A lot of people would call me crazy if I told them the time I drove nine hours from St Louis, Missouri to Arlington, Texas to watch a baseball game, spend seven hours in a hotel room, and then drive nine hours back. Well, I guess Im crazy. I was excited as ever to go to this baseball stadium. Its been said that the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is among the top stadiums that is fan friendly. The security is so relaxed it nearly makes me want to move to Arlington just so I can attend Rangers games all season long. The only real problem I had was with another fan. I was wearing my infamous “A-Roids” shirt, and somebody that was sitting in the left field seats commented on it.
“A-Rod? Wow, buddy. You really shouldnt be wearing that shirt here.” The woman explained to me. At first I didnt know if she was being hostile or joking.
“Excuse me? Well, it doesnt say “A-Rod”. It says “A-ROIDS”.” I said.
“Oh, well. It looks like A-Rod. Your backpack strap was blocking it.” She said back to me.
“I apologize for my backpack strap blocking that.” I sarcastically replied.
“Well, maybe you shouldnt be wearing that shirt because it looks like “A-Rod”.” She said.
“Well, I hope people can read!” I laughed.
“Wow, how rude. Calling someone you dont know illiterate.” She looked up at me scoffing.
“I didnt call-you know what, nevermind.” And I found a new place to ballhawk.
The great thing about this stadium is there is little to no restrictions. There arent any fancy gates to keep fans out from behind home plate, there arent any red taped areas or walls or any other type of obstruction to keep fans from walking anywhere they want to. So I did just that. I walked around the entire stadium. The Rangers side of the stadium was filling fast, and the thing is I wasnt really worried about getting a baseball. The gates had opened up at 4pm, and the game started at 7pm. I just wanted to be here. I just wanted to be apart of this. This would be history if the Rangers won it tonight.
Also worth mentioning in the picture below look who was at the ballpark as well? I wasnt surprised though…
Yup! Peter Gammons was there as well! He is a baseball GOD! I wonder when that man is going to retire? Hopefully never! It was great to see him! Aside from that, that was all that was really popping on the Rangers side of the house. I couldnt say the same for the Yankees side though. I guess Arlington was just too far from New York for anyone to come out and support their team.
Thats what was popping on the Yankees side. Nothing. So I wandered the stadium some more. I played the outfield a little bit, and the Rangers were putting a lot of baseballs in the seats. Along with plenty of toss ups. But I just couldnt get a good position for any opportunity. I thought about playing the Batters eye, but I just wasnt aggressive enough. Those baseballs would come in hot, and the general age range of fans running out there was anywhere from five years old to about nineteen. But it seemed dangerous. A lot of slipping, and sliding, and running into each other. I watched for about ten minutes though, and witnessed the smaller kids just get TRAMPLED, and shoved around! I mean, it was nasty out there. The security guards would come out after the ball was secured by a fan, and usher everyone back over the railings. But it was pretty awesome that they let fans run out there. Of all the stadiums that Ive been to that have the grassy Batters eye, they wont let you go out there. In fact, if you do, they try to take the baseball back, and send you packing.
This was the view from where the Batters Eye is at. Notice the near empty seats around the infield? This was about twenty minutes AFTER the gates had let everyone in. Really, I had about a good 35 minutes of free roaming the stadium before hoards of people started to come in. It was simply amazing. I figured the stadium would be packed by now.
I continued to wander the stadium. I continued to wander the outfield looking to pounce on my first baseball of the ALCS. To no avail it just never happened during the Rangers BP. The Yankees started to trickle onto the field, stretching, and tossing baseballs around. I walked over to the third base side, and waited for a unique opportunity to grab a baseball. I lined up behind Chad Guadin, and A.J Burnett. A.J threw the baseball high, and Chad deflected the baseball into the seats. I reached for it but it was too high. He pulled a second ball from his back pocket, and continued to play catch. A.J continued to overthrow, and miss his targets but nothing else came my way. I thought about asking for baseballs but I didnt want to beg. Especially to the Yankees while wearing Ranger gear. ( I didnt bring my Yankees hat )
It was nearing the end of BP, and I still didnt have a baseball. I really wasnt all that concerned though. I really just wanted to find my seat, sit down, and read the ALCS program. My feet hurt, I was tired from the drive, and my shins, and knees had taken a beating from knocking into the old plastic seats in the stadium. I was just tired, and wanted BP to end. For the first time in my life I wanted BP to end. When it did I was thoroughly relieved, and scampered to concessions for some much needed water.
My seat was awesome. I was in the front row in the left field seats. I had a great angle on the Yankees bullpen, and if any ball that was hit well enough for a home run I would most certainly have caught it. So once Phil Hughes, and Jorge Posada came out of the bullpen to warmup, it started to pour. I mean, it was raining so hard I thought that they would cover the field, stop the color guard, and put the game on hold. Not one fan moved from their seat. The color guard continued to march out onto the field. The Marine Corps continued to hold the Texas state flag steady in the Batters Eye. The National Anthem singer started the song, and it continued to rain. The rain tapered off just as the grounds crew started to unroll the tarp. The National Anthem ended, and the color guard marched off the field. Rangers fans held steady. The Marine Corps started to roll the Texas state flag up, and the rain stopped. This game was going to start. Rain or no rain. I was EXCITED! As the Yankees piled into the bullpen, I hollered down to the pitching coach to throw me a baseball, and he graciously meet my demands despite my Rangers gear. I got my first baseball of the night, and sadly it was the only one I got. But I didnt care.
With Josh Hamilton to my left, and David Murphy to my right, and one hell of an awesome group of fans behind me this was probably the most exciting game I have been to in a long, long time. I loved every minute of it. I shouted, and screamed, and cheered, and whistled, and trash talked Alex Rodriguez, and I just had one hell of a time in Texas! It was so great I even got on Tv!
Yeah, I know. You can barely see me. But that was me!! They were awesome seats. Im not going to pretend that nobody reading this blog entry doesnt know that the Rangers won it, and earned a much deserved trip to the World Series. They did win 6-1 if you had been living in a cave for the last few weeks. It was an awesome game. After Vladimir Guerrero broke the game wide open with a two run double, and then Nelson Cruz hit a two run home run, I knew it was as good as gold. The Rangers were going to the World Series. The fans knew it, the players knew it, the whole world knew it! The stadium was so explosive! The fans were cheering, and yelling, and screaming, and ….it was literally…the energy…the emotions..people were crying, and laughing, and hugging….even Josh Hamilton had a hard time containing himself. He would look back at the fans every so often, and smile. He knew. They all did. How could they NOT??
The defining moments. What made it so sweet?
Alex Rodriguez striking out to end it all. Thats what made it so sweet. Alex Rodriguez is so hated around the league its unbelievable. Seattle hates him, Boston hates him, Kansas City hates him, Texas hates him…. and for him to strikeout to send the Rangers to the World Series on a pitch that he probably wouldve liked back…made it OH SO SWEET!!!
Dog pile on the hill ensues….
The Yankees take a walk home…
American League Champions…
HELLO WORLD SERIES!!!!
Congratulatory celebrations, awards presentations, and Nolan Ryan speaks to the fans.
It was a great night to be a Rangers fan at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.
Game; New York Yankees vs Texas Rangers October 22nd 2010 Game 6 of the ALCS
Game Balls; One
Another early bird tour would serve me well. Since the last two games I was sitting behind the Tampa Bay Ray dugout and not one baseball was tossed my way despite my TB gear. I was slightly disappointed with the Rays. But I was fine with that. I had three baseballs in as many games, and I was going for the 100 baseball mark today. And it started off looking very promising. As soon as we were released into the stands by the tour guide, I ran down the steps and started calling to Zack Greinke. He was walking towards two baseballs. He scooped the up and randomly tossed them into the seats. Since I was the first one down that way I had an easy shot at atleast one of them. I heard the pounding footsteps of competition behind me but I remained calm, played the ball as it rolled around, and leaned over the seats to scoop it up. It was a daring move because the ball was on a roll. Ive learned that when a baseball is hit or thrown into the seats you want to carefully play the ball as it rolls. I try not to get overly aggressive and chase it down to the very row it was thrown to because it generally rolls down the aisles.
I heckled Greg Holland a little bit about the other day with the annoying kid, and we shared some laughs. It wouldnt take long, and Mike Aviles would rip a foul ball into the same area where Greinke had tossed a baseball. I was the only one there so I just casually jogged that way, and let the ball roll right into my glove with no competition within miles. I got an approving smile, and nod from the tour guide, and I went about my business. The second baseball that I got I probably wasnt supposed to have. Or it was just fate or luck or whatever a person would want to think. I mean, getting this ball was like winning the lottery. I should have probably played the lottery after this. It was getting close to 5:30pm. Seven minutes. Then the gates would open, and people would pour in. After that foul ball I retrieved off the bat of Mike Aviles, he would put two more deep into the outfield, and one baseball bounced into the seats. I watched this whole thing playout.
I figured a security guard would have seen it or a kid or someone. But nothing. Five minutes before the gates would open, and all of a sudden out from behind the batters eye some teenaged kid went down to where the ball was, and he started frantically searching for the baseball. He walked all the way down to the wall, and he started asking baseball players for a baseball. It wasnt but a moment later someone tossed him a baseball, and off he went. I couldnt believe it! He didnt see the ball! Or he grabbed it, and I didnt see him grab it! The ball must be well hidden, I thought to myself. Like its stuck in a cupholder, or wedged down in a seat. Three minutes. I had to move. I had to do something. The security guards were taking their positions. I had to risk getting ejected or yelled at. I had to. I started up the stairs towards the outfield. I scanned around. The tour guide was busy with conversating with the fans. This was my break. I scampered up the stairs, and fast-paced walked towards the outfield. The “Take me out to the ball game” jingle roared over the loudspeaker. The gates were opening! I bolted towards the outfield seats. I raced passed a security guard that was seeing what I was seeing. There it was! Are you kidding me?! The baseball was in the middle of the first aisle out in the open! How could that kid not see that?! No matter. It was mine.
To my suprised the ball I scooped up was an Inaugural Season baseball from Target Field. Ive been wanting one of these all season. I never did make it out to Target Field. But it didnt matter now. I had one, and as I dropped it into my bag I noticed something else on another ball. Could it be? Yup! I had two of them! Greinke could have tossed it to me, or it could have been the Mike Aviles foul ball. I felt like going home. Mission accomplished. I came away with not one, but TWO of these baseballs! As I hung around the bullpen Jeremy Hellickson of the Tampa Bay Rays started to head in there. He was actually going to retrieve some baseballs? That would be a first. But of course he was new. So I hung around, and called to him. He fired one to me but it came up short. He tossed another one to me, and I grabbed it. Number four and the final baseball of the game. I sat behind the dugout of the Rays all game, and no luck. I tried to get the umpire to toss me one, no luck. The Rays from the bullpen didnt toss me one either.
So that concludes the regular season for me. Im planning on making it out to Great American BallPark Monday if the Reds can win Game 3. It should be fun. It will be my second playoff game, and Im eager to try to snag some baseballs.
I hope everyone had a great baseball season, and an even better postseason!
Game; October 2nd 2010 Tampa Bay Rays Vs Kansas City Royals
The first ball of the evening came from Greg Holland of the Kansas City Royals. Some kid was harassing him to the point where the baseball players decided to harass back. Everytime the kid called for a baseball from Holland, the other players would call for a baseball from Holland as well. It was so funny I nearly had to sit down in the seats. Eventually, Holland just tossed me a baseball. I dont know if it was because I wasnt the harasser or because I was totally amused by the whole thing. But for my politeness I received a baseball, and of course I thanked him for it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCC6wDei2cQ <— Link to the Youtube video of the kid.
I didnt record the best parts of the kid interacting with Holland, but youll get the idea of how annoying this kid was just by watching this short 15 second video of him asking for a baseball.
Towards the end of batting practice I circled my way around the entire stadium, and I ended up on the first base side. I figured If I was going to get my second baseball it would probably come from this side. David Price, and Matt Garza were tossing a few into the crowd. So I waited around patiently for the opportunity to strike. It wasnt long before a security guard waved me over to him. Great. I thought I was going to be asked to leave or get my ticket checked. But nope. He simply started to talk my ear off about the best way to get a baseball. I quickly shut him down by explaining of the box full of baseballs I have at home, who my greatest toss ups came from, and all my past injuries Ive sustained while doing this. This was like my second job. Coming to the ballpark, and seeing how many baseballs I could get. That shut him up. As I wandered back down the steps a sharp liner came ripping into the seats. I took a step back, and watched the ball take its first sharp bounce. Straight up! I had a shot! I raced two rows over, hurdled one row down, and the ball managed to bounce off two more seats before rolling down the aisle the other way. I was running down the aisle after it, and scooped it up with my glove. Too easy. I heard the disappointed groans from potential competition behind me as I casually walked away with the trophy. Two baseballs on the day was pretty good. The third baseball came from one of the Tampa Bay Rays pitchers that was running off the field. I simply followed him towards his dugout and raised my glove in the air. He airmailed me one and I had to dodge a row quickly to make the catch. I didnt regonize who it was though. Maybe next time.
All in all it was a pretty decent evening at Kauffman. Three on the evening and one last night. I was on track to break 100 at this point. But Id have to have a huge game tomorrow to do it.
Game; October 1st 2010 Tampa Bay Rays VS Kansas City Royals