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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:

os 4

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:

os 2

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.

os 1

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).

Lineup Card Rewind – Aaron Judge

New York Yankee rookie Aaron Judge is not only the Rookie of the Year candidate, he is also setting himself up to potentially win the Most Valuable Player award.

Sean and I saw Judge play in a Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders at Pawtucket Red Sox game on April 13, 2016.

It was not a memorable game for Judge, who went 0-for-4 with two strike outs in a 1-0 RailRiders win on a seasonably cool mid-April day game in Rhode Island.

But I distinctly remember being amazed at how big Judge was (he’s 6’7″, 280 pounds).

We were able to get the RailRider lineup card after the game.

RailRiders

6/10/17 – Droning On

Sean is getting better but still not well enough to go inside a stadium for a game yet.

But we were able to head over to New Britain Stadium for BP before the Bees game against the Somerset Patriots on Saturday.

A gate was left open down the LF line so we were able to watch BP for a while, and snagged a few baseballs, all Atlantic League 20th season commemoratives.

Sean also flew his drone outside the RF side of the ballpark and got this picture while the Patriots were in the field taking BP:

New Britain Stadium

 

I’d rather be in the stadium with Sean, but this was better than nothing.

May 2017 Recap

Considering we only made it to five games in May, we did very well to get eight lineup cards.

The highlight was the lineup card from the Boston Red Sox bullpen in a May 27 shutout victory over the Seattle Mariners.

Red Sox

 

In the four previous games at Fenway in which we had tried for a lineup card, we had always tried the visitors bullpen. The only reason we tried the Boston bullpen in this case was because Mariner bullpen coach Mike Hampton had told me before the game that he keeps his bullpen lineup card.

We also got this interesting “Today’s Lineup” card at the same game.

Ms - Red Sox (2) May 27, 2017

 

I was happy to add this Long Island Ducks lineup card with 2003 Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne on it.

Ducks

 

The biggest misses of the month? It would have been nice to get Seattle’s bullpen lineup card, but we probably would not have gotten Boston’s in that case, so it’s hard to get upset over that.  We had hoped to score a Mariners’ 40th anniversary ball during that game, but never saw any.

5/30/17 – My First Yard Goats Game at Dunkin’ Donuts Park

In early April, I went to the first-ever game at Hartford’s new Dunkin’ Donuts Park between Quinnipiac and the University of Hartford.

Last night, I made it to my first Hartford Yard Goats game at the stadium to see the home team play the Richmond Flying Squirrels in a match-up of AA Eastern League teams.

I had avoided Yard Goat games at Dunkin’ Donuts Park so far this season because they typically have been crowded with people wanting to see the new stadium.

Last night was the perfect combination of us not having anything going on, an early weekday game after a holiday, the kids are still in school and the weather, while not awful, was poor enough that it would keep some folks away.

As expected, it was a small crowd which gave me the opportunity to move around a bit.

Goats 3

 

Hartford scored five runs in the third and three more in the fourth to break it open en route to a 12-2 victory.

It’s not often that you see the team on the good side of a 12-2 margin get outhit, but that’s what happened last night, with the Flying Squirrels out-hitting Hartford nine-to-seven.  But the Yard Goats took advantage of 12 Richmond walks.

Hartford hit one home run late in the game, which meant that steam erupted from the large Dunkin’ Donuts cup atop the Left Field scoreboard.  I was a little late in taking the picture, but you can still see a little steam left over.

Goats 4

 

For whatever reason, I decided to try and get Richmond’s lineup card, which I knew was risky given the lopsided loss.  I am not sure what I was thinking because we already have a Richmond dugout lineup card from 2015.  Richmond manager Kyle Haines did respond to my request, but told me he had promised it to someone else.

I was very fortunate to at least get the official batting order cards from the home plate umpire.

Goats

 

Neither team has any elite prospects.  Andrew Suarez was a second round pick for the Giants, but didn’t pitch in this game.  The same goes for Rockies’ 2nd round pick Ryan Castellani.  Yard Goat first baseman Ryan McMahon was also a 2nd round pick back in 2013 and is hitting .326 for the Goats.

2017: 15 lineup cards (5 dugout/bullpen; 9 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)

Lifetime: 136 lineup cards (92 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).

5/27/17 – What do you call this card?

I’ll start with the bad news first: Kate and I went to the Mariners at Red Sox game at Fenway yesterday hoping to score a Mariners’ 40th season commemorative baseball.  We didn’t get one.

There were reports just a few weeks ago that the Mariners used the commemoratives in BP at Toronto.  But earlier this week when Seattle played at the Nationals, none of the ballhawks who posted saw any during BP.

We hoped Seattle would at least have them in their pitchers’ bag.  But the half-dozen or so balls we saw come out of the Mariners’ bullpen bag were all ROMLBs, including the ball Kate got after “King Felix” Hernandez finished his bullpen session.  So it goes.

Kate Fenway (May 27, 2017)

Everything else went incredibly well.

One of the neat things about Fenway is that you’ll almost certainly find something you have never seen before if you look closely enough.

Yesterday was no different.  While walking through a concourse under the bleachers, I happened to notice a door on it with an 11 x 8.5 removable sign on it in a plastic case next to it.  I wish I had thought to take a picture of it, but the door itself said something about only being for authorized personnel such as employees and media.  The removable sign next to the door had the schedule for the day, as well as tomorrow’s game.  I couldn’t tell if the sign was paper or cardboard because it was inserted into a plastic case.

Long story short, shortly before the game started, we walked back over there and a Red Sox employee came out of the door.  I explained that it was Kate’s first Red Sox game at Fenway and if it was OK, we’ve love to have today’s schedule as a souvenir of sorts.

He initially said no, he couldn’t give it to me, so I asked him if there was anyone else I could ask.  He said he would check, and went back in the door.  After a couple minutes, he emerged with the same version of the schedule that was next to the door.

Here it is, with Fenway in the background:

Ms - Red Sox (2) May 27, 2017

 

Very cool, maybe not as cool as a lineup card, but still neat.  But what do you call it?

It’s not the first time I have seen one of these.  Another ballhawk/blogger has gotten a few at Twins games.  He refers to them as Batting Practice Lineup Cards.  The Cards he has gotten from the Twins includes the BP hitting groups, so that makes sense to me.  But the Red Sox card doesn’t go to that level of detail about BP (for the record, while I like both cards, I like the Twins card better), so I am inclined to call it “Today’s Lineup” card.  Whatever the case, it’s cool and we were happy to get one.

The Red Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and coasted to a 6-0 win.  The highlights included Mookie Betts robbing a Mariners player of a home run and Jackie Bradley crushing a two-run homer.

As the game neared it end, we had to decide what we’d try for.  Before the game, I had a chance to ask Mariners bullpen coach Mike Hampton for his lineup card after the game.  He said that he kept it.  So we knew that was out.  While we still wanted to try for a Mariners commemorative, we didn’t know if there were any in the bag, and losing the way they were, it was doubtful the Mariners bullpen would be giving away many baseballs.

We thought abut trying for an umpire ball and/or official lineup cards, but it was still so crowded around the dugout area, it was doubtful we could get where we would need to be, and even if we did, there’d likely be several kids with the same idea in mind.

The best option seemed to be to try the Red Sox bullpen for their lineup card.  But I have never tried for their card before, nor have I seen it in the bullpen dugout.

Still, it seemed the best bet, even if it might not be a good bet.  So we positioned ourselves as close to the Red Sox bullpen as possible for the top of the 9th.

When the game ended, I hustled to the railing behind the Red Sox bullpen dugout.  The Red Sox bullpen dugout doesn’t set up nearly as well for seeing into as the visitors bullpen.

I could just about see bullpen Coach Dana LeVangie taking something off the wall, a little ways from where I was, but there was a full line of people along the railing, so I stayed where I was and called out to him.  Sure enough, about 15 second later, he appeared out of the bullpen, started walking my way, and handed me his lineup card.

Ms - Red Sox May 27, 2017

Awesome! It was our first Red Sox lineup card, the fourth MLB team we have gotten one from (Orioles, Rays and Marlins are the others) and seventh overall.  We saw in one of the Red Sox souvenir stores that they were selling yesterday’s dugout card for $100.  Sure, the MLB dugout cards are much nicer, but I’ll take bullpen one for nothing any day.

2017: 13 lineup cards (5 dugout/bullpen; 7 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)

Lifetime: 134 lineup cards (92 dugout/bullpen; 39 “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).

5/13/17 – Mission Accomplished

I wondered if Long Island Ducks manager Kevin Baez didn’t give me the lineup card after Friday’s game because they lost in heart-breaking fashion.

I got my answer two days later.

I made it to the last few innings of the Ducks game at New Britain, the first game of a double-header.  The Ducks won 3-1.

I had decided to take another shot at getting Long Island’s lineup card despite Baez telling me no on Friday.

Sure enough, Baez handed me his lineup card this time.

Ducks

 

The prize was getting 2003 Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne’s name on the Long Island dugout lineup card.

Unfortunately, Gagne did not pitch in the game.  He didn’t pitch in any of the three games in New Britain. Gagne, 41, ended his comeback attempt a week after this game having allowed nine runs in 3 2/3 innings.

I did get to see former Major Leaguer David Aardsma close out the win for Long Island.  Ardsma pitched in 331 MLB games in nine big league seasons.

Aside from being happy to get a dugout lineup card with Gagne on it, I love it when managers/coaches have notes on lineup cards. The Ducks wrote several stats next to the New Britain players including batting average against lefties and righties for both hitters and pitchers.  It is no wonder New Britain is last in the Atlantic League the way they are hitting.

2017: 11 lineup cards (4 dugout/bullpen; 7 “official batting order”)

Lifetime: 132 lineup cards (91 dugout/bullpen; 39 “official batting order”; and 2 “relief pitcher usage”)

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).