the Mariners. unfortunately, I was still new to the autograph collecting world and I had him sign my baseball with a red sharpie. So here in about another ten years the ink will have soaked into the leather and the autograph will be nearly faded away. I made that fatal mistake with George Brett too. I feel awful about it but there may be another chance to get both of their autographs the right way in the future.
Anyway. Back to the tour. Once we left the memorabilia store the Safeco Field staff was hard at work trying to prep the field, wash the concourse and scrub the seats for an upcoming event at Safeco called Mariners Fan Fest. If you’re a Mariners fan or privy to the Major League Baseball events you’d probably already know it’s this weekend. And I’m going. And I’ll be blogging about it too. So be ready for that!
Here’s a picture of the field:
Safeco Field is one of the prettier stadiums I’ve been to. I thoroughly enjoy the layout which gives fans 100% access to the entire stadium during the game. From a ballhawking perspective that’s pretty awesome. Ted, our tour guide, led us all around the stadium. We walked through the suites and he explained the prices for specific suites. For one of the better suites during a premium game, say like when the Yankees come to town, a suite behind or near home plate can cost in the upwards of $9,000 dollars! The rule is that you must have at least 18 people with you to get these suites. So if you know 18 people with $600-700 dollars, you’re in! And let me tell you: these suites are awesome. Take a look…
…and I apologize for the crappy picture. This picture doesn’t do the suite any justice. It’s absolutely gorgeous on the inside. And every suite is named after a famous Hall of Famer. We were in the Mickey Mantle suite.
Outside of the suites the hallways are littered with Mariners memorabilia, newspaper clippings etc. It was quite a site to see, let me tell you. If I could ever afford a suite I would certainly splurge and watch a game from there.
We visited the press box and the Diamond club, fancy-smancy is all I have to say. The Diamond Club, of course, leads you directly behind home plate. And a person can generally find a ticket for that area for around $200 dollars. But you know me. I’d rather take that $200 dollars and fly to Anaheim to watch baseball. That’s just how I roll. One day I’d consider accessing the Diamond Club. It’s all you can eat and drink!
And now for the fun part. The locker rooms and field access! Once we got into the locker room, Ted explained how the lockers are set up and who sits where. And this was where I met Jose Mesa’s nephew, Miguel. Well, I had met him in the beginning of the tour and he told me who he was while we were touring the suites and since he’s a huge Yankee fan, guess what seat Ted had him sit in?
You guessed it! Alex Rodriguez. Ted wasn’t sure where Derek Jeter sat and that’s okay. I also had to sit in A-rods locker chair with my Chuck Knoblauch shirt hanging out! Ha!
Miguel and I talked a lot about the long-standing feud between Omar Vizquel and Jose Mesa. I learned about this feud a few days ago when I found out Vizquel signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. Vizquel wrote a book, which I have yet to buy and read, and said some things about Jose Mesa. In turn, Mesa vowed to hit Vizquel at every at bat when he faced him. Mesa was able to plunk him twice before he retired in 2007.
While Ted was explaining things along the tour, he led the group into the visiting team kitchen and shower. While he was doing that, look what I found:
Yes, the door was locked.
Anyway. On to the field!
Here I am holding down the Mariners dugout:
And here I am in the media room:
This picture was sort of blurry and it took Ted a few tries to get a decent one. He doesn’t have the most stable hands. But he did his best.
That’s the Safeco Field tour! I’ve toured one other stadium at that was Busch in St. Louis. unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures and I didn’t ever blog about it. That just means I’ll have to take a field trip back to St. Louis one of these days and tour the stadium so I can blog about it.
Ever since I found out about these Major League Baseball fantasy camps I’ve always wanted to attend one. Every camp is different and some are more expensive and some are shorter or longer depending on the camp. When I say expensive I truly mean that. Some can be as much as $4,500 dollars. To justify that cost you get to fly to the spring training camp of the team you’ve selected, you get uniforms, breakfast and lunch, you get to meet players, get autographs, pictures and of course you get to play baseball with and against former Major Leaguers. Not only that but you get a complete clubhouse experience. To me that’s a pretty awesome deal. The down side to all of this is most fantasy camps require campers to be 30 years old or older. Which is fine. But that meant I couldn’t attend any camps in my twenties. Which thoroughly bummed me out.
The other day I made a promise to myself. That promise was to attend one of these camps before I get too old to do it. Or end up working a job where I’d have absolutely no time to go to one. The time is now. The question is: which camp should I choose? I wanted to choose a fantasy camp of a Major League team with the most players that were my favorites growing up as a kid. Of course the Seattle Mariners camp popped into my mind. Over the years I have sort of put having a favorite team in the Major Leagues on hold. So I really wouldn’t call myself a die-hard Mariners fan anymore. And since the latest horrible trade by them I have sort of distanced myself even further from the Seattle team. Now I’m more of a die-hard baseball fan. You can read all about that here. Anyway.
The Mariners fantasy camp has a lot of Mariner alumni that I’d love to meet, get pictures with and get some autographs. But so do a lot of other teams. Three, besides the Mariners, that have also popped into my head were the Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles and the Detroit Tigers. When I tweeted this out on my Twitter account…
…the Detroit Tigers were the first to respond. That wasn’t the initial reasons as to why I made my decision though. The decision was made over key players that the Tigers have hosted at their camp in the past. Namely, Cecil Fielder. Fielder was a childhood hero to me. Everyone wanted his baseball card and we all enjoyed watching him play. Especially when he’d smoke a long ball. Everyone loves the long ball. Everyone.
So I made my decision after a few minutes of direct messaging with Detroit Tigers on Twitter. They initially asked “what would sway me” to choose the Tigers camp and really, all I wanted was them to follow me on my Twitter account. Which they did. Although I did ask for any baseball bats lying around the clubhouse or maybe a bobble head from last year, which I was denied, but it wasn’t about all of that anyway. I just asked for general purpose.
So there you have it, folks! Yours truly will be attending the Detroit Tigers fantasy camp next year! I am super stoked about it and I will most definitely bring my camera, take lots of pictures and blog about every day that I’m there at the camp!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,600 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.
Wow. So I just got some amazing news from my fellow Ballhawk in Milwaukee, @BallHawkShawn. I mean, he didn’t like, personally call me or anything to tell me what’s up, I sorta found it on his Twitter feed. If you get a chance you should get yourself a Twitter account and follow him and me! @MLBwayneMLB.
Anyway. In my earlier post about my plans for the 2012 baseball season I mentioned I’d be flying out to Japan, Houston and possibly Los Angeles. I’d be going to Houston and Los Angeles because they’re celebrating their 50th anniversary in the bigs. Well, guess who else is celebrating?
Check this out:
Yeah. That’s a super sweet patch that the RedSox are using next season and THAT particular logo is going on their commemorative baseballs as well. I’m lucky because I live in Seattle and the RedSox will be coming to Safeco Field. Hopefully I can snag some of those baseballs. If not I’ll have to make friends in Boston.
Another team that is shelling out commemorative baseballs are the Baltimore Orioles. They too are coming to Seattle for six games so that will give me the opportunity to snag some of those baseballs as well. Here’s what they’re putting on their baseballs:
This is most doubtingly going to put a kink in my plans this season for sure. Because what I’d like to do is snag these baseballs at the stadium of the team that has them. Sooooo…instead of waiting for the O’s to come to Seattle, I’d like to travel to Baltimore and snag them there. But we will see what happens.
Here is the other team celebrating a milestone:
And of course Houston and Los Angeles, respectively.
So there you have it, folks! A little update on my plans for 2012! And now here’s the links at which you can follow along as I continue my journey to watch baseball in all 30 MLB stadiums!
I know it’s soooooo early but I wanted to get this information out in case anyone was planning on trying to catch up with me at some baseball games next year. So mark your calendars, people! I’m hoping to make it to a few new stadiums next season but I can’t promise anything! What I’m really excited about for the 2012 season is that the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics are going to hold their season openers in Japan! Yeah, that’s right! They’re going to play a couple of games at the Tokyo dome! What does that mean for me? I’m going to JAPAN!
I’ve never been to Japan so I have no idea what to expect. But I’m sure it will be an epic trip! This all happens on March 28th I believe. So mark those calendars! And yes, Snagging Baseballs for Puppies will be in full swing for these games!
My next stop is Minute Maid Park. I’d usually save this trip for some time in the distant future because I’m not really an Astros fan. But I am a fan of Ryan Rowland-Smith and Bud Norris. I love to see Norris pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals. He destroys that team and since I’m not a Cardinals fan I gain much joy from watching that. Minute Maid has something spectacular going on next season though, and I want to be apart of it. They’re celebrating their 50th Anniversary in 2012 and they’re using special 50th Anniversary commemorative baseballs. And this is the logo that’s going on all of the baseballs:
So with that being said, I am in dire need of one of these baseballs. I may have to travel to San Francisco a few times to watch the Giants play the Astros just to increase my chances of snagging one of these gems. And I’ll do it if it comes down to it. But I hope to snag one at Minute Maid.
Speaking of commemorative baseballs being used next season, the Los Angeles Dodgers are celebrating their 50th season as the Los Angeles Dodgers next season too! If you’ve figured out how obsessed I am about snagging these collectible baseballs then I shouldn’t have to tell you that Dodger stadium is in the works for a visit as well. Although, I’ve heard many nasty rumors about how unfriendly this ballpark is to fans, how ridiculous the rules are about ticketing and seating, and I’ve also hear the parking lot opens up to the park the same time the gates open. So I’m really not too excited to visit. This stadium will surely be visited towards the end of the season.
The stadium looks friendly enough. So I’ll give it a try. Other stadiums that I may try to make it out to next season will be AT&T Park, Oakland Coliseum, PETCO Park, and possibly Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. I’d also like to make it out to Miami Park next season, the new home for the Miami Marlins, but it may not happen. They too are using commemorative baseballs to celebrate the new baseball stadium and the new direction the Marlins are going to try to go next season.
So there you have it folks! Things are in the works for this Japan trip which I am totally stoked about! If you plan on being in the neighborhood at any one of these stadiums next year make sure you stop by and say hello. Or drop me an email sometime and let me know what dates you’re planning on going and I’ll try to meet up with you!
You can get the latest of what I’m doing and where I’m going on all my social media websites! I look forward to hearing from you and thanks for reading!