April 2012

April 3rd Indians vs. Mudcats Game

Yesterday’s game between the Cleveland Indians and the Carolina Mudcats was by no means one for the ages but it was however an exciting day for people like myself from the area that don’t get to see Major League teams that often. Living in the middle of nowhere, in terms of MLB, I have two choices: Drive 250 miles to see the Nationals, or drive 300 miles to see the Braves. Neither is a trip I can take too often, so this was a must attend game.

I arrived at the ballpark at 11:00. The gates weren’t due to open until 11:30 for the 2:00 game but as stated in my last blog entry I wanted to arrive early to give myself a good chance of getting autographs from Major League players. (Even with it being the Indians, and not a team like the Yankees.)

After getting my ticket scanned at 11:30 on the dot, I made my way towards the Cleveland Indians field house. You can’t get all the way to it due to a fence, but since the players have to walk RIGHT past you to get to the field, it’s fairly easy to get autos. As a matter of fact, it was easier than I thought it would be.

Autograph one of the day came from Travis Hafner:

While he signed for nearly everyone, he didn’t seem to be in the best of moods.

My next three autographs came within a five minute span, coming from Vinnie Pestano, Josh Tomlin and Sandy Alomar Jr. Sandy Alomar was the exact oposite of Hafner, as instead of acting like signing autographs was a pain, he spent the time cracking jokes, as he signed for everyone:

The next auto came from Indians manager Manny Acta, who was also fairly friendly, and signed for everyone:

Then things slowed down, in terms of players willing to sign autographs. Plenty of players continued to come by, but they didn’t stop to sign for the fans. It was during this time slot that the coolest thing of the day happened. I was standing against the fence watching for players to come by when I heard a guy behind me say “excuse me”. I was fully expecting to find a random person behind me when I turned around but to my surprise I found myself staring at a well dressed guy, with long brown hair. If you follow baseball at all, then you probably already know who it was. Yes, it was Indians closer Chris Perez. Awesome!

Perez had a line of players following behind him, including Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson and a few other players that I didn’t recognize. To be THAT close to MLB players was extremely cool.

As Jimenez walked by a fan asked if he’d sign autographs, to which he replied “I don’t feel like it, man”. I found myself thinking that was the end of that. I hadn’t expected Jimenez to sign, so his response was no shock to me.

Here’s a picture of the players shortly after they had walked by:

They entered and exited the field house within five minutes, coming out in their uni’s:

None of them signed as they walked by. They were “in a hurry”, as they put it. But I suppose they did have somewhere to go. Although none of them were going to play today, they warmed up anyhow:

I don’t know if you noticed him in the above photo, but Ubaldo Jimenez was one of the players who was warming up:

After about 10 minutes of throwing, stretching and running, the players left the field. To my surprise, three guys stopped to sign autographs. The first being Chris Perez:

Followed by Ubaldo Jimenez, who drew a large crowd:

With the third player to stop and sign being Asdrubal Cabrera:

Shortly before I left for my seat, Carlos Santana stopped to sign, but only for around three people. As did Shin Soo-Choo. After they quit signing, I made my way to my seat. Here was the view of the Indians team just before gametime:

I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about the game itself. (If you can call it a game.) The Indians, as expected, dominated the Single-A Mudcats, with the final score being 13-0. Here are just a few of the pictures I took during the game itself:

Travis Hafner.

Carlos Santana.

Jason Kipnis.

Half of the starters were removed from the game in the third inning with the second half coming out in the fourth. Lou Marson replaced Santana, after he was removed in the fourth:

As I stated, the game wasn’t THAT exciting. I left my seat and headed back over to try for more autgraphs after the game. What I saw made me laugh out loud. I’ll show the picture first, and then I’ll explain, in case you can’t tell what it is:

It’s kind of hard to see, but the Indians players that had left the game early were sitting at picnic tables chowing down on food served on paper plates. Don’t ask me why I find that funny. I just do.

Anyway, I was only able to get one more autograph after the game. It came from Chad Huffman, who gave also away his hat and batting gloves to a couple of little kids.

Here’s a recap of the 14 autographs that I got at the game:

1. Bruce Fields

2. Chris Perez

3. Jeanmar Gomez

4. Chad Huffman

1. Vinnie Pestano

2. Sandy Alomar Jr.

3. Aaron Cunningham

1. Travis Hafner

2. Ubaldo Jimenez

3. Asdrubal Cabrera1. Dan Wheeler

2. Josh Tomlin

3. Jack Hannahan Manny Acta signed the sweet spot.

All in all I had a great time at the game. As I said earlier, this isn’t the type of game that happens often. I’m planning on attending another Mudcat’s game on Friday. It’s the first real game of the season for them. I’m also going to a Durham Bulls game on Saturday. I’m not planning on blogging about either of those games however. The next game I blog about will more than likely be the June 23rd game in Cincinnati between the Reds and the Twins.

My Upcoming Week of Baseball

It’s officially that time of year again. The calendar reads April 1st which means the MLB regular season is just days away, and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ve got a busy week of baseball games coming up, so I thought I’d type up a brief overview of my schedule for the coming week.

Five County Stadium. Home of the Carolina Mudcats.

My first game of the year is Tuesday, April 3rd. It’s an exhibition game between the Cleveland Indians and my local minor league team, the Carolina Mudcats. Game time is set for 2 o’clock, but with gates set to open at 11:30, I’m planning on arriving at 11:15. While it might seem crazy to some of you that I’m showing up nearly 3 hours early, I feel that showing up early is half the fun. If you ask me, being one of the first through the gates is the only way to go. I’ll never understand the people that show up in the third inning and leave in the seventh. Why even come at all?!

Part of the reason I’m showing up as early as I am is to go for autographs. I’m not a big autograph collector, but I don’t plan on passing up the opportunity to get autos from some of today’s up and coming stars like Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, etc. Living nearly 300 miles from the nearest MLB stadium, this is a MUST attend game for me. It’s not that often that a Major League team “comes to me”.

Game two of the week comes three days later, on Friday April 6th. It’s another Mudcat’s game. (Opening night to be specific.) I wouldn’t be attending this game under normal circumstances, but when I bought my ticket the the Cleveland Indians exhibition game I received a FREE ticket to Opening Night. So I mean, why not? It’s a baseball game after all! Even if it is against a team in the White Sox organization, baseball is baseball. (There is a chance of rain that day however, so hopefully they’ll be able to get it in.)

The game I’m probably looking forward to the most is game three of the week. That game sees the Durham Bulls taking on the visiting Gwinnett Braves. There are tons of future Atlanta Braves stars on the team including newly acquired Joey Terdoslavich, who made the jump from Class A advanced ball to Triple A. Terdoslavich is more than likely going to take over for Chipper Jones at third base once Jones retires, so it’s pretty neat to get to see him play.

That’s pretty much it. Three games, five teams, and two stadiums, all within a five day span. Pretty exciting stuff, in my opinion. I’m pumped!!

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