The day was finally here, HOME OPENER 2012! It was only the 3rd opener at Target Field, but already a tradition was born. My friend and I had made a pact to go to every home opener at Target Field until they either tear it down, move the team, or die. Now I do not wish for any of those to happen, especially the latter, but for the sake of future generations, I am leaning towards the latter being the one that comes true (though give me/us another 70 years or so). I did my usual routine, take the day off work, try to go to bed early but not fall asleep until a very unreasonable hour because of my excitement.
I had no game plan this year, but I did have a nice camera for the first time and I was determined to take some sweet pix. I also picked up a dugout seat (another part of the ritual is that we have not sit together in any of the 3 years), so my odds of getting a good photo and possibly a ball were quite high. This home opener was the coldest of the three, but I still wore my shorts (it was over 40 and we were watching ‘The Boys of Summer’, what do you expect?!), but the cold temps and the crappy 2011 season did keep some people home, and eventually forced some to leave early. This was good news for doing some maneuvering and position for pix and balls.
Ball #1: I had made a few signs for Spring Training and one was for closer Matt Capps. The sign (a photo will be posted in my extensive Spring Training post much later) just said, “Capps Lock” and was fashioned to resemble a key on a keyboard. Capps saw the sign down there and liked it and so I thought it might work well in Target Field as well. Hey, closers gotta close, right?! I ended up flashing the sign right after the Twins BP and getting his attention, I then asked for a ball and he tossed one up to me right behind the Twins dugout. Excellent! My first ball at a home opener! This was a good sign for the 2012 ballhawking season, this I was sure. I ended up taking a picture of the ball right after I caught it, trying to work on my basic photography skills (making sure my ISO was correct, the speed and aperture were correct, and general framing). Again, this photo will not be featured until maybe a big year end review (my plan as of right now is to do a quick post of the “balls at the stadium” thing… not exactly fully formed yet).
Ball #2: Now that I had one ball in hand, my need for a second was not very high, but I was not opposed to snagging another (like in years past). I wanted to get some cool pictures, but maybe see if I could get a gamer, too. I knew of the 3rd out toss-ups now, after receiving one in Spring Training, but I could tell that my dugout ticket was not in a good area for that. Sections 4-6 are the best in case you really want to try to fight me for a ball in Target Field. So I wandered down towards the 1st row in sections 1 and 2, this is the wheel-chair aisle. This section is one of the coolest areas to watch a game from, especially since the seats are just folding chairs and you can position them just right. And then, in the top of the 8th, something wonderful happened, some so mundane yet so special to me. Vernon Wells connected with a 2-0 pitch with 2 outs, Alexi Casilla started tracking it down and running towards the exact area I was at. This ball was hanging up, but Alexi needed to dive to complete the play. He did end up diving, but the ball just deflected off of his glove (if not, it would have been a candidate for SC’s Top 10) and Alexi kind of landed on the ball. I immediately yelled his name and hoped he’d just toss it to the stands, Sure enough, with my glove on and a loud voice, I was able to get Alexi to toss it directly to me. My first game ball of 2012, my first opening day game ball, it was even my first game ball at Target Field!
Just like that I had opened my 2012 season in a much more true ballhawking sense, I had snagged multiple balls, including a gamer, and I was actually trying to use position and strategy to get them. Kudos, me!!
And now on to the thank you portion of this post. Thank you Matt Capps! You were a cool dude to talk to at TwinsFest, down at Spring Training, and even at Target Field. You really treat your fans well. I am hoping that you can come back to 100% soon and get closing again. ¡Gracias por la pelota, Alexi Casilla! Alexi is a cool guy. I will admit, I used to not care for him, but after meeting him and realizing his true character, I was flat out wrong in not supporting him as a Twin. So with my “Gracias” comes a “Lo Siento”. Thanks go out to my friend and his now fiancée for accompanying me to the ‘baseball match’. I can’t wait for 2013, and the year after that, and the year after that…