6/19/17 – A flat tire, scuff mark and the worst lineup card ever…and it was still a good night!

I went to the Indians at Orioles game last night.

Where do I start?

I’ll start with the good news.  I got an Orioles 25th anniversary commemorative ball!  And a lineup card!

Next, the not so good news.  The ball had a scuff mark, and of course it would be on the commemorative logo.  And the Indians lineup card, which came from its bullpen, was unimpressive.  How unimpressive?  Of the 137 lineup cards we have gotten, I would have to say this is the worst.  Or at least tied for the worst.

Finally, the bad news. I got a flat tire. It happened as I was parking in Annex A parking lot. All of a sudden, my tire pressure warning light came on as I was about to turn the car off.  So I looked at my tires after I got out of the car, and sure enough, my left front tire was REALLY low.  As in like flat tire low.

It was a few minutes before 5pm.  Camden Yards gates would open at 5:05pm.  There wouldn’t be Batting Practice because a massive thunderstorm had just ripped through the area.  It was still raining.

Did I do the sensible thing and try to figure out a way to fix the tire?  Of course not.  I had one of those fix-a-flat cans in my car.  I was hoping (praying) it would do the job and get me to my hotel some 20 miles away after the game.  I couldn’t use it then because you need to drive a couple miles after you fill up the tire to “even the stuff out.”

So I got in line and was in the stadium a few minutes later.  Of course, this is what I saw:

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Just to be sure you understand what’s going on, here is another angle:

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Yup.  No BP and a rain delay.  That’s what I rushed in for.

In fairness to myself, I’m not sure what I could have done with respect to the flat tire.  I could have tried to put the donut tire on the car, but I was really hoping the fix-a-flat can would work, and I really did need to wait to use it because it was rush hour in Baltimore and it was still raining.

I guess I could have called a service to come out and help me fix it.  Not to completely give away the story, but in the end, I did the right thing going into the stadium, believe it or not.  Good for me.  For once.

Back to the stadium.  So there’s no BP, a few people and a lot of ushers.  I hung around down by the Baltimore dugout.  Two players eventually came out and hung out in the dugout.  One had a ball.  Maybe it was a 25th anniversary baseball?  Maybe I could score an early one?

I stayed around the first row for a while, trying not to be creepy but essentially keeping an eye on the two players.  The one with the ball was talking on his smartphone with ear plugs in.  I didn’t know who either player was.

Eventually, the other player headed back into the clubhouse.  The player on the phone with the ball stayed in the dugout at least another 10 minutes.  He finally started to head to go into the clubhouse, with the ball in hand.  I called out to him, asking for the ball.  An usher and, I think, her two kids were there but no one else.  He either didn’t hear me (possible) or just ignored me (more likely).

No easy ball for me.

I walked around the stadium some more, as well as spoke to my wife about the flat tire.  She was sympathetic but I was on my own.  I’d figure it out after the game.

I was able to take a long distance picture of my car from the stadium:

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So, you see the white SUV-looking vehicle on the street?  My car is the white Camry directly above it in the picture.  Of course you can’t see it in the picture, but I can assure you that my left front tire was flat.

I walked around the stadium.  I talked to an usher in section 326.  He was nice, telling me different stories about the stadium, including the fact that the “H” or the E” in “The Sun” sign above the video scoreboard would flash if a ball was put in play and it was questionable whether it was a hit or an error.

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There were a couple of close ones during the game, and sure enough, he was right.

For a while, there was doubt as to whether or not the game would be played.  The start ended up being delayed, but the game was played.

It was a small crowd (13,865 announced) and the ushers were pretty lax on seating, so I sat in a prime seat six rows up in line with first base.

It should have been a great place to grab a toss-up.  But I had been told before hand the the O’s, primarily “designated thrower” Adam Jones, would throw third out balls all over the place, even into the 326 section on occasion, according to the usher.

So there I am, right there for a third out ball toss-up, but nothing came near me.

Indians first base coach Sandy Alomar brought a couple balls out with him in consecutive innings but gave them to kids.  It was cool to see even if I didn’t get one.

Indians first baseman Carlos Santana threw up most of his warm-up balls, but I quickly figured out they were regular ROMLBs, so I didn’t try hard to get one as I wanted an Orioles commemorative.

Long story short, the Tribe clobbered the O’s 12-0. With the late start, poor weather to start and blowout, the stadium was fairly empty late in the game.  So I was able to move over to the home plate side of the Orioles dugout, five rows up.

There were no kids left in that area at the time.  At one point, the Orioles catcher tossed the pre-top 8th inning warm-up ball to the junior of the two Orioles bat boys. He looked up in my area, and I stood and waved my arms with my glove on, and he tossed the ball to me.

Bingo!  It was an Orioles’ commemorative mud-rubbed for game use.  Sadly, it had one scuff on it and the scuff was right on the logo.

O's

I was hoping for a game-used or game-ready ball in pristine condition.  I didn’t get it.  I was disappointed for a while, and still am to an extent.  But the ball has character, it was far better than getting nothing and I’ll never forget the evening I got it.

I didn’t get another ball, including trying for an umpire ball.  It seemed like half the fans remaining tried for one.  The umpire game three away, all to kids.  That was cool.  When he had passed me by and I knew I wasn’t getting a ball, I asked him for the lineup cards.  He didn’t turn around.

I went over to the Orioles dugout. After losing 12-0, the Baltimore players headed to the clubhouse quickly.  I asked bullpen coach Alan Mills for his lineup card.  He ignored me.  I guessed that meant he left it in the bullpen.

That’s where I headed next.  The grounds crew was of no help.  I first asked if Cleveland had left their bullpen lineup card, and was told “no.” I asked about Baltimore’s and he told me he couldn’t give it to me even if it was there.

Then I noticed the Cleveland bat boy coming out to the Indians’ bullpen to clean-up.  When he got there, I asked him for the Cleveland lineup card if it was still there.  Sure enough, he went into the bullpen dugout and emerged with a card and handed it to me.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m appreciative to get it, but it’s the worst lineup card I have seen, at any level from college on up.  But I guess it did what they needed it to.  For the record, Baltimore got just three hits on the night, with no base runner getting past first base.

As for the car? The fix-a-flat worked.  Not very well, but well enough to get me to the hotel that night (driving as slow as I reasonably could on 95) and then to a tire shop the next morning.  I’m not sure how safe it was.  Probably not very.  And the tire store I went to, NTB…well, I wouldn’t recommend it.  But it all worked out, and I am thankful for that.

2017: 16 lineup cards (6 dugout/bullpen; 9 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)

Lifetime: 137 lineup cards (93 dugout/bullpen; 41 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)

Leagues: MLB: American League; National League. MiLB: International League; Eastern League; Carolina League; New York-Penn League; Southern League. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association. Colleges: NCAA – America East Conference; NCAA – American Athletic Conference; NCAA – Ivy League; NCAA – Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference; NCAA – Northeast Conference; Cape Cod League; NJCAA – Region XXI; New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL); Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL); Cal Ripken Summer Collegiate League. International: World Baseball Classic (qualifying round, 2016).
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