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!