September 2011

8/31/11 Marlins at Mets: Citi Field

Again I wanted to avoid (and still am) avoiding Citi field at all costs but I had promised before the season to my service supervisor that I would take her grandson to a Mets game and that is the reason I went to this game. Before I get to the game, though, I must include a little story about how I almost lost my glove permanently earlier that day at my community service site.

I was playing catch with that grandson, whose name is Alex, on the roof of my service site on 76th and Columbus because the alternative would be to go to Central Park and I was lazy. Anyway, the roof is slanted so when I threw him a fly ball and he missed it, the ball didn’t just go straight across the roof like it would if we were on flat ground but it started rolling off the roof. Eventually it rolled off of the roof. It then landed in a neighbor’s patio area. For the record we did have another ball available to us but what kind of a ballhawk would I be not to use my glove trick. Here is a picture of the ball and the glove in the patio area:

The glove is pointed out by the arrow and the blue stress ball is in the circle (I know it’s tough to see but if look closely enough you should be able to see it through the shadows). This may seem like an easy thing for a person with a glove trick but it really wasn’t at all because the ball was under the table. This meant that to get the glove in a position behind the ball in order to pull it back I would have to throw the glove just over the ball but just under the table, which at this angle was like a window of a foot and there was no railing stopping me from falling 25 feet so I couldn’t see my target all that well. Also, I was at the outer limits of my fishing line when throwing the glove and so I couldn’t hold onto any of it. What I did was that I tied the line to the metal thing at the bottom of the last picture and threw the glove. Once the glove ran out of string it just jumped back toward me because obviously it didn’t have any more string to work with.

I tell this because after a few tries of throwing the glove from a 90 degree angle to the ball I wanted to try it from slightly off center and see if it would improve my chances. So, I untied the fishing line and moved over to my right a few feet. I then let my glove drop down and just as I released the glove I realized that I  had not yet tied my glove to the metal thing. My glove was stuck in the position you see in the last picture.

I just want to clarify that the patio was actually in a different building from my service site but I was on their roof because in New York the buildings are side by side and all about the same height so the roofs are connected and Alex and I wanted more room to throw so we ventured a few roofs. Just to give you an idea of the drop from where I was throwing my glove and where my glove drop down, here is a picture I took from the fire escape:

The top left arrow shows where I was standing/sitting trying to retrieve the ball and the bottom arrow shows where the glove fell down to. Right after my glove fell down it was time for lunch and I realized I wasn’t going to figure this out soon and just ate my lunch while I thought of a solution.

My first thought was to create like an extendo arm of sorts with various brooms and things around the building and poking one of them through the holes between the fingers of the gloves but then I took that last picture and saw exactly how far down the glove was and realized I would have needed like 5 brooms and I wouldn’t be able to get concentrated weight on them like a cup trick does (a cup trick is a ball retrieving device that uses a cup and weight along with and adhesive to grab a baseball). I then put together a variation of the cup trick using only office supplies I found throughout the building:

1. A plastic cup from the water cooler.

2. A roll of tape- I pretty much put it for visual purposes because the tape is at the bottom of the cup and barely visible. Usually in a cup trick, the cup’s opening faces downwards to fit the large-ish baseball but I realized that all I needed to get was the fishing line on my glove trick and I could then pull up the glove itself. The tape was used to stick to the string which I would then pull up the glove with.

3. Paper clips- usually when trying to get tape to stick to something you push it down as hard as possible but because I was 25 feet above what I wanted to stick to the cup I had to make the cup as heavy as possible to apply the most pressure to the tape and get the maximum adhesiveness to between the string and tape.

4. Fishing line- used to lower the cup. You may ask, “Wait, Mateo, didn’t all of your line fall down with the glove?” Luckly I keep extra line in my backpack rolled around a pen just in case:

I lowered my new device, the tape attached to the stirng on my glove, pulled up the string, and pulled up the glove attached to the glove itself.  This may have bored some of you but I just wanted to share it to show how I almost lost my glove.

Onto the game, Alex and I left JASA (my service site) at 3:30 and made a breif stop at Subway for food before continuing on the subway. I forgot what time but apparently it was early enough that I started taking pictures of the Citi Field sign from below:

If you see I pointed out the window on the second floor of the Stadium. That would be the Caesars club and I’ll get back to that in a minute or two.

I also took a picture of the blimp hovering above because the US Open was in town:

Once we got int the ballpark it was another Citi Field batting practice, slow as humanly possible. Alex and I started off by going to Right Field and asking for toss ups but then moved over to the Center Field section because I deemed the players freindlier there:

The red box shows where we had gone to as soon as the gates opened and the arrow under that points out Alex looking out to the field (with *my* Mets hat) he is a Yankee fan and I figured he would have a better chance of getting a ball from the Mets than me for a variety of reasons. After giving up on this idea because of a crowd that started to gather, we moved over to the Left field section. There, it was still incredibly slow but I got a baseball. In about the second bp group, Mike Stanton came up and launched a ball to deep Center Field. The ball took the luckiest series of bounces I have ever seen and landed in the seats. The arrows in the next picture show the path of the ball:

If you can’t tell from the yellow arrows, the ball: hit the apple, bounce on the edge of the container that holds the apple, bounced up in the air and landed in the seats. So had the apple not been up (which it usually isn’t) that ball would have fallen into the container but it didn’t and I ran over to get it nearly beating out someone who came down the staircase. Here is Alex holding the ball (again wearing *my* Marlins hat):

That was it for batting practice and the rest of the game as the Marlins threw next to nothing into the crowd. Anyway,this was our view for the game:

When I found out Alex wanted to go to this game I went ahead and bought better tickets than I usually do. For the whole Marlins series and Braves the tickets were pretty cheap and so for this game and the last I had club access. Due to this, I explored the stadium. With Alex I only went to the Caesars club and those were probably taken on this day but on the other day I also toured a bunch of the stadium and didn’t want the touring of Citi Field in tweo different entries so I held off on writing about it. Anyway here goes:

I went up to the club level through the entrance close to Right Field:

On my way to the Caesars club, I noticed a window through which was a view into the control room:

Here I learned something about the control room. Previously, I thought that the controls for the scoreboard  (jumbotron if you prefer) were in a separate room from the SNY control room. Apparently, they do both in the same room. I just assumed it would be crowded and there would be a chance of commands being mixed.

I then entered the Caesars club itself:

Looking back on it, it probably should be Caesar’s club but I guess it was meant more as advertising for Caesars Casino and Resort than it reflected the actual quality of the club. So I actually take back the point I was intially going to make when I started that sentence. By the way, for anyone who has not been, on of the negative parts about Citi Field is that the whole place is visual and audible ambush on the part of marketers. You would have to be in the staircase or something like that to not see any advertising. Every other square inch of oufield wall has something on it, the scoreboard has more to do with advertising than it does with the actual baseball game, and the between ining shenanigans the Mets put on always have someone behind them. There is: the Cascarino’s pizza pass, the Pepsi max T-shirt toss, and I think the seventh inning stretch is even sponsored by Fisher nuts.

The club itself looked like this when I got inside:

It is bascially an admirals club in a baseball stadium with a restaurant is how I would describe it.

Now the view from there is something you will never see from an admirals club at the airport. I looked out the window and took a picture of the view. The left arrow (blue) shows where I get off the train and the right arrow (red) shows where the US Open was taking place (Arthur Ashe Stadium):

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Queens. I then looked out the window to my left and took a picture of that:

This is now the part where I wonder how the Mets don’t make absurd amounts of money because they advertise everyone and their mother and each of those cars costs $20 to that person to park. I mean this is one of the teams in the worst financial situations in the Major Leagues so imagine what the Yankees are producing in the revenue department.

I then went throught the club and found out there is like a corridor thing behind the bar/restaurant the club is centered around:

Another thing in the club is that they have an electronic ticket kiosk in the club itself:

It even has the same game up so you can buy tickets to a game that you are already at (this was probably still there because I chacked it during batting practice but the fact that someone could mess up and buy a ticket for that same game is at the very least slightly flawed.) The most likely reason that they had this in the club is that people splurge to buy club seats, go inside the club and are very impressed by the schmancyness of it and the kiosk is there to get them to buy a ticket for another day based on impulse.

Anyway, for those who don’t know, there is about a 40 minute gap between batting practice and the game itself. I made my rounds of the stadium during this time. I first went out of the club going towards the Right Field seats and stopped to take a picture from the worst club level seats available:

Pretty good, eh?I then headed up to see what the worst seat in the whole stadium looked like but when I stopped to take a picture from the outside of the Acela club:

Right in this moment is where I forgot where I was going to go next and so I went to the Promenade Club which was about 300 ft away instead of the worst seat in the stadium which is about 10 (mathematical) degrees above where I took that last picture, but no I had to forget that and go all the way to the Promenade Club.

On my way, I actually took a picture of something cool I never noticed:

This is the concourse behind Home Plate in the uppermost level and I had seen this before but I had never noticed the thing pointed out by the arrow. That would be the top part of the Citi Field logo that is at the top of the fifth picture in the entry. this happens to be right behind the Promenade Club, which is why I took a picture of it. Speaking of which, this is the view looking out from the Promenade Club:

The view looking into the Promenade Club looked something like this:

This would be the restaurant within the Promenade Club. If you use your x-ray goggles, this picture would look a lot similar to the picture with the top of the Citi Field logo showing. I then took a picture that I consider to be a better view of the field from the Promenade Club:

Do you agree? It was right at this moment that I realized where I had initially pondered wandering. That which I consider the worst seat is pointed out by the arrow in the top left. So, I took a picture inside the club to show the curviness of it (it curves to match the curve of the field):

And a picture outside the club to demonstrate the equally curved cross-aisle that runs in front of it:

Sadly, this is way past foul territory and can’t fulfill its best purpose. I then headed out to inspect the worst seat in the ballpark as I had been planning for about a quarter of an hour now.

After I made the trek to get to a section closer to the worst seat, I actually went up to the level on which the seat was:

What I mean when I say I got on the level of the worst seat is that I was stadning on a staircase like the one circled in the lower right corner. That staricase leads down to the uppermost concourse. So, when I was on the concourse itself I couldn’t see where I was in terms of the seats and so I went up a staircase and decided I would work my way across through the seats.

Speaking of the seats, do you notice how slanted the stairs are? I would say that they are at about a 20 degree incline. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, check out the view from the bottom of the stairs looking up:

Suffice to say I’ve climbed Mayan pyramids with less imposing stairs. I don’t know how the people with seson tickets there can climb those things every day.

Though, the climb is in fact rewarding. When you get all the way up there and go over to the highest seat you should be able to see the entire world, right? Wrong. This is the view you are priviledged to seeing:

That thing obstructing your view of the field would be the out-of-town scoreboard. The Mets were nice enough to put TV screens on the back but would you really want to come all the way out to the ballpark just to watch the game on TV like you could have done at home.

I then goofed off a little and pretended I was flying because I have seen planes go this low by Citi Field:

The reason for that being, that LaGuardia airport is right across the way. In fact, it can be seen from said worst seat in the stadium. Here is the picture i took from right there:

I think the expression is somewhere between sheer terror of the height I was at and a yawn because of how far I was away from the field. Look at the view to my right:

This is the area behind the scoreboard in Center Field. It includes the speed pitch, batting cages, miniature field, and a variety of restaurants. It may not look that high but it was terrifying being up there when you are used to being on the ground and seeing these things full size. This concluded my post-bp tour of (part of) the stadium but I realized in about the seventh inning of the previous game that I should go to the Acela club because I had access to it.

Even though the club was technically closed, I was still allowed to enter and take pictures. Of course, the first thing I took a picture of was the food prices:

Maybe it’s the fact that I can get 2 slices of pizza and a soda for $3.00 a block from my school but I think that $6.00 is just a ridiculous price to pay for a slice of pizza. The sad part is that it is actually reasonable when it comes to pizza at baseball parks. The same slice is probably in the $9 range at Yankee Stadium. After going through various mental calculations on what else I could do with the money I spent on a meal in the Acela club, I took a few more pictures of the restaurant itself starting from the entrance and going outward. Now I will just show the pictures and you can add your own commentary:

Fast-forwarding to the title game of this entry, Alex and I went to the Mets dugout at the end of the game to try and coax something out of the Mets players. This was the crowd after the game:

It is pretty big for a crowd after the game considering the Mets were an obscene amount of games out of first at that time. To better our odds at getting a ball, I dressed up Alex in my Mets gear because I thought they would be more likely to toss him a ball than me. Suffice to say that Yankee fans usually don’t like getting dressed in Mets gear and Alex was no different:

Of course he is no idiot so he put on a face more like this one for the Mets:

Unfortunately, it didn’t matter what face Alex put on because the Mets didn’t toss anything in the crowd and with the relievers not coming in through the dugout caveat that I mentioned in the last entry. We were stuck with the Mike Stanton Home Run as the last and only ball of the night.

I then went up the stairs and had the same usher that took the picture in the last entry take it this time and here is the (slightly worse) end result:

Thus, with a subway ride concluded my last visit to Citi Field this season.

8/26/11 Braves at Mets: Citi Field

Just a few conscious moments after my last game in Washington, I magically teleported to Citi Field:

 I really wanted to stay in Washington and go to the majesty of Camden Yards but no. I had made arrangements with the now former pitching coach at Fordham Prep and had to be at Citi Field for this game because the next two had already been cancelled because of the threat Hurricane Irene posed on New York (I won’t get into what it actually because I’ve had worse thunderstorms).

Once I got in I made a beeline (or something like that), to Right Field and quickly got Lucas Duda to throw me a ball. I’m sorry that this is the only picture of the ball I have but Paint decided to stop responding while I was editing it and I only have this left as a product:

You can partially see the ball in my glove and Duda is under the red arrow.

I don’t know how quickly I did, but I did move over to the Left Field bleachers soon after. This is where things really slowed down. There were, I believe, Six other ballhawks at this game and the running lanes were clogged up as a result. It wasn’t that slow of a batting practice but there was just nowhere to move. When the Braves’  pitchers warmed up along the third base line I got Erik Hinske to toss me a ball that one of them overthrew. I was really happy about this because it almost guaranteed I would get another baseball because none of the pitchers saw me get it and so they would have no reason to not throw me a ball.

Apparently they did as that was in fact the last ball of my day. This was mainly because I wanted to stay in Left Field for as long as I could in bp because with six other ballhawks I knew I would lose my better than average spot and I would have to stand like 600 feet from Home Plate to have room to run a few sections. However, it was not any of the ballhawks at all but this guy:

that was the bane of my existence. Twice was I tracking a ball in mid-air and sure that I was going to catch it. Twice did I look to my left at the last moment to be stopped in my pursuit by this group just to see that guy (in a Red Sox hat) catch a Home Run without moving from his seat. Though, I guess I can’t blame him for just being there because I could have gone in the row in front of him and jumped up for the ball had I looked in that direction prior to the balls being hit there but I’m telling you that both would have been easy catches on the fly had I had the room to do so but such is life at Citi Field.

On top of that, the Braves weren’t throwing many baseballs to anyone over the age of 12 and even to these kids they were not throwing much. Towards the end of bp my guest (or maybe it was the other way around?) arrived and once bp ended we went almost directly to our seats. His actual name would be Chris Cositore and he is now the former pitching coach at Fordham (prep) because he just gratuated from Fordham (university) and is going on with his life blah, blah,blah. Anyway, here he is:

In case you can’t tell where we are, the seats were down the first base line and a bit closer to the outfield than the dugout. I don’t usually sit on this side of the field but the tickets were provided by the same guest that I had on this game and I’ll never pass up a deal to sit in good seats and not have to deal with Citi Field security for no additional cost.

A funny thing about this game involving Chris is that at the beginning of the game he started counting down the number of hitters for a perfect game. So when Chris Capuano (the Mets pitcher) got the first out he told me, “only 26 batters for a perfect game. He told me for every batter. When he got up to get food, he texted me the number every time an out was made. This was kind of his retaliation because he is just loyal enough of a Mets fan where you can make “your team stinks” jokes and they make sense but he doesn’t really take offense to them because he acknowledges the fact but he this was his obligatory retaliation. The way he announced it was before the game saying we were going to see the Mets’ first no-hitter. He was almost right. Capuano pitched a complete game shutout allowing only two hits. I went to the dugout after the game but didn’t get anything because:

1. Capuano wanted to (I assume) keep the game ball because he just pitched one of his best games ever.

2. The umpire tunnel is on the other side of the field on the third base side of the Field level seats.

3. The Mets relievers don’t got through the dugout to the clubhouse because there is a tunnel behind the bulpen that leads directly to the clubhouse and they have no need for going through the dugout.

Regardless, this was my view after the game:

After I eventually conceeded to the fact that there would be no more ball snagging opportunites, Chris and I got our picture taken by one of the “hospitality attendant”s. This was the first attempt that he described as: “a little dark”:

We then decided to move back where the light was (and I secretly ignited a great setting called “flash”) and this was the end product:

And I got the very rare luxury of getting driven home. Of course, it really wasn’t my house because I was staying over with friends. Anyway, that capped of my day at Citi. I then got to spend the next few days in Hurricane mode.

8/25/11 Diamondbacks at Nationals: Nationals Park

This was now the third and final game of the redeem-my-horrible-roadtrip series. Since the previous two games had been overall disappointments/failures,  this was the game that I was going to break out. That all went down the drain when out came the rain. When I arrived I thought the Nationals were actually going to take batting practice and I had good reason because as the red arrow in this picture shows, the cages were at one time indeed up:

I also noticed but could not take a picture of, the Nationals pitchers warming up ahead of schedule. I didn’t mind it at the time because they knew me and we were going to have batting practice even though it was slightly moist in the air and the constant threat of rain hung over our heads.

That picture was taken 30 minutes before the gate opened. In the meantime, I was waiting in line from a position from where I could not see what was happening. When I arrive to the field I found out the unfortunate truth:

The good news was that, as you can see, the Diamondbacks came out to throw and I wouldn’t have to wait out it the cold dampness in anticipation. I did have some competition out there but I got the weirdest ball by far. I was prepared to wait until the last pair finished and get my one ball but out of nowhere, Jeff Motuzas, the Diamonbacks bullpen catcher, threw me a ball. I believe none of the other ballhawks had gotten a ball yet, neither had I asked for the ball. To top it all off, Motuzas had thrown me a ball after the game the day before and would be more likely to recognize me As I was the last fan he interacted with. Was it because He had seen me at the previous game that he threw me the ball? Did he perhaps want to reward me for coming to another game? If he just forgot about me I don’t think he would have thrown me the ball because the others were calling out to him and wearing D-Backs gear. Weird, see what I mean? Here is the ball he threw me with Motuzas in the background.

Motuzas tossed me this ball in front of all the pitchers out there. This meant that most of the pitchers saw me get the ball. I then changed my get up by: switching my pants ( I had shorts under hiking pants), covering up my Diamondbacks shirt, putting on Mets give away glasses, and keeping my Diamondbacks hat on. Due to the change, I got Daniel Hudson to toss me a ball as he finished up his catch. Here is the ball with Hudson in the background:

By the way, the man looking back is not a ballhawk by most standards but his son was part of the  competition I was talking about. This would also be the same kid that mocked me about snagging two balls at US Cellular in the first gameof the series (displeasure #7 if you want to got all the way down to the specific line(a parenthesis in parenthesis, are you allowed to do that? Anyway, the way that entry is set up is that the day was just a list of the things that went wrong for me that day so whenever I introduce one more thing it has the number and a period this specific thing that went wrong is introduced by a 7.)) The kid himself was over in the bullpen getting someone to throw him a ball.

Then the boringness began. It was now around 5:00 and the game wasn’t going to begin for another 2 hours and that meant no snagging opportunities for about an hour. I’ll just list the highlights of my stadium wandering:

1. I was going to go up to the Red Porch and take in a panoramic view of the stadium:

but that was closed:

2. I went to the CF portion of the outfield concourse and went to play area sponsored by Exxon Mobil called the Strike Zone:

the highlight of this was like a batting cage they had set-up:

This wasn’t your stadium-employee-lobs-ball-to-you batting cage. How it worked was you, the hitter, picked a certain pitcher to go against. For example, this hitter is facing Scott Kazmir. A clip plays on the wall of the pitcher winding up and throwing the ball and as the pitcher gets to the position where he would release the ball an actual ball shoots out of the wall where his hand is and comes at you. The hitter can also designate the speed they would like the ball at and the clip still plays in realtime. There is also a similar thing with pitching but it isn’t nearly as much fun. Demonstrated by the only ones playing it were the employees manning it. I only want to show this picture because it gets the ball just as it is about to hit the wall of strips of material that look like shredded paper:

3. When the rest of the stadium opened, (for those who don’t know, only Left Field and the upper deck in Right of Nationals Park are open from when the stadium opens until 5:30 for a 7:00 game) I went over into foul ground to for the Nationals pitchers’ errant throws when they warmed up before the game. Sadly there were no baseballs to be found but I did get an interesting shot of the tarp being rolled off:

Neat, huh? At least I think so. I like how I get the tarp right down the line. Then again, part of the experience was being that close to the unrolled tarp. I know that sounds quirky but for whatever reason it was slightly exciting. Maybe it was just that boring of a day?

4. I wandered the concourse and noticed that throughout the stadium, the Nationals honor random Hall of Famers like:

And:

I guess the Nationals don’t have enough team history that they put these up. Can you imagine the Yankees putting up salutes to historic players from other teams? Didn’t think so. The Nationals do have more than those two but I didn’t want to include all of them in this entry because there were quite a few.

I then just waited for the rest of pre-game until the position players came out and started throwing at which time I set up in the stands and hoped they would throw me a ball:

I don’t remember exactly what happened but I ended up not getting anything from here and going out to another day of what I thought was going to be outfield running but it turns out that I could have just bought a ticket out in Left Field and I would have been just as well off because both teams are primarily running to begin with and the fact that both pitchers were lefties made them even more right heavy. I don’t remember the exact numbers but there were like 3 lefties in the entirety of both lineups excluding the pitchers.

While in Left Field, I had some room around me because the rain drove away everyone except the Nationals fans. So basically it was really empty in Left Field. Here are four pictures that should show how empty it was.

Behind me and to my right:

Angeled towards the field and to the right:

Behind me and to my left:

 

Angeled towards the field and to the left:

Due to how right handed heavy the lineup was and the fact that I had some room to move, I adjusted slightly for every hitter using a site called hittrackeronline.com. If you want to check it out the link is in the sidebar. Anyway, I looked at where each hitter hit his Home Runs and adjusted based on what I saw. So here is Michael Morse’s Home Run Chart:

Each of the blue dots is a Home Run he has hit this year. So, for Morse I would play further back in the seats because there is almost no pattern as far as the direction of the ball is concerned but the only constant is that he hits the ball far and I wanted to be going in on the ball and not back.

 Also as a  result of the righty-ness of the lineup , I stayed in Left Field for 80% of the time and my trips to Right Field only served to be a hinderance to me on this day. I consider two Home Runs to be partially lost opportunities because of my trips to Right. Partially because, it wouldn’t have been a sure thing if I had been in my seat in Left but it sure would have been much easier to get them if I had.

The first was a Chris Young Home Run where I was just getting back  to my seat and looking to see which row I was in. As a result, I was looking to my right when Young hit the ball and didn’t see the ball once while it was in the air. Zack Hample had also taken up residence in the Left Field seats and since I didn’t want to look up for the ball and possibly miss my opportunity to get to the ball, I just watched him. I thought to myself “he’s going to at least get some glove on the ball so my best shot is that is to sit a few rows behind him and get the deflection.” The whole time I was going down the staircase. He went about four rows under where the ball hit and by default I was two rows under it. I had come from quite a bit up on the staircase so I would have been able to get to the spot had I just looked up to see where the ball was headed. The only variable in that situation would have been if I would be able to judge the ball correctly but I’m pretty sure I would have been within five feet of it and I’m almost certain I would have caught it.

 

You can see the video by clicking, here. I am in my light red Nationals shirt going down the steps and then into a row going towards the right of your screen. If you keep focus on me, you can see I didn’t look up once and me turn when the ball deflects off the seat.

The second Home Run is kind of a slippery slope argument but here goes. I was in Right Field for Miguel Montero’s At-Bat and was headed back to Left Field I usually go at a decent pace that gets me to the other side of the field within two pitches of the At-Bat starting but it was like the eighth inning or something like that and I was pretty tired and thought to myself: “Why am I running this fast for Paul Goldschmidt? I’ve never heard of him so he can’t have that much power. You know what I’m just going to walk the rest of the way and get there in time for (whoever was behind him in the lineup who I perceived to be a better HR threat).” So I slowed up to a walk and just as I was behind the Red Porch I saw a baseball rolling out onto the concourse and a crowd of kids about half a second behind it. They chased it almost all the way to the gate in Center Field and one of them picked it up. The ball had bounced on the staircase right next to the one I usually go down in Left Field. This means that I would have been right next to the ball when it landed or towards the top of the staircase where I could have turned around and outran the other kids that chased the ball, which was very frustrating. Had I just been where I usually sit in Right Field there is a 50-50 chance I would have caught the ball on the fly. At least there was a nice/weird looking sky:

It may not look *that* special but it was some legitimate freakiness going on because it didn’t seem like light being refracted but the clouds themselves were that color. I guess a better way of explaining it is that the orange color pierced the cloud instead of only being on one side of it like when the sun hits it.

Anyway, the video for the Goldschmidt Home Run can be seen by clicking, here. You can’t see me but you can better visualize what I described two paragraphs ago.

I then moved over to Right Field for the beginning of the final inning. I did this because I knew it was Justin Upton’s birthday and tried to get his final inning warmup ball through that. As he was finishing his throwing, I yelled out as hard as I could: “HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUSTIN.” I know he heard me unless he is partially hearing impaired because he was close enough to the wall but regardless he didn’t even acknowledge me much less throw me his warmup ball. The reason I put the latter as a superior  negative to the former is that he has nothing to save the warmup ball from his final inning for. What is he going to do with it? There are no more innings to warmup for. I was also almost the only one in that section and was definitely the only Diamonbacks fan that bothered to look up his birthday if I wasn’t the only Diamonbacks fan in that section period.

I then went back to Left for the ninth itself because there were mostly righties coming up and I was more likely to get a ball from the Diamondbacks than the Nationals bullpen because there were obviously more people in Nationals gear than Diamondbacks gear. When I didn’t get anything, I took the metro to my temporary residence whenever I come to Washington and got myself packed to have the priviledge of taking the bus back to Manhattan the next morning just to go to another baseball game.

8/24/11 Diamonbacks at Nationals: Nationals Park

This was now the second game of  the series that was supposed to redeem my horrible roadtrip and I did get a total that was like triple my average on that trip but the day was an overall failure. I did bring my camera and took pictures with it but later realized that I had taken them without the memory card and I had lost them forever. So, I will just write up my bp and the pictures will come during the game portion of the entry. Here it goes:

I went immediately up to the second deck in Right Field which was absolutely empty. Within five minutes of me getting there three Rick Ankiel Home Runs came up there. I ended up with one. The first hit in the seats to my right and I kind of lolligagged to it because I was the only one in the section but the ball bounced back onto the field. It was semi-catchable but that’s not the worst part. Had I run after that ball I would have been in postion to catch a ball he hit on the very next pitch except further to the right. That one also bounced back onto the field. Ankiel then hit a third ball back to my left and this time it stuck in the seats. I went over and grabbed that ball. Sadly, I quickly forgot that I snagged that ball because I was still moping about the previous two so keep this fact in mind. I didn’t get any toss-ups from the pitchers even though I was the only one because they now recognized me. I mean the same kid in the same Nationals hat and shirt every game really isn’t that hard to spot/recognize but it only occurred to me after the game.

Ankiel & rest of group then finish their session and Ankiel went out to shag in Right Field. I asked him for a bseball and he said some obscure words I couldn’t make out and I asked him to repeat. “Make a muscle.” He said. I then held my cotton clad arm and he tossed me my second ball of the day.

My third ball of the day can be explained in two words: Todd Coffey. Well maybe not but the story goes that Todd Coffey likes to throw a baseball and likes to throw them random distances. When the pitchers finished a drill where they ran routes like a Wide Receiver, Todd Coffey took those seven baseballs and just threw them to random spots in the stands. He threw one to the upper deck, a few in foul territory (later pocketed by ushers), and most of them in the second deck where I was standing. One of those that he threw to the second deck was on the fly:

The bright red arrow is where I caught the ball and the fainter red circle points out a part of the stadium called the Miller Light Scoreboard Walk. It is like a bar section where there are discounted beers before every game and is part of the reason why the Upper Right field seats are so empty. Most people don’t go up there because of baseballs and those who do are more inclined to get turned off by all the people drinking. Anyway, that’s not why I bring it up here, the reason that I bring it up is because most of the balls launched to the second deck went there where it was funny to see a baseball go into a crowd of people that were drinking and see what happened when they realized the fact. Suffice to say, Chaos insumed. I marked that ball #198 because I forgot that I had gotten the Ankiel homer and so I thought my next ball was going to be #199 when in fact it was #200.

#200 came when a Nationals lefty hit a ball to my left and an usher with whom Alex Kopp and Garrett Meyer have had problems with raced me to the ball. I beat her to it  but she said she wanted to give it to someone. For the prospect of better ballhawk relationships I gave it to her not realizing that it was infact #200 and asked her who the ball was for she got someone caught off guard. I want to assume that it was because she thought of ballhawks as vile filth that only care about themselves and wouldn’t ask that question but she regained her composure within a second and answered that it was for her niece. She then asked me what I did with all the baseballs I got. I responded that I gave away about 1/3 to kids (Would you say this is about accurate? I actually used to give away more before the blog but since I like to keep enough to make for a good picture at the end of the entry) got about 1/6 signed (again used to do this a lot more last year because I wasn’t as focused on getting the balls themselves), and then kept the rest just in different places in my apartment (this is definitely true I have no idea what is going to happen with baseballs if I catch like 200 in a season. Most of the balls from this year are in unused bags because the filing cabinet I have is filled to the brim.) Soon after this, bp ended and the cages got pulled away. I had a clue why. While talking to a fan yesterday waiting in line for the gates to open, I found out that had the stadium opened on time, the Diamondbacks would not be taking bp in favor of fielding practice.

Sure enough, the Diamonbacks showed up for fielding practice and there were zero snagging opportunities until the Diamondbacks finished and when they did, they didn’t toss anything up to the only Diamonbacks “fan” within a mile of the dugout. I have no problem with fielding practice taking place AFTER bp but I just don’t understand why you have to cancel bp to make this happen. I however, am in no position to criticize, the Diamonbacks had been hitting wretchedly until that point and this series was the start of a run that separated them from the Giants in the NL West and will propbably get them into the playoffs. It just makes no sense to my limited knowledge of baseball. This was actually a first for me in that I bought seats on both sides of the Outfield. If you were following this adventure on the blog’s twitter account, you know that I was absolutely exhausted by the fifth inning. I repeat, THE FIFTH INNING. If I’m not mistaken, the reason I did this was because there were two righties on the hill and the established players on both teams (Justin Upton, Chris Young, Michael Morse, Ryan Zimmerman etc) were pure righties but had plenty of power lefties/switch hitters that almost only came in/hit lefty when there was a righty on the hill (Rick Ankiel, Danny Espinosa, Laynce Nix, Miguel Montero) those names but might be accurate but the point is the line-up was very mixed when it came to righties and lefties. The Diamondbacks were the  main cause of my exhaustion as Kirk Gibson thought it would be funny to see me run back and forth all night and stacked his lineup in the Righty-Lefty format. The Nationals almost did the same thing but they had a pocket of righties at the middle of the order because those were the players that belonged at the middle of the order.

I ended up so exhauted that I had to do a bit of guess work and just guess which hitters were more likely to hit a Home Run than the others. Had I actually followed the lineup, there would have been many a time that I started running to one side of the OF and a batter change would cause me to turn around the other way. On average, if I left right as the first batter got out, I got to the other side of the OF by the second pitche of the second batter’s At-Bat.

I didn’t catch anything but came within 20 feet of Laynce NIx’s 9th inning Home Run and got a ball after the game ended from the Diamondbacks’ bullpen catcher, Jeff Motuzas:

I also managed to snag a bag of peanuts from a couple who bought two bags but didn’t have room for the second:

Or as it is known in the dictionary Observing Baseball edition, dinner. I am glad I had something to eat because  this self-portrait sums up best how I was feeling a the moment:

Is it okay with everyone if I don’t write up the stats for the rest of the season? It has been uneventful to say the least and I am really more concerned with getting the entries up first than puting up my stats. If it is really important to you to see my stats, the best place to look at them by far is my mygameballs.com profile page which is linked to on the side bar on the right side of the screen and has better statistical categories than any I can think of—–>

8/23/11 Diamondbacks at Nationals: Nationals Park

I would rather forget this day as quickly as I possibly can. This three game series was supposed to be my redemption for a horrible trip to the mid-west (snagging wise). Just about everything went wrong that could have gone wrong. Let’s go through the list shall we.

1. My bus broke down and I had to switch buses causing a 30 minute delay at the very least.

2. I got to Washington 15 minutes after the earthquake that day and as a result the roads were blocked off and I arrived to Union Station (our final destination) at 3:30 which was 6 hours after we left New York. Due to the earthquake, Union station was closed and I couldn’t take the metro from there. Here is the crowd gathered there:

3. I had to walk about 2 miles with my backpack that was packed like a suitcase, in 90+ degree heat in my long pants and sweatshirt that I had on because the bus is always pretty cold, to the nearest train station and get on that. Though, I can be thankful I didn’t get to Washington like 30 minutes later because this was the traffic:

4. After finally getting on the train itself and riding my initial stops seamlessly and slowly, I ran into a bit of a crowd at my transfer station:

The crowd was like ten people deep all the way across a platform that was about 500 feet wide. So, it took a few trains for the 10th person back to get on a train because only so many people can fit on one train. Given the fact that the trains were running at reduced speeds for workers to make sure the tunnels were structurally sound and every other train was different at this same stop, it wasn’t a surprise that I got to the ballpark an hour and twenty minutes after I left Union Station at 4:50.

5. Due to the delayed metro etc., Nationals Park was understaffed and made us wait until 6:40 to enter the park. For example, here is a guard who usually supervises the whole let-in-the-people-at-4:30-and-make-sure-everything-goes-smooth actually setting up a gate:

6. The gates didn’t open until 6:40 which was 20 minutes before the game was scheduled to start and this is what I felt like:

Oh and want to see all the productive work I was getting accomplished:

I took the picture with some thought process in mind that I as going to explain here but it was along the lines of: “Usually that sign says WELCOME TO NATIONALS PARK but the fact that the gates aren’t open makes the sentence WE COME TO NATINALS PAK” For those who don’t know, the Nationals had a jersey mistake a few years ago where Majestic Athletic actually  spelled their name as “Natinals” on the jerseys of Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn. Since then, it has been a running joke in baseball and beyond to call them the Natinals whenever they are trying to be put in a negative/mistake prone light and it as interesting that the bars left this message. I know it’s a bit confusing but it made sense in my head at the time. Oh and the “we” that the modified inscription was referring to was this whole pack of people that came to the ballpark but were still waiting to get in:

7. While I was at the gate waiting for it to open, I got into a discussion about snagging baseballs with a kid who was about 10 and with his dad and got ridiculed by him for only snagging two baseballs at US Cellular in my last game.

8. The final and most painful of the day’s misfortunes was during the game itself. So of course I will take you step by step through how exactly I messed this up. First of all, the video of this situation is here. It would be a video of Sean Burroughs’ first Home Run in five years due to substance abuse problems, which also happened to drive in the only two runs of the game. Now this is no Josh Hamilton story but it would have been nice to catch part of such a nice story and had I, who knows, he might have asked for it back because it meant so much to him.

Anyway, I will show you what to look for in the video.

1. Seconds 3-7 show me running across two sections towards where I thought the ball was headed, the ball hit off the hands of a person to whom the ball was hit, hit off my hand, bounce into a seat in the row in front of me and roll me reach down to grab it. Here I am beginning my run to the ball:

I apologize for the blurriness but this is from the video I linked to and the camera is moving. The arrow on the left is where I was sitting and the arrow to the right is pointing to the blurry reddish figure as I was wearing my  D-Backs jersey. This next screen shot shows the moment about a half a second before the ball touched down:

The left arrow would be pointing to me and the right pointing to the guy off whose hands the ball bounced. Here the arrows represent the same things as they did in the last picture but it is while the ball is bouncing off of my hand:

2. Seconds 12-13 show the person in the row behind me holding the ball up:

The left arrow would be the guy with the ball in his seat and the right arrow would be me still looking for the ball. What happened was that the ball fell into the seat and I started looking for the ball in the seat but when it wasn’t there I started looking in the row in front of the seat and so forth when I noticed that everyone was looking behind me. This two seconds or so on the video actually document me looking at their faces and turning back to come to the sad realization that I had completely missed the ball. Let me put you in my head a little further by explaining how confused I was at this moment. I would have understood how the ball ended up in his hands but it had been traveling forwards and the person who was in possession of it was sitting down. I had no idea how this happened until I looked at the tape and saw that….

3. Seconds 48-54 show a replay of what happened in the seats and reveal this:

If you are confused as to what you are looking at I don’t blame you. the right arrow is just to show where I was. You can sort of see my maroon-ish jersey peeking out between the bald guy’s arm but the important thing is the left arrow, which shows the guy who ended up with the ball reaching through my legs to snatch up the ball. What I figured out later was that the ball was indeed wedged in the seat for how brief a moment but when I or the other people converging on the ball hit the seat towards the field the seat created a ramp of sorts for the ball and it shot through my legs just as I was searching for it in the seat.

9. Oh and there was something the camera didn’t pick up: the guy threw the ball back. Why would you go through all that effort to get the ball if you’re just going to throw it back onto the field.

By the way, here is the path I had to take to get to the ball in the first place:

The two connected arrows show the path I ran and the lone arrow points out the guy that ended up with the ball.

I don’t want to say, though, that it was just a day of bad breaks because there were two positives that happened.

1. I did get to see the Nationals top three prospects get honored and have their first taste of stardom:

2. There were people that saw my effort. This group of four:

commented a few times on how far I ran and what an effort I had given and eventually gave me this in the ninth:

Apparently they had gone to the Nats’ team store and bought that for me. It was a very kind gesture and as they say made my day. The end.

8/16/11 Indians at White Sox: US Cellular Field

Originally, I was planning to go to three games but because of changes to that plan that I was not made aware of, this would be my first and last game at US Cellular Field this year. I had taken a tour of Northwestern in the morning so this was my view coming off of the el or L (short for elevated train):

It was then 4:59 so I didn’t have that much time to wander around but yet I did (unintentionally). Here is my route in red ink:

In that first picture, you are actually looking at gate 6. I then went over to gate 4 to meet my uncle (not Richard) with the tickets. From there I went to  the Stadium club entrance between gates 2 and 3 because Rick Crowe told me he might be there but might also be inside the stadium for a season ticket holder promotion (long and complicated story that I’d rather not explain). He wasn’t there so I assumed that he was in the stadium and went over to gate 2 to see the length of the line because that goes into Right Field. The line was long enough for me to inspect how long it was at gate 1. Apparently, this was the gate they were doing the season ticket holder event thing at and no other people were allowed through. By the time I made my way back to gate 2 the time was 5:20 (10 minutes pre-gate opening) and the line was this long:

The arrow would be where the front of the line was because the line kind of curved to its destination. Now I didn’t know it at this time but what I should have done was go back to gate 6 because that would get me to the Left Field seats and it would be much less crowded than this line. One of the reasons this line was so crowded was because it was also the patio gate. The patio area is a picnic table area that is actually under the Right Field seats. I didn’t know these seats even existed and so most of the people in this line were actually in it for that reason and other gates did not have this extra crowd. In addition, I didn’t know that we were not on the field level of the stadium. So when faced with the decision, I did not go up the ramp but actually followed the people going to the patio area. Here is actually a picture of the people going towards the patio area through this tunnel type thing that most stadiums have but fans are rarely allowed through:

So if I weren’t late enough already with waiting for the fans in front of me, I was made even tardier by the fact that I went the length of the tunnel and back. Eventually, I did make it to the 100 level and the Indians were already taking bp:

I quickly did pick out Rick Crowe:

He is obviously under the red arrow but I would also like to take this opportunity to show the best thing about US Cellular Field: No guard rails on the aisles. This means that any row is accessible. Usually, in a place with railing you will see ballhawks stationed in railing gaps during batting practice. These are one-row-wide gaps between one railing and the next. They do this because it allows them to access both sections of seats on both sides of the aisle. Without the railings, a ballhawk can just pick the spot on the aisle that is least crowded. For example, I would be able to stand in the second row here and not be worried about being limited to going to only one side due to the railing but I could just pick out the emptiest row and stand in the respective aisle. Anyway, in the process of introducing myself  to him I actually missed out on two balls that landed more towards Right-Center Field. I was okay with this in the moment and I’m glad I met him at my first chance but I really wished I would have spotted him like two seconds later.

I then noticed two things that made me leave for Left Field: the Left Field seats were bleachers and Chris Perez was shagging in Left Field. The former made me go over there because bleachers are far easier to maneuver through and snag baseballs in because one can be more of an outfielder and adjust to the ball depth wise. Let me explain this a bit better. In a seated section, one has to pick a row to run through within about one row of where the ball is going to land because jumping over seats is a time-consuming process where as bleachers are very easy to jump over and allow a person to start running laterally right away and adjust to the distance of the ball once they get in line with it. The latter made me want to be in Left Field because there are certain guys in the league that give out twenty thousand balls a batting practice and Chris Perez is one of them. This batting practice he tossed up any ball that he fielded within ten feet of the wall. Most players mope around and want to do the least amount of exercise possible in batting practice but he played every ball like he was an outfielder in the seventh game of the World Series and how quickly he got the ball would decide if his team won or not.

Anyway, the latter proved to be a quicker source of a baseball as Perez threw me a ball within the first two minutes I was in Left Field:

I then changed into a different outfit from my standard Indians gear to see if I could get Perez to actually throw me another because as I said he was throwing ball after ball into the crowd. This is what I came up with:

That would be my standard Indians bp hat (bought in Cooperstown), Mets give away sunglasses, and a Red Sox shirt turned inside-out. I didn’t get anything else from Perez as he didn’t field any balls close to me but I did get other players to throw me balls. Unfortunately, I was under-thrown on both occasions. The first is pictured in this diagram:

The guy who threw it to me is under the right-most arrow and the two connected arrows show the arc of the ball. It was headed right in my direction but it was severely under-thrown and landed in the first row where the kid in the White Sox jersey picked it up (and yes I am 95% sure that the ball was intended for me and not the kid as he only looked back to us when I called out to him). I am not completely sure but I think the armless pitcher was Chad Durbin. I do know, however. The person was in fact a player and not a coach that threw the ball as much as it might look like a coach in that last picture. The next ball was closer to straight away Left Field and was almost the same exact scenario except for the fact that the ball was closer to me but I was standing on the bleacher and so it took me longer to get down and that’s when I lost it.

Then next ball I actually did get was a hit ball:

Don’t be fooled, I was not as lucky as it may seem with the crazy series of ricochets show here. Keep in mind that I was tracking this ball so I was moving back and forth with each bounce. I gave this away to a father with what looked to be a one year old. I was planning to spend the game wherever Rick Crowe was sitting but it turns out he only attends the batting practices and no the games so I played Home Run balls out in Right Field.

As for the game, it was a 14 inning affair but I only staid for 12 innings. I would have staid longer but my means for getting back to shelter wanted to go home in the 12th. Speaking of which, here they are:

1. Mike- My uncle that treated us to this game on the field level and currently (in the picture) trying to walk without pain from an injury sustained during the t-shirt toss when an over-exuberant knocked over both he and my mother (should have stayed with me closer to the field). Wait, who’s my mother?

2. Andrea- my mother who wanted to come to this game but yet not stay for the duration of it.

We weren’t the only ones who left early so we had constant updates on the train from other on their smart phones.

STATS:

  • 2 balls at this game (1 pictured because I gave one away)
numbers 195-196 for my career:
  • 135 balls in 36 games = 3.75 balls per game
  • 2 balls * 29,700 fans= 59,400 competition factor
  • Time at game 4:59-11:14= 6 hours 15 minutes

8/13/11 Pirates at Brewers: Miller Park

This is pretty much a cautionary entry to anyone going to a game on a Saturday between two teams in contention. I went through the same pre-game ritual this game as I did at my last and was already to redeem myself for lost opportunities the game before by arriving once again at 4:30 for a 7:00 game when I heard the roar of a crowd:

I then took that last picture. When Richard and I were driving to our parking spot of the previous day, he noticed that the parking lot was packed but I had been to Miller Park previously before this trip and attributed it to the fans tradition of tailgating as I had seen it was very prevalent in my last trip. I should have known, though. When there weren’t many people outside the cars themselves. The reason that I showed up late was that when I looked at the game it was scheduled for 7:00 pm central but Fox then took over the game and moved it to their standard 4:00 pm eastern time slot and I had no clue this had happened. Okay, it was on my ticket but I did not even have the slightest clue to check for the time. What makes it even more painful is that Richard and I were doing a whole lot of nothing the whole day waiting for my mom’s flight to arrive and could have easily shown up to the game.

When we got in it was already the fifth inning. Had I not gotten shutout at Target Field I would have turned around when I saw the crowd and walked back to the car. Instead, I tried to get into prime foul ball territory and this was the result:

No one checked my ticket or anything. You see there is a cross aisle behind Home Plate and in front of the press box that is a pretty good spot for catching foul balls and I thought it would take an ID-ing just to take pictures of it but I walked right in without getting anything checked. My only complaint is that the protective netting is too high for baseballs to come back on a line but here I am in the cross aisle:

I will say, though, that with the net being say 5 feet lower it is the perfect height and distance from Home Plate for a foul ball to get there. As you can see, I have an orange circle in the upper right of that last picture. That highlights just some of the hundreds of white spots on the wall caused by foul balls. Of course, a security guard noticed I was shifting back and forth from batter to batter and asked where my tickets were. I showed him that they were standing room only  and he then told me I (and Richard) would have to leave the section.

We eventually made our way to the Left Field Lodge bleachers and sat there for the inning remaining of a 1-0 game. As you can (maybe) imagine, I was pretty angry at myself for not checking the time of the game but I must say that it as the most energy filled game I have ever been to and I grew up a Yankee fan and attended my fair share of games at the old/new Yankee Stadium. Perhaps it was because there was so much tension in the air. The Brewers only had a 1 run lead in the ninth inning and whoever was pitching loaded the bases with no outs and John Axford got three consecutive outs to end the game (I’m not sure if Axford came in before the Ninth started and loaded the bases or if someone else did and he just finished it off). That was the most excited I have ever been at a baseball game.

Lastly I would like to thank Richard for being the best camera person I have ever had (to this point) by far. I know it was a bit of a stretch to be away from home for that long and attend more games than he had in the last century but I would like to thank him for doing so. Even if I couldn’t put up a show for him during any of these batting practices, I might have to go back to the midwest next year just to have him as my photographer.

No stats for this entry as there isn’t anything to write about this particular game.

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