Results tagged ‘ Seattle ’

6-17-2011 Safeco Field

Inter-league play. Always my favorite time of the year during baseball season. NOT. I’ve never been a fan of inter-league play. For a bunch of reasons. But for baseball it’s probably something that will never go away. Now they’re talking about moving divisions around, making the playoffs longer and all this other hoopla. Truth of the matter is, it’s all about money. Did you know that this weekend alone brought out 1.6 million fans across baseball to watch inter-league baseball? Crazy, huh? Some series I’d love to see though. Like the Subway series, the Battle of the Bay (which I’ve already seen this year) and the I-70 series. Other than that? I really don’t care to see the Indians play the Astros. It’s not something I have my heart set on.

This morning I had a photo-shoot with a guy from the Snohomish Tribune. I had to take all of my 170 plus baseballs down to my old high school and have me and them photographed together on the baseball field. It was kind of cool because that’s the very same field Adam Eaton played on in high school. He graduated in 1996 from Snohomish High school, which was my sophomore year. If you aren’t familiar with who Adam Eaton is well I will tell you. He graduated Snohomish High school in 97` posting an 0.67 ERA for the team and went on to play college ball for the University of Washington. He was drafted by the Phillies in the 96` draft but ended up making his Major League debut for the San Diego Padres, May 30th 2000. He played with them until the 2005 season when he was traded to the Texas Rangers. From there he bounced to the Phillies, Orioles, and the Rockies before finally becoming a free agent. A lot of Phillies fan speculate that Eaton almost cost them the World Series in 2008 and didn’t deserve a World Series ring.

Here are a few pictures of Doug trying to figure out a good shot for all my baseballs.

And here is Doug trying to set up all of my baseballs for a good picture. He was explaining how he wanted to leave all the baseballs in the original pyramid formation but block out the yellow box lid and the other brown colored box lid.

…and here’s a picture of him setting up my special baseballs. You know, like the one I caught from Mark McGwire, my 100th lifetime and my first ever baseball.

 

I don’t know if I’ll keep my Mark McGwire ball in the cube like that forever. Eventually, as I collect more baseballs from iconic players I may just put them in a special box or a multiple baseball holder and label each ball with the specific players that either hit it or tossed it to me. In any case I doubt I will ever get another baseball from Mark McGwire ever again. And I surely won’t ever get one hit to me by him. So it makes it very special that I got one from him. And if you want to read about how I got one from Big Mac you can just click right here.

After the photo-shoot was complete, I loaded all my baseballs up in my car, jetted home, unloaded all of my baseballs back upstairs, grabbed my stuff, and chased off towards Safeco Field. Since the Phillies were in town for inter-league play I had to get to the stadium early. Plus it was Ichiro replica jersey giveaway night. So the stadium was going to be packed. I was also waiting on my buddy Josh and his small entourage to arrive with the tickets. The gates opened up at 4:40pm and they arrived at 4:38pm. Moments to spare. (I truly appreciate the hustle, Josh!) Once I got my ticket, got my bag checked by security, I raced inside to the center field party deck. The place filled up so fast. Before I knew it I was elbow to elbow with hundreds of people. And to make matters worse David Aardsma tossed some dude a baseball, it bounced out of his hands, smacked off his face, bounced off the shoulder of his wife, and landed down in the gap behind the centerfield wall. Now I had to compete for a spot to get that baseball. I probably excused myself a hundred times trying to get in line with it to glove trick it out of there. Once I found it I got my glove ready, and started to lower it down. Just then…my string broke. My glove fell helplessly into the gap. “Now what?” Said a voice.

I found the nearest security guard and told him I had dropped my baseball glove into the gap. He told me he couldn’t help me right now because he was too busy guarding his post. I’d have to wait. And I did wait. Even though the outside temperature was only 71 degrees, it felt like I was roasting under a desert sun. I was literally stressed out. I wanted to just forget my glove and go home. But I’ve had that glove since I was like, 16. And I still had a chance to get that baseball. After 25 minutes of standing there, and making minimal, pathetic attends to get a baseball players attention to toss me a baseball, I caught up with a security guard that was way more friendlier and way better looking too. Her name is Kim, and she is always so helpful and nice at the stadium. I told her my problem but I added that I was trying to get an autograph and I dropped my glove, my ball, and my sharpie into the gap. She immediately started towards the gate to help me but her supervisor, Melinda,(an equally nice security guard) cut her off and told her she had to go guard something else. I then had to explain my problem to Melinda. And she was equally compassionate and understanding. So can you guess what happened next?

Isn’t that the best picture ever? That’s not the actual baseball from the gap. That is a baseball I brought from home for good luck. And in case you’re still waiting on official confirmation that I got the baseball from the gap, yes. I did get it. Melinda brought it up for me. I couldn’t thank her enough.

I was finally able to assist my buddy Josh in the left field bleachers but he pretty much had things under control. I was just hanging around in case he missed one, plus he’s great conversation. We jib-jab about baseball, and who we think will make the playoffs…you know, guy talk. Josh reeled in four baseballs in this one spot in the bleachers, and got Jaime Navarro to toss him his fifth.

That’s Josh waiting for another BP home run. If you want to check out his stats on www.mygameballs.com just click here. He’s a really cool guy and we got kind of ran out of that spot earlier than we wanted because after Josh had snagged number four a lot of kids started asking him to stand there.

Like I said. The stadium was absolutely crowded. Full to the brim. No where to stand and nowhere to really run for anything. Here are a couple of pictures to show you just how crowded it got.

 

The front rows were packed. There was no breaking in to get close enough for a toss-up so I just chalked it up as a loss and let inter-league play win this round. I felt that coming away with one baseball was pretty significant especially considering I lost valuable time when I dropped my glove in the gap. Here’s the severity of that incident too. You see…while I was standing there dinking around with security…another 35,000 people entered the baseball stadium in that time frame.

Batting practice ended and the only thing left to do was to get close enough to Kyle Kendrick to get some pictures. He had a ton of family at the ballpark, (he’s from Mount Vernon, WA) so everyone was trying to see him, and he was doing his best to obligue everyones’ requests for autographs and pictures. I helped out Josh get his picture with Kendrick and that was pretty much the end of all the excitement.

My seats were awesome. Right on the aisle in foul ball territory. Josh’s girlfriend, Ginny has a friend that hooked us all up with these great seats from her work. And sitting here nearly paid off too. It was around the 5th inning when a foul ball was hit our direction. I stood up, made my way down the aisle carefully, and moved into position to catch the ball. I was worried that it was going to hit the cable that strung along above us to help support the screen behind home plate so I adjusted a few feet to my right. Unfortunatly, the beer vendor was ducking for cover right where I needed to be. The ball landed two seats in and I was on the other side of the beer vendor. Had he not of been there? Easy catch.

 

Game; June 17th 2011 Philadelphia Phillies vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; One

Attendance; 34,345

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $95.45 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $33.10 this
season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6-15-2011 Safeco Field

Today was going to be a busy day. I had an interview with the Snohomish Tribune  at like, 4pm today, Zack Hample was still in town, and I wanted to get to the stadium kind of early to talk to him. Plus I was waiting on a very important phone call from someone that was going to set up a time to photograph my baseball collection for the newspaper. Oh, and then I had to snag a bunch of baseballs. The good thing was, I had on my lucky socks. So I knew everything was going to be okay. The phone rang about 4:15pm but I was totally fine with that because the crowd to get in the stadium was light, and for the first thirty minutes of batting practice I really didn’t expect much. Although, I’m setting a new goal for myself. I’d like to reach 200 baseballs before the All-Star game. I literally have about 7 games to do that in. The Mariners go on the road after they play the Phillies, and that following weekend I’ll be in San Diego for two games at PETCO Park, and then the Mariners come home to face the Marlins, Braves and Padres for three games a piece and then hit the road again. The problem with that is, its all inter-league baseball. Safeco will most likely be jam packed. Bad for snagging baseballs.

Anyway. Back to the interview. I talked with the reporter from the Snohomish Tribune for a good twenty minutes. It was a really awesome interview and I was pleased with my answers. I didn’t want it to sound like the only reason I come to baseball games is to snag baseballs, but that’s partly true. I do sit and enjoy the game though. Sometimes. A lot of the times I’m looking for that opportunity to catch a home run ball. But yeah. I do enjoy the game. I love baseball. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t go to the games. The phone interview didn’t last much longer because we got disconnected. Perfect timing anyway because the gates opened up at that very moment. I ran in to the center field standing room only but I was still trying to get a hold of the Snohomish Tribune to finish the interview. Later I receieved a voicemail with the final question and they graciously gave me the option to just hit them back on email. Awesome.

Greg Halman was the first to toss up a baseball. And I was trying to get Jason Vargas to toss me another one like yesterday. But instead I got the attention of a security guard.

…and I was on the board with one baseball just like that. I don’t know why he singled me out but I made sure he heard me thanking him. There are probably two very awesome security guards in Safeco Field and he is one of them. Most security guards are very bias when it comes to giving baseballs away. And the right field guards that sweep through the rows during BP acting like they’re wiping down seats pick up any loose baseballs and put them in their pockets. I watched it happen twice yesterday. But then some security guards will tell you that they aren’t allowed to touch the baseballs at all. “Just leave `em where they lie.” I overheard one guard say. I guess the rules are different throughout the stadium.

I stood at the staircase for ten minutes answering trivia questions from the security guard that was standing there. He’s a really nice guy and I’ve told him all about my charity. I even hooked him up with a business card. Have you seen my business card yet?

…how could you not want that? Its true beauty. The trivia questions really made me think. The first one he asked was when Major League Baseball registered all the players names by alphabetical order, who is the first baseball player on the list? I guessed Hank Aaron. It was David Aardsma.

Question two: What player was the first to ever sign a million dollar contract? I didn’t have an answer. The answer was Nolan Ryan. He signed a $1 million dollar contract in 1979.

Question three: What former Mariner drove in 141 runs in 1996? I said Omar Vizquel. The answer was Alex Rodriguez.

And the last question: In 2004, Ichiro broke who’s all time hit record? I said George Sisler. And that earned me a Tino Martinez baseball card. He had two of them and I didn’t want to take the Griffey cards because not only did I already have those but I wanted to make sure to let other fans get the good ones.

5:10pm. “Safeco Field is now open!” That’s what can be heard over the loudspeaker when all the other gates open up at 5:10pm. I used to stand at the right field gates like a dummy waiting for the gates to open. But an extra 30 minutes of BP by entering the center field gates? How could you NOT? I found two baseballs in the empty rows as I ran down in the third base area. I picked one up and when I found the second one I noticed a young Mariner fan walking slowly through the rows trying to find a baseball. I nodded to him and then pointed at my feet. Just then I remembered I needed to get the ball in my possession to make it count so I picked it up and handed it to the kid. That was number three on the day. I wanted to average four baseballs a game which would put me two passed #200 on the last game before the All-Star game. At this point I needed just one more.

BP was absolutely dead again today. Jared Weaver was the only Angels player to stay long enough for me to even have a shot at catching my fourth ball on the day. But this family with two little kids rolled up next to me. Even after I got Scott Downs to toss me one, it fell short and the Dad made sure to block me out. He gave it to his kid and then kept on about how he needed to catch one more baseball for his other kid. And if that didn’t happen then they could just go home and play with the dozen of baseballs they have at the house. And wouldn’t you know? When Jared Weaver got done playing catch he tossed his warm-up ball to them.

After that I really didn’t have a game plan. There weren’t any good spots that were close enough to any players to ask for a toss up. So I just wandered into the left field bleachers for a while. Here’s what I saw.

Can you see it?

But it was way out of reach. Zack, the book author I’ve been telling you about for like, two days, tried to use his crutches to get the baseball. But apparently there is a small gap where the baseballs can slip through and fall underneath the manual scoreboard. I don’t know where exactly they go, but they go somewhere. And not within reach anymore. That’s for sure. So after hanging out there for about 15 minutes asking for baseballs, and waiting on a BP home run, I ran down to the dugout to wait for some action there.

I thought I could get Tom Gregorio to toss me one but he wasn’t throwing BP today.

When BP finally ended I got the attention of Mike Butcher, and he hooked me up with my fourth ball of the day. Mission accomplished.

Here is the group of Ballhawks after our successful BP session. I’m pictured with three baseballs because I gave one away. From left to right; Max, Ben, me, Zack, Luke, and Hannah. Luke and Hannah are Max’s brother and sister and Ben is a friend of Max. They all have user names on www.mygameballs.com. If you haven’t checked out that website you should. Plus I just got an article published on there. I’m a monthly columnist. If you want to read my article you can click here.

I sat front row during the game and they were pretty awesome seats. I don’t normally buy seats that expensive or that close to the field because I’m going for a home run ball this year but I wanted to try my luck during the game for foul balls. Unfortunatly, nothing was hit my way. But I did witness Ichiro Suzuki swiping his 400th career stolen base and Mariners rookie Greg Halman went deep for the first time in his career. So it was a really memorable game. And to top it off? The Mariners won. Carlos Peguero hit a grounder that bounced off second base that scored two runs. Then of course the Halman bomb made it 3-1. Great game.

Game; June 15th 2011 Los Angeles Angels vs Seattle Mariners
Rockies

Gameballs; Four

Attendance; 19,321

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $80.05 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $29.25 this
season

6-4-2011 Safeco Field

Saturday. Game start time was 1:10pm. Why? Because of a U2 concert set to kick of at Qwest Field at 7:00pm. Could you believe it? I knew this ahead of time and I decided to go to the game anyway. I knew there wasn’t going to be batting practice but the ushers told me that the Rays probably will. There was no way the Rays were going to have any batting practice. When I entered the stadium I saw this.

I told them so. But no one wants to believe me. Anyway. Whatever. I waited at the staircase until 11:10am when we were allowed to roam the rest of the stadium and I immediatly wandered down to the third base line. James Shields and some other Rays pitcher were out on the field warming up and all I needed was a simple overthrow to get on the board. And it happened. Shields threw something pretty low and away and the rookie pitcher couldn’t handle it. The ball trickled over within reach and I scooped it up. Of course I had to give it back because that was the only baseball they brought out to use. I assumed I would get the ball back after they were done but no such luck.

The above picture is before the overthrow happened. The picture below is the overthrow about to happen.

In the next series of pictures I will show you how to align yourself perfectly for an overthrow and how to catch it if it happens.

The first picture shows how one of the baseball players is in a “catchers” position. And you can also see how far away the other baseball player is when he throws. That really increases the risk of an overthrow. The player that’s catching has limited mobility because he is in a catchers position. Anything that falls short, bounces or goes far left or right will result in the ball getting by the player and rolling to the wall.

I have placed a red circle around the crouching player. In the next picture I will show you the path of the baseball which resulted in an overthrow.

The solid red line indicates the path of the baseball and since it came up short and had a lot of spin on it, it was able to squirt away from the baseball player. The dotted red line indicates the path of the baseball to me. Which I picked up, and graciously handed back to the baseball player. So if you’re determined to catch an overthrow from your favorite baseball player, (like me) you don’t want to stand directly behind the player. You want to stand a little bit off his side depending on which hand he uses to catch. So in this situation you’ll want to stand a little bit more to your left as you face the player. Understand? Sure you do. Look people. There is an art to this. It requires skill and…a sloppy game of catch from the players.

After that Adam Russell came out to throw, and he gave his baseball away to a kid in the front row. She had a cute little pink bow in her hair. And then J.P Howell came out to throw and he tossed his baseball to a group of youngsters in the front row, and then the pitching coach played catch with a young kid in the front row and of course that baseball went to that kid. I even captured the game of catch on video.

Apparently it’s okay to play catch with fans again or the Rays didn’t have any idea about the story circulating that Major League Baseball has told their players not to play catch with fans anymore due to an injury caused to a fan from a game of catch. I learned that from Zach Britton when I requested a game of catch via Twitter. If you want to read all about that you can. Just click here.

Before the game started I went and took my usual spot by the Rays bullpen. During the game I couldn’t believe how much trash talk some of the Mariner fans could dish out. And of course as the game progressed and people consumed more alcohol words seemed to flow more freely and the Seattle Police had to get involved. If you have never been to Safeco Field the bullpen area is now open to allow fans to get closer to the baseball players in the bullpens without a pesky fence inbetween them.

In the above picture, see how the fans are free to lean over into the bullpen? Well, during the game it’s a lot more crowded. This one guy in a Sonics jersey asked for a baseball throughout the entire game. He got a few players attention due to his Sonics jersey but no one threw him a ball because how obnoxious he was being. I’m sure he thought he was being cool and impressing all of his buddies. But the players probably thought different. When the eight inning came around I readied my glove because I knew Bobby Ramos was going to throw some baseballs into the crowd like he did yesterday. Since I was wearing my Tampa Bay Rays hat I knew I had a very good chance of getting one. Plus I was standing by a few Rays fans. So that increased the probability. Strength in numbers. Bobby Ramos tossed one to my right, which was out of reach, and then he tossed the other one high and to my left. I made the quick snag and that was it. The dude in the Sonics jersey threw a fit, tossed his beer cups into the bullpen, and got a few glares from the Rays pitching staff. Bobby Ramos you’re my hero.

Oh, one more thing. If you want to follow me on Twitter…

Game; June 4th 2011 Tampa BayRays vs Seattle Mariners
Rockies

Gameballs; Two

Attendance; 28,843

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $63.55 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $26.75 this
season

 

 

6-3-2011 Safeco Field

Tonight at Safeco Field was “Go Green Train Night”. I heard from the grapevine that these trains were a huge hit and very sought after. I knew I’d have to arrive at the stadium with my game face on and most importantly, I would have to be early. I even changed up my game plan a little and entered the stadium via rightfield. Here is what the giveaway looks like in case you have no idea what “Train Night” was all about.

Like I said. They’re absolutely loved and people came out to get one. Since there are actually eleven others this would make twelve. But I’m not sure if that completes the set. Probably not.

As soon as I entered the stadium security told us to walk. So everything went kind of in slow motion. Since I like to abide by the rules and not give security any reason to target me, I “walked”. Which cost me like, four baseballs. It was kind of frustrating at first but I still had an entire hour and a half left. I ran all the way to the other side of the stadium and posted up at my usual spot. Well, not my usual spot. But a spot that’s been working for me. I’d play the outfield more but it seems there are an equal amount of overthrows from players as there are home run balls hit into the stands. I’m just playing the odds or at least what’s been working.

The Tampa Bay Rays started to filter out onto the field and I figured if I didn’t get something hit to me I could always count on Jeremy Hellickson to toss me one. The last time I got a toss up from Hellickson was on my birthday at Kauffman Stadium last year. It took him two tries but eventually he got it to me. During BP Hellickson tossed up quite a few baseballs. He’s a great guy (not just for that). So anyway. As the Rays were coming out onto the field (I’m not sure who hit it) a sharply hit line drive was hit right at me. It took a few bounces on the grass, and another off the dirt and I was able to lean over the short padded wall and scoop it up. I could hear a couple players yelling “heads up!” like they always do and I also heard Jeremy Hellickson kind of give out a surprised “Whoa” when I scooped the ball up. The baseball hit me square in the palm of my glove. Not quite in the pocket and it literally jarred my shoulder back a little bit. I was a little surprised at 1.) I got my glove down in time and 2.) to have come up with the ball. Usually those sharply hit grounders would eat up a Major Leaguer let alone a guy like me reaching over the wall for it. There was no applauding like there was yesterday when I snagged that liner. But it was still fun. If you want you can read about the memorable snag here.

After that nothing else came my way. I tracked a few baseballs that were hit over my head into the seats but they were quickly scooped up my eager fans. I did get a few pictures of the Tampa Bay Rays as they came out onto the field. Take a look.

And then this guy walked out onto the field. He is my hero forever. And you will know why in a minute.

That’s Bobby Ramos. He is probably the most friendliest coach I’ve ever met. Not to go off on a tangent but one time at Busch Stadium I asked Coach Price, the pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds, for a baseball while he was setting up the bullpen after BP. There were a few baseballs lying around from batting practice and when I asked he abruptly told me no. It was a very unpleasant experience. But Bobby Ramos? He gives high fives, fist pumps, and handshakes to anyone and everyone that asks. He is very friendly and sociable. So if you’re ever at a Rays game and he walks by feel free to engage in some friendly back and forth. I told him he had a nice hat on and then pointed to my own Rays hat. He is also very loyal to Rays fans. The rest of the team was a little more reserved today and I think that had a lot to do with the loss yesterday.

Before the game started Mike McCreedy from Pearl Jam played the National Anthem. It was very good and earlier when I was outside waiting to come inside the stadium he was doing a sound check. It sounded just like Slash when he did the National Anthem last year at Dodger Stadium. Of course I couldn’t get close enough to take some quality pictures because security does what they can to keep me out of the sections I don’t have a ticket for. So I had to get creative. Here’s what you get.


It must be awesome to be a rockstar. Seriously.

I spent nearly the entire game down in the bullpen area. I stood behind the Rays bullpen because I figured if I was going to get a baseball from someone it would have to be from the Rays. Right? Well, not only was I hoping to get another baseball but I was also hoping I’d get a home run baseball. I think it was during the fifth inning when Miguel Olivo hit a deep drive that landed right into the Rays bullpen. I was hoping that the baseball would bounce off the facade that hung over the players on the bullpen bench but no such luck. If that would have happened, (which I’ve seen many times during BP) the baseball would have shot back into the bullpen area where all the fans stood like a bullet and it would have been every man for himself. But the ball did not do any of that. It landed on the grass and died. No bounce. No nothing. It just stopped. And the one man I was praying wouldn’t pick it up….picked it up. Mr. Juan Cruz. He’s a relief pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays and it seems he has a very negative attiude.

Now I dont want to pass any judgement but I was at a Royals game one time during the summer when the Tampa Bay Rays where playing at Kauffman Stadium, Juan had graciously tossed a baseball up to some fans. Well, an adult ended up with the baseball and I think Juan was trying to get it to a kid. The kid he was trying to throw it to already had six baseballs. The guy that caught the baseball was trying to communicate that to Juan but Juan wasn’t having any of it. He insisted that the guy hand the baseball over to the kid. He was a real jerk about it and that was my lasting memory of Juan Cruz. Fast forward to now. Cruz holding the ball and taunting the Seattle fans with it. It was pretty funny and I knew Juan wasn’t going to throw it to anyone. In fact he just tossed it down the stairs that led out to the outfield from the bullpen. It made my stomach turn that the home run ball was that close yet so far away. Finally the police officer that patrolled the bullpen picked the ball off the stairs and handed it to a kid.

Around the eight inning Bobby Ramos was coming back into the bullpen after playing catch with Sam Fuld. He placed his glove on the stair railing and walked towards the fans with the two baseballs. I knew he was going to throw them to us but to who? And where? I had to be ready. He tossed one to my way right which was way out of reach. And then he tossed one high and to my left. I reached way out and snagged it on my tippy toes. It was awesome. Bobby Ramos hooking up the fans during the game. Quick game note; he also hooked up my buddy Josh that goes to every game I go to. If you want, you can check out his www.mygameballs.com stats here. He has a really awesome picture of him with Zach Britton. You know, the guy I tweeted with a few games ago? Yeah, that guy. Anyway. So This guy turns to Josh and apparently asked if he could have the baseball that I caught. The guy inquired if Josh and I were friends and Josh told him yes. The guy was pretty persistant and made a big stink about Josh and I ganging up on the bullpen to snag two baseballs and we should show the love. Josh just pointed out that he should bring a glove next time.

Game; June 3rd 2011 Tampa BayRays vs Seattle Mariners
Rockies

Gameballs; Two

Attendance; 24,492

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $62.25 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $26.25 this
season

4-23-2011 Safeco Field

     I totally forgot about the start time of 6:10pm. Which meant I got a late start leaving for the stadium. Which meant Id be stuck in Saturday afternoon Seattle traffic. Which meant I probably wouldnt be the first one at the gates. Which would probably cost me a baseball or two. So that sucked.

     When I got to the stadium no one was there at the right field gates. It was about 35 minutes until the gates opened and I was shocked. Usually there is a small crowd by now but not today. It was in fact Easter weekend. Maybe people had better things to do than attend Mariners batting practice.

     When I ran inside Jaime Navarro and Michael Pineda were in right field shagging baseballs. They usually stick the rookies in right field during batting practice because the more experienced players or the players with more seniority dont have to deal with the fans as much. Thats something you probably didnt know. Anyway. As batting practice continued there were a few baseballs hit into right field but nothing close. And since Jaime Navarro was with Michael Pineda I knew it was going to be nearly impossible to get a baseball from those two. Im pretty sure Jaime Navarro hates me. Ive spoken to him quite a few times and I usually get the cold shoulder. Mainly because Ive been saying his name wrong. I really didnt think about that until I started poking through a Mariners program left on a seat in the outfield. Ive been calling him “Jamie” and his name is pronounced ” Hy-may”. ( spelled Jaime ) Maybe he will forget my face and let by-gones be by-gones.

     So as the front row slowly started to fill up with would-be ball snaggers, I dont know who hit it, but the ball was sliced gently over to the front row but didnt quite have the distance or the momentum to make it to me. I reached for it and of course the security guard had to give his two cents.

     ” I can’t give it to you, man. Ill get in trouble.” He said.

     ” Yeah, I know.” I said back. But what I wanted to say was this; ” Yeah, I know. You cant touch or pick up any baseballs because youll get in trouble or get fired. But as soon as a five year old kid comes running down here youre free to do whatever you want with the baseball. Ive heard it all before, bud. You dont have to give me a line. You can just say ” I cant give baseballs to adults.”

     Of course when JAIME Navarro came walking over towards it and I asked him for a little help and he graciously waved at the security guard to just give me the baseball. HA! But you could tell in his face that he didnt want to give me the baseball. He was actually cringing at the thought. I politely thanked him anyway and wandered out of the aisle to let the others have a go.

     When I got to the other side of the stadium ( It felt like hours had passed going from one end to the other ) the Athletics were coming out onto the field to start warming up. I wanted to line up behind Jerry Blevins and Brad Ziegler to try and snag an overthrow. The crowd was light so I actually had many options of who to stand behind.

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     The problem, as you can see, was the dorky, red-headed, security guard standing there. ( No offense to Red-heads ) He’d probably get plunked first before I caught any overthrows from Blevins. Not only that, anything down the line he would surely stick his weak little foot out to stop it from going any further. Most of those security guards have good intentions..if they’d just stay home.

Once the pitchers completed their warmup tosses for the evening I headed up the line some more to get a better angle on Hideki Matsui. Here’s a picture of him before I got closer.

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     After I got down there it wasnt long before Kevin Kouzmanoff walked over and started signing autographs. I easily got him to sign my ticket stub for the game and I thanked him for the awesome game of catch the day prior. He happily obliged and we parted ways. Moments later Brad Ziegler came walking by towards the dugout so I chased him down for a quick picture as he signed autographs for fans.

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     I climbed over a few rows of seats to get around in front of the dugout. Brad Ziegler has a great charity foundation called Pasttime for Patriots and since Im a military veteran myself I thought it would be awesome to thank him for his foundation. So I did just that and he smiled warmly at me. I also had two Army wristbands that I got while in the service that I wanted to give to him but I knew he was kind of in a hurry to get into the clubhouse to get ready for the game. So I held off on giving them to him. I figured tomorrow would be a better day since its a Sunday game and the baseball players really dont do a whole lot before the game.

     After I could get in all the social activities with the Athletics I could around the infield I headed out to the outfield for some action. Unfortunatly I seriously picked the wrong spot. I was literally surrounded by little kids. Even though I had on my Athletics hat I knew that any time one of the players tossed me a baseball I would have the ever nagging urge to want to make a kids day. I didnt have a problem with giving baseballs away to kids but I also wanted to get my numbers up for my charities. I also got a picture of one of my favorite players, David DeJesus, hanging out in right field.

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     Everytime a baseball was hit to David this little girl would scream at the top of her lungs that she needed a baseball and that this was her first baseball game and that she’s never, ever, ever, ever gotten a baseball before and that she absolutely needs a baseball. Of course her parent(s) were no where in sight. She was just a lone renegade on a mission to get a baseball. Well, David DeJesus FINALLY threw one up to us. Luckily for me I caught it and I pointed at him in thanks. He pointed back at me and then kind of waggled his finger as an instruction to give the baseball to one of the kids standing around me. I made the mistake of pointing to the little girl beside me. David nodded and waved his glove at me. So I handed the baseball to the little girl. It did shut her up for about five minutes..but no one received a thank you. The little girl ran back to her Mother or Aunt or whoever was watching her at the time and happily exclaimed that she got a baseball. ” Did you say thank you?” The parental figure asked. ” Yes!” The little girl stated.

     Now enter little girls brother. Literally crying tears and leaning on the railing claiming he will never get a baseball while the parental figure tries to calm him down made me cringe. If I got another baseball It would be my duty to hook this little kid up with it. But I refused to give a child their way because theyre throwing a temper tantrum or crying or whatever. When I was growing up I never got what I wanted by doing such. So I wasnt going to condone that type of behavior and reward it by giving up the next baseball. And Jerry Blevins came over to help DeJesus out. So I knew he would be throwing a few baseballs up into the crowd.

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     Now everytime a baseball came out to right field I got to hear ” My brother needs a baseball!” “Give that one to my brother! He really needs a baseball!” ” No, dont throw it in this time! Give it to my brother! This is his first game he has ever been to! He needs that baseball!”

     I wanted to tear my ears off. Seriously. Her high ear piercing shrieks were giving me a headache. But there was a really good chance I could get a ball from Blevins. And the opportunity finally came. Blevins fielded a slow roller near the wall and I called out to him.

     ” Jerry! Would you toss that one up please!” I called out to him. Jerry looked at me and gave me one of those Johnny Cool upnods and then turned to fire it at me. He feigned the throw and then turned to fire it towards the batting practice ball bucket that was at the top of the diamond. Then without hesitation he turned laughing and pointed at me.

     “Here you go!” He yelled as he fired me a strike. The ball slapped into my glove and I quickly pocketed the baseball into my pullover pockets. Yeah, I felt bad about the kid that was still crying. But the thing is…he didnt have any baseball gear on, no glove, no Mariners hat, nothing. He just sat there with his head down crying. He was making absolutely no effort to get a baseball. So I did the next best thing. I told him where and how to get a baseball. I explained Chone Figgins little pre-game routine, and I told him that just because Mark McGwire cried doesnt mean you can cry. There is no crying in baseball.  

     Finally batting practice came to an end. I was utterly relieved. My head was still pounding from all of those kids screaming. Since it was military appreciate day at Safeco I wandered down to the Mariners dugout to snap some pictures. It was so busy with photographers, and fans alike in that area the security guards didnt even bother to run fans out.

Here are some pictures.

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     After the ceremony and the National Anthem were completed, Chone Figgins started to head off the field and I quickly jumped all over that opportunity. Since there were a ton of people down in front of me and I didnt have a whole lot of room to run to get his attention I just started jumping up and down in the row I was in. He threw the baseball high and way to the right of me. So I had to reach way across my body, and stretch way out over the row of seats to catch it. I dont know if he intended to throw it to me or someone behind me but I ended up with it anyway. All I heard was ” Catch it! Here it comes! Get it! Get it!” and then when I caught it all I heard was groans of disappointment.

     I sat in the outfield and ate a small personal pan pizza from one of the pizza places in the outfield. Gross. I think it made me sick to my stomach. And to make things worse here was my view for the first 30 minutes of the game.

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     The view was pretty bad. The sun was right in my face and I thought to myself that this would be the time when I home run ball was hit right to me. The time when I couldnt see. Aside from that, some annoying Athletics fan would say swing everytime a Mariner player was at bat and a pitch was thrown from the Athletics. It was truly annoying. The Athletics won 9-1 anyway. So after about a few innings of trash talking between the swing guy and some other Mariner fans, the Mariner fans were forced to end their trash talk when the Athletics started raking hits off Jason Vargas.

 

Game; April 23rd 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; Three

Attendance; 25.355

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $9.60 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $6.00 this season.

4-12-2011 Safeco Field

     I wasnt planning on staying the entire game let alone batting practice today. So I wanted to get on the board as fast as possible. About fifteen minutes before the gates were about to open up a flood of about 15 people joined me at the gates. I pretty much stood there from the time I arrived at the stadium until the time the gates opened, alone. I seriously thought I would have the entire stadium to myself. I practically did. Once the horn blew the race was on.

    I thought I was going to be beat out by a bunch of kids. But somehow their parents kept them at a speed walk. My long strides got me down the first base side and into foul territory much faster and it wasnt long before I snagged my first easter egg. Right as I picked up the baseball one of the security guards told me to take cover. I looked up for a split second to try and get a read on the ball but I couldnt see it. So I covered my head with my glove and braced for impact. As soon as the baseball smashed into the seats I was all over it.

     I hung around in foul territory for a few more minutes and then I quickly made a giant loop around the stadium. Its pretty good cardio and I was hoping to pick up a stray easter egg. No such luck. I finally stopped out in the right field bleachers to snag a few home run balls. I guess I looked approachable or friendly or something. But for the next 15 minutes some random guy chewed my ear off about his kids being active in sports. It was driving me nuts because his breath smelled like rotten beer. I remained friendly in any case. When the guy finally left me alone I wandered down to the front row and I tried to get Juan Riveras attention but he thoroughly ignored me. There were a few baseballs on the warning track that I considered. He was closest to them.

     That pretty much concluded batting practice for me. I apologize for no pictures in this entry. I took some but I left my memory card at home for my camera and I cant find the USB cord to upload them. So no pictures. The Mariners did record their second win at home though, and Michael Pineda got his first Major League win. So congratulations to him.

    If youre interested in learning more about my charity project I started for the Seattle-King Co. Humanes Society you can go to this website to get the full run down. I also have two more charity projects. You can check them out here and here. I have yet to here any offical word on the Japan relief project or the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation but I am confident that something good will come this week or the following. I also wanted to give a shout out to an aquaintance of mine concerning this charity project. The actual idea to snag baseballs at Major League stadiums wasnt a self-created idea. Zack Hample is the one that actually created the idea. I did contact him through email and he sort of got me started on the whole charity project thing. If you get a chance check out his charity organization here. 

 

Game; April 12th 2011

Gameballs; Two

Attendance; 15,500

Money raised for Seattle Humanes Society so far; $4.20

Money raised for Red Cross Japan Relief so far; $3.50 

4-9-2011 Safeco Field

     It was Felix Hernandez bobblehead giveaway day at the Safe. I figured people would be lined up at the gates at 10:00am. But when I got to the stadium there were only three people ahead of me. In fact when it was time for the gates to open there wasnt much of a line behind me. The security guards opened three gates at the right field entrance instead of the conventional two. So that allowed me to be the first one inside.

     Once inside the search was on. The Mariners were already in the cage taking their hacks so there were bound to be some easter eggs in the seats. There were a few kids that were finding them and holding them up with joy. And finally after a few minutes of searching I too got to hold one up with joy. But I didnt. I took off for the third base foul line.

     Batting practice was dead. The Mariners or the Indians didnt have anyone putting anything into the bleachers. It was kind of a disappointment. The Indians were reluctant to toss anything into the seats as well. So it was a tough day.

     Once the game started I went up to my seat. I picked to sit in the center field bleachers for the series. That was probably the biggest mistake ever. It was so cold up there with the wind blowing and being that high off the field. I really wasnt dressed well enough either. So I knew I wouldnt last long. Here are a few pictures I took while being up there.

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     There was a pretty good sized crowd but I actually thought there would be more people because of the bobblehead. The attendance came out to around 30,000 people but Im betting a lot of people showed up, grabbed their bobblehead, and then just went home.

     Heres a picture that I took around the fifth inning. You can see in the background that there were a lot of empty seats.

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     Seattle actually played a pretty good game. Doug Fister only allowed two runs and those two runs came from a throwing error by Milton Bradley. Somehow he missed the cut-off man and the ball ended up in the Cleveland dugout. Im not entirely sure how that happened. Since the game was pretty close many Mariner fans stayed to include the ones behind the dish. The place I had to get to, to try and snag my second ball on the night. Of course security was posted up again where they put out their little signs to keep people from walking down while the ball is in play.

 

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     Once I got passed security I found quickly found a seat and sat down. There was a guy behind me that told me I was blocking his view to homeplate. I kind of laughed but I moved for him anyway. Soon after that some teenager came running down and actually tried to climb over the Diamond Club seating and sit there. He was quickly escorted back up. Once Chris Perez took the mound it was a done deal. Perez slammed the door on the Mariners for his third save of the season and I scampered down to the umpire tunnel. He tossed two up but none within reach.

 

Game; April 9th 2011 Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; one

Attendance; 30,309

 

 

2011 Baseball Season

     I’m actually super-excited about this baseball season. I guess what I’m most excited about is the fact that I’m going to make it to four new stadiums in the Major Leagues that I have not yet attended during the regular season.

oakland-coliseum-opening-day.jpg      First stop is Oakland California. Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (formally Network Associates Coliseum and McAfee Coliseum and commonly The Oakland Coliseum or The Coliseum) as you all know is the home of the Oakland Athletics. There is a lot of great history at this specific baseball/football stadium. ( The Oakland Raiders play here too ) Catfish Hunter threw the ninth Major League perfect game here. And this was the home of the Bash Brothers! Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. Canseco made history for being the first player in the Major Leagues to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in one season. The A’s won a few World Series here too, including the “Battle of the Bays” World Series against the Giants which was intrupted by an earthquake. And on May 9th 2010, nearly 42 years later, Dallas Braden would throw the 19th perfect game in League history. I will be attending Opening Day and the following game. Right now I have a lifetime of 97 baseballs. So Ill probably end up snagging my 100th at the Coliseum. Im still debating if I should get it signed by Oakland Athletic players. My first baseball I ever got was at Kauffman Stadium where I had a few Royals sign it. So. We will see.

     Next stop…

SafecoField.jpg     Safeco Field. Or the “Safe”. I’ve already been to this stadium a few times and I really like going here. Although the security is extremely tight and the security guards in the field box seating are quite the nazis but its still a great atmosphere for baseball. I’ve snagged about seven baseballs here over the years and since Safeco Field will be my “home” stadium for the season, and possibly the next few, I plan to snag a lot of baseballs from this particular place.

     When the dog days of summer roll around I will be making my way towards the midwest. The last two seasons of baseball I spent the majority of my time between Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City and Busch Stadium in St Louis. I also visted U.S Cellular in Chicago and I attended a handful of games at Great American BallPark in Cincinnati. I really enjoy watching baseball at GABP. But this year I will be headed to…

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     Wrigley Field! Now. I havent actually attended a live game here. BUT. I did go to a “Meet and Greet” in 2009. The Cubs lined up in the lower third base side bleachers and all the fans single filed down the concourse, shook hands, collected autographs, and met their favorite players. It was quite the experience. The Cubs do it every year. So if you think you missed out you didnt. Although it does cost about $300 dollars to do this but you get a hotdog, a Major League baseball, and tickets to the game. Being that this is the second oldest baseball stadium in the Major Leagues to this day I have to pay this place a visit. I had opportunities to go last year and the year before but I just didnt go. I know, I know. But I’ve made plans to go this year.

     More towards the end of the season I am planning a trip to Florida.

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     Tropicana Field is one of the stadiums Im visiting while Im there. This place really reminds me of the Kingdome. Its really ugly on the inside and not anymore appealing on the outside. But for some reason I like it. But what really confuses me is why is there a domed stadium in Florida? If anything they should have gave this eyesore a retractable roof. Anyway. Im excited to be apart of some Rays baseball this year. Of course my last stop in Florida before I head back to the Emerald City…

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     Sun Life Stadium. Or Pro Player Stadium. Or Dolphin Stadium. Or whatever else they’ll decide to name it before I get there. Now the reason why Im going here this year is because the Florida Marlins are actually getting a new stadium next year. Thats right folks. Sun Life Stadium is on the “endangered” list. Well, not officially. They arent actually going to tear this stadium down because the Miami Dolphins play here. But after this season there will be no more baseball. The name of the new stadium where the Marlins are going to play will be called Miami Ballpark. ( I’m so glad they didn’t name it something like Netflix Stadium or Kosher Field ) So next year I will be returning to Florida to watch baseball there and hopefully snag a commemorative baseball.

     This year I plan to attend at least 100 baseball games. So going by my stats of ball snagging I should end up with close to 250 baseballs this year. I havent much else to report other than there is about 10 days left before Opening Day! I hope everyone had a great off season, and wonderful Spring Training and an even better Regular Season/Post Season!

Until next time…

 

Around the MLB Horn 11 March 2011- Bobble-head Edition

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     A new season of professional baseball is here again. The 2011 baseball season will kick off for most as early as April 1st. For me, well, I will be in Oakland California enjoying Opening Day at the Oakland Coliseum.

     When I go to a baseball game to ball hawk I like to hope for the best possible odds. Fighting large crowds of people is always something a Ballhawk has to endure no matter what baseball stadium he/she goes to. We all consider the weather, and most importantly, something that doesn’t always get taken into consideration, is the give-away, and the promotional nights that most Major League teams have at the stadiums. Lets face it. Awesome give-away nights fill seats. Its just the name of the game. But what give-away fills the most seats? What give-away is most desired? What give-away is the most sought-after? When I was a kid it was photo-baseballs, and bat nights that filled the house. Now its that beloved bobble-head figurine!

     Bobble-heads are collectors items. All ages come to the stadiums on bobble-head nights to add to their ever growing collection of unique and rare bobble-heads. I for one am not a collector of those cute little bobble-heads. I have one, and I gave it to my mother. It was the Bret Saberhagen Cy Young Bobble-head that the Royals gave away last season. My mother doesn’t even know what a Cy Young award is let alone who Bret Saberhagen is. But it doesn’t take away from the cute factor of Bret’s little head bobbling around as you walk by him as he’s perched by her jewelry box.

     So in this column for MyGameBalls.com I thought Id put together some Bobble-head history facts, and then list the current bobble-heads that will be given away to fans this year. Depending on who you are knowing this information could either save you a headache of going to the game fighting large crowds to be first in line or create more excitement while shagging baseballs during BP. Either way. Knowing is half the battle.

     Some of the first bobble-heads ever created for the Major Leagues were in the 1960s. These bobble-head dolls were made out of papier-mâché. Each baseball team received these dolls, and they all looked the same minus the uniforms. It wasn’t until the 1960 World Series where player specific dolls were created, and sold during the World Series. Those players were Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Roger Maris, and Roberto Clemente. Unfortunately, since the dolls were constructed out of papier-mâché most have not survived.

     From the 60′s to the 90′s the bobble-head went through many dramatic changes. The dolls were constructed out of ceramic after the failed papier-mâché didn’t work out. Unfortunately, the ceramic nodders were expensive to produce, and fans weren’t taking much of an interest. It wasn’t until 1999 when the San Francisco Giants handed out 35,000 Bobble-heads of Willie Mays that really captivated the audience. The new bobble-heads primarily made out of plastic were cheap to construct, and the fans loved them.

     After the year 2000 bobble-heads became such a craze that you could even contact a company to have them customize a bobble-head for you. Bobble-heads became so advanced that they even had matching scars, tattoos, hair color, eye color, and lifelike facial features.

     So here is the 2011 list of bobble-heads that you can get for free during the season. With paid admission of course.

Baltimore Orioles

Buck Showalter June 25th

Brian Matusz August 6th

Arizona Diamondbacks

Racing Gracie ( Mark Grace ) April 28th

Kirk Gibson August 6th

Chris Young August 27th

Fan Voted Bobble-head September 24th

Chicago WhiteSox

Frank Thomas April 12th

Frank Thomas April 29th

Roger Bossard June 12th

Beer Vendor Bobble-head August 4th

Mark Buerhle August 20th

Chicago Cubs

Starlin Castro April 5th

Tyler Colvin April 19th

Geovany Soto July 14th

Cleveland Indians

Mike Hargrove August 13th

Cincinnati Reds

Joey Votto April 30th

Dusty Baker July 12th

Jonny Gomes July 23rd

Kansas City Royals

Willie Wilson June 4th

The Angels of Anaheim

Kendrys Morales May 24th

Dan Haren June 28th

Angels Gnome August 18th

Houston Astros

Michael Bourn April 10th

Hunter Pence April 30th

Chris Johnson May 14th

Bill Brown/Jim Deshaies broadcasters June 11th

Bret Myers July 13th

Los Angeles Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw May 17th

Don Mattingly June 1st

Hong Chih Kuo June 14th

Andre Ethier July 17th

FernandoMania July 26th

Milwaukee Brewers

John Axford April 24th

Casey McGehee May 22nd

Zack Grienke June 12th

Craig Counsell August 14th

Randy Wolf September 25th

Oakland Athletics

Rickey Henderson April 30th

McHammer 80′s theme July 17th

Ray Fosse August 16th

New York Mets

Mr Met April 18th

Seattle Mariners

Felix Hernandez April 9th

Ichiro Suzuki May 6th

Pittsburgh Pirates

Neil Walker May 21st

Texas Rangers

Nelson Cruz June 20th

San Diego Padres

Bud Black May 7th

Toronto Blue Jays

Jose Bautista April 3rd

Roberto Alomar July 31st

San Francisco Giants

Cody Ross June 4th

Aubrey Huff June 25th

Buster Posey July 10th

Tim Lincecum August 27th

Saint Louis Cardinals

Stan Musial April 24th

Matt Holliday August 28th

Washington Nationals

Jayson Werth

Ian Desmond

 

The most expensive bobble-head today is The Beatles Bobble-head, and its priced at $32,000 dollars.

    

 

 

    

Around the MLB Horn 20 Dec 2010

Basically all the big name players have reached agreements on contracts, trades, and have been through the boring old rigmarole of decided their futures. One player does stand out in my mind though. Zack Greinke. Zack won the 2009 AL Cy Young Award, and concluded the season with a 16-8 W-L record, a 2.16 ERA, and 242 strikeouts last season. He also picked up league MVP, and was awarded a spot on the All-star team. In 2010 his numbers declined rapidly. So after a poor performance Dayton Moore decided it was best for Zack Greinke to find a new home in Milwaukee.

 

Fortunatly for Dayton Moores reputation for being a failed leader in the Kansas City Royals organization this whole thing revolving around Greinke had really nothing to do with Moore. Dayton simply pulled the trigger on the trade. Greinke wanted to leave Kansas City. Even though he was drafted by them in 2002 in the first round, from the start Grienke wanted out of Kansas City. People will argue that because he pitched his guts out last season but aside from that Greinke made a statement last week stating ” when we are 20 games out of first place its kind of hard to get excited about coming to the park.” Wow. Strong.

 

In 33 games that Zack has started I have sat through three of them live at Kauffman Stadium. I have witnessed Zack throw the game away at least twice out of those three games that I have sat through. It was quite common for Zack to be out of the game by the third inning in most of his starts, and leave the Royals hanging, and have the bullpen finish the work. With a 10-14 record at the finish, and a 4.17 ERA its kind of hard not to see that Zack was frusterated. Most of the Royals are. On the flip side Greinke has stated that he is excited to join the Brewers for the 2011 season.

 

Kerry Wood has signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. Im sure fans are delighted to see him back. Wood is expected to be the late inning setup man for Carlos Marmol. Kerry Wood is excited to be back, and has made many statements that he never wanted to leave ( Chicago ) in the first place.  He has never been about money, and that was proven when he turned down four teams willing to shell out more dough for Wood than Chicago did. It was reported that Wood signed for $1.5 Million.

 

Adrian Beltre is about the only free agent left in the world of baseball. Since the Texas Rangers lost out on the deal for Cliff Lee they have some money to throw around, and by asking Michael Young to DH for them Adrian Beltre wouldnt be a bad addition. Smashing 28 homeruns, driving in 102 RBIs, and batting a solid .321 average in the 2010 season Beltre is one sought after player. Rumors speculate that the Angels are also in the market for Beltre. Only time will tell.

 

Sitting quietly in the AL West are the Oakland Athletics, and the Seattle Mariners. None of which are making many headlines as far as trades during this offseason. Now that Cliff Lee is no longer apart of the Rangers baseball team you could probably count the A’s or the Mariners to be somewhat of a contender next season. The A’s have some strong pitching that the other teams in the division should be worried about. Trevor Cahill posted some nice numbers last season. He went 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA. Brett Anderson is another stronger pitcher the A’s have. Aside from pitching? Thats all I got for you!

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