Results tagged ‘ FUN ’
After nearly seven months, I’m finally attending another baseball game.
Later today, I’m heading out to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP), in Durham, North Carolina, where the visiting Gwinnett Braves are set to take on the defending International League Champion Bulls in game three of a four-game series. With the teams having split the series so far through two games, it’s sure to be an exciting game.
The thing I’m most excited about, besides the game itself, is seeing the DBAP for the first time since it underwent a multimillion dollar renovation this past offseason, which involved putting in new lights, new seats, a new playing surface, in addition to changing just about everything you can think of. Anything that helps make the fan experience better I always approve of.
Now, if you’ve followed my blog for awhile, you know the DBAP is one of the two local minor league ballparks — Five County Stadium, home of the Carolina Mudcats, being the other — that I frequent throughout each baseball season. Though I always enjoy a good baseball game, generally, I only go out to see a game when a good amount of prospects are set to be there, or if an MLB player is playing in a rehab game. Otherwise, I’m content to merely reading the box score each night.
As many of you are aware, within the past couple of seasons, I’ve developed a big passion for going out to games and getting autographs from the games’ most promising young players who are on their way up, and that’s the main reason I’m heading over to the ballpark tonight. Not living near any MLB teams, it’s truly my only chance to get autographs from what will likely be future MLB stars down the road, and Gwinnett certainly has plenty of them, with Christian Bethancourt, Tommy La Stella and Cody Martin, among others.
However, they’re not alone.
The Bulls definitely hold their own when it comes to roster construction. While this year’s roster doesn’t compare to the one they had last season, which saw Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi and Chris Archer as part of the Opening Day roster, their lineup and pitching for this year is set to be good yet again. From Enny Romero to Nathan Karns, and many inbetween, the Bulls stand a good chance of repeating as Champions, and as such, there are numerous players I want to snag an autograph from at some point this year.
But the Braves are the team I’m going for tonight. I’m not going to be trying for any autographs from the Bulls players this time around due to the fact that I can always get them in a few weeks, as opposed to a team that may not return with the same players next time. I learned that lesson last year with Wil Myers. In taking three games to finally get Myers, I missed my chance to get the top opposing teams’ players. I won’t let that happen this time around.
The way I’m viewing the schedules right now, it’s likely that I’ll be going out to Durham often this first month, with possibly no trips to see the Mudcats until May. The Mudcats simply aren’t that great of a team, and the teams that are going to be visiting aren’t that fantastic either. But it’s just the opposite for the Bulls, as every team they’re playing against throughout April has some really good players on it that I hope to get autos from. Though, it’s likely that I won’t be blogging about any of it, unless things happen to change.
But that’s just the very beginning of what looks to be a great autographing season.
From May through the end of the season, both the Mudcats and Bulls are taking on loaded teams, making it difficult to decide when I want to head out to the ballpark and see certain players in person, though that’s a good problem to have.
More significant than that, however, the DBAP is hosting the 2014 Triple-A Home Run Derby and All-Star game in mid July, which will bring in numerous top prospects from the Pacific Coast League which usually never comes closer than Memphis. I truly can’t wait until then, as it’s a can’t miss experience that I’ll absolutely be blogging about.
From the exciting Bulls games to kick off the season, to the remaining strong schedules between both the Mudcats and the Bulls, and the All-Star events thrown in there as well, everything combined altogether, it’s sure to be an unforgettable season.
We’ve had the Opening Series, held down in Australia on March 22nd and 23rd; we’ve had Opening Night, held down in San Diego last night; and now, after so much anticipation leading up to the year, we’re set for Opening Day — an unofficial holiday for millions of baseball fans around the country. This is the day we’ve all been waiting for, ever since the final out of the World Series was recorded in October of last year.
Thirteen total games are on tab for today, with the Yankees, Astros, Dodgers and Padres being the only teams not in action. The games will take place all throughout the day, from 1:05 Eastern, with the Pirates taking on the Cubs, to the Mariners going up against the Angels, at 10:05, making the entire day exciting.
Not only is Opening Day fun because of the official start of the 162-game baseball regular season, but it also stands out as one of the few times you ever see every single teams pitching ace on the mound around the country. Every team starts from zero, with hopes of making the postseason (some with better odds than others) and putting your best pitcher on the mound is a great way to kick off the year on a high note; knowing that things may not look too good towards the end of the year.
With so many changes this past offseason, this could be one of the most intriguing Opening Days in years. While teams and players have had over a month of Spring Training games to show off their potential, those games are basically meaningless. You never know how individual players, and teams as a whole, will fare for the entire length of a season. That’s what makes a given season so entertaining — the unknown factor.
So, make it a point today — if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably planning to anyhow — to sit back and watch a least a little baseball at some point. With every game played from here on out taking teams closer and closer to the World Series in October, there’s nothing quite like Opening Day baseball.
Normally, I don’t blog about college baseball games that I attend. They simply don’t have the same talent level that comes with a Major League Baseball game — or even a minor league game, for that matter — and it’s not usually worth writing about. But the NC State versus Notre Dame game that my dad and I went to on Saturday was a bit different.
First of all, the projected number one overall 2014 draft pick, Carlos Rodon, was scheduled to make the start for State, and with his previous track record — going 10-3 with a 2.99 ERA last season — Rodon certainly goes a long way in making this year’s NC State team something special. But Rodon isn’t the only standout on the team.
In addition, Trea Turner, who’s predicted to be a top ten pick in the upcoming draft, adds excitement to each and every game, none more so than with his above average speed. With both Rodon and Turner, this year’s State team is a must see.
Which is why I found myself out at the ballpark on Saturday afternoon. I wanted to witness it all for myself before they both leave following this season.
While Carlos Rodon is usually NC State’s Friday starter, as most college aces are, a rainout on Friday forced the game to be made up as part of a double header with visiting Notre Dame on Saturday, with Rodon pitching game one:
Although he hadn’t started off the year too well, going 1-2, I was optimistic that Rodon would turn things around in his first warm start of the season.
And for the most part, I was right.
Rodon appeared to be locked in out of the gate, as he gave up just one hit, and struck out two (one of which was Craig Biggio’s son, Cavan Biggio) through the first two innings. In the third, however, Rodon lost a bit of his composure, allowing three hits, but impressed me with his ability to keep things from getting too out of hand, allowing only one run.
But while Rodon had a great start to the game, he didn’t receive any run support, as State failed to get a man across the plate through the first four innings, due to the equally strong start from Notre Dame’s Sean Fitzgerald. But Fitzgerald finally struggled enough in the fifth to allow a single run, bringing the score to 1-1.
At that point in time, I made my way around from the third base side to the first base side, which is where I spent the rest of the game, just so I could get a glimpse from a different angle of Carlos Rodon . . . . :
. . . . and Trea Turner:
When I first found my way over to that side of the ballpark, I heard of a rumor that Craig Biggio was actually in attendance to watch his son play. But since I never actually saw him, I can’t say for sure that it was true. But I digress. Back to the game.
Both pitchers continued to do well until the sixth, when each allowed two runs to the opposing squad, raising the score to 3 runs apiece. Fitzgerald was replaced after the sixth, but Rodon was left in, which would turn out to be huge for State.
Recording what would be the game winning hit in the eighth, State’s Jake Armstrong proved to be the difference maker, as he singled in Bubby Riley and Trea Turner, whose speed likely aided in his ability to score, making it 5-3, State.
Rodon finished out the game a bit shaky, allowing two hits in the ninth, but promptly got a game ending double play to lock up the fifth complete game of his career:
Rodon received the win, bringing his win-loss record up to 2-2, to go along with a 2.40 ERA on the season, striking out seven and allowing 10 scattered hits on 121 pitches. My overall impression was that Rodon was good, but not overly fantastic in this particular game, but that’s not meant to take anything away from Rodon. He’s a great pitcher, and will undoubtedly be a star in the majors at some point down the road (as will Trea Turner, who went 1-4 on the day).
As you may have inferred, I didn’t try for any autographs at this game as I usually do every time I go to a baseball game, but that’s simply because I’m going to be seeing NC State again next month, when they take on UNC at the newly renovated Durham Bulls Athletic Park on April 15th. Rodon isn’t scheduled to pitch, so I’m hopeful I’ll be able to get him to sign for me, along with Trea Turner. But either way, it’s sure to be a fun time, as always.
The day at the ballpark started out exactly as it had the night before. With me down by the railing in hopes of getting some more autographs:
While I was standing there attempting to get some autographs, a player for the Greenjackets named Edward Concepcion, came out wearing a pink Hello Kitty backpack:
It turns out it was his punishment for giving up a home run the night before. (I bet he won’t give up a home run next time.)
As far as my wish of getting more autographs today, it would come true, as the players seemed to be in an autograph giving mood. (The eleven run win last night must of cheered them up, I guess.) Whatever the reason, my first autograph of the day came from Rett Varner. Here he is signing for a kid before he came over to sign my program:
When all was said and done I had gotten 10 autographs BEFORE the game, including another autograph from Noah Perio:
I was thrilled with the number of players that signed.
I almost forgot to mention that today was bingo day at the ballpark. Here’s my bingo card:
How it worked is that for every play that was made when a Grasshopper player was at bat, it corresponded to a space in bingo. For example, if the first baseman singled, it would be I-23. If he doubled, it would be G-57. You get the idea.
In case you didn’t notice in the photo above of my bingo card, I wasn’t sitting in the same spot as the previous night’s game. That was because it was SO hot. The seats my grandparent’s and I sat in for this game were at the top, in the shade.
Here’s the view from those seats, of the first pitch of the ballgame:
It was a great view from these seats, of the entire field.
Like all ball teams, the Grasshoppers had a set of bat boys that would retrieve the bats and balls throughout the game. But, during one inning of the game, they were allowed to take a break, as a dog brought baseballs to the umpire:
And retrieved the bats:
I have to say that the dog did almost as good a job as the bat boys. The bat boys better pick it up, or they might lose their jobs to the dog.
This game, unlike last night’s, was a close one. The seventh inning had the Grasshoppers losing 5-3. But the Grasshoppers weren’t the only ones losing, as the last bingo number was called, and I wasn’t even close:
Things got a little heated when a Greenjacket hit a called home run that appeared to be foul. Take a look:
Andy Haines, the manager, is the person wearing number 19.
To cool things off, there was a water ballon toss inbetween the eighth and ninth innings:
By the time the bottom of the ninth rolled around the Grasshoppers were down 3 runs, as the score was 8 to 5.
The hoppers began to rally back however as they got a few good hits, including a double:
The bases soon became loaded.
Later in the inning one player for the Grasshoppers became so frustrated, after flying out in foul territory, that he slammed his bat down causing it to break in half:
The Grasshoppers would score no more runs, as the final score was 8 to 5.
Upset by the loss, hardly any of the Grasshoppers signed. The ones that did, didn’t sign for me.
I did however get an autograph from Mr. Hello Kitty backpack guy, Edward Concepcion:
Before leaving the ballpark, I witnessed the player that broke his bat, give it away to a little kid. The kid was extremely thrilled.
I had a great time at the ballpark both games, and got 15 autographs total. What more could you ask for?
My grandparent’s and I arrived to the ballpark at around 6:00. The gates where just being opened, and I wanted to be one of the first people inside so that I would have the best chance of getting some autographs.
So imediately after my ticket was scanned, I headed down to the railing next to the tunnel in which every player, from both teams, has to walk through, to get to the dugouts from the locker room.
There were three players that I wanted to get autographs from the most. They were: Christian Yelich (top ten prospect for the Florida Marlins), Marcell Ozuma (top ten prospect for the Florida Marlins), and Brett Bochy (son of San Fransisco Giant’s manager, Bruce Bochy).
I saw all three of them as they came through the tunnel, but was only successful in getting one of their autographs. It came from Christian Yelich:
I took another picture of a player in the on deck circle later in that inning. It was of Christian Yelich:
Notice the railing directly next to me. I picked to sit in this spot due to the fact that it was next to the tunnel in which the players enter and exit. This way, I wouldn’t have to run down to the tunnel after the game.
Out in right field foul ground, there is a hill, in which anyone that has a ticket to the game can go and sit/stand on:Curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to leave my seat for a few minutes to go watch the game from the hill. This was my view:
I was a little nervous during the time I spent on the hill. It’s very easy for lefties to pull a ball and send it zipping towards the hill. I wasn’t wearing a glove, and didn’t want to end up with a sore hand, so I stood towards the back of the hill.
I took this time at the back of the hill to photograph the outfield wall. Take a look:
It’s hard to tell, but behind the right field wall there is a gap where fans can stand. If a home run is hit to that area it is fairly easy to get the ball. Keep that in mind, as it will come into play later.
After around 10 minutes on the hill I headed back to my assigned seat. To my surprise there was a large cockroach in the tunnel next to me. No, not a real one. But a man in a cockroach outfit:
Did you notice the blue boxing gloves he had on? (They’re kind of blurred because he was moving his hands all around.) The kid in the tunnel, as you can see, also had boxing gloves. It turns out the cockroach and the kid where going to fight it out on the field inbetween innings:
That photo was taken in the bottom of the eigth inning, and that’s how things ended.
A complete blowout by the Grasshoppers.
Remember earlier in the entry when I told you to keep in mind that if a home run was hit over the right field wall it was fairly easy to catch? Well, a player for the Grasshoppers name Noah Perio, hit two home runs over the right field fence during the game. One of the home run balls ended up in the possesion of a guy, who after the game came over to try to get Noah to sign the ball. Here’s the conversation that went down between the guy and Noah:
Random guy: “Noah, this is one of the two home runs balls that you hit tonight. Will you sign it for me?”
Noah: “Hold on a second, and I’ll go get you another ball and sign that one.”
Random guy: “I’d rather you sign the home run ball.”
Noah: “Are you sure?”
Random guy: “Yes.”
So the guy handed the ball to Noah to sign. But there was a slight problem. The guy didn’t have anything for Noah to sign it with. So the guy glanced over at me and said, “Hey. Could I borrow your sharpie?”
I wanted to tell him that if he was stupid enough to not bring anything for a player to sign with, that he didn’t deserve the autograph at all. But being the kind, generous person I am, I smiled and said, “Sure.”
The guy was happy, and after seeing that it was MY sharpie that the man borrowed, Noah gladly signed my program. So I was happy too.
I later got the manager of the grasshoppers, Andy Haines, to sign my program. Here’s Andy’s and Noah’s augtographs on the cover:
Andy’s is the one that you can read, and Noah’s, well, I’m not really sure what his says. Looks like a bunch of random lines to me. But hey, getting an autograph from a guy on THE night he hits two home runs is pretty cool. So I can’t complain.
After getting the autographs from Noah and Andy, my grandparents and I made our way towards the exit.
We would be back at 11:30 the next morning……
The day started out with my Dad, Grandpa, and I heading toward downtown Raleigh, NC:
I realize that College baseball can seem like little league compared to Major League baseball, but the game wasn’t the real reason over 2,500 people were planned to attend today. The real reason was that Garner, NC’s own Scotty McCreery was going to be there throwing out the first pitch as part of his hometown visit video for American Idol. (If you watch American Idol, you know who and what I’m talking about.) But more on that a little later. First there had to be a game. And well. It wasn’t looking too promising. Take a look below:
In case you couldn’t tell, that’s rain on the windshield. (And that’s my dad’s arm, in case you were wondering.) The rain quickly stopped, however, by the time we found a place to park. But then the sky got dark and it started to pour:
By the time it was all said and done we had been sitting in the car for an hour and a half. Once the rain let up at around 6:30 we decided to get out and go take our seats in the ballpark.
But just down from the gate we were going to enter there was a HUGE limo. So with time to kill we decided to go down to see what was going on. We knew the limo was for Scotty McCreery. And the American Idol symbol on the side was a giveaway:
It turns out the game was canceled and Scotty was in the process of changing clothes and was then going to come out and greet his fans. I hated that the game was canceled, but I’ll take the chance to be on T.V. over seeing a COLLEGE baseball game any day. Sure enough about ten minutes later Scotty came out with a camera crew. Watch my video below to see how it all went down:
Sorry about the lady’s hair half way through the video. People were bumping into me. But anyway, it was cool to see Scotty McCreery up close. Watch American Idol tomorrow night(May 18th) to see Scotty McCreery. Even if you’ve never watched Idol before, watch it tomorrow so you can see him.
I’ll leave you with two final pictures of Scotty/Limo pictures:
I told you a lot of people showed up to see Scotty.
In other news, I’m still planning on posting a two week long version of my top 5 player updates. WordPress is VERY different than Movable type pro, and I’m just now starting to understand how it works. So bare with me if the blog looks messed up right now. I’m going to rearrange things and add things, so hopefully it will ALL be back to normal soon…….