Monday, August 6, 2012

Chicago Cubs pregame@Petco Park 8/6/2012

After reading on a couple other blogs that the Cubs were pretty good about signing, I decided to head down to Petco Park today to try and see who I could get.  Needless to say, I was a little bit skeptical after being shut out by the Mets back on Friday, but the truth of the matter is you just never know what will happen on any given day.  My friend Lawrence and I went to our normal spot next to the Omni Hotel and we arrived a little earlier than usual this time, getting there at about 11:45.  As usual, the first members of the Cubs organization to arrive were the coaches, who all took cabs.  Dale Sveum, Dave McKay, and Jamie Quirk all signed for everyone who asked, which was only about three people for each.  I had nothing for any of them so I passed.  Pitching coach Chris Bosio went by unrecognized, and we never saw Pat Listach who I actually did bring a card for (it always helps to go through the list of broadcasters, coaches, and front office staff before trying to get signatures since there are often good players of the past that work for each team).

Over the course of the next 90 minutes, only about seven or eight players arrived at the ballpark.  Recent callups like Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson signed, but I had nothing for them either.  Anthony Rizzo arrived by cab and tried to sneak through a side door, but was recognized.  He only signed for one kid and refused everyone else in the group.  Various other players came through and either stiffed everyone or were not recognized in time to ask.  This is one problem when it comes to teams with young players; the hardest thing to do is to realize who a certain player is, then find the item you want them to sign be it a picture, card, or baseball, etc. 

At this point in time I was starting to have my doubts as to my luck being any good on the day.  However, the mere fact that players were arriving by foot or cab was a huge improvement over the entire team riding the bus like what happened with the Mets, so Lawrence and I stuck it out.  Besides, our three main targets were Starlin Castro, Alfonso Soriano, and Matt Garza, none of whom had been spotted yet.  Soon after getting discouraged, I noticed that Chris Volstad was walking down the street, and he is a hard guy to miss at 6' 8''. I asked him to sign my 2012 Topps card and he obliged...
Next, Darwin Barney got out of a cab and signed for the whole group of about 15 people, and not only did he sign for everyone, he signed everything they asked him to sign.  That means that some people had about ten cards signed by Darwin.  What the hell someone needs with ten Darwin Barney signed cards is beyond me, but here is the picture of the Topps card he signed for me...

The last card I got signed on the day was by the Cubs lone All-Star representative this season, Bryan LaHair.  He showed up in a taxi as well but what made recognizing him so difficult was the fact that he had a hat on, which players usually don't wear on the way to the game.  Thankfully, some of the other collectors spotted him and I was able to see what they had out for him to sign before I could find my card as well...

Finally, Soriano and Castro drove up in a cab together, but seeing everyone that was waiting they decided to have the cab driver go around to the back into the Padres player entrance.  We all hustled around to the other end of the ballpark, down to the cab as they drove up.   In a new twist that threw us all for a loop the taxi was actually permitted to drive into the player garage and out of the reach of pedestrians, which is something that was not allowed before.  Therefore, no one got either player despite the fact that neither is viewed as a "tough get".  This is just one example of this hobby being tough.  Right when you expect a player will be easy to get and they have a certain habit you can follow, it all gets mixed up.  It makes getting the star players more gratifying, because it has become a tough game.  More people are out there than ever before and the players are constantly coming up with new tricks to avoid having to walk next to the collectors. 
Finally, here is a nice tip.  Jered Weaver of the Angels is signing for free on Thursday at Silk in Pechanga.  The signing will take place between 7-9 PM, and I'd suggest getting there early enough to get in line as they usually only allow for a certain number of fans.  Free public signings are rare especially for a player of Weaver's caliber.  I am up in the air as to going or not....but if I do I will post in on here.

Thanks for reading (all four of you).

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