Watching Jeff DaVanon

Watching Jeff DaVanon

A weblog devoted to #55 of the Anaheim Angels, Jeff DaVanon. How is he doing? Is he getting his due respect yet? Let's watch and see...

Monday, February 21, 2005

The Line Ride

Last Sunday I hauled my cookies out of bed at 6 am. I knew at the time that it was a gamble. No one is confirmed for AngelFest. My husband attended last year and was satisfied, but kept saying that they should have hired me to do it. I'm a meeting and event organizer by trade. And I actually specialize in fan events-- but I've never organized or participated in a sports event- I usually do TV stuff. I just feel like y'all need a disclaimer. If I seem overly-focused on the logistics of the day, it isn't that I'm one of those complaining people who are never satisfied, it is just that I organize events so when I attend an event I enjoy picking apart the organization almost as much as anything else about attending the event. I'm not really a cranky person.

So me, my husband, and his dad made the trek down to the stadium.

I hate mornings. At least it wasn't raining. We arrived at about 8:00, and there was a healthy crowd. We bought our autograph wristbands and examined the schedule. Yay!! Jeff was in attendance. And even more important, he was scheduled in one of the first signing times! I'd have attended anyway, and I would have had a good time. But as always, Jeff's participation gave me something to focus on. I didn't have to decide what autographs I wanted or whatever.

The lay of the land at the fest is as follows:

There are 2 autograph areas and players are scheduled in 1-hour blocks. So autograph area #2 had Jeff, Bartolo, and 2 other pitchers from 9:30-10:30. And autograph area #1 had a different set of guys.

In addition, there is a photo area where players are scheduled for 30 min blocks.

The reason it was awesome that Jeff was in the first autograph block is because if you get there early, you can probably position yourself to get the first or second scheduled block for one of the autograph lines, but after that, all bets are off. The lines swell to such lengths that you have no way of guessing who is going to be signing when you actually get to the front. The fun part is that it takes people forever to figure this out, so they pick a line based on who was signing in that line when they showed up, and it takes the full hour for them to realize they are never getting to the front.

But I digress, we were lined up in line 2 by 9:00, the signing started at 9:30, and by 10:00 I was inside the tent asking Jeff to autograph the article that ran about baseball bloggers over the summer and featured a picture of us. Both he and the girl working the line were interested in the article. But there wasn't exactly time to go into detail. The exchange went something like:

Me: "Do you mind signing this?"
Jeff: "No Problem"
Me (Stopping him from signing with the Sharpie): Do you mind usinging this pen, I'm worried about the Sharpie on the newsprint"
Jeff: "No Problem"
Jeff : "So this is cool, how did this happen?" referring to the article
Me: "Um, I was interviewed because I run a website"
Jeff: "That's awesome"
Me: "Thanks, bye."

And the whole time I'm thinking "please don't let me come off like crazy stalker fangirl."

Which is impossible because if it looks like a duck, and talks like a duck, and hangs out with other ducks, and writes about it on a website-- it is a duck. I'm a duck.

So after this, I go to the end of line #2, the same line I had waited in for Jeff, and estimated that I would make it back in front just in time to get a Josh Paul autograph. In about 2 hours.

I know my affinity for Josh Paul makes even less sense than my obsession with Jeff. I think he is in OK player. But my curiosity about his continuing place on the team made me really watch him at games in the dugout and in public appearances. And he is clearly a great teammate who is always *there* for everyone. I always see him intently talking with a guy who is having a problem. Or being one of the first to congratulate someone on a good hit. When he does catch, he has a way about him with his pitchers that is almost magnetic. He has this energy. And at the end of the day, I'm always going to be rooting for the folks from Illinois. Anyway, if I could sit down with just one player for a nice chat over a sandwich or something, I'd actually pick Josh Paul. I'd be really annoyed that I could only pick one, but I'd pick Josh.

So I'm waiting in line. And I'm really happy that the day is overcast because there is no shade to be found. The line is snaking around these tables that don't even have covers on them, and the event organizer in me is really bothered by this. Never in a million years is it OK to have naked tables that are this sort of unfinished wood. These are not your high school cafeteria tables that are designed to be used without a cover-- these are banquet rounds which are monumentally ugly without a cloth on top. I assume that someone thought they could use the cloth tablecloths and then someone else said "no way are you putting my nice white cloths out there in the rain and with all that ketchup around" and by that time no one was able to get picnic-style plastic ones. I assume this because the alternative is that someone really thought it was OK to have tha tables without the cloths and I can't allow for that possibility.

We are all waiting in line. Luckily, the line takes us on a nice tour of the event area. To our right is the photo line (which is pretty short all things considered). To our left is the soda stand. In front of us are several radio stations. Luckily, while I'm waiting in front of the radio booths, Jeff is being interviewed. My line-neighbors agree to hold my spot for me (my husband is in line #1, and I won't be seeing him for a good long time).

Jeff gives 2 radio interviews, both of which seem to be more about the interviewer than about Jeff. But we do learn these things:

Jeff is going after the DH spot. There are about 10 guys going after that spot, but Jeff feels like he has a good shot at it if he has a great spring training.

He would love to get in the outfield mix, but points out that those guys aren't going anywhere. And that a career strategy built around having those guys get out of his way is a good way to go nowhere himself. The DH job is up for grabs, and if Jeff plays well he can earn it.

Jeff likes Linkin Park.

But his all-time favorite band is Guns and Roses. Oddly enough, as I type this Gn'R is what iTunes is playing.

The music that is played in the clubhouse prior to the game is picked by the starting pitcher.

Oh and as you can see in the pictures, Jeff is sporting a new haircut (or should I say lack-of-haircut) that is a nice look for him, a little bit Spezio, but I don't know if it will last once the season is in swing.

So I'm waiting for Josh Paul. And it is becoming clear that I'm not going to make it tp the front of the line before he leaves. So I exit the line. Much to the consternation of my line-neighbors, who seem to think that after over 2 hours I should stay and get someone's autograph. But that's the sort of thinking that kept us in Vietnam, as my history teacher always liked to say. (The idea being that no one likes to abandon a strategy when a good deal has been invested in it, but that means that the costs just keep rising and the payoff keeps getting farther away and less desirable).

Anyway, convinced that no one else has waited over 2 hours to get Josh Paul's autograph (and becoming rather concerned that I have done so) I work my way to the front of line #1, having it on good authority from my husband that they are letting people to the front because everyone in line wants GA, who isn't due up yet. Of course, the front of line #1 is separated from line #2 by a barricade. So I exit the area, and enter line #2 from the back. Josh is just sitting there, and has just been sitting there for several minutes. Everyone wants Figgins and isn't interested in Josh. So I get his autograph. I tell the handler a combination of things which are all true (I had waited in the line for Josh, I went to the front of the line because everyone was waiting for the next batch of players). I'm not proud. But I'm not ashamed. I've seen 300 people get through an autograph line in an hour. I'm not really clear on why they have settled on this "pot luck" style of autograph line, but it artificially elongates the line, and if people are going to wait for over 2 hours, shouldn't they know who they are waiting for? And not just end up with whatever? I feel pretty confident that no one between me and the front of the line (I was maybe 20 min from the front) was waiting for Josh, otherwise I would have just bailed.

So that was my main drama, waiting in line. While I did that, they played "Match Game" on the stage. They also had a parade of fine young things getting their American Idol on and singing "Take Me Out To the Ballgame." There is clearly widespread confusion as to whether we don't care if we never get back, or we don't care if we ever get back. My husband is just grateful that they didn't do a repeat of last year, and subject us to people auditioning to sing the anthem.

One radio station is playing horrible, loud music, and then they try to have a dance contest. Only this isn't really a dance contest crowd.

This is further borne out when we are waiting in the photo line (for Josh Paul) which is near the kids area and the Radio Disney tent. They are also trying to have a dance contest. No one here wants to dance, OK?

Josh Paul is in the photo tent with Ron Roenicke (I don't feel motivated to look up the proper spelling of his name at this moment, sorry). I can't come up with a tactful way to just pose with Josh, so I stand between them, say "Jeez this is weird", leave it to my husband to crop Ron out of the photo, and make sure to say "thanks guys" when I leave.

At this point, it is 2:00 and we've had it with lines. And leave without taking a picture with the Rally Monkey, a decision I kind of regret. But only kind of.

Do I recommend AngelFest? If you are not a season-ticket holder and have no other way to get autographs, then I guess it is good. Get there early and understand you can only really count on getting one block of autographs, so pick and plan your time. I'd go in the future but would skip that altogether and just walk around and listen to the various radio interviews and some of the team-related stuff going on on the mainstage. Or get photos instead of autographs. That line was usually shorter and seemed to move pretty well.

Is it a model for how to have a fan event? Well, no. But I don't know what they are going for or what they want. I'd do any number of things differently, or try to, but I'd probably be wrong. I left the event with a Jeff autograph and a Josh Paul autograph. I was happy, as happy as you can be after waiting in lines for 6 hours.

Now if I could just land a Jeff interview...

If only I wasn't a duck.

Me with the fruits of our labors.

Josh Paul signs autographs while I dispair of ever getting to the front of the line while he still is signing

Jeff continues to give an interview and I take a picture from a better angle.

Jeff gives a radio interview after signing autographs and before participating in "match game"

This was where you could take a break from the line ride and eat your hot dog or churro. Are we so ghetto we can't spring for plastic table cloths?

These were the only signs. Notice how they are no where near where the line forms. Notice also that line 2 is before line 1.

This little fan was the cutest thing ever

It is only 9:30, but we are pretty sick of waiting in the autograph line

Fans wait in the shadow of the Big A

It is early and "the line ride" begins