Tagged: Major League Baseball

4/12 – Nats Park (Part 2)

For the final full day of our trip, Plan A was to go to the Blue Jackets @ Capitals NHL playoff game if my brother who lives in the area could get tickets.  As it worked out, he was unable to get tickets.

Plan B was to catch another Nationals’ game, this time against the Rockies who had just come to town for a four-game series.

Plan B wasn’t a bad alternative as we would go with my brother and nephew, which would be fun.

To start the day, Sean and I headed into Washington DC to visit the Smithsonian Air & Space and American History museums.  We’ve been to both museums in the past, but had missed sections so this allowed us to see what we had missed in the past.

Sean was very excited to see the Batmobile from the 1989 Batman movie, on loan from Warner Brothers.

rockies2

 

As for the game, as we were going with family, ballhawking was not a priority.

For starters, not only did we not go for BP, we ended up not getting to the game until the second inning due to traffic.

It is too bad in one sense because there was a chance to possibly get either the 25th anniversary commemorative the Rockies are using this season, or an Arizona Spring Training ball.

We still had a chance given that we sat right behind the Rockies’ bullpen.  Sean and my nephew were trying for toss-ups.

Sean finally got one late in the game, a nice mud-rubbed ball that did not look like it had been used.

rockies1

 

Of course, it was not the Rockies’ 25th or AZ ST ball we were hoping to get, but a nice one nonetheless.

There was no lineup card posted in the Colorado bullpen as best we could tell.  There was one in the Nationals’ bullpen, so I tried there while Sean tried for the Rockies as well as to try and get another ball.

We both struck out.  Nationals bullpen coach Henry Blanco acknowledged my request, but shook his head “no” and kept it himself.  I wonder if the fact that the Nationals lost had anything to do with it.

Sean got ignored and neither he nor my nephew scored another ball.

Still, it was a great trip.  We got eight balls total over three games, including a Braves 2017 commem and a 2018 FL ST ball.  We also got two more bullpen lineup cards from teams we had not previously scored lineup cards from.

Time to start looking into going to our next MLB game!

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4/11 – Nats Park (part 1)

After seeing the Blue Jays-Orioles game the night before, Sean and I headed from Baltimore to Washington DC the next morning for a Braves-Nationals matinee.

We got there a few minutes before the 11am gate opening, and there was hardly anyone else there.

When we got in, we found out there was unfortunately no batting practice.

However, there were a few Nationals players warming up and a Braves’ pitcher was also throwing a bullpen session.  We decided to watching the Braves pitcher as there was essentially no one else there.

The Braves’ pitcher was Sean Newcomb, who we had seen pitch when he was at the University of Hartford.  After 10-15 minutes, Newcomb swapped balls with Chuck Hernandez, and I asked Chuck for the ball, which he threw to Sean.

I had been eyeing the Braves’ ball bag directly below us.  It was clear to me that there was a mix of standard ROMLB balls, some Florida Spring Training balls, and it looked like another logo that I couldn’t make out.

 

nats3

 

The ball Hernandez tossed to Sean turned out to be the latter, and the logo was last year’s inaugural SunTrust ball, which I had somehow forgotten about!  The logo was a bit beaten up, but still a great score.

More players came out to warm-up.  We got Atlanta third base coach Ron Washington to toss us each a ball.  Mine was a ROMLB.  Sean scored a FL Spring Training ball!

nats2

 

There was no more action on the field at this point, so we had lunch. By the time we came back, the starting pitchers were starting to warm up.

Braves’ assistant coach Sal Fasano was working with starting catcher Kurt Suzuki in the bullpen.  When they were done, Fasano tossed Sean a ROMLB, Sean’s third of the day.

That would be it for baseballs for us on this day, but who can complain about a total of four balls on a day with no BP?

nats4

Sean and the FL ST ball he snagged in warm-ups

The game would go 12 innings, with the Braves eventually winning, 5-3.

Well before the game, we had asked Atlanta bullpen coach Marty Reed if we could get his bullpen lineup card, and he had said yes.  From past experience, we know that doesn’t always mean we will end up getting it, however.  In fact, former Braves’ bullpen coach Eddie Perez had blown me off three years ago after telling me I could have his lineup card after the game (https://lineupcards.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/june-2015-major-league-dis-by-braves-eddie-perez/)

In the picture below, our seats were on the right side of the Braves’ bullpen.  The lineup card was taped to the wall on the other side of the bullpen (arrow).

nats5_LI

 

We moved to that side of the bullpen late in the game. When the game ended, we again asked Reed for the lineup card, and he obliged.

nats6

 

As bullpen lineup cards go, this is one of the nicer ones we have gotten. The watermarks, in particular, are neat.

It is the 8th different team we have scored a bullpen lineup card from (Nats, Marlins, Indians, Rays, Red Sox, Orioles and Blue Jays are the others), and is our 12th bullpen lineup card.  We have been very fortunate!

2018: 3 lineup cards (2 dugout/bullpen; 1 “official batting order”)

Lifetime: 161 lineup cards (110 dugout/bullpen; 48 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)

Leagues: MLB: American League; National League; 2017 ALDS.  MiLB: International League (AAA); Pacific Coast League (AAA); Eastern League (AA); Southern League (AA); Carolina League (A); New York-Penn League (A), including 2017 NYPL ASG. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association; Frontier League. 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).

4/10/18 – Charm City

Sean and I headed down to Charm City (aka, Baltimore) for a short spring break/baseball trip.

Our first game was the Blue Jays @ the Orioles, a Tuesday night affair.

It is supposed to be spring, but the temperatures say otherwise.  The game time temp was 49, but it went down pretty significantly from there.  So the crowd at Camden Yards was small (8,640 announced).

os4

 

There was batting practice before the game, and after a slow start during the Orioles portion, it picked up during Toronto’s turn.

We got three balls, all ROMLB.  Sean scored a toss-up from Baltimore’s Miguel Castro, and we each got a hit ball during Toronto’s session. I probably should have had at least a couple more, but so it goes.

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One of the BP balls Sean got; he also took the picture

After eating, we headed to the bullpen area to watching the starting pitchers warm up.  Without us asking, Baltimore bullpen coach Alan Mills hooked up Sean with a pouch of bubble gum, which was awesome.

Os1

 

The point of this picture…

os5

 

…was to get the no-shirted “Captain Bird Man” (I made that name up.  I have no idea what name he goes by, if any) in the background. He was still shirt-less at the end of the game, when the temps had to have dropped about 10 degrees.

The game moved quickly.  Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez took a no-hitter into the 8th inning.  The Blue Jays scored top 8, but the O’s answered in the bottom of the frame.

Curtis Granderson hit a two-out solo blast in the 9th for the Blue Jays which would prove to be the game-winner.  It was neat to see another ballhawk, Alex Kopp, snag the game-winning HR on the fly.

Blue Jays’ bullpen coach Dane Johnson was nice enough to hook us up with Toronto’s bullpen lineup card after the game.  It was the 7th MLB team we have gotten a bullpen lineup card from.

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2018: 2 lineup cards (1 dugout/bullpen; 1 “official batting order”)

Lifetime: 160 lineup cards (109 dugout/bullpen; 48 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)

Leagues: MLB: American League; National League; 2017 ALDS.  MiLB: International League (AAA); Pacific Coast League (AAA); Eastern League (AA); Southern League (AA); Carolina League (A); New York-Penn League (A), including 2017 NYPL ASG. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association; Frontier League. 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).

Major League Baseball (MLB) Lineup Card Collection

(in order of when we got the lineup cards, starting with most recent)

May 14, 2018 – A’s @ Red Sox (Tom)

A's

 

May 14, 2018 – A’s @ Red Sox (Tom)

A's 2

 

April 11, 2018 – Braves @ Nationals (Tom & Sean)

nats6

 

April 10, 2018 – Blue Jays @ Orioles (Tom & Sean)

os2

 

September 30, 2009 – Mets @Nationals

Nats

We did not attend the game.  This was given to us by someone associated with the Nationals.   It is our first and only MLB dugout lineup card, and the oldest lineup card in our collection.

October 8, 2017 – Astros @ Red Sox, ALDS, Game 3 (Sean & Tom)

ALDS

This was our first-ever MLB playoff game.  

 

July 16, 2017 – Nationals @ Reds (Kate & Tom)

trip 5

Kate and my first trip to Great American Ballpark.  The “W” on the lineup card was presumably added by someone in the Nationals’ bullpen after the Nationals won the game.

 

June 19, 2017 – Indians @ Orioles (Tom)

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Short on style, this came from Cleveland’s bullpen.

 

May 27, 2017 – Mariners @ Red Sox (Tom & Kate)

Ms - Red Sox (2) May 27, 2017

Our first-ever lineup card at Fenway Park, and the first lineup card we got before a game ended.  After the game…

Red Sox

…we got this from the Red Sox bullpen.

 

April 12, 2017 – Orioles @ Red Sox (Tom)

Os Red Sox (4.12.17)

Given to me by Orioles’ bullpen coach Alan Mills.

 

September 13, 2016 – Orioles @ Red Sox (Tom)

Red Sox-Orioles (Sept 13, 2016)

This was left in the Orioles bullpen after the game.

 

April 12, 2016 – Orioles @ Red Sox (Tom/Sean)

Orioles

Our first Orioles lineup card.  David Ortiz hit career home run #506 in this game.

 

2015 Rays @ Red Sox (Tom)

Rays-Red Sox Sept 22, 2015 (compressed)

One of my favorite lineup cards given the notes kept on the card by Tampa bullpen coach Stan Boroski.

 

September 2015 – Marlins @ Nationals (Tom)

Marlins-Nats (Sept 17, 2015)

Marlins’ bullpen lineup card given by bullpen coach Reid Cornelius.

 

September 26, 2014 – Marlins @ Nationals (Tom)

Our first-ever lineup card of any sort, given by Marlins’ bullpen coach Reid Cornelius.

Marlins-Nats (Sept 26, 2014)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10/8/17 – Playoff Prize To End Our Season

Our luck started about 24 hours before the ALDS Game 3 between the Astros and Red Sox.

I had never been to an MLB playoff game, had nothing going on for Sunday, and had been watching ticket prices on re-seller websites for a few days.  The lowest prices were generally in the $80 – $90 range, and for standing room only tickets, rather than seats.

I patiently waited until Saturday, when prices started to fall a bit.  Early that afternoon, I saw a pair of tickets go up for sale on SeatGeek for $63/each.  And they were for actual seats, not standing room only.  So I quickly bought the tickets for Sean and me.

It rained steadily for the 2-hour drive to Boston on Sunday morning.  We got to Boston around 11:30 am, with gates scheduled to open shortly after Noon, and the game to start at 2:38pm.

We were early enough that we were able to park on the street about a 7-8 minute walk from Fenway.  The rain became more of a mist on the walk.

We were among the first hundred people into the stadium.  With the rain, there was no batting practice, a major bummer but expected given the weather.  Sean had one chance at a warm-up ball used by the Red Sox catchers in the bullpen, but it went to the only other boy in the area.  It was not a 2017 Playoff ball, so it was not a huge loss.

We killed time until first pitch by walking around the stadium, visiting the souvenir shop, getting something to eat and taking pictures.

ALDS8

 

ALDS6

 

ALDS5

 

Our seats were in Section 37, essentially under the scoreboard, one row from the top of the stadium.

alds2

 

You’d like to be a little closer to the action, but as small a stadium as Fenway is, the seats were fine.

In the picture above, do you notice the black image in the roof to the left of the home plate facade, almost directly below the “Optum” sign?  Here is a close-up:

ALDS3

 

It is a policeman/sniper.  There were four of them, at least that we could see, keeping an eye on nearby buildings.  I am sure this was in response to the recent Las Vegas shootings.

There was a nervous energy in the stadium to start before the air was taken out of the stadium with a 3-run Houston top of the first. It nearly became 6-0 in the second if not for Mookie Betts preventing a 3-run homer with a catch at the right field wall.

The Red Sox got one run in the second, and took the lead for good on a Rafael Devers 2-run blast in the third inning.  It brought the Red Sox crowd of 38,000 to back to life.

The Sox blew the game open with six runs in the 7th inning, turning the end of the game into a party.

We were enjoying the game, save for the four knuckleheads to our right.  In their early 20s, they were on there way to be drunk when they got to their seats just before the game, each double-fisted.

They talked and acted like most drink 20-year olds do, which was less than ideal.  If the game hadn’t been packed, I would’ve looked for two seats elsewhere.  But that was not really an option with a full house.

Shortly after they came back with two more beers each three innings later, the guy two seats from me passed out.  He stayed that way for about an inning, until two security guards came up and made him come to.  They told him that if he continued to appear to be passed out, he would be removed.  They then left.

So, his friends made him stand up so he wouldn’t get kicked out.  He was clearly incapable of standing , and sure enough, he threw up moments later.

Thankfully and somehow miraculously, he didn’t throw up on anyone.  But the stench was awful.

I immediately took Sean and headed down to the concession area to get away from the scene.  We stayed down there for an inning.   When we went back, the guy had been removed.  The vomit had been cleaned up, but we still couldn’t sit in our seats due to the residual stench.  We had to sit/stand on the top stair between sections 37 and 38 for the rest of the game.  It wasn’t ideal, but so it goes.

Before the game, we had scouted the Astros’ bullpen, but didn’t see a lineup card there.  We could see one in the Red Sox bullpen.

I had low expectations.  One, it was still packed at the end of the game.  Two, I didn’t think they would give away the bullpen lineup card, as MLB teams seem to sell anything that is worth something, and I’m sure the Red Sox could sell the bullpen lineup card from an ALDS victory for a few bucks.

But we gave it a shot, getting into a great spot behind the Red Sox bullpen immediately after the final out.  I loudly asked bullpen coach Dana LeVangie given the noise in the stadium, and I thought he nodded yes but I wasn’t sure.  Half-a-minute or so later, he emerged from the bullpen dugout and handed the lineup card to me.  Someone tried to grab it but luckily I got my hands on it first.

ALDS

 

Thank you, Dana!  Having the Red Sox bullpen lineup card from our first-ever playoff game, and a Red Sox victory, will always be special.

What a way to wrap up the season!

2017: 35 lineup cards (20 dugout/bullpen; 15 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)

Lifetime: 157 lineup cards (107 dugout/bullpen; 47 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)

Leagues: MLB: American League; National League; 2017 ALDS.  MiLB: International League (AAA); Pacific Coast League (AAA); Eastern League (AA); Southern League (AA); Carolina League (A); New York-Penn League (A), including 2017 NYPL ASG. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association; Frontier League. 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).

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:

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).

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.