Deep In The Heart Of Texas (5/29/11)
On May 29, 2011, Tim and I were back for a second helping of baseball at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. After the blistering weather for the previous night’s game, I was fearing this 2:10 p.m. afternoon start. Fortunately, the weather decided to have a little bit of mercy on us. It was hot, but not unbearably hot like the day before.
We reported to the ballpark about two hours early. As we approached the third base gate, I snapped this picture of Tim:
It is definitely a nice looking ballpark, inside and out.
When we entered the seating around in foul territory down the LF line, we found an almost empty field and no batting practice. It was not a shock, but it was a little sad.
The only players on the field were a bunch of Rangers pitchers playing catch down the RF line. The first 2-3 rows were packed all the way down the RF line behind the pitchers. There was no reason for us to join the crowd.
So, we wandered down to the first row along the LF line. There were no Royals warming up, but there was…
…four baseballs and a little cone (like a training cone to run around or something like that) laying on the ground. We had about two hours to explore the ballpark, so we figured we had a little time to relax. So we just grabbed some railing and looked out upon the field.
Our patience paid off, within a couple minutes a couple Royals pitchers and coaches exited the visitors bullpen and headed toward the 3B dugout. One of the coaches (strength and conditioning coach Tyrone Hill) veered off to his right, doubled back about 30-40 feet, grabbed one of the baseballs, walked over and handed it to Tim (as represented by the red arrow in the last picture).
Meanwhile, new Royals pitcher Felipe Paulino started signing autographs down the line near third base. Tim and I walked over and Felipe signed Tim’s new baseball for him.
While we were waiting for Paulino, a lady (probably about 40-45 years old) ran up with a Rangers program. She was all giddy. Then, she cursed at herself for forgetting her pen. She asked if anyone had a pen, and I told her she could use ours. She was very thankful. Then, when I noticed she was going to get her program signed, I told her to hold on and I’d get her
a sharpie out of my backpack.
She was very excited. When she handed her program and my pen to Paulino, the following exchange ensued—
Lady: “I love to watch you pitch!”
Todd (thinking): “Whoa, why does this lady like a Royals pitcher so much!?”
Lady (accompanied by various giddy-squealing noises): “I LOVE MY RANGERS!!!”
Paulino (with a huge “ROYALS” emblazoned across his chest): “Thanks.”
It was hilarious.
Enough with that lady, it was time to explore this ballpark. First, we headed over to the 3B dugout and got this excellent picture of Tim:
It was a day for panoramas. And this was our first, from half way up the seats looking out at Rangers Ballpark from Section 26:
A lady was sitting nearby, and she kindly agreed to take this photo of us:
Next, we headed to the outfield and got this shot of the visitors bullpen:
The Rangers bullpen is situated parallel to the outfield wall in RCF, and is almost always in the shade (or at least the chairs along the back wall of the Rangers bullpen are shaded). In contrast, the visitors’ bullpen is situated perpendicular to the outfield wall and is almost always in the direct sun.
And lest the visiting relieves might forget who they are facing, the Rangers threw a big Texas “T” logo between the mound and home plate of the visitors’ bullpen.
We walked behind the bullpen and circled around toward the seats in section 54. Just behind the seats, I got this fairly unique looking panorama from the concourse:
As that last picture shows, there is a shady bench in the visitors’ bullpen. So, sure, the visiting relievers can sit in the shade…of course, from that bench they won’t be able to see the game.
We headed down into the seats and got this panorama of Rangers Ballpark from the first row of section 54:
While we were down there, we noticed several stray baseballs lying on and around the bullpen mound (a couple of them can be seen in the picture above from the back of the bullpen). I figured those baseballs would eventually become souvenirs, but no one was around at this point. So we continued on our tour.
Here is a view from the concourse behind section 47 in RF:
And then we went way up high and got this panorama from section 345:
From the concourse above the first base gate, we could see the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium out in the not-so-distant distance:
And this was the view from above the home plate gate:
Before heading to the top of the upper deck, we found an usher who was happy to take this shot of us in the upper deck behind home plate:
And from the back row Section 326, Rangers Ballpark looks a lot like this:
The inner workings of Rangers Ballpark are pretty interest too. Check out this weird little landing at the middle of a stairway down from the upper deck:
The usher who took this next photo back in the field level…
…, was quite nervous that I would trip and send Tim crashing to the ground. But she still took the photo and did not ask me to take Tim down.
We decided to head back to center field. There was a parade of dogs going on around the warning track and Tim loved watching it:
NOTE: In the bottom right picture above, the guy who is holding the big snow shovel (not full of snow on this day) is the same guy who pitched to Tim in Rangers (whiffleball) Park the day before.
When a couple Royals moseyed on out to the visitors’ bullpen, Tim and I walked over to the railing at the bottom of the section. Royals’ bullpen catcher Bill Duplissea walked over and tossed Tim one of the baseballs that we’d previously seen sitting on the bullpen mound.
Normally, players toss baseballs to me (because Tim usually is not wearing his glove) or they had them to Tim. But Duplissea just grabbed the ball and tossed it directly to Tim (unsolicited) and Tim reached up and made the barehanded grab – his first barehanded grab ever at the ballpark.
As Duplissea walked away, I got this shot of Tim and his new prize:
He was very excited about making the barehanded catch and demonstrated his technique for me numerous times – i.e., his technique was to put his hands together like a bowl.
In that last picture, you can see the official line-up card taped to the wall of the bullpen. Tim and I watched a coach (Foster) tape it up there few minutes before Duplissea tossed Tim the baseball. I’ve heard it is somewhat easy to get line-up cards from the Rangers Ballpark visitors’ bullpen, so I asked Tim if he wanted to come back after the game to see if we could get it. He did.
And then we continued on our tour.
Here is a shot of Rangers Ballpark from section 42 as Alexi Ogando (I just made up that spelling, hopefully its correct) warmed up in RF:
And another view from Section 36:
We’d seen enough of the ballpark, so we decided to go grab out seats out in CF. On our way, we stopped by a little make-shift ice cream stand just inside the first base gate. Walking by earlier, I had seen that they had novelty ice creams for only $1.00. So Tim and I plunked two $2.00 and each enjoyed one of these:
As the umpires met prior to first pitch, we noticed the Rangers mascot (whose name I do not know) standing behind home plate with a little girl:
That’s a good looking mascot. But I’m sure the Mariner Moose could take him in a battle of overall entertainment value.
Before we knew it, it was game time.
With two outs in the top of the first, Eric Hosmer strode to the plate. I don’t follow the Royals closely, but it seemed like Hosmer is supposed to be some hot shot rookie or something, so I
figured I ought to take his photo.
Although my camera didn’t focus properly, I captured a very blurry shot of Hosmer right after he snapped his bat off at the handle in the course of flying out:
From our seats, I continued our stadium tour. These windows, from what I understand, are the Rangers Diamond Club:
And just above the windows, are the Rangers retired numbers:
Note: both the Rangers and the Astros have retired Nolan Ryan’s “34.”
Early in the game, we dined on nachos and…
…placed a call to Colleen/mommy to check in. In the picture of Tim on the phone, he is in the process of asking Colleen the same question over-and-over-and-over-and-over. He was getting a little frustrated that she wasn’t answering him. Noticing his frustration, I grabbed that phone and saw that he has unknowingly hung up on his mother. No wonder she wasn’t answering his question!
…shows the inning-by-inning scoreboard behind home plate. Most stadiums don’t have a scoreboard like that behind home plate, but they should. It was very convenient.
One of my main observations about Rangers Ballpark at this game is that its construction seems to create a swirling wind in the centerfield grass. It must blow right out of the stands and into center. The result:
Massive amounts of garbage on the field. That is actually right fielder Nelson Cruz with and at least four pieces of garbage in his area.
Almost every half inning, a bunch of guys in blue shirts would run out into the outfield and collect the newly deposited garbage:
So, anywhere, in addition to our stadium observations, food and cellphone calls, there was a game going on too.
As shown above, it was 2-2 in the top of the fourth. The Rangers scored one run in the second on a Mike Napoli double that plated Michael Young. In the third, they went up 2-0 on a Ian Kinsler solo homerun. But the Royals wouldn’t settle for just two runs in the fourth. Instead, they scored five on back-to-back doubles by Wilson Betemit and Mitch Maier, which was promptly followed by a homerun by Brayan Pena.
The Rangers got back one run in the bottom of the fifth on a Napoli homerun. But Ian Kinsler struck out to end the frame, and was then tossed out of the game:
Another somewhat unique feature of Rangers Ballpark is that the right fielders warm up between innings with the 1B line ball girl:
They do that same thing in Milwaukee – or at least they did when we visited Miller Park in 2009.
I got a cool action shot in the top of the sixth inning as Billy Butler grounded out to second base:
As should be evident from the angle of all of the above game photos, we were once again sitting in section 50 in centerfield. In fact, we were sitting in the exact same seats as the day before. Here is a shot of Tim as he stood and watched the action below in the bullpen:
To Tim’s left in that picture the chain link fence ends at a point where the bullpen wall bends. At the end of the fence, there is a little open space where stuff can drop down inside the wall. Someone had crammed a plastic cup down into the open space and it was filled it all sorts of nasty looking junk. We figured we should join in on the fun, so Tim and I both contributed a few sunflower seed shells to the cup full of nasty junk. In that last picture, Tim has his left hand up to his mouth while he is working on cracking a seed open — he’s still a seed-eating-rookie and needs to use his hand.
Just for kicks, I got this shot of Josh Hamilton at the plate — before he grounded into a double play:
Despite the pre-game dollar novelty ice cream, Tim still had plenty of room for a mint chocolate chip ice cream helmet:
At some point, former-Mariner Mark Lowe warmed up in the bullpen…
…, but he never came into the game.
In the eighth inning, we relocated to some aisle seats that had opened up along Greene’s Hill. I as hoping for a chance to run out into the grass in chase of a homerun. This is what it looked like out there:
But no homeruns came our way. One did, however, land in the gap in right field:
It sailed into the gap around where the white shoe is sticking out over the gap in the above picture. It was a two run shot off the bat of Michael Young that tied the game at 5-5 heading into the ninth.
Everyone was excited about the new life the Young homerun brough to the Rangers. These gals (Rangers employees) showed their excitement in the form of in-unison flag waving on Greene’s Hill:
I would guess that Rangers Ballpark has more Texas state flags that any other ballpark has of its respective state flag.
While we were out by Greene’s Hill, Tim was making funny faces at this little kid…
…and it was cracking the kid up. In fact, Tim was exciting the kid so much that his dad handed him off to his mom — “you deal with this honey.” I felt a little bad about it. But what was I supposed to do, tell Tim not to have fun and make other kids have fun at the ballpark? Nah, the ballpark is about having fun. So I let it continue.
The Royals quickly dampened the Rangers mood once again. In the top of the ninth, they scored an unearned run off of Rangers closer Neftali Feliz. The inning started off with Chris Getz hitting a double to RF. He got to third when Nelson Cruz bobbled the ball. Cruz’s error is the reason Getz’s run was unearned when he scored on a Alcides Escobar’s sacrifice fly.
While everyone else in the stadium was upset with the situation, I was quite happy. A Rangers loss would be good for the Mariners. But the Rangers still had other plans. And they started with the would-be goat, Nelson Cruz. Fresh off of his costly error, Nelson led off the bottom of the ninth by blasting a homerun into the gap in LF. Tie game.
Tim and I decided to run over there to see if we could see the ball at the bottom of the gap. But the lady who jumped to the side to avoid being hit by Cruz’s homerun ball told us that a guy (Rangers employee) had walked through the bottom of the gap and retrieved the ball.
Anyway, we ended the game with this view from section 6:
I would like to report that the Royals stormed back to take the lead again and win the game. But they did not. Instead, they lost the game on a ridiculous play. After the Cruz homer, the non-fleet-of-foot Mike Napoli hit a single. Joakim Soria (who blew the save when he gave up the Cruz homer) struck out Mitch Moreland and David Murphy.
That brought Elvis Andrus, who had replaced the booted Ian Kinsler, to the plate.
Elvis slapped a single by the first baseman and into right field. It was a nice little hit that should have advanced Napoli to third (and no more than third). But for some unknown reason, Napoli just kept running toward home plate. Right fielder Mitch Maier relayed the ball to first baseman Eric Hosmer. Hosmer turned and fired a strike to catcher Brayan Pena. Napoli was dead to rights. Napoli had not even made it to the dirt around home plate. He was a good five strides and a slide away from home plate! But instead of coming out in front of the plate to meet Napoli, Pena STEPPED BACK and opened up the plate for Napoli to slide in safe while Pena tagged him on the shoulder. It was, perhaps, the worst bit of *catchering* that I have ever witnessed.
And it led to this unwelcome sight:
Another Rangers win.
Oh, well. (The silver lining is that former-Mariner Arthur Rhodes got the win).
Anyway, there was still plenty of fun to be had at the ballpark.
Our post-game fun started off with a visit back to the visitors’ bullpen. He went down to about the third row of section 54 and waved at a Rangers employee who was working in the bullpen. As she walked over to see what we wanted, I asked if we could get the line-up card that was still taped to the wall. As she went to retrieve it, I heard a voice from our right say, “Hey, I read your blog! You’re Todd and Tim, right?”
Indeed, we were, I confirmed as I said hello to Frank. Although we’d never met, I recognized him from a cameo Frank had made the previous month on Zack Hample’s blog. Tim and I have only been *recognized* a handful of times and it is always a funny experience. It was great to briefly meet Frank, and he very kindly offered to take this photo of us with our first ever line-up card:
Two show our appreciation (for the picture and for reading about our adventures), I *rewarded* Frank with two free taco certificates Tim and I had *won* at the previous nights game when someone-did-something (got a hit or an RBI or a homerun or something).
Hope them tacos were tasty, Frank!
After parting ways with Frank, it was time to go get in line for *FANS* run the bases day. Yes, FANS run the bases. Kids of all ages were invited to circle the bases, and I was quite happy about it.
As we walked toward the line circling up the ramps in the first base concourse, I turned back and got this shot of the RF concourse:
There are definitely a lot of interesting views of all types inside Rangers Ballpark. And here is another of them:
It’s an extra-wide tunnel into the RF foul seats. And I got this shot of the stars in the steel framing up high above the walkway along the outer part of the 1B side concourse:
When we entered the seating area again, the game had been cover for a while. The CF trash collectors were off duty, but the wind was still working hard. This was the result:
Unluckily, the infield was trash free, and that was where we were running:
A couple more bonus Fans Run The Bases pictures:
It is always great to run Major League bases. I believe this is the 10th set of Major League bases that Tim has run, including (in no particular order) Progressive Field, Miller Park, Rogers Centre, PNC Park, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citi Field, Petco Park, Citizens Bank Park.
As we always do, we got the traditional post-run shot of the third base dugout…
…and the father-son on field shot:
Finally, it was time to leave Ranger Ballpark. It had been a lot of fun. On our way out, we got this shot (actually two shots put together) of the third base entrance and a big Rangers logo on the ground outside the entrance:
And just like in Houston, we ended it all with a fire hydrant shot, this time a nice shiny silver hydrant outside of the third base entrance:
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|11/1 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|12/2 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros and Royals; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles]|
|6 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies, Rangers (2))|
|35 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals)
|5/1 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington; Kellan – Camden Yards]|
|11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]|
|1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|