7/12/17 – Road Trip: Part 1

I’m doubting there are too many baseball road trips that include a stop in Batavia, NY.  But Kate and I were in the area visiting RIT, the Batavia Muckdogs happened to be home and I kind of like the obscure, small market teams.

Dwyer Stadium is small even by MilB standards, seating just 2,600.  I don’t think you can sit more than about 15 rows from the playing field.

Indy 5

 

It’s a ball hawker’s paradise, with balls flying out of the intimate stadium left and right.  On certain night’s I would’ve been all over that.  But we’ve got enough New York Penn League baseballs, I actually wanted to see the game and there was one guy and a few kids hawking, so I largely sat in my seat.

That said, Kate did get a toss-up from a Lowell Spinners player late in the game.  It couldn’t have hurt that we were wearing Lowell Spinners hats.

The Muckdogs jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings and largely sailed from there to to an easy 7-2 win.

Indy 3

The 1970s called.  They want their scoreboard back.

The highlight of the game was an inside-the-park home run by a Lowell player in the top of the 9th.  I’m pretty sure that’s the first one of those I have seen in professional baseball.

After the game, I headed to the Lowell dugout and Kate to Batavia’s dugout.  Lowell manager Iggy Suarez told me that he keeps his dugout lineup card.  I asked him for the official lineup cards, but he ignored me.

Kate had better luck as Batavia manager Mike Jacobs handed her his dugout card with a small throng of kids around looking for balls and bats.

We haven’t gotten a dugout lineup card, so anything would have been nice, but this one was pretty good with the Muckdog watermark.

MuckDogs

 

And Kate, score book and lineup card in hand after the game, scored the entire game.

 

Indy 2

 

Not a bad way to start our trip!

2017: 17 lineup cards (7 dugout/bullpen; 9 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)

Lifetime: 138 lineup cards (94 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).

7/10/17 – Pre-All Star Game Ball

Sean and I headed over to watch a few innings of our local Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) team, the Bristol Blues, play last night. It’s the first game Sean has been able to manage since his concussion in December, even if it was only for a few innings. That alone was a big deal.

The Blues are hosting next week’s FCBL ASG.

FCBL ASG banner

We plan to go as they will be using special ASG baseballs for the second straight year.

As it turns out, we don’t need to go in order to get a 2017 FCBL ASG baseball because they were using them during last night’s regular season game.

Why would they be using them before the ASG?  If I had to guess, they must have bought extras and probably have been using them for a while, because I’m pretty sure I saw a couple in the Bristol bullpen.

FCBL ASG ball

Whatever the reason, it was awesome to get one last night, although I am sure we will still go to the FCBL ASG.

FCBL ASG 2

We didn’t stay for long as I didn’t want to push my luck with Sean.

Here’s a look at last year’s and this year’s FCBL ASG balls.

FCBL 2016 and 2017 ASB balls

I like this year’s logo better than last year’s, but overall, I’d give the slight edge to last year’s ball just because of the blue-green laces.  You just don’t see balls with blue-green laces.

 

 

 

June 2017 Recap

There’s not much  to recap.  I went to two games.  The first, the Indians @ the Orioles, worked out pretty well save for a flat tire.

I scored a Camden Yards 25th Anniversary ball

O's

…and a surprisingly blah lineup card from the Indians bullpen.

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On the way home from my Baltimore/Washington DC trip, I stopped at a game featuring a Cuban National team playing at the Can-Am League’s New Jersey Jackals.  I was hoping to score the Cuban team’s dugout lineup card.  But I did not see one anywhere in the dugout, and given that I was tired and still had a two-hour drive home, I decided not to stay until the end of the game.

July should be far better.  We have plans to go to a bunch of games, so I should have a lot more to post starting next week.

 

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).

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.