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

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