25 April 2010

Phillies vs. D'Backs 4/24/10

It's been far too long since my last post, but I've been busy lately, so thank you to my loyal fans for the wait! I've been trying to get in as much hiking as possible while the weather remains nice, before the 90+ temps come back for the summertime. I've taken a lot of pictures, which I intend to post soon, so look for that coming up shortly.

But this post, I figure I'll make about baseball. I went to my first game of the 2010 season at Chase Field yesterday for the Justin Upton 2009 All-Star Game Bobblehead Day against the Philadelphia Phillies - the defending two-time National League Champions. Because of the struggles of our offense and our bullpen, I expected something of a Phillies blowout, and was pleasantly surprised when the score was very close, decided by a ninth-inning Phillies home run.

I got to the ballpark at about 1:45pm, and was forced into parking in the garage since I had to detour around the 202 freeway because it was (for some idiotic reason) shut down again this weekend and I couldn't make it to my normal park-and-ride station. It was inconvenient for me because I had to spend an additional $12 on parking, but c'est la vie. All that meant was that I didn't get a hot dog and I didn't have to ride the light rail with a million other people after the game.

I bought my tickets using a voucher I obtained last year for two free bleacher seats to any 2010 home game excluding Opening Day (subject to availability blah blah) from a contest I won, and waited for the gates to open so I could get to batting practice in the very nice 78-degree weather and the sunshine. After about a million season ticket holders were allowed in before us, my line got through and I raced into left field to note a few fans spread throughout the bleachers, but plenty of open space. I made my way down to the wall about midway between the Diamondbacks' bullpen and the center field wall and put on my glove. The boys in Sedona Red were still hitting, and Chris Young didn't disappoint me, hitting a hard liner which bounced off the grass just in front of my position. I reached WAY down the wall and watched as the ball sailed straight into my glove. Woohoo! First ball of the season, about five minutes into my being there! I might also add that that ball was the first that I ever caught outright. I've gotten others from balls players have thrown to me, and one that was a foul ball that I scooped up off the dirt as it rolled to my seat, but this one was the first that I caught in the air straight off the bat.

Shortly thereafter, the stands began to quickly fill with other spectators hoping for baseballs (I had been at the very front of my line and thus got in sooner with relatively empty stands). I was shut out the rest of Diamondbacks BP and all through Phillies BP. Most of it I spent out in left field near relief pitcher David Herndon, who was having fun teasing the kids before throwing balls into the stands now and then. A group of Little Leaguers was also stationed out there, begging for a ball, but when Herndon didn't give them one right away, they began turning into little snotnosed brats. I know it's the Phillies and all, but when the kids start saying things like "I hate you," "I hope you die," and "Go to Hell," it's about time for the parents to come get the little monsters and go home. I felt bad for the poor relief pitcher, but in classy fashion, Herndon, before he went in, saved one final ball for the little kid standing near all of the others who had been quietly holding out his glove for 20 minutes in the hopes that he'd get one. David Herndon, rule five guy who in today's game had a tough outing, probably one of my new favorite relief pitchers.

Anyway, after BP, I wandered around the concourse, but because it was bobblehead day, I found it hard to get through some of the crowds, so I made my way back to my seat, grabbing a copy of Diamondbacks Insider magazine as I did so. I was reading through it and when I got to the middle pages, someone very intelligent on the Diamondbacks' staff had put a copy of an official scorecard in there! I love to score the games, and sometimes I don't being my big scorebook and pens and stats sheets and whatnot because, well, it's bulky and hard to lug around. This was phenomenal to have it right there, easily accessable, and not dependent on me going to guest services to ask for complementary scorecard and pencil.

I spend the game itself in my seat, scoring the game, and putting on my glove whenever a big righty came up to bat (Mark Reynolds, Justin Upton, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Chase Utley...) so as to be ready. You knew the game was going to be a weird one when the woman singing the National Anthem had to start over because she was singing the wrong verse (not the wrong words, mind you, just verse two when it was supposed to be rockets' red glares and all).

And the game didn't disappoint. Ian Kennedy allowed six baserunners over eight innings, sitting down 16 consecutive batters at one point (the end of the 2nd through the 7th innings). All the runs scored came on home runs - three solo shots by the Phillies, and two by Jayson Werth, and a two-run home run from Kelly Johnson, who's on FIRE to start the season!

Sadly, the game ended with a Werth home run in the ninth to make it 3-2, and the D'Backs could not answer in the bottom of the ninth against Madson. But overall, it was a good game, a fantastic pitchers' duel, and I can't wait to get to my next game!

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