Monday, August 26, 2013

Fedorin Cup Hockey Game: 8/24/13

On Saturday, August 24th, The Rinks at Anaheim hosted the sixteenth annual Fedorin Cup charity hockey game supporting the Athletic Sports Fund of America. I had never attended any of the previous Fedorin Cup games before, but knew that autographs would be easy due to the accessibility at The Rinks. The only down side was the limited amount of information that was released by both the event staff and the Anaheim Ducks, so I practically showed up not knowing what or who to expect.

I arrived at The Rinks around 3:30, with the puck scheduled to drop at 4:15. I quickly grabbed some tickets, which were $20 as apposed to the $15 advertised online, and headed inside. I was able to find a spot down on the front row and had to keep a sharp eye out for any NHL players. The only people that were confirmed to play were Luca Sbisa, Sean Pronger, Todd Marchant, and George Parros, who ended up being a no show. There was also some rumors that Teemu Selanne would be playing in the game, but it was not mentioned on the event's website. 

Around 4:00 the players began to take the ice for warm-ups. I quickly noticed current Ducks Emerson Etem and Bryan Allen, as well as top prospect Hampus Lindholm. Finally, the "Finnish Flash" came out of the locker room and took the ice, which was a major sense of relief for me.

I didn't bother asking for any autographs during the game and/or between periods, as I figured that I'd get my chance at things post-game. I did, however, notice a few fans sneak down to ice level and get Etem, Selanne, and Sbisa just before the third period begun.

The game itself was a lot of fun to watch. There were a lot of minor-league hockey players, as well as a few cancer survivors who were picked to play in the game. It ended up being a scoring contest as the game was tied at thirteen until Selanne eventually won the game for team USA in the shootout. You could tell that all of the players were having a blast, which made it even more fun for the fans to watch.

Right after Selanne won it, I headed down to ice level where there was a small crowd waiting for autographs. The first player to sign was Hampus Lindholm, but unfortunately, I only had three pucks and was planning on saving them for Etem, Sbisa, and Selanne. Right after he finished up signing, Sbisa came over and took his place. Luca is always a great signer and ended up knocking out every single autograph request. I ended up getting him on an Anaheim Ducks game puck. 

As Sbisa was signing, Emerson Etem walked by and went straight into the locker room. He eventually came back out to sign a few jerseys for the charity to auction off, but to my surprise, he ignored everyone again. That was a major disappointment since he was one of my main goals for the day.

Last but not least, Teemu Selanne came over and began signing for fans. Teemu is simply the nicest guy you will ever meet. It's really amazing how much time he takes for his fans, especially since he is one of the game's all-time greats. Of course, a lot of fans came over once Teemu began signing, and Selanne signed for every one of them. Finally, I was able to get my new Ducks 20th Anniversary puck signed.

When I made it back up the stairs, I had time to take a few photographs of Selanne signing. Like I said, he knocked out every single person, probably at least 70 people. 


Overall it was a great event put on by the ASFA and Anaheim Ducks, and much worth the $20. A big thanks to Teemu Selanne and Luca Sbisa for taking the time to sign. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Angels vs. Indians: 8/19 & 8/20

The Cleveland Indians came into town for a three game series this past week. I had some great luck with the Indians at Spring Training earlier this year, so I was hoping that my luck would carry over into the first two games that I attended at Angel Stadium.

Game One (8/19/13):

After running by a local card shop earlier in the morning, I made it to Angel Stadium around noon and met up with a few friends. To my surprise, there were a lot of graphers for the Indians. Usually, the team doesn't draw a ton of fans and/or graphers to the park, but obviously today was different.

Anyways, I got my first autograph within twenty minutes as Scott Kazmir and Mike Aviles drove in a car together. Kazmir was kind enough to stop and sign, but nobody asked Aviles, which surprised me, so I just wished him good luck which he seemed to appreciate. Back to Kazmir, he ended up signing for all of the graphers waiting and I was able to get my 2008 All-Star baseball signed.

It's tough to tell in the photo, but the ball is actually slightly scuffed on the lower part of the logo, and also, there is a bit of a crease in the leather. I called the company that I ordered the ball from about a week ago and they told me just to keep the baseball, and they would send me another ball in better condition for free, thus making this a perfect ball for one for Kazmir, who actually was the winning pitcher in the 08 All-Star Game, in a whopping fifteen innings.

Shortly after Kazmir, Nick Swisher pulled up in his Range Rover and also stopped to sign. I handed Swish a 2009 New Yankee Stadium ball and asked him to sign it underneath the logo. You could tell that he wanted to but he apologized saying that he couldn't due to his contact with Steiner. He then asked if I wanted the ball back which I thought was very nice since most players would just flip the ball and sign it wherever. I told Nick that it was fine and asked him to still sign it, which he of course did.

Finally, Marc Rzepczynski got dropped of be his wife and signed. I was the only person that immediately recognized Marc and he was kind enough to sign a pair of cards for me.

After Rzepczynski, things took a turn for the worse which meant that I would have to try my luck at BP and hope for the best. Luckily, right as I got down behind the dugout Terry Francona began signing some autographs and I was finally able to get my 2007 World Series baseball signed.

I was thrilled to get Francona, especially since he was known to be tough with the Red Sox and as a broadcaster for ESPN. As you may recall, I got Francona four times at Spring Training, so I guess it just takes a move to Cleveland to really humble a guy.

The same went for Sandy Alomar Jr, who is also a tough autograph to get. I've only gotten Sandy once before and have not seen him sign since, so I was shocked to see him come over and sign at least 30 or so autographs over the dugout. I was able to get my 1989 Topps card signed by the former ROY.

The last person to sign at BP was Justin Masterson, who is literally the best when it comes to signing. Masterson ended up signing for 23 minutes after batting practice, and was signing up to ten cards for people. After a while I was able to get down to him and get my 2013 All-Star baseball signed. Justin was even kind enough to add the inscription "1st ASG" without me even asking, which was a very nice touch.

Post-game was just as bad as the game itself. Even though the Indians ended up winning, almost nobody signed, in fact the only two guys to stop were Yan Gomes, who I had nothing for, and Drew Stubbs, who broke down after a few people creepishly followed him into the parking lot. In the end, I was able to get former one-armed pitcher, Jim Abbott, who was in attendance. Abbott left the game around the eighth inning, and luckily I was able to spot him as he left. As usual, he was very kind and was nice enough to sign a ROMLB across the sweet spot and even included the "No-Hitter 9-4-93" inscription.

Game Two (8/20/13):

This was my last game for the summer and I was hoping to go out with a bang. For those of you who are interested, I will still be graphing even when school starts back up, just maybe a bit less hardcore. Thankfully, most of the baseball season is over, and the only team left who are notable are the Rays, who come in for a four game series next week. Besides Tampa, only the Rangers, Mariners, and Athletics remain, all of which I've graphed multiple times this season.

I decided to arrive to the ballpark once again around noon in hopes of getting a few more autographs. I heard rumors that the day prior, Asdrubal Cabrera, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Jason Giambi had all come in different entrances, so I was hoping to get maybe two of the three before BP. 

After a while of failed attempts, I decided to head over to the Angels side for a bit. There, I was able to get Jerome Williams to sign a pair of cards for me, officially putting me on the board.

I try my best not to take advantage of Jerome Williams' kindness. He literally signs everyday and I see people buying lots of 18 cards on Ebay just because they know they can get them all signed. I was once like that, but after a while I began realizing how stupid it is, because lets face it, who needs 18 of the same Jerome Williams cards? I try not to be a "hater" on this blog but I felt that it was necessary to put that out there.

After Jerome, the one and only Mike Trout came in. My friend Moe had printed out some 18x20 photos of his two kids with Trout, so when Mike saw this, he immediately came over to sign. I was able to get a 2013 All-Star ball signed underneath the logo by Trout.

Getting Trout made my day already worth it. At that point I decided to head back over to the Indians' side, where I noticed only a few graphers. Within a few minutes, Nick Swisher came up and signed. This time I was able to get Swish on a 2013 Bowman card.

I then made my way over to the entrance where Jason Giambi had been rumored to have entered the day prior. I have gotten Giambi on a ton of items in the past, so getting him wasn't a huge priority to me, but I was very happy when I saw Jason walk up and begin signing. He was kind enough to sign my 2004 All-Star baseball underneath the logo for me.

The final guy to sign pre-game was Joe Smith, who didn't seem very pleased to have been recognized. None the less, he stopped and quickly signed one card for me and my friend Tyler.

Afterwards, me and Tyler worked out a trade for a Michael Choice and a Cody Buckel signed card, so I guess these were officially my last autographs pre-game. Thanks again Tyler.

When the gates opened I once again made my way down to the Indians dugout. By the time I got down I noticed Chris Perez and Ubaldo Jimenez both standing around just outside of the dugout. While the other graphers got Jimenez's attention, I called over Perez, who was kind enough to sign three cards for me.

The I took a few steps to my right and got Ubaldo Jimenez to sign a 2010 All-Star baseball.

I was actually really excited to get Ubaldo despite his horrible signature. 2010 was the first ever All-Star game that I attended (I went in 2011 too and hopefully 2014 in Minnesota) and he was the starting pitcher for the National League that season, so it is kind of a personal autograph for me.

A few minutes later, both Michael Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera began signing. Both guys completely ignored everybody the day prior, so I was happy to get a card signed by each of them.

After that, Drew Stubbs began signing. Stubbs was one of the few Indians that I did not get at spring training, so I was happy to get my 2011 Allen and Ginter card signed.

Finally, Justin Masterson and Lonnie Chisenhall began signing after BP. Masterson once again signed for at least 15 minutes, while Lonnie only signed for a handful of people. Luckily, I was able to get them both.

The game ended up being a fourteen inning affair and didn't end until after midnight. To be honest, the only reason I stuck around was to help my friend Spencer, who drove down to try and get Giambi and Swisher on his Yankees plaque. I am happy to say that Spencer did get both players on the plaque, however I did not get one person, as Michael Bourn, the only guy that I really wanted, denied me one on one. After that I decided to go home and get whatever sleep I could.

A big shout out to Kyle, David A, David Park, Benson, Alex G, Rob, Josh, Greg, Crocker, Jeremy, Joe, Tyler, Ryan, Spencer, Lori, Mike, Scotty, Ken Jr, Kyle M, Moe, Robert, Alex Cala, and everybody else that I was able to graph with this summer. I have one more post coming up in a bit, but it has nothing to do with baseball and/or the people mentioned above. You have all made this a great summer that I certainly won't forget. Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Angels vs. Astros: 8/16 & 8/17

I know I'm a bit behind with this post, but I've had to do a lot of crap with school starting up around the corner, so my apologizes for getting this up so late. Anyways, the Houston Astros came into town for the final time in 2013. While the Astros aren't a team that appeals to a lot of graphers, I was looking forward to this series due to the call-up of Jarred Cosart, a prospect in which I've been following for years, and also to see Brandon Barnes for the first time since he hit for the cycle in July, so I made the trip down to Angel Stadium for the first two games of the three game set.

Game One (8/16/13):

The day got off to a rather terrible start. Seeing as if the Astros aren't a team with a lot of studs in the first place, I was still shocked by how dead things were. I was literally the only grapher going for the Astros pre-game and as a result I was only able to get Brandon Barnes, who signed a 2013 Astros A.L. Inaugural Season ball under the logo for me. He was also kind enough to add "Cycle 7/19/13" on the ball as well.

While I didn't spend five hours for a Brandon Barnes baseball, I was still excited to be able to see him and talk with Brandon a bit. He is one of the few major leaguers who actually "recognize" me to an extent, partially because we have mutual friends.

After grabbing a quick bite to eat, I made it back to the stadium just before the gates opened and hustled over to the Astros side where I was shut out for the first thirty minutes or so. It wasn't too long after that when a couple of other graphers got Phillip Humber to come over and sign. Humber was kind enough to sign a pair of cards for me.

I contemplated dropping a ball on Humber and asking him for the "perfect game" inscription, but quickly decided not to as I realized his career stats are horrible aside from that one game.

After getting Humber, I made my way towards the Astros dugout in time for the last group to finish up hitting. My goal was to get Jarred Cosart who had promised that he'd sign earlier in the day. Sure enough, as Cosart was jogging in I was able to get his attention and was able to get my ROMLB signed across the sweetspot by the club's #3 prospect.

You never know what prospects may turn out to be, and it is for that reason why I have no problem dropping a ball on a top 50 or so prospect. The worse thing that could happen is you have a $15 ball signed by a sub-par player, and I'm sure you can get your money back if you're that desperate. Heck, I even see Brandon Wood signed baseballs going for more than $15 on Ebay.

The final person I was able to get before the game was former major league pitcher, Dennis Martinez. Martinez was doing a paid signing the next day, so I figured my odds would be slim being that he isn't the easiest autograph to get in the first place. Luckily, he was in a good mood today and ended up signing for about 30 people by the bullpen in left field, and I was able to get my original 1995 World Series baseball signed by "El Presidente".

I then watched Mike Trout sign a few autographs and headed up to my seats. It was flashback weekend for the Angels, and Friday was 80's night, so I found it rather entertaining to watch the Angels try and put together some 80's themed stuff. I honestly don't know why they didn't just devote the entire week to the flashback theme, especially since they could use basically all of the club's past jerseys instead of just two (1960's and 80's). Either way, flashback weekend meant that there would be a post-game concert and fireworks show, so we were allowed to wait inside the stadium for autographs instead of being kicked out like usual. Unfortunately, most of the Astros that came out were recent call-ups, and the only guy that I needed was Brett Wallace, who was kind enough to sign a pair of cards for me.

That concluded things for a rather long day one.

Game Two (8/17/13):

My plan for the day was to attend the free C.J. Wilson signing in the morning, then make my way to Angel Stadium in hopes of getting a few Angels and Troy Percival, who was doing a signing in the parking lot later in the afternoon. Sadly, things didn't go according to plan and I ended up making to Angel Stadium in time to get Jason Vargas, who kindly signed my 2013 Gypsy Queen card.

I was disappointed to say the least, but I still knew that I had Troy Percival to rely on, so around 3:45 I made my way over to the CarMax tent where the event was taking place and got a spot in line with the signing scheduled to start about 15 minutes later.

I'd say I was about 25 people back, but the line moved gracefully. Percy was basically signing anything and everything you got, putting any inscription, taking photos, and talking baseball, so basically it was a 45 minute wait until I got up to him. When I did though, it was much worth it. I first gave Percival my 1996 All-Star game ball and asked him to inscribe "First All-Star Game". He asked me where I found such an old ball in such good shape and I gave him an honest answer, the internet. He laughed and then proceeded to sign the baseball.

I then handed him my 8x10 photo, which I bought earlier from my friend Larry. I was tempted to ask Percival to put "Angels All-Time Saves Leader" on it, but decided not to push it. Looking back, he probably would have done it no problem, but I'm still very happy with the way it came out.

By the time I got Percival, BP was nearly over. So I decided to skip graphing the Astros and instead enjoy the game, something most graphers rarely do for some reason. A big thanks to CarMax and Troy Percival for putting on the signing mentioned above, and a shout out to Joe, Rob, Scotty, Jim, and everybody else that actually decided to graph the Astros. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Brian Wilson Rehab with Rancho Cucamonga Quakes: 8/7/13

Former Giants closer and World Series champion Brian Wilson was scheduled to play in a rehab assignment for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes this past week. I was under the impression that Wilson would be with the Quakes for at least a week, until he is eligible to come of the disabled list, but either way, I decided to Rancho to hopefully be one of the first to get him.

When I got to the stadium, there were about ten graphers waiting. Thankfully, I picked a good time to get there, and before having to wait too long, Brian rolled up in his Mercedes Benz and began signing. 

Brian's first words were "Oh, so you're all my new fans now?". I told him that I've been a fan of him and his beard for quite a while, and that I drove up to San Francisco a few times to see him and the Giants play. He smiled and said "So you're a classic fan". Brian was really cool and signed for all of people waiting, even cracking a few jokes in the process. He was kind enough to sign my ROMLB across the sweetspot.

I was about the third person that he signed for, and after putting the number "38" on the baseball, he went "Oh yeah, that's not my number anymore". When another grapher asked him what his new number was, he replied "I don't know, double-zero?". The grapher ended up asking him to put that on his mini helmet and indeed he did. In the process, my mother was also able to get a 2011 All-Star baseball signed as well, which does not have any number on it.

Finally, I decided to go back and get my Dodgers team ball signed. I realize that it was a risk since he hasn't actually played on the Dodgers yet, but if he does, it'll be a really cool autograph to have on the ball.

There are only about five open spots left on it, and I'm hoping that it'll be completed by the end of the season.

I decided not to stay for the game despite rumors that Magic Johnson might be attending the game. In the end, Magic did not turn up for the game. Meanwhile, I looked on Twitter and found out that Brian Wilson was done in Rancho, and was moving on to AAA, which surprised a lot of people, so it turned out to be a great idea of going and getting him while I could. Hopefully Brian and his beard will once again be feared by major league hitters like it was during the Giants World Series run back in 2010. Thanks for reading!

Angels vs. Rangers: 8/5 & 8/6

The Texas Rangers came into town for the second of three series in Anaheim to face their AL West rival, the Angels. I'm always excited any time Texas comes into town, as most of their big names (Beltre, Nathan, etc., etc.) always seem to sign a good amount of autographs each series. In fact, I think the only guy on the team that I haven't gotten is Yu Darvish, who for some reason seems to sign everywhere but Anaheim.So I was able to make it down to Angel Stadium for the first two games of the three game series.

Game One (8/5/13):

Game one of the series turned out to be a major bust (for me at least). To start things off, there were at least twenty people waiting pre-game, which almost surely meant that few, if any, Rangers were going to stop and sign. Sure enough, that was the case, and I was able to salvage one David Murphy signed card, who signed for everyone as usual.

Batting practice was also a bust for the most part. I was able to get Elvis Andrus thanks to some connections, but I'm currently in the process of trading it to a friend, so I didn't bother taking a photo. I also missed out on Matt Garza, who apparently signed down the line while I was waiting near the dugout. I was, however, able to get the "Dutch Oven", otherwise known as Derek Holland. Derek was cool as usual and signed for a ton of fans before and after BP, he also stuck to his usual of strictly one item per person.

Finally, Adrian Beltre signed after pre-game stretches. I'd say Adrian signed at least 15-20 autos, but for some reason he kept avoiding my baseball. At the time, I was frustrated due to the way my day had been going, but I made up for it by getting a second chance at Beltre the next day.

Meanwhile, I caught up with my friend Kyle, who was able to score big today by getting to go down on the field as part of a contest for charity that he won. I won't say exactly what he got, but I will tell you to check out his Instagram page (linked above) to see more. I will also tell you that he was one of two people to get Rod Carew on the day, so in the end, he had one of the better days all season.

Post game was so bad that I'm barely going to waist a minute on it. Let's put it like this, Beltre signed for five people, I didn't get him, we were yelled at by Leonys Martin when we took one step towards him and Jurickson Profar, A.J. Pierzynski signed in the front, but I was in the back (of course), and Joe Nathan came out around midnight, after all but one grapher had left. On to day number two.

Game Two (8/6/13):

My plan for the day was simple, sleep in, get to the stadium later than usual (when Beltre and Nathan usually come in) and hope to do better than I did on the first day. Luckily, my day went exactly according to plan, and I was able to get my first autograph of the day from Adrian Beltre, who kindly signed by Rawling Gold Glove baseball across the sweetspot.

I was really surprised that there were only six of us when Beltre signed, compared to the crazy amount of people that were waiting on the day prior. I guess a lot of people took Monday off and had to go back to work on Tuesday, but either way, it was better for me. The next person to sign was David Murphy, who once again rolled up in a cab and signed. I don't usually ask the same player for an autograph twice during a series, but I made an exception as only one other person asked David for an autograph. 

Later that night, I realized that the photo in the 2013 Topps Archives card above is the same exact photo that they used in the 2013 Topps Heritage card, which I got signed yesterday. Here's a side-by-side photo for proof.

Anyways, it was about 3:00 o'clock and the other five graphers slowly started to leave, which meant that I was the only grapher there waiting for Joe Nathan. This turned out to be a savior for me as Joe came in a major hurry, and probably wouldn't of stopped if there were more than just one person there. He was kind enough to sign my 2013 All-Star baseball under the logo.

I decided to skip BP for the first time in a while and instead went back home and did some necessary things. It's amazing how much more you can get done around the house in five hours compared to at a baseball stadium. It turned out to be a great idea, as when I came back for post-game, I heard that just a handful of players signed, all of which I had from prior games.

When I got back for post-game I was again surprised by how small the crowd was, which again was better for me and the other six or seven graphers waiting. The first person to walk out and sign was recent call up, Engel Beltre (not related to Adrian). I was the only person to approach Engel and he was kind enough to sign a pair of cards.

Next out was Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar. This was a major surprise as none of us expected to see either of the two walk out the front. Everybody automatically assumed that Profar wasn't going to signed, so while the other six graphers went after Andrus, I went up to Profar, one on one. To my surprise, he actually grabbed my card and signed it, unfortunately, as he handed it back, it smudged, but I was still thrilled to finally get the #1 prospect in baseball.

Profar ended up signing for one more little kid, then denied everyone else, so it was definitely a good decision on my part, especially since Andrus gave out his rare, short signature to everyone.

The last person to walk out was A.J. Pierzynski. A.J. is one of the more hated players around baseball (and especially in Anaheim) for his cocky attitude. I, however, like him, and besides that play back in 2005, I have nothing against him as a fan of baseball. A.J. was kind enough to sign my ROMLB across the sweetspot.

That concluded a very successful day and series for me. A big shout out to Kyle, Benson, Daniel, Ryan, and everybody else that I saw out there. Thanks for reading!