Well, just like I did for this entry I am going to combine two games into one entry.
I didn’t have a camera for either game because my oldest daughter has it with her on vacation in Colorado. So that leaves me without one. It’s okay, I’ll have my own eventually.
Game #1 on Tuesday 6/22 was pretty cool because of the seats my friend Dirk and I had. We got tickets on StubHub that were the same ones we had for this game against Detroit. Right next to the visitors’ bullpen.
I love these seats!
For batting practice, we got inside the park at around 5:30 and had a good 30-40 minutes of the Pirates’ BP. Dirk was able to snag 3 of his own, while I managed only 1. The one I got was a toss up behind the Pirates’ dugout by a guy that I assume is in the front office or something because he was wearing a dress shirt and dress pants. The Pirates were clearing the field and this gentleman was walking toward the dugout with a ball in his hand. As he got closer he started scanning the people behind the dugout, so I held my glove up and he tossed it to me. Whew! If not for that one I would have been shutout, and I’ve had enough of those this season.
As for the game, since I sat on the end last time we were over there, this time was Dirk’s turn.
The Pirates as an organization were very impressive to me this game. Especially for a team that seems to be struggling like they are. For instance during batting practice, while I was behind the dugout Andrew McCutcheon was signing autographs on the third base line. He must have stood there for 20 minutes! It was amazing. Then during the game it seemed like all of the bullpen guys were interacting with the crowd at some point.
At around the start of the fourth inning Octavio Dotel came into the bullpen and sat right on the other side of the wall from Dirk. When he walked up he asked how we were doing and if we were enjoying the game (even though the Pirates were losing at the time). Later on in the game I told Dirk that I would buy his ice cream if he Octavio’s autograph for us. After a few moments of hesitation we both had one of these….
… that would put an exclamation point on a great evening!
The Rangers won 6-3 thanks to trio of homers. A solo shot by Michael Young, a three run shot by Julio Borbon, and a solo jack by my man Josh Hamilton. Good times!
At some point during the game I noticed a lineup card taped to a wall in the bullpen and told Dirk that we needed to stick around for a little bit afterward so I could try and get it. First I asked the security guard working the ‘pen what happens to it after the game (I actually knew, but wanted to make it clear that I was not going to be a nuisance), and he said they usually throw it away. I asked if I could ask someone for it and he said go for it, so I did.
I asked I guy that came out and was grabbing all of the towels off the ground, and he walked over took it off the wall and came and handed it to me.
Yes! I’ve been wanting one of those for so long, it felt great to finally have one.
Here’s a picture of it that I took the next day….
I like how the Rangers’ hitters are color-coded. It took me a moment to figure out their system but from what I can tell the black lettered hitters are righties, the red ones lefties, and Smoak in blue letters is a switch hitter. Pretty cool how they designate them. I also like how it has the old Ranger logo above the lineup!
It’s very cool to me and I plan on getting it laminated in the very near future.
That’s it for the first game, now onto the second one….
This game was not planned at all. Dirk had been messing around online and found tickets for this game in the exact same seats we had at the previous game.
I was somewhat hesitant to go at first, because he and I would be taking our daughters on Sunday, we had just gone two nights prior, so I was torn. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to go, I always want to go, but I wasn’t to thrilled with having to call my wife and see how she felt about it. And honestly, I don’t like to be away from home too much, so I didn’t want to push it.
Well, my wife didn’t mind so we were off.
We got inside the park at almost the same time as the Tuesday game and caught about the same amount of batting practice.
Dirk changed it up a little this game, I stayed in true “left field” in the seats while he went over to “left-center field” in the bleachers.
I would get on the board within the first 10-15 minutes or so when Brendan Donnelly came to retrieve a ball by the wall in front of me. I had an idea that he might toss the ball up, but I couldn’t see him so I wasn’t sure. I paused for about 5-10 seconds waiting with my glove ready to snag a random no-look toss up, when all of a sudden there it was. I said I was ready, but apparently I wasn’t. The ball was about a foot to my left, but I had maybe a second to react, and I missed it and it fell into the gap. At least I was able to get it with my retriever!
That’s all I would get in the left field seats today. I didn’t really come close to any others, and before too long all of the kids in the park must have seen how generous the Pirates were being and decided to crowd all around me and start shouting for balls.
For the third straight game I went behind the visitors’ dugout. I don’t know what prompted me to start doing this, but I have. The first game was against Seattle and I got some great shots of the the guys in the cage, and I guess I was just drawn in by the close proximity of everything so I kept it up the last two games against Pittsburgh. I was tossed a ball last game by some random guy, and wouldn’t you know it but the same exact guy hooked me up again this game. Pretty sweet! I gave that ball to nearby kid that was trying to get autographs with his mother.
When BP concluded and I met up with Dirk, I decided that I just might change my strategy for future games. I mentioned earlier that Dirk had gone to the left-center bleachers, well he ended up with 6 on the day. That particular area is comprised of three sections and is probably 30 yards long. Dirk ended up going back and forth from end to end as parents would call him over to use his retriever to get the ball out of the gap that their child had dropped after getting it tossed to them by a Pirates player. What a deal! Even though he gave them all to the kids they were supposed to go to in the first place, they still count toward his totals because he snagged them. From now on, he and I are going to tag team that area, one on one end and the other one on the opposite end. With as generous as the visiting teams have been lately it sounds like a pretty good plan.
The game was good, the Rangers came back to win in walk off style 6-5 thanks to Vladimir Guerrero’s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.
Octavio Dotel, the Pirates’ closer that we talked to some on Tuesday came back out around the fourth inning again and recognized us. I had given him my free taco voucher that the ballpark gives out if the Rangers score a run in a specific inning, and I asked if he used it and he said he couldn’t find the restaurant. He may have been lying, but it felt good to have a conversation with a big leaguer. I would soon have much more than just a conversation with him too.
To cut to the chase, at some point in the game Octavio took my phone. Yes, you read that correctly, he took my phone. Not to be mean, or to steal it (like he couldn’t afford it!), but to be funny. I don’t know how long he had it, but I had it setting on a knee high wall next to me that is about head height to him. He grabbed it and handed it to the guy next to him to hide under his leg. When I went to grab it to check the other scores, it wasn’t there. I started to look at my feet, in the gap in front of me, in my backpack, in Dirk’s backpack in case he was trying to be funny, behind me, and it was nowhere. After around 10 minutes I started to panic, mainly because it’s an iPhone that is not under warranty and I really didn’t want to have to replace it.
I asked Octavio (we’re on a first name basis now), if he saw it on his side of the wall, and he played dumb for a second and then reached over to his teammate and got it back from him and gave it to me.
Man! What a dizzying array of emotions that swept over me in the next few minutes. Relief, at having it back. Slight embarrassment, from he and the rest of the bullpen laughing at me. And also hysteria. No the good kind. It was hard to stop laughing for a bit because after the rush of emotions stopped and reality began to sink in, I was beginning to realize that I was just pranked by a Major League baseball player!
Who else can say that?! Better yet, who else can say that that also has a blog to share it with the world?
Needless to say, I was thrilled to have such a cool story to tell. I already had gotten his autograph at the previous game, so to try and get something in return I mentioned his cap that was laying on top of the wall in front of him. I even went out of my way to say after the game, and he seemed to half-heartedly agree, but they lost. At the time fo the prank the Pirates had the lead, hence the good mood, since they wound up losing I was out of luck.
Oh well. As I said, the story is worth it.
The Pirates had another lineup card taped to the wall like the one I had gotten Tuesday night, and I told Dirk that if I was able to get it, that I would give it to him.
I did. Along with a smaller sheet of paper that I couldn’t decipher from that far away, but here it is….
It seems to be the Pirates’ way of documenting stats on that game’s starter as well as the bullpen guys. Kind of different but it’s definitely worth keeping.
And here’s a ball that I had autographed by bullpen catcher Heberto Andrade….
What an awesome two nights of baseball!
Time of Game: 2hrs. 45mins.
Time of Game: 3hrs. 6mins.
Next Game: Sunday 6/27 vs. the Astros