KC’s the Place to Be – Balls 444-450 (July 3, 2015)

Minnesota Twins 2  Kansas City Royals 3

Kauffman Stadium – Kansas City, MO

July 3, 2015


Ahhhh, it feels good to be back in KC.  I needed a change in scenery from the all-too-familiar Target Field.  This was my third time at Kauffman, but first time back since 7/20/2012.  This game was going to be a new experience for me, no matter what the outcome of the number of balls snagged – this was the first time I would NOT be sitting in luxury (CROWN BATS Club) – 4 tickets would be insanely expensive, no matter what year, but coming off a World Series appearance, currently atop the division, playing the number two team in the division, against a rival that travels well to Kansas City… on a holiday weekend?!  Ticket prices were expensive.

I wanted to try to extend my “game ball” streak so I worked out a deal with my wife:

I would purchase the best (affordable) single ticket I could – which happened to be on the Royal’s website.  Then I would buy 4 cheap seats for the group – which happened to be in the nosebleeds in the top row that only had 4 seats in it.  After I got my first 3rd out toss-up I would then meet them in the faraway section and enjoy the rest of the game with them (or the rest until the last inning).

It turned out that we were all hungry, and there was a sweet vegan pizza to be had, so they left in the 8th inning, since it closed at 11 (and they are not exactly baseball fanatics).

But enough about the plan of attack, let’s discuss some logistics that made this trip possible…

My brother-in-law lives in Omaha (soon to be moving to Denver) but works in Kansas City on a longer-term contract.  Since his job takes him all over the place, they have decided that Denver is just the place they want to live when he decides to stop traveling for work.  But since he works in KC and basically lives in hotels, he has built up a sweet bank of rewards – he is Mr. Platinum – which he was kind enough to share with us.

A free room meant that this trip was very cheap.  It boiled down to two tanks of gas, five tickets to the game, food, and $5 cover charge per person for the fireworks.  Not too shabby, especially considering that we’d spend close to that for a local holiday weekend, let alone one away from home/Target Field.

So that cleans up the non-baseball part of the pre-game details.  Ready for some baseball now?

EARLY BIRD

I did the early bird experience for the 3rd straight time.  If given the opportunity to get into the stadium early, I will always take it.  Sure, it would only net me ONE extra ball, but there is something to be said for just being able to be in the park and not anxiously waiting at the gate.

Before I could even snag a ball, I was photographed by someone who had access to the Twins’ Instagram page:

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This was one of the three signs (all pictured below):

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SWEET!

Yes, I always campaign to #VotePlouffe, but now that the voting was over and it appeared that no Twins would make the game, I had to speak up for the most worthy and yet underappreciated Twin… Brian Dozier.

After gaining the most minor of celebrity status, I got on the board…

Ball #1:

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Thanks, Rusty Kuntz!

Ball #2:

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After roaming the outfield, not knowing how to get down to the fence, I finally found my way.  I honestly thought the lower outfield area was being protected by security guard, like some kind of party deck.  I was a little mad, until I just acted like I owned the place and then proceeded to see that everyone was down there.  Greg Holland was kind enough to get me the second of the day in right-center field (photo taken in left-center).

Ball #3:

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After talking to Aaron Thompson for a few minutes – a super nice dude – I got ball #10 of my Kauffman career.  Aaron, who also abides by the “long hair, don’t care” matra, spoke to me about my long flow, about the drive down, and then about Miguel Sano.

Ball #4:

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No more than two minutes after Aaron hooked me up, my Twins jersey came in handy again – and the fact that I was probably the only person who knew JR Graham’s name and face.

Ball #5:

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Kyle Gibson.  After a busy and less-than-productive stint in the outfield, I made it back towards my seating area.  I still want to catch one on the fly in KC, but the number of fans (especially kids) made that nearly impossible.  Who would have thought that the Fourth of July weekend would put so many bandwagon KC fans in the stands?

(Yep, I said it.  I was there in 2011 and 2012, against the very same Twins team.  There were plenty more Twins fans in attendance those games, but now there is more Royal Blue in the stadium… Did a Cinderella run in the play-offs last year help?  You can decide that for yourself.)

Ball #6:

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Gamer streak sustained.

Thanks to Kurt Suzuki and a nearby Twins fan for the assist.  End of the first and I was able to get up to the cheap seats in the 2nd inning.  Not bad at all.

Ball #7:

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After my family left to get pizza, I went back to my nice seat.  The Twins and Royals were now tied and it was the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded and only one out.  Mike Moustakas flied out to shallow center field and Aaron Hicks came up throwing to home.  The newly called up Dusty Coleman (from South Dakota) tagged from third, got over half-way and then hesitated.  This was a deadly mistake.  Kurt Suzuki fielded the ball ran him down, almost tagged him, and Dusty took off for one last attempt at home.  Kurt threw to Joe Mauer who tagged him out at the plate.  Inning-ending and game-saving double play.  I was JACKED-UP!  I was shouting for excitement and partially to seduce Mauer into giving ME the ball.

I got the ball.

The Twins could have used this as propellant to carry them to a win, but after putting a zero on the board in the top half of the 10th, they gave away the “W” in the bottom half.

Dang.

Still…

THE HAUL

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Recap:

Thank You:

  • Rusty Kuntz
  • Greg Holland
  • Aaron Thompson
  • JR Graham
  • Kyle Gibson
  • Kurt Suzuki
  • Joe Mauer
  • Fellow Twins fan in my section – for the assist on the Suzuki ball

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  • Jael (wife) – for the fun vacation
  • Brother-in-law – for making it super affordable AND for the great recommendations for food
  • Kansas City – thanks for letting me “steal” baseballs and vinyl records

I was able to turn this…

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Into this…

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