The Highs and Lows of Graphing in One Day

When you collect in person autographs there many highs and lows. There is nothing better than when you get most, if not all, of the cards or items you wanted signed. You develop friendships with other graphers at the ballpark as you talk to kill time waiting for players.

On the other side there are low times where the freshly written autograph gets smeared. Or there are times where the player you’ve been patiently waiting for tells you, “after the game,” or a straight up “No.” There is no worse feeling than when the pen fails and the item is ruined.

Those who collect autographs have all been there. It’s all a part of the game. These are the things that will happen time and time again. You can only hope that there are more highs than there are lows.

On Wednesday, May 17th I experienced some really good highs, followed promptly by the lowest of lows. The Inland Empire 66ers were visiting the Stockton Ports. There are quite a few prospects on the 66ers that I wanted to get. Also, Rickey Henderson, who serves as a roving instructor for the Athletics Minor League System, was in town so there was a small chance of getting his auto as well.

When some of the 66ers started to come out, I noticed Matt Thaiss and asked him to come over. He was really great about it. As he came over he noticed one of the other grapher’s book had a couple cards of another player, Kyle Survance, Jr. Matt said, “Hey, you need Kyle? He’s right here. Kyle come over here.” This was the first time I ever had a player ask another player to come over and sign for us. That was a really cool experience.

I ended up getting all, but one or two of the players I was looking for, so it was a really good pre-game session. As I got back to my seat, I noticed that Rickey Henderson was signing for a few people. I had brought a card with me and as always a Major League Ball. In the last moment I decided to get the ball signed instead of the card. I hand the ball and to Rickey and he starts to sign it. Then the worst possible thing happens. The pen fails.

I was so heart broken. He got through his first name and the pen failed as he was signing his last name. I couldn’t believe my luck. This was the same pen that I used the last couple of days to get Jharel Cotton and Daniel Gossett on Major League Balls. When I got back to my seat, I promptly snapped the pen in half and threw it on the ground.

I have been an Oakland A’s fan since 1985. Rickey is a player I grew up watching. He is one of my all time favorites. To have this happen is heart breaking. I hope that one day I can get this ball replaced. I do have a a California League Ball signed by Rickey, so at least I have that.

At this point I have opted to not attach a picture of this ball. I might change my mind and post it later. If you do want to see a picture then comment below and I’ll likely post it.

A.J. Griffin set to make 2nd rehab start

On Sunday, June 7th, Oakland Athletics starting pitcher A.J. Griffin is slated to make his second rehab appearance with the Stockton Ports. In his first appearance Griffin was lights out pitching 3 innings, giving up only one hit while striking out three against the Lake Elsinore Storm. He is scheduled to throw 4 innings on Sunday with a pitch count around 60 pitches.

The Ports will be on the road in Modesto where they will be going to the series sweep. The Ports are winners of their last five games and have outscored the Nuts 28 to 11 in the first 3 games of this series.

The Ports will return home for a brief 3 game home stand where they will host the Inland Empire 66ers beginning on Monday.

Rehab appearances and autographs

The relocation of the Oakland Athletics’s AAA club to Nashville has been a blessing for the Stockton Ports fans. As of June 5th there have been 7 players to make rehab appearances with the Stockton Ports.

The first came on opening night, Josh Reddick rehabbed with the Ports as they opened the season in San Bernadino against the Inland Empire 66ers. Jarrod Parker soon joined the Ports for a couple of rehab starts. This was during a road trip that took them through Visalia and Bakersfield to face the Rawhide and the Blaze. Unfortunately both Reddick’s and Parker’s rehab assignments were on the road.

Coco Crisp was the first home rehab assignment for the Stockton Ports. On May 3rd and 4th Crisp played for the Ports. On Sunday, May 3rd I was able to get a MLB ball and 2 cards signed by Crisp. On Monday, May 4th I was able to get one more card signed a 2015 Topps cards (not pictured).

Coco Crisp autographed ball and cards from rehab appearance with the Stockton Ports on May 3, 2015

Coco Crisp autographed ball and cards from rehab appearance with the Stockton Ports on May 3, 2015

On May 14th and 17th Oakland Athletics’s closer Sean Doolittle made his rehab appearances with the Ports. These were home games, May 14th was a Thursday day game so I couldn’t go due to work. On Sunday, May 17th, I got to see Doolittle pitch, but I was unable to get his autograph because he did not come out to the bullpen until the 3rd inning.

A couple of days later on a road trip to Visalia second baseman Ben Zobrist joined the Ports for a couple of rehab games. On May 23rd Zobrist joined the Nashville Sounds, who happened to be on a West Coast road trip, for a couple for rehab games. I went to the game in Fresno against the Grizzlies and was able to get Zobrist to sign a ball for me.

Ben Zobrist autographed baseball from rehab appearance with Nashville Sounds on May 24, 2015.

Ben Zobrist autographed baseball from rehab appearance with Nashville Sounds on May 24, 2015.

Sunday, May 31st saw the 6th different Athletic to make a rehab appearance with the Ports. Pitcher Drew Pomeranz threw 2 scoreless innings that day. Most recently former Stockton Port and current Oakland Athletic starting pitcher A.J. Griffin made his first rehab appearance coming off of Tommy John Surgery. He threw 3 innings on June 2nd against the Lake Elsinore Storm and before the game Griffin was nice enough to sign a ball for me.

A.J. Griffin autographed baseball from rehab appearance with the Stockton Ports on June 2, 2015

A.J. Griffin autographed baseball from rehab appearance with the Stockton Ports on June 2, 2015

In addition to all of the prospects that Ports fans get to see on a regular basis, we have been treated to quite a few Oakland Athletics rehab assignments this season. I want to thank the Sacramento River Cats for not wanting to be an Athletics affiliate anymore. Without their desire to switch Ports fans may not get to see as many rehab assignments.

 

Showoff Sunday: From the California League to the Major League, Part 1

The past 2 Showoff Sunday posts have been about former Major League players who are now coaches in the California League. Today we take the opposite approach and look at players in the California League that have made it to the Major Leagues. This is the first of 2 parts in this series.

I have only been collecting autographs in the California League since 2011 so not may have risen through the ranks. Here are some of the big names that have.

Dan Straily, Oakland Athletics
As many of my readers know, Straily is one of my favorites. I have many fond memories of him as a Stockton Ports. Not only watching him pitch, but being able to talk to him at time before games. Here are a couple of items I had autographed during his time on the Ports.

Dan Straily Autographed Cards

Dan Straily Autographed Cards

Dan Straily Autographed California League Game Used Ball

Dan Straily Autographed California League Game Used Ball

Dan Straily Autographed Ticket Stub

Dan Straily Autographed Ticket Stub

A.J. Griffin, Oakland Athletics
Griffin joined Stockton about 6 weeks into the 2011 season from the Burlington Bees, the Athletics Class A Full season affiliate before they moved to Beloit. He did so well that season he not only was moved up to AA Midland, but he pitched one game for the AAA Sacramento RiverCats.

A.J. Griffin Autographed Card

A.J. Griffin Autographed Card

A.J. Griffin Autographed Ticket Stub

A.J. Griffin Autographed Ticket Stub

Michael Choice, Texas Rangers
It pains me to list Michael Choice as a Texas Ranger. Choice was the 2010 No. 1 Draft Pick of the Oakland Athletics. There were high hopes for Choice to be a big part of Oakland’s future. However, a glut of outfielders and specific needs forced the Athletics to shop Choice this past off season. Fortunately, Michael Choice did make his Major League debut as an Oakland Athletic.

Michael Choice Autographed Card

Michael Choice Autographed Card

Michael Choice Autographed Ticket Stub

Michael Choice Autographed Ticket Stub

Grant Green, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Green was another No. 1 Draft Pick (2009) that the Athletics sent packing last year. Green was a highly touted prospect who never really settled into a position. His hitting was unquestioned, but the huge question mark was his defense. He didn’t really have a defensive home and that is why Oakland moved him last year.

Grant Green Autographed Card

Grant Green Autographed Card

C.J. Cron, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
I was surprised to find out that C.J. Cron made his major league debut this season. I had lost tabs on him and then I suddenly saw his name pop up in my Twitter feed. I remember watching him play for the Inland Empire 66ers in 2012, he was a legitimate threat back then. I was able to get these 3 cards signed by Cron.

C.J. Cron Autographed Cards

C.J. Cron Autographed Cards

Showoff Sunday: California League Coaches – South Division

I’m a couple of days late with this, so we will call this the Wednesday Edition of Showoff Sunday. This week I will continue with the autograph collection I have amassed this season of the coaches in the California League. The focus of this post will be on the coaches in the South Division.

The teams in the South Division include Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Inland Empire 66ers, Lancaster JetHawks, High Desert Mavericks and the Lake Elsinore Storm. At this point in the season only the Quakes, Mavericks and Storm have made the trip up north to Stockton.

During the first weekend of May, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes made their one and only trip to Stockton. On the coaching staff is former MLB pitcher Matt Herges. He has been the pitching coach with the Quakes for a couple of years now. I have already had a few cards signed by Matt, so this year I only found one card of his that I did not have autographed.

Matt Herges Autographed Card: 2002 Bowman Chrome

Matt Herges Autographed Card: 2002 Bowman Chrome

From April 25-27th the High Desert Mavericks made their first of 2 trips to Banner Island Ballpark. The coaching staff consists of 2 former Major Leaguers: Max Venable (hitting) and Andrew Lorraine (pitching).

I was able to get these 4 cards signed by Max Venable.

Max Venable Autographed Cards: 1981, 1987 Fleer, 1986, 1987 Topps

Max Venable Autographed Cards: 1981, 1987 Fleer, 1986, 1987 Topps

At the time I only had one card for Andrew Lorraine to sign. I will be better prepared when the Mavericks come back to town this coming weekend.

Andrew Lorraine Autographed Card: 1996 Upper Deck Collector's Choice

Andrew Lorraine Autographed Card: 1996 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice

The other South Division team that has made the trip to Stockton is the Lake Elsinore Storm. The Storm made their annual pilgrimage to Banner Island Ballpark from April 21-24. To me the Storm has 2 of the bigger names in the California League coaching staff: Jamie Quirk (manager) and Jody Davis (hitting coach).

I was able to get 6 cards (5 Chicago Cubs and 1 Atlanta Braves) signed by Jody Davis.

Jody Davis Autographed Cards: 1982, 1986, 1987, 1990 Fleer, 1988 Topps, 1988 Score

Jody Davis Autographed Cards: 1982, 1986, 1987, 1990 Fleer, 1988 Topps, 1988 Score

I was also lucky enough to get 6 cards (3 Kansas City Royals and 3 Oakland Athletics) signed by Jamie Quirk.

Jamie Quirk Autographed Cards: 1981, 1987 Fleer, 1988 Topps, 1990, 1992 Mother's Cookies, 1991 Donruss

Jamie Quirk Autographed Cards: 1981, 1987 Fleer, 1988 Topps, 1990, 1992 Mother’s Cookies, 1991 Donruss

I will be posting updates as the 66ers and JetHawks come to town for the first time and the Mavericks come back to Stockton.

I will also be posting an update (really soon) on the California League North coaches as I have added more cards to that autograph collection.

California League Standings: May 21, 2014

Here are the California League Standings entering play on May 21, 2014

North
Club Affiliation Win Loss Games Behind
Bakersfield Blaze CIN 29 17
Visalia Rawhide ARI 28 18 1.0
Stockton Ports OAK 23 23 6.0
San Jose Giants SF 20 26 9.0
Modesto Nuts COL 13 33 16
South
Club Affiliation Win Loss Games Behind
Lake Elsinore Storm SD 27 19
Lancaster JetHawks HOU 27 19
High Desert Mavericks SEA 25 21 2.0
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes LAD 21 25 6.0
Inland Empire 66ers LAA 17 29 10.0

California League Playoffs Update

2013 California League Playoffs

Round 1

North –  Visalia Rawhide defeat Modesto Nuts 2-0
Game 1: Visalia Rawhide 4, Modesto Nuts 3
Game 2: Visalia Rawhide 3, Modesto Nuts 2, 12 innings

South – Inland Empire 66ers defeat Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 2-1
Game 1: Inland Empire 66ers 6, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 3
Game 2: Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 8, Inland Empire 66ers 5, 10 innings
Game 3: Inland Empire 66ers 7, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 6

Round 2

North – Visalia Rawhide leads San Jose Giants 1-0
Game 1: Visalia Rawhide 4, San Jose Giants 2
Game 2: Visalia Rawhide @ San Jose Giants
Game 3: San Jose Giants @ Visalia Rawhide
Game 4*: San Jose Giants @ Visalia Rawhide
Game 5*: Visalia Rawhide @ San Jose Giants

South – Lancaster JetHawks leads Inland Empire 66ers 1-0
Game 1: Lancaster JetHawks 4, Inland Empire 66ers 1
Game 2: Inland Empire 66ers @ Lancaster JetHawks
Game 3: Lancaster JetHawks @ Inland Empire 66ers
Game 4*: Lancaster JetHawks @ Inland Empire 66ers
Game 5*: Inland Empire 66ers @ Lancaster JetHawks

* = If Necessary

Stockton Ports slim playoff hopes still alive

When the night started the Stockton Ports had slim playoff hopes.  Sure the odds were stacked against them, the Ports had to win, the San Jose Giants had to win and most importantly the Modesto Nuts had to lose.  The Ports were playing the finale of a 3 game set with the Bakersfield Blaze a team that the Ports have beat 15 of 21 times this season.  Anything seemed possible at this point.  However, the Stockton offense did not show up Thursday evening.  The Ports struck out 6 times and could only muster 1 hit, a Bruce Maxwell home run in the top of the 2nd inning.  James Allen, pitching for the Blaze, was in command during his 6 innings of work against the Ports.  The Ports fell to the Blaze by the score of 4 to 1.

The Giants did their job tonight defeating the Visalia Rawhide by a score of 11 to 1.  The Nuts lost to the Inland Empire 66ers in 12 innings 8-5.  Even tough the last piece of the puzzle, the Ports, did not win they still have a tiny glimmer of hope.  In order to reach the playoff the Ports need to win the rest of their games.  On Friday the Ports travel to Modesto to begin a crucial 4 game season ending series with the Nuts.  If the Ports can sweep the Nuts and the Giants can win 3 of 4 the Ports might just make the playoffs.  Like I said, it’s a slim chance.