My goal is to add perspective to subjects other than the regular headlines.
Contact Stephanie at s.betweenthelines@yahoo.com



Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pictures , part 3

I'm still working on the new site that this blog is being turned in to. The writers and contributors I have assembled so far are going to provide so many different views of the game it's honestly going to be a site full of the life of baseball, hence the new name: The Baseball Life. You can now access this blog by linking http://www.thebaseballlife.com/ or you can still use the old blogspot link, http://www.baseballbetweenthelines.blogspot.com/.

Anyways, before the changes I'd like to continue sharing my experiences from the pictures that have lined the columns of this page. So next up is Ryan Theriot:

Theriot has been one of my favorite Cubs since he joined the team. He's a hard nosed player who's always been underestimated because of his size. But I like those players, the ones that surprise you. Although I was never surprised with The Riot. I was the same type of player when I was growing up- a small short stop with a powerful arm and quick feet. This picture was taken at Spring Training 2008. My friends and I were sitting along the right field line during BP and me, not one who is often quiet, tried to get him to sign autographs and take a pic with everyone gathered around us. He said that after the game he'd stop for sure, so I added in "Make sure you do- because your biggest fan will be really disappointed if you don't!" Which resulted in a quick, "And is that you?" "You bet, Riot!" After that my friends and I moved into the lawn seats, where we always sit and watched the game in the beautiful Arizona Sun while enjoying our beloved Cubbies. Anyone familiar with cactus league baseball knows that in the first couple weeks of Spring Training the starters usually only stay in the game for the first 5 or 6 innings. Well, my group and I decided to stretch our legs and walk around and we met up with some other friends over in the shade beyond the stands on the right field line. Without me even paying attention I hear "So is this my biggest fan?" and I turn around to see Ryan Theriot in the flesh, just standing there looking directly at me. The shock of it hit me quite oddly as I was expecting that nor was I mentally prepared to be face to face with one of my hero's. So he signs some autographs then says, lets take a picture! Like clockwork my friend pulls out my camera from my purse, and I smile for the picture. He then proceeds to look me straight in the eye and say he's lucky to have such good fans and talks to us a little about the upcoming season and the great weather in Arizona. I think I was too stunned to fully remember what happened after that, but there is a video clip of me after he walked away and we were walking out of the stadium- my knees literally got weak LOL, and I'm sitting on the ground saying I need a moment. Then I roll onto my stomach and with my purse flung on the ground, i cover my face and kind of kick my legs a few times out of excitement. I had never been that shook up from meeting a player. But when you have such high expectations of someone and they exceed those by a mile, it's a great feeling. I definitely needed a minute to compose myself! A mini crowd had actually formed around me with people taking pictures of me on the ground laughing and smiling. Definitely one of the best experiences of my life at Spring Training. I still have the picture he signed for me which he personalized!

So, Brian Wilson is pretty much just The Man. He's got that rockstar charisma that draws you to notice him- the fohawk, tattoos, and (for lack of a better phrase) the bad ass persona he embodies. This picture was taken in the 2008 season when the Giants came to Wrigley, and this was taken right outside the stadium. Like a "Rockstar" B Wilson isn't one to be overly personable outside his safe spot on the mound (a characteristic I like about Jonathon Papelbon). But, who can resist an overly enthusiastic 21 year old girl who's got him on her fantasy team? Not B-Wilson, that's for sure! I didn't even want an autograph this time, all I wanted was to take a picture doing his signature "X" mark with his arms across his chest, and this took some convincing. He told me he couldn't do that except after a save... Clearly I got my picture, and I'm thrilled to this day! He told me I'm the only one with a picture like this, so we'll see if that stays true, but to this day I haven't seen another!


Juan Pierre is another class act, hard nosed ballplayer, in my opinion. This picture was taken while he was a Dodger. A lot of people in Chicago remember him for his disdain towards the bleacher bums- accusing us of being racist and saying we need to relax. Normally, I would hate him for saying those words about my family, but I've been a fan of his since his days with the Marlins when him and Luis Castillo were the first two players at the top of the lineup. I may sound like a broken record now, but fast guys were always my favorite, especially lead of hitters. Well this picture was taken after a Cubs game when I was on my way to the "L" to go home. NO ONE recognized him walking along Clark Street, so I approached him quietly and asked for a picture as to not give away him "cover." He was very gratious, nice and personable. Of course I told him I missed him being a Cub and that I've been a fan for most of his career. He thanked me and he did say he loved this City and the people here. It wasn't anything spectacular - no rolling on the ground entusiasm - but I was very to meet him and see that he's a nice guy just playing a game for a living. Sometimes it's hard to remember that these guys are human, especially when they fly like superman and have unnatural power like the hulk, but at the end of the day when they leave the spotlight and head home it's just nice to be appreciated. And that's why I love Juan- he plays like a hero on the field and when he's done he's still a nice, respectable guy.

That's all for now! Happy Sunday and Go Team USA!
-S

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pictures, part 2

Beginning the second round of pictures is the one of Nomar Garciaparra and myself. This picture was taken in 2008 at game 2 of the NLDS at Wrigley Field. I hate to even remember this time in my life, as I've already written about this series in a previous post. But, Nomar has always been a class act- one of the better players who has made significant contributions to the history books for baseball, through his respect for the game, the fans, and the organizations on which he played.


Next up is the first time I met Lee Smith. I've met him a few times now and know him and some of his family. And trust me when I say, this is a guy that makes an impression! The best experience with Lee was golfing with him in the 2009 Fergie Jenkins Golf Invitational, but that picture is towards the end, so I'll hold off on that story for now. As for this picture, this was during the 2008 Fergie Jenkins Golf Invitational pre-golf cocktail party. The minute he walked into the ballroom, it was as if the room came alive! He's a guy who is friends with anyone he meets, and he's such a joy to talk to about his career, other ball players, the Hall of Fame, etc. And believe it or not, he's not bitter about his absense from the Hall.

Alright this next picture has a great story behind it. Me and Scotty Podsednik. Now this is a fun guy to talk to from the bleachers at Wrigley. First time I met Pods was at a spring training game in arizona when he was with the Rockies in 2008. I went to this game because I had yet to be at the Giants stadium in Scottsdale and I ended up scoring some first row seats down the left field line. I made friends with some Rockies fan sitting next to me and I was all set up myself- had my score card ready, beer in hand, and the players were still taking bp and running sprints. Well, Pods and Spillbourgs run past doing their drills and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get Pods to sign, since one of my cousins was a big fan of his when he was with the Sox. The guys next to me didn't think he'd stop. But on his way back, he stopped and talked for about 10-15 minutes to the little group I had formed with my new friends. Without even asking, he grabs my scrorecard and starts looking it over joking around like I had it wrong and that he was batting clean up, not lead off! Then HE SIGNED IT! I had a baseball in my hand ready for him to sign and he went and signed his name in the MIDDLE of my scorecard! I wasn't really mad but I put up a fuss like it ruined my day, to which Spillbourgh's prodded at him and made fun of him. So then I tell him "Alright so THIS is what I really wanted you to sign..." and I hand him the baseball which he signs, all while still disbelieving I'm actually going to keep score and keeps giving me crap for it. Well game starts, and yes, I'm keeping score (as I always do at Spring Training). The 6th inning ends and by this time most of the starting position players are done and just have to get their work in (sprint in the outfield) before they can leave. I'm literally writing in a groundout, when all of a sudden it is snatched from my hands from someone on the field! I look up and Pods is running away with my scorecard trying to read it as he's running! So here I am, without a scrorecard as the games going on... just waiting for him to return it. If I could have ran on the field, I would have! But at this time, everyone in our section see's what is going on and it got real funny after that. Pods came back with it, said he was impressed but said I got 2 of his singles wrong- they were homeruns. I guess I missed that, hahaa. So he stayed for another inning and talked and signed for fans in that entire section- while blaming me of course for that happening. So, the picture with him is from Wrigley, when the Rockies came in town. I tried to hide, but I was in the first row of the bleachers and during sprints he came over and said "Thanks again for making me sign all those autographs." Rest of the season it was pretty much a running joke and we'd fake fight from the bleachers and field. From that experience I learned these players want to have fun just as much as we do at a game. Pods is one of the players to embodies the game of baseball to the max, and brings out a side of it that the fans can connect to. I know my story isn't one of extraoridnary lengths, but to me it's a very memorable time and to this day everytime I see him he waves and jokes back and forth. He's one of those guys too, that I don't care what team he's one, I'll always cheer for him!


Part 3 will include Ryan Theriot, Brian Wilson, Juan Pierre, Rollie Finger and Eric Byrnes. Stay tuned =)

-S

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pictures, part 1

The most emails I get from readers of my blog tend to be towards "How was it meeting so-and-so?" Most people don't get the opportunity to meet their favorite baseball players, but some do. Sometimes it's a good thing, and other times not so much. I can honestly say though, that 90% of the players I have had the priveledge to meet have either met or succeeded my expectations.

Along the right hand column of this blog are pictures of me with various ballplayers, ones who I have been delighted to meet and some of which I have come to know over the past couple years.

The first picture is of Steve Stone and me. This was taken in May 2009 when I worked for Monsters in the Morning, a morning sports show in Chicago. Not only was that a great show to work for, but the guest we had come on were just as great! I talked to Steve for a while that day about all kinds of things- not just baseball. But, I'll tell you.. that man can spend hours breaking down a lineup, thinking up trades, and offering solutions. That day we also got into a conversation about pets, which I learned he has 3 great danes! So not only did he share my passion for the game, but when he goes home at the end of the day he still embodies a life like my own- surrounds by canines! The next time I met Steve was at my charity golf outing where he was an absolute fan favorite. Before I had met him and just listened to him broadcast Cubs games with Chip Carey, I thought to myself that he would be the perfect person to converse with, and after meeting him I'm sticking to that opinion. If you ever have the chance to talk to him, definitely take it! You'll be blown away at his knowledge and charisma!

The next picture I have is from when I met Tommy Lasorda... one of my all time heros! I wrote a blog already about him and my experience (click here to read), but I'll just say that meeting him was like opening up the official book of the history of baseball. And like I say in the blog I wrote about him, when Tommy talks- you listen. When I met Tommy, I told him about my experience in LA at Dodger Stadium- how friendly the staff was and how overwhelmed I was to be there, in his house. And I'll tell you, nothing delites that man more than when people love his dodgers or his stadium!

Next picture is of Barry Zito and me after a Cubs game. Barry was very friendly and signed autographes when the rest of the team quickly jumped on to the bus. He must have spent at least 20 minutes taking pictures and signing autographes for everyone there! I was shocked at how friendly he was, because he was taking heat from a few people nagging him about his underacheivements. But, he took it well. He didn't spit back and retaliate, he just looked at them and in a Cali accent said "Ya man, I know. I gotta get better, I'm working on it!" To which EVERYONE told him to start surfing again and he laughed a lot before getting on the bus and leaving the ballpark.

The next picture of from ESPN.com's archive. That's Kosuke Fukudome making a tremendous catch in spring training in 2008 and in the very first row standing (with the white top) is me, looking half scared to death! The reason I looked so terrified was because there 2 guys, one on each side of me who joked around saying they were going to try to catch it! And after 2003, you just DON'T joke that way with a Cub fan! The guy in the green shirt was a Mets fan, so I had no doubt he would try to snag it- he even reached his hat way out there to try. But lucky for Kosuke, I didn't let that happen. That moment though, being in the very first row, feeling Kosuke thump against the wall and he made that catch, it hooked me for life. I'm a girl who like defense. My favorite part of the game is watching the defense track down a ball. Those 2-5 seconds waiting to see if a player makes the grab or misses it, is by far the most exhilarating part of the game for me. Screw offense, anyone with power and hand eye coordination can hit a homer. But timing, precision, and risking your body to for an out? Thats something I'm hooked to. So, needless to say, this picture brings me a lot of joy and good memories.

Frank Thomas was exactly what I expected him to be. Full of life, yet humble about it. He was very candid and honest in the conversation I had with him, which is how he always is- to the point. He doesn't cross corners and he doesn't sugar coat the truth, especially when he's talking about baseball. He's as pure a baseball player that I've ever met. If you had a question, he had an answer.

In the next picture I'm outside on Michigan Avenue with Jeff Francoeur. The thing I loved about Jeff is that there was big group of us of Michigan Avenue in CHicago all wearing Cubs stuff (having just come from the game) and he was literally happy to see us. He acted like he knew us all personally and wanted to just hang out and laugh with us. THe game that day though, had been a bad one in Cub history. A lot of people will think of it as funny though because it's the day that Lou came storming on the field after the third base ump. I love that picture of him getting into with the ump, because thats classic fiery Lou. But what happened after is what we talked about with Francoeur. The bleacher fans started throwing garbage on the field and a lot of it was near Jeff. APologizing from us wasn't going to take it back but he didn't think anything of it. He said for as long as he's come to Wrigley it's been his favorite stadium- he loves the bleacher bums! After that I was sold. Everytime Jeff comes to WRigley the right field bleachers are packed first because he always turns around and talks to us and plays games with us. People who are there in that time know the "Right foot stomp once, left foot stomp twice, mix it up stomping" game we play with him. You'll even hear the "You are French" cheer coming from us and he loves it!

The next picture I have is of Grady Sizemore and myself. This was an absolute top moment in my life meeting him! I wrote about my experience at my friends website, http://www.gradysizmore.org/ (click THIS to be taken to the actual page with my story!).

The thing about meeting famous people or just anyone that you look up to, is that at that moment your dreams can be shattered or exceeded. Sometimes I am scared and hesitant to meet a player because I have such high expectations that I don't want to have my hopes crushed. My fear is to meet a player I've idolized my whole life and have them fall short of my vision of who they are.

I've actually avoided certain situations with my absolute favorite players because I've heard stories that they can be cranky, mean, not friendly, etc. But... any player that I have on this site in a picture with my, is someone who I respect. They are someone who I look up to and is someone I feel confident in representing positively. They are the type of guys I want my friends and other fans to know about. These are the real game changers. Without them, baseball would lose it's personality and it's vibrant color.


-S

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pardon the Dust..

Bear with me for a few more days, guys! I know I haven't been able to post, but the blog is undergoing BIG changes! I've been working very hard to get some good content that will be available shortly including a partner with a few neighboring online communities.

If you have any questions or comments, please send them to me at s.betweenthelines@yahoo.com . If you've written in before, you know I answer all emails within 24 hours. Thanks again for all the continued support by keeping up with this page. I can't tell you how awesome this experience has been since I first started this project in March 2009.

Things to look forward to include: Fantasy Baseball, Spring Training, a New Name and Look for the page, and some MLB and MiLB special events!

Keep the countdown to spring training going!
-S