Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Angels vs. Pirates: 6/21-6/22

The Pittsburgh Pirates came into town for a three game, interleague series against the Angels this past weekend. While the Pirates' may not have a ton of "star caliber" players like the Angels or Dodgers do, their roster is filled with a bunch of solid players, and of course, Andrew McCutchen. So I headed down to Angel Stadium to catch a pair of the three games.

Game One (6/21/13):

The morning got off to a rough start, as none of us graphers knew which hotel the Pirates would be staying at. That's one of the downsides when a National League team comes to visit. When familiar teams like the Rangers, White Sox, Rays, etc. come into town, we all know where to go to get the most autographs, but when a N.L. team comes in, it's basically luck-of-the-draw. As a result, I found myself having to drive back to the stadium, empty handed and hoping that somebody would get dropped off.

It was pretty late into the day when I got my first autograph. Both Neil Walker and Russel Martin drove in together, and both were kind enough to sign for the six fans that were waiting.

It was nice to finally get on the board. It's always an uneasy feeling for a grapher to be shutout, especially when you dedicate so much time into one team. I then went back to the front where I was able to get Brandon Inge to sign four cards.

That was it for pre-game. I considered myself fairly lucky to have gotten both Martin and Walker, as most of the graphers were at the front of the stadium and missed out on them both. The gates then opened and I hurried inside hoping to get in prime positioning for Andrew McCutchen. My friend Kyle, from Addictive Artwork, had a painting for McCutchen, and that almost guaranteed that McCutchen was going to come over. 

Sure enough, McCutchen came over, and to nobody's surprise, things got crazy. Things got so crazy, in fact, that I missed out on getting his autograph. Now I don't usually get very upset at other graphers when I miss out on an autograph, but this situation was different. The "Cutch" signed for fans in the suite seats, so like usual, the usher let a couple of fans down at a time. However, instead of getting the autograph and leaving the seats so others could get in, these people decided to stay down there and basically block everybody else from entering the seats. I'm not going to mention any names, but you all know who you are. It's been years since I've actually gone back and double-dipped a player in one day, so it really gets me upset when I see other graphers be so greedy and go back for more autographs when they know that not everybody has gotten one yet. I guess greed had become part of the hobby now, and maybe it's time for me to accept that.

Well, now that my small rant is over, here is a photograph from Kyle's Instagram of McCutchen signing. Kyle makes some amazing paintings, and I encourage all of you to follow his Instagram page @addictiveartwork. Also, while your at it, make sure to follow my autographing page @MCs_Autographs. 

After the chaos ended, I went back over to the dugout where I was able to catch Gaby Sanchez, Charlie Morton, Garrett Jones, Clint Barmes, and Mark Melancon, who were all kind enough to sign some cards for me.

That was it for BP. I once again tried for Trout on the Angels' side, and once again he only signed for people in the suite seats. People from out of town think that us SoCal graphers tend to get Trout and Pujols everyday. While they do sign quite often, it's only for a select few and most of the time it is a chaotic scene whenever one of them signs. So with that said, please do not email me asking to get you Trout, or Pujols, or any other Angel besides Scott Downs and/or Mark Langston. Thank you.

Post game was really slow as well. Since most of the players took the bus in, most of them took it out. The only "big" guy that came out was Gerrit Cole, but unfortunately he had already signed for quite a few people and was done by the time I got to him. In the end I was able to get Bryan Morris, Michael McKenry, and Duke Welker, wrapping up a rather frustrating game one. 

Game Two (6/22/13):

After a rough game one, I was looking to score big in my second day graphing the Pirates. I put aside my hopes of getting McCutchen, mostly because he had signed for a handful of people the first day, and focused my mind on getting some other guys such as Gerrit Cole, Starling Marte, and Pedro Alverez. Also, since walk-ups were so terrible the day before, I decided to save my time and show up just in time for batting practice. It turns out that my decision was a good one as only Michael McKenry, Brandon Inge, and Justin Wilson drove in and signed. 

When I got inside things were rather dead. I was being shutout for the first thirty minutes or so of BP, luckily, Jeff Locke came over and got me on the board by signing three cards.

I was pretty excited to add Locke to my collection. He has put up extremely solid numbers this season but has really been overshadowed by some other young pitchers (Harvey, Moore, Cole, etc.). Hopefully his league leading ERA will land him a spot in the 2013 All-Star game.

After getting Locke, I headed back over to the dugout with my friend David A. That's where we were able to get Travis Snider to sign some cards for us.

The next person to sign for us was former #2 overall pick, Pedro Alvarez. I really owe this one to David. Coming into the day, Alvarez was David's main target, so he went to his trademark move and yelled "Go Comodors!" to Alvarez as he walked into the dugout. For those of you that don't know and/or haven't figured it out yet, Alvarez went to Vanderbilt, and played baseball there until he was drafted by Pittsburgh. Well the combination of David yelling that as well as wearing a shirt that had "Vanderbilt" in bold letters across it got Alvarez to come over and sign for about five of us, and I was able to get him on a ROMLB across the sweetspot.

Finally, I was able to get Jason Grilli and Charlie Morton to sign a some cards for me at the conclusion of BP.

As for the game, well, the Angels sucked (again) and I decided to go to McDonald's with a few 
friends instead of watching the "star-studded" Angels get taken to work by Francisco Liriano. Depressing, but true.

When I got back the game was in the 8th inning, and once the Angels finally lost, I headed to the back in hopes of having better luck post-game than the night before. Within the first twenty minutes, things were already better, I was able to get Justin Wilson on my 2013 "Rookie Stars" card, which now has both his and Morris' autograph on it.

Soon after that, I was able to get the winning pitcher on the night, Francisco Liriano, to sign three cards for me.

And about ten minutes after that, I was able to get the 2010 #1 overall pick, Gerrit Cole, to sign a ROMLB across the sweetspot.

I was really excited to finally get Cole on a ROMLB. One of my friends picked me up a card signed by Cole after I missed him at this year's UCLA Alumni Game, however I really wanted a ball signed by him. So now I finally have one in my collection.

I figured that my night was all but over. I decided to take a quick walk by the Angels' parking lot in case some of the players had stuck around for the Big and Rich post-game concert, that had just ended a few minutes prior. I found my friend Laurie, who was standing by a hole in the bush next to another kid, and asked her if anyone was left. Right about then, Jason Vargas came out and walked to his car which was literally parked right in front of us. We told Jason that there were only three of us waiting, and sure enough, he came over and signed. Jason was kind enough to sign my ROMLB across the sweetspot.

Jason has been one of my favorite pitchers in the majors since his days with Seattle, when I found out how nice of a guy he was. Last year, I was able to get Jason on about 15 cards, but this was my first ball that I had ever gotten him to sign.

In the end it was a solid couple of days for me. While I did miss out on McCutchen, I was able to add plenty of new autographs into my collection, and that is always my goal whenever a National League team comes into town. A shout out to David A., Benson, Matt Crocker, Alex, Rob, Kyle, Joe, Laurie, David Park, Kyle M., and everybody else I ran into this series. Thanks for reading!

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