Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Angels vs. Dodgers Pre-Game Graphing 5/29/13

I decided to head down to Angel Stadium for some pre-game graphing prior to the Angels vs. Dodgers game. My goal for the day was to get my authentic Mitchell and Ness jersey signed by Dodgers' skipper Don Mattingly. While I did miss Mattingly, the first autograph I got made up for it all.

That autograph came from 2013 American League Rookie of the Year, Mike Trout. Not only is it one of my favorite autographs of the year, but it was by far the luckiest one as well. When I pulled into the Angel Stadium parking lot, I noticed six graphers huddled up around the fence that surrounded the Angels' player parking lot. I figured that this meant either a players was signing or about to sign, so I drove over to see what was going on. Right as I pulled up I heard a couple of guys yelling "Mike!", so I grabbed out a ROMLB, ran right up to the fence, and was in perfect position as Trout came over and signed for all of the graphers. I was thrilled to get my second ever ROMLB signed by Trout.

After getting Trout, things were decent at best. Almost all of the big Dodgers drove directly down the tunnel, or denied all autograph requests, so I decided to try the front where I was able to get A.J. Ellis, Mark Ellis, Jerry Hairston Jr., and Brandon League to sign my 2013 Dodgers team ball.

Had it not been for Trout, I would of considered this day a complete bust. While I did miss out on McGwire and Mattingly, I was able to end my "Trout drought" of slightly over a year, so I can't complain. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Padres vs. Nationals Game 5/18/13

I decided to head down to San Diego to catch the Washington Nationals in action against the Padres. I had been planning this "trip" for weeks and was very hopeful after hearing that both Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper had been signing quite often on this west-coast road trip.

The day got off to a rough start. I left my house around 8 a.m. in hopes of getting to San Diego with time to spare. As I was about 20 miles away from my house, I realized that I had forgotten all of my cards at home. So I then had to turn around, drive all of the way back to my house, and start the trip over again, almost one hour behind schedule. Luckily, or maybe not, I got to Petco Park just in time to see Bryce Harper deny all of the Nationals fans waiting for his autograph. Things did get a bit better, as I was able to get my first autograph of the day from Adam LaRoche, who kindly signed two cards for me.

San Diego is a great place for graphing, the only bad thing is that there are so many entrances that the players can walk in and out of. The day prior Ryan Zimmerman, who was one of my main goals of the day, had apparently taken a side entrance with his wife. I figured that there were good odds of the same thing happening, so I went to the side entrance hoping to get the All-Star third baseman. Well, forty minutes and no Zimmerman later, one of the graphers came over and showed us his Ryan Zimmerman autograph, which he got at a different entrance. I wanted to be upset, but I just couldn't be. That's how much I love Petco Park, even though everything was going wrong, I was still just happy to be there. That attitude helped me get Dan Haren's autograph about 20 minutes later.

Dan was always a terrible signer in Anaheim, so it surprised me to see him sign for 30 or so fans. Even though I've only gotten Dan a hand full of times, I have nothing bad to say about him, he's always a really cool guy and is really down-to-earth if you get a chance to talk to him. 

I was about to get ready to call it quits for pre-game, but just as I began to head towards Subway, Jordan Zimmerman and Rafael Soriano walked over together. I initially went after Zimmerman with little to no hope that he'd sign since he was the starting pitcher that night. To no surprise I got quickly denied, so I then turned my attention to Soriano, who surprisingly stopped and signed for all of us. I was able to get Soriano, a notoriously tough signer, to sign a ROMLB across the sweetspot.

Overall it was a good way to end pre-game graphing. I then grabbed a bite to eat before heading inside Petco Park for what was a brutally slow BP. For the entire tow and a half hours I was inside Petco Park, I was able to collect one lousy Chad Tracy autograph and a Gio Gonzalez autograph for my friend Kyle. At least I was able to get some great pictures of beautiful Petco Park.

That last photo was the view behind me on the way up to the second deck. Wow, just wow. The Padres ended up winning the game 2-1 thanks to an 8th inning, go-ahead single from Everth Cabrera. The game also marked the 24th team I've seen play live as I've never seen the Nationals in action before.

As for pre-game, things got a bit better. While I was denied by a limping Bryce Harper, I was able to get Jordan Zimmerman, who only signed for my friend Matt Crocker and I. Jordan was kind enough to sign my ROMLB across the sweetspot.

I was also able to get Padres' manager Bud Black, Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard, and Chad Tracy (at BP) to sign some cards for me.

Overall it was a okay day of graphing. Was the drive to San Diego really worth what I got? No. Was watching another game at Petco Park cool? Yes. Was it better than going to Angel Stadium for the White Sox again? Yes. Glad we got that settled. A big shout out to Matt Crocker, Rob, Rick, and everybody else that I met. Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Angels vs. White Sox Game 5/17/13

I decided to make the trip to Angel Stadium on Friday night to catch the Chicago White Sox in action. I knew that this would be my only chance at getting the Sox this season since I was going to be in San Diego for the Nationals on Saturday. Luckily, I was able to get most of the White Sox during my second trip to Spring Training, so I wasn't too worried about missing out on the south-siders.

The first player to sign during BP was one of my good buddies, Addison Reed. Addison and I happen to share mutual friends, but we have become quite good friends in the process. I was happy to be able to catch back up with him and talk about some Clippers basketball. Addison was kind enough to sign six cards for me (one of which I gave away to a White Sox fan).

A few minutes later, White Sox legend and future HOF'er Paul Konerko began signing over the dugout. I had already gotten Konerko four times in the past two seasons, so I attempted to get a ROMLB signed for my friend Josh, who was coming to the stadium later that night. However, Paul had to go take BP and stopped right before me. I then went a bit farther down the line where I got Brian Omogrosso to sign four cards for me.

Getting Omogrosso's autograph actually made my day. I've been wanting to complete one of the 2013 Heritage "Rookie Stars" cards for a while now, so I was happy to finally finish one. This specific one features Omogrosso and fellow reliever, Duente Heath, who I was able to get at Spring Training

As for the rest of BP, I was able to get Hector Gimenez, Tyler Flowers, and Matt Lindstrom to sign some cards for me.

Once again, I attempted to go for Mike Trout's autograph after he finished up stretching, but this time the ushers blocked off the dugout area all the way up to game time, so my "Trout drought" continued on.

My disappointment quickly went away as I was able to get my friend Ron's ticket in the second row directly behind the White Sox on-deck circle. I left my camera at home so I was unable to take any pictures, but to give you a feel of where I was and how awesome the seats were, I'll just tell you that I had a three minute conversation with Alex Rios as he was on-deck. Pretty cool.

My only real goal for post-game was to get Chris Sale, who started the ballgame. I was able to get Sale's autograph last season, however he darted out of the clubhouse and I had to settle for getting a card signed. Anyways, Sale did walk out the front and signed for mostly everybody, mostly. With about five people left he said that he had to go. I walked with Sale for a few more feet until security said that he wasn't signing anymore. I was disappointed, but I guess I'll have plenty more future chances at getting his autograph.

The only person to sign for me post-game was Jake Peavy, who walked out with Adam Dunn. I was able to get Peavy on a ROMLB across the sweetspot.

Unfortunately, the signature was a quick and rushed one. Peavy had to keep up with Dunn, who was walking quickly, so Jake had to sign my ball while walking, which is not a super easy thing to do. If anybody is interested in the ball, leave a comment below, I'm not asking for too much in return.

Overall it was a decent day. I was happy to be able to talk to Addison again and complete the "Rookie Stars" card, however the best item that I got signed came out rushed. Oh well. Time to move onto San Diego, which should be up in a day or two. Thanks for reading. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Zack Greinke Rehab Start With Rancho Cucamonga Quakes

I'm still currently in the process of trying to catch up with all of my blog posts from my short leave earlier this month. Luckily, my school gets out next week, so you should be seeing more catch-up posts in the near future. Anyways, former American League Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke was scheduled to make a rehab start with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes earlier this month. The game was to played in Lake Elsinore, which I knew would keep most graphers away. The only down side was that my family would have to drive over 60 miles in Friday traffic. Wonderful. But the opportunity to get one of the hardest autographs in baseball and make up for my mistake by skipping Dodgers' fan fest was too tempting.

After a long battle with traffic, I arrived at the stadium about 30 minutes before game time. In fact, as I was walking down the steps to get down to field level, I noticed Greinke pop out of the Quakes' dugout to begin warming up. I knew he would not sign until after his night was done, but I was surprised to see him wave at a couple of young fans. I was still able to get Jonathan Garcia, Pedro Baez, and Scott Elbert, who was also rehabbing with Rancho, to sign some cards for me.

Obviously I didn't drive all the way down to Lake Elsinore to get a few minor leaguers and one decent relief pitcher, but I was still happy to get on the board and ensure that I wouldn't get entirely shut out. I then went over to the seats down the left field line, found a completely empty section, and watched Greinke get roughed up by some Single-A rookies over four innings.

Watching Greinke give up eight runs (four earned) really made me nervous that he was not going to sign, but of course I was still obligated to wait, even if I was possibly going to get shut out.

The wait seemed to take forever, but finally Zack came out of the Quakes clubhouse with a huge bag on his shoulder, a plate of pizza, and a soda. Not a good sign. But to my amazement, he put down everything and began signing for the fifteen people waiting. Everything was real relaxed and kicked back. Zack wasn't rushing, he was taking his time to get everybody who waited. He was strictly one per, but luckily both of my parents were willing to help out. In the end I came away with two ROMLBs across the sweetspot and my team ball signed.

I noticed that a few people ran up at the last minute as Zack was getting in his car, and they were all denied. I felt really fortunate that I was able to get his autograph considering I will probably never get it again. I can't even recall Zack picking up one pen during his brief stint with the Angels last season. A big thanks to Zack for signing as well as a shout out to Tyler for graphing along side me. Tyler was literally the only other "pro" grapher out there, that just shows how reluctant people were to drive all the way out to Elsinore. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

I'm Back! Angels vs. Orioles Series: 5/3-5/5

          I'm back! First off, a HUGE thank you to DKWilson for helping me out and suggesting that I try a different internet browser. I was starting to become really disappointed and discouraged that I would never be able to post on this blog again. Anyways, now that I'm back up, I have some catching up to do. I figured that I'd start with the Angels vs. Orioles series at Angel Stadium considering how well I did.

Game One (5/3/13):

          Since I had just finished up with my state testing, I had a minimum day, which therefor meant that I could graph the Orioles' walk-ups. I was very excited for the Orioles to come into town. Last year I did fairly well with the club, and was hoping to repeat. The first Oriole to walk up was All-Star closer, Jim Johnson. Johnson actually rolled up with two other guys, but none of the graphers (including me) could identify the other two. None-the-less, I was more than happy to get Johnson on a ROMLB across the sweetspot.

          The next guy to walk up was Troy Patton. Patton is extremely nice when it comes to signing autographs and always interacts with the fans. Troy was nice enough to sign four cards for me.

          Then the man himself, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer walked up. Palmer was one of my main goals this series, however I was discouraged to hear that Palmer signed the previous day. Most of the time, Palmer will only sign one day a series, but luckily there were only about 10 or so graphers, and when Palmer saw us all form a single-file line, he came right over and signed for every one of us. I was very excited to get the 1990 HOF'er on a ROMLB across the sweetspot with the "HOF 90" inscription.

          About 20 minutes later an unexpected thing occurred. Baseball legend, Rod Carew pulled up in his car and walked up. It's not a rare thing to see Carew at an Angel game, but it is a very rare thing to see him sign at one. I approached Mr. Carew and politely asked him for an autograph, he kind of looked up, saw the ten other people behind me, and said he was in a hurry. I was a bit disappointed to say the least, but I continued to wait in hopes that he would come back out. Sure enough, about 30 minutes later, the 3,000 hit club member walked back out and signed for every single one of us. I don't think I've ever seen Carew in such a good mood, he was laughing, smiling, and was awesome to be around. I was thrilled to be able to get another HOF'er on a ROMLB across the sweetspot.

          My day was already made. Two baseball legends in one day is an amazing thing to accomplish. I was seriously debating on going home and calling it a day, but I figured that I'd try and get a few of the big name Orioles since it was there only time in town this season. Meanwhile, I was able to get Ryan Flarethy and Brian Matusz when they walked up.

          As for batting practice, things were pretty slow I was, however, able to get former big leaguer Chris Singleton, Jason Hammel, J.J. Hardy, Chris Dickerson, and coach Wayne Kirby on cards.

          I was also able to get young phenom Manny Machado to sign a ROMLB. I heard from the day prior that Machado can't sweetspot, but I figured that he was still worth it. At least if/when he become the next A-Rod, I won't have to worry about getting his autograph.

          That was it for game one. Overall it was a sensational day. It's not too often that you get 2 HOF'ers and a future superstar in one day!

Game Two (5/4/13):

          Game two was a rare, Saturday afternoon game at Angel Stadium. Why? Because Fox was airing the game on national television, which to my despair meant that I would have to wake up early to catch any of the Orioles walking up. The first person to come up and sign was bullpen coach, Einar Diaz. I was the only person to approach Diaz so he was more than happy to sign all three cards for me.

          Moments later Buck Showalter walked up and signed for the couple of graphers waiting. Buck had denied all of the graphers last night, so I was happy to get him on a 2013 Topps Heritage card.

          Unfortunately, that was it for walk ups. Almost the entire team took the bus in, which is almost a 100% "no". In fact, the only player that I saw walk in was Chris Tillman, who more than rudely denied me. I was very shocked considering I was the only person in sight, but sadly, denial is becoming a bigger part of the game. As for BP, it was also very slow. I was, however, able to get one of the tougher players on the Orioles, Adam Jones, to sign a ROMLB underneath the MLB logo.

          Jones is probably one of the biggest jerks in baseball. The only reason he came over was because my friend Kyle, from Addictive Artworks, had a painting of Jones and had contacted Adam through social media the night before. Even though it wasn't sweetspoted, I was still very happy to be one of the five people to get Jones over the entire series. I was also able to get Chris Snyder to sign a couple of cards right before game time.

          Luckily, postgame graphing was much better than the previous night. I was able to get Chris Dickerson, Miguel Gonzalez, Nate McClouth, Freddy Garcia, Brady Anderson, and Darren O'Day to sign cards for me.

          Overall it was a sub-par day of graphing. The Orioles really surprised me this year, considering how friendly they were last season. None-the-less I was still happy to knock a few guys off of my bucket list. I want to thank all of you guys for sticking around and still reading this blog. Hopefully this technical difficulty didn't discourage any of my readers. Keep tuned as I will be posting A LOT of make-up posts from the month of May! Thanks for reading!