Monday, May 27, 2013

Another Memorable Memorial Day: Dodgers vs Angels Game 5-27-13

Memorial Day is a day to celebrate our military and our veterans who once served our country. It also marks a memorable day of graphing as well. Last year I was able to get Derek Jeter's autograph at Angel Stadium so I was hoping for some similar type of luck today by attending the Dodgers vs Angels game at Dodger Stadium.

To commemorate Memorial Day the players were wearing camo hats and camo lettering and numbering on their jerseys today. I took a few photos of Kershaw, Capuano and Ryu warming up.

Ronald Belisario was sitting by the outfield signing for fans. I didn't have anything for him so I didn't get his autograph today. There wasn't much signing going on today during Dodger BP.

Benson and I decided to get in line for the autograph corral in aisle 27. Then we noticed that Josh Hamilton was signing near the Angels dugout so we walked over there to get Josh's autograph instead. We should have headed straight over there as we later on found out that Josh handed out four pairs of batting gloves and signed them for fans. Josh was literally signing for about 15 minutes for everyone. This reminded me of the Josh Hamilton press conference where he literally signed for everyone. Josh belongs in the HOF of graphing as he is one of the most fan friendly superstars in the game. Josh ended up signing my 2011 Rawlings World Series ball for me.

As soon as I got the autograph from Josh I got a text from my friend Alex that Beto Duran the reporter for ESPN Radio in Los Angeles posted a picture of me getting Josh's autograph on his twitter page along with his instagram page.

I swear it's insane how fast information travels nowadays through social media. I can't hide from all the graphers anymore.

It was already a nice start to the day.

Afterwards Albert Pujols began to sign over the dugout after BP. Thus me, Benson and Rob headed over to the dugout to get Albert's autograph. Albert signed down the line until someone threw a baseball out of turn. Rob and I were in line to be the next ones to get his auto and as you know it Albert stopped signing. This was a bummer since Albert was in a good mood and was giving out his medium quality signature and not the crappy APS he gives out at Angel Stadium. He even signed under the MLB logo for some of the fans. What sucks is that the guys who threw the baseball out of turn to him ended up getting Albert's autograph and we didn't. It sucks being the polite grapher who follows the proper rules for graphing yet gets screwed over all the time. This reminded me of the day I missed out on Prince Fielder. I was a bit fumed after this happened but I was happy for my buddy Josh who finally got Albert's autograph. No more black cloud for you Josh.

I needed a moment to cool down a bit. I wanted to get Mike Trout's autograph to end my Trout drought of two years so I decided to wait until he was finished stretching after the national anthem.

Finally the drought was over. Mike signed a handful of autographs today I was lucky enough to get his autograph on my jersey. I finally got my jersey signed which completely made up for the miss on Pujols. This exemplifies the emotional highs and lows of this insane hobby we call graphing.

I took a photo of Trout running back to the dugout after signing my jersey for me.

Getting Mike Trout's autograph capped another memorable Memorial Day of graphing for me at the stadium.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dodgers vs Cardinals Game 5-25-13

It was good to be back home and to graph in Southern California again. I decided to spend the beginning of Memorial Day weekend by going to the Dodgers vs Cardinals game. Today was Jaime Jarrin Bobblehead night.

As soon as I entered the stadium I noticed that Hyun-Jin Ryu was warming up near the outfield playing toss. I asked him in Korean to toss me the baseball after he was done warming up and sure enough he tossed me the baseball after he was finished warming up.

Hopefully I can get this baseball signed one day. That already made my day getting a baseball from Ryu.

The first Dodger to sign for me was Carl Crawford who signed initially near the bullpen. There was a huge mob trying to get his autograph. What was extremely frustrating about the ordeal were the newbie graphers. As soon as you get an auto the proper graphing etiquette is to move out of the way so other fans can get a chance to get the autograph. These newbie graphers at the stadium are totally rude and simply wouldn't budge. Carl ended up getting frustrated so he ran off towards the dugout to sign for the fans near aisle 27. I ended up having to chase after him to get my baseball signed. As soon as Carl picked up my baseball I asked him to sign on the sweetspot but sadly he already began signing on the side panel. Carl even paused after writing the letter C after he heard me asking for the sweetspot. It looked like he felt bad about it so I just told him it was cool and to proceed signing. I guess an autograph is an autograph but still it always looks better on the sweetspot. Now I have to get Carl's autograph one day in the future in a less chaotic setting so I can get a proper signature on the SS. It was still cool to finally add Carl's autograph to my collection.

The next player to sign was Ramon Hernandez who signed near the bullpen. It was nice to finally add his autograph to my collection as well. He was nice enough to sign all six cards I had for him.

Afterwards I headed towards the autograph corral. For some reason there were more fans than the norm but I guess it was due to the fact it was bobblehead night. Since it was an afternoon game the ushers let us enter the Cardinals side early today. Thus I decided to take my chances and headed toward the Cardinals dugout skipping the autograph corral completely. That proved to be somewhat of a mistake as I later found out that Kemp, Ethier, Greinke, and Kershaw signed at the autograph corral. I still need Kershaw's autograph on my jersey so that was a bit disappointing to hear that he signed today.

Luckily though I didn't strike out. Thanks to David A. who called over Adam Wainwright and asked Adam to sign since he promised he would sign for him yesterday, Adam summoned us over to the VIP field level seats to sign some autographs for us. Adam actually kept his promise to Dave. Adam was nice like always and signed my ROMLB on the SS.

That was pretty much it for graphing. Although my totals were low today it was nice to add three new autographs to my collection.

Miami Marlins vs Philadelphia Phillies Game 5-21-13

Last week I visited Florida for the first time for my sisters' graduation. I decided to check out Marlins Park  since I was in town and my ultimate goal is to visit every single MLB stadium. I had high hopes considering the fact that it was a weekday game and it was a Marlins home game so I expected no competition for graphing. My goal was to get Ryne Sandberg's autograph.

I decided to go to Marlins Park early hoping to check out the entire stadium and so I could take a bunch of touristy pictures. When I arrived I found out from security that they open the stadium 1.5 hours before the game starts. I felt that it was not fan friendly and the Marlins are the last team that should be acting like this since they need fans desperately. Cutting BP short by half an hour cuts into graphing/ballhawking time and it totally makes no sense since most stadiums let you in 2 hours before the game. That was the first bad sign of things to come.

Marlins Park looks like a spaceship from the exterior.

I took a few shots of the Clevelander as well and noticed that the Marlins were finishing up BP.

As soon as the gates opened I went over to the Phillies dugout and took a few pictures. The Phillies were already in the middle of BP.  At any other stadium you would have been able to see the tail end of the home team finishing up BP but the management of the Marlins don't care about their fans. They dump all of their talented players through trades which is why nobody shows up to their games.

The way the stadium is configured is terrible for graphing. For one thing the VIP field level section extends into the outfield so unless you have a ticket you can't get autographs after the pitchers are finished warming up. For a stadium without any fans they are strict on who can go down these VIP areas. Thus if you don't have a ticket you are screwed. You are only allowed to hang out above the dugout but they kick you out 30 minutes before the game starts. That basically means you have 1 hour to graph and ballhawk.

The most frustrating part of of the day was that there weren't any graphers and there weren't any fans yet I couldn't graph due to the setup and also the fact that the Phillies were all allergic to the pen today. There were only five graphers today who were all out of towners like me. Each and every Phillies player and coach ignored all of our autograph requests. The only player who signed were Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins but they only signed for fans who were on the field who had field passes. The rich get richer. When we tried calling Ryan and Jimmy over they completely ignored us. Most importantly even Ryne Sandberg ignored us and didn't even look in our direction as he was entering the dugout.

Soon afterwards we got kicked out of the dugout seats. I took a photo as soon as this happened to show how empty the stadium was. Why would you kick fans out when no fans even show up to these games? Check out how empty the seats are over the dugout. The picture below is literally 10 minutes before the game started.

I thought I was going to strike out completely. It was extremely frustrating. I decided to go out to the outfield seats to hopefully get an autograph after the players were finished stretching right before the national anthem. The player who saved the day and prevented a shutout was Ben Revere. He initially signed for the fans in the VIP field level area but I called him over and told him we cannot go down there. Thus he ran over to the outfield area out of his way to sign three cards for me. Ben Revere is my new hero.

As soon as BP ended I took some more photos of how empty this stadium is. It's pathetic if you ask me but then again Jeff Loria messed up the team so I don't blame the fans not showing up.

Since I wasn't interested in actually watching the game I decided to roam around the entire stadium. I wanted to check out the famed Bobblehead Museum. Again that was another epic disappointment. When I read that they had a museum I thought the Marlins had a room full of bobbleheads on display. Boy was I wrong. It was a small display case filled with bobbleheads. Some of the bobbleheads on display were not even SGA bobbleheads but instead were those generic ones you can buy in stores. They had a lot of bobbleheads on display but they didn't have every single SGA bobblehead.

The picture above shows you what I am talking about. The bottom row is filled with the Minor League Baseball Legends Bobblehead series you can buy at a store. These were never given out as stadium giveaways. Thus I felt the entire collection was a bit diluted.

The stadium itself was nice and clean and they had wide walkways so you didn't have to bump into each other. It was more spacious than any other stadium I have ever been in but my impression can be skewed in some sense since the entire stadium was empty. It was also unique that it was a domed stadium so the weather had no role in the outcome of the game.

Overall my impression of the stadium was a bit disappointing since ownership can make this stadium a fan friendly experience but they are not doing anything about it. They have great facility which isn't being put to good use. If they want fans back the Marlins need to put a better product on the field by signing better talent, open up the stadium to the fans 2 hours before the game starts, lower parking fees (Parking was $15 aka Frank McCourt Fees), and they should let people hang out near the dugout and the field area before the game starts so that fans can have a chance to get an autograph or two and maybe a baseball as well.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Angels vs White Sox Post Game Graphing 5-16-13

Tonight was Mark Trumbo Bobblehead Night and since I couldn't make it out to the game my friend Benson picked up a Trumbo bobblehead for me. Thanks again Benson.

Unfortunately this was the one and only game I would be graphing the White Sox post game this season since I had to fly out to Miami the next day.

Surprisingly Robin Ventura walked out before all of the players walked out. Robin signed a photo for me and my friend Freddie helped me get a card signed as well.

Next up was Jake Peavy and Adam Dunn who walked out together. Jake just like last year wasn't in the mood to sign but he broke down and told everyone to walk with him toward his car and agreed to sign a few. Luckily I was finally able to get my photo signed which I couldn't get signed last year.

Afterwards I was able to get Adam Dunn to sign a card for me.

Last but not least Addison Reed, another one of my all time favorite players walked out with his family. Addison is the best when it comes to signing and is always nice to the fans. I hope he makes the all star team this year.

Ervin Santana Signed Game Issued Jersey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have to thank a couple of people in helping me get this project completed. The first person I need to thank is my friend Benson who picked up the Ervin Santana Game Issued jersey for me at the Angels memorabilia sale at the stadium a few weeks ago. I literally slept on that sale and should have been there since they sold a ton of great game jerseys. Luckily Benson was able to get the home version of the jersey signed and I was able to get the road version of the jersey signed at the final game of the Royals vs Angels series. Thanks again for picking up the jersey for me Benson. The second person I need to thank is my buddy Alex G. who offered to get the jersey signed for me since I couldn't make it to the game. Alex didn't even ask for compensation and just wanted to help me out so I really want to thank him again for hooking me up. The photo above is courtesy of Alex G who took a photo of Ervin signing the jersey. Last but not least I need to thank by buddy Kyle who pretty much set up the autograph session inside the stadium. Kyle sets the table up for us graphers when it comes to getting autographs from players he does paintings for and over the years has helped us acquire a lot of autographs just by hanging out with him. It's always great to have good friends in the graphing community.