Friday, April 22, 2011

Opening Day 2011


Not opening day for Major League Baseball, or for the Dodgers, just for the Efting family. I took Alina and Tommy to our first game of the season Monday, April 18. It was the first day of my spring break, and the first day that I would have been able to make it to batting practice. We made it to the gates about 2 minutes after they opened them.
Here are Alina and Tommy waiting to be tossed a ball from a Dodger player.Unfortunately no Dodger tossed them a ball. But as soon as the Braves started taking BP someone tossed a ball up towards Alina. A good BP is when each of the kids get tossed their own baseball and I manage to get one of my own. I love catching them in the air, but beating someone else in a scramble for a ball is a good feeling too. I don't know if I would go to so much batting practice if it was only for "the kids" it is a blast for me as well.

Alina getting a ball first was great. In 2008, when we first started going to BP, Alina got a lot of balls tossed to her. However when the two of them stand together now, it is usually Tommy that they end up giving the ball to. So for Alina to get the first one that was pretty good. Before too long someone tossed a ball to Tommy, and then another to Tommy. Then I caught one in the air. I had to go halfway down the steps to get it, and it felt really good. I gave it to Alina so that they each had two. That is a good BP - I made a catch and they each had two baseballs. Everyone thinks it is fair and we had fun. Our record at a game was five so four is a pretty good night.

But that wasn't the end. More balls got tossed up and Alina actually caught one from a player, I'm pretty sure it was George Sherrill. Then Brandon Beachy came over and tossed one to each of the kids. I ended up winning the scramble for another ball and when BP was over we ended up with 8, that's right eight baseballs!!!The game was pretty good too. Here is a shot at the beginning of the game.
Ted Lilly got his first win. Matt Kemp got an RBI, and we saw the debut of Jerry Sands. Sands got a double in his first MLB at bat! Here he is recording his first Major league strikeout.

I know it would have been better if I had a picture of the double, but I didn't think to take the camera out then.

Near the end of the game a police officer came over to talk to Tommy. I thought he was going to tell him he couldn't stand in the isle. Instead he asked Tommy where his ball was. Tommy was waiting to catch Jerry Sands first MLB home run. The police man pulled a ball out of his pocket and gave it to Tommy. That meant Alina and Tommy each walked away from the game with four baseballs and we collected nine altogether.
What a game!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Shut Outs

Every time I go to batting practice my quest is to get at least one ball. Actually my quest is to get three baseballs if I take both Alina and Tommy to the game with me. I love to see players toss balls to my kids. Last year in San Diego Tommy actually caught a ball thrown by a player.

It was the first time any of my kids had done that. Usually the player tosses the ball to me or someone else around my kids and they hand the ball over to them. I have to be honest though. I am usually not happy until I get a ball myself. The most fun way to get a ball is to catch a homerun ball. Sure it is a batting practice homerun, but I am actually catching a ball that is hit from a Major League player that travels about 380 feet to get to me. The next most fun way to get a ball is to beat everyone else in a scramble. Well the last ball I got last year was like that. It was June 29. Here is a picture of the one I got and the ones Alina and Tommy got that day.

After that day I got shut out every game that I attended the rest of the season. That is why I stopped blogging about it. Well I am happy to say that 2010 has been much better for me. I have been to four games and I have only been shut out once (and in that game we got three balls total). So I’ll try to blog about 2010 soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Take Dad out to the Ball Game

I had purchased a ticket package from the Dodgers before the season started - Three tickets for 12 games. My two older kids usually like to come to the games with me, so it normally works out well. But June 1 was a school night for them. So I invited my Dad and brother to go with me to the game. I picked up my Dad in Colton, and met Scott at the game. He drove strait there from San Jose. We met early and played a little catch in the park across the street from the Dodger Stadium parking lot.



We don't like paying $15 for parking, so we try to get there early to get the good spots just outside the parking lot. That is one reason that I took up this batting practice hobby.

I was hoping to have better luck this time with the D-backs, since I didn’t have to hold or keep an eye on Casey during BP. However I just managed to get one ball and even that one wasn’t spectacular. I should have caught it but I bobbled it, and had to grab it off the stairwell before another guy got it.




During the time we were there, someone from a newspaper was interviewing and taking pictures during batting practice. He was really intrigued with Dad being there and wearing a glove. Of course the story was not quite as good when Dad told him it was his first game this year. I have been searching online to see if I could find the story they guy wrote, but I have yet to find it.

Dad was really hoping to catch a ball, but there were not a lot of balls coming our way that day.

The Dodgers looked like they might put a couple of rallies together to win, but they ended up loosing the game. Joe Torre brought Eric Milton in to pinch hit that night. It seemed like a very strange move, he had other hitters on the bench, and Milton is not really known to be a good hitting pitcher (.176 lifetime with no hits for the Dodgers this year).

However it was an enjoyable night for me with my brother and my dad.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Casey's First Ball

Casey is 2 1/2 years old and I felt it was time to take him to a Dodger game with me one on one. Maybe it was too early for him. But I had tickets for a game on Monday May 4, so I could not take my older kids because they had school the next day. So it was pretty much take Casey or go by myself. Actually I had invited a friend from work, but he had to cancel the day of the game. I had taken Tommy to his first one on one Dodger game when he was just three years old. Tommy ended up being more interested in Dodger dogs then the game.

We ended up leaving after the second inning. I didn't want to burn Tommy out on Baseball so I decided I would leave as soon as he wanted to. (If you know Tommy now you know he is not burnt out on Baseball). I didn't feel too bad about leaving so early because Tommy and I got there early for batting practice. We didn't get any baseballs that day.

But now 3 years later, I had a much better idea on how to get a ball during batting practice. Casey and I showed up early and were ready before the gates opened at 5:10.

We had Dodger and Diamondback apparel, so that we would look like fans of whatever team was hitting.

Plus Casey is so cute. How could anyone resit tossing a ball to him. Well I was right. Withing the first 15 minutes of BP a security guard noticed Casey in the stands. He asked Guillemo Mota for a ball and tossed it up to me. Wow, that was so cool. Casey got his first ball tossed to him at only 2 years old. If he keeps going to BP he should be able to pass Zack Hample before he turns 25. However that's not the end of the story of Casey's first ball. You see I was holding Casey in my right arm much like the way I was in the picture to the left. In my left had I had my baseball glove. When the security gaurd tossed the ball up to us I caught it in my glove, and then opened my glove to show the ball to Casey. He seemed excited to get the ball. He grabed the ball out of my glove and . . . THREW IT BACK ON THE FIELD!!! I couldn't believe it and, I couldn't stop him either - my hands were full. There were 10 to 12 fans right behind us that laughed when they saw what Casey had done. That got the attention of Guillemo Mota who smiled, picked up the ball and threw it back to us. I guess Casey wanted a ball tossed from an actual player. :)

Later we switched over to the Right Field Pavilion, to try to get some more baseballs during the D-backs BP. Unfortunately Casey was more interested food, and stairs then getting more baseballs.
We stayed until just after the 7th inning stretch. We saw home runs by Andre Ethier and the "suspended" player. Casey and I had a great time. Even though I had brought a Dodger shirt for Casey, I left his Arizona shirt on him because it made a good bib. Here is Casey with his ball and nacho cheese all over his shirt.

Balls this game: 1 (but we got it twice)
Balls for me and the kids this season: 4
Average balls per game: 2

Sunday, April 26, 2009

First Game of the 2009 Season

I don't remember another season where I was sooooo looking forward to the first game. You see last season was the first one where my kids really started enjoying going to games with me. Tommy really developed a love for baseball that started last year, and both Alina and Tommy enjoyed trying to get baseballs during batting practice. We managed to get 22 baseballs over the course of the season. So wen the season ended and we didn't have that time together anymore, I really missed it. Of course its more than just a bonding moment for me and the kids. If you want to see all of the reasons I love batting practice you can check out my post from Oct. 22, 2008.

Also the facts that the Dodgers have such a great lineup and have been doing so well to start the season boosted my anticipation of this game.

So after school Friday April 17th I got Alina and Tommy in the van and we heading down the Cajon Pass to pick up my brother Scott and head to the game. We had plenty of time and were sure to get there early enough to find a parking spot on the street and not have to pay for parking. We were making good time until ...
there was a car fire in the middle of the pass. All lanes were blocked and the little bit of information we could find out about it led us to believe it could be an hour or more. It was going to be so great to finally get back to Dodger Stadium and try to get some BP balls, but now I was wondering if we would make it in time. Fortunately after about 40 minutes they cleared the road and let us get going again.

We made it do Dodger Stadium about 15 minutes before the gates opened. Scott was not sure how soon we would make it out so he drove all the way to the game. We met up with him there and walked in together.

In just a few minutes we were in position to get some baseballs tossed to us from the players or snag some home runs. That familiar view was great.But I got this nervous feeling in my belly. What if no one threw a ball to Alina and Tommy? What if I couldn't get to any home run balls? It was the same kind of nervous feeling I had before my interview at Oak Hills High School last week. But that is a story for another blog.

Before too long the Dodgers were finished, and the kids and I put on our Rockies hats. Alina actually wore one of my hats so I suggested she wear it over her hat so it would fit better. The kids and I were a little more vocal than normal trying to draw attention to ourselves - that we at least looked like Rockies fans. Ryan Spilborghs ran by the wall close to us and asked what was under Alina's hat. I quickly explained that it was to make her hat fit, and he gave me a little smirk as he ran back into position. I was so worried that someone had figured our our "strategy" that it took me a while to realize that a major league player actually talked to me. I don't think that has ever happened before. Well except for the time that Raul Mondeci told me he was too busy to give me an autograph.

The next time that a ball came to Spilborghs he turned an threw it to me. He was at least 100 feet away. I thought that was pretty cool. So I gave it to Alina. Now we just had to make sure that we got one for Tommy before BP ended.

A little while later a ball came right to me I was the only adult around with a glove so I felt pretty confident, but the ball hit off the heal of my glove and bounced on the stairs, I reached for it but some guy grabbed it right before I could. I had another near miss on a ball a little later - it was getting frustrating.

But finally I caught a home run ball and I that I had to battle one of the regular Dodger Stadium ballhawks for. He had caught one earlier but I think that was all he got that day.

The last ball we got was tossed up by a Rockies player right towards Tommy. I was no where near the ball, so I was thinking this might be Tommy's first catch from a player. But a teenager next to Tommy tried to catch the ball for Tommy. Also another teenager tried to get the ball, but he had to lunge for it. He knocked into the first teenager, who in turn fell onto Tommy, and then the three of them also knocked Alina down. Now, I don't get upset about a lot of things during BP, but this really got to me. So I said "Oh come on..." The two teenagers got up and apologized, they also gave the ball to Tommy. So I quickly forgave them, I probably should have checked to see if my kids were okay, but we had the ball now so I figured everything else would be fine. After all that is what really made me upset - that they were trying to take the ball that was obviously being tossed to one of my kids. I didn't know they were trying to catch it for Tommy. But both Alina and Tommy were fine. And later when I asked Alina what here favorite part of the game was she said it was being knocked down and still getting that last baseball.

In the game the Dodgers came back with four runs in the 7th inning to win 4-3. Johnathan Broxton stuck out two players with the bases loaded and one out in the 8th inning.

Overall it was everything that I could have asked for in a baseball game. I caught a home run ball during batting practice, and both Alina and Tommy had balls thrown to them. And the Dodgers won! I hope every game this season is as good.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wrigley Field

On our road trip this past summer we spent a couple weeks in Chicago. Kim is a Cubs fan and we had been talking to the kids about taking them to see a game at Wrigley Field. However by the time we decided what game we wanted to go to the games were sold out. So we went onto Ebay and found a few people that were selling tickets. We needed four of them and most people were only selling two. So we ended up paying quite a bit for the tickets, but I think it was worth it. It would have cost us more to come back out another time, and pay regular price for the tickets.




Kim found a store that had Cubs temporary tattoos, so she tatted up the kids before we took off for the Subway or the “L” or is it “EL?” . . . we took the rapid transit system in the Chicago area.

We got to the game a little late, at least by batting practice standards. Kim doesn’t usually come to batting practices. She doesn’t really understand why I am so into it (not many people do). So I tried to cut it close so we wouldn’t be waiting too long outside before the gates opened. But we got off the Subway just after the gates opened, and once we got in . . . well the kids needed to go to the restroom. So I was a little frustrated that we missed virtually all of the Cubs BP, but we quickly found a spot along the wall where all of the kids could fit.

I couldn’t believe how crowed it was. I wasn’t sure that we would come away with any baseballs that day, but before too long one of the Reds players threw a ball up to Alina. I’m sure that it was because of her pink glove. With such a crowd of people I think it really made her stand out.

Casey even kept his glove on for a while, but Alina’s ball was the only one that we got that day. So we, or at least I was content to sit back and watch the game. Casey got into some cotton candy, and Alina and Tommy wanted to get some souvenirs. Tommy wanted a bat, and Alina found a cute Cubs squirrel.

Casey wouldn’t sit still, and even tried to eat some nachos off of the ground that the people in front of us had dropped. I decided that it was too much work to keep him out of trouble in the seats so I took him to get a souvenir.

He almost hit the people in front of us with Tommy’s bat so the foam finger seemed a good bet for Casey.

It was a pretty good game. Carlos Zambrano shut down the Reds except for a solo home run by Adam Dunn. We also saw Aramis Ramirez hit a home run for the Cubs.

We asked someone behind us to take a family picture at the game. Now that Erica is born, the picture is outdated. So I guess we’ll have to go back and get another picture taken.

As we headed back to the subway, we got a few pictures out in front of the stadium. Some guy volentered to lay on the ground and take a picture of us with the marquee in the background. After he took it he asked for money. All I had was a five so I gave it to him. I think I overpaid. What do you think?

On the way home we were all pretty tired. Casey fell asleep on the subway.

This last picture I took just before the game started. It was my favorite picture from the game and maybe from our entire trip.