Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Autographs of the Day : 2013 Dodger Spring Training @ Camelback

It's that time of the year. Baseball is in the air and it's time to go see the Boys in Blue. For the second year in a row I have made the trip out to Arizona to catch the team and all their new acquisitions from the off season. Hopefully this will become an annual tradition. I am already making plans for next year and hopefully it will be to see the reigning World Series Champs at Camelback.

The first day that I was there it happened to be Saturday and there were a good amount of people which was to be expected as it was the weekend. I had a few things that I really wanted signed, one, a single signed ball of Puig and Ryu, a team signed ball of the 25 man roster and Matt Kemp to sign the 3rd out ball I got back in Washington D.C. last year.

Around 9:45 a.m. the players and coaches started to come out of the main building to go towards the practice fields and though most players were not signing there were some that stopped and signed. I got in front of at least five guys and missed out on each one. The most irritating one was Yansiel Puig who is an up and coming minor leaguer. Got in front of him twice on his way to the field and both times he stopped signing right before me. That became the theme of the weekend for me with him. So on the morning exodus to the field I zeroed out on the autographs and thought this is different from last year as I got 5 in the morning. I was hoping for the best but not holding my breath. Took some pictures of them jogging around and Manny Mota on his famous bike.

Even during ST Uribe looks like he lags behind everyone and is huffing and puffing. Ugh.

Once on the field the pitchers looked on as they took turns doing some drills on the main practice field. Nothing like seeing Kershaw on the field. Should win the Cy Young this year.

Decided to venture over to the bullpen area where new Dodger pitcher Ryu was getting ready to throw a session and the area became crowded as I wasn't the only one interested in watching what he had. Half way through Mattingly stepped in with bat in hand to gauge the newcomer. Came away impressed.

Once that was over I headed back to the main practice field and saw fan favorites Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier with new batting coach Mark McGwire. Andre has been very chatting with fans lately and a group of us have been talking to him about places to eat in the AZ area as he is a foodie. Kemp as always is very nice with fans and willing to engage with them. Love those rare superstars that don't think they are better than us "normal" people.

Practice was ending and this was the time to get as many autographs as I could. As usual a mad rush towards every player as they walked off the field and they now have two different areas to come and go so they do not walk all together through one entry way. You have to time the ones you want as security will rope you off at times. Makes things more interesting to say the least. So with a few balls in hand I started and luckily I was able to end up with 6 total players on my 2013 team ball. Don Mattingly (sweet spot), Andre Ethier, Skip Schumaker, Jerry Hariston Jr., Ronald Bellasario and Brandon League. And guess what, I saw Puig again and walked up and he was signing a few for a few people then stop right before. AGAIN. That was now twice that day. Ugh. Andre worked the line and signed for as many people as he could as did Ronald. The others you had to track down and hope a little as they signed a few and then just moved on. After the last one I noticed Kemp in the corner getting mobbed as usual and I had two options. Do I give him my team ball or my 3rd out ball for him to sign? I chose the 3rd out ball as it means more to me and I assume I can get Kemp on the team ball at the stadium. With the 3rd out ball done I won't have to carry an extra item into the stadium. I got over to his area and found an opening and was able to hand him the ball and he signed it. He side paneled and I noticed he was doing that to a lot of people so maybe this is something new he is doing. Normally that would irk me but I am just ecstatic I got this one finally signed. That was the end of the day for me. So 7 autographs wasn't too bad considering I had zero to start of the day.

Back at the ranch on Sunday I went for day two of my trip and I was hoping for more luck on the autographs this day. So guess which one of the players came out first? Puig once again. He signed again for some people. I was there, again, and he didn't sign for me, again. Three times now. Sigh. This time a I was lucky enough to get two people as they walked out, Chris Capuano, which is a slight risk for the team ball as he might be traded but for some reason I feel he will be on the team and Tim Federowicz which I got lucky as he signed for exactly two people and I was one of them. So unlike the previous day I got 2 start out of my day. I headed over to watch them practice once again and Ned Colletti came out and even though I got his autograph back at fanfest I thought I would take a pic with him. Nice guy. Question some of his trades but appreciate the interaction with fans that he has.

Tommy Lasorda set up shop again to sign for fans again. I already have his signature but I thought I would get a spare one that I can either sell or use as trade. So if anyone wants a Tommy Lasorda sweet spot signed baseball I have one for trade.

Then all hell broke loose. The Immortal Sandy Koufax arrived at camp and he started to walk towards the field and I have never seen such a mob form in the short of time. I have seen Fernando, Lasorda and Kemp mobs form but nothing like this. I was somewhat close but by the time I got to the area where he was I was about 3 deep and the crowd was growing. He stopped for a few signatures then kept moving and the crowd moved with him. It was crazy. I have read on other blogs that people were punching others and hitting and shoving. I love me some autographs and would have loved to get an IP of Koufax but I will not injure someone to get it. Have some manners and morals people.

Practice was coming to a close and the players walked by once again but this time not too many of them stopped and signed. I was fortunate to get Ted Lilly on the team ball but no others. So that was the end of day two so I headed out. I did glance back and noticed Dee Gordon ( who I chose on to put on the ball ) stood there and signed for anyone that asked for his time and signature. Classy. I like the guy personally as I have chatted with him but baseball-wise he needs to work on his game and hopefully he will make it back to the bigs as we could use his speed.

I was planning to just leave and come home Monday morning but I thought I would swing by one last time to see if I could get any more signatures on before heading out. Got there and this time not a single player signed for anyone on their way to the field. A total blank for everyone. I was finally finished for the weekend. 10 signatures total. Not as good as last year but a successful and fun trip nonetheless. Hope to make it out next year and hope to finish the team ball at the stadium.

Pics of the balls :

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