Saturday, April 12, 2014

Detroit Tigers @ Petco Park 4/11/14

In the first Padres home weekend series of the recently begun MLB season, the match up was versus a team rarely seen in San Diego; The Detroit Tigers.  Since this is a team that rarely visits San Diego, and having never had the chance to try and get autographs from the team before, my friend Lawrence and I decided to attend the game.  It was a Friday afternoon, so obviously traffic slowed our plans.  We had intended to get to the ballpark as early as possible to try and see who we could get during Tiger's batting practice.  We still made it in time to watch BP, but the ballpark was pretty packed.  Here is a picture of the chaos;
Only one two members of the Tigers signed during the entire course of BP, someone named Collins and Omar Vizquel.  I would have used a ball on Vizquel, but he only signed for about five or six people so by the time I got near him he was gone.  It was a big miss overall, but knowing that no one signed while you are there is better than not knowing who may have signed if you missed it.  Lawrence and I decided to walk around the ballpark and get something to eat.  It's always a great feeling when you attend your first game of a new season, even if it is the Padres you are there to root for.  Here are a couple photos I snapped of the our walk...

Pay particular attention to the second photo, as unbeknownst to me at the time of taking this picture, this is the Hilton Hotel and the hotel the Tigers were staying at.  Most teams stay at the Omni which is connected to Petco Park by a bridge that players frequently use to avoid walking through the throng of memorabilia seeking goobers like myself.  I have alluded to this situation in a previous blog post.  The picture of the hotel is taken one from the terraces in the ballpark.  Back to the ballpark stroll.  Petco Park is a beautiful ballpark.  They have made subtle little changes to it in the ten years it has been open and it remains a gorgeous destination to watch a ballgame, regardless of the product the Padres put on the field.  Eventually, Lawrence and I found our seats, with this as our view...

I, for one, take a little pleasure in the irony in what is being shown on the scoreboard at the time I snapped this photo.  The Padres seem to be in an eternal state of injury with key players always missing time.  The game itself ended up as a surprise, when Andrew Cashner threw a one hit shutout, the Padres amassed 13(!) hits, and Chase Headley had two clutch hits.  Thirteen hits for the Padres is like two or three games worth, and I'm only being slightly facetious.  Here is definitive proof that I am not in fact lying;
It was such a rare sighting that when I more closely reviewed my pictures of the game, and realized I captured this image in one of them, I merely shrugged...
Anyhow, since this is a blog about the hobby of collecting autographs, I can assure you that Lawrence and I did make an attempt to get some autographs post game as well.  When we walked out to where the PAdres player garage is, we noticed the Tigers had a team bus waiting, meaning they were not staying in the Ominous Omni.  This was a very good sign.  Turns out, the Tigers were staying at the Hilton as mentioned before, and the players almost always walk out and to a long bridge that leads directly to the hotel.  You can see said bridge in the photo I provided earlier.  The distance players have to walk from where they exit the ballpark to where they get to the bridge is probably a little under 100 yards.  Here is a photo to kind of show what my view was going to be the next two hours.
At first, almost all the main targets walked out without signing.  Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Austin Jackson all declined and hurried past.  Miguel Cabrera came out, signed for a fan wearing a Venezuela World Baseball Classic jersey, then declined everyone else.  I heard from some fellow autograph hounds that he was real cool on the way into the ballpark earlier that afternoon and had signed a bunch at that time.  In this hobby, it's ALL about timing.  At this point, I was really starting to doubt our luck.  Thankfully, Nick Castellanos came out and the young kid with a bunch of potential signed a baseball for me.
I have decided to be more aggressive in going after the young players who ooze potential this season.  Often, the best time to get players is when they first get called up, as they have not yet developed a huge ego and treat the fans well.  If the player pans out, it makes the autograph even more satisfying.  Here is hoping young Nick becomes a hell of a ballplayer.

Immediately after putting this ball away, Torii Hunter walked out with family.  I have heard almost nothing but good reports about Torii, and he did not disappoint.  He signed for everyone as he walked towards the bridge leading to the team hotel, and struck up conversations with everyone.
I started feeling a lot better about my day at this point.  I got a very good player and a player with a lot of potential.  The night got even better though, as the last Tiger player to walk out was All Star second baseman Ian Kinsler, who stopped and signed for everyone as well.
It ended up being a good night overall.  I added two all stars plus a kid who has the ability to turn into one sometime down the line.  Before calling it a night and heading to the car for the drive home, I wanted to take one last photo of Petco Park.  Good night Petco, and I'll be seeing you soon....


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