April 2012

Blast From The Baseball Past: 8/24/08 Dodgers at Phillies: Citizens Bank Park

As I have may have mentioned before, this trip is more-or-less still in my memory. So I know everything that happened, but I don’t remember all the details. When I checked the information on this particular excursion to Philadelphia, my first thought was, “This trip was only TWO days?! We did so many things in Philadelphia, it seemed like we were there for a week. Also, this entry will have no pictures, just information. Bear with me please.

Here’s what I remember; we managed to go to three different museums in Philadelphia. I know that we went to the one with the statue of Rocky at the foot of the stairs, and I also recall going to one with a fun interactive sports floor, which I believe was the top floor. Then we also went to a third museum, but I don’t know which one it was. We also managed to go to a Baseball Field in the city and I threw 80-ish pitches I believe since we didn’t have time for 100. We also went to a diner for lunch. Notice that in this paragraph, I have used the word “also” a lot more than usual. Usually, it is the word “then” that I over use, but that’s because in a normal entry, I’m fairly certain of the sequence of events at the game that I went to, but here I know the simple fact that all of these individual events occurred, but I have noooo idea which came before the other.

I *do* know, however, that after our day exploring Philadelphia, we drove the car out to the stadium. For some reason, it was very difficult to find it. Everyone we asked had a different way of getting there. Given, we did only ask two people, but the location of Citizens Bank Park is also the location of Lincoln Financial Field, the Philadelphia Eagles’ Stadium. Therefore, most people in the town should know how to get there since it is not that far away from downtown and the area houses their two most popular teams.

This was my first time going to a ballpark when it first opened, so we got there extra early. I know that one gate in Citizens Bank Park opens 2.5 hours early nowadays, and I assume it did back then as well. This would be tied for the earliest opening time in the major leagues right now. To show you how little a clue my dad and I had about batting practice, we showed up approximately 3 hours before the first pitch and to the third base gate. Like I said before, we were really early for the gates, but what I didn’t mention is that it is only the CF gate, named “Ashburn Alley” that opened 2.5 hours early, we waited at the third base gate, and when the 2.5 hour mark arrived, we walked away from the gate and eventually found out that we could enter the stadium.

Once inside, I don’t really remember much except my first bp ball. Ryan Howard stepped into the cage. I know, because my dad had been obsessing the day prior about how big he was for a baseball player (not just tall). As an absolutely clueless bp goer, I was in the first row and wondering why none of the balls were coming in my direction, because of course I wasn’t asking for any balls from the players either. Next thing I knew, Howard hit a low fly ball a few feet to my left. I moved over there and reached up, but the ball ricocheted off my glove and into the row behind me. There, my dad picked the ball up and handed it to me. Now I get that this is against what I now consider to be a ball that I snag. That said, I had lower standard back then because I didn’t go to games as often, so if that same scenario happened today, I wouldn’t count that ball in my “collection”, but because I counted it back then, I kept it that way.

For this game, we had worse “seats”, but I was fine with it given the fact that they were seats and not tickets to the standing room. They were more or less in the same direction as  the last game, but they were in the upper deck portion of the stadium, as in we had three rows behind us before we reached the last row in the stadium.

Up in those seats, I had my first exposure to the fans that define “Philadelphia Sports”. Manny Ramirez had recently arrived on the Dodgers earlier that month, and the Dodgers were still a .500 team at this point in the season before the phenomenon know as “Mannywood” occurred. For some reason, though, the Phillies fans booed Manny every time he came up to bat. This made absolutely no sense to either my dad or myself since we were used to the “well-educated heckling” of the Yankee Stadium Bleachers. This lead my dad to ask the question, “Why are you booing him, he just got here?” To which a Phillie fan near us responded, “Oh, we boo everyone.” Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Philadelphia sports fans.

Another thing of note that happened while we were there is that Hiroki Kuroda was facing Joe Blanton. Joe Blanton must have been doing pretty well, because the Phillies eventually tied the game, but through almost seven innings, Hiroki Kuroda was no-hitting the Phillies. I remember that Carlos Ruiz broke it up with a single in the seventh inning. I also remember that I thought I had jinxed it by leaving my seat. I wanted to get a Dippin’ Dots ice cream helmet. Just as we left our seat to go on the concourse, we heard a roar from the crowd and knew exactly what happened (is it just me, or does EVERYone that goes to an almost-no-hitter secretly think that they jinxed in one way or another?). I am happy to report, though, that the trip we took was extremely productive. Not only was the ice cream delicious (No, I don’t remember, but how can ice cream be bad?), but I still have the helmet which essentially started my dad and I in collecting the helmets at different stadiums, and I bought my Phillies hat and shirt that I wear to this day every time I go to a game the Phillies are playing in.

Speaking of all of that stuff, here is all the stuff I picked up on this particular day:

Three of the items I referenced in the paragraph above the photo, but what’s this? There is a fourth item? Yes. I didn’t mention it at the beginning of the entry, but the promotion for that day’s game was a back-to-school lunchbox.

In the ninth inning, the score was 2-1 in favor of the Dodgers. I recall that we were in the concourse of the lower level in the top half of the ninth, because we watched Brad Lidge- amidst his season of perfection- pitch and were planning to leave as soon as the game ended. This, however, was delayed because the Phillies managed to score a run in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game up at 2. We stayed until the 10th inning ended. Usually, we are the fans that stay the whole game, but we had to catch a plane at 7:00 that morning to go to Detroit for the second leg of the trip. Considering it was 11:00 and we had a 2-2.5 hour trip ahead of us back to New York, my dad made the executive decision that this would be when we left.We headed out to the parking lot and found our car. Then just as we were about to start moving, fireworks erupted out of Citizens Bank Park. I tuned into the Phillies’ radio station to find out that Pedro Feliz had hit the HR. I was sad that we missed it, but happy that *he* hit it. The reason was that with all the puns that exist with the last name Feliz, the Phillies had chosen to play the “Feliz Navidad” audio whenever he came up (or maybe it was when he got a hit), but they cut it off right after the “Feliz” part, so I felt bad for him for having to put up with such an unimaginative gimmick.

Then on the drive home, I remember my dad told me not to fall asleep, I think to just keep him company and help him to stay awake. I was holding up pretty well half-way through New Jersey, but then I opened my eyes to us pulling up to 6425 Broadway (my apartment building). I had failed him, but at least I was ready to suit up in the morning and head off to Detroit to see Comerica Park.

Here are the two tickets for myself and my dad for this game that cost us a fortune on Stubhub:

I’m kind of ashamed to admit this, but I’m pretty sure I lost the Ryan Howard ball, which is why it isn’t in this shot. I remember we put it in the lunchbox, but I don’t know where it went after that. Also, if you look at the previous game’s entry, I have included the pictures of those tickets as well.

Blast From The Baseball Past: 8/23/08 Dodgers at Phillies: Citizens Bank Park

As much as it may surprise you, I did go to game before I created Observing Baseball. I know, shocking, isn’t it? Really the purpose of these “Blast From The Baseball Past” entries is to document what happened at certain games before they fade from my memory.

I don’t know since I have yet to think about the other entries, much less write them already, but this entry may be slightly longer than others just because it is the first one and I may have some things to explain. Now that I’ve said that, let m’ get to ‘splainin':

Up to this point in my life, I had attended games at four stadiums: Old Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, Pac Bell Park (as it was called back then), and McAfee Coliseum. I was, and had been for some time, big into baseball and all of its teams. This prompted me to ask my dad if I could get him tickets to a baseball game for the both of us as his birthday present. He agreed and I made plans to buy two tickets for the All-Star game being held at the Old Yankee Stadium that year.

It was obvious, though, that I had not been purchasing tickets for much time prior. You see, I had planned to save $500 since the tickets cost $250 each at face value. However, they could not be bought at face value unless they were bought in conjunction with a  plane ticket and hotel stay. Seeing as we lived within a mile of the stadium, this would not be necessary. Stubhub and other ticket-scalping websites would be our only means to acquire the tickets. The problem with this is that on said websites, they prices were substantially greater seeing as the demand for the tickets was greater. Instead of $250 a ticket, the price was around $450 for each. So, I made the decision that instead of splurging for a single game, going on a trip to see games might be a better idea.

My dad grew up in Minnesota, and was much more into Hockey as a child, an attribute which he attributes to a very hard throwing wild pitcher in his Little League. I mean he did go to games with his family to Milwaukee County Stadium and Metropolitan Stadium, but his first real encounter with Baseball on a day-to-day basis was when I came along and grew up really into Baseball. Therefore, although he was pretty well acquainted with Baseball, the idea of travelling to three cities to watch games was a teensy bit foreign to him. The proof of this? His title for the folder where all the planning material for the trip was to go on our computer was entitled: Mateo’s Baseball Adventure.

Anyway, the first stop on our trip was Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.  My dad was a very good driver and had an even better sense of direction. However, for some reason, Philadelphia seemed to be the bane of his driving existence up to that point. We made sure to leave early in order to plan for getting lost. So if the recommended time of travel to Philadelphia is 2 hours (I have no clue what the exact time is, but 2-2.5 hours sounds about right to me), we left more than 3 hours before the first pitch. After arriving within I’d say 20 miles of the city of Philly, all the wheels came off the wagon. We were using a Google Maps print-out to guide us, and we knew things were wrong when the exit we had to take was a road that passed over our heads. One mistake lead to another and we ended up getting to Philadelphia through the suburbs, and checking into our hotel later than we would have liked.

Here are three pictures that go with what happened next. We went to the train and left for Citizens Bank Park:

1+2-  I was walking to the train station, and there was a sloped part on the right of the sidewalk, so I tried to walk on it without falling off because of its slope. Hasn’t everyone done that? Just me? Oh well.

3. We got in the subway station for the train that went directly to Citizens Bank Park. Here I am waiting for the train to arrive.

After waiting and getting on the train, we had a brief walk to the ballpark. Here is a picture my dad took while we were walking between the train station and Citizens Bank:

When we arrived, it was already the third inning and the Phillies were up 3-2. I remember that we had a SRO (Standing Room Only) ticket. This was our view from the spot where we watched most of the game:

The highlight of this game for me was the fact that Cole Hamels was pitching. Even though he wasn’t at the top of my list of favorite players, he was in a constant battle with Ryan Howard for our attention -Ryan Howard because my dad was fascinated with how big he was- all game. Here is a picture of Cole Hamels batting:

and then when he got a hit, I made sure to take a picture of him standing on first:

Okay, here is the last picture of the entry that I took up coming up. I wanted to be fair to the other team’s pitcher by taking a picture of him as well:

Now this is where it gets interesting. You can tell by the shadows that it is fairly early in the game. However, I went back and looked at the probable pitchers for the day and they were Cole Hamels and Clayton Kershaw. Obviously, this isn’t Clayton Kershaw since he is a left-handed pitcher. Could it be that someone else took Kershaw’s spot in the rotation at the last-minute? It’s possible since he was only a rookie this season. Although there were nine runs, the Phillies didn’t score again until the bottom of the fifth, meaning Kershaw would have exited the game then, but it would be darker than it is in the picture at that time. The other two possibilities are that a. Kershaw worked up his pitch count too high, or b. He got pulled in the first inning. A seems like it could happen given that Kershaw was notorious for being wild early on in his career. B is a slightly less feasible option,but still makes sense, because Kershaw was a volatile rookie that would have been given a shorter leash than a more seasoned player. So what happened? I have since looked at it to solve the mystery, but I’ll let you guys guess here:

I won’t reveal the answer, but if you want to check it out for yourself, all the information you need to search for it is in the title of this entry.

Cole Hamels would not allow another run after we arrived, going 7 innings and only allowing two runs total as the Phillies won the game 9-2. Here is the screenshot from the “Gameday” for this game:

and here are the tickets for the game:

A fun adventure on the first day of “Mateo’s Baseball Adventure”- Part 1.

4/19/12 Twins at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

There are truly not many match-ups that I am more excited to see, except for maybe the teams ordered vice-versa in their presentation, i.e. the Twins being the home team:

Who cares what I do in bp? The game itself is great because my two favorite teams are playing. [Let me just clarify that Twins-Yankees is my favorite match-up that I have *attended*. There are other match-ups that in my head seem better to watch, but I haven't seen those teams play live before.] That said, lettuce explore what happened in bp, shall we?

Like I usually do, I started in RF.  Here is a map of the four balls I had a reasonable shot at snagging while in those seats:

1. Some lefty hit a ball to my left (right in the picture). It landed and I beat out a guy for the ball. I felt like I kind of squeezed by him into the row where the ball landed and he would  have gotten the ball had I not, so I ended up giving him the ball. Here is a picture with an arrow showing where the ball hit from where I was standing when I was in RF:

2. I believe I was on my way back to my usual spot from chasing a ball close to the “1” spot in the picture…anyway, I ran to my right (left in the picture) and was tracking a HR ball. (When I say HR ball, that does not mean it was during the game. A HR, when refered to on this blog just means a ball that clears the fence on the fly, batting practice or otherwise. I wanted to clarify this since I know I was confused by it when I started reading ballhawk blogs.) I was tracking and drifting towards the ball. Suddenly, I saw a person coming from my right corner of my eye. I slowed down as to not reach in front of this person, hoping he/she dropped the ball. Since I was wearing peripheral vision impairing sunglasses, I couldn’t identify the person without taking my eye off the baseball mid-flight. The person caught the ball, and I looked over to see the glove belonged to Zack Hample.

3. Once again a lefty hit a ball to my right and over my head a bit. I ran over, and as everyone was converging, the ball plopped down into the seats. The Field Level seats at Yankees Stadium are all padded, so the ball often sticks there. Such was the case in this situation. After everyone in pursuit realized it wasn’t bouncing anywhere, we all started searching for it in and beneath the seats. For some reason, everyone else was just looking for it. I myself, meanwhile, was smacking the seats down to reveal the baseball if it had indeed stuck within one of the seats. After about the third seat that I hit, I saw the baseball wedged perfectly in between two parts of the seat’s metal skeleton and picked it up. Here is a picture from where I started running after the ball with an arrow showing where it landed:

4. A ball was hit to the wall in RF and Liam Hendricks went to retrieve it. I went down to try to convince him to toss me the ball. This request worked as he looked right at me and underhanded the ball. It was headed right to me, but just as the ball was arriving, a kid reached in front of me and caught the ball. Here is a picture of the kid and location. I was standing immediately to the right of where he is in the picture:

5. The same beginning as chance #4, but this time Jeff Gray went to retrieve it. As was my ritual in these situations, I went down to the wall and asked him nicely for the ball. When I do these things, I’m sure to look right at the player I’m trying to convince. Just as he tossed the ball to another fan, I heard a “ping” right behind me. I had been hearing from al the people in the RF seats how Denard Span had only hit 5 balls out of the infield in the last batting practice-or something like that-, and as a result, I didn’t think he would hit anything out, but evidently, he got hold of one ball and it hit literally RIGHT behind me. Here are two pictures. The first is where I was standing, the second is where the ball hit (both taken from the same location):

That’s it for my adventures in RF. I did, however, take an excursion to LF between chances 3 and 4. While there, I only had one “real” chance at a ball and capitalized on it. Here is where this occurred:

The larger arrow is where the ball landed and I snagged the ball. The smaller arrow to the left of that is the lady (occluded by her husband) who I gave the ball away to since she was hot in pursuit as well.

That would prove to be the last ball of the day for me. The biggest reason was: I couldn’t tell who anyone was on the Twins. As a product of this, I couldn’t call them by their first names and it was less likely that they would throw me any given ball. You may be thinking “But Mateo, you have a roster of the players, how can you not tell who is who?” To this I offer the response, can *you* name two of the players in this next picture? I had a roster with the pictures of the players and could only name one.:

I realize that the question I ask was semi-rhetorical, but if you did take it as a challenge, I don’t know the name of the player walking in the top right part of the picture, but the names of the other three (going left to right) are:

1. Matt Maloney

2. Jared Burton

3. Nick Blackburn

After batting practice was over, I headed up to my assigned seat in the LF bleachers. There I eyed the five balls that were just laying in the Twins’ bullpen. At this point, I was thinking, “I’m the only one with Twins gear in the entire region surrounding the bullpen, if more than one Twin picks up all the balls.” Silly Mateo, ideas like this are for stadiums that aren’t in New York. What happened instead was that this guy picked up all the balls and threw them all to people with Yankee gear on:

I then had nothing else to do, so I watched Anthony Swajgagjsioetioak (Swarzak), the Twins starting pitcher, warm up from the bleachers:

Then I realized where I was standing. I was pretty much in THE spot where Derek Jeter hit his 3,000th career hit. Due to this, I felt the obligation to take a picture of the field from there:

As for the game, it started VERY well, with the Twins scoring four runs before the Yankees even got to bat. That was more than I had seen them score in TWO GAMES in Baltimore! I was pretty comfortable thinking that the Twins would win the first game against the Yankees that I was in attendance for since Johan Santana was pitching for them. Not only this, but a win in this game would also give the Twins a win in a four game series against the Yankees. I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened for at least a decade, if not more.  After the first inning was over, though, the Twins only lead the game by one run:

The Yankees would go on two win the game 7-6. The story of the day, however, was Curtis Granderson. Just look at what the scoreboard said when he came up in the sixth inning:

That’s right. He had three HRs in his first three at-bats, and would go on to go five for five on the day, tacking on two singles.

What was I doing during the game? At school I made a little sign for the game. Here is what I looked like for most of the game:

For those who don’t know, Bert Blyleven is the one of the Twins announcers and  it is common for him to circle fans in the stands. I don’t know when it began, but since he started, it is customary that Twins fans bring “Circle Me Bert” signs to the ballpark in hopes of having him circle them using his telestrator. The phenomenon has grown big enough that it has its own website. Here is a semi-clearer picture of the sign while it was off my head:

I have no idea if I was circled or not, but it was fun looking like an idiot for a game and explaining to half of the people in the LF bleachers what “Circle Me Bert” meant and who “Bert” was. Oh, and as I was writing this entry Zack (as in the Hample one I mention earlier) published his entry about this game, so here is the link to it.

STATS:

  • 3 balls this game (1 here in a picture that I took in Homeroom, because I would later give that away to my baseball coach)

which put me up to 234 career baseballs (this particular ball is #233, but you can’t see my writing on the ball due to the lighting):

  • 12 balls this year in 3 games= 4 Balls Per Game.
  • 12 straight games with at least 1 ball.
  • 3 straight games with at least 3 baseballs.
  • 3 balls* 40,237 fans= 120,981 Competition Factor
  • 26 Balls obtained in 9 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 2.89 Balls Per Game
  • Time at Game 4: 21- 10:33= 6 hours 12 minutes

4/11/12 Potomac Nationals at Myrtle Beach Pelicans: TicketReturn.com Field

The day of this game, I found out that the everyone on the team except for those who wanted to go to dinner with parents would be going to the Pelicans game. After arranging for the bus driver (we had been using a Greyhound to get around Myrtle Beach) to take me to the stadium early, I was at the game. It was only sort of early, though. We did aim to get to the stadium the full hour prior to first pitch to be there when the gates open, but got there only about 45 minutes prior since we got lost a couple of times and it isn’t easy to back up a full-length bus.

Long story short, I missed all of bp if there was any. However, there were a couple of players on the field signing, so I got both of them to sign one of my baseballs from the Ripken Experience. If you thought I meant that they were along the warning track signing when I said “on the field”, you are that’s a bit off. When I said “on the field”, I meant literally ON the field. Let me see if this picture will clear things up:

You see? They were actually set up on the field signing for anyone who came up to them, table and all. I have no clue who either are, and it didn’t help that I completely goofed on taking the second player’s picture. Let me explain the circumstances of it before I show the picture. I was taking the picture with my iPhone, and I usually like to keep the brightness on my phone down to save the battery, so I was just pointing the camera at the player and taking the picture. In addition to having a conventional camera, the iPhone also has a camera on the front for self-pictures and video chat. The button that switches between these two cameras is on the touch screen of the phone (you know, the one I couldn’t see). Okay, so I think I’ve explained it enough, here is the picture of the second player:

“Look, Ma, I made it to the minors!”

After that I just wandered around. I had exchanged a few tweets as well as a few comments on this blog with Quinn Imiola, a fellow blogger on the nybisons blog, about possibly meeting up this game. Since I had no idea what he looked like and he knew what I looked like more or less, I just tried to walk  around the cross-aisle and make myself visible. Sometimes I got a little bored and went up to talk with the other person that had left on the bus early, a Jesuit Priest from my school by the name of Fr. Sullivan.

When I saw the Pelicans warming up down the right field line, I went over to try to get a ball from them:

While I was down there, though, I had my eye on the ball bag in the bullpen:

Simply because the pitcher that was warming up was taking forever. Finally, after waiting for him to end his throwing session, I went over to the Nationals side of the field, because I figured it would be easier to get a ball from the opposing team due to my fitting attire (I had Nationals gear ready in my backpack).

There I encountered this group of pitchers:

I also saw my competition to my right. A kid was there also decked out in Nationals gear. As I was trying to look through my roster to make sure I knew the players’ names, I saw the player in his red warm-up shirt talking to another in Spanish. He then started walking towards me with a ball in his hands, so I called out to him in Spanish, asking for him to throw me the ball.

He flicked his glove hand up, which if you don’t know is the sign for a fastball. However, he threw it a little low, and since the railing was high at that specific point, I had to reach over so much that I was trying to “snow cone” the ball and it bounced off the tip of my glove and into the bullpen. One of the other bullpen pitchers tossed the ball back to this pitcher after he requested it and I had another shot. This time I moved over to where the railing was about 4-6 inches lower and bent down pretending like I was a catcher. He signaled fastball again and fired a strike right to my glove. Here is the picture of the ball with the pitcher in the background, looking at the camera and starting to give me a thumbs up (you can’t really see that he is giving me a thumbs up, but trust me, he gave me a thumbs up right after I took the picture. It was so soon after that I thought I had it on film):

Any MiLB people read this blog? I have absolutely no idea who it is. He never took off his warm-up the whole game.

Soon after (or before?) I got the ball, my “competition”, aka the kid to my right who was also in Nationals gear, looked at me and said, “Mateo?”. It was Quinn, the person who I referenced at the beginning of the entry! You can read his account of the night here. We spent pretty much the whole game together since we were both in pursuit of foul balls. Here is a picture Quinn’s dad took of us in the during the game:

For those wondering, I don’t have a Rangers shirt, so I tired to at least color coordinate by wearing a blue shirt, so I turned my Cubs shirt inside out as to not show that it was indeed a Cubs shirt.

The game experience itself was mostly categorized under setting up people for them to have their own successes. Before I go into detail on what happened for everyone else during the game, here is the extent of my snagging for the day:

A guy (underneath the red arrow in the picture) just came through the cross-asile with a bucket full of candy and started throwing it into the stands. There were two foul balls hit anywhere near where my spots for standing during at-bats were. The first was a ball that went to my right. I raced after it, but could tell it was going short. It bounced and I can tell you that it was headed right towards my glove, but unfortunately another fan’s pillow blocked the ball and it trickled away where some other fans picked it up. Seriously? Who brings a pillow to a Baseball game?! The next ball was hit and looped perfectly onto the ramp I stood next to all day when righties were up (the ball was hit by a righty). Where was I? Left Field, of course. Since it was the last inning, myself and Quinn decided to go out there and try for a HR ball. I am 95% sure I would have caught that ball on the fly. Like I said, I had been standing within 10 feet of where the ball landed all day.

I would also like to share with you where my ticketed seat was. Here is a picture of my ticket, and I’ll let you guess where it is:

Any guesses where it is? The following picture will show you:

Of course, I didn’t sit there at any point during the game and must have offered the ticket to five people, but they all chose not to take it for one reason or another.

Now that I’ve gone through all that, here is all the other “stuff” that happened during the game:

1. Quinn managed to snag three balls throughout the course of the game. The first, as he told me, came from the same guy that threw me my ball, but it missed Quinn so the catcher tossed him the ball. The next two came from going down to the dugout for third-out balls. I could have competed with him for those, but I was pretty much interested in foul balls, so I let him do his thing down by the dugouts – for those who don’t know, third-out balls are when a team makes the third out, the defensive team usually brings the ball back to the dugout and tosses it to the fans above the dugout. Here is the first of his two dugout balls:

2. I was asked by a Pelicans personnel member to be in a dance-off, but I instead refered them to a Fordham Prep Baseball Player, Alex Porco, and although he didn’t win, he looked like he had fun and the rest of the team that was present certainly had fun with it.

3. I was also asked if I wanted to participate in “Ball Launch”, but refered the people to yet another Fordham Prep player, Michael Goldstock. He enjoyed that, and I believe he got a mini soccer ball from it.

4+5.  At the end of the game, I tried to get a ball from the bullpen, so as a result, my some other players stayed back with me as they wanted to see if I’d get a ball. I didn’t. However, two of the players, Paul Pache and Patrick O’Shea, said that they saw the Nationals’ left fielder, and wanted to try to get a ball from him since Patrick had been begging him all day in LF. All the other players, myself included in the bunch, were leaving as this happened, though. We all thought that we were REALLY late for the bus, and were trying to make sure the bus didn’t leave without us. The left fielder came through on giving Pat a ball:

The day, however, was definitely won by Paul as… well, I’ll let the picture speak for itself:

Not only did he get a shirt from the left fielder, but he also managed to get A BAT from him. I don’t care if it was broken, that’s pretty cool. [Just a little note, I thought it was funny that Paul got the bat and Pat got the ball. You know, since Paul rhymes with ball and Pat rhymes with bat]

So even though I myself didn’t do that well snagging wise, it was a good day since so many people were able to come away from the game happy and satisfied. Paul, Pat, and Michael are all my roommates, so I was able to get a picture of all the items collected throughout the day after a really good game (except for the candy. That I ate.):

  1. Ball that I didn’t mention in the entry that has Splash, the Pelicans’ mascot,’s signature on a ball
  2. The mini Soccer ball Michael Goldstock acquired.
  3. The ball I got with the two players’ signatures.
  4. The awesome bat Paul managed to get.
  5. A ticket stub that I wanted to use to “complete” the picture.
  6. The T-Shirt Paul got.
  7. The ball Pat got from the Nationals’ left fielder.
  8. The ball I got.

Everyone else who was at the game said it was freezing, but I guess I was too busy having fun to feel the cold. Thus concludes the best Minor League game I have been to so far.

4/10/12 Fordham Prep at Elmira: TicketReturn.com Field

Okay, so I know that I said I wouldn’t be blogging about Fordham Prep Baseball anymore, but at the moment I took these pictures, I was more sure than not that this would be my only game at this stadium, and brought my “professional” camera in addition to taking a boatload of pictures as a result.

This particular day started very early for us (The Fordham Prep Varsity Baseball team). The game was scheduled for 8:00 AM and we usually get to the field around an hour early for warm-ups and what not. It was early enough when we got on the bus that when I checked the ballpark’s live webcam, it was a black screen. It wasn’t just some error; I had checked earlier in the day to see if it had worked and also looked on the webcam later. It was just THAT dark. Once we got to the field and found an entrance that was actually open, it was light enough to the point where I, the first person from my team to enter the playing area,  could take a few pictures of the field (I did so via an opening in the RCF fence):

The scoreboard in LCF.

The backstop from the CF warning track.

I tried to make a couple of panoramas for you in Photoshop, but failed miserably, so here are the pictures I took starting from the LF foul pole and rotating counterclockwise:

After that I popped in the dugout and took a picture of something interesting:

That’s right: the whole Pelicans’ roster was up on the wall.

Check out the scoreboard as the game began:

It’s a pretty cool feeling to see your high school team’s name on the scoreboard of a stadium where professionals usually play.

As the game started, I took my seat right behind Home Plate. Here was my view of the game:

However, I sit right behind Home Plate for all of Fordham Prep’s games, and decided to get up and try for some foul balls, as practice, in case I did in fact make it to a game during the Pelicans’ series against the Potomac Nationals.

There are two tunnels at TicketReturn.com Field through which one can access the main seating bowl. Conveniently, they are both right on the cross-aisle and are just about the right angle for foul balls. Here is the view from the tunnel where I stood when a right-handed batter was up at-bat:

And here, is what the tunnel looked like from the concourse (this one is where I stood for left-handed batters):

Now I’ll let you guess right now how many foul balls stayed in the stadium.  Choose your number and I’ll announce it later on it the entry, but in the meantime, here is the view looking towards the outfield from the concourse behind the “righty tunnel”:

Here is the view looking towards the area behind Home Plate:

Finally, here is a sign in one of the tunnels that I liked:

Okay, so you’ve had a little time to think of how many foul balls there were during the game that stayed in the stadium. Are you ready to guess? There were a total of three balls hit foul that fit that criteria. All were hit by righties. Here is a picture of the path of all three:

1. The ball went straight over my head and bounced on the awning/roof type thing and rolled down. I lined myself up perfectly with the ball and it was coming straight at my glove, but hit the heightened portion of guardrail before it got there, and since I was on the cross-aisle, I couldn’t have reached over it. I then climbed up a few stairs and grabbed it.

2. The ball looped over my head and I ran after it, but I didn’t have time to look back at the ball. Since it was too late, I just stuck out my glove hoping the ball would land there. Not surprisingly, the ball bounced out of my reach where I later picked it up.

3. This ball missed the protective netting completely, but was also a little loopy. I should/would have run over and caught it had I not been playing with my camera. Some parent picked it up.

That was it for foul balls. I did do some exploring, though. Between innings, I went out to both the left and right field bleachers. Here are the pictures from my journey to RF:

The view of the RF seats and picnic area preceding it from the “righty tunnel”.

Once I got to the picnic area, I decided I should take a picture from there. What you see is the result.

A look inside the Home Bullpen, just because I thought it was interesting that you could see right into it as a fan. Even more interesting is that the RF seats are right above the bullpen.

An artsier shot of the seats up in the RF section.

The view from the seat closest to CF in the RF section.

A picture from the seat that is directly on the foul line.

Now, here are the pictures from my venture to the LF seats:

One of those things where you put your head int it and take a picture that way. Behind it, I learned from my game while the Pelicans were playing, are some deflated bouncy castles. This was down the LF line in foul territory.

This picture was taken  in “just foul territory”. It shows the beach area (pretty self-explanatory, right?), the visitors’ bullpen just after that, and then the dugout/Home Plate area.

The view from straight away LF.

A mysterious staircase leading out the left side of the section. There was some fecal matter in the seats themselves, but I didn’t take a picture for your wellbeing. I think (read: hope) that someone brought their dog, but I thought to myself right then, “…and on that note, I think it’s time to get back to the seats behind Home Plate.”

As for the game, I’ll let the scoreboard speak for itself:

So the game ended, and the teams shook hands:

That’s it for this game, but I’d just like to include a few things about the trip itself:

  • We went 5-2 for the trip’s entirety.
  • I snagged a total of 65 balls at the games I attended over the trip. 5 of which were tossed to me by various players/ people. For example, when a foul ball went over the artificial river on the complex that I obviously couldn’t cross, I convinced people in the parking lot to retrieve and toss me the ball.
  • My record for one game was 19 in a game at Griffith Field. That particular game started at 9ish Thursday, April 12th, and it ended after 12:00 AM Friday, April 13th. I actually had the opposing team’s fans cheering for me by game’s end.
  • Let me explain something about the Ripken Experience’s policy on foul balls. If you return them to a booth behind Home Plate, you are given a coupon for some restaurant e.g. get a free chicken sandwich at Chick-Fil-A. Since they were all for meat dining options, I gave all of them all away to random people in the stands or on the team.
  • My top streak of 3 foul balls snagged on 3 consecutive pitches was during the “19” game, and on the second of these, the guy in the booth said to me, “Since you’ve gotten a hundred for me already, here’s one for you.” He then pulled a ball right out of the plastic wrapping and gave it to me.
  • The JV team also accompanied us on this particular trip, and they went I believe 1-5. All was not bleak, though. They lost *every*one of their first 5 games. The worst loss came on the fifth where they were up 7-2 and lost 8-7. In the last game of the trip, it seemed like they were headed down the same road, down 7-0. Then, in the sixth inning (we play 7 inning games), they scored 8 runs to take the lead. They, like every other team competing, were starved for pitching, so they put in their rightfielder to close the game. From what I heard, he was throwing absolute heat and also broke out a “Knuckle-Change” that had the hitters absolutely baffled.

A nice trip, yes, but I also was away from Wi-fi the whole time and have a lot to catch up on. The next entry I write will be that which details my trip to the game between the Pelicans and the Potomac Nationals the next night. Would I be able to use my experience from this game to snag a foul ball?

4/8/12 Twins at Orioles: Camden Yards

Guess how I spent Easter. I had my bonnet:

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I had my peeps:

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and of course spent it at my cathedral:

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Now I was only here for my one, maybe two balls from the pitchers warming up since there would be no bp, but wait what’s this?:

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Apparently, as explained to me by Matt Hersl, early in the season, teams actually do hit a day game after a night game, or the Orioles anyway.

My first ball came when a ball hit down in the row where there is a gap in the railing:

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Avi Miller could have raced me for the ball, but as he said, he’s not up for knocking each other down. Another ball landed there a little while after and I “passed on” Avi’s act of kindness and let another fan get the ball even though it had bounced closer to me after hitting the seats.

My second ball, I believe, came from me running down the row that disappears into the upper-right corner of this next picture:

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I caught the ball, but I stumbled, because I chipped a cup holder and would have fallen on my face had I not grabbed a handrail on my way down.

My third ball, I believe (I know I caught my 2nd and 3rd balls this way, but I don’t know in which order) came from me running across and catching a ball right in front of Matt Hersl. I was right about where Matt is in this picture when I caught the ball:

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(Matt is the one in the gray shirt while Avi is the one in orange)

I then moved over to the flag court for Joe Mauer’s hitting group and sadly the only thing of note that happened was a vendor on Eutaw Street got nailed by a Joe Mauer HR. I don’t want to share the pictures of him, but here they are cleaning his blood off the ground:

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I then went into the CF seats where I got my 4th ball off a ground-rule double that rattled in the seats a bit in the rightmost section.

Then came an interesting scenario in that a person was trying to glove trick a ball, who was not a Ballhawk I recognized, and had no idea what he was doing. Can you identify why?:

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That’s right. He was doing the glove trick without a pen and was wondering why it wasn’t working. So I gave him my pen and as a result he handed me the ball. I then looked around for a person to give the ball to. After about five minutes, I found this little girl (she’s partially hidden by her mother):

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Normally, I can’t stand people who wear a team’s gear that isn’t playing in the game, because it’s a big “FU” to the teams playing, but an exception was clearly in order for this fan decked out in pink Nationals gear.

That was it for bp. Once again I was out in the flag court and thought the baseball gods had set me up with the perfect scenario to catch my first game HR with 12 of the 18 hitters hitting from the Left side of the plate, but sadly they were only baiting me and got me, hook, line, and sinker. You see there was a pretty good wind blowing in from RF, so even if a player managed to get the angle of his hit high enough, which is the challenge with getting a RF HR, it would be knocked down by the wind. There were two balls that looked good directly off the bat, but absolutely died, one of which still managed to get Justin Morneau a hit.

To top it off, the Twins nearly escaped a no-hitter with the previously mentioned Morneau hit being the first hit, but still lost the game, completing a less-than-desired start to the season for my Twins. I went to the umpire tunnel to try and get a ball from Bill Welke (I think his name is “Bill”, but a voice in my head is telling me Tim (I only memorize umpire’s last names). Avi told me he only gave away one ball, so I guess I’m not as embittered, not that I was before. This is, of course, if he only had one ball to give away, but I think he did, because I called him out by last name and was wearing this hat:

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After the game, I had two hours before my bus was scheduled to leave so I wandered all the places I had been with my dad on our trip to Camden Yards in 2008. So like the Harbor Area, our hotel, and things like that. I am now writing this from said bus and extremely regretful of that wandering since everything is tired. Throughout the whole day I was lugging around this backpack:

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As you can infer from its size, it is doubling as my suitcase back to New York.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get some sleep as I have to get up at 3:30 AM tomorrow to go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina…right after I post the stats.

STATS:
• 4 Balls at this game (3 pictured, because I gave one that I counted away)

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Numbers 228-231 for my career:

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• 9 Balls this season in 2 games= 4.5 Balls Per Game
• 11 straight games with at least 1 ball
• 2 straight games with at least 4 balls
• 4 balls*14,738 fans= 58,952 competition factor
• Time at Game 10:58- 4:07= 5 hours 11 minutes

4/7/12 Twins at Orioles: Camden Yards

So I *was* going to start this entry with a statement along the lines of “Whoo, it feels good to have baseball back! The truth is, it feels like I never really stopped ballhawking. Either that or I haven’t yet realized that baseball has started up yet. It does feel good to be at a baseball game, but it’s certainly not the same butterflies I had on my first game of last year.

Anyway, here is what happened in at the game itself. After a brief stop at the American Visionary Art Museum, I arrived at the gates of Oriole Park at Camden Yards:

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There I met up with Matt Hersl to buy my tickets for these two games: 2 for me at $9 a piece and 2 for this game for my mom and step-dad at $25 a piece. If you’re keeping track, that’s $68 total. I offered Matt $70 since I like to give the people who buy me season tickets SOMEthing for their efforts (I actually should have offered him $80, since he saved me around $10-15 by buying the tickets as a season ticket holder) 99% of other people do what? “Oh thanks” and take the extra two dollars, and that’s if they buy the tickets for you in the first place. What did Matt do? He gave me the $10 bill back, and actually took an $8 hit for buying me a ticket. Not only this, but he was just generally nice to me all day.

After that, we got in line with who I *believe* to be Tim Anderson and Ben Huff. I say “believe”, because we never formally introduced ourselves. We were then were met by Avi Miller, who was a shocker since I was initially going to buy the tickets from him, but he didn’t think he was going to be there for the whole weekend.

So we were all gathered at Eutaw street’s gate H and guess which dolt forgot to take a picture of the group? If you guessed Mateo Fischer, you guessed correctly.

For some reason, even with everyone outside the gates, I arrived at the LF seats before anyone else with Matt maybe three steps behind me, and this was my view:

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It felt nice having all of the Opening Day still up since this is the closest to attending an Opening Day I’ve ever been:

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Orioles was really dead considering Camden Yards is one of the best HR parks in the majors. I probably could have gotten a, if not a few, baseball(s) if I asked the right Orioles, but I held off on it since I wanted to get myself in the groove getting hit balls. I caved into the temptation, though, when the non-season ticket holders were about to be let into the LF seats. I asked Wilson Betemit, Pedro Strop, and Luis Ayala for a baseball and got ignored each time. Finally, a ball bounced off the warning track, and since there was no one around me and it was going over me head, I goofed off and caught it with my back facing the field. Here is the ball:

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I was in the second row of seats and reached back to the third row of seats to make the catch (can be seen in the background).

Almost immediately afterward, I changed into my favorite team’s (Minnesota Twins) gear and stationed myself behind the pitchers that were warming up:

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If you see the rightmost throwing pair, the guy closest to me is Glen Perkins. When they finished throwing, however, the far partner spotted me as a Twins fan and lobbed a ball clear over my head. He then immediately went back to talking with Perkins. By the way in which he did it, I thought he didn’t care about giving me a second chance at a ball. However, I wanted to stay and see if I could get a ball from the last throwing pair since I knew the far partner was Jeff Gray and 95% of baseball fans wouldn’t know that. Also, the number of people in the LF seats didn’t hurt in keeping me in foul territory:

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Now that may not seem like that many people, but considering there had been maybe ten people, I thought it would be worth it to stay and wait the extra few minutes for Gray to finish up throwing. In this time, the guy who missed me fielded a ball and looked in my direction. I realized what was up and crouched down like a catcher where he then proceeded to lob me a ball with no one around me. Here is the player, whose identity I haven’t the fainest clue of. He is the one on the left:

Avi Miller had just arrived on the scene and although he was ten rows below me (jokingly) claimed that the ball had clearly been intended for him. We then both went over to the Left Field seats, during this journey, I was reminded that the Orioles were using 20th anniversary Oriole Park at Camden Yards balls. I mean I remember reading about them in the offseason, but I had not planned this trip in anyway around those commemorative baseballs, so it was a bonus to say the least. The LF seats were pretty crowded, but as if right on the cue of me finding out the Orioles had been using the commemorative baseballs, I managed to range ten feet to my right and snag one on the fly myself:

I didn’t get that much applause, but about five people congratulated me after the fact. As for the ball itself, to say it was in good shape is a gross understatement, it was perfect beyond perfect. If you didn’t know it had been used, you never would have guessed so. Here is a shot I took after the game:

Since the LF seats were pretty crowded, and I acknowledged that I had gotten really lucky in getting that ball hit to where it was, I moved over to the CF seats. There, I got what would be my last ball of bp. A ball hit the seats a little behind me and bounced into seats closer to me. I then beat out a man to it. Seeing as I had outraced him to the ball and it was my fourth ball of the day, I offered it to him, but he told me to “keep it”.

I did then go out to the flag court, but no balls were hit out there, and even if they were, the sun would have made it near impossible to catch one on the fly:

The arrow shows where the sun was during bp ( I took the picture during the game) and the two lines show the general area where the balls were going in the sky. So even though they weren’t going directly through the sun, if you weren’t leaning against the fence at the front of the section, you would have to be staring into the sun waiting for a ball to be hit.

As you can tell, I was in the Flag Court for the game. There were more Righties than Lefties in the game, but as a continuation of my last three games, I’m just going to be there every game I go to Camden Yards until a HR gets hit there. Once that happens, I will either catch it or whiff and I can go on with my life.

Now usually, I change back into the Home Team’s gear, but I stayed in the Twins gear since that is my favorite team:

Now why did I have that look on my face? It was the fourth inning and the Twins were already losing 6-0 (they would go on to lose 8-2). After the game, I headed down to the Umpire Tunnel, and asked the umpire (whose last name I had been repeating since the first inning to remember), whose first name I don’t remember, but after asking “Mister Nelson” for a ball he tossed me up a perfect example of a rubbed-up Oriole Park Commemorative. Here it is right after I caught it:

and here it is when I took a picture of it at “home” after the game:

For the record, I *do* have game pictures, but wanted to get this entry up before I leave for South Carolina, so I’ll upload those to the Facebook page and notify y’all of it when it is done via the twitter page, but for now at least, that’s all that he wrote.

STATS:
• 5 Balls at this game

Numbers 223-227 for my “career”:

• 10 straight games with at least 1 ball
• 5 balls*31,532 fans= 157,660 competition factor (little fun fact: the competition factor from my last game at Camden Yards was 31,352, which is almost exactly the attendance of this game).
• Time at Game 4:04-9:57= 5 hours 53 minutes. Given, I did spend some of the time on the front end just waiting inside the Hilton, it was “at the ballpark” since I was waiting for the gates to open.

Ballhawk Charities 2012

The past two offseasons I’ve thought about doing a ball-snagging related charity effort, but I didn’t want to possibly take away from the funds source of the others raising money for my charity. So, I created this monstrosity:

It was my little consolation for not creating a charity, since it does not require monetary effort, but considering my readers have only offset 20 pounds of Carbon Monoxide (which is a lot for how little it weighs, but is nothing compared to how much is in the atmosphere), I’ll take that down unless anyone has any objections and plug these ballhawks’ charities instead.

So who are these ballhawks and what are they’re charitites? Here they are:

Ballhawk Shawn:

Charity-Pitch In For Baseball.

Method of Payment- Pledge Per Ball.

Baseballs in 2011- 293

Let me take an excerpt from his blog entry about his charity work this year:

But what does Pitch In for Baseball do?

Direct from their website:

We ship new and gently used equipment to children all over the world, as well as here in the U.S. Anyone is eligible, so long as your community has a genuine need for youth baseball and softball equipment and the kids want to have fun. We normally work with leagues and programs in the community that have the ability to distribute the equipment and have a demonstrated track record of working with kids.

Speaking of his blog entry, ther is no way I could encapsulate what any of these people are doing with their charity better than they can, so here is a screen shot of (the top of) the entry:

, and here is a link to the entry so you can check it out for yourself (or selves if you want to refer anyone you know).

Wayne Peck:

Charity- Seattle Humane Society “Snagging Baseballs for Puppies”.

Method of Payment- Pledge Per Ball and Charity Auction.

Baseballs in 2011- 136

The humane society is pretty self-explanatory, but if you don’t know what they do; they work on the prevention of animal abuse and providing support for abused animals in general.

Here is a screen shot of his charity page since he hasn’t written an entry on it since the World Series:

So if you would like to read that entry, here is the link.

Zack Hample:

Charity- Pitch In For Baseball.

Method of Payment- Pledge Per Ball with automatic entry into a raffle with donation based on amount donated.

Balls in 2011- 1,157. I think I just made myself dizzy writing that number. Anyway, this will most likely not be anywhere near the number it will be in 2011, so don’t worry about going bankrupt.

See Shawn’s description of Pitch In For Baseball’s mission, as Zack is fund raising fro the same charity.

Here is a screen shot of Zack’s entry on his charity work:

and here is the link to said entry for you to read about the donation process.

Zac Weiss:

Charity-The Children’s Institute

Method of Payment- Pledge Per Ball, One-time Contribution, or you can bid on items and the money that you pay for it goes to the Children’s Institute.

Balls in 2011-137

The Children’s Institute is an organization that helps children that are behind others of their age in certain skillssuch as learning, motor, etc.

Here is a screen shot of Zac’s entry on the charity:

and although the entire entry is contained within the screen shot, here is the link, because the entry has links to some of his other pages where he manages the charity from. A general note on any of the screen shots: If When have trouble reading them, click on the picture and you can zoom in to read it just fine, or, better yet, click on the link provided below all of them and read the whole entry as it is meant to be read.

Naturally I encourage anyone reading this to donate to at least one of their charities (why else would I be writing it?), I will personally be donating to all of them as my contribution to charity. Also, if you are interested anyone of these charities, or really like the cause, but don’t think you can donate to them, spread the word. The only thing that can come from doing so is good.

Reaction to Tim Lincecum news

So I have a gap here that I have to bridge. I’m not quite in “ballhawking mode” just yet (my first game will probably in Baltimore on April 7th), so I’ll just write more miscellaneous entries until this weekend. That can range anywhere from writing entries about games that I have attended before I made this blog to just adding my opinion to MLB news.

 

In today’s entry I’ll do the latter. Obviously the biggest news today is that Tim Lincecum is to undergo Tommy John Surgery. If you haven’t heard the news, Lincecum injured his arm during his between-starts bullpen session yesterday. Reportedly he felt no discomfort in his March 27th start:

 

Anyway, I’m shocked and disappointed by this. If you’ve read this blog semi-frequently you know that Tim Lincecum is my favorite player in MLB right now. Part of the reason is that I always held the belief that he had a fantastically efficient delivery that would actually prevent him from getting arm injuries more so than the more conventional deliveries of pitchers now adays. So first I guess is the disappointment that what I believed to be true when it comes to pitching has seen its foundation rocked and all those people that diagramed how bad Lincecum’s delivery is/was were right:

I mean that’s pretty much it. All I can say is that Chien-Ming Wang, Joe Nathan, and Julio Teheran better stay healthy this year. Oh, and I just covered the basic facts, but if you want to read the whole article on what happened to “Timmy”, here is the link.

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