June 2011

6/24/11 Indians at Giants: AT&T Park

Like Nationals Park this was technically not my first time here but it was my first time really ballhawking as last year I came here on a Sunday and there was no batting practice:

I still managed to get a ball on an overthrow by Mike Adams but it didn’t feel like ballhawking if you know what I mean. I apologize in advance for the lack of (relevant) pictures. I brought a photographer because I thought I would get #100 who wasn’t necessarily into baseball and as a result didn’t photography…but hey here’s a picture of the Willie McCovey statue:

While waiting in line, I realized just how gargantuan it was and how many of them looked like regulars. I would have a picture for you if I was by myself but…

As soon as I got in I raced to the right field seats just as Segio Romo. I actually talked to him extensively  when we stayed in the same schmancy hotel in Milwaukee. I don’t think he recognized me but I still gave him a shout  and he nodded as if he were about to turn around and toss me his ball but he turned around and chucked his ball to the inner outfield. He then later went onto do his running:

and later went into the dugout without ever granting my request.

Without digressing too much, that gargantuan line I was talking about earlier. Yeah it turned into a gargantuan crowd pretty quickly:

I am the one in the white hat and black shirt closest to longish gate closest to the camera. I was in the bleachers themselves for a while but am not used to them and they were close to being as crowded. I probably should have left earlier but I had my photographer  listening to his iPod and I was being so stubborn in the fact that I wanted to snag a ball with the glove trick  or  a ball from right field in general. The first quickly got shot down when the first ball rolled to the wall and as I got there I was met by a combination of about ten cup/bucket/net/water bowl/food pan tricks. There was absolutely no chance I would get a ball with my glove trick as in the time it would take me to set it up at least one other trick would swoop in. The second idea then died when the Indians pitchers started throwing on the first base foul line.

I got on my horse but moved about as fast as a student driver on a stick shift as I had to keep waiting for my photographer. Eventually though, I did get around the stadium in time to get Chris Perez to toss a ball to the only Indians fan in the section (me!). One down two to go in my quest for 100. Since I am working with limited pictures let me use one picture to explain multiple things:

  1. The arrow furthest to the left-pointing to Chris Perez. The player who threw me the ball.
  2. The dotted box- the emptier part of the bleachers where I should have been standing. I thought it was too far away from the plate but realized after the fact that I usually play fruther from the plate at Citi Field.
  3. The remaining arrow- where I was standing for the first however many minutes of bp.
This picture shows my path to my next ball:
I was playing in the very thin right field of AT&T. At the moment in the picture (I am the one with the red backpack) some lefty was up but because it is such a thin section I could be behind the actual seats but walk up to the front of the wall (that’s what right field basically is at AT&T) once a ball was grounded to the outfield. So I walked up to the front and tried to get Justin Masterson to throw me a ball but right in the middle of that a ball came right to me. I mean I didn’t have to move an inch to catch it.
On two unrelated notes: there was a new Indians fan in the section I had been when Chris Perez had thrown me a ball so Perez threw about five balls from a hundred feet out until the fan finally got the ball (he didn’t bring a glove and tried to catch them with his hat) and while taking a random picture of a kayaker on the bay (as in he didn’t know about Bonds’ Navy and just thought it was interesting that there were guys in kayaks in the bay) my photographer took a picture of one ballhawk that I did know of:
The arrow would be pointing to Joe Dirt a ballhawk that, as his name suggests, stays on dry land and tries to get baseballs by throwing out a fishing line at them with a net at the end of it. He also has a glove but the wall right in front of him prevents most Home Runs from landing on the concrete.
That was it for me in terms of snagging because the Indians lefties hit maybe three Home Runs and there was constantly a crowd of people going through the five foot wide cross aisle behind the seats and thus always moving obstacles to maneuver. So Boo-Hoo no 100 today.
While righties were up I actually ran into a ballhawk from The Baseball‘s top 10 ballhawks, which (ahem!) I wrote a review for, Lee Wilson. If you want to read the section on him in the book, it is on page 285. If you don’t have the book, buy it. It is less than $10 and has something for any baseball fan. Not a baseball fan? Why are you reading a baseball blog?!
Anyway, batting practice ended and I made my way back to the group that came for the game (later on in the day of course):
  1. Andres-My step-brother and (semi)photographer for the day.
  2. Rusty- my mom’s high school soccer coach who actually got this group of four’s tickets he didn’t have a fifth so I went on Stubhub.
  3. Andy- my mom who’s actual name is Andrea but the nickname is one she would like to leave in the past so of course I have to use it. Oh and while we’re at it Andres’ family nickname is Pipe (pronounced Pee-peh).
  4. Fabio- my step-father who conveniently did not hear me at the moment as he was playing with his camera (which he did not trust Pipe with).
There were however, many great pictures that he took throughout the game. For example:
I mean they’re just regular pictures but I do know understand why professional grade cameras are so important here are my/Fabio’s best pictures of Brain Wilson side-by-side:
I mean I know it would kill my WordPress storage space but still I can see in Fabio’s picture that Wilson is holding a cutter. In my picture….I might not have been able to recognize him had it not been for the beard.
The line-ups were mostly lefty so I alternated between the standing room in right field and the group’s seats depending on the type of hitter that was up, i.e. in foul ground for Andres Torres (who actually did hit a Home Run, ugh) and in right field for Aubrey Huff. While in right field I talked with Lee Wilson on a variety of subjects not necessarily baseball. Fun. Not much Home Run action going on but Jonathan Sanchez did take a beating in the first few innings as he was out soon after hitting (and putting out for 8+ weeks) Shin-Soo Choo in the fourth inning. They eventually won on two sac flies after they had loaded the bases. They then brought in Brain Wilson to the tune of Jump Around. Not the most ominous or impending entry song as I have gone to my fair share of Yankee games but it certainly got people on their seats and… well jumping.
STATS:
  • 2 Balls at this game
Numbers 98 and 99 on the career. Number 100 will indeed be in Tampa (at least hopefully) because I am just too busy with stuff of all sorts to go to a Yankee game
  • 38 balls in 14 games= 2.71 Balls Per Game
  • 39 straight games with at least one ball
  • 2 straight at AT&T Park
  • 2 Balls*41,690 fans= 83,380 Competition Factor
  • Time at Game 4:25-10:36= 6 hours 9 minutes

6/16/11 Cardinals at Nationals: Nationals Park

Let’s start with a more proper picture this time:

Why was I able to do this? I actually had a camera with a non-cracked screen. Before, it would have taken a very understanding picture taker or a very lucky sequence of button pushing along with awareness that the camera was on an automatic timer:

The camera would actually have looked better had I been able to take a picture of it with itself but since I needed to use one of my cracked cameras it showed up with a blue tint much like the pictures of the entry that I have not yet written.

But I digress.

I went to this game with the realization that it probably would rain in spurts so my only hope was that the spurts were before and after bp so as to have the least amount of competition. Can you see the field in the first picture? No? Here is how I did once my arm was out of the way:

If we zoom in even more we can see:

… that either the Nationals or the Cardinals were expecting rain as well because they were taking early bp. Although, it was only 4:10 so I punched out all-star ballots until the gates opened:

After listening to a very sarcastic conversation between the security guard and a father who happened to be a Cardinals fan I was off to left field as the was a blockade put up until 5:30 preventing fans from going to the right field bleachers.

I think it was due to the early bp (that I now suspected the Nationals had taken) but the group consisting of Michael Morse, Ryan Zimmerman, and Jayson Werth ,whom usually hit later on, were the Nats’ first group to hit. The same thing happened to me this day as it had the day before. I caught two balls on the fly (well the day before one hit the seat behind me, but hey it never touched the ground.) within 10-15 minutes. The first was a Mike Morse Home run that I had to run half a section to my left for. The second was a Ryan Zimmerman Home Run that I had to turn my back to and run to my right to catch.

Finally, to complete the trifecta I scrambled for a Jayson Werth Home Run that this fan almost caught and then proceeded to drop:

Notice that he does have a glove on but is SITTING DOWN. This was actually an epidemic at this game as I have never seen so many people going to bp to sit down in my life:

which was good for me because they wouldn’t be competition but they also sat in just the right places so that I had to move way back and hope that this group would blast them. They did. Though unfortunately for me they hit them over even my head:

Michael Morse hit that ball and just to show how much of a bomb that was the railing you see there is at the top of the left field section and the ball even went over the head of the guy in green and he had to run and chase it down.

A little while later I took a picture of the big screen showing the time:

The next picture I took:

Just three minutes later it started to absolutely pour and the dreaded tarp came out. That didn’t stop me from snagging, though. The Cardinals pitchers had started to warm-up and didn’t mind staying in the rain for a little while. Michell Boggs actually started blurting out a country tune that I recognized and knew the name to in the moment but have since forgotten. The rain actually helped me in retrospect because I was the only one (besides a few Cardinals fans with umbrellas crazy enough to stay in the outfield seats, which had a current going through them big enough to support a small family of goldfish.

Anyway, Jason Motte and his partner finished throwing and I was hoping to get his ball but he threw it to another Cardinals fan  and headed for the dugout. I didn’t know it a the time but this actually benefited me (see later on in the entry) as Trever Miller tossed me his ball minutes seconds later:

I’m snaaging in the raain and yes that is an A-Rod glove. I realized that there actually other kids there in the rain with me. One had gotten the Jason Motte ball but I gave my Trever Miller ball to the other after all the pitchers had left and he was still empty handed.

I then wandered around,got excited that the grounds crew was taking the tarp off, took a picture:

and got extremely disappointed when just as I was taking that picture it started to pour again and my next picture was this:

Yes they were pulling the “turtle” off the field which meant that either batting practice was over, batting practice starting up again would be delayed the time it would take them to get the turtle back on the field or I could possibly set a new Nationals park record if they started hitting again. My gut feeling was the third but sadly that did not happen. I set myself up behind the Cardinals dugout:

but  then saw this at game time:

That*(the fact there was an enormity of Cardinals fans the night before+the Cardinals players were getting bigger cheers from my section than the Nationals)=I headed over to left field. I did get an autograph from Tony Cruz before exiting, though:

At Nationals Park they give out free programs at the gate so for the first time in who knows how long I took score at an MLB game:

I had a good feeling because as you can see there was not yet a ball hit on the ground and every other hitter was a righty so that probably meant alot of fly balls to left field.

Then I took a picture of a group of 56 kids going by in the aisle as they filled up the section to my right:

I also took the picture because I was sure that Matt Holliday was going to hit a Home Run right on that aisle that would have been an easy catch…blah,blah. Well guess what actually happened. Matt Holliday hit a Home Run two seconds after I put my camera in my pocket that I knew right away was over my head. It’s tough to say but I’m pretty sure I could have at least touched the ball had I been allowed to go into the aisle and position myself in the row it eventually landed in. Instead, I positioned myself in line with the ball, made a pathetic looking jump, the ball landed three rows behind me:

(do you see that girls face? I certainly didn’t I was too busy being mad at myself for jumping for a ball I had absolutely no chance at instead of playing the rebound or the trickle down the seats if it settled and didn’t bounce. Had I she probably would have gotten one of my bp balls)  bounced up, and landed right in the hands of a man about ten feet to my right upon which he made a pretty impressive one handed grab.

Although, you don’t have to take my word for it here is the video:

http://mlb.mlb.com/shared/flash/video/share/ObjectEmbedFrame.swf?content_id=15968555&width=400&height=254&property=mlb

I am the fan in the red shirt. I know you may be thinking :”Thanks, Mateo. You’re the fan in the red shirt at a Cardinals Nationals game. That really narrows it down.” However, if you look for a fan doing what I described myself as doing above it should become evident after a view or two which one I am. Or if that video is too tiny, here is the link.

Anyway, the game went on and I got excited when Jose  Bengie Yadier Molina hit a Home Run in the top of the ninth to tie it up because the group had left a few innings prior and by the prospect of catching a walk-off Home Run. There was indeed a walk-off HR but it went to right field so I had to settle for getting a ball from the dejected Jason Motte after the game as he exited the bullpen:

You see now how it was better I got the ball from Trever Miller because Motte actually picked up all of the spare baseballs before exiting the bullpen and may have recognized me had he been the one to throw me the ball.

So that was it. This was a very productive trip to my step-father’s as I achieved what had taken me the previous five games in two. After I left I recognized a kid from bp on the Metro:

asked him if he had gotten a ball (he hadn’t) and gave him the Miller ball. I know this because that was the only ball missing in the post-game pictures. Just for fun, I actually got a ball from the day before signed so if you want to spot the signature in the post-game picture from last game it should be partially visible in the second of the two baseball/ticket stub pictures.

STATS:

  • 5 balls at this game (four in this picture because I gave one away)


which would be #93-97 on the career and makes it so I will probably snag my 100th ball here in San Francisco.

  • 36 balls in 13 games= 2.77 balls per game
  • 38 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 3 straight at Nationals park
  • 5 balls* 19,662 fans= 98,310 competition factor (better than I usually do in New York)
  • Time at game 3:49-10:11= 6 hours 22 minutes
  • 1 more reason to visit my step-father more often

6/15/11 Cardinals at Nationals: Nationals Park

Yeah I know I said I was going to write an entry about my game on the third of June but I was away from home so unless you wanted to see pictures like this…

Yes that is the whole image. I was in a rush to upload them to the internet for whatever reason and forgot they needed more time to upload

Anyway, I did indeed go to Washington DC on one of these:

Overpaid for a “Giant” ice cream sandwich:

Arrived two hours late and had to carry my suitcase backpack to the game:

But as Bono would say, “it(was) a beautiful day” and I was excited because this was actually my first time going to a stadium for batting practice knowing what I was doing outside of New York…why are you laughing?

I will now give you a moment to stand in awe of the majesty that is Nationals Park:

Well the sign at least but you have to admit it is a pretty nice sight to see. Or am I just brainwashed from hearing the Mets’ annoying repetitiive music an hour prior to the gates opening every day. It was also nostalgic to have the gates open  two and a half hours before game time.

At the gate I had met up with Rick Gold a ballhawk that in his younger days was native to Oakland. This comes into play because he immediately as the gates opened he went to right field. That meant that after getting my bag checked for the bomb that was obviously hiding beneath my clothes I would head to left field.

Just as I headed over there I saw this going on in right field:

If you can’t see, it is the Nationals pitchers warming up on the right field foul line. I have accustomed myself so much to 2 hour opening times that I forgot the home team did this 2 1/2 hours before game time.Anyway, I stayed in left field because of my uber-packed backpack.

Best no decision of the year. A matter of seconds after I decided this a ball flew to my left. It was quite a bit back from my row and there were already people converging at the point it would drop so my hope was the it would land and trickle down the seats.

This picture shows what happened:

The (very light, very small) red arrow is my path to the ball. The ball was clearly going behind where I was going to be able to run to. When it bounced up in the air after hitting a seat I was a foot from it and snatched it out of the air ala Rickey Henderson.

The next ball was a cleaner catch:

This next one was also over my head so I ran up the stairs, turned my shoulder and caught the ball over it. Demonstrated by the much more visible but at the same time poorly done red arrow. That one felt more like a Wide Receiver in football. But wait… it was only 6:39. Batting Practice hadn’t actually started until 6:35 so that meant I had already almost matched my season average in four minutes. Oooh I had a good feeling about this. So good I gave that ball to this young(er) Cardinals fan:

In the picture there is no reaction because he hadn’t actually presented it to his dad yet  but you can see his sister looking at it in his hands (don’t worry they were extremely nice about it).

Then a ball flew into the bullpen which put a damper on my spirits. Why? Because this is how many had gone in there:

(drools)

Four baseballs had already made their way in there which was exactly four more than the number of devices I had ready because of my late bus. Here was my script for the next portion of bp:

Cue: Lefty batters start hitting

For: Exit stage right

So that’s what I did when Roger Bernadina & Co. came up and was there ever room to run:

At Citi field if the seats are ever that empty in bp you are a) on the second deck or b) 400 feet from home plate. I just had three problems all in this picture:

1) Alex Kopp- a ballhawk that lives in New Jersey and caught nine baseballs that day.

2) Rick Gold- Mentioned previously that typically puts up double digits at Nationals Park

3) Cardinals Fans galore- For some reason (and I’ve only gone here for two series) the opposing teams fans out-number the Nationals’ fans and so it is almost easier to get balls from the Nationals than it is from the opposing team.

But when a ball went into foul ground I was further back as you can see from that last picture and since the right field bullpen blocked off the first 5-10 rows and so I had Alex beat and he gave up on getting the ball. In case you were wondering, there were people to my left that could have beaten me had it been a straight up race but no fans were allowed past the foul pole on either side. Now I knew the usher guarding the pole would get the ball but did they go over and wait for him to get the ball. I think not!

Here is a picture of the usher mid-sentence:


It is always nice to see ushers that are actually nice by nature as you can see by this gentleman’s smile but that wasn’t the only thing that was better about Nationals Park. Let me compare it to Citi Field for the moment:

The red line on top is where the overhang would be for Citi Field (left field) and the yellowish line is where Home Run balls would be completely out of the question. For those wondering, the line here at Nationals Park (right field was so far back the picture couldn’t even contain it.

As I returned to my spot, I saw that Jason Motte was having some fun at the fans’ expense by throwing a ball up just where a fan could not reach it so I naturally took this as a challenge to catch the ball but as I leaned out to attempt to catch the ball I noticed Jaime Garcia running to the wall after a ball. I asked him nicely in Spanish and he responded by joining Motte in tossing the ball up and trying to get me to catch it. Fortunately, he was way worse than Motte and tossed it at such an angle so that it was far from me on its way up but the backspin on the ball carried it towards me on the descent.

Here is the 90th ball of my young career with Jaime Garcia (#54) in the background:

Let me take this time to show the reason (besides my awesome Spanish skills), that this particular ball found its way into my glove:

First of all, sorry for not looking in the camera. I was distracted by a ball, this was the only shot with both the hat and shirt in it, and my camera screen was broken so I didn’t know either of the first two reasons.

I do not have any cardinals gear. The hat is actually on loan from the Greg Barasch baseball museum. Greg is a very talented and experienced ballhawk from New York that can be found at almost every Mets weekday home game (unfortunately for me) and also happens to be my next door neighbor of about 18 years. Y’all older readers may remember he also lent me a Rangers hat and towel that I used in my playoff game last year. So yeah, it is always nice to have that security blanket and I mean what are the odds that people in the same building much less floor get into the same hobby independently of each other. Oh and the shirt if you can see if actually turned inside out. That is because it is actually a Phillies shirt and I wanted to color coordinate.

Anyway from the start of my ballhawking career, I have not had much luck adjusting to the group of Pujols and Holliday but I figured that I would have a better chance taking on ten people just at batting practice in left than two ballhawks in right. My plan was to lay back here:

Catch anything that came back that far as I had lateral room to run and run up, hope the ball deflected off of someone’s hands and scramble for the ball. The later did happen… sort of.

About five minutes after I got to the section, Pujols hit a Home Run of decent height and length that I realized was going to be one rail gap short of where I was standing. I ran up but a barehanded man was camped under it. Yeah I could have reached in front of him as there was no way he was going to catch a ball going over 100 mph off the bat of Albert Pujols but ballhawks are already seen in enough of a negative light. So I stayed back right behind him, waited for the ricochet, and missed out on the ball as he deflected it to the side of him.

His reaction:

“Look at the mark Albert Pujols left on my hand!” This just goes to show why you bring your glove to the ball game. That group stopped hitting about ten minutes after that and so I went back to right field. However, how could I pass up an opportunity to take a picture of myself on the Stadium big screen.

Here it is:

If you can see I am actually holding the camera to my ear. This is because of two reasons: 1. My screen was/is broken and I had to hear the click to make sure I took the picture and 2. I had my glove on at this moment and needed my head for stability.

Thank goodness I didn’t stay for that long, though because as I was walking down the stairs of the right field stands, an infielder on the cardinals, Daniel Descalso hit a ball to either my right or my left (ok, I know that sounds vague but I know where the ball landed I just don’t remember what staircase I was coming down) fell into the seats and I beat the fan sitting down in the picture demonstrating how empty right field was. That was now five ball on the day and three of them had been hit balls. Last time I checked I was averaging 1.67 thrown balls per game (.67 hit which is a bit amazing to see the stark difference but irrelevant at the point I am trying to make). Discounting the security guard toss-up because that would have never been possible at Citi Field because of their useless railing blocking off foul territory from the outfield I only really had one toss-up for this game. There was a reason for that.

Normally, I have time to go home and print out my rosters for both teams but because of the whole bus situation I had to go on memory. This led to me either making anonymous requests “Excuse me but can you throw me the ball please?” which are far less effective than if they have a name behind them or getting their names wrong altogether. For example, I have since realized that I called Michell Boggs Kyle as I thought he was Kyle McClellan and I called some other person who I could not find Jaime Garcia who obviously came out later and threw me my other toss-up. Well, I wouldn’t get another toss-up for the rest of the day.

It was almost the end of batting practice and I was fine ignoring that it had been a pretty slow bp Home Runs wise because I had just matched my season high. Then came Lance Berkman. At least I think it was him but someone on the Cardinals hit five straight Home Runs to finish off bp all of which landed in this section outlined in red:

Alex was in the perfect spot to catch all of them but because there were five straight and he chased some to his left I had the chance to step into his spot and catch one on the fly. Nothing fancy I just moved a few feet to my left camped under it and caught the ball. That was now my fourth hit ball of the game. Now I don’t think i have gotten extremely better at tracking batted balls but I think that the margin for error is just so low in New York whereas here you can drift more like a real outfielder would do.

In the game I was planning to sit in right field because there were two righty pitchers but when the usher asked me to leave my first idea was to go here:

abut then I thought to myself that there would be Holliday and Pujols (yeah I did find out Holliday was still out from his appendectomy) would be hitting more Home Runs than any lefties that would be put in to face the righty pitchers. So I moved over here:

There were plenty of Home Runs, five if I recall correctly but the closest one was a Jayson Werth Home Run three sections over:

My only hope after that to tie my all time record of seven balls in one game was to get a ball from the bullpen:

Now the bullpen coach in the bottom right corner picked up three balls and tossed them into the crowd. Not knowing his first name (Derek) because I didn’t have my roster handy I relied on purely having a Cardinals hat (it didn’t work).

I then got to have my first experience of post-Nats game metro crowding:

STATS:

  • 6 Balls at this game (5 in this picture because I gave one away)

numbers 87-92 on the career:

  • 31 Balls in 12 games=2.58 balls per game
  • 37 games straight with at least 1 ball
  • 2 games straight at Nationals Park
  • 6 balls*27,130 fans= 162,780 competition factor
  • Time at Game 3:55-9:35= 5 hours 40 minutes

I did go the next day so that will be up soon but if you are wondering when I will get up the game before this it will be after I get back home from San Francisco. So June 28th-ish.

5/18/11 Nationals at Mets: Citi Field

Because the day before’s game was rained out, I had not gone to a baseball game in 12 days and was in a serious need for some baseball. Then I remembered why the Mets are known as the second most dysfunctional team in baseball.

First, I got to the stadium and the old man was indeed snoring:

Considering they had cancelled the game the previous day while it was still sunny I was not too optimistic this one would be played but stayed because I had already bought my ticket and didn’t want that money to go to waste if they did play. Many of the New York ballhawks (myself included) have been angered by the Mets changing gate opening times from 2.5 hour to 2 hours but I would have taken that today. I was awaiting a 5:10 gate opening time according to the schedule set by the Mets. So I stood out in a storm that was so bad I had to keep turning myself every few seconds to keep the side wind was blowing raindrops onto from getting too cold. As I write this entry June 8th I am still sniffling from the cold I got that day. I didn’t take any pictures just because I wanted to protect my camera as it has already gone through water damage (if any long time readers have noticed the pictures have gotten more misty since a few months ago, this is why). I waited and waited. 5:10 passed and still the gates were closed. At about 5:30, the Mets finally opened the gates:

YES!!!

Then they announced we would not be able to go anywhere besides the giftshop/museum:

Now when I say Dys- you say functional.

They kept us there because they weren’t sure if they were going to play the game or not. I get why they wanted to get us out of the rain but there were maybe twenty people waiting at this point. Would it really take that much to get twenty people out of the seating bowl if the game actually got called?

For those who have never been, the Mets’ museum is linked with the gift shop and is located towards the right side of the Jackie Robinson (when entering). In fact, you can faintly see it on the left side of the last picture underneath the staircase. So, I went in because I never had before. Having now been to the museums at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, I think that Citi Field does a better aesthetic job but Yankee Stadium had more substance. By this, I mean that Citi had things such as higher ceilings:

and better location (behind the prize jewel section that most people come through for Citi Field vs. on the third level only accessible by one random flight of ramps for Yankee Stadium). What I mean by the greater substance of the Yankees is simply the history of the Mets vs. the history of the Yankees. For example, the Mets had a quarter of the museum dedicated to buy-able artifacts:

The prices on the bottom portion would be for baseballs from different games. Not necessarily historic or anything. No, those cost a lot more than the regulars.

I thought that there was no chance for a game but I wandered and charged my phone for a while until finally there was an announcement. They would in fact be opening the gates for entry. They hadn’t scanned our tickets yet so we had to get out of the stadium only to come back in and get our tickets scanned:

The time at this point was around 6:35ish and as you can see more people had joined in the gift shop and had to get in but when eventually security got settled and let people in.

My view upon entering the bowl:

The tarp was finally being pulled off by the grounds crew.

I set up shop on the left side of the dugout because I wanted to be close to the dugout in case someone came out and started signing autographs but also wanted to be closer to left field in case they came out to throw. As I went down, Livan Hernandez tossed a ball to another ballhawk, Ben Weil. I felt good for Ben for keeping his streak alive but also disappointed I hadn’t spoken my Spanish louder as that might have been my only shot of the night. If that didn’t make me feel bad enough, a volcano of baseballs erupted on the right side of the dugout. I raced over but Mt. Stairs ran out of the baseballs from his bucket/bag:

I kid you not when I say he tossed 5-7 baseballs into the stands in a matter of  5 seconds. As I said, I was on the left side of the dugout so it was not enough time to weave through people to get to the left side of the dugout.

So now 6:50 and still no ball for me. Finally, the position players came out to throw at 6:55:

Most notably the pair you see in this picture, Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond. Ben and his fancy jersey and fitted Nationals hat elsewhere I thought I had a pretty good chance at this ball but I kept in mind that many times before I have suffered because I committed too much to a specific ball so I stayed alert. No one else came out of the dugout so as soon as they finished I waved my arms like crazy to get Desmond’s attention and he threw the ball to me. If I were writing this the day after I would remember the specifics but I know there was something unusual about the throw. Either it went over my head, I had to leap, it bounce, or something. Maybe it was just the fact that it was quite a distance. I don’t remember.

After I got this ball I looked at the pitching match-up, saw two lefties (Jonathan Niese and Tom Gorzelanny), and stupidly thought that I could make it to left field and get a Home Run. The guards usually start checking tickets at 6:20 but the gates didn’t even open until after that so I was hoping. By this time it was 7:00 and as I got out of the seats the National anthem started playing and I knew I was defeated. Throughout the game I wandered the stadium and got rained on. As I saw how little people were at the game:

(and the fact there were no Home Runs in the game), I was kicking myself because as you can see in the picture, I would have gotten as many baseballs as there were players that brought in a third out ball.

Anyway, it kept pouring and the Mets beat the Nationals 3-0 behind a strong performance behind Niese. Although there was something with Niese in what I believe was the seventh inning as he kept throwing balls back to the umpire probably because it was pouring at the time and the balls were extremely wet.

STATS-

  • One ball at this game (#83 on the career)
  • 22 Balls in 10 games = 2.2 Balls Per Game ( I am not proud)
  • 35 Games Straight with at least one ball (I am proud and amazed)
  • 21 straight games at Citi Field with at least 1 ball
  • 1 Ball* 24,527 fans (allegedly)= 24,527 competition factor
  • Time at Game 4:50-10:10= 5 Hours 20 Minutes
I have gone to a game since then so check back tomorrow? Hopefully?

6/3/11 Braves at Mets: Citi Field

Ah summer. Having finished my last exam the day before, (barely) I was ready to get my summer started and go to some baseball. Again I needed a respite from the matters at hand. Pardon the long time to get it up I didn’t write it the day after and mis-uploaded the pictures, went on the road and never wrote the entry.

Here goes. I entered the stadium and all the hawks were in attendance:

Citi Field - Braves @ Mets
zackhample 7
piazza 4
gbarasch 3
fischerm 3
howie 2
rossfink 1
garyk 1
jona 0
Box Score

That’s right. A total of eight mygameballs.com members. Seeing this at the gate, I went towards the right field line because I figured it wasn’t worth it to race them to left. I stopped in foul territory and started searching for Easter eggs. As I was doing this, a ball rolled to around where I was (pardon also the pictures in vivid color I did have a cracked screen and couldn’t tell the pictures were shaded blue) :

Jason Isringhausen picked the ball up and after my request  threw it to me. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know he was on the Mets. Until he turned around (so I saw the name on his back) I thought it was Lucas Duda. Either way he threw me a ball and I went over to left field promptly afterwards.

It was a slow bp considering I was sharing the left field seats with maybe a hundred people, half a dozen being very skilled. My only ball in left field was a ball that took this path:

Yes a random Met hit a ball into the second deck. I knew that it would be tough to get another ball in left field with all the competition. So I started running as soon as I judged it was going to go into the second deck because I knew it was early enough in batting practice that nobody would probably be up there. I was right. It took me about five minutes to find the ball once up there but it was worth the very long journey (because of the steep incline of the second deck, you have to climb up about fifty feet to get thirty feet over your friends in the first deck). My mistake was in running back up quickly just as I got down to the field level, because I thought another ball had gone up there. In all reality, the ball had gone up there but had I waited two seconds longer I would have seen that the ball ricocheted back onto the field. That cost me serious time.

To escape the crowd and make up for lost time, I moved over to center field in hopes of a ball getting drilled, rolling to the wall, and the player tossing it to me. How do you think it went?:

That player from which the arrow is pointing from is Bobby Parnell. When the ball rolled to the wall he jogged over and picked it up (solid line). I then called for it and he tossed it to me (dotted line).

That was it for the bp. Nothing from the Braves. Had I written this the day after I could have gone into more detail of how but I write this a month after the fact. So…

I sat in left field for the game:

Why? I thought there were two lefties on the mound. Want to see the line-ups:

That’s right, I did confuse Derek Lowe for a lefty. I was just thinking about how the ball moves out of the pitchers hands. Since Lowe is a sinker baller, and his ball moves away from lefties I thought that he himself was a lefty. I mean I knew that he was a righty but when glancing at the probable pitchers I thought he was a lefty. This was a big mistake since the line-ups (righty vs lefty) of the two New York teams (Yankees and Mets) are so predicated on the opposing pitchers, due to all the switch hitters in their line-ups, any Home Run i would catch would most likely be a Braves Home Run.  More specifically: Chipper Jones or Dan Uggla.

Nothing came even close to me. The game itself was interesting as The Mets were up 3-1 until the eighth inning. Upon which they went onto surrender 5 runs in the next two innings and lose 6-3. I had been talking to a family the whole game and since the son had a glove, I saw if he had gotten a ball already and when he said he had not I gave him one of mine Keep in mind that I did have a cracked screen so I couldn’t see how badly this picture turned out:

Oh, and for those thinking that I could even have the slightest idea of how my pictures turned out, this is how cracked the screen is:

That is with the power on.

Update: I actually stumbled upon in my notes that I gave away the Parnell ball right after I caught it while I gave the ball away from the upper deck to the kid I mentioned before.

STATS:

  • 3 balls at this game (one pictured because I gave two away)
numbers 84-86 for my career:
  • 25 balls in 11 games= 2.27 balls per game
  • 36 games straight with at least 1 ball
  • 22 straight at Citi Field
  • 3 balls*28,301 fans= 84,903 competition factor
  • Time at game (I don’t really remember but let’s estimate it) 4:40- 10:10= 5 hours 30 minutes
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