Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hopped Up To A Game

Around our house this is the happy time of year. While I am a huge baseball fan, and love catching a game whenever possible. The wife enjoys baseball, but is looking forward to the college football season as well. This means lots of games, and Saturday was another opportunity. This season the Yakima Bears moved into their new home in Hillsboro, and got a name change to go with the move. If you missed it the team was named the Hops in honor of the beer industry around the area. Saturday night I was itching to go, and check out this new team and stadium. Seeing on the schedule that it was supposed to be D-Backs night, and have a special appearance by Baxter. The mascot fan in me said we had to go. First my haul from this trip.

Arriving early as number one it was an hour, and a half to two hour drive. Number two I wanted to see what the sculptor they put outside the stadium looked like. We arrived forty minutes before the gates were scheduled to open. Heading straight up to purchase tickets we got the bad news that the only tickets available were general admission. With no choice, but to accept the choice we got in line for entrance. One thing I really liked was they opened the gates fifteen minutes early to ease things up in the outer area as the crowd was insane. Anytime we have ever been to a game they stick to the opening time no matter how crazy things get out front. This was a very welcomed change. Once inside we headed straight over to the grassy area to claim our spot. Taking pictures until around the seventh was useless as the sun made it impossible for us to even watch the game from our spot. So all these pictures are from later points in the game.

Not a bad looking scoreboard. By the time of this picture the score was already 6-0 Salem. In the end it would be 7-2 as Hillsboro scored two in the eighth.

The part about the entire experience that annoyed me is Baxter never appeared. They never even mentioned the D-Backs once in what was advertised as D-Backs Night. Overall though it was a good experience that I would like to do again in the future. As you can see I didn't take any pictures of the sculpture out front. It was very cool, but had kids all over it the entire time we were there. At night it had a strip of color that kept changing which added to it's coolness factor. Maybe if we get up there in the future I'll be able to take some pictures then.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cats On Tour- Leaving Anaheim & The Las Vegas Days

The final leg of our trip was the actual leaving of Anaheim, and making the journey to Las Vegas for a couple days. While we did have more days in, staying the night in Reno on the ride home. Nothing of significance collecting wise happened so no need to go into details. As we woke up on the Friday and started to prepare for the ride to Las Vegas.

Before we left town I made mention to the wife about a Goodwill in the area. I had done a search before leaving with this as a wildcard that I might bring up at some point. Hoping to maybe add something like an Angels or Dodgers bobblehead. Maybe they would have some other stadium giveaway items that would look cool in the hobby room. Going in with the hope of something awesome could be found to add into the collection. What I walked away with won't be going into the hobby room anytime soon, but was still cool to get.

The one on the left is a sweatshirt. I thought it looked cool, and will throw it into my rotation with my Rockies sweatshirt I got for Christmas this year. The other is a t-shirt that looks to be a stadium giveaway. The t-shirt lists all the players in the Angels hall-of-fame on the back along with the shirts sponsor. The great thing is both items look really nice, and only cost if I remember right six dollars.

After purchasing my finds it was off to Vegas. On day one the plan was to catch a 51's game after settling in. That plan got trashed as an SUV had flipped near Barstow, and required two life-flight helicopters. This shut down the freeway for a significant amount of time. That single stretch of road took us over two hours to drive, and set us back tons of time. Our before three o'clock planned arrival time ended up being after five-thirty when it was all said and done. In the end I never did get to see the 51's play which was a real bummer. The Sky Sox were in town, and as a Rockies fan it would have been pretty cool to see the triple A affiliate play.

With the heat being 106 the entire stay I made two trips out during the day, and grabbed the following goodies for the hobby room.

The baseball ended up being the fifth, and final baseball I picked up for the collection. The two poker chips below the ball were from the Harley store in New York, New York. I decided to walk into the store while the wife, and daughter made a pit stop to just look around. Saw a box full of these poker chips, and though a couple would look cool in a frame. The brown chip comes from Planet Hollywood, with the blue from the M&M Store. The final blue in the upper right is just a basic chip that says Las Vegas on it. One of these days I will have to sit down, and figure out a frame. Then work on putting them in said frame to hang on the wall.. Should be a fun little project that I'll share once it gets completed if it ever does. Overall I came hgome with some sweet treasures for the collections that I should enjoy for years to come.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cats On Tour- Disneyland & Padres Game

I'm not going to get to into the whole Disneyland part of our trip. I will say that the drive from Visalia to Disneyland was about as short as it could get. The bad news is other than the first day, it was the only time things went as planned when it came to driving. Why I am even mentioning this part of the trip on the blog is because of this.

My third addition to the baseball collection from this trip. We picked this ball up on the day we arrived as it was a supply, and shopping day. I would see other baseball's in the park, but this one with the year on it was the only ball I had any interest in.

On Wednesday came the planned baseball game at Petco Park. This is the one baseball game I was looking forward to more than any other we will do all season. Despite not being a fan of either the Padres or Braves. There was just something about this field that made me want to see it. Leaving early, and arriving as usual which is well before game time. Our first goal was to get our tickets for the game before anything else. Once purchased we made our way to the centerfield area which opens well before the main gates. With time to kill before the main part of the stadium opened I made my way into the team shop, and got me a few goodies.

Another addition to the baseball collection. I had a tough time deciding on which ball to get as they had a few cool ones, but in the end this ball won out. My daughter thought another glow in the dark ball would be awesome so I got it.After the shopping we took the wife to our seats before the daughter, and myself started our tour of the stadium.

This is the view from our seats. We chose these as the wife wanted seats that would be in the shade if the sun came out. The crazy thing is we could have used some sun that day. It was chilly the entire game, so chilly the daughter brought a blanket with her. She sat bundled up in it the entire game. Even shared it with me later on in the game as it just never warmed up. Got to share a funny story about her, and the blanket. A cameraman walked by, and saw her all bundled up like it was the dead of winter. He made fun of her for a few seconds before the camera came on, and put her on the big screen. She gave him back the look of why are you doing this to me. Not sure if it was on the game feed or not, but it was pretty funny stuff.As for the other views from the stadium on our pregame tour.

The Gwynn statue was something I wanted to see, but forgot about, and missed on our initial walking around the centerfield area. We were coming down from the second level to head back towards our seats when I remembered it, and wanted to search it out. While taking pictures an employee told us Gwynn was over at the wiffle-ball field doing an instructional for the television crowd. We walked over as they were wrapping it up.

This last picture is an aircraft carrier model they have in the right field area. It had some interesting information as you can see in the picture. We were running real close to game-time so I didn't get to read much of it.

My thoughts on the stadium. The outside was real bland, and could have used some imagination. The inside of the stadium was everything I had hoped for, and more. The aircraft carrier is a cool tribute to the Navy influence in the area. A nice surprise that I didn't know existed until visiting the stadium. So stadium wise I was completely satisfied. The part that I hated most, and would discourage me from a future visit. Leaving the stadium was a total pain in the butt. The people guiding traffic just stood there doing nothing, and basically let the traffic guide itself. Everything went down a road taking you into a residential area, and then left you hanging. We were forced to use our phone navigation app to find our way back to the freeway.

 On Thursday we ran into a guy who lives in San Diego, and we got talking about the game. Our conversation moved onto about how the leaving thing went. He told me that the Padres fans absolutely hate the way they do exiting the stadium. I guess they just built the stadium, and gave no thought on how to get all those people out of the area. It's a real nightmare for people like us who aren't from the area. In the end though I am so glad we were able to knock Petco Park off the list of stadiums we have visited.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cats On Tour- Visalia Rawhide

The first game on the agenda during our vacation was the Visalia Rawhide versus Rancho Cucamongo Quakes. If you read my post about this possible game you remember how much a disaster it was on our last trip. After reading about the improvements to the stadium, and how they were named 'Organization Of The Year For 2012'. I was looking forward to seeing what the improvements were, and if they could make me forget our last visit.The burm behind homeplate was still there along with the artwork about past seasons.

This was down the third baseline, and represented the major league affiliates Visalia has had past seasons.

Down the first baseline was this which listed the various Championships won by Visalia teams. From there the changes were huge, and made a fan of our family. One of the new additions was a sign that gave the distance from Visalia for all the other Arizona DiamondBacks affiliates.

I really enjoyed all the ranch style stuff going on around the stadium. The grass area in right field looked cool to, and reminded me of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes up here in Oregon. As for the game itself we were treated to quite the game. The Quakes scored first in the second with a home-run to lead the game 1-0. It wasn't until the fifth that Visalia put together a string of hits to score, and tie up the game. The score remained the same until Visalia added the final, and winning run in the eighth. For the ninth inning they had a guy running around throwing out t-shirts, rally towels, and other goodies to the crowd. Those who cheered the loudest got stuff tossed their direction. In the end it was a great experience that I would do again in a heartbeat. Throw out that I got my own baseball card out of the deal.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cats On Tour- Jelly Belly & Fresno

Our two week vacation started exactly as planned with a very early start on the Wednesday morning. Unfortunately after Wednesday's car ride any time afterwards that included us driving went south in a hurry. Wednesday was great as we made perfect time with limited stops, and was able to arrive in Fairfield just after four. Hoping to get the Jelly Belly tour out of the way to make for a relaxing Thursday drive was first on the agenda. Using the navigation on the wife's phone which was helpful, and confusing at the same time we finally got to the building, and lucked upon a great parking spot. Going inside we decided our first adventure would be to get the tour itself out of the way. Sadly they don't allow pictures so nothing great to show in the photo department. I will say the daughter thought she had died, and gone to candy heaven seeing all the Jelly Belly's in trays. Just before starting the tour I had gotten an e-mail notification from Brian who runs the blog Base Set Calling. Brian mentioned that we should buy their Belly Flops while at the store. As luck would have it they were running a special of buy three, and get two free. I'm not really sure at this point if I should call it luck or not. Needless to say we gave some away as a thank you to the girl who watched our dog. Yet we still have enough left over that when we finish eating all them I will never want to see another Jelly Belly again.

Thursday's drive to Visalia didn't go so well. Watching the news it was mentioned that the freeway between Fairfield, and Stockton would be closed for the day. With the freeway open the trip to Visalia was to be just under four hours. Closed it could be done by backtracking, and going through Sacramento in just under five hours. The wife thinking they would never close down a major section of road during the day convinced me to go down the road towards the closed freeway section. Detour after detour followed before we finally made it to Stockton much later than originally planned. From there we made the drive south towards Visalia. Along the way I convinced the wife to make a stop in Fresno so I could visit the Grizzlies team store, and buy a t-shirt or something. What I got fit into the something category.

I saw the almost empty schedule holder, and asked if I could have one for the collection. These have been something I started to pick up every so often for the hobby room. The baseballs are another side hobby that I have started when I started working on the hobby room. The black, and orange ball has a Fresno Grizzlies logo on it, and glows in the dark. The other ball is an official Pacific Coast League ball. I started collecting balls from the various minor leagues, and someday will actually make a list of the leagues I still need. Finishing off the lot was a new business card from the team store. According to the lady working the store it is the latest card, and they haven't even started using them. While talking to her I asked if they had changed business card designs lately, and she told me about the new card. Not sure how long until they become the teams new design as she let me know that they won't start using them until they run out of the current cards.

Not included in the picture was a brand new hat I bought as well. It's black with the F, and claw marks going through it. Really cool hat that I've been rotating with the Colorado Springs hat my friend brought back from his trip. An interesting note about this stop. The wife commented that it was a shame they were on the road as she would love to watch a game there sometime. It's amazing how our look at this stadium changed from our last visit to this visit. Unfortunately due to the detours we were forced into. I didn't get out to check out the stadium, and take any pictures. Throw in it was burning hot that day, and the wife and daughter were sitting in the car.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It Was A Zoo Last Knight

Last night we got to see what will hopefully be our first of atleast seven games for the Corvallis Knights. I know it should be close to seven games as in March we purchased a twenty ticket punch card, and plan on using it up. Originally we were looking into doing a different game, but due to finances and the wife pointing out we should start using our punches it was off to a Knights game. Choosing this game was possibly the best decision ever as we were treated to not just a between innings show, but a show on the field as well.

First was the big change to the stadium. A change that sadly affected all my pictures, and will change all future pictures if I take any. The Knights play at Goss Stadium which is the home-field for the Oregon State Beavers. Seats down the lines are very close to the action, and are protected by a very short wall. That was changed before the Beavers season started as the team finally added netting all the way down both lines. While I am sad to see the netting at the same time I was excited it was done. Balls came down the line very fast, and honestly was going to hurt someone very seriously. That is if someone wasn't already seriously hurt before the netting. I can't count the number of people who sat in that front row, and had their head turned away from the action constantly. We paid attention all the time, and brought baseball gloves. Even with those gloves it still made me nervous at times. We started sitting up higher for some games due to all the scariness. So in the end I believe it was a great call to add the netting, but I will still hate it deep down inside.

The game itself was simply incredible. The special appearance was the Zooperstars who we went almost upset about being forced to see. Then as they started doing their little shows we became instant fans, and were happy to see at the end of each inning. The first two were Harry Canary, and Tim Tebull who did a great dance routine.

As for the game, it will be a tough act to follow for future games. The first three innings were a defensive fans delight as Klamath Falls put one runner on base due to a walk, and other than him the bases stayed lonely.

 Things changed in the fourth as Klamath Falls scored one run. Three more runs in the fifth followed then by a final run in the sixth to make it Klamath Falls 5 Corvallis 0. This is when things started to get interesting as Corvallis loaded the bases in the seventh with no outs. Scoring the first run as Klamath Falls chose an out for a run. The next hitter slammed a rocket caught by the third baseman who was getting ready to throw out the runner from first who was halfway to second to apparently end the inning. As the crowd started to let out a huge moan the home plate umpire was running down the line signaling a balk. Giving the Knights a run, and new life the crowd went wild. Before the inning would end the Knights scored once more to make it 5-3. With momentum in their favor Corvallis added another run in the eighth to make it a ballgame at 5-4. Corvallis started the ninth with a hit batter, a fly out, and a walk to put runners on first, and second. At this point the wife started going through the scenarios for both a win, and a loss. Looking at her I said a double wins it. After spitting out the last word the batter hit a rocket to the base of the left field wall, and the race was on. What looked like it was about to be a very close play at the plate wasn't as the throw from the cutoff man sailed way over both the catcher, and pitcher who was backing up the play.

I had some great shots of the celebration, but the netting blurred the pictures. The one drawback of digital camera's sometimes is they seem to focus on the netting when it's the most inconvenient. Overall it was an awesome game, and will be a tough game to beat as we hope to catch many more before the season ends for all the local teams.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Artelopes- Reading Fightin Phils & Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders

Just before leaving for the big vacation I sent out two artelopes in hopes of updating the business card collection. The first return came from the Reading Fightin Phils.

Looking to give themselves more of an identity than just being named the Reading Phils. The team made a big deal about this new name that would change everything, and what they came up with was the Fightin Phils. While the name change ended up being a huge disappointment the logo was better than the old Phils logo from past seasons. This artelope was drawn by me, as the daughter had no interest in taking it on. Keeping it simple I went with the "F" fist logo. Not glorious, but it worked in getting me some schedules, and a business card.

The second return came from another team that got a new name this off season. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders who were formerly known as the Yankees.

How long this name lasts is yet to be seen as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has gone through a few name changes in the last fifteen years. The Yankees wasn't even that old itself so it will be interesting to see how long they stick with this new name.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Honey I'm Home!!

The long journey of the 'Prowling Cat Family' has finally come to an end. Getting in later than we had hoped on Tuesday. Reno to home took much longer than expected due to some road construction stops along the way. I'm not complaining though as we did hit each one at times that minimized our waits. So things could have been much worse.

Currently the house looks like our vacation just blew up in the living room. Sadly I work Thursday, and Friday, but the wife has until Monday off. This should give us all plenty of time to get reorganized before then. Once we get things together I will start sharing the stories from the trip to those of you interested in reading. Saturday is the day I've got in my mind to start the adventure. How many days worth of blog posts this trip takes up is something that will write itself. Everything could change though as I have vacation pictures to go through, and more pictures of vacation goodies to take for some blog eye candy. Until then you get to see some of the trade treasures that arrived while we were gone.

Starting the sharing is a trade that came in from a fellow pocket schedule collector, and business card collector Bill. I have traded both schedules, and business cards many a time with Bill. This trade was one of those blind style trades as Bill had posted a tradelist of older schedules. Seeing a schedule I could use for the collection I contacted Bill for a trade.

Sending a list of stuff that Bill could hopefully use for his collections, the e-mails exchange started. Needing more than expected from me, and rushed for time on my end. We agreed to have Bill send whatever he wanted to finish the trade in either cards, or schedules. With most our trades being for business cards it was only natural that the remaining trade would be business cards.

Overall it was a great trade, and a welcomed surprise when I got the mail today.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

This Is Going To Hurt- Chipper Edition

As has become a series of posts on this blog. Despite not being very regular as I had originally planned it to be. The 'This Is Going To Hurt' posts has become one of my favorites each time I write them. Being on vacation, and it being Father's Day. I thought it would be a great day to continue the series with a twist. The twist is that I am taking the series in a whole new direction. Instead of the usual three cards, this will be just two cards. Both cards will be of the great Braves, Chipper Jones.

There are two reasons for this special twist. The first is at the last card show in Beaverton I saw two Chipper Jones cards featuring a play at the plate. Both cards were just screaming take me home, and write about me! How could I not listen to these two cool cards? Throw in that they cost a mere ten cents apiece, and I was in.

The second reason for this twist is simple. No matter your team, how can you not be a Chipper Jones fan? While I could care less about the Braves. There is just something about Jones that says you have to respect my game. One of a rare breed these days, the guy spent his entire career with one team. Despite getting a call this year from the Yankees. Jones stayed loyal to not only the Braves, but his retirement plans.

In honor of a great player its time to show off some great cards to Chipper bringing the pain.

This would have to rate as one of the best cards ever for a play at the plate. Being he doesn't have his mask on you can tell that Chipper really got him good. From the look on Chipper's face he isn't coming out of this meeting without feeling the effects himself. Just looking at this card its obvious why I had to get this card for sharing.

Another great looking card isn't it? While you can't see Piazza's face it's obvious Chipper is getting the worst end of this collision. From past cards I will say Piazza has that same look inside that mask. I will also say with the set up, and no ball in sight. Chipper was probably called out on this play.

Hopefully you are all having a great Father's Day, and enjoyed this special version of 'This Is Going To Hurt'.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Las Vegas, and The 51's

Its Friday, and the trip goes on the road. The plan is to get up, do any little things we want to do before leaving for Las Vegas. From reading the Disney forum we visit, it means leaving Anaheim by noon at the latest. Any later they say you will hit some major traffic going from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for the weekend. We want to avoid the traffic mess as today’s plan includes us trying to hit a 51’s game tonight. This game will either be the last game for the trip or one of two I will see in Las Vegas. The wife wants to see tonight’s game then spend our Saturday, and Sunday nights walking the strip.

My plan is tonight’s game then possibly seeing the Father’s Day game as Colorado Springs is in town, and as a Rockies fan seeing their triple A affiliate twice would be cool. The great thing about seeing the Father’s Day game is it wouldn’t interfere with the plans as the wife, and daughter would just hang at the hotel while I watch the game. The worst part is there is very limited shade so I’d be baking in the sun with no relief. If I do take in the Father’s Day game it won’t be decided until That morning. I’m going to say that odds are I won’t be going, but you never know.

Cashman Field is another of those stadiums I have no pictures from. Back in 2003 when we were last in Las Vegas I didn't even bring a camera. At the time our knowledge of the team was limited, and has since grown leaps, and bounds. The strange part about the game we did go see was another of those things that drove me crazy. The choice was to see the second closest triple A team for us, that being the Tacoma Rainiers. The only thing that would have been more nuts is if the Portland Beavers would have been in town. 

The saddest thing about the entire experience is I remember very little about the stadium, or the game. Most of the time was spent visiting with a relative of the wife who had a hard time clearing up the schedule for the game. I do remember that despite not knowing how the game went that we did have a great time talking, and watching baseball.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Petco Park Here I Come!

This is one of the days I am looking the most forward to in the entire vacation. While I love doing the whole Disneyland thing, and Las Vegas sounds great. If all goes right today agenda is a trip to San Diego to watch the Padres play the Braves.

 While I am no means a fan of either team. I have been wanting to see Petco Park for a while now, and today it happens. Incorporating the Western Metal Supply Co. Building into the stadium has always fascinated me. While most fans love their old ballparks, I am a new ballpark fan. The craziest thing about this is if it’s a new stadium that looks old I’m a fan. I want that old ballpark feel, but I want my park to offer the latest, and greatest in everything else. The old ballparks had a sort of flair to them that you can’t help but appreciate. That flair is what made them so special, and has baseball fans remembering them with such fond memories. It’s also the reason if you look at some of the parks built recently they started to give them that old ballpark feel. From everything I have read, and seen on television the designer for Petco Park nailed the entire element. That is why Petco has been on my must see list since the day it was opened. Now I get to see firsthand if all the hype is genuine, or if the stadium is over rated.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Andres "The Big Cat" Galarraga

This is one of those posts I’ve been toying with doing for awhile now. I’ve thought about doing it, but just never pulled the trigger on it. Being gone, and wanting to keep the blog running I thought why not do it now.
With a blog named ‘The Prowling Cat’ how can I not send out some blogging love to all the players who have had either a cat themed nickname or a cat name? As a Rockies fan it was only natural that I start with a cat who played for the Rockies. Andres ‘The Big Cat’ Galarraga.

Starting his career playing for the Montreal Expos, Andres didn't come into the league very successfully. Batting a mere .187 in twenty four games his first season. The following season started great, but ended as Galarraga suffered a knee injury. Missing only a month for surgery he returned only to suffer a rib injury in his first game. Fully recovered Galarraga had a strong 1987 season at the plate. While his remaining seasons ended with his hitting being erratic at best. Galarraga showed great skills in the field by both scooping errant throws, and grabbing balls he shouldn't have been able to grab. 

A short stop in St. Louis followed with Galarraga being signed by the Rockies. Playing for the team from 1993 until 1997 Galarraga's hitting vastly improved. Colorado declined to resign Galarraga at the end of 1997 to move on with 1st base prospect Todd Helton. Before leaving he held the Rockies records for home runs, and RBI's 

Galarraga's next stop was in Atlanta with the Braves for three seasons. A successful 1998 that proved to his critics that it wasn't just the Colorado air that helped with his hitting. A sore back in 1999 spring training ended his season when it was discovered Galarraga suffered from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Returning in 2000, and once again showing he still had it. Galarraga ended the year looking for a two year contract, but was turned away. Only offered a one year deal Galarraga moved on. 

Stints with the Rangers, Giants, and a return to Montreal were his next stops. Growing older Galarraga's hitting started to suffer which led to time with the three teams. Hoping to continue his career Galarraga signed with the Angels. Beginning the season in their Triple A affiliate Salt Lake. Galarraga finally came up, but was relegated to the bench. Making one last attempt to play in 2005, Galarraga accepted an invite from the Mets to spring training. Realizing he didn't have it anymore Galarraga decided to retire