First of all, here is my initial preview entry of the A’s. So you can review the facts I put forth.
My predicted record for the A’s: 88-93 wins
Actual Record: 74-88
I know this seems like a bad prediction but I *did* put in a clause in my record prediction that said:
” Although, with young rotations there is always the risk that the rotation will lose a few starters to overwork (cough,cough…Gio Gonzalez), injuries, streakiness etc. In which case, their win range is in the mid 70′s.”
Well, there were starters lost to injury. The only starters above 200 innings pitched were: an much worse Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez. I will admit that I thought Gonzalez was going to be the one lost to injury and he completely defied my prediction by becoming the ace of that staff. I definitely got that one wrong. The most prominent example of injury is Dallas Braden who went out after pitching only 18 innings. So really I was spot on in my prediction by adding on that last part.
I did NOT predict their bullpen would be as good as it became but all around I think I nailed this team as well. What do you say?
Those who have been reading this blog for about 6 month may remember that I did a sereies of Offseason Recap and Preview entries. This series of entries will look back on my evalutations and previews to see how well I did.
This specific entry deals with my second preivew entry of the Angels. I do the second first because the first is the Rangers are still playing and I will let them finish before I can fully evaluate their season.
My predicted record: 80-82 to 85-77
Actual Record: 86-76
So I wasn’t that far off in terms of wins and this may seem like a good amount of wins, but my thing with them is the Vernon Wells move impeded future progress. Here is my thought on the trade directly from that entry:
“I see the Vernon Wells move as one out of desparation and not very well thought through. Although Wells may have been a very good player last year he still has a contract that averages 18 million a year. Up to this point, he has not made significantly more than 10 million a year and so will start making figures in the 20 millions. This is for at best a very good player and at worst what he was early on in the contract. The upside to this offseason’s low spending was that they could make a run for Albert Pujols next but the Wells move effectively washed that away. Second, I am pretty sure the Blue Jays would have given him away for free. Instead, the Angels gave away one of the top five power hitting Catchers in the game. Is he better than Wells, no but it is still a bit much to give up.”
Before I go into I-am-a-Physchic mode, I would like to make sure everyone is farmiliar with what actually happened in the trades for those who are confused by the fact that Napoli was in Anaheim last year and is in Texas this year and where Vernon Wells being onthe Blue Jays last year fits into all of this . The first trade that was made between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels sent Mike Napoli to the Blue Jays in exchange for Vernon Wells. Napoli was a Blue Jay for about two tenths of a second before they sent him to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Frank Francisco.
Last year, Wells’ stats were: .218/.248/.412 hitting, scored 60 runs, and drove in 66 runs. Sure, he hit 25 HRs as well, but is this the kind of production a team wants fromsomeone being paid 15-20 million dollars? I think the Angels would rather still have Mike Napoli as he: hit .320/.414/.631, scored 72 runs at a much slower runner, and drove in 75 runs primarily from the backof the line-up. Did I mention he also hit 30 Home Runs while only earning around$5 million? I need not mention what he has meant to the Rangers thus far in their World Series run.
I think I pretty much nailed the Angels. What do you think?
Last year, I wrote an entry recapping how my ballhawking stats broke down by different categories. To be fair, I only snagged 56 baseballs so I don’t know why I broke them down so much but here is the second installment of that entry.
The overall numbers are:
Balls Per Game(BPG): 3.50
Gameballs (GB): 2 (both foul)
Autographs: approximately 7 (mygameballs’s autograph database is being difficult)
Hit Balls(HB): 49 (The thing to work on next year)
Hit Balls Per Game (HPG): 1.07
Thrown Balls(TB): 96
Thrown Balls Per Game (TPG): 2.09
Easter Eggs(EE): 12 (The fact that I live in New York should explain this)
Easter Eggs Per Game (EPG): .26
Glove Trick Balls(GT): 4 (In three games)
Glove Trick Balls Per Game (GPG): 0.09 (I need to be less paranoid about security)
BP balls: 152
Balls During Game: 5 (I don’t sit by the dugouts much)
Balls After Game: 4 (The majority of these are bullpen balls)
Average Competition Factor (ACF): 98,609
Balls Broken down by month:
G: 2 (This is where my dad’s condition was getting worse so I didn’t attend many games at all)
ACF: 152, 552
August- (I’d rather forget it but I’ll include it in the interest of fairness)
Balls Broken down by Stadium
EE: Who am I kidding?
Nationals Park- I’m actually going to not count the one freak game where the gates didn’t open until 6:40 because of the earthquake.
Sun Life Stadium (Name as of October, 22, 2011)-
Oriole Park at Camden Yards-
Miller Park (Like Nationals Park, I won’t count the freak game where I wasn’t present for batting practice because the game was moved up)-
I think this is all, but if anyone writes a comment suggesting more stats, I will almost certainly include them. Also, there are some stats that didn’t include, a link to my “mygameballs.com account” can be found to the right of this paragraph as the third link in the “Sites related to ballhawking” widget. Once there, you can browse through my baseballs in a variety of different ways. For example, you can see where I catch most of my baseballs in the seats at a specific ballpark. So at Citi Field, most of my baseballs would probably be in LF because I spend most of my time there in B.P. This is just one of the things you can see there. It is actually scary how much time you can consume just looking a the different stats in the site.
When the Yankees playoff game was postponed from Friday to Saturday, a lot of people were upset because they had different plans on Saturday. Since the Yankees and MLB have protection against this liability, those people had no chocie but to sell their tickets on StubHub or other ticket broker sites. I didn’t know if I would be able to make it to this game because of other plans and wouldn’t have been able to afford the tickets at the last minute had the date switch taken place.
When I found out I was available, I bought tickets on StubHub and arrived on the scene some few short hours after that. It was drizzling outside. So I was pretty surprised when I arrived in the stadium and the Yankees were taking batting practice. The Yankees have a LOT of reasons to be disliked by ballhawks (notice my last Yankee game was in April) but they are not quick at all to put the tarp on because of the quality of the field (it drains better than most fields).
It was not a very exciting batting practice as neither team hit many balls into the crowd. I started out in Right Field but decided to go to Left Field. There, I had some close calls.
1. I was usually in the railing gap about ten feet from the field and closest to Center Field in the Left Field stands (I don’t say bleachers at Yankee Stadium because there really are bleachers behind the Left Field stands), and a ball went to my left. I chased after it and was behind two other people who were contesting for the ball as well. They knocked each other down and the person to my left’s presence didn’t allow me to go after the ball rolling down their row. For the record, the guys were fine with the fact that they lost each other the ball but neither was given the ball as a prize for their effort. I personally would have given one of them the ball despite the fact that they were grown men.
2. I almost convinced Joaquin Benoit to throw me his warm-up ball but as he looked at me, he saw the kid next to me was more “worthy” and tossed it to him. The exact thing that happened was that I started yelling out his name (that’s what it takes just to get heard at Yankee Stadium) and when he looked at me, I asked him for the ball in Spanish. When he threw it to the kid next to me, I thought that he wasn’t actually Hispanic and I’d just dissed him by asking for the ball in Spanish because neither Joaquin nor Benoit are exclusive Hispanic names. I later checked and saw he was from the Dominican Republic so I assume the first explanation in the paragraph is what happened. I would also now like to point out that somewhere in the process of getting my Tigers gear on, I lost the Tigers roster itself, so this is why I didn’t get any balls from the other pitchers because it relied on them just seeing me in my Tigers stuff.
3. A Tigers coach was going along the wall and picking up all of the balls and fungoeing them into the infield. One fan asked him if he could have one of the balls for his daughter and the coach didn’t respond ( because there were so many balls and he was probably going to give them one of the latter he picked up). So in New York fashion, the father started calling the coach a bum. I then asked the coach if he could: “toss a ball up for a Tigers fan.” He then responded by saying that I could thank the father for him not throwing the ball up to me. Had I been the first to ask, I am almost certain I would have ended up with the ball because there were just too many balls for him not to throw a few into the crowd. And yes, I was breifly considering using the glove trick on these balls.
Throughout all of bp there was rain coming down consistently.The Tigers finally ran off the field with about 40 minutes of bp left. I then focused all of my attention on a throwing pair down the line (don’t know for sure who they were because again I didn’t have my roster). I couldn’t identify the guy in the outfield so I just relied on my Tigers gear and started waving like a madman. I was like five feet from the back of the crowd on edge of the field and lined myself right up with his line of view so he could clearly see me. When he finished throwing, he kept his eyes on me and lobbed me the ball perfectly over the sea of people running after the ball because they thought they had been overthrown. I then caught it and waved/mouthed an emphatic “Thank You” from sixty feet out.
Then came the part that bothers me. I went back into the covered seats with the rest of the people hiding from the rain and was sitting there for at least 1/2 an hour to see if batting practice would resume. Then out of nowhere an usher came down to the seats and asked to see my ticket. I wasn’t doing anything but sitting there. I then told him that I didn’t have a ticket and he chuckled like he already knew the fact (I didn’t care that I was kicked out because I was going to go to the bleachers anyway because I was going with a guest). I then left and looked back. From what I could see, he only came down to check my ticket and go back up.
Maybe I’m just being paranoid but I think the Yankees have people constantly on cameras surveilling the seat to make sure that no one is in their precious field level seats that isn’t supposed to be there. If so, it is really over the top because I was not doing anything to disturb people, nor was I going to try. I grew up a Yankee fan and still root for the team, but geez, they are making it *really* difficult to keep rooting for them when the organization goes all OCD in security. The Yankees are the only MLB team that I know of that hires Securitas people to even be ushers. I know of some teams that hire out of office for some positions, but with the Yankees, they run the whole shebang. This was the only damper on the otherwise great night.
The original starters had been CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander, but because they began already and THEN postponed the game, Ivan Nova and Doug Fister replaced them. Even though I would have liked to see Verlander, Nova did a job that CC Sabathia would have gotten a curtain call for. The game was really cold for me because I had been in the rain and all my clothes were soaked and also the bleachers were soaked. This did make it a little less enjoyable game for me, but I was glad overall that I went. The last time I saw these two teams play was in the ALDS in 2006 some rookie pitcher that had won 17 games, named Verlander outdueled Mike Mussina to even out the series at 1 apiece. This game was really unenjoyable because, besides the fact that I was a much bigger Yankee fan and they lost, this game had also been rained out. In the rain out part, my dad and I were in the bleachers (for those who don’t know, the bleachers in the outfield at the old stadium were like an island isolated from the rest of the stadium and the concourse built on the inside of said island) and went down the tunnel to the concourse. Since it was raining, everyone else was also inside the tunnel and it was hot and humid on the concourse. Also, some people had started drinking even before the game had begun and one of those people was behind me. He didn’t act out or anything so how did I know he was drunk? All of a sudden, I felt a warm luquid on the achilles tendon of my right leg. He had just barfed all over the floor and my shoe. We then found out that game was postponed to a later day a few seconds after that. There is a bright side to this story, though. The game gave me a really good excuse to leave school early.
Anyway, I was happy with my one ball from a player that I later (semi) identified as Max Scherzer.
My next entry will probably be a recap of my first full season as a ballhawk.
This was, at the time, what I thought to be my last game of the season. Let me be the first to announce that it was ****NOT**** how I’d imagine my last game would go. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it sure felt like it when I entered the stadium. I met up with Alex Kopp at the Center Field gate and we raced in as soon as the gates opened.
Normally, the Nationals take a while to start hitting but there wasn’t even a cage up:
(this is where you imagine a batting cage not being on the field because I lost all of pictures from the last few games of the season)
I understand that it was a day game but the reason that teams don’t take bp on a day game is usually because they had a night game the day before and they have to sleep in. The previous game, however, was a day game itself so I had really thought there would be bp.
I had already gone up to the second deck in Right Field because I wanted to get a ball from the pitchers but they took ten years to start warming up the the previous day and so people in Left Field had seen me waiting and came up.
Once the Nationals finally came out, the Braves were five minutes from starting their throwing. As a result, I only got in one request and the situation was a pretty unique one. I had been waiting all season to use this refrence but I waited for Tyler Clippard to stop throwing. The reason being, he was on a Nationals pre-game show with Drew Storen where a camera person followed them around for a day (they’re roommates). When Clippard was almost done making eggs for breakfast, he remarked that they were: “as smooth as the other side of the pillow.” Drew Storen then mocked him for it once more in the segment for butchering the idiom, cliche or whatever that type of saying is called. When Clippard finished throwing, I asked him if he could, “Toss it up to me as smooth as the other side of the pillow.” I could just tell that he was paying attention to me when I called, “Tyler!” but he turned away from me when I made the refrence was made. Clippard is usually not the friendliest of players and I thought that I could crack him open up a bit with that but apparently not.
This was enough dealing with the Nationals so when the Braves got on the field, I ran from the upper Right Field stands to the Left Field foul line. There another thing happened to me in that I am 95% sure I got a ball because my numbered balls skip that number and I remember giving the ball away to a kid but have no recollection of the player throweing me the ball. I have no idea how this happened but it just did. Let’s call this ball #2 on the day. To make things even weirder, I know almost exactly where I caught/gave away the ball. Weird, right?
I then stayed in Right Field/ the Red Seats for a few Braves bp groups (by the way, did I mention the Braves took bp once again while the Nationals didn’t). For some it would have been a failure as I got only one ball, but for me it was great. When I was in the Red Seats, Julio Teheran was shagging in Center Field. As I mentioned in the first entry of this weekend, my goal of the weekend was to get a ball from him because he is the first Colombian pitcher in the major leagues and I myself am a Colombian pitcher. My entire focus was on that one thing. If a ball were hit right to me at that moment it probably would have sent me to the hospital. When he shagged a ball in the R-CF gap and was about to toss it into the RF stands, I yell out as loud as I could, “Una pelota para un Colombiano por favor?” (A ball for a Colombian,please?). He then made a 180 to face me and threw me one of the dirties bp balls I have ever seen. I kid you not when I say that I had a minor case of the butterflies. I then went onto say that I was also a pitcher and to get his gesture of approval was something special.
I then went over to Right Field for the Braves Lefties (Freeman, Heyward…) and that was slightly less crowded and I did marginally better. I truly didn’t care, though. There was at least 1 ball I can think of that I would have had if I were going 100% but my mission was accomplished and I was satisfied if I didn’t get anything else.
I did get another ball but I can’t really provide much detail because all I remember is that I had to run to my right, jump over at least 1 row of seats, and I didn’t catch it on the fly. I don’t know who hit it either. I then gave this ball to an usher in Right Field that I am friends with. I then did my thing during the game of running back and forth but the Nationals weren’t nice enough to hit any Home Runs.
When the game ended, the Nationals told us to stick around and so I did. They then proceeded to do one of the coolest things I have ever seen a team do. September was Fan appreciation month and the Nationals had been giving random goodies out to fans throughout the month but this was their last home game of the season. The whole Nationals team came out of the dugout with a laundry cart like this:
It was about 3′x 6′ and full of all sorts of cheap giveaway stuff (gloves, plastic bats, frisbees, etc). The Nationals went clockwise all the way from the 1st base dugout to the Left Field foul pole and threw stuff into the stands the whole time. I was a little further back than most people as to have more room to move but this came with its drawbacks because only the heavier items had a chance of getting to me. I had no chance at any T-shirts or things of that nature. I did end up with a bag of butterscotch candy, though:
(this is where you picture one of those pharmacy 2 for $1 bags of butterscotch)
I didn’t get anything else but I was truly impressed by how fan freindly the Nationals were being. It was one of the best displays of it I have ever seen.
This was now the middle game of (barring playoff baseball) my last weekend of baseball for the year. I figuring that this would be my last shot at a full batting practice because the next game would be a day game. I was actually too optimistic in this prediction. For my seventh stright game at Nationals Park, there was not a full session of bp.
When the gates opened, I ran up to the second deck in Right Field expecting the pitchers to be throwing but once again they were nowhere to be found. The air was free of moisture but still the pitchers were in the clubhouse and the hitters were as well. I understand why they weren’t. I mean the game was a day game after a night game. so after the 9:45 end time of the last game, any wake up time before 10:00 would be simply criminal.
Anyway, the pitchers didn’t come out until about 11:15. This was 45 minutes before the gates opened. I saw the Braves coming out to throw about 15 minutes into the Nationals but wanted to get one ball from the Nationals because I had seen a load of Braves fans the day before. I eventually did get a ball from Ryan Mattheus. If you don’t know, I have lost all of my pictures from the last few games of the season (which explains the lack there of in this entry) this also meant that I no longer have photographic evidence of but I think that this ball was meant for another kid and so I gave it away to that same kid once I recovered the overthrow.
I then ran down to the lower level and went down the first base line seating because like the day before, I had seen a ball go in the seats that the people witing in line did not see. It wasn’t quite in the same wheelchair section but it was very close to the same seats. I then went over to the Braves side of the field along the third baseline and tried to get them to throw me a ball. However, I was aware of any balls of any ball pulled my way. There was in fact a ball pulled my way. It landed about a section to my left and from there it was a race between myself and a Braves fan. I beat him to the ball in the aisle by a margin, but he was flat out running and his momentum made me the middle of a sandwich between him and the railing. I had just picked up the ball and held on but this did knock the air out of me and so I whimpered my way to Left Field where I recovered.
Those seats were too crowded for my taste and so I moved over to the “Red Seats” in R-CF. Just as I got there, Dan Uggla’s hitting group got up and so I was pretty sure I would have a chance at one ball if not a few. Surely enough, there were several balls within ten feet of me and the one of those that landed in the Red Seats ended up in my possession. I then gave it away to the smallest Braves fan in the section. I kind of gave it away to amend all the balls I was going to catch in that section, but sadly this was the last ball for me the whole day.
This was mostly because I then went to RF and the promotion on this day was “Pups in the Park”. People were allowed to bring their dogs to the ballpark as long as they kept them in, you guessed it: Right Field. When I got there, the space behind the actual seats was transplanted turf for the dogs to be “walked”. In the actual seats, there were all types of dogs even in batting practice and some of them weren’t so visible . On three separate occasions, I had to hurdle a dog in the stand en route to a ball. Twice, it cost me catching the ball.
It also affected me in the game because I stayed mostly in Left Field as to not have to deal with maneuvering the dogs behind the Right Field seats. Also, the seats themselves were more packed than usual. Although I would have been upset to lose the opportunity at a Home Run, I was sort of wishing there was a ball hit into the Right Field seat just to see what would happen with all of the dogs.
As for my the Left Field seats, there was nothing hit in my direction and I stayed at four balls for the day. It was a partially fun day, but be sure to check back for my next entry in around three days from now because all I can say is that the Nationals really did go all in on the fan appreciation day.
Wow. I truly cannot believe it has been only a year. When I created this blog last year, it had been a thought brewing in my mind for a few months. When my birthday came around (the night of October 12th/ the morning of October 13th)I figured I would just try something a little out of my comfort zone. I created the blog and named it Observing Baseball just because I like to see past the surface in things and it was going to be a baseball blog. I made the link mateofischer.mlblogs.com, not because I thought I would some day have 100 hits on the site each day, but because the blog was going to be me. More specifically, it was going to be my opinion on baseball. I then wrote the blog’s first entry at 12:52 on the morning of my birthday, the 13th.
October 14- My next entry is still one of the ones I have most pride in where I delved into all the great pitchers that were in the playoffs last year and broke them down showing the world and Ace they may not have considered before.
October 16- After that, the world got its first taste of Mateo Fischer randomness when Cablevision and News Corp engaged in a price negotiation at the Bronx’s expense. By the way, if you actually look carefully at the title of the entry, the blanked out word is actually “freaking” and not the word everyone would think to be blanked out. This is also where I got my first comment.
October 20- My next entry was my first taste of both the ballhawk style of blog entry and ALCS baseball. Thanks to the enormous generosity of my dad, I went on Ebay three days before the game and got us both a ticket for this game. It was one of the most unique experiences I have ever experienced and has really contributed to my entries this year. I am amazed by many things in this entry. First, when I re-read this entry, I was both impressed and disgusted at how quickly I got an entry of that magnitude up and how sloppy my writing is. Secondly, I am amazed by how good some of the pictures were for it being my first time blogging about a game and how random some of the other pictures were. Sure, I still have some random pictures in my entries but in this entry, the time I spent outside the gates had almost as much coverage as the time I spent inside the stadium. It was like I took pictures so I felt the need to use them in the entry.
November 1-30- Here is where I got my first taste of other thing getting in the way of blogging. In both entries, listed here and here, I found myself in the position of having to explain to the readership why I hadn’t been posting entries that often. The problem was that I was too ambitious but in retrospect I wish I would have finished the entries because there were maybe five people reading at this point and so I should have held future readers in mind because looking back on it, it just looks sloppy.
December 19th- This is the point where I realized that I didn’t have that many viewers and so I actually stuck through it and finished the whole entry. Sadly, I did write other entries in December but this is the only one that survived the WordPress conversion. Fortunately, this is another one of those entries I am very proud of. It is completely conspiracy theory but it does make sense when you think about it from the standpoint of a GM (which I aspire to be). The name of the entry is Pure Genius. It deals with the Cliff Lee acquisition by the Phillies last offseason and the moves that, intentionally or unintentionally, made that move possible (I argue that they would have been intentional if I were the GM of the Phillies and imply that Reuben Amaro might have done them intentionally).
January 2-6- New Years Resolution/Revision I initially made all of my all of goals for the 2011 ballhawking season in the New Years Resolution entry. Four days later in the New Years Revision, I went back on these goals because my dad’s test came back and his cancer looked much worse than I had perceived when I wrote the first entry.
January 27- This was one of those entries I am most proud of. When I first read Moneyball, I sort of understood the statistics themselves and how they worked but I didn’t truly understand why they worked better than the usual statistics. This is an explanation to those people in that fuzzy zone that get Sabermetric stats but don’t get why they work better. I will be the first to admit that I would probably do a much better job now of explaining the stats and that this entry is a bit awkward and confusing. The entry is aptly named, Sabermetrics (the explanation).
February 16-April 19- Offseason Recap and Review entries. This stemmed from me looking at things from a GM’s perspective. I just thought to myself that it would be fun to grade how the teams had done in the offseason. Little did I know, it would also be a great tool for communicating with the different fan bases of Mlblogs because I did do all 30 teams.
March 9-30 Fordham Prep Baseball I tried writing about Fordham Prep Baseball because I am already the manager for the team and I could have some insight along with recapping the games. It started with posting the varsity roster on the blog. I then recapped some games but it faded out because there was some criticism as to how I recapped the games and it was just taking up too much time so I stopped writing the entries. I will NOT be resuming this on this blog. If at all I start recapping games, it will be on another blog created specifically for Fordham Prep Baseball, but will most likely not happen.
March 10- In the first week of March, Zack Hample’s “The Baseball” with a subtitle I’d rather not write out, came out. I “Pre”-ordered and several days later on March 8th, it arrived. I then went onto do my first ever book review. I know absolutely nothing about how to review a book. So, I just went over each of the sections and added my own little commentary to go with that particular section. Here is the review in all of its overkilling-ness, The Baseball Book Review.
March 17- This was just a play I had in my mind forever and wanted to get out into the world. I realized that I could put it on my blog and so the Super Bunt became a blog entry. What do you think? Could it actually work?
March 27- I know you are sick of entries that “I am very proud of” but here’s another. The Survey of Adult’s Perception of Baseball is close to, if not the entry I have/will put the most effort into. It is basically me seeing how adults view baseball as a sport through asking my teachers who their favorite players are and why.
April 27- I copied and pasted a research essay I did for English on the moral standard held by baseball throughout the years. I did this by examining who was being let into the Hall of Fame and whether or not they deserved it according to the rules for the BWAA for voting. I looked at Mark McGwire, Ty Cobb, and I believe Pete Rose. The entry was called, Case Study on the Morality in Baseball. It may be a bit drier than you are used to from me because it was for a class but it certainly has some interesting information. You might be surprised by what you find.
May 6- about June I was going to games fairly infrequently as you can see from the distance between blog entries. This was because my dad was in hospice care and I was trying to spend as much time as I could with him after Fordham Prep Baseball ended. He died May, 17, 2011. To show how much I love baseball, I went to a game that night. Granted it got rained out but still.
June 19- August 4 I don’t want to say that I caught fire because that carries the implication that I was overachieving but something certainly clicked for me in all the games between these two points. Coincidentally, (this is sarcasm) I was not in New York for any part except for but one game of this hot streak. The schedule consisted of: June 15-16 Nationals Park, June 24 AT&T Park, July 2 Tropicana Field (where I snagged my 100th ball), July 4-6 Turner Field, July 7-9 Sun Life Stadium, July 18 Citi Field, July 22-24 Camden Yards, and July 27-29 Nationals Park.
August 4- September 23 I went on an even colder streak than the last one was hot. Not coincidentally, there were a whole bunch of Citi Field games. The streak was so bad I actually ended my consecutive games streak at 56. I think my average for this stretch was a little over 1 ball a game. This included a trip to the Midwest where I wasn’t as prepared as I would like for games because I was visiting like 10,000 colleges.
Now we are pretty much up to date. Like I said, it was a crazy year. This blog started out as just something to do but it has evolved into something so much greater. I have been able to be in communication with so many more people because of it and now can’t imagine my life without it. It has even affected my college search so much as that I am actually considering Journalism as a serious major. Last year, I would have gone on a hunger strike before I applied to a school for Journalism. This year, I am actually applying to Northwestern, the top Journalism school in the country.
This day was just another example of why the batting practice gods hate me when I go to Nationals Park ( the Home Run gods like teasing me but that’s a whole other story). There was no batting practice because of rain which made it like the 6th game in a row where I didn’t have full batting practice when I went to Nationals Park (either the Nationals hit and the visiting team didn’t, vice-versa, or neither team hit at all). Today there was no batting period.
When the gates opened, I went up to my usual spot in the Upper Right Field seats thinking that the Nationals would follow their routine of warming up just as the gates opened. Let’s see, the gates opened at 4:30 and the Nationals didn’t start throwing until 5:15. This was 45 minutes after their usual time. I wasn’t expecting this but it actually helped me. In addition to throwing later, they did something else I hadn’t seen them do before: they threw in segmented groups. Let me explain, usually, all the pitchers come out at the same time and finish at the same time, but on this day, the first pair came out at 4:15 and the last pair of pitchers came out at about 4:40.
While I was in the second deck, I saw the Nationals throw two balls into the wheelchair section they have on both sides of the field. This section was pretty wet so they just left the balls there. The rest of the stadium (besides URF and L-CF) opens at 5:30 for a 7:00 game. I stayed in the Upper seats until 5:27 to make sure that I didn’t miss THAT many snagging opportunities but at 5:27 left to get in line when the rest of the stadium opened. I was like 2 seconds behind the people first getting into the rest of the stadium and the other people knew enough to hurry up and look for balls but I had been the only one in the upper seats and thus was the only one who knew where the two balls were.
Now the rotating throwing partners come into play. Had all the players been throwing while I picked up the balls, most of them would have seen me get the balls and probably wouldn’t have thrown me any more. However as it was, I got Sean Burnett to throw me a ball and then changed outfits to get Tom Gorzelanny to throw me a ball.
Right after Gorzelanny threw me the ball, I noticed the Braves were warming up. Whenever I have the choice between trying to get balls from the Home team or the opposing team, 9 times out of 10 i will go with the opposing team because the odds are that there will be less fans with the opposing team’s gear than the home team’s gear. I did go over to the Braves side of the field and had my Braves gear on, but to my surprise, I was one of fifteen others in Braves gear. Fortunately, most of them were there for autographs, but I still didn’t get a ball thrown to me cleanly.
My main goal for this weekend in general was to get Julio Teheran to throw me a ball. This may have contributed to the fact I did get a ball thrown to me. I stayed right behind Julio and his throwing partner and just focused on getting a ball from him while he made his throwing partner look foolish with a variety of breaking pitches.The reasons I so desperately wanted a ball from Teheran is that I was a pitcher when I played organized baseball and am definitely part of the family of pitchers when it comes to my school of thought. The second part of this is that I was born in Colombia and so was Teheran. So the reason for trying to get a ball from him was that he is the first Colombian Pitcher in the major leagues and it would mean the world to get a ball from him because he also has a good chance of succeeding at this level. I threw in the part of me being of the Pitchers school of thought because yeah it would mean a lot for Edgar Renteria or Orlando Cabrera to throw me a ball but to have the first Colombian MLB Pitcher to throw me a ball would be great. Also, sorry if I sounded repetitive back there but it was just kind of an idea in my head and I wanted to get it as refined as I could. In retrospect, it probably just confused you more. Just to add on how much I’ve been paying attention to Teheran and want him to succeed, I went out of my way to see his first start with the Braves a while ago. The reason I focused so much on him in this series and not others is because he got sent down shortly after his first start as he struggled.
Enough of my man-crush on Julio Teheran, I just wanted to get the explanation out of the way because it really was the center of the weekend. I didn’t get anything from any other Pitchers because Teheran was facing me and I was right behind his throwing partner and was afraid that if he saw me get a ball he wouldn’t consider throwing me his. When he and his partner finished, I yelled out to him, ” Una pelota para un Colombiano?” This translates to: “A ball for a Colombian?” Good news: He heard me.
Bad News: He missed with his throw and the guy next to me got the ball. Either that or he thought the guy next to me had called out to him.
I then moved down the line and tried to get a ball from the other Braves pitchers. As I mentioned before, I didn’t get a Pitcher to throw a ball to me. Despite this, I did get a ball. Jonny Venters and his partner were the last throwing pair on the Braves. There was a kid right next to me that was much younger and so I knew I probably wasn’t going to get the ball thrown to me. So, I moved behind the kid and played the mis-throw. Venters did then overthrow the kid, I grabbed it, and handed it to the kid. When Venters finished throwing, he started signing autographs and I got him to sign one of my baseballs from that day. I think he has signed for me before but mygameballs.com’s autograph database is being difficult and I gave away most of my autographed baseballs last year so I have no evidence. A funny thing happened in that Venter actually signed right next to where I had numbered the ball and looked a little funny at the ball. I wonder what went through his head. The obvious thought being that I am selling the autographs and so I number the balls to identify the balls.
For the game, I did my usual ritual of getting a ticket on each side of the outfield and running to Left Field for Righties and Right Field for Lefties. It was and ideal set-up for this ritual as both the teams were batting primarily from a different side of the line-up. That is to say, the Braves line-up was made of primarily Lefties and the Nationals lineup was made up of primarily Righties. This allowed me time to move back and forth between innings instead of At-Bats and also make me not feel like I wasted money on one of the tickets (this would happen if both teams were primarily Righties or Lefties).
It was mainly dead out in Home Run territory but then later in the game THIS happened. Jayson Werth hit a Home Run into the Left Field seats where I was sitting. It was really high and was the same direction as the Chris Young Home Run I had missed out on a few weeks prior. It ended up like five rows right behind where that Home Run had hit.
I was on an aisle seat as usual and here is a screen shot from when the ball was in the air:
The Left arrow is me and the Right is where the ball would hit. At this time, I saw there were no rows that would get me to a place where I could get to catching the ball on the fly without knocking down half-a-dozen people. So I stayed on the aisle and hoped the ball would bounce back towards the field off of the seat.
Here is a screen shot after the ball bounced of the seat and headed right in my direction:
The big arrow is pointing to my red Nationals hat and the little arrow is pointing to the ball coming off the seat and back to me. The ball bounced back right in my direction but I couldn’t see that because the girl in the Strasburg t-shirt’s back was blocking my view. She then deflected the ball and it landed in a seat in the row between us two. From there it was a race between our two hands to the ball and this was the result:
She was closer and reached for the ball faster. I think the Home Run in general felt too casual, it felt like nothing more than a batting practice ball. I feel that if I had been more into the game/aggressive I would have my first Home Run ball. Anyway, the arrow in the top third of the picture is pointing to where I am standing outside of the picture. Looking on sadly.
After the game, I got Eddie Perez to throw me a ball from the bullpen after the game. This made Six balls on the day even without batting practice.
And that was how my partially redemptive weekend in Washington went. In other news, tomorrow is my birthday and the 1 year anniversary of Observing Baseball. I hope to write something but it *is* my birthday and so if I don’t I will write it on Friday.
As an introduction, I accidentally erased all of the pictures on my phone that I took at this game and for the rest of the season. The entries will go on as planned but they will lack pictures.
It was my first game in about three weeks so I was excited. That excitement quickly left me once I saw that the Nationals had foregone batting practice. Usually, only Left Field is open for the first hour of the stadium being open but in this case they had it open. That would have been great if the Nationals were hitting but because they were just throwing it actually brought more competition for the balls.
The one player I had set my sights on was Sean Burnett because I had done some research and saw it was his birthday. Unfortunately, his throwing partner, Tyler Clippard, ended up with the ball and because there were 5 ballhawks at this game in addition to regular fans, all the other balls had been caught by someone else. I asked Clippard if I could have the ball but there were ten year olds in the area and I wasn’t shocked when he threw the ball to them. I then had some time until the Marlins would start hitting and throwing. So, I went over to the Marlins dugout so I wouldn’t have to rush once they actually did come out to throw. I had gotten both Doug Slaten and Drew Storen’s autograph on my two ticket stubs (I bought one and Rick Gold gave me one). When I got over to the Marlins dugout, I just barely missed out on getting Gaby Sanchez to sign my ticket. I did however, get Emilio Bonifacio to sign the same ticket as Slaten. While he was signing, I asked him (in Spanish of course) if he could throw me a ball if I got his attention later on. Here is a picture of the two ticket stubs with the autographs on them:
The top ticket is Bonifacio and Slaten’s ticket while the bottom is Storen’s ticket
Later on, the Marlins pitchers went out to throw by the Left Field foul pole. I followed them out but while I was waiting for them to finish, I saw Bonifacio warming up back at the dugout. So, I hustled back and got there just in time. He had just finished up and was about to throw the ball, to a kid who I have seen a few times at Nationals Park, but hesitated when he saw me in the corner of his eye and threw the ball to me on the outfield end of the dugout, remembering his promise.
When I got back to the outfield, most of the pitchers had finished their throwing so I decided to stay in the Left Field seats for Mike Stanton’s power-packed hitting group. There were a few tough luck balls but the grand daddy of them all was a fly ball that I had judged perfectly and was camped under. Right at the last second, I saw a glove coming in front of mine and it caught the ball. I congratulated the person and was genuinely happy for them because they had brought a glove, but had a few bounces or toss-ups gone my way it could have been a good day considering Strasburg was pitching that night and double the norm showed up to batting practice.
I then moved over to Right Field to try my luck at catching a Logan Morrison Home Run. I actually did catch one in about the third row that I judged semi-perfectly and caught on the fly. I got many congratulations from the people around me but thought at the time that it was just a sign of things to come. Sadly, no other Lefties hit much to Right Field and the Marlins upheld their rep as a stingy team. So, that ended up being my last ball of batting practice and the game. I was in the outfield and could have gone to the bullpen but wanted to save that chance for the next day because I expected to be there (I had to search the District of Columbia for a Citi Bank and that caused me to not go) and wanted to save myself that opportunity for the next day where I planned to get at least five despite the fact that there was not going to be any batting practice, to make up for this below average day.
That was it. All in all it was a decent day to go to the ballpark and I did not regret going.