March is almost over and spring has sprung. At least for most of the country. Here in Southern California we have not only been free of the Snowpocalypse that gripped the rest of the country, but have been suffering through abnormally high temperatures. I know, I know. Humble brag.
The onset of spring means only one thing…regular season baseball shall soon be upon us, and as this entry posts, the DBacks and Dodgers should have already kicked off the season with their first game “down under.” Crikey!
I have spent the past several weeks trying to plan out a pretty exciting year for me personally and, hopefully, for my readers as well. I’ll be taking you all to lots of new places and getting some great behind the scenes looks at things that not every baseball fan gets to see!
That all being said, here is what 2014 looks like for us here at “Tripping Baseballs.”
Our first major trip occurs in late April and just so happens to be to Wrigley Field, my favorite ballpark in the majors and home of my beloved Chicago Cubs. Not only will this be my very first trip to the Friendly Confines, but it will coincide with the game celebrating Weeghman Park…err Wrigley Field’s 100th Anniversary. To say that I’m elated is like saying that Westboro Baptist is slightly xenophobic. In addition to a few games at Wrigley, I will be headed deep into enemy territory when I travel to Miller Park and US Cellular Field, probably the 2 most Cub-hostile parks I have visited thus far. I also plan on doing a behind the scenes tour of Wrigley and taking an absolutely obscene amount of photos.
The next bit, I am legitimately excited about as well. During the offseason I sent messages to every minor league team in the state of California, asking if they would like me to come and cover their team/ballpark/fan experience. I was fortunate enough to hear back from 5 of the teams, thus far, and have been offered press passes to all 5. It makes me feel so legitimate! The teams that I will definitely be covering are the Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres), Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Dodgers, Bakersfield Blaze (Reds), Stockton Ports (A’s) and High Desert Mavericks (Mariners). These are all teams in the High-A California League and I look forward to getting an early look at some of the game’s future stars. In that same line of thought, I am also planning on going to see the Lancaster Jet Hawks (Astros), in order to see one of baseball’s fastest rising stars, in shortstop, Carlos Correa. If I’m lucky, I might even get to see top draft pick, Mark Appel. No word on where he’ll be pitching, but Lancaster seems to be the natural next stop for him. I also have tentative plans to see the IE 66’ers (Angels), but that is about as far as the planning for that has gone.
I will also be making at least 1, if not 2, trips to see the Fresno Grizzlies this summer. The first potential trip would be in June, as the Iowa Cubs come to town and it will be the closest to me that they travel. I have a great desire to see the Cubs future, namely, Javy Baez, in person.
The 2nd trip would be in early August and it would be to see the Grizzlies take on the Salt Lake Bees. This trip would not be to see any player in particular, but because the Grizzlies are hosting a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles night, with TMNT-themed jerseys. My 10 year old self would never forgive my 32 year old self if I missed it.
In addition, I plan to see the Cubs when they visit San Diego in late May and have a number of Angels games I plan to attend, as well. Sadly I didn’t get my mini-ticket plan this year, so there are no games set in stone, as far as that is concerned. There are also a few more tricks up my sleeve that I hope to be able to pull out in the upcoming weeks, just to keep things interesting in between my baseball adventures.
Hopefully this is exciting to you as it is to me, and you’ll join me throughout the 2014 season and beyond, as I continue tripping baseballs!
I hate the White Sox. I have hated them as long as I can remember, being a rational Cub fan. The two factors that most fueled my vitriol during the most recent years, Ozzie Guillen and AJ Pierzynski, are no longer with the team, and with that I am not blinded by the hatred that I once was for the boys from the South Side. I still canNOT stand Hawk Harrelson, but if an obnoxious broadcaster is the pinnacle of my dislike, things have calmed down considerably.
All that being said, I really wanted to go to the May 16th game against the Sox. Not so much for the game, per se, but for the Mark Trumbo bobble head that was the giveaway that night. I had found cheap tickets after some negotiation with ScoreBig.com and both Lauren and I would be off work in barely enough time to head over to the Big A for the game. Then, reality hit. Lauren was sick and had been invited to see an opening day showing of the new Star Trek movie, which interested her much more than the Angels game. I was now at an impasse.
I really wanted that bobble head, but I had never been to a baseball game solo before. I am actually very loathe to be solo in public, as I irrationally assume that everyone is staring at me and wondering, “Who is the weird guy with no friends?” My desire for the knick-knack that I have no need nor space for outweighed my social anxiety and I decided I was going to go it alone.
Lauren picked me up from work and brought my change of clothes so I wouldn’t have to drag a bag full of smelly work clothes into the ballpark and dropped me off, en route to her theater for the movie. Since I had paid for 2 tickets, I was certainly going to get both the bobble heads that I had paid for. I initially thought that to get both bobble heads I would need to engage in all sorts of trickery and enter initially through Gate A, exit Gate B, hide the swag and enter Gate C, all while changing shirts and using a fake mustache to avoid being recognized.
In reality, I walked up to the ticket scanner, told the woman that I had 2 tickets, that Lauren would not be joining me but that I did want her bobble head. She looked at me, asked if I was sure Lauren wasn’t coming and upon my assent, yelled for the distribution elves to give me 2. Painless, but not nearly as exciting as my imagined spy mission.
I made my way out to right field and found my seat in an empty row and sat down to begin my solo adventure. I had the row to myself for awhile, until the sorority girls came by. They added quite an interesting element to the game with all of their insightful comments, which included the statement that they weren’t going to boo at all, because “…that would be, like, really bad sportsmanship” and the need to share details about exactly how they wanted their future weddings and boyfriends to be. And, of course they were ignorant Disneyland passholders. With no other human being to talk to, I got to listen to this banter for the entire duration of the game. Yay, lucky me.
Meanwhile, on the field there was a baseball game. The Angels actually held the lead for a vast majority of the game supporting a fairly solid outing from Jerome Williams until the fantastic bullpen duo of Dane De La Rosa and Michael Kohn made an appearance in the 8th. De La Rosa gave up the tying run and Kohn decided that Jeff Keppinger, he of the .188 batting average, should get his first walk of the season. With the bases loaded. With a tie score.
This, sorority girls, is why you boo.
The Angels failed to mount a comeback against Jesse Crain and Addison Reed and, despite having Reed on my fantasy league team, I felt no joy.
My first solo game was a success and I had lots of friends ask me if I would do it again. Absolutely, I would. The only change is that I think I’d bring a small FM radio to listen to the game. I had my iPhone with the MLB AtBat app, where I could listen to the game, but there tends to be a bit of a delay there and I didn’t want to be listening to a game on a 30 second to 2 minute delay that was happening live in front of me. That’s how accidental time travel occurs and nobody wants that.
Until Next Time, Keep Tripping Baseballs.