Results tagged ‘ Seattle ’
For the better part of the afternoon, I watched the security guards fumble with the table at the gate…
….priorities, I tell ya. Today turned out to be a gloomy, raining, wet day at the ballpark. I bought the cheapest tickets possible ($26.00) which put my seats up in the 300 level of the stadium. I wanted to spend the majority of my time in The ‘Pen. Today’s goals seemed simple enough: snag a bunch of baseballs, get a picture with Dave Valle, get Jose Mota’s autograph and snag a home run ball during the game.
Being that it was Kyle Seager bobblehead night, I figured it would be a sold out game. It came close. 42,687 showed up and I’m assuming 3-5 thousand probably left after they got their bobbles because while I walked around the stadium, it didn’t feel like a capacity crowd. During batting practice, it wasn’t that bad. I snagged my bobblehead and glove tricked my first ball out of the bullpen. My second ball came by just leaning over the railing and picking it out of the bullpen after it was hit into there and rolled around for a little bit. I made my way across the seating bowl securing my third ball that I picked out of a cup holder (put there by an usher) and my fourth and fifth balls came bouncing into the stands; one on the third base side and one on the first base side.
After BP I set up near the Root Sports broadcast table and I waited and I waited and I waited some more for Dave Valle to show up. I checked his Twitter and found out that a new ice cream machine was placed up in the broadcast booth and I suspected that’s where Valle was at. Getting ice cream:
By then it was too late to run down to the Angels dugout to get Jose Mota’s autograph. My night was slowly falling apart. If you’ve never been to Safeco Field and have never experienced The ‘Pen (on College night or any other night for that matter) you aren’t missing much. It usually gets overly crowded full of drunk people and the music is so loud you can barely hear the person next to you. So after about the 2nd inning, I made my way up to my seat to watch the game from there…
…of course when I bought my ticket, I forgot to buy the one without the “obstructed view” warning.
I watched the game from my seat for a few innings and then I wandered the stadium. I actually got up close and personal with the new timer that was installed last year in all of the stadiums…
…and the premise behind this new addition is to attempt to speed the game up. Ever since Manfred took over from Selig as baseballs Commissioner, he’s been doing everything in his power to speed the game up. He’s told the players that they have to keep one foot in the batters box at all times and if they don’t they could receive a fine. Then they installed the timer which gives pitchers two minutes between innings to get ready. Now I’ve been hearing that intentional walks will be changing. The batter simply takes his base. Along with that, the umpires are enforcing shorter mound visits.
I understand that games can be long and lack action and excitement. The game I attended yesterday lasted over three hours. And I didn’t stay for the whole game, either. I don’t agree with changing these little things about the game. I don’t agree with the Manfred era of baseball. I don’t agree with the netting in front of the dugouts and down the first and third base lines in an attempt to “keep fans safe”. These rules where the catcher can’t block the plate and late slides into second base have become illegal take away so much from the game. I think there needs to be some level of fan accountability where the fans who attend games should have some reasonable expectation of a game that might last longer than anticipated. I also think that fans need to be more alert and provide safety measures for themselves instead of relying on Major League Baseball to keep 35,000 people safe. If you can’t stay alert during play or can’t stay off your cellphone for two minutes during a game, maybe the outfield seating is best for you.
Going into the ninth inning, the Mariners were holding on to the lead 7-6. Steve Cishek came in to close out the game and left a pitch over the plate for Albert Pujols. He hammered a 3-run home run and the Angels went on to win the game 9-7. Final.
Cishek later posted this one Twitter…
…he receieved plenty of support, there were still many nay-sayers. The Mariners have never really had a successful closer since I’ve been a fan. And I’ve been a fan since 1989.
Total Lifetime Games Attended: 121
Total Baseballs Snagged This Season: 9
Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 343
Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1
Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0
Willie Bloomquist is one of my favorite players and when he announced his retirement it made me sort of sad. I was never able to get any memorabilia signed by him or meet him at any of the games while he was active on the field. But I’m happy he’s retired and doing the things he wants to do. He recently accepted a job with the front office with the Diamondbacks so there’s still a chance I can catch him at the ballpark to get something signed.
I recently connected with him on Twitter and asked him how retirement was going…
…seems like everything is going well at the moment.
The Angels were in town this weekend and I always try to make it out to the stadium to see them. Mainly I like heckling Albert Pujols because he seems to make it a point to ignore the fans. So whenever he takes his at-bats, I like to obnoxiously yell “Puuuujjjjoooolllls!”. On a positive note, I like to wave and cheer on Mike Trout because he always responds to his fans, and I like seeing that from him.
My girlfriend, Alexandra accompanied me for the game and we stopped at the Pyramid Ale House prior to game time. I ordered the beer battered fish, which by the way, was awesome but the service wasn’t so great…
…we’ve been here before and our last visit the service was sub-par as well. We both decided this would be our last visit here.
When I entered the stadium, I spotted my first baseball of the day on the ground near the Root Sports set up. Once the rest of the stadium opened up, I managed to find three more baseballs in the right and center field bleachers and one was hit my way and I was able to snag it on the carom.
Alexandra and I headed down to the Angels dugout and once at our seats, we found this stuck to the front of my seat:
Here’s a closer look at what it says:
This was the view from our seats during the game:
By the bottom of the fourth, the game was tied 1-1 until Nelson Cruz hit a high drive out of the park in the bottom half of the fifth. Then in the bottom of the eighth, Angels pitcher, Joe Smith walked Norichika Aoki and then literally tried to pick him off at first base several times. The crowd became extremely restless and then on about the sixth or seventh attempt, Mike Scioscia challenged the play:
It was the first time I’d ever witnessed a live challenge and so it was interesting to watch the umpires put on the headsets and watch the video over and over again. The call stood; Aoki was safe at first. It was still pretty cool to see.
The game had lasted well beyond three hours so we left after Robinson Cano belted a double into the gap. The Mariners had the lead at this point by one run. Steve Chisek would be in to close the game out and by the time I got home and checked the score, I learned he blew the save. The one thing I was happy about was the fact that Robinson Cano had extended my Beat The Streak game streak to 16 with his double to the gap. The Mariners losing in the 9th? Not so happy about that but it’s baseball.
Total Lifetime Games Attended: 120
Total Baseballs Snagged This Season: 4
Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 339
Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1
Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0
The main goal was to attend this fan fest and get Jay Buhner’s autograph on a baseball bat. I had purchased a nice wooden bat from a sports retailer the night before, packed up the camera and headed into Seattle.
The last time I attended a fan fest was a few years ago and I really had a good experience. I wasn’t trying to mirror this experience to last times but I was imagining some quality time with Buhner. After all, it’s fan fest!
When I got to Safeco, the lines were already wrapped around the stadium:
The rules for autographs were pretty simple: the first 200 people in line that claimed vouchers upon entry would get that players autograph of their choice and so on and so forth until there were no more vouchers for that player. The players were staggered at various times so all you had to do was enter the ballpark, walk to the banner with the players name on it that you wanted, grab the voucher from the staff member and beat feet up to wherever the autograph session was taking place. Make senses? Okay, good.
Jay Buhner was signing autographs right at 10:30am so as soon as I got inside, I grabbed the voucher with his name on it and I just followed the signs that led me up to this hallway:
There were all kinds of cool things to look at waiting in line but all I really wanted to do was meet Jay Buhner.
I have been a Mariners fan since 1989 when my Mom took me to my very first Mariners game in the Kingdome. We sat up in the 300 level near the 3rd base side and the Mariners played the Baltimore Orioles. That was the first game I witnessed Cal Ripken Jr. play and all of my Mariner favorites. Since then, I’ve attended handfuls of games growing up with my Dad and we always sat where we could see Ken Griffey Jr.
Over the last few years, I’ve met a lot of players and I wanted to start meeting my childhood favorites like Jay Buhner and Dan Wilson. I met Edgar Martinez a few seasons ago by being in the right place at the right time.
Anyway. When Buhner finally arrived I had a question in mind that I wanted to ask him. And when I got up to the table to have my memorabilia signed, the staff member who was with Buhner was handing him so much stuff so fast for him to sign, I think Buhner was a little flustered. He even made a comment to the guy, something along the lines of “you’re handing me stuff and I don’t even have time to sign it!” Something like that.
When I handed my bat to the staff member, I stood in front of Buhner…
… and asked him, “Jay, when do you think Ichiro will hit his 3,000th hit?” He immediately replied with. “How many hits does he got?” I think at the time Ichiro had 2,919 or something like that. I was soon cut-off by more fans walking in front of me to get their picture taken with Buhner and the staff member kept piling on the memorabilia for him to sign. So I just picked up my bat and sort of walked away. I turned back once or twice more to watch but I was soon greeted with, “Have a nice day!” from another staff member which sort of meant, “please exit this way”.
Wow. I stood outside of the doors and just watched Buhner scurrying to sign balls and bobble heads and cards and all sorts of stuff. He had his head down and was just signing away.
Occasionally he would look up and laugh or whatever and shake a hand or two, but it was all business getting everything signed in front of him. I felt bad for him and I felt bad for the fans. Buhner had 200 autographs to sign in an hour and a half and I guess the point of the whole thing was to just get something signed and move on. But I wanted to at least talk to him for a minute or two like I got to talk to Edgar Martinez. I got to tell Edgar how I went to games as a little kid, and cheered for him and chanted, “Ed-GAR! Ed-GAR!” with my Dad and we drove home that night smiling after a M’s win. I shook hands with Martinez and took a picture and all was right in the world.
All wasn’t right in the world on this day. Buhner was a mad man signing autographs. I don’t blame him, though. It’s all about making the fans happy, I suppose. And if it’s just spending two quick seconds getting something signed from a baseball player and not having much interaction, then I guess that’s what makes people happy.
I feel fortunate as a baseball fan, though. I have a decent sized collection of signed baseball memorabilia from some of the greatest baseball players who’ve ever played the game. I’ve met and took pictures with many of my favorite players, I’ve traveled to 14 different MLB stadiums, I’ve seen MLB games in both Japan and Australia, I’ve caught a foul ball and I’ve shook hands with Nelson Cruz in Macy’s in down town Seattle. So over the years it’s been fun.
I walked away from Safeco today feeling happy that I got Buhner’s autograph on a baseball bat that’ll forever be in my collection but at the same time, I felt a little frustrated. I sort of put myself in Buhner’s shoes for a moment, too. He gives a lot of his own time to the fans. He raised the 12th man flag at the Seahawks game and he seems to be pretty involved in the community around the area, plus he goes to these fan fests just about every year. My only wish is during these autograph sessions, the process could just go a little slower.
If you haven’t heard the Bryan Price rant, I suggest you click this link and have a listen. Although, entertaining, it’s really off-track and kind of appalling that he’d take a stance on this kind of issue with the media. Price has been coaching for about 15 years and started his coaching stint with the Seattle Mariners in 2000 so it’s hard to understand just where he’s coming from. He issued an apology for the excessive profanity but says he stands by “the message”. What message is he standing by, exactly? The media has a job to do and their job is to report things. Not only did Price drop 77 f-bombs but he continuously said “I don’t get it” as well as “you don’t have to be a fan of the Reds”. Yet, he asked the media on hand many times how does reporting certain things benefit the Reds? It’s not their job to be fans of the Cincinnati Reds, Mr. Price. And you said so yourself that they don’t have to be.
Honestly, it seemed like Price was trying to play the ignorant card. He’s been around long enough that he should understand all aspects of the media. He should understand if someone within the Reds organization leaks some information to the media concerning the whereabouts of players, their condition or if they are going to play or not, the media will report it. It’s their job to report things like that. If Price wants to keep things hush hush then maybe he ought to try doing his job better.
Remember this from a couple of days ago when I came to Safeco Field?
I ran into him again and this time I introduced myself and got a picture with Mr. Divish:
I’m not entirely sure he was too thrilled to get a picture taken with me but it was fun nonetheless.
The Astros were in Seattle for a three game set and I’d get to attend the first game of the series. I’ve been hoping for an opportunity to catch some home run baseballs and I figured since the Astros have a track record of sucking so much no one would attend this game. I was right. The attendance was roughly 15, 100 people. The last few games I’ve been sitting in the outfield and nothing has came remotely close to me. So when I got a text message from one of my buddies that he was coming out and wanted to shag BP home runs with me, I was stoked! The unfortunate part about it was he had prime real-estate seating down the first base side. Foul ball heaven. I figured, hey, nothing has been coming to me as of late, why not.
I bought a cheap bleacher seat for $14 then I upgraded to the lower seating bowl so I could sit with him. Batting practice was a blast. I caught an over-throw while standing in the ‘Pen from a toss-up that glanced off a glove. The ball bounced around and finally rolled to my feet where I easily scooped it up. My second ball came from a deep fly that I easily caught near the Mariners bullpen. Once the entire stadium opened up, I ran down to the lower third base seating bowl and picked up my third baseball that was sitting between the seats.
Jose Altuve lofted a soft fly ball into the third base seats and I made an easy catch and handed the ball to my buddy:
Before that Luis Valbuena pointed at us several times while taking some infield practice grounders. I was thinking he was going to hook us up with a baseball and when I turned my head to look out into the outfield, all I saw was a baseball trickle passed me along the wall. I scooped it up thinking it had been hit our way. But Valbuena had thrown it to the couple that was standing next (who had missed it) to us so we passed it down to them.
Here’s a picture of us all sitting in our awesome seats:
The kids seen in the picture above were extremely annoying. Later, after the game started, four more kids showed up and all six of them literally yelled and screamed and squirmed around in their seats. They did everything BUT pay attention to the game. I eventually moved down a row to an open seat next to my friends and watched the game in peace.
Luis Valbuena literally led off the game with a towering home run into the right field seats. Coincidently, the seats I was planning on buying before I ended up getting a cheap ticket. Then in the 8th inning, he hit another one nearly in the same spot. I felt really good about being able to catch both IF I had been out there. Take a look at these monster shots:
The one game I decide not to sit in the outfield…
The Astros went on to win it 7-5. Colby Rasmus went deep too but it was hit into the center field family section.
We had a few foul balls hit our way but they were hit a few sections over so I didn’t have much of a chance.
While on the way home from the game, I tuned into the post-game show with Shannon Drayer (@ShannonDrayer) and she mentioned Evan Gattis had a very unique story about him. I decided to look it up and read about it.
You can read the Evan Gattis story here.
Sunday games at Safeco Field (or any ballpark for that matter) are always a challenge when it comes to attempting to snag baseballs. There’s no batting practice for one, and it’s usually family day so that means lots and lots of kids are coming out.
If it’s one thing I’ve learned over the years of “ballhawking” at Major League stadiums, 1) players like to throw baseballs to kids and 2) without batting practice, it makes things extremely tough. On the plus side, the Mariners were doing a little infield practice and I already saw an opportunity to snag a few baseballs.
When I ran over to the first base side I found a ball sitting in between the seats which was probably an over throw from one of the players while fielding fungos from one of the coaches. It wasn’t long before I scored another over throw:
After that, I ran over to where Fernando Rodney was throwing and when he was done throwing, I was able to get his autograph on my ticket stub:
On the other side of the stadium, the Rangers were slowly trickling out of the dugout to warm up down the third base side. It wasn’t long before I scored a third over throw that hit the padding of the wall. I quickly scooped it up and tossed it back onto the field.
See the guy with his leg up in this panoramic picture I took?
That’s one of the translators for one of the players and he was missing a lot of baseballs while playing long toss with Tanner Scheppers. And yup, you guessed it. Yet another over throw right into my glove. Of course I had to give it back because they only came out with one ball to play catch with.
My haul after all the players went inside:
(two pictured here because I gave two back)
And now the infamous ‘Pen dog that I’ve been waiting all year to eat…
…cream cheese smeared on the bun, a 100% all beef frank with caramelized onions and peppers…yum.
The Mariners quickly got two runs on the board with an Austin Jackson home run and a Nelson Cruz home run (Jason Phillips caught it in his hat. It was quite impressive and you should watch the replay).
The Rangers answered back in the 3rd with a single from Prince Fielder that scored Martin and moved Andrus to 2nd. And then the wheels literally fell off. Paxton was chased from the mound after giving up seven runs in the 3rd inning.
The Mariners continued their offensive battle with another Nelson Cruz 3-run home run into the Rangers bullpen. 7-5 Texas.
The Rangers made the score 10-5 in their top half of the sixth and the Mariners quickly rallied back in the bottom of the seventh and the eighth scoring three runs.
In the bottom of the ninth, it was time to put on the rally caps! The M’s came screaming back scoring one run to tie after Jackson ripped one to right field scoring Brad Miller. Seth Smith moved over to third base and all it took was a Nelson Cruz base walk-off base hit! He was mobbed at first base and the Mariners won in walk-off fashion!
Nelson Cruz went 3-6 with two home runs and five RBI’s! Wow! It feels really good to have such a power hitter in the line up. It’s been a long time since Seattle has had one.
Thanks to my lovely girlfriend for showing me how to do panoramic pictures using just my iPhone, I took this picture of outside Safeco Field on Felix Hernandez bobble head night:
From where I was standing was the start of the line to get into the ‘Pen and the line, as you can see, literally went along the stadium, underneath the overpass and back around the adjacent building and down the street. We showed up about an hour and forty minutes before the gates opened and there were about 15 people ahead of us in line. This is the latest I’ve ever showed up to a game for a bobble head and this was the end result…
…score!! King Felix Bobble heads! The crowd was enormous and there wasn’t many opportunities to snag so I headed out to the ‘Pen and hoped for something. It wasn’t long before I was able to squeeze into the front row and catch a ground rule double that bounced into the crowd and was bobbled by about four people before I finally got my glove on it. The next one came in on my right (I ended up giving up my spot) and again was bobbled by about five people before I ended up with it. Not sure who hit both. Honestly, I couldn’t wait for the game to get started so I could sit down. Waiting in line for hours on end takes a tremendous toll on me and quite frankly I’m sick of it. There’s a good chance I’m done collecting these bobble heads.
My seat was up in section 187 which sucked because I’m trying to catch a home run baseball this season. Safeco Field is huge and has lots of good areas to snag one but it’s tricky. Paying close attention to the line ups and who’s pitching generally gives good insight on where to sit. The bullpen area takes up a lot of home run territory and getting an opportunity to catch one out of there is next to impossible. A broad stroke of luck is definitely in order. The right field seating is probably the best place and obviously odds increase with low attendance. With Nelson Cruz hitting so many bombs, it was hard pressed not to just stay in the ‘Pen for the game.
I made my way over to the dugouts and took another panoramic picture:
Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre had to put on a show by mashing a barrage of home runs into the right field seats. It was quite impressive and reminded me of the games I went to at Coors Field where I watched Matt Holiday and Albert Pujols do the same thing.
With Felix Hernandez on the mound for the game, it would more than likely end in a Mariners victory.
Quick game recap: Robinson Cano scores on a sac fly from Seth Smith in the fourth. The Rangers get one back in their top half of the fifth on a ground out to Brad Miller. Mike Zunino crushed one to center field (upper deck, mind you) in the bottom of the fifth to answer back and then in the sixth inning, Miller triples in Kyle Seager and King Felix goes 8 innings, strikeouts 12 and Fernando Rodney comes in and slams the door in the Rangers faces. Boom. The game lasted three hours on the nose.
So how’s that new shot clock to speed the game up working out for everyone? The games are still going three hours plus. I asked a bunch of people on Twitter what their opinions were on the whole issue and this is what I received:
Lots and lots of good opinions that I truly respect and understand. If people have “other things to do” then maybe seeing a baseball game in the evening time isn’t going to work out. The game of baseball is a mental battle that generally takes place between the pitcher and the batter. It’s not supposed to be action packed. This isn’t football or soccer. It’s a game of wits. It takes time. Furthermore, if people have “things to do” then why do I see a vast majority of fans double fisting beer cups and getting sloppy drunk at game? I pay anywhere from $18-40 dollars for a ticket to see a game of baseball. With the rising cost of tickets, food and other concessions, I don’t want the game to be cut short because people have “things to do” or they’re bored or there isn’t enough action to entertain their feeble minds. The game will be played the way it’s played and people like Robert Manfred who try to shorten the game and change things around are a disgrace to baseball. If you don’t want to sit in a stadium for three hours watching baseball then don’t. Leave in the seventh inning or leave in the sixth. Fans who love the game shouldn’t be cheated out of their experience because bandwagon fans who show up only when the team is successful want a faster-paced game.
This movement created by pseudo-fans will soon die out when they realize they can’t speed up perfection.
The Mariners returned home after being swept out of Los Angeles by the Dodgers. It was frustrating and difficult to have any hope for this team. BUT. That’s kind of how it is as a Seattle Mariners fan. A lot of people were upset with Fernando Rodney because he blew two save opportunities; one game in which he should’ve won.
Anyway. The good ol’ Texas Rangers were in town for a three game series and tonight was College night on top of Bearded Hat night. The stadium would be a close sell-out. Because of those two reasons, I decided to come out to the ballpark a few hours earlier than normal. When I got to the stadium, Kyle Seager was being interviewed in Edgar’s Cantina on the Danny, Dave, and Moore show. Once he finished, I suppose that would’ve been a great opportunity to grab an autograph or a picture with the Gold Glove awardee but we just waved at each other and he was then carted off and out of my life:
Before all of that, I stood near Ryan Divish (A beat writer for the Seattle Times) out in front of Safeco Field:
He’s the one in front with the black back pack on. I tweeted at him and this is what he tweeted back:
Next time we shall, Ryan. Next time we shall.
Once inside the stadium, I hustled to the ‘Pen as usual and immediately got a toss-up from Willie Bloomquist. He’s one of my all-time favorite players. I gave that ball away to a friend of mine who has never really attempted to catch baseballs during BP before. During the process of getting the ball from Bloomquist, he asked me if I wanted a Selig ball or a Manfred ball. I told him it really didn’t matter; I wasn’t the picky type when getting anything from a player but good ol’ Willie B. insisted that he throw me a Manfred in decent condition.
Ackley stepped into the cage and absolutely raked home runs. Two moonshots were sent directly to me; one in which I caught on a nasty bounce near the Root Sports area and the second one I caught on an extremely lucky bounce off the garage door near the batters eye:
About half way up the door is where the ball hit and then bounced directly to me. Luckiest. Bounce. Ever.
After being allowed to roam the rest of the stadium, I went over to the third base seating bowl where I found one baseball, caught a foul ball on a bounce and got Shawn Tolleson to hook me up with my sixth ball of the day. My main objective was to get an autograph or a picture with a Rangers player. I’m trying to get a picture with one player from each team. So far I have pictures with the Marlins, Reds, Orioles, Rays, Angels, Mariners, Athletics, Indians, Tigers, Astros and Royals.
Adam Rosales ignored me, Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre signed at the dugout, Carlos Peguero said no and Roman Mendez ran right passed me. Blah.
Here’s my haul for the day, though:
And here’s a glorious picture of my $7 dollar wiener:
I sat in right field in section 106 about three rows up from the field in hopes to catch a home run ball. That’s where I’ll be sitting the majority of the games I attend just for that reason. I’ve caught so many BP baseballs and one foul ball during a game plus a handful of “3rd out” baseballs from various players. I think it would be awesome to catch a home run gamer and get that little 10 seconds of fame.
The game was ridiculous. I actually anticipated a blow out with J.A. Happ on the mound. He reminds me so much of “Safeco” Joe Saunders. The Rangers posted the first run of the game on a sharply hit double down the left field line that Ackley had trouble cutting off. Leonys Martin turned on the gas and scored easily from first base. Then in the fifth inning, Happ gave up a solo shot to deep centerfield to Robinson Chirinos. The ball bounced off a few hands and ended up down in the gap behind the center field wall and some fan jumped down there to get it. I was kind of jealous because I think at this point (and as packed as the stadium was) I would’ve risked jumping down there too for a home run ball. I’m not sure if security ever caught up with him or what. It’s totally worth the ejection if ever caught, though.
The Mariners grounded into three double play balls that literally killed their momentum to score each time. It was brutal to watch. They did finally tack on a run in the bottom of the eight off of a Seth Smith sac fly that scored Miller from third base but the Rangers came back and extended the lead again with an Adam Rosales single. The ball literally hit the third base bag which allowed Chirinos to score.
Final score: Rangers 3 Mariners 1.
Tomorrow is Felix Hernandez bobble head day.
Today marked the day of a new age. A new baseball season and a new way of life. Baseball is slowly turning into a glamorous shot of reality of shot clocks, smaller strike zones and over-priced foods that barely cater to our taste buds. My favorite players were slowly fading out while the new, young rookies quickly filled their void.
I watched Albert Pujols for about 25 minutes while sitting in the lower first base seating bowl after the Mariners had taken their hacks in the batting cage. He looked tired and ready to retire, to be honest. There he stood, barely following the routine stretches that the trainer was directing. Like he had been in the Major Leagues so long that he was above all of the stretching and running and conditioning. It was for the rookies, his face said.
Eventually he picked up a baseball and played catch with Erik Aybar for about five whole minutes…
…then he stood behind the batting cage and talked to Jay Buhner for nearly the rest of batting practice. He did get into the cage, though. Pujols took about six total swings never once putting one into the bleachers. He never interacted with any fans, signed any autographs or even acknowledged our fan-existence.
I reminisced with a friend of mine about the time when Pujols was playing with the St. Louis Cardinals. Him and Matt Holiday would crush during BP. It was when I visited Coors Field for the first time some time ago and I thought it was quite impressive. The two All-Stars on the Cardinals were really putting on a show.
Now the stark reality of old age and being a veteran icon sets in. No real need to show the youngsters that you can crush BP home runs. Mostly, no one is interested in you anymore. It’s all about the Mike Trouts and the Mike Moustakas, and the Clayton Kershaws. Take a seat, Pujols.
After shagging six baseballs from around the stadium, I found myself out in centerfield. Mariners games are always a lot of fun for me, and for many years I was always happy about the food. Recently, with the rising prices of everything within in the confines of the stadium, the flavor has diminished. Maybe the flavor had been removed to pay for the new shot clock out in centerfield.
I tried a slice of pizza like always. Satisfying; killed the hunger pains immediately. Then I tried what’s called a “Baconburg”. I asked the guy what exactly a baconburg was and he replied with, “It’s a hamburger with bacon…” Ohhhhh, okay. Thanks for clarifying, smartguy. The bun was stale, the mayo seemed old and the whole thing kind of fell apart in my hands. I was not impressed to say the least.
The game itself blew by. David Freese blasted a two-run home run to centerfield to a fan who couldn’t hold on for the catch but was rewarded with the baseball anyway. Two sections over from where I was sitting. McClendon talks a big game but it feels like the Mariners are picking up right where they left off from last season. Barely any run support for their ace on the mound…and the defense is trying.
Safeco is in a unique location in Seattle…
…because we always get awesome sunsets.
This game was so much fun. The last game I went to was July 24th, so it had been a while since I stepped foot into Safeco Field. This would be my fifth game of the season and probably one of the last ones I’ll be attending. I’m certainly making the last game of the season, like always.
I came into the stadium as the gates opened and lollygagged in the Pen’ for a while. I caught up with long time Mariners fans, Carla and Chris and then without any real warning, one of the bullpen cops tossed me a baseball. I guess I’ll go ahead and count it as a Ballhawk stat on Mygameballs.com. I haven’t really been active on any Ballhawking this season mainly because I just wanted to do more of nothing at the game instead of trying to chase baseballs for three hours all the time.
I wandered down into the lower seating bowl and immediately noticed Erik Bedard sitting on the wall. That dude is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met at the stadium. Well, besides Tom Wilhelmsen, Miguel Olivo and Zach Britton. Seriously, though. He was so nice. He signed everything everyone handed him, he talked about his adjustment from starter to bullpen and he talked a little bit about how the minor leagues worked. I didn’t catch everything he talked about but he was so fan-friendly. This was the end result of my interaction with Bedard:
While watching batting practice, I noticed the fan base for this game was incredibly low. So I checked with a near-by usher and she told me the attendance would be around 8,000. A new Safeco Field record, by the way! I immediately upgraded my CF bleacher tickets to RF tickets in hopes I’d catch a home run ball. But not just any home run ball. I wanted to catch a Raul Ibanez home run ball. Not only is he sitting on 297 career dingers, but he is also two home runs shy of breaking Ted Williams record of being the oldest player to hit more than 29 home runs in a single season. You catch that puppy, you’ll be in the record books! Haha! A sports fan can dream, right?
So there I sat with my friend Chris. We upgraded our seats and sat four rows back from right field. We also weren’t sitting in our seats. We just picked a random, clear aisle to sit in in case anything came our way. Had we been sitting in our seats? We would have been this guy:
Yup, that’s right, folks. That baseball was Abe Almonte’s first career big league home run and it landed right into the lap of the dude who was sitting in our seats. We had moved down to the front row to sit with Amy Franz (The Ichiro Meter Lady) and her family. Maybe if we had stayed in our original seats, we would have been able to make a better play on that ball. Or maybe if we moved to our right seats, we would have caught it. Anyway, there are a lot of “what-ifs” that can be thrown around in these situations. It’s best not to dwell on the whole thing but it would have been fun to catch a players first big league dinger.
Here’s a picture of me attempting to get into position to make the grab:
Seriously. I have the toughest time trying to track the baseball and worry about other fans in my way, steps and railings, too. I don’t know how these fans who have caught multiple home run baseballs do it. I’m so worried about tripping over steps and stepping on peoples stuff and running into other fans all while trying to watch the baseball. It’s so different off the field. I suspect it takes a special kind of person to catch home run baseballs. I sure as hell can’t do it. I mean, if it were hit right to me, yeah. I remember one game I was at, (this was during BP) where a baseball was hit in my direction. I saw it coming, turned and took a few steps up the rows, turned back and around and caught the ball. It seemed easy enough but it was also during BP where no one was around me and I knew that. Sitting in the outfield is way different.
ANYWAY. I left the game in the 8th, came home, checked Twitter, saw that the Mariners had lost. I just had to laugh to myself. I really like the Mariners, in fact, and I’ve said this so many times, I’ve been a fan since 1989, but really, this team has got to start winning. I thought for sure it would’ve been a great year with Morse, Morales, Seager, Ackley, Iwakuma…but it turned out to be another flop. Rumor has it that Ackley doesn’t like playing in Seattle, Brendan Ryan was just traded to the Yankees and Morse didn’t last very long in a Mariners uniform. Rumor also has it that Morales will be gone by the start of Spring Training.
Well, on a more positive note; my charity is going well. Here’s the latest breakdown:
Bud Norris’ Charity; CandleLighters- 10 W and 139 strikeouts have raised $34.75 this season.
Seattle Mariners/Seattle Humane Society Charity; 65 wins have raised $65 this season.
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Despite all my problems I’ve been having with my camera during the last couple of games I’ve attended at Safeco Field, I’ve been doing pretty good at snagging baseballs and keeping my numbers up. Today, there would be a new wrench thrown into my plans. Dustin Ackley bobble head night. It’s awesome that I’m here because this is Ackley’s very first bobble head night- despite him not even being in the lineup- and because I plan to auction it off for my charity, Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. If all goes well, I should be able to raise at least $50 bucks. I plan to auction some more signed baseballs off like the ones I auctioned off two months ago to continue to raise money for my charity, and that was very successful. I think I was able to raise like, $100 bucks. Even with all that going on, I took on another charity project called The Help Holly campaign. So far I’ve raised $14 bucks for her and today’s game would be the final game (unless I get word from my Dad who is donating money per baseball that I snag that he’d like to continue donating when I visit Angels Stadium early next week) in which I’ll be snagging baseballs to help raise money for Holly. It’s been a tremendous ride so far.
These bobble head nights really only attract the bandwagon fans. The attendance nearly doubles when the teams give these things away. Most people only come out to get the bobble head and then they go home. It’s sorta weird, but hey, everyone has their thing they do at the ballpark, right?
When I got to the stadium roughly three hours early, this was the site at the ticket windows:
I found it a little bit odd that Safeco was nearly a ghost town at 1:56pm on a Ackley bobble head night. As I turned the corner and headed to the center field gates and as another hour passed:
The crowd started to thicken up a little bit. But not by much. The above photo was taken at approximiatly 2:56pm. One hour and forty-four minutes before the gates were to open.
When the gates finally did open, the crowd was much, much bigger. And like always, with large capacity games, my options to start snagging baseballs had drastically changed. Safeco security had barricaded off the ‘Pen immediately to my right so I didn’t waste any time trying to get through there after I snagged my Ackley bobble head. I simply bolted for the right field bleachers. And for the first three minutes, I had the entire place to myself. Everyone was so stuck on getting their bobble head- and me being the first one inside- gave me such a head start on snagging baseballs, it wasn’t even funny.
Ball number one:
Ball number two:
Ball number three:
After plucking that one out of the seat, I tried to hand it off to a young girl that was scampering down the stairs with her father. But she totally ignored me and continued on her way. Later, I was able to hand it to her and her Dad pleasantly thanked me.
Ball number four:
Ball number five:
Ball number six:
And here’s what happened to ball number six:
Ball number seven was quickly snagged out of another cupholder and immediately tossed to the nearest kid with a glove which turned out to be my 50th baseball snagged this season. How amazing is that? On 5-22-2012, I was questioning whether I’d hit that small milestone in the second month of baseball and I absolutely did! And then I ran into this guy:
That’s Andrew. What’s totally awesome about this guy is; while I was walking around aisle after aisle snagging a 2012 season high of seven baseballs, he says to me, “Hey, man. I think I read your blog.” And of course, I really didn’t put two and two together initially, so I kind of just gave a friendly hello and left it at that. Then I got to thinking. Hey, this guy is the first person to actually recognize me at the stadium and mention my blog! I stopped what I was doing, got the picture taken and then handed a baseball off to him. How sweet is that, though? It’s nice to be recognized for something I have a lot of passion for; Andrew even explained how much of an animal lover he is. So that made it equally awesome. How did he find my blog? Him and a friend are planning a summer trip to some baseball games and wanted to know the ins and outs of some of the stadiums. My blog surfaced in their quest for information and there you have it!
After finding seven baseballs and giving three away, the real fun was about to start. Have you ever heard of the Long Haul Bombers?
These guys were making an appearance at Safeco Field before the game and it seemed like nobody knew about it until the last-minute. One of my friends in the GirlsCorner asked me if I knew who the Long Haul Bombers were and of course I had no clue. She led me into the upper deck in left field and told me to stand as far back as I could. Well, I didn’t snag anything, but these guys smashed some unbelievably long home runs! It was something to see for sure!
Here’s a pictures I tried to take of one of the softballs banking off the Hit it Here Cafe…
The red circle is where the softball is. Its up near the Hit it Here Cafe. That’s how far those guys were hitting them! As far as left field was concerned, they were able to reach the upper deck, no problem! I came close to snagging a couple, but it was so crowded, the only way to get one was for it to be hit right to you.
I survived yet another large capacity crowd and another chaotic giveaway night. Although, I didn’t stay for the game, I still count this as a game attended and my streak continues to 115 games with at least one baseball. According to MyGameballs.com, I’m currently tied for fourth in longest active streaks among the Ballhawking community with snagging at least one baseball per game that I’ve attended. I’ve come close a couple of times where I didn’t think I’d catch a baseball but it always seems to work out in the end. The most memorable game I attended where I didn’t snag a baseball until like, the ninth inning, was when I visited Oakland last year. Jason Phillips actually hooked me up with my 100th baseball that game, If you’re interested, you can read all about it, here.
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: Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 23,519
Baseballs snagged: seven (found all in RF bleachers)
Total baseballs snagged this season: 50
Total baseballs snagged last season: 135
Total dollars raised at this game: $14.28
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $96.70
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