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:
Just to be sure you understand what’s going on, here is another angle:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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”)
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.
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.
I was happy to add this Long Island Ducks lineup card with 2003 Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne on it.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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”)
It was great to get to my first MLB game of the season, the Orioles versus Red Sox at Fenway Park, but disappointing not to have Sean with me as he continues to recover from a concussion he suffered three-and-a-half months ago.
We had been eyeing this game for a few months knowing that there might be a chance to score a Camden Yards’ 25th Anniversary baseball that the Orioles are using this season. It wouldn’t be easy, though, as the Orioles would likely only have them in their bullpen bag, if they had them at all.
The day got off to a bad start with BP cancelled due to a couple showers.
It’s too bad because the weather got nice again shortly thereafter for the rest of the evening.
In the picture above, you’ll notice two baseballs in center field. They were there when I got in. No players were on the field at that time, so I don’t know how they got there.
Some Orioles pitchers came out and started warming up. Eventually, Vidal Nuño threw me one the balls. It was a regular Manfred ball that appeared to be mud-rubbed and in good shape. Could it have been a gamer at some point? Who knows.
I hung out by the Baltimore bullpen before the game as starter Ubaldo Jimenez warmed up. Hopes of scoring a Camden Yards 25th seemed dashed as the Orioles only seemed to be using Florida Spring Training (FL ST) balls. There were also a lot of kids by the bullpen, so I didn’t get a toss-up anyway.
The game itself was essentially over shortly after it started. Red Sox starter Steven Wright gave up eight runs before being lifted in the second inning. The Sox pulled within four runs, 9-5, in the fifth, but Baltimore tacked on three more runs for the final margin of 12-5.
The decision I had to make was whether to stand by the Orioles or Boston bullpen after the game. The Orioles had a new bullpen coach, Alan Mills. Previous bullpen coach Dom Chiti posted the Baltimore lineup card on the bullpen wall adjacent to section 87, and we got them at both Fenway games we attended last season. But I noticed right away that Mills posted the card on the inside of the bullpen dugout.
Would Mills give the card away, would he leave it for security to give away, or just take it with him?
The other option was to try for Boston’s bullpen lineup card, which we had never done before. As best I can tell, the Red Sox do not post the lineup card anywhere in the bullpen, so I have no idea if they give it away.
I decided to play what I thought were the better odds and go for the Baltimore lineup card. Between the score and the fact that the game was so slow — it took 3:46 — the stands slowly but surely emptied as the game went on, and I was able to get into section 87 and then move to a seat right up against the Baltimore bullpen fence, and almost directly above the Baltimore bullpen bag.
I took a few looks into the bag, and could still only see FL ST balls.
When the game ended, an Orioles reliever — I think it was Zach Britton, who had not pitched — grabbed a couple balls from the bag and handed them to two young boys sitting behind me.
I snuck another look into the bag, and among the FL ST balls, I could see a Camden Yards 25th ball as well as a ball with pink laces that had to be a Mother’s Day ball!
When the bullpen catcher came to grab the bag, I nicely begged for a 25th ball. He ignored me, closed the bag, picked it up and started walking to the Oriole’s dugout.
It was a huge downer as I would’ve loved to score our first 2017 MLB commemorative right there and then.
The good news is that when I asked Mills for the lineup card, he obliged and handed it to me. One out of two ain’t bad!
It wasn’t until I started writing this blog that I realized that Sean and I had gotten our first Baltimore lineup card exactly one year earlier. The lineup sure does look different without “Ortiz” on it any more.
This was our sixth MLB lineup card, all from the visiting teams’ bullpen: three Orioles all from Fenway; two Marlins both from Nats Park; and one Rays also from Fenway.
To walk out of any MLB game with a lineup card is awesome and lessened the sting of not scoring the 25th anniversary ball, which we hopefully will be able to get later this season.
2017: 6 lineup cards (1 dugout/bullpen; 5 “official batting order”)
Lifetime: 127 lineup cards (88 dugout/bullpen; 37 “official batting order”; and 2 “relief pitcher usage”)
Our last month of going to games for the 2016 season ended with a bang.
Not only did we get 10 more lineup cards, but we also got a couple of game-used hats and another ball for our baseball collection.
Kate and I started off the month with a New Britain Bees game, her first ever.
Later that weekend, we went to the final Connecticut Tigers game of the season, against the Tri-City Valley Cats. Sean got a Tigers hat from pitching coach Ace Adams and I got the Tri-City lineup card, which Kate is holding below.
I saw the Orioles play the Red Sox at Fenway Park a week later, and was fortunate to get the Orioles bullpen lineup card.
Sean and I went to the final New Britain Bees game of the season in mid-September. Sean’s goal was to try and get a hat from a New Britain player. He had to ask a few players before Jon Dziomba was nice enough to hook Sean up with his hat.
In September, we were sent a Pensacola Blue Wahoos lineup card, our first lineup card from the Southern League and first lineup card via mail.
Saving the best for last, I went to the first day of the World Baseball Classic qualifier at MCU Park in Brooklyn, NY (home of the Brooklyn Cyclones) with the goal of getting a 2016 WBC qualifier baseball and lineup card.
I got a few baseballs and the Pakistan batting order card that day.
To get one of the dugout lineup cards, I had to contact Major League Baseball, which runs the WBC. It took two-plus weeks, but it was well worth it as I was sent Brazil’s dugout lineup card, signed by manager Barry Larkin.
September turned out to be a great ending to our 2016 season of going to baseball games!
The end of the 2016 baseball season is fast approaching here on the east coast. Some minor leagues are already done, and others are wrapping up. Even the MLB regular season has less than three weeks to go.
Tuesday, I made what has become a traditional late-season pilgrimage to Fenway Park for batting practice and a game. With the weather starting to get cooler and kids back in school, Fenway is usually a little less crazy than it normally is.
But Fenway turned out to be its normal, insane self for the Orioles game Tuesday night. With the Red Sox leading the AL East, the weather perfect and the near conclusion of the Big Papi farewell tour, the place was packed.
I got into the stadium 2.5 hours before the game. The last Red Sox group was taking BP. Nothing came my way, but with no kids around at the time (there were far more kids there than I expected for a September weeknight game, though) I was able to get one of the Red Sox ground crew to toss me up a BP ball that had been hit into the Red Sox bullpen. I would later give that ball away to a boy with a glove who hadn’t gotten a ball.
There was a lull in BP as the Red Sox were done and the Orioles warming-up so I went atop the Green Monster, sat there for a while and took this picture:
I didn’t have any luck during the Orioles portion of BP. I guess with a lefty (Drew Pomeranz) pitching for Boston, virtually all the Baltimore players were batting righty. They cleared out the Green Monster seats shortly after the Orioles started hitting. I tried my hand in CF, RF and even down the RF line a bit, and nothing came anywhere near me. I will say that the Orioles put on quite a show in BP, launching ball after ball over the Green Monster, including roughly 10 that cleared the Green Monster altogether.
I headed toward the Baltimore dugout shortly before the Orioles ended BP, and an equipment manager tossed me a ball for my second and final ball of the day.
As for the game, the O’s jumped on Pomeranz for five runs in the 2nd inning. Boston got as close as 5-3, but Jonathan Schoop’s solo HR in the top of the 9th took the wind out of the Red Sox comeback sails, and Baltimore won 6-3.
The stadium was essentially full, so I bounced around for the first 6+ innings. I decided to try for the Orioles’ bullpen lineup card which had been taped to a wall in the Orioles’ bullpen.
The key was to find a seat as close to the O’s bullpen as possible. Mid-7th inning, I got into a seat near the bullpen, but still a few seats from the bullpen wall. Mid-8th, a couple people left and I got right next to the Baltimore bullpen.
The picture above (it’s Baltimore closer Zach Britton) isn’t great, but the point is that I was sitting right behind the fence. When there was a pitcher warming up on the right bullpen mound, I could literally reach over the fence and touch him, he’s that close.
So the game ends and there’s a swarm of people begging the Baltimore bullpen pitchers and coaches for baseballs. I asked Baltimore bullpen coach Dom Chiti for the lineup card, but he ignored me and left it taped to the wall, below the fence as you see it in the picture above, and slightly to the right of where I was. I patiently waited for the Fenway security guard to come reasonably near and asked him. As soon as I asked him, a couple other people started asking for it, but he gave it to me.
It’s our 5th MLB lineup card, all from visiting team’s bullpens. It’s our second Orioles card — Sean and I got one in April — and third lineup card from a Boston game (I got a Tampa Bay bullpen lineup card late last year).
I was hoping Big Papi would hit a home run like he did when we saw the Sox-O’s play in April, but it didn’t happen. Still, it’s neat to have a lineup card with players like “Ortiz”, “Pedroia”, Machado, Red Sox highly touted prospect “Moncada” and others on it.
Speaking of Big Papi, there was a t-shirt give-away Tuesday night:
Not my style of t-shirt, especially with the “bling”, but that’s OK.
I hope to get to one more MLB game next week along with the World Baseball Classic Qualifier tournament in Brooklyn, which should pretty much end our season.
2016: 54 lineup cards (39 dugout/bullpen; 15 “official batting order”)
Lifetime: 117 lineup cards (86 dugout/bullpen; 29 “official batting order”; and 2 “relief pitcher usage”)
The Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks and New Britain Bees wrapped up a three game set with a 10:35am mid-week start. I was able to catch the last three innings during my lunch break.
The stadium was still mostly full of school children. I don’t understand how these “baseball in education” days work. Yes, I get it that many of the tools kids learn in math, for example, have applications in baseball. But from what I can see at the stadium, the kids aren’t learning anything at the games, they are just stressing out their teachers. Maybe there are things done in the classroom before and/or after the games. Or maybe I am just jealous that I never got to skip school to go to a baseball game. But I digress.
The Bees were already up 5-1 when I got there, but got out of a bases loaded jam when former Major Leaguer Sean Burroughs flied out to end the inning.
That turned out to be Long Island’s last good chance. The Ducks scored a meaningless run in the top of the ninth for the final margin of 5-2.
At this point, most of the school kids had either left or were leaving. There was no competition at either dugout and I was able to get both team’s lineup cards.
It was our first Long Island Ducks lineup card, so that was nice. A couple things of note: 1) Every dollar counts in the Atlantic League, so the Ducks’ lineup card is just a black-and-white copy of the original lineup card, which I imagine had color in the logo; 2) There are a few MLB players on the Long Island roster, including Burroughs, Lew Ford and Todd Coffey, who all had solid Major League careers. Not on the lineup card but on the field as the Ducks first base coach is Bud Harrelson, a star with the New York Mets and now a part-owner of the Long Island franchise. Good stuff.
This was our second New Britain Bees lineup card. I imagine at some point, the Bees will also photocopy one of these original color lineup cards, but for now, it’s a nice looking lineup card. We have lineup cards for two of New Britain’s three wins in the early stages of the franchise.
Lineup Card Stats
2016: 15 lineup cards (11 dugout/bullpen; 4 “official batting order”)
Lifetime: 78 lineup cards (58 dugout/bullpen; 18 “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. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association. Colleges: NCAA – American Athletic Conference; NCAA – Ivy League; NCAA – Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference; Cape Cod League; New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL); Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL)