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!

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