I’m not quite sure what word best sums up the pregame auto scene — weird, slow, bizarre, awesome…. It wasn’t indescribable or unimaginable. I guess the one best word for my experience would be “weird”, even if my post here seems very run of the mill.
I heard that the previous day (Labor Day), Dylan Cease signed a bunch in the bullpen but few of any of the other ChiSox signed anywhere else during BP, and none signed just before the game. A bunch of the Mariners pitchers signed, like they often do after “throwing practice” before a day game, but no M’s signed right before the game. I chalked all that up to the 3:40 start time and a large holiday crowd) a regular start this time of year is 6:40).
I was expecting a little better today, with a much smaller projected attendance of around 17,000. The M’s were done with BP before the bullpen gates opened. The White Sox were doing their BP and continued as the regular gates opened. They signed about three total items by my count, all by Gavin Sheets. Well, probably missed some other stuff but it was clearly meager. I do know that my buddy called out to Dylan Cease as the pitcher entered the dugout and forgot to stop for the fans.
So this was definitely a day to wait for the M’s just before the game. I went over and had my usual angst about where to wait. I started in a spot where Mitch Haniger stops by, two or three spots from the camera well. My buddy insisted that Mitch stops there EVERY time as part of his routine. Since it was early, I also checked out the area down the line where the netting ends. That’s a spot where Julio Rodriguez SOMETIMES stop by, a little more often than spots closer to the dugout. It’s also a spot where he often goes first before proceeding towards the dugout to other spots. There was a whole lot of space there! About 10 people total, a couple of kids and the rest adult autograph crazies. I had nice cards ready for both players. What to do?
I ended up starting in the middle spot, which was great. Haniger signed an ice parallel of an old Topps Fire card. (Get it? Ha ha.) I was one of the first people he signed for, and even had the opportunity to pass along a jersey for a fellow grapher. That was kind of cool. Thank you Mitch!
Anyhow, the national anthem hadn’t even started yet. I quickly skeddadled out of there and heading towards the end of the netting. There were a few more people now, maybe 20. There was also some time to wait because Julio is usually the last Mariner to finish his pregame stretches.
Going over there turned out to be a great decision! JRod came by!!! I think he signed balls for a couple of kids with a black Sharpie. He was about to sign one of the grapher’s cards (another crazy guy right next to me) but the guy insisted that he used blue. Surprisingly to me, JRod obliged and seemed to sign the card with his standard auto. Then, he grabbed my card!!! He signed it slowly and neatly (also in blue) so I was thinking it would be perfect. When I stepped away and got to look at it, I was like, “Whaaaat?”, and started cracking up. Lol it’s the most bizarre JRod auto I’ve ever seen (at least since he signed my home white jersey ha ha). I think he started writing it too big, was thinking about who to sign for next, ran out of room, tried to salvage it, and finished it with a little flair. Weird, bizarre, non-standard, unique, and very special — my first JRod auto on a card! Thank you Julio!!!!
One other thing, the first guy next to me had his card in one of those scrapbooks. It’s big, so it’s easy for the player to grab and provides a nice sturdy surface for signing. Of course, it also repels some players. I’ve used a small clipboard and had both types of experiences. One time I had a card for Nellie Cruz on a clipboard. I must have stuck it too close to his face cause he looked at me like I was crazy. (I don’t think he signed the card that day but I don’t really remember either way.) Recently, I had a card for Anthony Banda. The clipboard helped me get the card to him and back. (Well, with the help of an usher cause when I slid the board it got stuck in the dugout. But anyway…) He signed it very nicely. I have a small binder for the cards I bring, but I rarely hold it out in a crowd because I don’t want the it drop or for the cards to fly out or whatever.
That card for Julio got pretty dinged up because I tried many times (guessing between five and twenty, ten seems about right), and each time I hold it, put it somewhere, secure it, hold it out, put it back, on and on. So next time I’m focused on asking JRod for an auto on a card, I’ll try the clipboard!
It was another glorious night for baseball, with a game-time temperature of 74 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. It’s been a few days so I don’t remember all the particulars. The M’s took an early lead versus Johhny Cueto.
Logan Gilbert got in trouble here and there, while also striking out a bunch of fools (I mean White Sox lol). He ended up with a nice line, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO. He got in a bunch of trouble in the top of the 6th, and I thought we should have taken him out, but he managed to pitch his way out of it. After the strikeout to end the inning, Logan was super pumped! He was double pumping his fists and thumping his chest and all that kind of stuff. His demeanor on the field is usually much more reserved and even keel, so it was so much fun to see him celebrate like that. Totally warranted. 🙂
Cal Raleigh added a late home run to fire up the M’s fans, and Los Bomberos (Brash, Munoz, and Sewald) took care of business for innings 7, 8, and 9!
Final Score – Mariners 3, White Sox 0