DisneyWorld Atlanta: Home of the Princesses – Balls 560-567 (August 16, 2016)

Minnesota Twins 4Atlanta Braves 2

Turner Field – Atlanta, GA

August 16, 2016


Yes, I am keeping the Princess gag going on this post, too.  Not only did I commit to going to all 4 of the Princesses/Twins games this year, they also happened to be all in a row (at least, for me).

Jared and I are still editing the video, so this part will become obsolete at some point, but let me tell you, I SURVIVED!  That’s right, this was my first trip to a baseball game not via car; instead, I took an anxiety-inducing PLANE RIDE.  I’m still not a fan, but knowing now that I didn’t die, I’d say it was worth it.

Since this was the first time both Jared and I had spent more than 30 minutes sitting down in Atlanta, we had a metric butt-load of activities planned.  And I’m happy to say that we pretty much completed them all.

I may forget a few things/specifics, but we visited:

  • Turner Field, DUH!
  • Coca-Cola Experience*
  • CNN Tour*
  • College Football Hall of Fame*
  • Georgia Aquarium*
  • Centennial Olympic Park
  • Wax N Facts Record Store
  • Criminal Records
  • Herban Fix (restaurant)
  • The Cabbage Pie (restaurant/bar)
  • Cafe Sunflower
  • Dulce Vegan Bakery & Cafe
  • Viva La Vegan (restaurant)

*  = Part of the City Pass that we purchased online.  The City Pass gives you a discounted/flat rate and gets you in to 5 different attractions.  Visit their website for more info; we’d recommend it if you are looking to do a bunch of the tourist things.

But enough about that, the video should show the majority of that stuff.

Let’s focus on the game.  Like I said a few posts ago, this year the Twins were a pathetic 1-10 when I saw them at home, but 3-0 when I saw them on the road.  Since this was a road game, things were good.

But why go to Atlanta?  Seems kind of random, no?

It is not random; it was strategically done.  This was the last year at Turner Field, so I wanted to see it before it was too late, PLUS there was the added bonus of a baseball commemorating that fact.  I needed to get one, and figured it would be nice to see the Twins play there (and celebrate Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett leading us over the Princesses in the 1991 World Series).

By the way, Ron Gant was clearly out.

Jared and I got the VIP experience/tour for this game, so that was really cool to see.  We even saw Hank Aaron!…’s parking spot.  Then after getting a look at all of the stadium (and many behind the scenes looks at the under-stadium ring around the place), we got to stay on the field and watch BP from behind a rope.  I got a ton of baseballs during this time, but it just didn’t feel right.  I wanted to be out n the outfield, trying for my first cup trick ball, finding David Welch, and enjoying the cloudy weather.  But that experience was to happen tomorrow.

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I forgot to number this one, but treat it like you are reading a book (top to bottom, moving left to right; the center image being something special/fun).

Ball 1 – Tyrell Jenkins

Ball 2 – Eddie Guardado

Ball 3 – Erick Aybar (Maybe the last toss-up as a Princess?  He was released just before game-time.)

Ball 4 – Bo Porter

Ball 5 – Anthony Recker

Ball 6 – Unknown Princess (Let’s call him Mark Lemke.  What’s a Lemke?)

Ball 7 – Eduardo Escobar

Ball 8 – Tom Brunansky – COMMEMORATIVE!  (warm-up pitch during a pitcher change in the top of the 6th (Kepler up to bat, Ian Krol pitching with 2 out)

I should have had a commemorative earlier, but Plouffe’s toss-up over to me got deflected and was a little short.  I still thank him for trying and for caring…  Dang it, now I’m thinking about how I’m going to miss him again.

There you have it, Game 1 in Atlanta in the books.

MVP Thank Yous:

  • Jared
  • VIP tour-guide
  • Trevor Plouffe
  • Tom Brunansky

BONUS TIME!

Wanna see what I thought of the record stores in Atlanta and what I found?  Of course you do.

Derby and ASG In a Minor Key (August 1-2, 2016)

Curt Smith 2Alonzo Harris 1

CHS Field – St. Paul, MN

August 1, 2016

South 1 – North 6

CHS Field – St. Paul, MN

August 2, 2016, 2016


When an All-Star Game comes to town, you go. That’s my philosophy, at least. The All-Star Game in question was another baseball one, this time for the American Association (which the St. Paul Saints belong to). I ended up going to the ASG with Jared, but I decided to also take in the HR Derby the day before, but I went solo to that.

So let’s get straight to the point..

I called my shot.

called-shot

What I didn’t know was that this would actually happen…

See that guy with the big glove? That was me. I caught TWO HR Derby bombs with a giant glove – which isn’t easy, since they like to fly through the webbing (since it is big enough to let a ball through). And to make it even better, I caught a HR from the eventual champion and the runner-up (the runner-up being the St. Paul Saint who I said I’d catch).

Also in attendance? Nate Duppler – Target Field autograph seeker and maybe even blossoming ballhawk.  Check out his recap of the HR Derby; I know he was pretty jacked for eerily similar reasons as me.

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The rest of the night was pretty fun, too. Mark Hamburger loved the giant glove, so he wore it for a while and as a thank you he gave me a signed ball (and mentioned they weren’t using special ones for the ASG). I also caught one during BP. Overall it was great fun – not intense ballhawking, just more about the experience and trying to then catch one during the Derby.

After the competition was over, I even got each player to sign each of their HR balls I snagged. I doubt that would ever happen at an MLB sanctioned Derby.

The next day…

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…was All-Star Day! I wore full catcher’s gear and looked ridiculous. But when you are at minor league games and one that is partially owned by Bill Murray, why not go a little nuts? As you can see again, the glove got some love from the players. I then caught a couple more (don’t remember how) and took in another ASG with Jared.

MVP Thank Yous:

  • Jared
  • American Association – specifically ticket prices
  • Mark Hamburger
  • Alonzo Harris

Duplicates Duplicate Loss As Princesses Prove They Need No Rescuing – Balls 553-559 (July 27, 2016)

Atlanta Braves 9 – Minnesota Twins 7

Target Field – Minneapolis, MN

July 27, 2016


Nothing new, just an extension of the previous entry – minus a different date and different way to lose by two runs.  (Also, if you are unsure why I call the Atlanta team the Princesses, go back to the previous post.  Think of a Disney/Pixar film.)

Rather than meet Larry at the gates, I picked him up along the way.  His family wasn’t going to go to the game early and I was, so we prepared a hostage like exchange – I received Larry in exchange for them receiving additional time and not having to have Larry around (I’m pretty sure that was the deal).

The day was remaining dry until shortly after I picked up Señor Larson, then it turned into a downpour from a small cell that hovered over Minneapolis.  We stopped at The Herbivorous Butcher before the game – picking up some jerky and ghost pepper caramel.  Then we were Singing In The Rain as we made the quick jump down to Target Field.

The rest is all a blur.  I cannot remember if Larry ate the ghost pepper caramel or not.  Hmmm…

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Ball 1 – Butch Davis

Ball 2 – Robbie Grossman

Ball 3 – Bobby

Ball 4 – Bobby (wild pitch: 1-2 pitch from Mike Foltynewicz to Robbie Grossman, bot of 4th – AJ Pierzynski catching)

Ball 5 – Tom Brunansky (Mauricio Cabrera to Eddie Rosario (1-2) bot of 7th – ball was pitched over 100 mph)

Ball 6 – Joe Mauer

Ball 7 – Dom

MVP Thank Yous:

  • The Herbivorous Butcher
  • Nicky’s Comfort Candy (ghost pepper caramel)
  • Larry

Genetic Duplicates Foiled By Multiple Scottish Princesses – Balls 547-552 (July 26, 2016)

Atlanta Braves 2 – Minnesota Twins 0

Target Field – Minneapolis, MN

July 26, 2016


Minnesota’s MLB franchise got a redheaded-beatdown from Disney’s favorite Scottish-inspired princesses, but that was probably already a given, since the previous MLB blog post said that the Twins only won one game at home when I was in attendance (and it was the one described in that post).

But before I get too ahead of myself and talk about another loss, let’s back up a bit.  The Twins and the Atlanta Scottish Princesses played each other in the greatest World Series ever played in 1991.  They both went from worst (in 1990) to first, so this rivalry turned 25 this season and both teams got to play a two-game home series against each other.  Unfortunately, both teams are more like their 1990 selves, if not worse.  This game was the first of four games they’d play in 2016, a total that I would also witness as an attendee.

So if the teams were bad, then why would I care so much?  Well, prices were cheap.  Larry (yes, the one famous for Ballhawk Talk) was coming to town.  Oh, and maybe a commemorative baseball would be used?

This was the ball that was being floated around…

1991-commem

Pictures were circulated and a few went on sale, so maybe this would be used for this series?  It certainly wasn’t used up until this point, so what better time than facing the wee Atlantans?

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As you can see, no luck.  I even got a couple from the game ball bag and asked Dom if they were using them at all.  The answer made me sad, “No.”

But what I can say is that we had quite the showing of ballhawks.  The center photo goes something like:

Front row: Nick Larson, Mateo Fischer, Paul Kom

Back row: Jack Larson, Tony Voda, Larry Larson, Nate Duppler, Jared Wieseler

Jared broke his phone by dropping it on the ground because he was so mad at the Twins’ play (or maybe just a case of butterfingers), and I signed one of my baseball cards and a baseball.

Ball 1 – Max Kepler

Ball 2 – Trevor May

Ball 3 – Marty Reed

Ball 4 – Unknown Princess

Ball 5 – Dom

Ball 6 – Bobby

MVP Thank Yous:

Happy Thanksgiving!!! (2016 Version)

In the same tune as last year’s post, I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving/Thursday Maximus. There are many people that have helped contribute to a great time at the ballpark, but the ones listed below were most instrumental to making 2016 a great escape from real life.

Ballhawks of Target Field (both official and honorary) – The community at Target Field really solidified at the end of the year last year and now has the feel of a legitimate place to ballhawk (maybe not with great numbers, but at least with a community). The cast this year included:

  • Nate Duppler
  • Dave Forstad
  • Mateo
  • Paul
  • Alex
  • Jared
  • Larry Larson
  • Nick Larson
  • Jack Larson
  • Joyce Larson
  • Peter Larson
  • David Welch

Ballhawk Talk – You guys are a great duo. Hanks for having me on so much and for hosting a fine group of individuals. Cole, I look forward to meeting you soon. Maybe come up to Northern MN?

Jared – Thanks for helping me get though the terrible times. This year has been a personal low for me, but you made sure it didn’t get too low. Thanks for being a great cameraman and even better friend.

Atlanta – “What a great time packed into such a condensed trip. The stadium looked great, the ballhawking was perfect, and the people were friendly. I will be back, you can count on it.” I wrote that about Houston last year, but it applies to Atlanta this year, too. The only difference is that when I go back (hopefully next year), I’ll be going to a new stadium. Thanks for letting me see you in your dying days, Turner Field.

David Welch – Sorry we didn’t get to see each other very long in Atlanta, but we’ll make up for that soon. Thanks for also being my co-host and pushing us to start Ballhawk Blab (go check it out on YouTube).

Chicago – Back again. His time I went twice this year – once to get a Cubs commemorative (and see the eventual World Series champs) and again to see the Twins close their season in the South Side.

Larson Family – Thanks for making me an adopted honorary Larson. I’m so glad you all got to witness history and cheer on your Cubs. It’s awesome that you made a big family thing out of something so historical. Also, Jack’s a wild card – watch out!

Arizona – My first time in that fine state, and I cannot deny how beautiful it is. I’m glad I could continue my streak of spring training, even if it was a new location. I wouldn’t mind the Twins moving there for February and March – it’s that awesome.

The Minnesota Twins – Even in a down year, they were still appreciated by me. I need a distraction and they helped get me through some terrible times. Now with a new leadership team, I think we are going out on a high note in 2016.

Trevor Plouffe – No longer technically a Twin, he’s still my favorite. I will go out of my way to watch at least one home game for his team each year of his career. No matter the uniform, you’re always a Twin and I’m always your fan. Plus, many thanks to your family. I got to meet some of them at TwinsFest 2016 and they have been amazing people. (Thanks, Diane! My Evie, mom, and grandma all say hello.)

Dominique Frost – Amazing. Simply amazing. You will be missed at Target Field, Dom. But I know big hints are still in your future (music for sure).

You, the reader – I know a decent amount of the regulars who visit my site, but there are countless others, people I do not even know by name; to you, THANK YOU! Feel free to also subscribe to the podcast, follow me on social media (Twitter, Instagram, etc.), and/or say hello in the comments.

My 2016 in slideshow form:

Copied from last year (and so happy to have her still in my life): Thank you, my “littlest one”, for always being eager and happy to see me when I came home. My puppy, Evelyn, would always pounce on me and want to share in the collection of leather-wrapped strings that I brought home. A simple distraction of a treat would usually allow me to take a quick picture and secure the prizes/souvenirs, BUT no matter how much I wanted to love this hobby (and going to games), she reminded me what matters most, my little family waiting for me at home.

Taking my Evie to Wrigley was the top moment of baseball this year. How many others can say they brought their dog on a solo road trip with them to see Wrigley together?

Double-Header And Fireworks – Balls 541-546 (July 4, 2016)

Oakland Athletics 3 – Minnesota Twins 1

Target Field – Minneapolis, MN

Joplin Blasters 2 – St. Paul Saints 9

CHS Field – St. Paul, MN

July 4, 2016


I finally did it.  I went to a double-header… kind of.  Not only was this a double-header with different teams involved, but it was at a different stadium, different city, and different LEAGUE.

Minneapolis has had the Twins for quite some time, while St. Paul has been home to the Saints, an independent league team (part of the American Association in the minor league structure).  I would tell you about some of the famous people to come out of the Saints organization (or in a few cases, fall back into it), but googling that would be more rewarding for the curious reader.

The day started off at Target Field with my friend, Jared, and end with us taking in fireworks at CHS Field – a stadium even newer than Target Field.  But why?  Because nothing is more American than baseball, and since it was a holiday, why not live it up.  Also, like I said before, I had never done this much baseball in one day, so it was exciting.

20160704

Ball 1 – Ron Washington

Ball 2 – Unknown Athletic – let’s pretend it was Carney Lansford (2nd place in AL batting average in 1989 to Minnesota’s Kirby Puckett)

Ball 3 – Max Kepler

Ball 4 – Dom

Ball 5 – Dom

Ball 6 – Kennys Vargas

Exit Target Field briskly, walk over to vehicle, then take off for St. Paul…

MiLB Ball 1 – Caleb Thielbar

Take in fireworks on the fourth of July…

Nice.

MVP Thank Yous:

  • Jared
  • Twin Cities

Lone Win At Target Field in 2016 – Balls 535-540 (June 7, 2016)

Miami Marlins 4 – Minnesota Twins 6

Target Field – Minneapolis, MN

June 7, 2016


I went to eleven Twins home games this year, ELEVEN, and how many did they win?

ONE.

I went to three Twins away games (to be chronicled later) this year, THREE, and how many did they win?

ALL THREE!

This is not a tail set in a land far, far away, but one that is in my backyard (if you are on a tall him with clear skies and can squint hard enough).  Sure, if this were the age before motor vehicles, maybe Target Field would be treated like I treat Kauffman or Wrigley, but I can go fast with my hybrid method of transportation.

I’m sorry, I am being purposely long-winded and trying to hype up something that is arguably both mundane AND rare… a Twins win in 2016.  Ad me to the equation and that feat is even more rare.  A win percentage below .100 is sad, but also makes for cheap tickets and possibly extra balls.

Speaking of balls…

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Ball 1 – Kyle Gibson

Ball 2 – Ervin Santana

Ball 3 – Unknown Twin (HR caught on fly)

Ball 4 – Unknown Twin (HR caught on fly)

Ball 5 – Dom

Ball 6 – Kurt Suzuki (Pat Dean strike out of Derek Dietrich to end the top of 2nd)

MVP Thank Yous:

  • Louisville Slugger TPX-model gloves

“Music Man” Gets Ass Kicked By God’s Chosen Helpers – MiLB Recap (May 21, 2016)

Gary SouthShore RailCats 8 – St. Paul Saints 18

CHS Field – St. Paul, MN

May 21, 2016


Ahhhh, Minor League Baseball.  So chill, so low-key, still baseball.

This was not my first Saints game, but it was my first time visiting CHS Field – the new home of the St. Paul Saints.  CHS opened up the year before, so I felt a little behind on the times and knew I had to correct that.  So who do I call to join me?  Yep, Jared.

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We got to CHS early and wandered around the stadium, checking out the details and the new sightlines.  I even happened to stumble across a couple baseballs, but just kept one as a memento.

I think it is pretty obvious, based on everyone else’s reviews of the stadium, that CHS is special.  It has been ranked #1 in the MiLB by a few publications and seeing it that night only backed that up in my mind.  The weather was perfect, the sunset was stunning, and the Saints were LETHAL.

The Saints put on a show early on, whacking a few dongs and easily cruising to a no-doubt win.  But being gracious hosts like we are in Minnesota, we let the (ready yourself for the longest and most boring name) Gary SouthShore RailCats pad their stats, so long as they didn’t get crazy and think they could actually come back.

The final score was 18-8… St. Paul Saints WIN!!  Just like that, in my first time at CHS, I had seen the Saints win as many home games as I would see the Twins win home games the entire 2016 season.

Oh, and if you get thirsty, I’d suggest the numerous beverage stands.  At CHS Field (and Minnesota in general), we pride ourselves in not needing to drink out of toilets.  The sign shown above is a reminder to outsiders that we have plenty of better options available and that we also do our part in going green (by recycling water).

Plouffe Skywalker Is Our Only Hope – Balls 529-534 (May 19, 2016)

Toronto Blue Jays 3 – Minnesota Twins 2

Target Field – Minneapolis, MN

May 19, 2016


The second game of the 2016 didn’t come to me until May 19th.  That’s right, over a month after Opening Day, and quite honestly, I wasn’t really missing it.  I was still getting my head in the right place and focusing on getting things to an OK state.  I don’t know if they are quite there yet (as I write this), but things have only gotten better – as you’ll be able to see in the frequency of my baseball games and the ability to remember more and more details.

Fors the second year in a row, the Twins did a Star Wars bobblehead giveaway, and the star was none other than…

TREVOR PLOUFFE!

It is sadly ironic that I write this blog post just days after Trevor was outrighted off of the Twins roster.  There is some happiness in this though, as I am able to still look back fondly and relive him being a Twin (even if only until the season begins).

20160519

Ball 1 – Tim Leiper

Ball 2 – Ezequiel Carrera

Ball 3 – Dom (Florida Spring Training commemorative)

Ball 4 – Dom (warm-up ball from mid-4th – Marco Estrada pitching)

Ball 5 – Dom (Jose Bautista F8 to Danny Santana, Ervin Santana pitching in top of 6th)

Ball 6 – Joe Mauer

And an Oswaldo Arcia broken bat knob!

MVP Thank Yous:

  • Dominique

Thank You, Trevor Plouffe

I read the news today, oh boy…

The Minnesota Twins had just cut The Plouffe…

As a person who attended your first career game in the MLB and who blossomed into arguably one of your biggest fans, right now I am…

Cry Meme

And…

But things are going to be alright, right?  Just another case of 2016 being 2016 (aka: the biggest bully-year ever).

We can all agree, that…

dark-abed2


Trevor,

You will remain my favorite player, and I will follow your season and career with the same intensity I have held for the past few seasons here in MN.  I wish you an All-Star experience, World Series, and many more dongers slapped by yourself.  And who knows, maybe we will meet again at Target Field, both donning that Twins jersey one last time.

Until that last part comes true, I will make it my mission to go to at least one of your home games with whatever team you may be on and get the joy and thrill of an adventure/road trip.

May you flourish and prosper, may you enjoy all that baseball and LIFE has to offer you (even if it isn’t in MN), and may our roads cross again someday in the future (you best better believe that you will be able to hear me cheering).

To ALL the MLB teams out there, know this:  By signing Trevor Plouffe you not only get a future All-Star 3B, but you get a diehard Plouffe fan.  (Hey Cali teams, he’s a local kid, you know, and I won’t mind making my first trip to your fine state a trip centered around baseball.)

Thank you,

Tony Voda (aka: Plouffe’s New Hairdo, aka: #VotePlouffe, aka: Plouffe Is Delmoning)