Results tagged ‘ Mariners ’

5-4-2012 Safeco Field

When I showed up at Safeco, things were a little more busy than I had expected. Even the ‘Pen was a little packed for Safeco standards and the Moose man even made an appearance:

And as soon as he showed up, the Coors light girls showed up too:

My first baseball came from Hector Noesi. As he was shagging baseballs out in centerfield, every time he caught one and looked towards the ‘Pen, I’d flap my glove to him. I’m not much for yelling at players from 500 feet away, so I use hand and arm signals. The next baseball that flew towards Noesi went way over his head, bounced off the warning track and back behind the batters eye. I thought all was lost, but Noesi actually went through the opened centerfield gate to retrieve the baseball. Once he did that, I flapped my glove at him again and he lobbed me a soft, high arching throw that never really reached me. The ball took a lucky bounce off the railing and landed back to his (Noesi) feet. Again, I flapped my glove at him and he hit his mark. Check out the pattern on the baseball after it had hit the batters eye:

Once the rest of the stadium opened up at 5:10pm, I was able to glove trick a ball out from behind the manual scoreboard:

The Twins hustled onto the field roughly ten minutes after my last snag so I changed from my Mariners hat to my Twins hat. But I really didn’t need to because I had already snagged a couple baseballs and I wasn’t trying to rely on toss-ups from players unless I really had to. So I wandered around in foul ground waiting on another opportunity. It wasn’t long, (not sure who hit it) but a screaming line drive came down the third base line, bounced off the warning track, flew over about ten rows and right smack into my glove. I got a small standing ovation from the surrounding fans that attempted to catch it, or ducked out-of-the-way, and I was on my way towards the Twins dugout for any photo opportunities and/or autographs. Here’s a picture of the foul BP ball I had snagged moments prior:

That’s Ryanna sticking her “rabbit ears” up behind the baseball. Cute, yes?  I waited around at the dugout until batting practice ended and unfortunately I didn’t get one picture or autograph. But. The fun wasn’t over just yet. As I walked back to the ‘Pen, I noticed a white orb sitting in the visitors bullpen as I came down the staircase. Easy snag! I gave it away to the nearest fan as soon as I reeled it in and since the Mariners were using special opening series Japan baseballs during BP, one of my friends, Krista, was able to snag one of those during BP!

I have yet to snag one of these puppies, and sadly, they may all be gone. The added bonus to this season though, the Orioles, Dodgers, Mets and Marlins are all using special baseballs this year. So I still have plenty of opportunities to snag some commemoratives like the one in the above picture that Krista is holding.

As far as the game goes, I really couldn’t stay the entire length of it. Work calls, and I had to bail to catch the bus back to my home station before the third inning got under way. That’s what it’s going to be like all season long, too. But I’m grateful I get to at least attend batting practice and see the first few innings of the game. On my days off and early game starts, I’ll be able to stay for the games entirety. Such is life, right?

And for your viewing pleasure, below is the current, updated stats on how my charity is doing so far this season. I can’t thank the long list of donors this year, enough. Just know that you are greatly appreciated and remember sports fans; the top donor receives an official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies coffee mug after the 2012 season! (Please allow 3-6 weeks for delivery)

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: Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 22,492

Baseballs snagged: four (Hector Noesi toss-up, glove-tricked two, caught BP foulball)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 28

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised at this game: $8.46

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $53.82

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00

Total number of donors this season: 9

Total number of donors last season: 7

If you’d like to join my official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies Facebook page, just click here! And if you want to like Collection of Baseball on Facebook, click here!

 

4-19-2012 Safeco Field

When I visited the Oakland Coliseum on April 9th and 10th, not only did I catch a Coco Crisp foul ball off the chest of some guy holding a beer, but I was able to get interviewed by Major League baseball. MLB.com is doing a new thing for fans to help promote more fan interaction and actually get it on the website. I was one of the lucky fans to get interview, but sadly, my video never made it on their website. I wanted to share it anyway, though. Check it out!

It was a lot of fun and many thanks goes out to Alex Espinoza for taking the time to hunt me down and interview me. I thought it was a pretty good interview and was a little shocked it didn’t make it on the website. No matter. There would be plenty more opportunities in the upcoming months, I’m sure.

When I arrived to Safeco Field and made it inside, I initially spotted this:

If you look very carefully, you can see a white speck beyond the fence strategically placed up the third-base line to help save the lives of spectators that don’t really spectate. That little white speck is an official Major League baseball.

Results?

Boo-yah!

When I turned and ran up into the left field bleachers, I looked over to gaze into the visitor’s bullpen and, wow:

I could snag at least one of those! I ran down the stairs, arrived at the bullpen and flung my glove out to knock the closest baseball closer. Easy snag. And just as I was reeling the baseball up, another baseball was hit deep my way. The ball landed in the bullpen, took a nasty bounce on the concrete near the stairs and ricocheted over my head into the APizza stand. I quickly turned, flapped my glove at the cashier and snagged number three on the night! Two out of the ‘Pen:

I returned to the ‘Pen to switch hats to my Cleveland swag just as the Mariners portion of BP had ended and I found this guy asking for an autograph:

That’s the shortest man I’ve ever seen in my life! Totally blog-worthy, by the way. After I snagged my Indians hat, I ran back over to the 3rd base line and snapped up a picture with Aaron Cunningham…

…and snagged a Nick Hagadone autograph:

Once I returned to the ‘Pen, since I’m a huge Miguel Olivo fan, I found an equal riding on the shoulders of his father. I instantly hooked the little 5-year-old up with a baseball and slapped a high-five when he said Olivo had the best quick release to second base in the league. The downside of the night was Jesus Montero’s attitude when kids were asking for his autograph at the bullpen. I debated on whether or not to really make mention of it in my blog for you to read, but hey, I think it should be said. I actually witnessed Montero wave his hand to Lucas Luetge like, “I’m too good to sign autographs for kids” when Luetge pointed out that kids were asking for him. Reluctantly, Montero came over, with an attitude, and signed a few autographs. It was pretty poor sportsmanship, if you ask me.

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: Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 12,343

Baseballs snagged: three (found one, glove-tricked another and ran down a third one that landed in the ‘Pen)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 24

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $45.36

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00

Total number of donors this season: 8

Total number of donors last season: 7

If you’d like to join my official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies Facebook page, just click here! And if you want to like Collection of Baseball on Facebook, click here!

4-18-2012 Safeco Field

The Indians weren’t very interactive with the fans during batting practice which made my time at Safeco Field extremely boring tonight. I didn’t bother to ask any Mariner players on the field for a toss-up. Instead, I banked on finding a couple loose baseballs in the seats after the rest of the stadium opened up. When I ran over that way at 5:10pm, I found absolutely nothing. About ten minutes later, a slicing foul ball came down the line, I turned, raced up the stairs near the wall, anticipated the bounce and caught the ball as it traveled into the bleachers:

More boring-ness ensued so I chased over to the Mariners dugout right before the Mariners portion of batting practice ended and got Jaime Navarro to throw me a baseball as he walked off the field:

I really didn’t bother to snag anymore baseballs other than opportunities that came easy. Which the Indians were so unresponsive on the field, I just stood on the party deck and engaged in small talk with Kim, the Bullpen Mom and another friend of mine, Ryanna.

The only other action I saw was an Ubaldo Jimenez autograph and about the first three innings of baseball at the stadium before I had to run out and catch my bus home…

…and this year one of my goals is to catch Ichiro’s 100th career home run. I think he’s sitting on 95. In the first inning of play, Chone Figgins went deep and then Ichiro followed with his 96th home run one batter later. It was getting close to having to buy tickets for the outfield, which will be extremely expensive due to the Mariners (and all the other teams) going to this lame-ass “dynamic” ticket pricing. If you haven’t heard about it, well, you’re one of the lucky ones that your team hasn’t gone to it yet. Basically, its price gouging. And it sucks.

 

 

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: Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 11,343

Baseballs snagged: four (caught BP foul-ball, Jaime Navarro toss-up)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 21

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $39.69

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00

Total number of donors this season: 8

Total number of donors last season: 7

If you’d like to join my official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies Facebook page, just click here! And if you want to like Collection of Baseball on Facebook, click here!

4-17-2012 Safeco Field

I totally didn’t realize it but that last baseball I snagged from Kevin Millwood last Sunday was  my 250th lifetime baseball! I mean, I guess it’s not all that exciting considering there are people out there that have snagged over 1,000 baseballs.

Tonight’s game at Safeco Field was against the Cleveland Indians who I know probably three players on that team. Ubaldo Jimenez, Shin Soo-Choo, Shelley Duncan and Chris Perez. Okay, so four. I knew asking any Cleveland player for a baseball would be out of the question because like I said; I had no knowledge of who was on the active roster. It would be BP home runs, foul balls and glove tricking whatever I could.

When I ran into the stadium, one of the Mariner fans started yelling at Felix Hernandez to toss a baseball his way. Once he did, and the fan bobbled the ball, I was all over it with my glove trick. Since the baseball landed down in the center field gap, I had plenty of time to get it and security really didn’t harass me about it:

You can see Hernandez throwing a baseball into the infield in the above picture. I’ve been wanting a baseball from the King for a while now and since I glove tricked that baseball out of the gap, it doesn’t actually count as a baseball from Felix. Sucks, I know. But that’s how the game goes.

Miguel Olivo, who I got a baseball from last year on April 1st at the Oakland Coliseum, was very generous when it came to requests for baseballs from fans. Here’s Joanna and Carla’s gems they caught from Olivo:

Joanna, the one closest in the picture, actually made an awesome grab for the baseball. Another fan behind her (not pictured) was doing most of the leg work to get Olivo to toss a baseball up. When he (Olivo) finally did, Joanna pretty much robbed the guy with a bare handed grab! Quite impressive!

I waited down in the ‘Pen for another 10-15 minutes and then I wandered off to line up at the stairs that led to the lower seating bowl. When a BP home run landed in the visitors bullpen, I slowly started to get my glove trick ready again, I waited for the stairs to open up at 5:10pm, and while the security guards were busy ushering people around, I ran over to the bullpen and glove tricked my second baseball on the night:

I wandered up to the 3rd base side of the stadium and this was the crowd during BP within the first 15-20 minutes:

Batting practice was actually pretty boring. There weren’t a whole lot of fans, not really any foul balls or very many BP home run balls. I couldn’t recognize any Cleveland players, like I mentioned before, so it made it pretty uneventful. About the only excitement that happened was how I snagged my third and fourth baseball of the evening.

When I walked up to the left field bleachers, I saw a baseball down behind the scoreboard. That’s probably the easiest place to glove trick a baseball out of, too. The security guards actually encourage it, sort of. Well, I haven’t had any problems with them while glove tricking baseballs out from behind the scoreboard. They only get mad (not all of them) when people glove trick balls from the bullpens and the sod farm behind the batters eye. I thought this would be an easy grab and I’d be on my way. As I was stretching the rubber band over my glove, it broke on me! Gah!

Luckily, I had a spare rubber band. But it wasn’t as good as the one I had been previously using. When I’d capture the baseball and start to reel it up, the ball would slip out and drop back down behind the scoreboard. Reel it up, drop back down. Reel it up, drop back down. I didn’t think I’d ever get the baseball, but eventually I did:

What a frustrating 2 minutes, I swear! After that, I headed back over to the ‘Pen just as the Indians were clearing the field. While I was standing there talking to our Bullpen Mom, a baseball landed at my feet! I had no idea where it came from, at first, but I snagged it anyway. Turns out, one of the bullpen cops was trying to throw a young lady a baseball and she bobbled it. Since I’ve received baseballs from bullpen cops before, I decided to count it. Hell, I snagged it, didn’t I? Does it really matter who it came from? I categorize bullpen cops the same way as I categorize grounds keepers, security guards and other employees around the stadiums. And I’ve caught baseballs from many of those types of people before.

I handed the baseball to the girl who bobbled it and snapped a quick photo:

 

Soon after, the Mariner relief pitchers made their way to the bullpen and I was able to get Tom Wilhelmsen’s autograph on my ticket stub:

I watched the majority of the game from the ‘Pen with a quick stop into the Flying Tortoise Cantina for some more nachos.

John Jaso got the Mariners on the board with a 2-run blast in the 3rd inning. In the fourth, Brendan Ryan drew a bases loaded walk and the very next batter, Jaso, was plunked in the leg that scored another run for the Mariners. By that time, it was 5-1 Mariners and in the sixth inning, Indians catcher, Carlos Santana sent a 3-run moon shot into the right field seats which ended up to be a six run 5th inning for the Indians.

By the ninth inning, the Indians pulled a head 9-8 and Chris Perez got the job to slam the door on the M’s. Seattle loaded up the bases in the bottom of the ninth and Perez got John Jaso to pop up to end the game. What a heart breaker.

 

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: Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 12,065

Baseballs snagged: four (glove-tricked three, found one)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 19

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $35.91

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00

Total number of donors this season: 8

Total number of donors last season: 7

If you’d like to join my official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies Facebook page, just click here! And if you want to like Collection of Baseball on Facebook, click here!

4-15-2012 Safeco Field

Sunday games are always a challenge to get a baseball; but I’ve been continuously successful. Since there isn’t any batting practice, it’s more of being at the right place at the right time with the right player. A lot can go wrong but a lot can go right. If you’re ever attending Sunday games that batting practice isn’t in full swing, my advice to you, is be a little more aggressive when trying to catch a ball. They can come from anywhere. Usually the home team has infield warm-up drills so there’s a huge chance for an errant throw to end up in the seats.

My first and only baseball came from Kevin Millwood. The Mariners were out warming up down the first base line and when Millwood got done playing catch with his throwing partner, we made eye contact, I flapped my glove at him and he absolutely air mailed me the baseball. I jumped at the last possible moment to make the catch but it was a few feet over my head. I quickly turned, remembered the gravity rule and casually waited for the baseball to come to me rather than frantically searching for it. I could hear foot steps of other fans closing in on me, but I paid it no attention:

When I wandered back over to the Mariners bullpen out in center field, there was a lady trying to get Jason Phillips autograph. She didn’t really know who he was and she kept asking him if he was a pitcher. I told her that Phillips is the Mariners bullpen catcher and he’s a really cool guy. She didn’t have anything to get his autograph on, so I offered her an extra baseball that I had in my back pack. She also wanted to get his autograph with a sharpie marker; which is a huge mistake. I hooked her up with a ball point pen and this was the result:

It’s hard to see Jason Phillips autograph, and it turns out this young lady is part of the special olympics. She’s a huge Mariner fan and was pretty appreciative to get Phillip’s autograph.

As the Mariners filtered off the field, the Athletics started to come out. I wanted to get a few pictures with some players and maybe an autograph or two. When I walked over to the 3rd base area, the Athletics started to warmup. I wandered down to the dugout area and waited. It wouldn’t be long and the team would start to come over my way.

I eventually got Grant Balfour’s autograph and a close-up picture of him…

…and here’s the autograph I got from him…

…pretty sweet, huh? And when one of my most favorite Athletics player came around, I was able to snap up a picture with him:

After that, it was time for some much-needed pizza at the Pizzeria in the ‘Pen. I was dying for a slice since I wasn’t able to get any on the home opener and I forgot about it yesterday.

Once I had some pizza in my belly, I watched Miguel Olivo warm-up, traded jokes between friends about Adam Moore getting hurt all the time and Olivo leading the entire Major Leagues in pass balls…this was what it was all about, though. Friends and baseball! Life couldn’t be sweeter. Well, it could. It was actually Jackie Robinson day at the ballpark and all players wore number 42 to celebrate this special day:

 

Once the game got underway, I settled down in my usual spot when the ‘Pen wasn’t crowded; near the Mariners bullpen.

Brendan Ryan and Justin Smoak both went deep for the Mariners and Eric Sogard of the Athletics easily tied it up with a 3-run shot in the 5th inning. Ichiro came back and delivered a two-run double to right and the Mariners put it in cruise control after that. Brandon League came in and slammed the door with his tenth save on the year, and that was the ball game, kids!

Yesterday, I said I’d update my mini-baseball streak stats, so here you go:

30 hours at three different stadiums, watching 48 innings of baseball, eating five nacho plates, one hotdog, one chicken meal, having drank five cokes, ate three pizza slices, traveled 1,280 miles, getting 46 hours of sleep!

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 19,065

Baseballs snagged: two (toss-up from Kevin Millwood)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 15

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $28.35

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00

Total number of donors this season: 8

Total number of donors last season: 7

If you’d like to join my official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies Facebook page, just click here! And if you want to like Collection of Baseball on Facebook, click here!

 

4-14-2012 Safeco Field

When I arrived in Seattle around mid-afternoon, I knew there was going to be a parking disaster because the Seattle Sounders soccer team were playing a game at 1pm. I wanted to visit the Pike Place Market but found myself debating whether to go visit the marketplace or get my usual parking spot. And since parking was filling up fast because of the soccer game, I decided to hold off on my visit to one of the more popular tourist places in Seattle. When I arrived at the stadium this was what I was up against:

I had so much time to kill before the game, I decided to stop in to the Blazing Bagel to get some breakfast/lunch. This place makes the best bagel sandwiches in the entire world!

See what I mean?

Tonight’s game would be a little less crowded than yesterdays game at the Safe, though. When I ran inside, I instantly made a bee-line for the ‘Pen and tried to get Ichiro’s attention. He was out in right field shagging baseballs like he always does. My goal this year was to get a baseball from a few key players. Ichiro was one of them. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but Ichiro is the only player I know that’s currently playing, that wears his first name on the back of his jersey.

While I was shouting for Ichiro to throw a baseball my way, Jason Vargas decided he’d like to try his cannon from right field. He was deep in right field and when he threw a baseball towards the party deck, I didn’t think it would make it. The ball died right around the warning track. Ichiro continued to shag a few more fly balls and then ran over to get the baseball that Vargas threw:

The streak lives another day with an Ichiro toss-up! If you have no idea what “streak” I’m talking about, well, I’ll tell you. With that baseball I just caught from Ichiro, that’s my 103rd consecutive baseball game catching at least one baseball. Or finding one. Or glove-tricking one. Whatever. The point is, getting at least one baseball at a game. Also, another streak I have going is since last Monday, I’ve been to a baseball game every day this week so far. Tomorrow will be my seventh game on the week and sadly, the Mariners have an off-day on Monday and I have no future plans to go anywhere. I’d go to a minor league game, but I haven’t really checked the schedules and I’m not an avid minor league baseball fan, anyway. So my little mini-streak of going to baseball games will probably come to an end on Monday. Interesting enough, I created some extra statistics during that mini-streak that you may or may not be interested in.

After today’s contest between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics, I’ll have spent 26 hours in three different stadiums, watching 39 innings of baseball, consuming three dishes of nachos, one hotdog, and one chicken meal, having drank four cokes, ate two pizzas slices, traveled 1,205 miles and slept 40 hours. After Sunday’s game I will definitely update these stats for you because I know you care that much.

After getting a baseball from Ichiro, I wandered out into centerfield to strike up a conversation with Tom Wilhelmsen.

“Hey, Tom! How was spring training?” I asked.

“It was awesome!” he turned, replying back.

“Good to hear, man! How was Japan?” I said to him.

“Oh, man! What a great experience! I had a blast!” he shouted excitedly.

“Yeah? I traveled out there too, to watch the series and I absolutely loved Japan.” I hollered back.

“You traveled out there for the games?” he asked me.

“Heck yeah! I wouldn’t have missed that for the world!” I replied.

We talked a moment or two longer about how peaceful Japan was and blah blah. It was really awesome to talk with Tom about the trip I had. If you’d like to read all about my awesome experience in Japan, click here and here.

Soon after, I made my way down to the Athletics dugout where I engaged in more conversation about my trip to Japan. Most of the Athletics fans that were down there would’ve loved to have gone and I was asked multiple times if I worked at Microsoft. Listen, my trip was extremely affordable. For those of you who are curious how people can afford to travel, I just put myself on a budget, saved, saved, and saved and went. The plane ticket was the most expensive part of the trip. Anyway. Enough about all that crap, right?

When Grant Balfour walked off the field after batting practice, I wasn’t able to get a baseball from him. Later on, I took this picture of what he threw to me:

Authentic Grant Balfour sunflower seeds!  And here’s a shot of the two super-stars on the Athletics team signing autographs for fans:

I’m not really a Yoenis Cepedes fan. I think he’s a tad overrated and a little too aggressive at the plate. He reminds me of Mariners Carlos Peguero. Cepedes started the season out very strong. He hit a home run off Shawn Kelley in the Tokyo Dome and two more in the Coliseum. But since then? He hasn’t done much. He’s been striking out more often than not, and he’s made at least one error in the outfield that I know of. He doesn’t excite me when he plays because I know he’s going to strikeout. I predict that Cespedes will be back in the minor leagues before you know it.

Before the game started, I wanted to return to the Flying Tortoise Cantina to get me a huge plate of nachos. And this time, because the ‘Pen wasn’t wall to wall with drunks and party-goers, I was able to accomplish that:

What an amazing plate of food. Safeco Field has probably the best tasting food in any stadium I’ve ever been to. I’ve only been to 14 stadiums, but still. Safeco, so far, ranks number one.

Once the game got underway, I ventured out into the outfield seating to look for a public icon at Safeco Field. Her name is Amy Franz and she’s in charge of recording all of Ichiro’s hits during the season. If you know nothing about her, well, I’m about to tell you a little bit about what’s happening at Safeco. When Ichiro had his amazing run for the all-time hit record in Major League baseball, Amy and her husband Joe, were there to record all of his hits. When hit number 262 came around, this sign ended up in Cooperstown:

I had a chance to meet Amy and Joe and I got my picture taken with them:

As you can see, Ichiro is already at hit number 11. It’s pretty awesome to see this sort of stuff at Safeco Field and Amy and Joe actually traveled to Japan to watch the Mariners play the Athletics as well. They even brought their Ichi-meter!

I tweeted Amy and Joe while I was in Japan, but I never was able to meet up with them there. I finally was able to cross paths with them at Safeco Field and they are super nice people. If you ever want to meet them and get a picture with them like me, just head on down to the Ichi-meter sign and holler at them!

I spent the majority of the game wandering around the stadium for the first time since last season. It felt really great to be back in Safeco Field amongst friends and Mariners baseball!

In the above photo, these are my baseball friends. The majority of this group come to just about every single Mariners home game and some, like me, even travel around the United States watching the Mariners play in different stadiums.

From left to right;  Ryanna, Emma, Carla, ChrisKrista, Vanessa, Jacob and Jacob’s girlfriend (who I really havent met yet). They’re an awesome bunch and they’re always down in the ‘Pen near the Mariners bullpen. The group is called the GirlsCorner because we all post ourselves up in the ‘Pen in the corner near the bullpen. The guys in the group are GirlsCornerSecurity. It’s pretty awesome.

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 21,071

Baseballs snagged: two (toss-up from Ichiro Suzuki)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 14

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $26.46

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00

Total number of donors this season: 8

Total number of donors last season: 7

If you’d like to join my official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies Facebook page, just click here! And if you want to like Collection of Baseball on Facebook, click here!

 

 

4-13-2012 Safeco Field

This was the view at Safeco Field just before the centerfield gates opened up:

 

And this was the view of outside the left field gates about 30 minutes before first pitch:

This is what happens at Safeco Field on their home opener. All the other games, besides when the Yankees or Redsox come to town or a bobblehead giveaway game, are roughly 10-15 thousand people. Before I get into the home opener though, I attended two games at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, home of the Tacoma Rainiers for two reasons; Shawn Kelley and to see if I could catch a baseball at this particular minor league stadium. Well, I got to see Shawn Kelley pitch during Thursdays game…

…and before Wednesday’s game, I found this little gem on the party deck:

Mission accomplished. Not only did I find that lone baseball, but myself and a couple of fellow ballhawks that frequent Safeco Field, pretty much cleaned up in right field. We managed to snag roughly 12 foul balls, which we ended up giving none away because the attendance was so low that nearly ever kid in the stadium got a foul ball for himself/herself. It was quite amazing. Wednesday’s game was also the longest baseball game I’ve ever been to. Check out the scoreboard 3 hours into it:

 

Thursday’s game at Cheney stadium was less eventful, as I only snagged one baseball. The Rainiers don’t allow fans to sit inside the stadium during batting practice so I had to stand on the road outside the right field fence to shag anything. I had a few opportunities but I sort of felt like the low man on the totem pole when I arrived. There were other fans there and they seemed to be veteran ballhawks at this stadium; so I took the far end near the foul pole. Here’s a picture of the baseball I caught on the fly:

 

Okay, back to Safeco Field. When I arrived at the stadium with a couple of friends, Blake Beavan was being interviewed by KIRO 710AM Sports radio. After the interview I was able to shake his hand and get a picture with him:

Blake is a really cool guy, very friendly and excited to be a Mariner.

After the gates opened, I rushed inside expecting to see a swarm of people crashing into the ‘Pen area. The crowd was sort of on the lighter side, initially. But like any special game day, it would get uncomfortably packed later on. I knew I had to act fast to get on the board with at least one baseball. I tried for a few toss-ups in the ‘Pen and decided I’d have better luck with the Athletics. I raced upstairs to the upper level and found an empty spot near the left field foul pole. Within minutes, I had a foul ball screaming my way. I jogged to my right and reached across my body to make the catch but I came up a foot or two short. Luckily, the baseball hit into a seat and dropped down underneath it:

A gentleman and his wife were sitting a row or so close by and when the man asked to see the ball I asked him if he wanted to have the baseball. Since he saw me make an attempt to catch it and all, I figured he’d like to get his hands on an official Major League baseball. His response was, “hell yeah! Thanks, young man!”

When I walked up over the ‘Pen, I noticed someone down below. I actually had to stare, rub my eyes, blink a million times before I really knew who I was looking at. Here is a picture of how crowded the ‘Pen can get on games like these:

This is fairly mild for the ‘Pen on these kinds of games. Later on, it got so crowded, you couldn’t move without bumping into someone, stepping on toes or spilling someone’s beer. It was nuts and I didn’t particularly like it. Throughout the stadium, it got so packed that you couldn’t move. Anywhere you wanted to go would take you at least ten minutes to get there and when the cash registers decided to stop taking debit/credit cards, that’s when all hell broke loose at Safeco Field.

My first adventure was just trying to get food after I had snagged my first baseball and met Dave Henderson. Yes, that’s right, sports fans. I met Dave Henderson. In the flesh. You don’t believe me? Well, feast your eyes on this picture:

Yes, Dave Henderson was out walking around Safeco Field. Not a whole lot of people even knew but then again, nights like these, not a lot of baseball fans were actually at the game paying attention to anything but their beer. Anyway. Dave and I talked about Oakland baseball, made fun of Josh Reddick, Dave wore my Oakland hat, he flashed his World Series Ring, we shook hands and eventually parted ways. It was such an awesome experience for Dave and the Mariners to set that up. He’s really a cool guy and so fun to be around.

After that, I headed off to get myself a free coke at the guest services only to find out that the guest services table that issues out free soda moved to the center field gates. After ten minutes of fighting through people, dodging spilled drinks and trying not to knock over anyone, I got my free drink coupon. Now. Back to getting food. I had to fight through hoards of people to get in line that took nearly 15 minutes to be able to place an order only to be told the cash registers only took cash. Gah! I only had a few bucks on me so now I had to find an ATM. I cashed in my free drink and headed outside the stadium. It took nearly another 15 minutes to get outside and stand in yet another line that took roughly 20 minutes to finally get some cash. Cash in hand, I ventured back inside Safeco Field. Instead of pizza, I settled on the Flying Tortoise for some nachos. I stook in that line for about 10-15 minutes waiting to place an order. Once I told the cook what I wanted (which was a gi-normous plate of nachos) he told me I had to stand in a different line to order that. Oh.My.God.

I ended up ordering a wimpy little salsa and nachos dish for $3 bucks. Which wasn’t even worth photographing. It wasn’t even worth standing in line for. Or even worth paying $3 dollars for. I’d of rather been slapped in the face. By this time, it was the 3rd inning and I hadn’t seen any of the game. I’ve been able to watch bits and pieces of it on monitors around Safeco, but I wanted to actually see it live. And apparently, I wasn’t the only person having problems. Check out this blog entry written by a friend of some friends that I attend Mariners games with. I felt the same way on so many levels. And in fact, I did eventually leave Safeco just after the 3rd inning concluded.

So yeah. That was my home opener experience at Safeco Field. One highlight I’d like to point out is my friend Chris and myself got a little “LoMo-ing” in before the game outside the gates. Check us out:

Also, another highlight that needs mentioning, I was able to glove-trick a baseball out from behind the centerfield wall which I promptly gave to my friend Kelly’s husband. I’m not sure who threw it, but it was bobbled and eventually found its way down into the gap:

 

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 46,026

Baseballs snagged: two (foul ball, glove-tricked)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 13

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $24.57

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00

Total number of donors this season: 8

Total number of donors last season: 7

If you’d like to join my official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies Facebook page, just click here! And if you want to like Collection of Baseball on Facebook, click here!

Extra stuff from my trip to Japan!

Well, I’m officially back to the states and it’s back to the daily routine for me. I’ll hopefully be taking a trip next week to watch the Athletics battle the Kansas City Royals at the Oakland Coliseum on April 9th and 10th, so if you’re in the area, come on by and say hello! After that, providing the game isn’t sold out, I’ll be attending the Seattle Mariners home opener on April 13th and possibly the following two games after that. But we all know things can get hectic and plans can change. So I’ll just play things by ear for now.

I wanted to share some interesting photos I got from Zack Hample after I had returned to the United States. If you read my latest two blog entries, you’ll know that I attended two games at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo Japan for the 2012 Major League Baseball season opener on March 28th and on March 29th. I had such an awesome time that I wanted to get my blogs done about the games before I left for the US. I finally got the last entry done about the time I was ready to board my flight from Japan to the United States. So things were a little rushed in that entry and I didn’t really insert all the pictures I wanted. Plus, I still have a lot to talk about concerning the actual trip to Japan instead of just the baseball games. I covered quite a bit of detail on my adventure to and from the Tokyo Dome, but I still left some things out, and like I said, things were rushed.

Okay, enough talk. Time to look at some pictures!

Here’s me getting my picture taken by Zack after we first met since our last visit at Safeco Field on June 15th 2011. Zack wanted to get a bite to eat and since I had already eaten something earlier, I wasn’t all that hungry. But it prompted me to get a craving for a hamburger the following day at the Dome.

What’s interesting about the above picture is this; people who come to attend baseball games lay down sheets of newspaper and tape them to the ground as sort of place saver. It’s actually pretty ingenious surrounded by a little bit of primitive ideology, wouldn’t you agree? When I was sitting in line with Zack on March 28th, plenty of people kind of came and went while their sheet of newspaper held their spot. And here’s a close up of what a Japanese newspaper looks like:

Interesting stuff, yeah?

Here’s a picture of me hanging out in the outfield looking onto the field for an opportunity to snag a baseball:

As you can see, there is plenty of room to run when the seats aren’t filled. There are no cross bars blocking or any other obstructions in the way. There aren’t any seat backs and the stairs and fairly easy to negotiate. It was pretty fun to shag baseballs at this stadium, for sure!

After BP, of course, we worked up quite an appetite. And although the food was pretty expensive, it was full of taste and worth the amount of money I paid. I ordered chicken on a stick and it was covered in some kind of sweet and sour BBQ sauce sort of like the scallops I had on Thursday morning at the fish market.

The next picture I’m about to show you was the “restricted” staircase that Zack and I found. It took us to the very top of the Tokyo Dome and eventually security shut us down. But it was so much fun to explore! The way we got up there was just as interesting, too. We literally sweet talked the guard into letting us up! Being that there was a language barrier made it all that much easier. Here’s me peeking out of the door and taking a picture:

And here are a couple of pictures of Zack and I just hanging out after batting practice ended:

 

 

Check out this next picture…

…see the yellow strip down the middle of the sidewalk? Well, that’s for blind people. They can use that to navigate the city or wherever they’re headed. Pretty cool, huh? At every intersection there are yellow pads that are covered with little bumps to alert blind people that the end of the sidewalk is near. Those are also placed before staircases going up and down, too.

Some other interesting facts that I observed while being in Japan is that people are very quiet and they keep to themselves. It’s very rare that you’ll find a person walking down the street with a cellphone glued to their ear while they yap loudly to whomever is on the other end. Also, Tokyo (and even Ueno, where I stayed) have these little alley ways that people generally do their business in. Meaning, where they eat or count their money or talk on their cellphones. Not where they do their business, business. You get what I mean. It’s sort of like, being super private. They don’t want to air their phone conversations and they don’t want people seeing them stuff their face with a McDonalds Big Mac or something like that. So they go down these alley ways, turn their backs to the street, and handle their issue. Also, ATM’s are very private. There is a frosted piece of glass in front of the ATM and the ATM really isn’t out in the open in the store like it is in America.

Like I stated before in my previous entry, taxi cabs are for the birds. They are expensive for one, and anywhere you want to go, you should walk. You’ll see more and it’s healthier for you. I suppose this is sort of turning into a “how-to” guide about Japan, but really I’m just sharing some pointers in case you get the urge to go see Japan. Learn the trains and the subways. It’ll save you time and money. Or like I’ve said twice before, just walk!

Last mention and then I’ll wrap this up. Yes, it’s more information on my charity. If you’re wondering how to become a donor for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies, just leave a comment or email me at WaynePeck@yahoo.com! It’s that easy! Leave me your name, where you’re from and how much you want to pledge per baseball! Or if you want to just donate $10 bucks, you can do that too! $10 bucks is the minimum you can donate and that’s a Crowdrise.com thing. Next season I’ll be changing my donation webpage to the webpage that the Seattle Humane Society has set up. Since the season already started, and I already have four donors, I didn’t want to confuse things. Here’s the link to my charity page, by the way.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a fantastic 2012 baseball season!

 

3-29-2012 Tokyo Dome

I woke up this morning at around 6am and got my day started right away. I’ve mastered my way around my hotel room (which is about the size of an airplane cockpit) and watched a little Japanese tv before I was ready to venture out for the day. Today was fish market day and I was pretty pumped about that. Oh, here’s a picture of my hotel room. See how small it is?

The door on the right is the bathroom and it’s literally so small that when I bend over to get dressed, I bump my backside on the door. I’m 6’0 225 (the blog minuses 5-10 pounds) and I need a lot of room. Farther into the room you can see the bed on the right. And that’s about all there is to my hotel room. I get my little window for fresh air and that’s about it. It’s no bigger than a prison cell. But it’s cozy so I dig it. And get this. It’s actually a double occupancy room! Two people can sleep here! So I guess that’s what the couch is for. Ha!

My plan for the day was simply this; I’d walk from my hotel, which is in Ueno, to the Tokyo Dome, which is in Tokyo, and then I’d head due south towards the fish market. When I got to the Tokyo Dome and started to head south, I sort of lost my bearings and ended up thinking I was walking in the wrong direction. From my hotel, the fish market it roughly 4-5 kilometers. Not a bad walk. That’s about 3 miles or so. But three miles is three miles and when you’re hoofing it through Japan, and everything looks relatively the same, it’s hard to stay on course and know exactly where you’re headed. I just knew I needed to head south. And after about an hour of walking “south” I gave up and hailed a cab. This cab ride ran me about 2,600 yen which is way more than I anticipated. But I got to the fish market. This was the view as I exited the cab:

I really didn’t do much research on the fish market prior to leaving my hotel room. All I knew were the basic rules, which boils down to not being a jerk in a foreign country. Rule number one stated that you aren’t allowed to touch anything or sample anything unless directed by the vendor. Common sense, I suppose. The second rule was no smoking. But I actually saw a lot of vendors smoking inside their shop. So maybe the rule didn’t apply to them. The third rule was, don’t bring oversized luggage that will block people or traffic. I just had my back pack on so I was good there. The first shop I stopped at offered me some scallops and some of these miniature lobster looking things. I tried both as I didn’t want to be rude and then I asked to take a picture of the shop. Check it out:

I also shelled out 300 Yen for some scallops because when I asked to take a picture, the young lady kind of wasn’t happy about it but let me anyway. On top of that, I tried a bunch of food she had out. I wanted to leave a good impression. I continued my journey through the fish market and I noticed a large crowd of people with cameras and video camcorders creating quite a ruckus half way down the street. My first thought was it may be a baseball player inside eating ramen or something. How cool would that be if I ran into Felix Hernandez or Jason Vargas at the fish market? I took off down the street passing this…

….and when I realized what was happening, I wasn’t very impressed anymore. It’s not that I’m some animal rights activist, it’s just that watching someone slaughter a fish really isn’t that cool for me. But apparently it’s a huge deal at the fish market. Everyone wants to see some yellow fin tuna guts, I guess. Here’s the crowd outside the shop video taping, and taking pictures:

I was able to get a quick picture of the tuna carcass after the crowd dispersed a little bit:

I continued to explore the fish market and I ended up in some huge warehouse I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be inside. I saw other people walking around that looked sort of like tourists. I figured if I wasn’t supposed to be inside I’d get yelled at by some angry warehouse worker. The warehouse looked like things were sort of winding down for the day. The fish market closed early in the afternoon so there wasn’t a whole lot going on when I walked inside it. I did see a squid/octopus looking thing in a bucket that was still alive and I saw a lot of clams, crabs, lobsters, and scallops all in containers full of water and ice. It really was a sight and I sort of regret not taking pictures. I just wasn’t sure if I was allowed to or not. This is what the entrance of the warehouse looked like, though:

I had to meet Zack Hample at the Tokyo Dome at 2pm for game two of the opening series at the Dome, so I decided I’d had enough fun at the fish market and it was time to head into Tokyo to take care of business. I’d eaten some scallops (even bought some) and almost got to see a guy gut a yellow fin tuna. Not too bad on the day.

As I headed out, I wasn’t quite sure which way to walk. I retraced the route that the cab driver took but eventually I was lost. Well, not really lost. Just…sorta lost. You understand. I found a street sign that directed me towards Ueno (which is where my hotel is at) so I just followed the street sign. Initially, it said 4km and after about an hour of walking, it said 3km. I was a little confused that I only traveled one kilometer on foot in an hour? I did manage to take a few photos while I was walking around. Since the fish market is located in Ginza, that’s mainly where I took my photos. There were lots of interesting things going on in Ginza. Since it’s like, a huge shopping area for women, there were some nicely dressed people in that area. I even saw the Ginza Bon Marche!

Here’s another picture of the downtown area:

When I finally gave up on walking, I hailed another cab and all I had to say was “Ichiro!” and the guy knew exactly where I wanted to go! Well, it wasn’t just like that, but I did mention Ichiro was at the Tokyo Dome. He got super excited and started laughing and saying “Go Mariners! Go Mariners!” I couldn’t help to laugh. It was truly a sight to remember. When I realized where I was at, finally, I asked the driver to stop and let me out. He thought I wanted to window down and when I flashed him a 1,000 Yen, he started to understand. I had about a quarter of a mile left to go until I reached the Tokyo Dome and I was super-exhausted (from lack of sleep) and I was so hungry! I wanted to try this burger joint at the Dome because Zack ate a hamburger there yesterday and it looked so delicious!

When I placed my order, I sort of confused the waitress. I ordered one cheeseburger and one hamburger with a glass of water and a glass of coke. She kept asking me if I was changing my order to a cheeseburger from a hamburger. It worked out in the end and this is what they brought out to me…

What? I’m an American! I eat and I eat a lot! I even got a couple of odd stares from people as I devoured both burgers. But let me tell you something. These two hamburgers were the best tasting, most flavourful, most juicy burgers I have ever eaten in my entire life. The meat was so, so fricken good! I can’t even put it into words how good they were. Of course, I had to pay an arm and a leg for them, but it was worth every Yen I shelled out for the meal. If you ever go to Japan, no matter where you go, get to the Tokyo Dome and visit this place! It’s so worth it.

I waited for Zack after my delicious meal for about ten minutes at the train station and then ventured off to find him. I found him at gate 11 and we were already facing a problem. You see, he had my ticket to get into the stadium. Well, actually it was his that he loaned out to me to get in. He wanted the ticket stub back which was fine with me. But his ticket was for gate 25 and my ticket was for gate 22. Gate 22 is behind home plate and gate 25 is near third base. We both wanted to get inside the stadium via left field entrance like yesterday and the security guard was already checking tickets. I think they had so many people trying to get into gates they weren’t supposed to get into that the guards were practicing a little pro-active-ness. Which is fine. It just sucks a little. Zack and I wandered to gate 25 and waited in line there. And when the gates opened up, Zack got in and my playing dumb role like yesterday didn’t fool anyone today. The guard actually escorted me out of line and pointed to gate 22. “Gate 22! You go now!”  he exclaimed. Wow. Okay, gate 22 it is!

Gate 22 was on the other side of the freaking stadium. I laced up my PF Flyers and booked it, I mean, booked it towards gate 22. I was flying, man. I’m telling you. I don’t know what it was, maybe the burgers, but my legs were pumpin`. I arrived at gate 22 with no line at all, they checked my bags, got the body scanner thing done, scanned my ticket, busted through the doors and hauled ass towards left field. I hit the brakes and made a bee line for the first row and started calling out to Brandon McCarthy for a toss-up when I got to left field. I lost maybe five minutes of batting practice at best, but the seats were filling up fast and I wanted to get on the board with at least one baseball as fast as I could. It wasn’t until the last few minutes of the Athletics portion of batting practice did I score my first baseball. I was able to get it via a new technique I made up on my own. It’s called “crow-hawking.” Basically, I let others call out to the players for a baseball and I kind of judge where the baseball might be tossed to from the player, line up behind that group of people and wait for the bobble or the dropped baseball, then I snatch it up! And that’s sort of what happened but with a BP home run ball. The ball caromed off the bleachers and bounced down to the first row of people, it bounced around, and I eventually got my hands on it. Possession! It counts! unfortunately, security was hot on it and as soon as I turned to run away, he was standing there asking for it. I couldn’t even get a picture of the baseball. And that’s why yesterday I really didn’t try for any BP home runs. I want documentation!

I won’t go too much more into detail about batting practice because it was pretty uneventful until about the last 10 minutes. I took up a spot in right center field and yelled my tail off to Steve Delabar when he got a baseball. I yelled and yelled and flailed my arms just like I did when Jesus Montero had a baseball. Steve looked at the baseball and sort of stared at me while I waved my arms. I started to feel like an idiot. But then he launched it my way. And it was dead on! I leaned back, took a deep breath and then saw a mess of baseball gloves closing in on the ball. I did everything short of getting physical to get my glove out in front of the growing pile and made the smooth catch! I gave Steve Delabar a thumbs up and pointed at him after I made the catch and got a few pats on the back from the locals. That was number two. Number three came from George Sherrill in left field and I had to sort of use my crow-hawking technique. Sherrill launched one my way and I wasn’t quite sure it was intended for me or for someone else. But the baseball seemed to have bounced off someone elses glove and the ball actually landed on my wrist not in my glove. I quickly secured the ball with my free hand and placed it back in my mitt. Feeeww!

Here’s the Delabar baseball…

…you can also see Shawn Kelley standing next to him. And here’s my George Sherrill baseball:

Tom Wilhelmsen and Charlie Furbush are on the right side of Sherrill. Anyway. So I bagged three baseballs on the evening, which for me, that’s pretty good, and especially good in a foreign land in a stadium I’ve never been to. Five baseballs total in two games. I really wasn’t interested in any third out baseballs or foul balls or home run balls either. I will say this about the Tokyo Dome security. For the most part, it’s easy to sweet talk your way through them. It’s easy to catch them off guard and sneak past. So if you ever end up going to a Major League game in the Tokyo Dome, remember that. Security is there to ensure safety, enforce the rules, but they’re human beings after all and if you can stay one step ahead of them, you’ll do just fine.

And remember; watch out for batted baseballs:

Here’s Zack and I hanging out after batting practice:

The next morning when I woke up, I started to pack and get my things ready to leave. I thought check-out was at like, 3pm but it was at 11am. Oops! Sorry! Anyway. I walked down for breakfast and when I returned it was like, 10 minutes to eleven. I started to blog about the first game at the Tokyo Dome and then I got a phone call from the front desk instructing me that check out was like, now! Helloo!! Time to leave, right? Well, I had to do one last thing before I left.

When I walked down stairs, I told the young lady at the counter that I had a gift for her. I pulled out one of the baseballs that I caught at the game and left one of my business cards as well. I wrote a nice little note on the back of my business card stating that I had a great time at the hotel and it was a great place to stay. And I truly did enjoy my stay. It was the quietest hotel I’ve ever stayed at in my life. I also told them that Ichiro hit the baseball I had given them. The young lady’s hands were actually shaking when I told her that. Ichiro is huge in Japan, we all know this.  Here’s a picture of them after I donated the baseball to the hotel:

And that pretty much concludes my trip! Unless you want to see pictures from the skyliner train from Ueno to Narita, that’s about all I got to show! I hope you all enjoyed reading about my trip as much as I enjoyed visiting Japan! I’m not too sure where I’ll end up next as far as baseball games, but I am planning on visiting Oakland in April possibly for the Royals series. I think that would be a good start to the 2012 season after this epic trip, you think? Anyway, if you’re in Oakland, drop me a line!

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 43,391

Baseballs snagged: three (One BP HR, toss-up from Steve Delabar and George Sherrill)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 5

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $3.70

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

If you’d like to join my official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies Facebook page, just click here! And if you want to like Collection of Baseball on Facebook, click here!

3-28-2012 Tokyo Dome

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:

And another:

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

If you’d like to join my official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies Facebook page, just click here! And if you want to like Collection of Baseball on Facebook, click here!

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