Awhile back I discussed my Top Ten sports experiences- a list that was heavily dominated by baseball. Well, last night I had an experience that easily ranks in the Top Ten. My friend hooked up some tickets in the Diamond Level seats at the Oakland A's game (thank you, thank you!!!) I was pumped because they were playing the Twins, and of course readers of this blog know that my man-crush on Joe Mauer continues to grow as he bats over .400 and leads my fantasy baseball team to an undefeated season.
Anyway, I took the Best Man from my wedding to the game and we felt pretty special pulling into the VIP parking lot with the Twins' team bus. Weird, right? So we walk in and have no idea where to go. After getting directed by multiple A's courtesy folks, we find our way to the correct place and descend toward the Twins clubhouse.
The lady at the door asked us if we'd been to the Diamond Level before, and we said we hadn't. She then informs us of the rules.
"When you are going to through the hallway, there is no cell phone usage, no alcohol, and no talking to ballplayers."
What? Really? I knew we'd be close, but not this close. Upon entering they stamped our hands, gave us drink tickets, and guided us to our seats. Soon after, some of the Twins players emerged from the tunnel. This picture gives you an idea of how close I was Joey "Sideburns" Mauer. It was surreal.
We found ourselves seated next to third base umpire, Marty Foster's wife. It was actually pretty funny when the umps came out and met at home plate, then looked over in our direction and started waving at us. At that point we had no idea that Mr. Foster's wife was next to us, so we just thought they were waving at us.
There was no time for embarrassment though because we had food to order (from our seats and free, of course) and a solid pitching match up to watch (Francisco Liriano vs. Dallas Braden.) The game started and Mauer got a hit in the first. I got a text message from a co-worker telling me to stop eating so much behind the plate! The visual evidence (to the right, I'm under the Comcast Logo) shows me eating the complimentary peanuts during Mauer's hit. At the same time, my friend's girlfriend was texting him playfully, "Stop talking to that whore on your left! I see you smiling and flirting!" Damn- we were apparently very visable! (In all fairness to Mr. Foster's wife, she was very nice and great company during the game.)
Around the third inning, I look over and Joe Nathan is standing maybe ten feet from me. I had a bowl of fruit in my hand, and I figured a ballplayer could use a little extra energy. "Hey Joe- you want some grapes, or something?" As I extended the basket in offering, he chuckled. "Nah, thanks man." Hilarious. I'm bummed Joe didn't take the fruit, but he did end up getting the save, so maybe he made the right decision.
A little while later, during the middle of an inning, they had a promotion for the Monterey Bay Aquarium where they played "Yellow Submarine" by the Beatles and put people on the Jumbotron. They distorted the picture to give it a more underwater feel. Of course, we got on the Jumbotron, which was pretty sweet. The funny thing about it is that my friend, who is now a firefighter, worked at the Aquarium for two years. I wonder if the A's sell the videos from the Jumbotron because that would be a popular video within the Aquarium friend circle.
Anyway, as the game was nearing an end, we did get to see Jason Giambi pinch hit, which was cool. He killed the ball off the wall and nearly got thrown out while advancing to second base. It was still awesome.
The Twins ending up winning the game, and we got to watch all of the players exit from the field to the clubhouse. Mauer even signed a little three year old's jersey on the way off the field. Overall, it was an amazing baseball experience, and to be honest, it made me like the Twins players a lot more. They were all very nice and laid back. It was also great that I got to go with my Best Man, as we have had a harder time hanging out due to scheduling and geographical conflicts. It was a great time all the way around.