Saturday, October 31, 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Many Mail Successes

I haven't posted in a while, and I haven't posted a mail success entry in an even longer time, so I figured I'd post one of all the stuff I got recently.

Giants Manager Bruce Bochy signed two cards.

 So did former Met Skip Lockwood.

Fellow former Met Randy Niemann signed 3. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Many Mets Games July-August 2015

I'm falling behind on blogging about Mets games, and for that I'm sorry. But I'm going to make up for all of that at once in this entry, as I didn't have any spectacular games. Hope you enjoy.

Dodgers @ Mets 7/23 
This game turned out to be a very interesting one. I didn't show up too early for BP, but I did show up in time to get an autograph. On the day Chris Heston threw a no-hitter at Citi Field, I got a ball tossed to me by Curtis Granderson. Now, I wanted him to sign the ball.

Before the game, as he usually does, Granderson warmed up then came over and signed minutes before the game was going to start. I found a good spot in the well-organized line and then waited for my chance to get down. After a couple minutes, I got down to the bottom and gave Granderson the ball and pen. I asked him to personalize it to me, which he did. I also told him he threw it to me the day of the no hitter, and he just nodded and said that was cool. Before I left, I got a quick selfie with him before meeting my friend to watch the game.

The game itself was a tough one to watch as a Mets fan. Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw started off strong. Through six innings, he had faced 18 batters and retired all 18. It was 2/3 of the way to a perfect game. Then, Granderson led off the seventh inning with a solid single to right, breaking all of the pent up tension at Citi Field. Kershaw dominated the rest of the way, allowing just three hits in a complete game shutout and 3-0 Dodgers win. After the game, I tried to get a ball from the home plate umpire, Ben May, and was thankfully successful.

Here is the ball, but stay tuned below for some more Mets game recaps.

Padres @ Mets 7/30
A week after that first game, I was back at Citi Field for a weekday day game between the Mets and Padres. I got to the stadium really early, and immediately noticed there was no batting practice. The Mets relief pitchers were warming up, and I wanted to see if I could get any of them to sign. I brought a ball that Granderson and Josh Edgin signed for me last year, and I wanted to add some signatures on it.

One of the first guys out of the dugout was Carlos Torres. A couple people near me asked him to sign, and he obliged. He signed the ball right under Graderson's signature from last year and took care of everyone before getting ready for the game. I met Torres in 2013, and he was very nice then as well.

The next guy out of the dugout was hard throwing reliever Hansel Robles, and he also came over and signed. I got him on the same ball right under Torres' signature. His signature isn't much, but it is what it is.

A couple minutes later, new Met Tyler Clippard emerged from the dugout. When he was walking to warm out, I yelled out and asked if he would sign when he was done. He replied that he would. True to his word, he came over a few minutes later after getting ready. I took the video below:

Clippard signed the ball and he also signed a Washington Nationals logo card that I had on me for a while. Here is the ball and the card:

After getting Clippard, none of the other Mets pitchers came over to sign. Before the game, I got Granderson to sign a photo of him on a magnet that I got in a Detroit Tigers fan pack many years ago. I think I'm finally out of stuff for him to sign, we'll see how that goes. The magnet is a little smaller than a regular baseball card.

During the game, I again watched with my friend and left in the top of the ninth inning when the game went into a rain delay. It wasn't pretty. I watched the top of the ninth at field level and the bottom of the ninth four hours later at home.

Rockies @ Mets 8/10 
At the next home stand, I went to the Monday night opener between the Mets and Colorado Rockies. I headed straight to the third base side to see what I could get from Colorado. Batting practice yielded little, but I saw a good chance when I was waiting by the dugout and saw Rockies reliever Tommy Kahnle walk into the little tunnel where I previously met Shawon Dunston. He is from the Albany area, and he was telling an usher to let his family members down to see him.

While he was waiting for his family to come down, he signed a blank autograph card for me. He didn't sign much, but he did get to see his family, which was a cool sight to see.

Before the game was going to start, I got in position to try and get the big target for the day, former Met Jose Reyes. I got Reyes to sign a ball and a card for me back in Citi Field's first year, and I hadn't gotten his autograph since. That changed on this night. I don't have many photos, but I just happened to be in the right spot and he signed a ball for me on the sweet spot. Here is a tweet I posted that describes what happened.
Notice why my tweet has so many retweets? That's because Reyes himself retweeted it to his more than 150,000 Twitter followers.  Here is a better photo of the signed ball.
The Mets won this game in dramatic fashion. That does it for this entry. Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Islanders Mini Camp 7/10/15

Recently, the Islanders held their annual Rookie Mini Camp at a local ice rink a few miles from my house. I didn't have to work on one day that the practice would be open to the public, so I figured I'd head out to the rink and see what I could get.

The Islanders prospects were divided into two groups of teams, and the first team was supposed to be on the ice at about noon. I got there a few minutes before the first team headed onto the ice. Here is a photo of the first group on the ice.

There wasn't much security, so people were free to roam around wherever they wanted. The whole atmosphere was very relaxed. Eventually, I saw Islanders assistant coach Doug Weight sitting in the stands watching the skate. I went up to him and got him to sign my yearbook from two season ago. I got Bridgeport head coach Brent Thompson and many other Islanders to sign that yearbook in the past year or two, so I figured I'd try and add some more autographs to it.  Weight also signed the blank Islanders logo sheet Bob Nystrom recently signed for me. You can see photos of all these autographs later in he entry. 

Another person that I easily found was current Islanders coach Jack Capuano. He was standing near Weight watching the practice. He also signed the yearbook for me and then I took a photo with him. If you look closely, you can see that Capuano is missing a toe on one of his feet. I really wish I knew how that happened. If you know why Jack Capuano is missing a toe, let me know in the comments. Here is the signed coaches part of the Islanders 2013-14 yearbook.

Another former player that I recognized was Ken Morrow. He was the first player ever to win Olympic Gold and the Stanley Cup in the same year. I've gotten autographs from him before. Click HERE to read about that. I approached him and asked him to sign the Islanders logo sheet and a blank puck, both of which he signed. He inscribed '1980 Gold' on the puck to commemorate the famous Miracle on Ice. I also took another photo with him. 
That was it for the former players, but it was a pretty good day to get the future Islanders as well. Nobody that was invited to the mini camp had played for the Islanders yet, so I was excited to see a lot of the new guys. While one squad was on the ice, the other team was just hanging out in the stands watching their teammates practice.

One player who I immediately recognized was one of the top prospects in the Islanders organization, Ryan Pulock. He is a defenseman who took a shot that was registered at 105 miles per hour at the Islanders scrimmage a couple days prior. He signed a puck and a roster sheet for me, then started signing for everybody that was there. I took a photo with him later. You can see the photos of the autographs later in this entry. I'm pretty sure that is Ryan Pilon photobombing in the background.

Pulock was the only person that I recognized that wasn't on the ice during the first practice session. Eventually, I saw a crowd form near one of the tunnels onto the ice. It was for one of the Islanders late round picks, Andong Song. He was the first Chinese born player ever selected in the NHL Draft. There was a Chinese camera crew following him around everywhere and the Islanders PR person wanted him to go back inside, but he signed my roster sheet before heading inside. I may have been on TV in China, I don't know. He signed his autograph in Chinese, and you can see that later in this entry.

After that, I figured out that the players would be leaving the rink through the lobby where I had originally entered, so me and a lot of the other people went out to the lobby while the other group was on the ice. As soon as I was in the lobby, I noticed someone signing for the people. I was told it was recent first round pick Anthony Beauvillier. He signed a team logo sheet and the roster sheet for me before taking a photo with me. He was friendly with everyone.

I have crazy luck when it comes to getting autographs. I had to go to the bathroom in the lobby, but I kept on telling myself that as soon as I left, the Islanders top prospect would walk out the door. Eventually, I couldn't hold off nature's call any longer. As I walked back into the lobby, I saw top prospect Josh Ho-Sang walking toward the crowd of people. I couldn't believe what was actually happening, so I rushed over to make sure I met him. He sat down on a couch and signed everything for everybody. I got him on the roster sheet and logo photo. He also signed the puck that Pulock previously signed for me. Here is that puck. Pulock's signature is on the top.

After that, I went back into the rink and watched the other group practice. After their practice, a bunch of people went into the tunnel that the players were leaving from. While there, Michael Dal Colle signed my logo photo, roster, and a puck for me. He was a nice guy, but I have to admit that his signature is absolutely awful. Take a look at the puck on the right for yourself.

While in the tunnel, young goalies Stephon Williams and Eamon McAdam signed the 2013-14 yearbook for me. They were the only players that signed the yearbook for me on that day.

Here is the logo photo sheet that I got signed by Ho-Sang, Beauvillier, and Dal Colle. 

Here is the roster sheet that I got signed by Ho-Sang, Pulock, Dal Colle, Beauvillier, Song, as well as Sebastian Collberg and Japanese star Yuri Terao

Song's signature is in the middle on the left side. Terao's is the one on the top right side. 

That's all for this entry. Thank you for reading and good luck graphing!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Steiner Sports Mets Signing 6/29/15

A couple weeks ago, I finally used my Steiner Sports gift cards that I have had for years.

They were hosting a signing with former Mets pitcher Jesse Orosco and current Mets outfielder Juan Lagares. To make this entry short and to the point, I won't get into all the specifics. I used up all my gift cards and paid less than $20 to meet both Lagares and Orosco.

After a long wait on line, Lagares signed a ball on the sweet spot for me and took a photo with me.

And Orosco signed a photo and took a photo with me.

It was a good signing, but I wouldn't have gone if I didn't have the gift cards.

That's it for what may be my shortest entry ever. Thanks for reading and good luck graphing!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Reds @ Mets 6/26/15 at Citi Field

I went to Citi Field for the Friday game of a weekend series between the Mets and the Cincinnati Reds last week. I didn't take as many photos as I usually take at the games, so I'll let the words do the talking for this one.

I got to Citi Field about a half hour before the gates opened and was fifth in line to get in after a guard added a new bag check station. Eventually, the gates opened right on time and I ran in as quickly as I could.

Instead of going to my spot down the third base line, I went straight to right field this time. The Reds have a lot of strong left handed hitters, so I figured I could try and catch some homers from them during batting practice.

As soon as I got to the front row in right field, a righty on the Mets laced a line drive that rolled to the base of the wall a few feet in front of me. Mets reliever Hansel Robles came over to pick up the ball. I asked him to throw it to me. He underhanded it to me from about 10 feet away. I made the underhanded catch in my glove. See the ball on the right. I was on the board not even 10 minutes after walking into the stadium. No more than five minutes after Robles threw me the ball, the Mets were off the field and BP was over.

That was it. The Reds didn't take batting practice, probably because they had a 13 inning game in Pittsburgh the night before and didn't get to New York until about 4 a.m. I don't know if that's when they got in, that is just my guess.

While waiting for anything to happen, I moved over to the usual spot down the third base line and waited for something to happen. First, I went over to Zack Hample and congratulated him on catching the ball Alex Rodriguez used for his 3,000th hit. Click HERE to read more about that.

Eventually, a few of the Reds pitchers came out to play catch. One player was putting loose baseballs that were lying on the field into a bag a few feet in front of me. I didn't know who it was, but I held my glove up to try and get his attention. Without even saying anything, the player tossed a ball to me. The ball is an old Bud Selig ball that was quite worn when I snagged it. I was told the player who threw it to me was injured pitcher Raisel Iglesias, but I don't know for sure.

A few minutes after I got the ball, I saw a Reds pitcher signing some autographs down the line. Before I could figure out who it was, I was running down to try and get his autograph. Since I didn't have much to get signed and I didn't know who the player was, I got the player to sign the ball I was just thrown, even though it was a pretty beat up ball. I was told the player was rookie pitcher Michael Lorenzen. Here is the signed ball.

For a while after getting Lorenzen's autograph, pretty much nothing happened. Then, shortly before the National Anthem, a few Reds players came over and started signing. Billy Hamilton was way too far away. But the one person within an arm's reach was Todd Frazier. He signed a clean ball for me, then I used my GoPro camera to take the below video. He signed for a bunch of people before the National Anthem was sung.

After the national anthem, the main target of the day walked in my direction. That would be Brandon Phillips. I got his autograph in 2013, but I wanted to try again because he is one of the best players in baseball. The video below shows everything that happened once he came over.
As you can see, he signed my card. He also messed with my GoPro, which was hilarious. When he touched the camera, I was actually bending down to pick up a pen that I dropped. Phillips is a great guy, and I'm happy I have the video to prove it. His birthday was a couple days after the video was shot, so that's why I told him happy early birthday.

After that, I just watched the game with my friend. It was a good one, as the Mets won in less than two and a half hours. Here are the autographs from Phillips and Frazier:

That's it for this entry. Thanks for reading and good luck graphing!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Giants @ Mets 6/9/15 at Citi Field

For the first time in many months, I was able to get to a baseball game in time for batting practice. You probably know what happened in this game already, but I'm obligated to share my tale anyway.

I found a good ticket deal online for the Tuesday game between the Mets and Giants, and my friend an I decided to go and meet at the game. I got to Citi Field at about 4:40 and was first in line at the Jackie Robinson Rotunda when the gates were going to open. My friend arrived a few minutes later, and we were in a good spot when the gates opened.

Now, I didn't have a regular ticket stub for this game, nor did I have a print at home ticket. I had an e-ticket, which I accessed from Passbook on my iPhone. As I got to the gate, I showed the ticket taker my ticket and a small type of ticket-type paper was printed out of a machine and handed to me. It says on the paper that it's not a ticket, but it's used as a ticket because people figured out that e-tickets can be altered to show many possible seats. I'll call it a receipt. On the right is what I got when I entered the stadium. If you notice the time, it says 5:10:17 PM, which is just seconds after the gates opened.

After fumbling to put the receipt in my pocket and grab my glove, I raced toward the third base side of the field in foul territory. I was one of the first ones to get there while the Mets were still taking BP, and as I was grabbing something from my bag, I heard the crack of Anthony Recker's bat. He sent a line drive foul ball into the empty seats a section behind me. I raced up the stairs and saw the ball rolling down from row to row in the middle of the row of seats. After picking the right row, the ball rolled right into my waiting glove a moment before another guy stuck his hand out to try and make the snag. On the left is a photo I took of the ball from the approximate spot I snagged it.

The rest of batting practice was pretty boring. The Mets left the field soon after that and during the Giants portion, Joaquin Arias threw a ball toward me, but it sailed a couple feet over my glove. That was pretty much it. I was getting ready to head back toward my seats on the first base side when I noticed a person in a Giants uniform standing in the tunnel near the Giants dugout. The same tunnel where I got baseballs from umpires last season.

Once I walked over to the tunnel, I was told that it was former big leaguer Shawon Dunston. He played 17 years in the major leagues for six different teams. He was an All-Star twice and was a pretty good shortstop. He briefly played for the Mets and finished his playing career with the Giants in a 2002 World Series loss. I went over to him and asked him to sign a blank Giants history card I had on me, and he was happy to sign it. He works in the Giants front office, and he was letting fans try on his World Series ring from last year. I didn't get to try it. Here is a video I took of him signing autographs.

After taking that video, I went toward where my seat was on the first base side and met up with my friend. We wanted to meet Curtis Granderson once again. I met him a couple times last season, and I think my argument is justified when I say he is the nicest player in the league. He usually signs right after the national anthem, so I headed over toward the spot he usually signs from. After the national anthem, he high-fived all the pitchers going to the bullpen, then walked over and signed. My friend and I were at a good place in line and I'll let the video below describe everything else.

My friend Larry was very happy to see the video. As you can see, Granderson signed two cards for me then shook my hand. Nice guy. If you're keeping track, Grandreson has now signed six cards for me over the last year. I have no more cars for him to sign, so if I want to meet him again I may need to get something creative for him to sign. Here are the cards:

After that, we ate food and went back to our seats and watched the game. In the top of the first inning, Giants leadoff hitter Nori Aoki bounced an infield single to open the game against Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard. A that time, I said something to my friend that I wouldn't say again the rest of the night.

"Well, there goes the no-hitter," I told him jokingly.

Giants rookie Chris Heston was mowing down the Mets one after the other. On a team that includes Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson, and Tim Lincecum, Chris Heston was the last person I expected to do anything noteworthy. In fact, I'd never even heard of him before I looked up who the starting pitchers for the game were. If you're wondering, here is the view from my seat. It was down the right field line in foul territory.

In the fourth inning, the Giants loaded the bases with two outs and gave Heston a chance to help himself, which he did. 

So the game went on and as the game went on, the tension grew. The Giants were able to build a lead and in about the fifth inning, people started to figure out what could be going on. Heston was mowing down the Mets and would have been in position for a perfect game if not for a couple pitches that hit Mets batters in the fourth inning.

In about the sixth inning, I can honestly say I started rooting for Heston. I was at Shea Stadium in 2007 when John Maine had his no-hit bid broken up by a Paul Hoover infield single. I wanted to see history, even if it was at the expense of the Mets.

Throughout the game, I was wearing my glove like I always do. Right fielders Curtis Granderson and Justin Maxwell were always warming up in from of me, and I tried unsuccessfully for the first few innings to try and get a ball from them. However, once the Mets made a pitching change in the seventh inning, I got my opportunity.

Granderson was having a catch with bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello as the new relief pitcher warmed up. I went down to the front row to try and get Granderson's attention. When they were done playing catch, Granderson saw me in the crowd. He ran over and lobbed an underhanded toss in my direction. I reached my glove out and made the easy one handed catch without anybody else really knowing what's going on. Here's a photo I took of the ball with Granderson in the background.

After getting the ball from Granderson, the game only got more intense. People were rooting for the Mets to get a hit, and others were rooting for history. The Mets kept hitting weak ground outs and couldn't do anything. When Heston came to bat in the top of the ninth inning, he got a standing ovation. In the bottom of the ninth inning, most of everybody at Citi Field came to their feet.

Finally, it was time to do or die for Heston. With all the built up tension, Heston's first pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning nailed Anthony Recker, the third batter Heston hit on the night. The next batter, Danny Muno, struck out looking. Granderson followed Muno by striking out looking as well. That left Ruben Tejada as the last out between Heston and history. In the middle of that at bat, I took the photo below of the scoreboard. It is off-center and missing part of the board, but it captures the essence of what was happening.

Tejada worked the count to 2-2, and the videos below will show the moment when Chris Heston marked his name in baseball's history book. The video below is my view and call of the last out. 

Below is the call of both sets of radio and TV announcers.

Heston's no hitter was the fourth no-hitter for the Giants in as many seasons. They have now had no hitters in each of the last four seasons. The no-hitter was the 288th in Major League Baseball history. That amounts to about 1-2 per season. With 2,430 games played during the regular season, the odds of seeing a no-hitter are about 0.0008 percent. That is an 8 in 10,000 percent. Going to a no-hitter is on everyone's baseball bucket list, and I can now cross that off mine.

When I checked online for pictures the next day, I saw myself in the background. I'd like to call myself a freckle in the face of history. I circled myself in the photos below. Thank you, yellow shirt. You may need to click on them and zoom in to get a better shot of me.
USA Today

That is all for this entry. It will be hard to top this game. Thank you for reading!