Oakland Athletics FanFest 2014

Well… This was an adventurous day. Where should I start? My family left our house around 6:25. We got to the Coliseum just before 7am.  We knew that the parking lot wasn’t supposed to open until 7:30, but we drove around for about 10 minutes hoping to find an entrance in early, as I had heard from a few people that had already managed to work their way inside. We ended up finding an open gate and we drove on inside. Good start so far.

Oh. Did I mention it was POURING rain? Not quite as hard as the Twins game last year, but it was still BAD. Weather.com said that there was a 100% chance of rain from 6am-6pm. Great.

As soon as we parked, my sister and I got out and headed over to get in line. Like I mentioned in my pre-FanFest entry, Season Ticket Holders were allowed in at 8:30 and the general public was allowed in at 9am. Keep that in mind for later.

They had a couple special season ticket holder lines under the white tents that were set up on both side of the Arena/Coliseum Plaza.

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Shortly after we got in line, my sister and I were joined by Satoshi and Ralliney. Ralliney soon suggested that we head over to the C-Gate team store to see if we could look inside and get a sneak peek at the Memorabilia Sale. So, we headed over there, and…

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There are a fews things I would like you to note.

  1. In the first picture, there is a #20 MARK MULDER jersey at the bottom. He last pitched for the A’s in 2004.
  2. Also in the first picture, on the back wall, you can see bags. They were $100 at 2013 FanFest and if they were at all lower in cost, I wanted one!
  3. In the 3rd picture, note the grey flannel jersey with an A. Also note in all three pictures, the gray flannel hats.
  4. Lastly, in the third picture, take notice of the yellow and BLACK (?!) pants.

Getting this glimpse made me incredibly anxious to get inside!

After this, my sister and I met up with my mom back in line. She held our spot in line, while my sister and I went to the other parking lot to pick up a shirt I had ordered from Section 148 Clothing. My sister and I then ran into many people along the way and eventually got back to line. By this time, it was 8:15.

Are you ready for the fun stories? Here we go…

When the gates opened at 8:30, they announced that they were letting everyone in. Season ticket holder and the general public, as they didn’t want everyone waiting in the rain. As soon as we got in, I ran to an information booth to find out where to go to get in line for the memorabilia sale. I was told four different things by 5 different people. Eventually, we all figured out where to go and got in line there.

At this point, I was feeling sick to my stomach. I won’t go into detail, but I was on the edge of throwing up. Eventually, my stomach settled down and my mom and I met up with Ryan Dalton. Then, my mom and I had to go pick up our media credentials for BlogFest, so we headed off to do that and let Ryan tag along. We exited at the Entrance/Re-Exit point, telling the security guard that we had to go grab something and that we would be right back. While picking up our credentials, we ran into Steven Luke, who was also there for BlogFest. We also saw A’s first base coach Tye Waller walk right past us.

After picking up our credentials, the four of us headed back to go n through the re-entry point. But we couldn’t get in. Why? The security guard THAT WE HAD JUST TALKED TO THREE MINUTES PRIOR told us that there was no re-entry, even though we had credentials. Mind you, Ryan didn’t, so we were all agitated at this point. We argued with him for a solid  five minutes before giving up and finding someone else. They told us the same thing. We then went over to the second FanFest entry point, the one that my family had not entered from. There, we found out that they hadn’t let the general public in yet. Wow… Ryan then flagged down a security guard and my mom talked him into letting us back in. At this point, it was just before 9.

We finally got back in and joined up with my dad, sister, Ralliney, and a few others who were in line to get inside the Coliseum. This is what the line looked like. Crazy!

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It just looked like a gloomy day.
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When general ticket holders got in, the line was even longer. We stood in this line until 10:15, at which point they let us inside the Coliseum. This picture was taken around 10am, 15 minutes before we were allowed in.
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A bunch of us raced down and ran toward the team store. In fact, I was one of the first ones in. As soon as I went in, I went to grab the Mark Mulder jersey. Gone. I then ran to grab a bag that I had seen and wanted. Gone. However, I immediately grabbed the bag that I determined was in the best condition.

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The line to get in was long. On the right side of the picture, do you see a man in a wheelchair? Just beyond him, there was a ramp. People were lined up there, too.

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Here is a rundown of the pricing for things at the start of the Memorabilia Sale.

  • Game-used hats: $20
  • Game-used helmets (There were 5): $50
  • Game-worn pants: $20
  • Game-worn jackets: $75
  • Team-issued jerseys: $120
  • Blank BP Jerseys: $50
  • Game-worn jerseys from the 70′s and 80′s: $150
  • Bags: $20
  • Bats: $100
  • Grab bag autographed baseball: $10
  • Game-worn cleats: $20

As you can tell, there was a lot of stuff. I apologize, I had been hoping to get pictures of everything inside, but that didn’t end up working out.

Everyone there knew what each other wanted. I had a few jerseys in mind that I wanted, but neither of them were there. However, Ralliney found a gold Casey Chavez #99 jersey for me, with a 2013 postseason patch. For those of you who don’t know, Casey Chavez is the A’s bullpen catcher. I also grabbed myself a Casper Wells #53 home jersey. Casper played for 3 teams in 2013. One of those teams was the A’s. For a total of 3 games. In 3 games, he had 5 plate appearances. No hits. One strikeout. I was pumped to have this jersey!

With the two jerseys and bag, I decided to stop, given that I didn’t want to spend too much money. I thought about getting a jacket, a pair of yellow pants, a pair of cleats, or another bag, but I decided to wait, as I was hoping most of the stuff would lower in cost at some point. Plus, they had rule that you could only have 5 items per transaction.

Once out of the team store, I threw on the gold jersey and decided to wander for a bit. It was cool to once again see the third deck un-tarped.

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The field was a mess…

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Supercross had been a few weeks before and they hadn’t yet gotten around to getting the field ready for baseball season.

Even though the Coliseum had opened, there was still plenty going on in the Arena. Player introductions had completed, but they were in the process of interviewing A’s super-fans. They talked to Ben Christensen, former MLB Fan Cave dweller.
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As well as The Champ and Super J!

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At this point, I started to feel a little sick again. Our family walked around together for a little bit. We stopped by the Oaklandish booth, where they were running a contest.

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Then, we parted ways and my sister and I wandered around by ourselves for a bit. We checked out the A’s Magazine booth, where I got to be on the cover of an issue!

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We pretty much checked out everything in FanFest to get an idea as to what was going on. The two of us stopped by the team store to check out the A’s new jersey and hat. I decided to hold off on buying them for the time being.

At this point, I started to feel even sicker than I had before, so we decided to find seats in the last row of the second deck, where it wasn’t raining. For about 30 or 45 minutes, we just sat and talked.

Eventually, around 11:30, my mom and I met back up and headed out to the car to grab the stuff I would need for BlogFest. When we were by the car, I thew up. But it was all good. I felt better after that. I am pretty sure it had something to do with the food I had for breakfast.

Anyway… We then raced over to the meeting point, where I was able to get set up. Last year, we were in the Warriors press room. This year, we were located in a suite in the outfield.

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The interviews started just before noon and ended around 1pm. Given that I have already posted about BlogFest three times, I won’t talk about it here. If you haven’t already read them (or if you want to check them out again), you can read the interview with Assistant GM David Forst or Manager Bob Melvin by clicking on the links. I was unable to get up the interview with Sonny Gray and Jim Johnson, so if you would like to find out what they had to say, head over to A’s Farm or eDraftrv!

After BlogFest, I met back up with my dad and sister. Pascale and I then got to work on the video tour I was planning.

Meanwhile, my parents decided to head over to the Oracle Arena to watch the Q&A session.

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What did we do for the video tour? Well… we walked around just about every part of FanFest and talked about it. However, we had issues with the video when we got home. Something went wrong. I won’t bore you all with all of that fun stuff, but a lot did go wrong. Here is the one picture I got while filming the video…

There was a Baseball 101 Session in the Bar and Grill.

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After we finished up with recording the tour, Pascale and I met back up with my parents, where we toured the press box.

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The entrance point was in the 3rd deck concourse, where we then had to go down a flight of stairs.

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Those stairs led us to here:

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This is the area where reporters and writers in general sit.

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Not a bad view at all!

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Like I mentioned, beat writers and columnists sit here.

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There were many boxes for various papers and such that they could need.
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So you know how they say the A’s need a new stadium? Things like this could be part of it. The press box is held together with duct tape.

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It really was a great view.

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Next, we checked out the visiting team’s radio booth.IMG_1530

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They have a nice view as well.

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There were some doors missing to the cabinets…

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The windows were open in every small room.

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Oh, and there was a soda fountain.

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Next, we checked out the Comcast SportsNet California booth. There were a lot of wires.

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Apparently, there is a risk of falling.

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There was a lot of tape on the ground, presumably to direct people where to stand or sit.

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Here is the desk where Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse sit for A’s home games.

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You can see the tape I mentioned earlier in the picture above. Here are my sister and I in the booth with the field behind us.

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Here we are sitting at the desk itself.

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It was a lot of fun!

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The desk even had markings as to where Glen and Ray should be.

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From there, we headed to the Bill King Broadcast Booth, where 95.7 The Game broadcasts ever A’s game on the radio.
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There are memories of the late Bill King on the walls of the booth.

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There is also a state-of-the-art television.

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Great view!
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We then checked out the visiting team’s radio booth.

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MORE WIRES!

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The seating arrangement kind of made me chuckle. That stool looks dangerously close to the edge, if you ask me.

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We then went to the room with these signs in it.

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Pretty cool!

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Our family then checked out the Spanish radio booth.
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They have a flat screen TV! Nicest television I saw in any of the booths.

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Next was a room with this sign at the entrance.

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Notice the books on the desk?

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Here is a closer look.

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How about an even closer look?

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It looks like there were a few things left over from a Raiders game? I’m not quite sure.

We then saw the visiting team GM’s box.

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And of course, Billy Beane’s booth!IMG_1574This was the TV he has. Yikes…

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Nice view, at least!

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The last room we visited  had this screen inside it.

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That is what was playing on the scoreboard, so I have to imagine it is the DiamondVision control room. I feel like they probably shouldn’t have left that remote lying around.

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Once we concluded the press box tour, the four of us headed back down to the memorabilia sale, where I was hoping prices had lowered enough to allow me to pick up a couple more things.

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Prices had lowered on the items that were remaining. Here is a rundown of what they had left:

  • Blank BP jerseys: $20
  • Team-issued jerseys: $60
  • Jackets: $50
  • Bats: $30

All of the helmets, cleats, bags, pants, and baseballs were gone. The old jerseys and hats had not lowered in price at all.

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It was quite packed in the team store!

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As you can tell, there was a very small amount of bats left, nothing that was worth getting in my opinion.

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I found three jerseys that I had my eyes on and left before they closed up at 3pm. Here are the 5 jerseys I ended up with (excuse my feet and the papers in the photo).

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The green #55 Jersey is that of Rich Thompson. He was claimed off waivers by the A’s on April 20th, 2012. Shortly thereafter, on April 25th, they designated Rich for assignment. A couple of days later, on April 27th, Oakland outrighted Thompson to the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats. He pitched one game in Oakland, pitching 2/3 of an inning, allowing one hit. He pitched in 46 games with the River Cats, posting a 4-2 record, with 62 innings pitched. He had a 3.34 ERA, with 58 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.113.

The grey #21 jersey is Mike Ekstrom’s. On October 29, 2012 he signed a minor league deal with the A’s with an invitation to spring training. He pitched in 10 games during Spring Training 2013, posting a 1.20 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP, in 15 innings pitched. However, he started off the 2013 season with Sacramento, pitching in 21 games, with a 5.10 ERA, before he ended up with the Angels organization, who eventually released him.

The #35 jersey is Luke Hughes’. He was claimed off of waivers by the A’s on April 22nd, 2012. 8 days later, he was designated for assignment when Oakland signed Brandon Inge. He played in 4 games with the Athletics, going 1-13 and while striking out 6 times. Eventually, the team released him on July 17th. The Blue Jays signed him a little while later.

The gold #99 jersey, like I mentioned earlier in this entry, is Casey Chavez’s. He has been the A’s bullpen catcher since the 2007 season. The jersey has a 2013 postseason patch on it, so I have to assume it was worn by Casey for games 2 and 5 of the ALDS.

The #53 jersey may be my favorite. Like I mentioned, that is Casper Wells’. On April 22, 2013, he was traded to Oakland for cash, from the Mariners. When Scott Sizemore re-tore his ACL, Casper was added to the 40-man and 25-man rosters. A few days later, on April 28th, he was  designated for assignment when Yoenis Céspedes came back from the DL. He started two games for the A’s, one in left field and one as the designated hitter. He went 0-5 with 1 strikeout.

Lastly, here is the bag that I mentioned earlier.

20140216-014839.jpgWhen extended completely, it is approximately 13 inches tall by 13 inches wide by 31 inches long. Pretty cool if you ask me.

Like I mentioned, we left the Coliseum just around 4 o’lock in the afternoon. By the way, it stopped raining around 11:45 or so. It was very surprising. However, it was a nice surprise. I would have preferred the rain to end earlier or for that matter, not have been there at all. In the end, I still had a good time, despite all the ups and downs.

I hope you all enjoyed this entry, as well as the video. Thanks for reading!

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Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @RFNick149. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

2014 A’s BlogFest: Q&A with Manager Bob Melvin

On Wednesday, I gave you the BlogFest press-conference style interview with A’s Assistant General Manager, David Forst. In the second of three interviews at BlogFest, we got to talk to A’s manager Bob Melvin.

He discussed Stephen Vogt‘s role, coming on his five playoff starts, and how he plans to have John Jaso catching this year, despite a season-ending concussion last year. Bob also expanded on how he plans to spread out playing time between the guys that are coming back and the new additions. Here is my transcript of the 10-minute interview session with him.

Stephen Vogt’s role this season and  his plans for John Jaso…

Well, obviously very comfortable, and you know the role that he had last year. Started every game of the playoffs based on the match ups and got one of the game-winning hits and a guy that fit in very quickly. So, we have a lot of confidence with him. The plan with Jaso, from the beginning will be to catch. So we’ll see how that goes for him. We do like to rotate the DH spot. Whether it’s a day off for Coco (Crisp), whether it’s a day off for Yoenis (Cespedes), certainly Jaso in an option, everybody’s an option there. We don’t like to get locked into saying this is our DH, but I think a combination of things, with the workload that a catcher gets, there is a day potentially where potentially, he DHs too, but more than anything, I think we have to see how he comes through Spring Training. He’s been cleared to catch in Spring Training and we’ll see if he’s over all those issues and obviously we’ll monitor him very closely in spring.

The idea of carrying three catchers…

There were times last year though when I did have our DH catching, and we were in a position at times which is hard, but you know, where I have my second catcher in a game, and you’re always on pins and needles, and hopefully something doesn’t happen. We do have the luxury of having Josh Donaldson, who has caught before. I don’t want him behind the plate, but that’s one of the reasons we would be able to do it potentially.

The depth of the 2104 Athletics, compared tho the 2012 and 2013 teams…

Well, I think we increased the depth. We add a couple more switch hitters. (Alberto) Callapso was here for a portion of the season. So therefore, we feel like our depth is even a little better.  Obviously, (Nick) Punto was the other guy I was talking about. We’ll look at maybe Callapso some at first base against left handed pitching potentially. The versatility and the depth gets more so each and every year and I think it’s better than it was in 12 and better than it was in 13. That doesn’t mean things play out exactly the way you plan it, but the division has gotten better as well, so you always feel like you have to get better and address the deficiencies that you think your team had the year before.

Winning the division and living up to expectations, despite other teams in the west bulking up…

It’s more important how we feel about ourselves and what our expectations are. We don’t care what the other expectations are, we have expectations as a group, and that’s the most important thing. It was a little different last year, after winning in 12, that it felt like there was a little more of a target on our back, and then when you win two in a row, it’s going to be accentuated that much more. Again, that’s not something we try and think about too much. We also still relish that we still could be an underdog, and I think we have played very well in that role before. But, it’s more about what our beliefs are in our team, rather than what people think about us.

Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld‘s roles in 2014…

Both great pickups for us. Both of them increase our speed, matchups on either side, even though Sam’s kind of a reverse split guy. Sam does a little bit better against lefties, at least recently. Gentry’s a guy we’ve had our eye on for a while. Number one, just getting him in our uniform means he’s not beating us. He’s been a guy that’s been tough on us. He can play all three of the outfield spots. He’s got a great track record against left-handed pitching, even though he’s hit righties pretty well. For a guy like him, I’m not sure as far as how many starts he’ll get, but my redirect to him will be just because you don’t start a game doesn’t mean you won’t be the biggest impact player of the game. He has the ability to change a game, whether you’re ahead, it’s defensively,  whether it’s pinch running, whether it’s pinch hitting, he’s one of the premier guys in the league in being able to handle a role like that. He’s going to get his share of at-bat’s, that’s for sure.

Pinch hitting…

So, if we have a 3, 4, 5 run lead, I’m a little less apt to do some things. You know, the lineup could turn back around, you’re dependent on the other team’s bullpen. It’s more in the leverage situations when we’re either one run up, even, or behind, that you’re trying to maximize that potential situation for somebody who is on the bench. You know a lot of it goes into it, you look at our pinch hit numbers last year,  I think us and Tampa were at the top of our league and do things kind of similarly. It’s more about how leverage that particular opportunity is.

What he’s taken from the last two years…

You know, any team that makes it into the playoffs has to be considered having a good year, especially our marketplace and so forth and winning the division a couple of times. A couple of giants within our division to be able to compete and come out on top… You always try to take the confidence that you had and what you’ve accomplished in years past and we’ve accomplished some good things the last couple of years. You also find some motivation in getting beaten in a certain fashion a couple of years in a row, so we wouldn’t be scared of that situation again. We would relish it if we got it again, but I think more than anything you try to find what’s best for your team that motivates you the best, and I think for us, I think it’s bringing our confidence with us  and getting past what was a sour taste for us the last couple years.

Nick Punto’s role with the team in 2014…

It’s to be determined. He’s another guy that his actually his versatility probably plays against him, as far as some of the starts. We have some in-game guys that can really impact the game, whether it’s defensively, baserunning, or offensively. As the game goes along, he is certainly one of those guys that we’ve identified to do that. He will get his share of starts, because you have to keep a guy current and getting the x-amount of bats to stay ready for the opportunities, but I don’t think at this point in time, there’s any specific amount of at-bats that I’m looking at for him.

The difference between managing the A’s and other teams…

Well I like managing the A’s a little better. I grew up here in the Bay Area and there’s some specific consequence for me in pride factor, growing up in the area. We’ve had as good a group of guys come through here over the last three years and we continue to bring in great people that accentuate our team. Just getting along with the front office, the ownership in the fashion, and the fans are a big, big, key for me here for that added pride of being an Oakland A.

How he will rotate players…

I think we find that out in Spring Training and then we try to play our best matchups on a particular day, that’s just the way we do things and the guys know it. You know, if we have some history with a potential role-player, against a certain pitcher, and they’ve done well, we’ll look to identify that start for him, we try to put our guys in the best possible position to succeed and that’s a day-to-day and an ongoing thing.

With closer Jim Johnson in the room, on Sean Doolittle and Jim Johnson sharing the closing role…

No, we like having a closer, and that’s why we got Jim Johnson, and it keeps Doolittle in the role that he has and (Ryan) Cook and (Luke) Gregerson, and (Dan) Ortero, it just goes on and on, we signed (Eric) O’Flaherty, (Evan) Scribner has done a good job. Our bullpen depth is our strength, and we do like to find roles, and that’s what it’s going to be, coming out of spring… And that wasn’t just for him [Nods to Jim Johnson].

[Laughter in room]

Well. There you have it! The BlogFest session with A’s manager Bob Melvin. Check back on Friday or Saturday to read the interviews with pitchers Jim Johnson and Sonny Gray. Thanks for reading!

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Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @RFNick149. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

2014 A’s BlogFest: Q&A with Assistant GM David Forst

What is BlogFest? You might remember I talked about it in my last entry, but essentially, 10 or so bloggers were invited to a press conference at FanFest to

talk with a few people in the A’s organization. This year, we got to talk with David Forst, Bob Melvin, Jim Johnson and<!–more
Sonny Gray in a suite in center field. In this entry, I’ll give you guys our conversation with Assistant GM of the A’s, David Forst.

We got to talk about a variety of different subjects, including from first-round picks, offseason additions, and WHY THE A’S DIDN’T TAKE MIKE TROUT IN THE DRAFT. He got into Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, and other minor leaguers such as Bobby Wahl and Dylan Covey. David Talked about the roles he expects people to have in 2014 along with his take on the A’s bullpen in the upcoming season. But, best of all, we got to meet his son, Judah.

David and his son, Judah

David and his son, Judah

Player and Media Relations Manager, Adam Loberstein: Everybody, this is Judah Forst. He will be taking questions today. Also, his dad David Forst is the Assistant General Manger of the Oakland A’s.

[Chuckle in Room]

Oakland Athletics Assistant General Manager, David Forst: Thanks everybody for coming. For those of you that were here last year, thanks for coming back. Go ahead. Whatever you want. Okay, maybe not whatever you want, but within reason.

The “Golden Child,” Addison Russell and his game…

I expect he’ll start the year at Midland. The thing that impressed me the most about Addison last year, and there were obviously a lot, after starting the way he did. I went to see him the first week of May, I went down to Stockton and I watched him play and talked to him a little bit and to see the way he kind of turned his season around. First year, full player, 18-year-old kid. That tells me as much about Addison as a player as really anything he did. I mean, you can go and watch him and see the power, see the swing, see the arm, you can see all those things there. With a guy like that, it’s really easy to see. I remember having conversations in April with Todd Steverson, who at the time was our Minor League hitting coordinator, and saying, hey, is this kid okay? Look, let him know we understand he is going to struggle. When I saw him myself in May, I said hey, you’re not going to hit .200 forever. It’s just not going to happen. He’s a confidant kid, but anyone who spends a whole month doing that, a little bit of doubt and within a couple of weeks, he started to turn around, and the way he performed the rest of the year. And he’s going to hit, he’s going to have enough power for the middle of the diamond, he can throw from anywhere, his hands. There is a reason he is a Top 10 prospect in baseball. To see him turn his season around and put everything together, and continue on into the fall league, that’s a long year for anyone, particularly for a kid in his first full season. I wasn’t here when Chavy was in the minor leagues, or (Ben) Grieve at the same time, but everyone says we haven’t had a kid put it all together since Eric (Chavez) was there. It’s fun to watch, he’s fun to be around and we are going to see a lot of him in Spring Training. I know one of Bob’s main objectives to to get Addison a lot of reps because there is no telling how soon he is going to be here… You can see the tools and ability. When you spend time with him, you understand how much fun he has and how mentally strong he is, you really feel good about his chances going forward.

The Astros, Mariners, and Rangers making additions this offseason…

 It’s going to be tough. We known in this division for a long time, with the money being thrown around, and certainly think the Rangers have had some regrets the last few years. They went and got two of the best players available, in (Prince) Fielder and (Shin-Soo) Choo. We still feel like the makeup of the complete 25-man roster gives us a chance to repeat. As great a job as Bob (Melvin) has done, managing that group, putting guys in the right spots, platooning, using the bullpen, we feel  like from one to twenty-five, we’re just as strong, if not stronger than we were the last two years. Certainly the bullpen. With adding Jim (Johnson) and Luke (Gregerson) to what was already an outstanding group, with potentially a full season of (Dan) Ortero, Jesse (Chavez) showed what he can do last year. That has to be a strength that we’re going to lean on a lot.

When asked about the Coco Crisp signing and the payroll…

There’s no doubt our payroll is going to be higher this year than probably ever, certainly in the time I’ve been here. You just have to do the math and see we are significantly above where we were last year. That’s what allowed us to go get Jim, knowing that there was going to be a 10 million dollar price tag on him. To sign (Scott) Kazmir, to even a move like signing Eric O’Flaherty, where you’re only adding a little bit for this year, but we had already sort of bumped up against our number, and Lew (Wolff) [A’s owner] and Mike Crowley [Team president] were very open to what we were trying to do with Eric and Adam for half a season and then backload the money. There’s no doubt that whether it’s the TV money, the success of the team, all of these things have gone into ownership being very open to increasing the bar and letting us do some things this offseason that we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.

Longterm commitments…

Mostly, I think we have benefited  a lot from the flexibility of the last few years. Obviously having added Coco in the last 24 hours, but other than Yoenis (Cespedes) and Kaz, there was nobody singed for 2015. We don’t necessarily want to recreate the team every year. Obviously, the fans like the players that are here, we like the certainty of guys that we know, but that we have given ourselves the ability to do it is a huge factor in our success. To commit to a guy like Coco, obviously we know the guy, we know the player, he is so important to what we do, it was just an opportunity where we felt like this was the right dollar amount to commit to him beyond the next couple of years.

Things the team was unable to address during the offseason…

I guess you are never 100% satisfied, but realistically, when you look at our checklist at the end of October, replace Bartolo (Colon), replace Grant (Balfour), so you’ve got a starting pitcher and a closer. (Craig) Gentry was a guy that we had been focused on for a long time and we just felt fit so well with what we’ve done here the last two years, with the ability to play all three outfield spots, running, hitting from the right side, so we checked that one off. We felt really good about the remaining position players. There wasn’t an obvious spot where we felt the cost was worth the upgrade. So, we added more pieces to the bullpen, we got some depth in the starting rotation with (Josh) Lindblom and (Drew) Pomeranz. These were all things that we had laid out in October, you just hope you can hit as many as possible.

Getting more value out of the first round pick…

The goal of a first round pick is always to get him here. You never draft someone, hoping just to create an asset to move. With Grant (Green) and with Michael (Choice), it sort of worked out that way, but it’s a lot more rewarding when Sonny (Gray) pitches here, or ultimately when Addison does get here, that’s what you want out of your first round pick. I won’t say we are focused on any position in the first round. You’re looking for the best player. I think it’s just worked out that way. I know there’s been a lot made of trading those guys, or throughout the farm system, we’ve moved a lot of players, and as such, we are in a position where we need to rebuild. There’s never a specific goal of the first round pick really.

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Judah Forst

David (To Judah): This is awfully loud buddy, can I turn it down for you a little bit?

[Turns down volume on Judah’s iPad. Chuckle amongst room.]

On how he expects this offseason’s additions to help the team…

I’ve mentioned a couple of them specifically. Each of those guys, we felt like, addressed, not necessarily a weakness, but somewhere we could get better. It’s hard to say specifically how they help us in the postseason. Any time your pitching depth is strong, whether it’s with Kaz or Jim Johnson, and Gregerson, you expect that to come into play in a tight postseason game. Nick (Punto) has played in the postseason quite a bit, he has been on winning teams, he knows a lot of the guys around the league. There’s no way that his experience isn’t going to help us when it comes down the stretch and it’s sort of subjective to say exactly what that is, but we’ve seen it before with players that we’ve brought in, so hopefully those guys fit as well as the group as the last two years. Ultimately, that’s what we’re trying to do. Put that puzzle together to compete in September and I think we have every reason to believe these guys will fit. 

On consistency and bringing new ideas into the front office…

It’s a challenge that we face. Billy’s been in the organization since he was a player in the late 80’s. This is my 15th year. Farhan (Zedi) [Director of Baseball Operations] I think is coming up on his 9th or 10th year. The nice thing about that is that we work well together. We finish each other’s sentences and each have our own little niche and know what’s important. At the same time, like you said, we do have the challenge of creating something new every year and finding a new way to do it. I think we’ve done a very good job evolving over the last 10 years. Certainly, since the book was written and since those ideas have become pervasive across the game, we’ve had to move into certain things and the easier thing to do is to develop with the technology. We can evaluate defense and running and throwing so much better than we were able to 10 years ago. The thing we have to do is stay on top of that technology and make sure we have people in our office that have the skills to use it. I don’t have that skill set. I’m not an engineer. Farhan has a computing background. In the last two years, we’ve brought in a new analyst, Michael Schatz. Rob Naberhaus is a developer we brought in house. All of those to create new systems and make sure we stay up on what’s going on out there. That’s kind o where our focus is. To stay up on the technology so that we do have some edge.

On international scouting and talent…

 I think we’re always out there. Sam Geaney runs our international department. I was just with him in the Dominican a couple of weeks ago and we feel like we have a very strong presence in the Dominican Republic, we’ve tried over the last couple of years, since Sam has run the department to branch out a little bit. We now have full-time scouts in Panama and Columbia, which we didn’t as of a few years ago. We’ve done a good job in Venezuela, all the way back to Ramon Hernandez and most recently Renato Nunez coming out of there, so we feel good about the coverage there. Asia has been tough for us, it’s a really tough bidding market. We’ve had some success with a player like (Chih Fang) Pan, who’s been in A-ball the last few years. It’s something we spend a lot of time focusing on. Sam does a great job and has sort of built on what Dan Kantrovitz did before him in building up the international department. I’ll be the first to admit, we have not seen the results at the Major League level like we did in the early part of the 2000’s, like with Miguel (Tejada) and Ramon, Santiago Casilla, but part of that is that we’ve traded players, but it certainly always remains a focus for us internationally.

On the expectations for Josh Reddick in 2014…

… We certainly expect Josh to bounce back. I don’t think anybody knows fully how much his wrist affected him last year. And Josh will never, ever admit it, privately or publicly. But, the fact is that he had that injury in Houston early in the year, and when you look at the difference in his numbers between 2012 and 2013, a player with his talent, you have to assume there is something else going on. We fully expect Josh to bounce back. I fully expect to have him under contract hopefully sometime in the next couple of weeks. Josh adds so much with his defense alone, it’s hard to calculate his value to the team and if he does get back to being the offensive player that we saw in 2012, he has a chance to carry the team at times, like we saw then.

On the expectations for catcher John Jaso in 2014…

… He’s come into camp as a catcher. He’s cleared all exams. He’s had no setbacks with his physical activity. Look, you cannot predict how he reacts when he gets hit with a foul tip. I mean, like I said, that’s a medical issue. We did everything we could in terms of giving him the rest he needed and getting him to see the right people. He comes into camp as a catcher. You know, same situation with him and Derek (Norris). The nice thing is, Stephen (Vogt) sort of emerged last year in John’s absence and that’s a great problem to have and if you end up having to have a roster with all three of those guys, they’re great options from the DH spot and the catching spot for Bob (Melvin).

On 2013 1st Round pick Billy McKinney

I saw Billy in March last year, I went to see him play in high school and there wasn’t a lot of consensus on the board last year in the draft room, it’s just one of those years where we’re picking so low, guys have different opinions, but by the time we got down there, the nice thing was we did have a strong voice in Billy’s favor and you always feel good about a pick when that happens. He came out and hit the way we expected, sort of above what you expect for his years. He got a chance to go into Vermont and get his feet wet a little bit. I know he, in Instructional League, he talked to Keith Lieppman [Director of Player Development] and he said, “Just so you know, I expect to follow Addison’s path and start in Stockton next year.” [Laughter in room] It’s nice to hear, I mean you don’t put expectations on a kid like that, because we know how special Addison is, but he will be with a full-season club, we know he can hit, he did a great job in center field, and we’re excited about Billy.

On drafting players right out of high school…

We didn’t like taking kids out of high school when the information was so limited. Things have evolved over the last ten years. These kids play in so many showcases; they play against the best competition in the country. We know so much more, performance-wise about a high school kid than we did even five years ago, particularly when the book [Moneyball] was written. You’re dealing with an extra three years of personal development and any kid from the ages of 18 to 21 changes a lot and no matter if they’re playing baseball, if they’re in college, if they’re working, whatever, so you have that to deal with. But, I think we have gotten to the point where we are a lot more comfortable with what these kids show us on the field. Addison was from Pensacola, Florida. If he was only playing against kids in a 50 square mile radius, then we’re not sure about how he stacks up, but he went to California and played, he went to Texas and played, he went to Miami and played against all these kids. Billy did the same thing. He’s on that showcase circuit, where you know how he stacks up against everybody in the country. The last mistake we made that way, and I won’t say mistake, but when we didn’t take Mike Trout, it was because we thought, “This is a cold-weather kid from the northeast, we’re not sure how he stacks up against the rest of the country.” Well, if we had stepped back to see that Mike did the same things and played those circuits and performed really well, we might have lined up our board differently. So, really, it’s a different time with high school kids and if our scouts have seen a lot of them, and they sort of check enough boxes, we feel really good about those guys and Billy fell into that group.

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On 2013 draft picks Dylan Covey and Bobby Wahl

Both Covey and Wall were interesting conversations. Like you said, Covey was a first round out of high school. Bobby was expected to potentially be a first round guy, or at least a top two guy. Both guys fell to an area where a), we paid over slot for them, because we wanted to and we felt like both guys had… some sort of marks against them that hurt their draft status. With Dylan, he never sort of performed the way people expected him to out of high school, but the stuff was always there and there was un upwards trend in his college performance. And Bobby we knew had an injury history, but if we could get him healthy and keep him healthy, this was a first round talent. As far as the diversity of our draft portfolio, those guys fit really nicely after taking a guy like Billy in the first round because they’re a little more advanced and if they did stay healthy and live up to what their pre-draft status was, you potentially have some top guys and both guys went out and pitched great. I know Dylan was obviously able to make the jump to the Midwest league for a couple starts, but both those guys have a chance to start the year in Stockton, depending on how things shake out, and potentially move quickly, because of their status as college players.

On the high school draft pool…

We certainly have a long way to go and how we evaluate, mostly because the actual statistics on those guys are somewhat meaningless, it’s far away from the big leagues. But, I do feel like, as an industry, we’ve figured out how to get a lot more, a lot better data on them and learn a lot more than just sort of looking at the Baseball America state-by-state list and saying “Well, the guy from Luisiana may be as good as the guy from Texas.”

On scouting in the northeast…

I think you’ve seen sort of a different way of looking at players not only in the northeast, but a Brandon Nimmo, who comes out of Montana, who doesn’t even really have a high school team. Guys who don’t have the high-profile, high school program, but have the ability to go to a Perfect Game showcase or go to the Area Code Games, I think there’s been a lot more focus on what they’ve done there and understanding those guys do have the ability to be in the first round.

On signing older players, like Coco Crisp…

We think Coco is a little bit unique in his body type and that he will continue through his age 34, 35 to perform. And certainly, when you get to that end of the spectrum, the talent pool isn’t good, or the track record isn’t good of how guys have performed, particularly where we are now in terms of hopefully being beyond the stuff that guys were using in the early part of the 2000s, but we think Coco, with his work ethic and his track record has a chance to do that. But, you always are taking a risk, I mean we dealt with it on Bartolo, dealing with a guy who’s performed at 39 and 40, how far is he really going to go, so that’s a question we have to take into account every time. 

Stephen Vogt and his role in 2014…

I don’t have any problem with Stephen being in there as much as we need him. I mean, he proved though the second half last year and in the postseason, he can handle the pitching staff, outstanding at bats against right handers, he threw the ball well last year as anyone has seen. When we traded for him at the beginning of the year, the knock on him was, he’s not really a catcher. Tampa played him in left field a lot, he hand’t thrown the ball well, he certainly figured it out and worked his way into a outstanding throwing catcher, so yeah,  I feel great about Stephen… With Dan Feinstein [Director of Professional Scouting/Baseball Development] in our office knowing Stephen from Tampa, we had a little bit of inside information, saying “Hey, this is going to be a project.” But, if you ask him, he spent a ton of time last year doing specifically that, to make sure that he was able to catch in the big leagues. 


There you have it! You can also check out the posts from A’s Farm, Athletics Nation, The Afroed Elephant, and eDraft, and their take on the interview with Forst. Tomorrow, I will bring you the interview with manager Bob Melvin, so keep a look out for that. Thanks for reading!

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Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @RFNick149. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pre-FanFest: 2014 Edition!

I have done this post in the past, so I have decided to do it again!

Tomorrow is A’s FanFest, and of course, I will be there for the entire time.

Last year, the event took place at the neighboring Oracle Arena, however this year, only the Q&A session will be there. A majority of FanFest will be held at the Coliseum.

Officially, FanFest starts at 10 a.m and will run until 4 p.m. However, Arena doors open at 9am and Season Ticket Holders (Like Me) get in at 8:30 a.m. Team introductions start at 10 a.m. at the Arena and Coliseum Doors Open at 10:15 a.m.

Tickets were $10 for the General Public, free to kids 6 and under, and $5 for Season Ticket Holders. They sold out on Wednesday, February 5th.

Here is a rundown of the 14 events taking place at A’s FanFest, direct from the A’s website. I will also give you my take on each event.

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Every FanFest has one. Always a classic. I am sure I will swing by for a little while, but it isn’t a priority.

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I’ve never been an autograph guy. If there is no line, I’ll stop by, but lines are usually long and given that they are free, I don’t want to wait for hours.

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Player photos are cool and all, but I can’t see myself being incredibly interested in this. They are not a priority for me. If the lines are short, I’ll stop by, but not otherwise.

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I got a photo with the trophies last year. I don’t really need another.

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This is a cool idea, however it’s not something I really want to check out. If there is an extra spot, sure. Given that it is limited to 50 participants, I don’t want to take the spot of someone who wants to be there more.

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I like this discussion a lot. However, like the last one, I don’t want to deprive someone of a spot if they would rather be there more.

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If only I were 14 or under…

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This is always a good time. I’ve done this the past couple of years, however I plan on doing it again. Always a good time!
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You KNOW I’ll be at the memorabilia sale! I already have a list of items that I plan on looking for and will be getting there early for this!

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The A’s haven’t done this since 2009, so I will be checking out the press box. My mom is certainly looking forward to this one!

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I’m not a “kid.” I don’t really need a Kids Club kit…

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As much as I would LOVE to do this, the lines are always insanely long. If the line is short enough, I’ll do this. It always looks like a lot of fun.
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Hmm… I don’t have a need for a picture with a mascot, but it is Eck, Rollie, and Rickey. If there is no or little line, I will stop by.
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This is awesome. I’ll be doing this.

Here is a map that shows the locations of everything…

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Click on the map to be redirected to  a larger, PDF version of the map, in the event you would like to enlarge it.

Of course, there is also a large list of current and former players and coaches that will be at FanFest.

This list includes:

Players:

  • Yoenis Céspedes
  • Jesse Chavez
  • Ryan Cook
  • Coco Crisp
  • Josh Donaldson
  • Sean Doolittle
  • Chris Gimenez
  • Craig Gentry
  • Sonny Gray
  • John Jaso
  • Jim Johnson
  • Tommy Milone
  • Derek Norris
  • Eric O’Flaherty
  • Dan Otero
  • Jarrod Parker
  • Drew Pomeranz
  • Nick Punto
  • Josh Reddick
  • Eric Sogard
  • Dan Straily
  • Stephen Vogt

Manager and Coaches:

  • Bob Melvin (Manager)
  • Curt Young (Pitching Coach)
  • Mike Gallego (3rd Base Coach)
  • Chip Hale (Bench Coach)
  • Darren Bush (Bullpen Coach)
  • Tye Waller (1st Base Coach)
  • Ariel Prieto (Coach)

1974 & 1989 World Series Championship Alumni:

  • Vida Blue (1974)
  • Ray Fosse (1974)
  • Gene Tenace (1974)
  • Dave Henderson (1989)
  • Tony Phillips (1989)

In total, that is 22 current players, 7 current coaches, and56 players from the 1974 and 1989 World Series Championship teams.

That is 34 people in total.

Now, it’s time for me to talk about A’s BlogFest.

You may remember that last year, I was selected to participate in a bloggers-only press conference. I was lucky enough to be selected again this year! Here is a rundown of the important information that you might care about.

The press conferences will take place from 12:00 to 1 p.m.

  • 12:00-12:30 p.m. Assistant GM David Forst
  • 12:15-12:45 p.m. Manager Bob Melvin
  • 12:30-1:00 p.m.  A’s pitchers Sonny Gray & Jim Johnson

Because audio recording devices are allowed, I will be recording all of the audio from the press conferences and my mom will be with me to take pictures. I’ll hopefully have the audio transcribed by the end of next week in order to have a post up . Last year, my audio recording device created problems for me after the fact, so I have new equipment this year!

Now… I want to get you all involved in BlogFest. Do any of you have questions for David Forst, Bob Melvin, Sonny Gray, or Jim Johnson? If so, Tweet me (@RFNick149) or let me know in the comments what you want me to ask during BlogFest and I will do my best to get around to as many questions as possible.

Throughout the day, I will be recording video clips to put together for a video for YouTube. My goal is to get video of as much stuff as possible. I’ll be patterning up with my sister and potentially Ryan Dalton to create a fantastic video tour. I am really looking forward to doing this, it will be a lot of fun DESPITE THE 100% CHANCE OF RAIN ALL DAY LONG! :-)

That’s all that I have for this entry. Let me know in the comments what you think of A’s FanFest. What do you like about about it? Thanks for reading!

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Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @RFNick149. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Beyond the Outfield Fence!

Hey everyone. Like I mentioned yesterday, it is time for what I am considering a BIG announcement here at 7000 Coliseum Way.

I have been thinking about doing this since the middle of last year and after doing some planning in the month of January, it is finally here! I have ANOTHER MLBlog! Today is the official launch of Beyond the Outfield Fence, my Minor League Blog!

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After the 2013 Minor League season came to a close, I decided that Major and Minor league games are just too different for them to be on the same blog. Plus, neither the Ports or Nuts play at 7000 Coliseum Way, that is the address of the Oakland Coliseum, where the A’s play. So, click here to head over to Beyond the Outfield Fence to check out my first post there! The new URL is MiLBnick.mlblogs.com. In my first entry, I explain what I plan on writing about, the reason behind the name, and give you guys a question to answer. So, remember to head over and check it out!

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Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @RFNick149. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

January Update!

Hey everyone! Sorry I haven’t posted since the beginning of the month. I have been very busy with school and life, so I haven’t had much time to write. However… I just posted a new video on YouTube! In it, I sum up what I would otherwise write in this entry. Check it out!

I hope you guys liked that. I know it was just a short and simple update video, but it’s a step towards my goal of more regular YouTube videos.

That is all I have for you guys today.

REMEMBER! Check back tomorrow at Noon PST, 3pm EST for a HUGE announcement here at 7000 Coliseum Way. Thanks for watching and reading!

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Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @RFNick149. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

15 Goals for 2014

I did a post like this last year. Yesterday, I looked back on my goals. Likely, I will do the same thing this year.

In this entry, I am going to give you my 15 goals for 2014. They may be blogging, writing, and ballhawking.

  1. Attend 30 MLB Games: I attended 27 Major League games last year, so I would like to round it off at an even number.
  2. Attend 20 MiLB Games: I attended 13 Minor League games last year, so like my MLB goal, I want to round it off and see if I can attend 50 games this season.
  3. Average 3 balls per MLB game: I don’t want to set a number of balls to snag. I want to average 3 balls per MLB game. With my games goal, that would be 90 balls. I’ve only snagged 68 MLB balls in my life and I got 40 of those last year. I’m picking my games wisely this year, with no giveaway games, so I would think that I should be able to  average over 3 balls a game.
  4. Average 8 balls per MiLB game: Like I said before, I don’t want to give a set number, but if I do reach this goal and my games goal, I’ll have 160 MiLB balls this year. Given that I have only snagged 95 lifetime MiLB balls, 80 of those being last season, this will be tough, but I’m up for the challenge. My average last year was 6.15 balls per game, so this will be a fun goal to attempt!
  5. Snag 1 MLB Game Home Run: I’ll be sitting in the RF Bleachers all year long, like I did last year so given the games I have chosen, hopefully a home run is hit my way. I’ve come close, but still have no game home run under my belt, so it would be great to make this the year.
  6. Snag 2 MiLB Game Home Runs: I won’t completely focus on snagging Minor League home runs, but I would like to snag 2. I still haven’t snagged a pro home run yet. This is the year!
  7. Have a hat and shirt for every MLB team except the Yankees: I’m close on this goal. I need a Pirates hat and a Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Twins shirt. I just can’t wear a Yankees hat or shirt. I just can’t.
  8. Start a Minor League MLBlog: I want to write about Minor League Baseball and my Minor League games on a MiLB-themed blog, rather than a MLB-themed blog. Keep an eye out for this one…
  9. Write 150,000 words on this blog: I wrote almost 110,000 words this past year at 7000 Coliseum Way. I want to write more this year.
  10. Expand my baseball writing beyond MLBlogs: I would like to have the opportunity to write about baseball outside of MLBlogs, so I am hoping to be doing something in addition by the end of the year.
  11. Post a new YouTube video every month: I stopped posting on YouTube towards the end of the year. I’m hoping to pick that up again this year.
  12. Do a BlogTalkRadio show every month: Same as the above. I stopped with BlogTalkRadio and want to get back on it.
  13. Reach 600 followers on Twitter (@RFNick149): I’m at 464 right now, so I would like to reach 600 by the end of the year.
  14. Reach 200 Likes on Facebook (7000 Coliseum Way): Right now, I am at 131 Likes. I would like to get to 200!
  15. Finish in the Top 20 MLBlogs I was 24th for 2013, so I would love to break the Top-20!

That’s it! My 15 goals for 2o14!

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Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @RFNick149. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

2013 in Review

Wow… I wasn’t sure what to expect out of 2013, but it sure delivered!

Before we start… Make sure to read to the bottom of the post… I have an announcement!

Like last year, I am basically going to go over every entry from the year with you. I’ll give you a link, a short description of the entry, and a picture from the entry. Just click on the date from each entry to check that entry out. Here we go!

In the month of January, I got some mail, introduced some changes, and got ready for A’s FanFest! I had 3,163 total views in the month of January, that is an average of about 102 views each day. I was ranked 19th in the MLBlogs Latest Leaders for the month of January 2013. In the 9 entries I published in January, I wrote 4,957 words.

On January 1st, I gave you 20 of my goals for 2013. Some of them were unrealistic, some of them were very realistic. For all purposes of simplicity, I will be combining my MLB and MiLB ballhawking stats. Let’s take a look at how I did…

  1. Snag 57 Baseballs combined between MLB and MILB: I was hoping to break 100 lifetime combined balls. I snagged 80 Minor League Baseballs and 40 Major League  Baseballs. I more than doubled my goal for the season. Success!
  2. Snag 7 game balls: I only snagged 1 MLB game-used ball. That was a foul ball on July 31st. However, I snagged 10 Minor League foul balls. 11 foul balls. I consider this goal a Success!
  3. Don’t get shut out: I got shut out 5 times in 2012, in 21 games. That is an average of 1 shutout every 4.2 games. That’s not very good for a ballhawk, but I didn’t chose my games very well. In 2013, I was shut out 12 times in 40 games. That’s a shutout every 3.33 games. My average did lower, however I chose not to ballhawk a few games, so those were included in my stats. I also poorly chose my ballhawking games. I did not meet this goal.
  4. Snag at least one of each 2013 Commemorative ball: The Astros and Rockies were the only teams to use a commemorative ball on a daily basis. I didn’t see the Rockies play, but I did see the Astros play. I didn’t get a ball from either team. The Tigers used postseason balls during BP of the ALDS. I should have gotten one, but I didn’t. I did not meet this goal.
  5. Catch a home run: Nope. I did not snag a game home run. There is always next year. I did not meet this goal.
  6. Average 3.5 Balls per game: In 2012, my average was 1.53 balls per game for MLB Games, and 2.5 balls per game for MILB Games. In 2013, my average for MLB games was 1.48 balls, while for MiLB games, it was 6.15 balls. I averaged 3 balls per game between MLB and MiLB. Close, but not my 3.5 goal. I did not meet this goal.
  7. Have a double-digit game: Yes! I did not reach double-digits in an MLB game, but did it three times at the Minor League Level. That was 25% of my minor league games. On April 5th, I snagged 10 balls. On July 27th, I snagged 11 balls. On August 6th, I snagged 13 balls. Success!
  8. Attend 25 Games: In 2012, I went to 21 games: 15 MLB and 6 MiLB. In 2013, I went to 27 MLB Games and 13 Minor League games. Success!
  9. Visit 10 Different MLB and MILB Stadiums: I went to 4 stadiums this year: O.co, AT&T, Banner Island, and John Thurmond. This goal was unrealistic to begin with, but there is next season. I did not meet this goal.
  10. See 5 teams play that I have never seen play before: Going into 2013, the only 2 AL Teams that I had not yet seen play were the White Sox and Astros. I saw both teams play in 2013. I saw the Diamondbacks and Reds play in 2013, two teams I had not yet seen play. In the Minors, I saw the 66ers and JetHawks play for the first time. 6 new teams… Success!
  11. Have a hat for all 29 MLB Teams (I will NEVER buy or wear a Yankees hat, so they don’t count): I would love to say I met this goal. I don’t yet have a Pirates hat. So if there is anyone out there that would like to make that happen for me, just let me know ;) I did not meet this goal.
  12. Have a shirt for all 29 MLB Teams (Same thing as above- I will NEVER buy or wear a Yankees shirt, so they don’t count): I still need a shirt for the Twins, Diamondbacks and Rockies. Like I said, if there is anyone out there that would like to make these happen for me, just let me know ;) I did not meet this goal.
  13. Collect 10 Different Giveaway Items: With the A’s- I got 4 rally towels, a magnetic schedule, a blanket, a bobblehead, a jersey, a cereal bowl, a bobble-torso, a drawstring backpack, a stein, a Season Ticket Holder tumbler, and a team photo. 11 different types of MLB giveaways! With the Ports, I got a logo baseball, a bobblehead, a jersey, and some baseball cards. 13 different kinds of giveaways in 2013. Success!
  14. Get 30 Autographs: I did not focus on getting autographs this year. I got around 15 or 20. I did not meet this goal.
  15. Win the MyGameBalls.com Scavenger Hunt: I was so close! However, the Cook family once again just barely edged me out. I had 56 points, while they beat me with 73. Next year! I did not meet this goal.
  16. Finish in the top 3 for the MyGameBalls.com Junior Ballhawk of the Year Award: I was absolutely overwhelmed and shocked by the fact that this year, I was the Runner-Up!  Grant Edrington deservingly won, snagging over 100 balls and a home run ball! He received 19 1st place votes, 1 2nd place vote and 4 3rd place votes, for a total of 63 points. I received 6 1st place votes, 8 2nd-place votes, and 4 3rd-place votes, for a total of 38 points. Success!
  17. Finish in the top 20 in the MLBlogs Latest Leaders: I was in the latest leaders every month of 2013. I finished 24th for the year of 2013! Not in the Top 20, but it is Rickey Henderson’s number, so I’m okay with that. However, I did not meet this goal.
  18. Get a Media Pass for a team: I got one from the A’s at FanFest, as well as media passes from the Ports and Nuts. Success!
  19. Get all of my game entries up within 5 days of the game: I was hoping I would, and for the most part, I did okay, but  I cannot consider this a success. I did not meet this goal.
  20. Meet many new people and have lots of unforeseen adventures and fun! Yes, Yes, and Yes! 2013 was an absolute blast. I met so many new people and had a great time doing it. Success!!

So… I have met 9 of my 20 goals and might have met another. Not great, but not horrible either. I will roll out some new goals once again on January 1st.

On January 4th, I posted a blog entry thanking everyone for helping me be the 67th most-read MLB.com fan blog of 2012.

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On January 6th, I got wrote about the mail I got from the Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Lakers, and Bakersfield Blaze.

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On January 12th, I gave you all a few changes that I was planning on making in 2013.

On January 13th, I introduced this blog’s logo, designed by Adam Olson!

badt-gvcaaauqwq-largeOn January 19th, I shared with you the mail that I got from the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Eagles, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as well as the fact that my tickets to FanFest showed up!

20130118-175646On January 20th, I redesigned the blog and posted, just to let you guy know.

On January 26th, the day before A’s FanFest, I posted to let you guys know about A’s FanFest and give you some information about it!

600x400_fanfest_info_71ke8o4j_txqtjcx7Then, on January 29th, Bob Rose, the A’s PR Director blogged about A’s BlogFest, which I participated in, so I reblogged it to share it with you all!

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1 Month. 3,163 Views. 9 Posts. 4,957 Words Written.

In the month of February, I got some mail, made some videos, and had a contest! I had 7,180 total views in the month of February, that is an average of about 256 views each day. I was ranked 12th in the MLBlogs Latest Leaders for the month of February 2013. In the 11 entries I published in February, I wrote 8,530 words.

On February 1st, I introduced my February Giveaway contest.

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On February 7th, I thanked everyone for getting 7000 Coliseum way to the 19th most-read fan MLBLog.

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On February 9th, I got mail from the Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, and Carolina Hurricanes.

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On February 10th, I announced the launch of my YouTube channel.

On February 11th, I finally got around to blogging about my experience at A’s FanFest, including the press pass that the A’s gave me to participate in BlogFest.

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On February 13th, I got mail from the Indianapolis Indians, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, and Oklahoma City Thunder!

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On February 15th, I introduced Part 2 of my February Giveaway contest and announced the winner for Part 1.

On February 16th, I talked about the mail I got from the Buffalo Sabres and Los Angeles Dodgers.

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On February 18th, I got mail from the Pawtucket Red Sox, San Diego Chargers, Vancouver Canucks, and Boston Bruins.

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On February 23rd, I made a video for a few of my fan packs. I got mail from the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, San Jose Sharks, and Detroit Red Wings.

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On February 24th, In introduced my Spreadshirt store, where you can purchase 7000 Coliseum Way-related things.

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2 Months. 10,343 Views. 20 Posts. 13,487 Words Written.

In March, I went to some hockey games, got some mail, talked about BlogTalkRadio, and introduced BallhawkFest: West. I had 2,298 total views in the month of March, that is an average of about 74 views each day. I was ranked 31st in the MLBlogs Latest Leaders for the month of March 2013. In the 5 entries I published in March, I wrote 3,971 words.

On March 7th, I asked you guys a few questions about BlogTalkRadio. Hopefully, I will bring that back when my life is a little less busy.

On March 8th, I got mail from the Miami Marlins, Nebraska Cornhuskers, and Tri-City Valley Cats.

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On March 9th, I blogged about the Stockton Thunder game I went to in February with my dad and uncle. We had glass seats and there was lots of fighting!

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On March 11th, I introduced BallhawkFest: West, which was very successful and took place on May 18th!

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On March 17th, I blogged about the Stockton Thunder game I attended on March 9th, with my dad.

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3 Months. 12,641 Views. 25 Posts. 17,450 Words Written.

In April, baseball was finally back. I wrote about 3 A’s games and more! I had 5,117 total views in the month of April, that is an average of about 171 views each day. I was ranked 21st in the MLBlogs Latest Leaders for the month of April 2013. In the 7 entries I published in April, I wrote 13,190 words.

On April 1st, I published a quick entry before heading off to Opening Day. I gave my predictions for standings and awards. Let’s see how I did. I will cross out predictions that were incorrect and put the correct team or name next to it. For the playoffs- I will italicize the team name if they played in that particular round.

AL East: 1 of 5

  1.  Tampa Bay Rays Boston Red Sox
  2. Toronto Blue Jays Tampa Bay Rays
  3. Baltimore Orioles
  4. Boston Red Sox New York Yankees
  5. New York Yankees Toronto Blue Jays

AL Central: 1 of 5

  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Kansas City Royals Cleveland Indians
  3. Cleveland Indians Kansas City Royals
  4. Chicago White Sox Minnesota Twins
  5. Minnesota Twins Chicago White Sox

AL West: 2 of 5

  1. Oakland Athletics
  2. Seattle Mariners Texas Rangers
  3. Lost Angeles Angels
  4. Houston Astros Seattle Mariners
  5. Texas Rangers Houston Astros

Wild Card: Kansas City over Seattle Tampa Bay over Cleveland

ALDS: Oakland Over Kansas City Detroit over Oakland

ALDS: Tampa Bay over Detroit Boston over Tampa Bay

ALCS: Oakland over Tampa Bay Boston over Detroit

NL East: 1 of 5

  1. Washington Nationals Atlanta Braves
  2. Atlanta Braves Washington Nationals
  3. Philadelphia Phillies New York Mets
  4. New York Mets Philadelphia Phillies
  5. Miami Marlins

NL Central: 3 of 5

  1. Cincinnati Reds St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Pittsburg Pirates
  3. St. Louis Cardinals Cincinnati Reds
  4. Milwaukee Brewers
  5. Chicago Cubs

NL West: 3 of 5

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Arizona Diamondbacks
  3. San Francisco Giants San Diego Padres
  4. San Diego Padres San Fransisco Giants
  5. Colorado Rockies

Wild Card: Pittsburg over Atlanta Pittsburgh over Cincinnati

NLDS: Washington Over Pittsburg St. Louis over Pittsburg

NLDS: Cincinnati over Los Angeles Los Angeles over Atlanta

NLCS: Washington over Cincinnati St. Louis over Los Angeles

World Series: Washington over Oakland in 6 games. Boston over St. Louis in 6 games.

Awards:

AL MVP: Yoenis Cespedes (OAK) Miguel Cabrera (DET)

NL MVP: Joey Votto (CIN) Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

AL Cy Young: James Shields (KC) Max Scherzer (DET)

NL Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg (WAS) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)

AL ROY: Wil Myers (TB)

NL ROY: Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) Jose Fernandez (MIA)

AL MOY: Ned Yost (KC) Terry Francona (CLE)

NL MOY: Clint Hurdle (PIT)

I correctly predicted the position in the standings of 11 of the 30 teams. Most of my predictions were just a position off. I was correct about 2 of the 10 awards. In the AL, I correctly predicted 3 of the 5 teams to make it to the postseason. In the NL, I correctly predicted 4 of the 5 teams to make the postseason. Not great across the board, but not too shabby.

On April 3rd, I talked about my experience at the Semifinals of the World Baseball Classic, where I saw Japan and Puerto Rico play on March 17th. It was a BLAST! However, I did not snag a ball.

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On April 4th, I talked about the game that my High School baseball team played at Banner Island Ballpark.

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On April 7th, I blogged about Opening Day at the O.co Coliseum, between (Once again) the A’s and Mariners on April 1st. This game was a lot of fun! It felt good to be back at the Coliseum for live baseball. I snagged 1 ball.

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On April 13th, I talked about my second game of the year. 2 days after Opening Day, I was back out at the yard for some more baseball between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics, on April 3rd. I snagged 2 balls.

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On April 20th, I blogged about my first Minor League game of the season, on April 5th. This one featured the Bakersfield Blaze and Stockton Ports, where the Ports wore their new Friday jerseys for the first time! I snagged 10 balls at this game, which was the most I had ever snagged at a game before! The Ports also gave me a press pass, which was really cool!

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On April 28th, I wrote about my 4th game of the season, my 3rd MLB one, on April 13th. I snagged one ball in the game between the Detroit Tigers and Oakland A’s. There was a fleece blanket giveaway. Keep in mind that it was a day game.

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4 Months. 17,758 Views. 32 Posts. 30,640 Words Written.

In May, I continued going to games, finally blogged about a crazy game, and introduced you to Mr. Hahn! I had 2,091 total views in the month of May, that is an average of about 67 views each day. I was ranked 21st in the MLBlogs Latest Leaders for the month of May 2013. In the 8 entries I published in May, I wrote 14,022 words.

On May 1st, I blogged about my second Minor League game of the season, on April 21st. It was On-Field Photo day with the Ports! This is where I got my first ever lineup card. I snagged 6 balls at this game!

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On May 14th, I introduced you to my math teacher, Mr. Hahn, who is a huge baseball fan. He shared some pretty awesome and crazy stories with me!

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On May 17th, I wrote about Reggie Jackson bobblehead day in Oakland, on April 27th, where I snagged 1 ball.

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On May 21st, I wrote about the craziest day of the year for me. On April 29th, Adam Olson couldn’t go to the game, so he gave me his tickets. After school, I conveniently had a doctor’s appointment right near his house. After the appointment, we got the tickets from him and my mom and I rushed to the nearby BART station, barely making the train. We got to the Coliseum a few minutes before the gates opened, and I snagged 3 balls in BP.

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It was also Josh Hamilton Appreciation night. This was Josh’s first game back since he dropped a fly ball, leading to the A’s winning the AL West in 2012.

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At the end of 9 innings, the game was tied, so it went into extra innings. There were 10 innings that followed. It was the longest game in Oakland history! Brandon Moss hit a walk-off home run just shy of 2am. We even got to see Jerry Blevins hit! My dad just WALKED IN during the 15th inning and after the game, he got a picture of everyone that stayed in right field for all 19 innings. I then tweeted it out and it was retweeted by Peter Gammons! It aired on Intentional Talk, and I ended up doing a radio interview about the whole day!

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There is so much more that I want to share with you about this day, so again, check it out here.

On May 24th, I wrote a really interesting entry about a man named Harvey Codde. He was a pitcher in the Dodgers organization and the father of one of the women in the front office at my school. Ms. Getgen had some really cool things to show me!

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On May 26th, I wrote about the A’s game I went to on May 17th. I didn’t ballhawk, so I didn’t snag a ball, but it was Bacon Friday. Check out the entry I wrote to get the backstory on that!

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May 29th was the two-year anniversary of 7000 Coliseum Way, so I wrote an letter, thanking everyone for their support with this blog.

On May 31st, I blogged about MyGameBalls.com BallhawkFest: Bay Area, which took place on May 18th. A group of ballhawks gathered in Oakland for Pizza, a softball game in the parking lot, and a great amount of ballhawking in BP!

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The group included (Clockwise from top left): Spencer Sanborn, Ryan Dalton, Kelly Byrnes, Rick Gold, “Splash Hit” Steve Garrison, myself, and “McCovey Cove” Dave Edlund. My family, Kelly’s wife Leah, and Leming Tang also were there, but not in the picture. Together, we snagged 22 balls as a group!

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The highlight of BP was Bruce Chen playing catch with a couple of kids in the stands. I tweeted it to Alex Espinosa, of Cut4, and it eventually was on the front page of *YAHOO*.

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5 Months. 19,850 Views. 40 Posts. 44,662 Words Written

In June, I continued going to and writing about both Major and Minor League games. I had 1,847 total views in the month of June, that is an average of about 61 views each day. I was ranked 25th in the MLBlogs Latest Leaders for the month of June 2013. In the 5 entries I published in June, I wrote 11,550 words.

On June 6th, I wrote about how I got to see Josh Reddick make a rehab appearance in Stockton on May 27th, which was Memorial Day. My dad, sister, and I headed to Stockton, where I snagged 7 balls and got my first bat of any kind, ever. This broken bat!

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On June 9th, I blogged about Yoenis Cespedes jersey day, which was on June 1st. It was a long day, but after a surprising BP, I managed 2 baseballs. I also got to meet “MLB’s Greatest Sign Maker,” Ian Sagabaen. I provided him a photo to make this sign.
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On June 13th, I published a really cool entry. After my high school varsity team went 24-2, one of the parents rented out the BBQ terrace in Oakland on June 2nd, and they invited me to join them! I should have snagged a foul ball in the 8th inning, but didn’t, because I was visiting in the Right Field bleachers at the time.img_4753

On June 25th, I published an entry about the June 8th, which was quite an adventure. My family’s car broke down a few hours before we wanted to head out to Stockton, and by the time we finally left our house in a rental car, Ports BP had already started. Ports pitcher Seth Frankoff  and his wife Bess were kind enough to leave us tickets to the game. I ended up snagging 5 balls. On our way to the game, I tweeted Modesto Nuts shortstop Trevor Story, telling him that I was coming to the game. Not only did I get the Nuts lineup card after the game, but Trevor gave me the bat he used from the game!img_5304

On June 30th, I blogged about my first game of the season in Modesto, on June 13th. I snagged 9 balls and got the Nuts lineup card after the game! This was also the game where I picked up the Media Pass that the Nuts gave me.img_6715

6 Months. 21,697 Views. 45 Posts. 56,212 Words Written.

In July, I spent the first few weeks at Boy Scout Camp. After getting back, I continued to go to games! I had 1,923 total views in the month of July, that is an average of about 62 views each day. I was ranked 23rd in the MLBlogs Latest Leaders for the month of July 2013. In the 3 entries that I published in July, I wrote 3,756 words.

On July 27th,I wrote about a disappointing game ballhawking-wise, which took place on June 25th. On the bright side, I got to preview the Coco Lean Bobblehead!

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On July 29th, I wrote about A’s Root Beer Float day, which was on June 26th. I wasn’t planning to ballhawk, but surprisingly, there was BP!

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On July 30th, I wrote about Coco Crisp Bernie Lean bobblehead day, which took place on June 29th. That day was an adventure to say the least!

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7 Months. 23,620 Views. 48 Posts. 59,968 Words Written.

In August, I went to a lot of games! I also blogged about my July games and went to Kansas! I had 3,080 total views in the month of August, that is an average of about 99 views each day. I was ranked 15th in the MLBlogs Latest Leaders for the month of  August 2013.  In the 13 entries I published in August, I wrote 20,541 words.

On August 1st, I wrote about the A’s game on July 14th, where I didn’t give much effort at ballhawking, so I was shutout. Still a good time!

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On August 2nd, I wrote about my 1st MiLB game of the month. On July 27th at Banner Island Ballpark, I got a lineup card and snagged a life-time high 11 baseballs, due to something special before the game… Click on the link to find out!

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On August 4th, I blogged about July 29th, when I forgot to bring the camera… However, it was an amazing day! I snagged 3 balls, two of them hit balls during Blue Jays BP. I had a really cool exchange with a family in the LF bleachers after BP.

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On August 6th, I talked about the game on July 31st, where I once again snagged 3 balls, including a foul ball!

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On August 7th, I wrote about the game in Oakland on August 2nd, where I got to see early BP for the first time! I also got to try on Satoshi’s awesome mask!

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On August 10th, I wrote about the game in Modesto on August 3rd that I was at, but nobody else in my family was. Will drove me!

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On August 11th, I blogged about the game on August 4th that I took my uncle to. He was the MVP fan of the game!

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On August 12th, I snagged 13 balls, which is the most I have ever snagged in a single game. I also got to do an interview with Benjamin Hill, of MiLB.com. Check out the interview here!

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On August 14th, I wrote about the game in Stockton on August 11th, where my dad took arguably my favorite picture of 2013. I snagged 6 balls as well.

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On August 18th, I talked briefly about a game I would like to forget…

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On August 20th, I wrote about August 14th, when this dude named Zack Hample came to Oakland. You may have heard of him…

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On August 24th, I wrote about my family’s small trip to Kansas for my cousin’s wedding. Why was this a noteworthy trip? I got to tour Kansas States’s baseball facility. Plus, the airport in Kansas City has a really cool restaurant.

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On August 31st, I wrote about August 23rd, at Banner Island Ballpark. My dad and I were the first ones in line, but I was shut out at this game. However, I still walked away with a few other really cool souvenirs.

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8 Months. 26,700 Views. 61 Posts. 80,509 Words Written.

In September, school had finally gotten started again, so I had less time for blogging and going to games. But that didn’t stop me! I had 2,175 total views in the month of September, that is an average of about 73 views each day. I was ranked 21st in the MLBlogs Latest Leaders for the month of September 2013. In the 6 entries I published in September, I wrote 8,940 words.On September 4th, I blogged about a game that my mom won free tickets to. Plus, I had the best BP of any of my MLB games. 

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On September 22nd, I wrote about a game where I got 2 balls outside the stadium before the gates opened, with NO batting practice. It was also catch on the field day, which is always a good time. September 1st was a good game!

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On September 23rd, I talked about the Ports last regular season game, on September 2nd. There was no BP, but once the gates opened, I had a few surprises. Plus, I had some really cool encounters with players after the game! Seth Frankoff left us tickets again, and I got a few cool souvenirs.

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On September 24th, I wrote about my only Giants game of the season at AT&T Park, on September 7th. In the only 2 games in San Francisco that I had tried to ballhawk at, I hadn’t snagged a thing. However, this time, I got a BP home run!

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On September 28th, I blogged about a game between the A’s and Twins on September 20th. I snagged 4 balls in BP and overall, had a great time.

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On September 29th, I talked about one of the most frustrating days of the season, September 21st. It pouring all morning long, there was a rain delay, and I didn’t’y snag a ball. But it was fun.

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9 Months. 28,875 Views. 67 Posts. 89,449 Words Written.

October means playoff time! And you know I was there! I had 2,097 total views in the month of October, that is an average of about 68 views each day. I was ranked 20th in the MLBlogs Latest Leaders for the month of October 2013. In the 6 entries I published in October, I wrote 9,165 words.

On October 3rd, I wrote about the game where the A’s clinched the AL West. September 22nd was a crazy day!

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On October 4th, I let you know that I would be going to every A’s home playoff game! I told you where I would be sitting and why certain seeding would be better for me.

On October 5th, I brought you my experiences from Game 1 of the ALDS, where I snagged 2 balls! October 4th was a great day!

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On October 13th, I talked about Game 2 of the ALDS. October 5th was a fun night, even though I didn’t snag a ball. It could have been better, but it could have been a whole lot worse!

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On October 19th, I brought to you my experiences from Game 5 of the ALDS, on October 10th. I didn’t try to ballhawk, since I missed most of BP. To ad to all of it, the A’s lost and were eliminated.

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On October 31st, I gave you my MyGameBalls.com Ballhawk of the Year ballot. I shared with you who I thought deserved a vote for BOTY and Junior BOTY.

10 Months. 30,972 Views. 73 Posts. 98,614 Words Written.

In November, I took some time off from writing to focus on school. However, I still gave you guys a quick update at the end of the month. I had 745 total views in the month of November, that is an average of about 25 views each day. I was ranked 26th in the MLBlogs Latest Leaders for the month of November 2013. In the entry I published in November, I wrote 688 words.

On November 31st, I gave you guys a quick update to what was going on in my life and what I had planned for the future. I asked you guys what you wanted me to write about, and that’s what I will be writing about!

11 Months. 31,717 Views. 74 Posts. 99,302 Words Written.

In Decmeber, I started writing about hockey games and Bleacher Gatherings. I also had  this post and a few others. I had 1,148 total views in the month of November, that is an average of about 37 views each day. I was ranked (TBD) in the MLBlogs Latest Leaders for the month of November 2013. In the entries I published in November, I wrote 10,321 words.

 On December 7th, I wrote about the first two bleacher gatherings of the offseason. It’s great to still be able to see my baseball friends during the offseason!

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On December 23rd, I blogged about my first hockey game of the offseason, which was on November 11th.

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On December 24th, I published another bleacher gathering entry. This day was a lot of fun!

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On December 28th, I took you back in time, to April 10th, 2009, for a throwback entry!

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On December 29th, I blogged about the hockey game that I went to the day before. That was a good time!

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Yesterday, on December 30th, I had to thank A LOT of people. I thanked my family, ballhawks, A’s friends, and other baseball friends that made 2013 all that much better for me.

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On December 31st, I published this entry. This mammoth entry.

12 Months. 32,865 Views. 81 Posts. 109,623 Words Written.

NEVER in a million years would have expected to be where I am now. If you had told me 5 years ago that this is what I would be doing and this is where I was at, I would have laughed. At the end of 2012, I had 43 Facebook Likes. Now I have  131. At the end of last year, I had 195 Twitter followers. Now, I have 463. I want to again thank you all for your support with this blog, I could never do it without you. YOU guys are the reason I still write and blog. I look forward to more writing next year. Thank You all very much and have a Happy New Year!

Today will be the last day of the @nickbatters Twitter and Instagram handle. As soon as we switch over to 2014, I will be changing my Twitter and Instagram… Stay tuned to find out!

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Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @nickbatters. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Thank You, Thank YOU, and THANK YOU!

With 2013 coming to a close before we know it, I wanted to take an entry to thank everyone who supported me, helped me, and ballhawked with (or against) me over the course of this year. Last year, I crammed this into my 2012 in Review post, which turned out to be VERY long. This time, I am breaking it into 2 posts.

First, I need to thank some A’s Fans… My FANily

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There are so many people that deserve thanks in Right Field as well as people that I have met around the stadium, and I can’t possibly talk about every single one of them. However, I can list them and give you their Twitter account if they have one, so you can go follow them. Seriously, take a moment and follow some of these people on Twitter. I promise you will not regret it. I tried to list everyone that I could possibly think of, so I apologize if I accidentally left you out. Every one of these people encouraged me supported me and was friendly, even if I interacted with them once, or seemingly every game…

Omar Gonzalez, Adam Olson, Bea Soria, Rebekah Allender, Sylvester Valderrama, Daniel Schlimmer, Ross Retzler, Drew Martin, Yuichiro Sato, Amanda Saxer, Samuel Ligosky, James Sanos, Ralliney Marpaung, Carlos Soria, Michael Stryer, Rodrigo, Bryanne AlerWill MacNeil, Ethan Kassel, Keith Salminen, Wiggi, Liza Elikofer, Kelli Cordeiro, Vanessa Demske, Andy Cho, Erica O’Dell, Jeffery Smith, Taylor Fernandez, Jessica Franco, Wes MillsOmar Gutierrez, Bridget Haney, Mike Davie, Dennis Biles, Steven Luke, Adam Kadourhe, Arlene Safer, Tony Cogley, Jorge Leon, Benjamin Christensen,  Devyn Christy, Daniel SchlimmerIan Sagabaen, Gustav Davila, Tyler Burton, Megan Benveniste, Rick Arens, Cara Miller, Eric Nelson, and Anson Casanares.

Wow. That’s a long list. Those were just 51 people that came to my mind right away. However, out of those 51 people, 4 stood out to me as particularly friendly, encouraging, helpful, and supportive. They are people that you DEFINITELY should follow on Twitter, if you don’t already.

Will MacNeil: Will has been without a doubt one of my greatest friends this past year. I got to know him very well this past season, which was incredibly special for me. It’s kind of cool that you can tell people that you know the creator of the Balfour Rage. Will says that he isn’t famous, but when you are name-dropped on ESPN and throw out the first pitch at an A’s game, you clearly must be important. Will always runs the banners and flags in to right field, from the gate, so it was cool to be able to do that a few times, when he wasn’t there. He always encouraged me and supported me this past season, thanking me for my writing, or my family for the photos that we take. It’s been a lot of fun sitting in right field, and Will was a huge part of that. I cannot thank him enough for how kind he was to my family. Plus, he’s a really cool guy to be around.

Ross Retzler: Ross was the first person from Right Field that introduced himself, late last season. He has always been incredibly friendly and genuinely interesting to talk to. He is a huge A’s fan, so it was definitely a fun time sitting in the seat behind him for all 3 games of the ALDS. Ross was always helpful when it came to any question I had regarding the A’s or bleachers, and encouraged me all season long. He also took the photo of me and my dad, as well as the one of me and my sister during the ALDS, that is in a below collage. He was always talking with my family too and got to know them really well. I can only think of 1 A’s game this year that I was at that Ross wasn’t. That right there shows his dedication to Oakland and the A’s.

Vanessa Demske: I first got to know Vanessa early into the 2013 season, and once she found out about my blog and ballhawking, she was incredibly supportive and encouraging. This past summer, she interviewed me for an article for More Than a Fan, called Hawking for History. Vanessa is into my collection, which means a lot, because someone other than myself thinks it is cool! She was one of the first person in the bleachers to know my sister as Pascale, not “Nick’s sister,” which was really cool for Pascale. Given that Vanessa was at a lot of the same games that I was this year, I got to know her really well, which was a true pleasure!

Adam Olson: Adam designed my blog’s logo and I cannot thank him enough. It likely would have taken me days to create a logo like he did, while it only took him a few hours. He also gave me his tickets to the April 29th game, and had it not been for him, I wouldn’t have been able to go to, what I am considering at this point, the best game I have ever been to.

Let’s move on to Ballhawks…

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There are many ballhawks or baseball die-hards that I either met in person or on Twitter that I would like to thank. Again, I apologize if I did not include you on this list.

Zack Hample, Todd Cook, Ballhawk Shawn, Rick Gold, Malcom MacMillan, Paul Kom, Mateo Fischer, Dave Edlund, Steve Garrison, “Clarence Darrow”, Joe WebsterRyan Dalton, Spencer Sanborn, Quinn Imiola, Harrison Tishler, Alan Schuster, Rick Sporic, Tony Voda, Erik Jabs, Chris Hernandez, and Avi Miller.

Those 21 people all had an influence on me in one way or another this past year. However, 3  Bay Area ballhawks stood out to me that I want to thank.

Ryan Dalton: Ryan was more supportive and encouraging of my ballhawking and blogging than anyone else.  Every time I’ll post an entry, he retweets it and lets me know what he thought of it. Any time we are at the same game, he is usually there around the same time as me, if not earlier. It was great to be able to be close to someone and compete against them ballhawking, but also to be able to ballhawk with them. You have no clue how good Ryan is at identifying players. He can tell who just about any guy is during BP, even if there is no name or number to identify them. Any time I got shut out, Ryan probably got shut out too. When I snagged a lot of balls at a Minor League Game, chances are, he did too. Plus, he was incredibly friendly with my family, which was great.

Spencer Sanborn: Spencer is a very talented ballhawk. Any time I had a question about ballhawking at the Coliseum or AT&T Park, I immediately went to him. All of his tips or suggestions ended up paying off for me! He was the one that told me about the no-giveaway gate in San Francisco. He also assisted me in the planning of BallhawkFest:Bay Area.  In the few times I got to talk to him in person this season, Spencer was very interesting to talk to and I got to know him well.

“Clarence Darrow”: Clarence Darrow was a lawyer in the early 1900′s. However this is just an alias on Twitter for a very talented ballhawk. Nobody on Twitter knows what he looks like, what his name is, or has even met him. However, I am privileged to have met him at baseball games a handful of times. He’s interesting to talk to and given his experience ballhawking, he always has great stories to share. Plus, he is an incredibly talented ballhawk with a very simple, but useful ball retrieval device. Plus, he is always encouraging with my blogging, which is very helpful!

Now, I want to thank some other baseball people.

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Outside of ballhawks that I have met and my A’s FANily, there are other people in baseball that supported and encouraged me tremendously this year and were a big part of who I am now.

The entire Granada High Baseball Team: Even though I wasn’t a player on the team, every one of those guys made me feel like it. They were all great to be around and supported my ballhawking and this blog.

Mr. Hahn: He was and still is incredibly supportive of my ballhawking and blogging. He is the reason my blog gained popularity at my school and had it not been for him, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. Even though I am not in any of his classes this year, I still stop by his room often to talk or share something with him.

Mike on the Mic: This dude loves what he does. Every day, he goes out there with the same passion. He makes Nuts games fun and entertaining beyond the game itself. He loves the fact that I ballhawk and he is awesome with my uncle, which is huge to me.

Bess and Seth Frankoff: Every time I was at a Ports game and he saw me, Seth made sure to say hello and thank me for my support. He genuinely is a great person and he had an amazing season this past year. Bess has been beyond nice to me and my family and supported my blog and writing. She’s been a great friend on Twitter and to talk to at games. They were incredibly nice enough to leave my family tickets to a couple of games. I feel very fortunate to know these great people and have a jersey of Seth’s.

Lastly, I need to thank my Family.

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My parents, Anne and Dan Badders have been INCREDIBLY supportive this past year. They made the decision to have our family get a small season ticket plan last winter. For the 2014 season, we have a larger season ticket package, so that all 4 of us can go to many more games together. My mom and dad put up with all of my craziness with ballhawking, blogging, and baseball in general this past season. They took me to games, purchased tickets, and were willing to get to the stadium hours before anyone else. They’ve documented every game with a camera or two, and they are a huge reason that I am able to go to games, ballhawk, and write this blog. THANK YOU Mom and Dad!

My sister, Pascale, has been just as supportive, if not more supportive than my parents this year. She doesn’t just put up with my craziness, she supports it and is right there along side me. In 2012, she wasn’t as excited to go to baseball games as I hoped, but this year, SHE was always the first one in the car, she always ran inside the stadium alongside me. I loved to be able to share my love of the game with her, something I was very fortunate to be able to do. When my parents didn’t want to get up and go somewhere at a stadium, she always did. Pascale was eager to spend time with me at baseball games, and I loved that. And guess what? She was finally able to snag her first ball ever this season! THANK YOU Pascale!

I could write a paragraph on any person that I listed at any point in this entry. However, I don’t have the time or energy to do so. Every person that I talked about here had a positive affect on my life this year. I appreciate the support and encouragement from everyone this year, whether it be with my ballhawking, writing, or this blog. You all are the reason that I do this. Thank YOU.

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Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @nickbatters. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

12/28/13 at the Stockton Arena

As a Christmas present to my uncle, my dad and I got tickets to the Stockton Thunder game on the 28th. It was Garet Hunt bobblehead night! We picked him up around 5pm and headed off to Stockton. We arrived around 5:45 for the 6:30 door opening, since we wanted to get bobbleheads. The line was already forming when we got there.IMG_8583

Doors opened at 6:30 and we headed inside. We first headed off to the team store, where I got myself a Thunder jersey, which you should see a little later on.

After buying the jersey, I met up with Will, who had gotten to the Arena just a bit too late a didn’t get a bobblehead, so I gave him one of ours. We talked for a little bit, before we parted ways. When we got to our seats, the two teams had just taken the ice to warm up.

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While I was talking to my dad, all of a sudden, a puck popped over the glass and landed right between us. Here is my first ever hockey puck!

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Sorry for the bad picture. I rushed it a bit.

After they cleared the ice, it was time for player introductions.

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The Thunder have a great pre-game introduction routine.

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This was an incredibly entertaining game. Just 2:41 in, Thunder defenseman Mike Dalhuisen and Bulls defenseman Kyle Bigos dropped their gloves for the first fight of the game.

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Will was all the way up in section 209IMG_8661

Apparently, some dudes recognized him as “The Rage Guy” and wanted to get a picture with him.
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After the first period, the Bulls were ahead 3-1. Stockton’s lone goal was courtesy of Mitch Bruijsten, who scored his first career ECHL goal.

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It is pictures like this one that are the reason I love the seats we had.IMG_8759

Thunder Mascot, Thor, spent a lot of time down by us.

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After 4 goals were scored in the first period, the second period did not let down.

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With 5 minutes to go in the 2nd period, the score was tied at 4-4. Another 4 goals had been scored between the two teams!

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With 32 seconds left in the period, Alex MacLeod  gave the Thunder their first lead of the game, bringing the score to 5-4.IMG_8827

Will came down and watched the 3rd period with us, since there was an extra chair.

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In the third period, the Bulls scored 2 goals, taking a 6-5 lead.

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With 7:21 to go in the 3rd Period, Alec MacLeod brought the score once again even, this time at 6-6.

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Will was going to have to leave for work at 10, so we were hoping that the Thunder could pull it out in the last few minutes.

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However, at the end of the 3rd period, the score was still 6-6, which meant overtime!

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With just more than 2 minutes to go in the overtime period,

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Then, with 45 seconds to go in the period, Greg Miller scored the game-winner, netting one past Bulls backup goaltender J.P. Anderson.

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That proved to be a costly penalty!

IMG_8948Wow! What a crazy game! 7 goals is currently the most goals the Thunder have scored in a single game. Their 4-goal second period is also the highest-scoring game they have had this year,

We parted ways with Will, who had to hurry off to work, at which point we headed out as well. When I got home, I opened the surprisingly small bobblehead box to find an even more surprisingly small bobblehead!

Bcouf9fCcAIuchhOnly 4 inches tall! Then again, Hunt is only 5 ft 8 in, so it’s almost life size! (Actually, every inch on the bobblehead is equal to 17 inches on Garet)

Thanks for reading! I’ll have another post up tomorrow as well as the day after!

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Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @nickbatters. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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