September 2012

9/16/12 White Sox at Twins: Target Field

How do I spend my Sundays? I go to Twins games when there is no batting practice?

Apparently, the Twins *never* take batting practice on Sundays. I learned this from various ushers. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Anyway, I was pretty much the first one at the gate, expecting there to be potential baseballs to catch, but I just had to stand outside for half-an-hour doing nothing.

When I got in, I saw that no Twins were doing anything. However, two White Sox were throwing, so I headed over there to the third base side of the field while changing my gear. Minutes later, I was the first person in the ballpark to snag a ball by getting Dylan Axelrod to toss me a ball:

Here’s a cruddy diagram of the throw- with a poorly chosen color choice for the arrow:

Then, because nothing else was going on at the time, I headed over to watch Axelrod and some other White Sox pitchers throw bullpen sessions:

I did this for about ten minutes, but I then saw there were Twins pitchers warming up across the field:

So I went over there to try to get a ball from them:

There was only one problem: after about ten minutes of them stretching, there were signs of life on the White Sox’s side of the field:

So I had the decision to make: go over there, or stay where I was.

For the “pro”s of staying, I had:

1. I wouldn’t have to move and regret it if I didn’t get anything from the group.

For the “con”s, I had:

1. I would be pretty much the only one with White Sox gear on.

2. There weren’t that many people period on that side. (As opposed to this side where this was the crowd):

3. I wouldn’t have to comet with a bunch of kids.

4. Since I haven’t seen them that much in batting practice, I essentially knew the Twins as well as I did the White Sox.

Anyway, even though all common sense pointed to going to the White Sox’s side, I stayed on the Twins side because I figured the Twins would finish first, and I could maybe get over to the White Sox side just as they were finishing.

Well, after he finished catching baseballs by running in football-esque running patterns, I yelled out to Tyler Robertson, and he tossed me a ball. Then, in the same motions I caught the ball, I handed it to the kid next to me. Here is Robertson walking away with the kid also in the shot:

Right after I took the picture, I ran over to the White Sox side. Much to my surprise, only one throwing pair had finished and headed in to the clubhouse by the time I got over there. Also to my surprise, despite this fact, I didn’t get a single ball from them. They just waited to toss the balls up until when they were closer to the dugout and I wasn’t by the dugout, so I missed out on all opportunities.

 

Although, it was fun to see Chris Sale talk for half-an-hour with some fans:

I like it when athletes don’t feel so above people to for even a little time when they have nothing else to do. I don’t think I worded that last sentence as well as I could have.

 

That was it for pre-game warm-ups snagging-wise, but there was something else interesting brewing in Target Field:

But since I had no clue what it was, I asked the teacher in charge of the operation. What I found out was they were a group of University of Minnesota students preparing to launch a weather balloon with a baseball attached to it signed by Justin Morneau. The balloon you saw in the last picture was the test balloon. This is what happened when they launched it:

Yeah, it went high.

 

Oh, and in between the practice balloon and the real one, I marveled at the work of art that is the Target Field visitors dugout roof:

That might not seem like much, but most dugout roofs are just slabs of concrete with paint on it. Heck, if you’re at Citi Field, they didn’t even put in the effort to paint it; they just put slabs of pre-made dugout designs on it:

In the pre-game ceremonies, I got to see the students inflating the balloon:

And here is the ball attached to the balloon on the Jumbotron:

As I mentioned on Twitter, I had half a mind to try to shoot down the balloon and try to snag the ball. Anyway, here is the balloon going up-up-and -away:

Fun stuff.

 

Anyway, this was my view for the game:

I didn’t get a third-out ball, because for whatever reason, Adam Dunn and whoever tossed the ball to Alexi Ramirez, who always tossed the ball away to a section that wasn’t the one I was in. When Gordon Beckham caught a line drive for the third out of the inning, I was sure I had a ball awaiting me. You see, before the game, I had yelled out happy birthday to him, and he acknowledged me by saying thank you. Unfortunately, he too threw the ball to Ramirez. As a result, the only ball I got at the dugout was a ball after he game from umpire, Gary Cederstrom:

That made three balls on the day for me. I then got to see Dan Johnson say hi to his wife and kids:

And then I got him to give me the whole bag of ball in the dugout. Well, no, but I got him to shake my hand.

 

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 1 away)

 

Numbers 425-427 for my career:

 

  • 205 Balls in 49 Games= 4.18 Balls Per Game
  • 58 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 8 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 37 Balls in 10 Games at Target Field= 3.70 Balls Per Game
  • 9 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 8 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 9:31- 5:06= 7 Hours 35 Minutes

9/14/12 White Sox at Twins: Target Field

Again it was back to Target Field for the fourth time in five weekdays and the sixth time in a week. The funny thing is, I really didn’t feel worn out by going to all of these games along with classes at all.

Once I got in, my initial plan was to run directly to the left field, but since Denard Span and Ben Revere were the first two hitters, I thought, “What the hey, I can run over to left field in a couple pitches if Josh Willingham  comes up.” In waiting to head over to left field, I managed to snag a Ben Revere home run:

I then went to left field, and much to my dismay, Revere and Span put on a show (for them) while Willingham failed to hit a ball to the field level bleachers.

After this, I headed to the White Sox’s dugout, where too was Tony Voda:

Tony is the guy in the white shirt, by the way. I didn’t get anything by the dugout, but that was because I got impatient and headed back out to left field when I saw the White Sox were hitting mostly righties for the first group. Once again, I didn’t get anything there, but I did get pretty close to balls that ended up bouncing back towards the field after they hit in the bleachers. I just wasn’t judging the ball well, and since it wasn’t staying in place when it touched down, it was costing me.

Eventually, I ran into the seats in right-center field to try and get a ball there. While I was there, my friend Sean—who you may remember from two entries ago. As you may also remember, he’s a huge White Sox fan, so  he was able to identify all of the White Sox in the outfield for me. But when he identified a guy in the outfield for me as Francisco Liriano, my first was, “No, that’s him?” Just because his haircut looked ever so slightly different from when he was with the Twins. Anyway, long story short, I asked Liriano for a ball, and he tossed it to me. Unfortunately, his throw was way short, so it took a second try to get it up to me:

 

I didn’t know it at the time, but this was a very special ball for me, because it marked the first ever time I had snagged 200 Balls in a season, as it was my 200th ball of 2012.

 

It was then that I headed over to the standing room section in right field. There were several balls hit there by Adam Dunn, but I just failed to judge any of them well enough to catch one. The highlight (or lowlight if you’re FSN/the Twins) was that Dunn hit a ball into Fox Sports North’s TV set-up in the standing room and the ball hit the TV there, breaking the screen:

The guy in the blue is the security supervisor for right field. If you ever go through Gate 34 at Target Field, you’ll see him.

After the group containing Adam Dunn and A.J. Pierzynski, I headed BACK to left field. The only problem was there wasn’t a way to have more than ten feet of mobility in the front few rows:

And if I wanted to go to left-center field to play for toss-ups, there were three problems all kind of shown in this picture:

1. There were a ton of kids crowding the front row.

2. Tony was playing the corner spot all the way in left-center field.

3. It wasn’t the White Sox, but rather their kids who were shagging balls in the outfield. Usually, the kids tend to throw way less baseballs into the crowd than their dads do, so that cut down on the opportunities.

The White Sox actually ended batting practice a little early. Why? They took fielding practice afterwards:

While this is an anomaly nowadays, I’ve seen it a couple of times. It’s still a strange surprise.

Anyway, while I probably would have gotten that in the extra BP time, I did manage to get a ball during this. The fielders went off in waves, so when A. J. Pierzynski came off the field, I called out to him as he was approaching the dugout. Unfortunately, he was right in the process of throwing the ball he had to a kid just as he made eye contact with me. I thought when he disappeared into the dugout that it was the end of that, but second later, a ball was rolled right across the dugout roof to me:

I’m assuming it was Pierzynski, but it could have been someone he told to toss me a ball. All I saw was a hand and a ball.

During the game I sat over where my view was this for the game:

What s that arrow you ask? In the third inning, Justing Morneau hit a foul ball waaaay over my head, which followed the path of the arrow I have drawn (okay so it’s not technically an arrow since there’s no head but trust me, I actually used the “arrow” tool; I just drew the head off the page). Anyway, as is always my custom, I turned around in case there was a deflection. What happened was the ball bounced off of the facing of the upper deck and bounced RIGHT to me. I didn’t even have to move an inch:

Oh my goodness. It was a bit surreal to me. I’ve never snagged two game balls in the same month, and here I had snagged a home run and a foul ball in consecutive games. Wow.

Unfortunately, that was it for the game, but I really didn’t care. I mean seriously, I can never be disappointed by a game in which I snag a game ball…unless of course I miss another game ball.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the giveaway that had attracted an excess of fans to Target Field this game. Yeah, since the Twins had just lost 6-0, I’m pretty sure I was the only one reppin’ my team this late after the game had ended:

(Special thanks to Tony for taking that picture of me).

STATS:

  • 4 Balls at this game (3 pictured because I gave 1 away)

 

Numbers 421-424 for my “lifetime”:

 

  • 202 Balls in 48 Games= 4.21 Balls Per Game
  • 57 straight Games with at least 1 Ball (My highest streak of this sort ever. The next highest streak was ironically broken in my first ever visit to Target Field.)
  • 7 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 6 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 34 Balls in 9 Games at Target Field= 3.78 Balls Per Game
  • 8 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 7 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • 6 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:41-11:14= 7 Hours 27 Minutes

9/13/12 Royals at Twins: Target Field

It was back to Target Field again. Once again, I had a guest to accompany me to this game:

This time, it was my friend who lives two doors down from me, Jonathan Mueller. If you’re wondering, (probably not) I had my “professional camera”, so I gave it to a lady waiting outside the gates to take a picture of the two of us. If you’re new to the blog, I’m on the left and Jonathan is on the right.

Pretty much as we got in, I semi-rushed to the right field seats (I say “semi” because in New York, it’s a straight-up race to the seats. Here in Minnesota, people take their time, so the only reason to run is if you’re going from the left field gate to right field or vice-versa.), and I quickly got Jeff Francoeur(That’s right, right?) to toss me a ball:

I can tell he’s a cool guy, I would have liked to have met him better when he was on the Mets, but his departure coincided with my introduction to ballhawking.

Anyway, I then headed over to left field to try to get a ball over there. First, I asked Jeremy Guthrie for a ball, but he saw my make-shift Royals t-shirt, and just laughed and threw the ball back. It looked a lot like this shirt but with a bigger logo. If you’re wondering why I had to tape a logo to a blue shirt, it was because my actual Royals shirt was still en route. It wasn’t until two days later that I actually got the shirt in the mail. Suffice to say, it wasn’t an impressive job on the part of USPS considering I had ordered it a week prior to these two games:

Sorry for the repeat graphic for those of you who follow me on twitter. (If not, you can over there in the sidebar —->;)

It was at that point that I put my MLB Fan Cave t-shirt back on. Also, in left field, I saw these guys:

I just took the picture because Kelvin Herrera is the guy who tossed me a ball the day prior and Alcides Escobar was the guy who prevented me all day from tying a no-BP record of six balls in a game the previous game. After I figured I wasn’t going to snag any more baseballs from the Royals via toss-up, I headed back two right field. This was disappointing, because given the fact it was the Royals, I was eyeing big numbers when I first got to the left field seats.

There I snagged two balls from the bat of unidentified Royals within a span of a few seconds. The second of which I immediately gave away to a kid. That might sound good, but there were about four hit in a row–all of which I lost in the sun and allowed to hit the seats. These two were just the ones I managed to pick up. It was an interesting situation 1. I didn’t have time to put on sunglasses since they were all consecutive. 2. It wasn’t the sun itself, I guess it was just the brightness of the sky. I saw the baseballs traveling through the air perfectly one second, and poof, it disappeared from my sight. Like I said: weird. 3. On the first, I was running to my left, and I was going to jump up and stop once I caught the ball. However, once I lost the ball mid-jump, my concern wasn’t stopping; it was just not getting my skull hit by a ball. Anyway, because of this, I kind of bumped into a guy. Right after which, I made sure to apologize for bumping into him. Just for that, he gave me a dirty look and told me, “You gotta be more careful.” Sorry, sir, for caring about my mental health.

These two baseballs would be it for batting practice, but I headed back to left field later in batting practice where I managed to do this to my leg on the edge of a bleacher:

Anyway, given all of the circumstances, this was my (blurred) reaction to “only” snagging three balls during batting practice:

I did score a few other items, though:

The shoelaces were to promote cancer awareness and the other scrubby thing was a company’s promotion within the ballpark itself.

During the game itself, I had two main views. This one:

And when a string of lefties came up, this:

Over here, I got stopped by a woman who asked me where I got my MLB Fan Cave shirt. I learned from talking to her that it was because *she* had been one of the nine cave dwellers at the beginning before getting eliminated- as six of the nine have been- since then. Her name would be Lindsay Guentzel, and she gave both myself and Jonathan one of the bajillion baseball cards the Fan Cave had given her upon her departure:

So that was a fun thing. I believe that was around the seventh inning. At that point, the Twins were losing 3-1. In the bottom of the eighth, the Twins managed to score a run off a bases-loaded walk. After which, Justin Morneau struck-out with the bases loaded to end the inning.

The bottom of the ninth rolled around and the Twins were down by a run, so I changed my get-up to fit the situation and took my glove off to take this picture:

Right as I lowered my phone, I saw this happen:

Let’s just say I had a pretty good view of the home run. Here’s the picture of the stands when the cameras first turned to the crowd. I’m in the green circle just having lowered my phone to see a ball flying through the air:

Here I am getting out of my seat, and going down a row, with the arrow pointing to where I was going. I was doing this all while simultaneously making an attempt to put my glove on my left hand:

I judged the ball as perfectly as I have ever judged a ball. Here I am with the ball entering my glove:

Unfortunately, I only had the glove half on, so I couldn’t squeeze it at all and the best I could do was pull the ball towards me as to not have it skip away from me before I could grab it on the ground. Meanwhile, Jonathan was raising his arms in celebration in the green rectangle:

And you just read the account of my first ever home run. Better yet, it tied the home run. As a Twins fan, there was nothing better short of catching a walk-off Joe Mauer home run. Wow. I still can’t believe it.

Here I am right after I snagged it:

I was so excited about it I even took a second while I was chasing a second home run of the game in the standing room:

Yep, a home run snag…….Minnesota Style:

Well, I didn’t get a second home run, but what I saw from the standing room was good enough for me:

That would be the Twins team celebrating around Denard Span after he had the walk-off hit to win the game in the bottom of the 10th:

He was especially celebrated because it was his first game back from a DL stint.

I then stuck around after the game by Anthony Lapanta and Tom Kelly:

While I was out there, a lot of people passed me since I was right by gate 34, the main gate into and out of Target Field. One of those people was the woman who took the opening picture that you saw. She came up to me while I had my camera pressed to my eye and said: “Did you catch the Plouffe home run?”

“Yeah, you saw that?” I said

“I was saying to my husband: ‘ I took a picture of those guys before the game.’ Congratulations!”

But why was I out there? I wanted to get a better look at my home run snag when they showed it on the Jumbotron. (Is that one of those things where the brand has become synonymous with the individual product? You know, like Kleenex.)

Actually, I got a better look at it than when I went home to see the replay:

That would be me in the process of dropping the ball with Jonathan about to celebrate. If you enlarge the picture, you can see my phone in my right hand. And the second picture:

That would be me going down for the baseball and seeing it behind me through my legs before I turned around and grabbed it with my glove since my open hand was occupied with my phone. What made the home run *even* better was it was the first game home run ball snagged in the outfield at Target Field on mygameballs.com. It was just recently that I started calling Target Field because of the University of Minnesota, so it’s nice to be the first one on mygameballs to record a hit game home run snag, and do something I could never in any of my other stadiums.

STATS:

  • 4 Balls at this game (3 pictured because I gave one away)

Numbers 417-420 for my career:

  • 198 Balls in 47 Games= 4.21 Balls Per Game
  • 4 Balls x 28,669 Fans= 114, 676 Competition Factor
  • 56 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 6 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 5 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 30 Balls in 8 Games at Target Field= 3.75 Balls Per Game
  • 7 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 6 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • 5 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:31- 11:36= 8 Hours 5 Minutes

9/12/12 Royals at Twins: Target Field

It started raining in Minneapolis at 11:00 AM. That was okay, though because according to my phone, the rain would end by 4:00 PM (before batting practice was set to start). Well, my phone was right:

Did that mean there’d be batting practice?

Nope:

Yeah, when I entered this was the most exciting thing happening:

Actually, that’s not hyperbole at all. See that fan in the bright orange going down the steps? That would be my guest to this game, Sean. I had been eyeing some cheap seats on Stubhub, but they were only being sold in pairs. Sean here is in my “History of Science” class. I forget how, but somehow, we revealed to each other that we were both baseball super-fans. When he said he was going to the Twins game Friday, and said he would want to catch a game with me some time, I jokingly said something like: “How about this Wednesday?” Shockingly, he accepted the offer.

Fast-foward to today: He and I- after some confusion- met up at the Washington Ave Bridge and walked to Target Field. Fast-forward to pre-game warm-ups: The Twins pitchers you saw started throwing. I played it completely wrong, so I didn’t get a single ball from them while they were throwing. However, I went behind the dugout to try to get a ball from Alex Burnett, but when I got there, and usher started telling me something just as I was about to ask Burnett for the ball, so I couldn’t do as I had planned. Fortunately, the usher was telling me there was a ball right by where I was standing. He suspected Burnett had thrown it just seconds before I arrived. Here is where it was in the first row:

I’m glad the usher told me, but it would have been nice to start a game with no BP with two balls right out of the gate. At this time, Sean was getting food, and although I had told him that I snag baseballs at games, he couldn’t believe I had already gotten a ball when he came back.

I then changed into my Royals gear:

Yes, my actual Royals shirt hadn’t showed up yet, so I taped a paper cut-out of the logo to ma blue shirt as I have done a few times previously. Anyway, there were two pitchers warming up, Kelvin Herrera and Bruce Chen. Apparently, someway, somehow, Bruce Chen learned Spanish, because he was talking to Herrera in Spanish. Anyway, Chen went off to run, and Herrera started throwing with someone else. When they finished, I asked Herrera to toss me the ball in Spanish, and he did:

That was it for pre-game activities. Normally, that would be it for the game, but did I mention where the cheapish seats were? Yeah, well let me just say I was able to try to get a ball during the pre-game position player throwing. When they came out, though, there was a problem:

You can’t really tell from the picture, but everyone brought their glove, yet no one thought to bring a ball. Eventually, someone *did* bring a ball, and that ball got tossed to me by David Lough:

But let’s take another look at that ball:

Yep. The Royals somehow had Oriole Park commemorative baseballs.

As for the game, this was my view:

That’s a pretty nice view for $20.

I also saw something I had never seen before at Target Field. It had rained, so that combined with the natural cold to make it cold enough for the Twins to turn on the heat lamps in the concourse:

I’ve got to say, that’s a really nice touch to have for a ballpark in Minnesota. I know the shorts-clad Sean really appreciated the Twins having them.

As you can guess, I was playing the dugout for third-out balls. Well for whatever reason, whenever Eric Hosmer recorded a third out at first base, he tossed the ball to Alcides Escobar who ALWAYS tossed the ball to a kid. I could have reached for a ball in the first inning that was meant for one of said kids, but it didn’t feel right. However, in about the fifth inning, the inning ended with Mike Moustakas catching a line drive. When he got back to the dugout, he tossed the ball just to my right:

Right after I got the ball, I opened my glove up for a kid right next to me to take the ball. That was my fourth ball of the game.

Like I said before, this was a cold, rainy game to begin with, so when the Royals had Sean and I singing, “The runners on base go round and round…” it was pretty empty at Target Field:

I almost caught a Justin Morneau foul ball, but I couldn’t get my glove over one of the railings in my section, and the ball took a huge bounce off the concrete after that into the seats outside of the “moat” above me.

After the game ended, I went down to the umpire tunnel and got a all from the home plate umpire, Dan Bellino:

At the time, I thought the ball was clearly intended for me, but after I jumped to catch it, I looked right behind me to see Sean staring right at me. It may have indeed been intended for him. Don’t worry, though, I would give him the ball two days later when we once again went to the same game. Anyway, this was the second highest total I had ever recorded at a game with no batting practice. Even though I don’t like playing third-out balls for the exact reason that they are so easy to get, it was nice to be able to get three baseballs during or after the game. Normally I would be stuck at two balls on a day like this. Also, according to mygameballs.com, this was the first ball he has ever thrown up to a member.

After the game, Sean and I got a parting picture together before heading back to the University of Minnesota:

Yeah, he’s a White Sox fan as he’s from Chicago, but in all fairness, he was rooting for the Twins this game, so he’s forgiven for one game.

STATS:

  • 5 Balls at this game (4 pictured because I gave 1 away)

Numbers 412-415 for my life:

  • 194 Balls in 46 Games= 4.22 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 28,139 Fans = 140, 695 Competition Factor
  • 55 Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 5 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 4 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 26 Balls in 7 Games at Target Field= 3.71 Balls Per Game
  • 6 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 5 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • 4 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:45- 11:39= 7 Hours 54 Minutes

9/10/12 Indians at Twins: Target Field

Now my third game at Target Field since starting school, I was starting to develop a routine by walking directly from my last class of the day to Target Field and falling asleep in the giant glove outside the gates:

The glove itself, for those who don’t know, is to commemorate all of the Twins Gold Glove winners in history. (That’s the plaque right over my right shoulder in the picture.) The position of the glove is to commemorate the furthest home run in Twins history; which I believe was measured at 520ft.

It isn’t exactly ideal to show up two hours before the gates open, but one of the perks is being the absolute first fan to check into the game using MLB.com’s At The Ballpark app. What I didn’t know was the perk of that was this:

Here’s the t-shirt’s front design:

And here’s the back design:

I didn’t wear it that day, but you may see it in a couple entries (hint, hint).

Once 4:30 rolled around, I went up to the gates-as is my usual routine- and readied myself for any baseball that might reach me at the gate. It’s very unlikely, but I like that there’s at least a possibility of getting a ball. It makes the time go so much faster. Citi Field gate time goes slowly for reasons I have already mentioned, and Yankee Stadium minutes, if there’s no one I know is at the gates, takes FORever. Long story short: I didn’t get any balls that bounced to the gate, but what *did* happen was, out of the blue, a guy pulled up to me in a trolley-type thing and handed me a baseball through the gates:

Just like that, I was on the board. At that moment, I decide I wasn’t going to ask for a ball for the rest of the game. I was just going to go for home runs and help other kids get baseballs.

Want to see the crowds outside the gate five minutes before it opened?

How cute.

When the gates opened, I headed straight for right field, because I figured the Indians group who had supplied with so many baseballs the first day would be hitting just as I got in. Instead of getting a hit ball, right when I got to the seats, Corey Kluber saw my Indians gear, flashed a ball he had, and threw it up to me. I realize that all of these may seem VERY unlikely given the fact I said I wasn’t asking for any baseballs, but I swear, I didn’t ask for *any* of these. Kluber just looked up at me, and tossed me the ball:

Given the fact I got two balls, though, I was considering asking for balls if I got in a rhythm catching hit balls. Unfortunately,those two would be the only ones I would get for the extent of batting practice. Unlike Saturday, there wasn’t THAT big of a crowd, but nothing was coming close to me.

This was my view for most of Indians batting practice:

When there’s enough room, so far my strategy has been to be in a spot where I can both run back to the standing room or run down to catch a ball that is hit in the seats in right field.

I then headed over to left field, but as you guessed it, not much came my way. The balls that did come my way, but I lost them in the sun even though I was wearing sunglasses:

I think Target Field left field is one of the underrated sun havens.

While I was there, though, I saw a crime against what might as well be ballhawks everywhere. It was only directed at one person (not myself), but it was pretty bad. Here ‘s something to help you out:

As you can see, I labeled some people. Well, it all started when Francisco Morales threw the ball snagger a ball. Esmil Rogers looked at him and tapped his foot as if he were waiting for the ball snagger to give the ball away to the kid next to. I suspect it was because he had seen the guy get a ball before. And the ball snagger *did* give the ball away, and Rogers clapped for him. That’s all fine and good, but when a line drive got hit RIGHT at the ball snagger, Rogers stepped right in front of it and caught the ball on the fly. When a ball rolled right to where this guy was standing in the corner spot, Rogers stepped in front of the ball and snagged the ground ball so the guy couldn’t scoop it up as it rolled to him.

I mean, yeah, he snagged ONE ball. Big deal. He did what you wanted him to do and you repay him by blocking two balls that he would have gotten. WHo was he hurting by snagging TWO baseballs? It isn’t like some kid would have gotten that ground ball had he not been there. And on that note, how are you helping ANYone by then taking the ball and throwing it right back into the infield bucket? What you saved the Indians $20? Good job, Mr. Rogers. Gee double-oh dee jay oh bee; good job, good job. It’d be one thing if you tossed the ball to a recipient you deemed more deserving, but this is just being an absolute jerk over nothing.

Sorry for the mini-rant; I try not to do that too much. But I thought I needed to get that off my chest because it just makes no sense to me when people who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars, or millions of dollars a year obsess over a fan getting a couple baseballs. Fine, he already got a ball. That means you won’t toss him a ball if he asks, not you have to attempt to the best of your ability to make sure he doesn’t get another ball for the rest of the game.

That’s all I have to say about batting practice. For the game, I sat over here:

Actually, my ticketed seat was “better” (being closer to directly behind home plate), but I figured I’d have a better chance of catching a foul ball here, since it didn’t have the hindrance of the protective netting. I also kept my Indians gear on and waved my arms whenever I would have usually been yelling, because, you know, I had that whole “I’m not going to ask for balls for the rest of the game” thing going on.

At the end of the game, though, I raced down to the dugout to see if I could finally get my first line card (I didn’t say anything about asking for lineup cards). I got rejected. However, I was right by where the umpires exit the field- known as the umpire tunnel. Usually, I always look up who the umpire is, but I didn’t even bother to this time, since I wasn’t going to ask him for a ball. Then, a weird thing happened. The only other game I had gone to the umpire tunnel, a swarm of kids ran to it just as the game ended. Since this was my only experience of it thus far, I figured that was the norm. This time NO one was at the umpire tunnel. The umpire was literally searching the crowd for people to throw balls to. Since I was the only one with a glove, he flipped me a ball:

I later searched and found out the home plate umpire’s name was D. J. Reyburn.

I then went to the other side of the dugout. There were two little sister who in conjunction with their parents, had been trying all game to get a ball from the dugout, but had failed to this point. I went over, and as Dave Miller, Francisco Morales, and Armando Camacaro neared the dugout. I just pointed almost cartoonishly at the two girls; acting as a billboard for “give these two kids a ball”. They both did, and as I guess a reward, Armando Camacaro also tossed me a ball:

If you’re wondering (you’re probably not) Camacaro’s name translates to bedcar.

Geez. Why can’t convincing players to toss me baseballs be this easy when I *want* them to toss me baseballs? I mean seriously, I got four toss-ups without even asking for them; yet when I want a toss-up, it seems like I’ll never crack a player. Anyway, weird times at Target Field.

STATS:

  • 4 Balls at this game

Numbers 408- 411 for my “career”:

  • 189 Balls in 45 Games= 4.20 Balls Per Game
  • 4 Balls x 27, 526 Fans= 110, 104 Competition Factor
  • 54 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 4 straight Games with at lest 2-3 Balls
  • 3 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 21 Balls in 6 Games at Target Field= 3.50 Balls Per Game
  • 5 straight Games at Target Field with at least 1-2 Ball(s)
  • 4 straight Games at Target Field with at least 3 Balls
  • 3 straight Games at Target Field with at least 4 Balls
  • Time Spent On Game 2:17- 10:41= 8 Hours 24 Minutes

9/8/12 Indians at Twins: Target Field

After going to Target Field the previous night, I made the trek back despite the best effort of the traffic caused by  The Gophers’ football game:

However, as you can tell from the picture, the crowds were a little beefed up. Not only was it the first “weekend” game I had ever attended at Target Field, it was also “Tom Kelly Day”. More on that in a bit.

When I got in, I decided to do the same things as the previous day’s game (if you want to read it, go down to the bottom of this entry and click “Previous Post”): go to left field as soon as the gates open for Josh Willingham’s group. Unfortunately, I didn’t account for what the excess crowd would do to the playability of the section:

Keep in mind this was just  minutes after the gates opened.

Instead of trying to compete with them for the first couple of rounds of Indians hitters, I moved into foul ground and tried to get a ball from the Indians position players who were throwing. When one of the players finished, I waved my glove and asked for the ball from him in Spanish. He then tossed it to me:

I made sure to remember the face, and when I looked it up, I saw it was Michael Brantley who tossed me the ball. You know, the totally non-hispanic guy who was born in Bellevue, Washington who I had just asked for a ball in Spanish. Whoops. I guess I’m lucky he didn’t hear my request and just saw me waving my glove.

I then moved out to right field for the group that had supplied me with so many hit balls the previous day. I didn’t get any hit balls, but I managed to get a ball from Shin-Soo Choo, who was manning right field. Sadly, no I didn’t have the chance to ask him for a ball in Korean. What happened was he threw a ball into a guy in the second deck and it bounced off of the electronic scoreboard facing of it, so I snagged it off the bounce:

I was about to throw the ball up to the guy, but he told me that Choo had already tossed him a second ball while I wasn’t looking.

After that, I didn’t really feel like competing with the crowds in extremely cramped right field section, so instead, I competed with the crowds in a slightly-less-cramped-but-extremely-steep-with-an-overhang-blocking-most -of-the-seats left field section. There I got Ubaldo Jimenez to toss me a ball by the bullpens in the part of the left field seats closest to center field:

The dotted arrow is to show where Jimenez jogged to retrieve the ball, and the solid arrow is his throw to me. The kid in the Blackburn shirt had already gotten a ball-as you can see-so I gave the ball to a kid half a section to my right in the first row who still hadn’t gotten a ball.

Later on, a ball got hit to the wall in straight-away left field, and Tony Sipp went to retrieve it. As he approached the wall, I yelled out, “Tony.” When he picked up the ball, he flipped me the ball over a row of fans:

For those of you who weren’t counting, that was my thirty second ball of the day. For those of you who were counting, you’ll know it was my fourth ball of the day. I had a shot at a fifth ball, but…well, let me just explain what happened. Anyway, I felt bad because in that row of fans he had flipped the ball over to me, was a kid who had a glove, but just wasn’t speaking up- much like I used to be (some would argue like I still am). So, I handed him the ball right after confirming he hadn’t gotten one this game.

A ball got hit that I could tell was to my left and falling short of me in the sixth row of the section. So, I ran into the third row and even though I could tell the ball was going to land in the second row, I hoped someone would botch a catch, because there was no way I was going to catch the ball without smacking someone with my glove. Anyway, here is what happened:

I was right behind the guy in white, and at the very last second, he must have lost the ball in the sun because he ducked and put his hands over his head. That’s when the ball hit directly off his upper spine and just to my left. I could have gone after the ball, but I realized right away where the ball had hit, so I made sure he was okay. Just as a general rule, I try NOT to be that guy who cares more about a baseball than anyone else’s well being.

Anyway, soon after that, batting practice ended. Spoiler Alert: Since I was playing for home runs all game, I wouldn’t get another ball for the rest of the game. However, it *was* Tom Kelly Day. This meant his number was getting retired in a big ceremony with members from his teams and the current team involved and different speakers talking about his tenure as manager. I took a bunch of pictures, but I’ll share a couple that I took:

Here is Tom Kelly’s retired number under the black shroud.

The on-field set-up. Kelly’s friends and family were down the first base line and former players were down the third base line.

Tom Kelly walking towards the podium. He was preceded by all of the other players whose numbers have been retired by the Twins. The only deceased of the group being Jackie Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, and Kirby Puckett, who got a video tribute in lieu of walking to their seats. by the pitcher’s mound.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that there was also a give-away that came along with Tom Kelly Day. They also gave away an oar. Yes, an oar:

Why? Just click the bottom picture to read the text on the oar. I realize it looks tiny compared to the top picture. They’re both the same size, but I rotated it, so you wouldn’t have to turn your computers to read it. I’d imagine this would be quite hard for those of you reading this on a desktop.

As for the game, this was my view for the entirety of it:

Yes, I realize this picture was taken after the game, but I completely forgot to take a picture during the game itself. As previously mentioned, there was nothing even close to me. In fact, the lone home run was hit by an Indians righty September call-up.

STATS:

  • 4 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 2 away)

Numbers 404-407:

  • 185 Balls in 44 Games= 4.20 Balls Per Game
  • 4 Balls x 33,698 Fans= 134, 792 Competition Factor
  • 53 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 3 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 17 Balls in 5 Games at Target Field= 3.4 Balls Per Game
  • 4 straight Games at Target Field with 1-2 Ball(s)
  • 3 straight Games at Target Field with at least 3 Balls
  • 2 straight Games at Target Field with at least 4 Balls
  • Time Spent On Game 2:38- 10:40= 8 Hours 2 Minutes

9/7/12 Indians at Twins: Target Field

What happens when you walk straight from your class ending at 2:15 to Target Field? You get an hour early to the ballpark and end up sleeping in a giant metal glove:

(For the record, the glove gets HOT when exposed to direct sunlight, so you need something underneath you so you won’t burn. I used my Indians shirt.)

Anyway, since it was a Friday and the gates were opening two hours early (as opposed to 1 1/2 hours Monday through Thursday), Josh Willingham’s group was still hitting, and so I went to left field right away:

Right as I got there, Josh Wilingham launched a ball in my direction. I got in line with it, but I could tell the ball was sailing over my head, so I started going up the bleachers. Just as I was five feet from the landing spot, the ball landed and deflected back towards the field. Gaaah! Here is a diagram if you’re having trouble visualizing it:

That wasn’t the end of my left field woes, though. Willingham hit another ball three sections to my right. I could tell the ball was headed right over the heads of the people in the section, so all the ball had to do was stay in the spot it landed and I would easily scoop it up. Instead, the ball deflected back my way, but it tailed back towards the field. Since I was running full speed through a row of bleachers, I couldn’t stop and change directions, so it landed right by where I had just run by and some other person picked it up. Again a diagram for the people who aren’t able to visualize this:

(The dotted arrow is my running path while the solid arrow is the ball’s deflection. That guy standing on the bleacher wasn’t there when the ball landed there.)

After that, Willingham hit yet another ball over the fence. This time, I had a beat on it. I ran about fifteen feet to my right and made the catch:

That felt really good as it was my first ever ball at Target Field I had caught on the fly.

After that, I headed over to the Indians dugout as they warmed up, but I got shutout by the infielders. I was going to stay and try to get a ball from a pitcher, but I saw there was a mostly-lefty group nearing their second round of swings in the batting cage. So…. I headed out to right field and readied myself.

My first ball out there was hit by Carlos Santana and would start a theme for me: balls that went over my head but I managed to beat people out for. As the name of the theme suggests, the ball went over my head and to my left, but when it bounced, I played the deflection and scooped up the ball before anyone else could:

I don’t know who hit my next ball-it might have been Santana again, but I don’t know-but the same exact thing happened; except this time it went over my head and to my right:

The last ball from this group of hitters came when Asdrubal Cabrera hit right in the middle of the section and over my head:

That would be ball number 4 for those of you keeping score at home. I didn’t really realize it at the time, but my next ball would be career number 400. I actually had been making a big deal about #400 back in New York, but I guess the magic of it wore away as it kept taking me longer and longer to get there. Anyway, as much as I would have liked #400 to be hit, I’m perfectly fine with what ended up happening. When a ball got hit to the warning track to my right, I looked over to see who was retrieving it. I couldn’t recognize practically anyone else on the Indians, so I was relieved when Chris Perez got the ball. Not only is Perez very distinguishable with his long hair, but he is one of- if not THE- nicest players in all of baseballs when it comes to toss-ups. When I yelled out a request at him, he turned around and kindly obliged:

It took me a few minutes to realize it was number 400, which fortunately didn’t cost me. Had there been a kid with a glove, I might have given him that ball. This mistake actually happened to me with ball number 200. STILL, there was no kid to give the ball away to. I mean, yeah, there were kids, but none with gloves. I have truly never seen anything like it. I don’t know if this is true, but it may have been my longest streak ever without giving away a ball. (I had caught five at this point.)

Then the next group of Indian hitters came up to the plate. A couple rounds in, Casey Kotchman hit a ball to my right, so I ran over and made the catch:

After that, I FINALLY found a kid with a glove two sections away and gave him the ball:

My next ball came when an Indians pitcher threw a ball to a kid in front of me, but sailed him by two feet. I was right behind him, so I picked the ball up and naturally gave it to the kid.

I then headed over t right field for the final group of BP. There, I convinced Joe Smith to toss me a ball for my eighth and final ball of the day:

As impressive as this is, I feel I really could have done much better. In addition to the balls I detailed that I missed in left field at the beginning of batting practice, there were countless other in right field. Why do I tell you this? I don’t want any sympathy or anything (mostly because it was *me* messing up my opportunities); it is because I might have passed the Target Field record of twelve had I been on my game. Oh well, I’ll have plenty of other shots at it.

As for the game, it was freezing. I guess I should have expected that when I came to Minnesota for college. What made matters worse was I was out in the standing room section in right field where the winds came through. It was so cold, in fact, that I actually bought food at the ballpark. I usually never do since it adds on a considerable expense if I do it with any sort of regularity. Anyway, to warm me up, I got a bucket of mini-donuts:

They look pretty vile from that picture, but they were absolutely amazing. And since they were baked right on the spot, they served to warm me up for a couple innings. This, however, could not make up for the Twins’ loss as they had gone up 4-0 only to lose 7-6. Since I was playing home runs the whole game, that was it for snagging.

STATS:

  • 8 balls at this game (6 Pictured because I gave 2 away)

Numbers 396-403:

  • 8 Balls x 30,111 Fans= 240,888 Competition Factor
  • 52 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 13 Balls in 4 Games at Target Field= 3.25 Balls Per Game
  • 3 straight Games with at least 1-2 Ball(s) at Target Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 2:15- 11:38= 9 Hours 23 Minutes

8/28/12 Mariners at Twins: Target Field

It was the beginning of a new era for me:

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Walking up to Target Field, the best word I can think of to describe the feeling is surreal. I just could *not* believe I was there again. It defied all logic. Why go to a bad ballhawking stadium for the second time in two years? Target Field is the kind of place you visit to say you’ve been there and then stay away for as long as you can.

Once I got to the gates, two people waved at me. It was just kind of like “Whoa, what’s this?” One I actually recognized from the pictures he had of himself on his blog and that was Paul Kom. You can vaguely see him towards the right of the last picture in the white hat. He leaves comments here as paaoool123.

The second person was Tony Voda. Unlike Paul, I had no idea of his existence until a couple days prior, much less an idea of what he looked like. When Zack Hample announced in his blog that I was going off to Minnesota for college, he was one of the many people who contacted me regarding the fact. He left a comment on this blog saying that he would like to meet up some game.

First of all, I would like to say that when a ball plummeted into the gap outside the stadium between the parking garage and the rest of the walkway, Paul and I just wanted to see where the ball had landed. Meanwhile, Tony was already running after it. Apparently, that gap has Interstate 394 under it. When Tony came back with the ball several minutes later, all three of us took a picture together:

That would be me on the left, Tony in the middle, and Paul on the right.

At the gates, we did two things: awaited any balls that might’ve bounced to the gates (Paul nearly got one), and divvied up where we wanted to go in the stadium. Paul took the Mariners dugout, Tony took the Twins dugout, and I wandered all over the place.

My first stop was the third base foul line:

When I got there, Jesus Montero picked up a ball, and I decked out in Mariners hat and sweater (even though it was really hot), asked him for a ball. For whatever reason, he completely ignored me and tossed it into the outfield seats.

So, I made I stop along the third base foul line seats, but I eventually ended up in left field seats where I ended up getting Jason Vargas to toss me a ball:

At least I think it was Vargas. I stupidly didn’t take notes about this game, so I’m basing everything on memory. Anyway, I then headed over to the “section of death” in right-center field. It’s the section of death to myself and other ballhawks (I have come up with the name, but others have agreed with the sentiment.) because it’s four rows of seats to begin with, and the overhang makes it so you can only really catch a home run in the first row or two. In addition to that, there’s a flower bed in the front of the section which means a player has to be about five-ten feet from the wall for you to ask him for a ball.

Anyway, right as I got there, a player overthrew a kid, and the ball flew into concourse:

I then said that I would give him the next ball I snagged.

A few minutes later, I asked Stephen Pryor for a ball, and when he tossed it to me, I gave it to the kid. His sister then hugged me, which was…unexpected. Just to give you an idea of how the flower beds affect one’s sight, here’s a picture of Pryor standing 60+ feet away from the wall:

See? Unless you want to be talking to a bed of flowers, you either have to hope a ball stops just the perfect distance from the wall, or hope the player doesn’t throw the ball right when they get to the wall.

I then pretty much stayed in the right field seats for the rest of batting practice, where the offensively anemic Mariners didn’t send anything into the stands:

I then met up with Paul in foul ground along the third base line.

From there, we both headed over to the left field seats by the bullpen. At that point, he had snagged four balls. He ended up with seven by the end of the day. But don’t take my word/ account for it, right….here is the link to his entry about the game.

When we were sitting there, I saw the Mariners bullpen coach, Jaime Navarro walking to the bullpen, so I put on my Mariners sweater and hat. Once he was picking up the balls that had been hit there during batting practice, I asked him for one. This was the result:

What I hadn’t noticed was Paul had also stood up and had grabbed his camera. Here is the five-second video he took of me snagging the ball:

Thank you to Paul for that.

As for the game, I won’t really talk about the result, but I’ll say Todd Cook was made happy by it. This was my ticketed seat:

but I decided to stay out here for the majority of the game:

I can’t say for certain, but I think I’ll spend most of my time at Target Field out there.

However, as I suspect will be the norm for most of my time out there, nothing was hit even close to the section. After the game, I met up with both Paul and Tony (who also wrote an entry about the game, whose link can be found right….hiaaaagh.) by the dugouts. We then walked to the exit together before saying our goodbyes. I’ll probably see Tony again, but it was in all likelihood Paul’s last Twins game of the season. Anyway, it was good to get to meet both of them in my first “new” game at Target Field.

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 1 away)

 

Numbers 393-395 for my “lifetime”:

 

  • 173 Balls in 42 Games= 4.12 Balls Per Game
  • 3 Balls x 29,854 Fans= 89,562 Competition Factor
  • 51 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 5 Balls in 3 Games at Target Field= 1.67 Balls Per Game
  • 2 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field with at least 1 Ball
  • 2 straight Games at Target Field with at least 2 Balls
  • Time Spent On Game 4:12- 10:36= 6 Hours 24 Minutes

 

8/24/12 Astros at Mets: Citi Field

‘Twas the week before college, and action was dead. So I went to dear Citi. What’s wrong with my head?

I travelled with my neighbor, Greg Barasch, on the subway to the game. There began the motif of this game: fun people, bad baseball.

When we got to the gates, he went ahead and bought a student ticket for himself and Zack Hample. Meanwhile, I met a kid by the name of Michael who told me he had read this blog. I stupidly didn’t get a picture of all four of us before the gates opened, but I wanted to include Michael in the entry somehow, so….yeah. After that I got some free pudding the outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.

After I got in the gates, it didn’t take me long to miss my first ball of the day:

I had gone down to the first row to ask Josh Edgin for  a ball. Just as I was leaning down, to cup my hands and yell at him, I saw a ball get hit to my right. Just to my right was the guy in blue in the last picture. I figured he would still be trying to get the ball from Edgin, so I hopped into the row behind him and got right to the spot I thought the ball was going. As I was tracking the ball, I saw him and his glove starting to reach up. He missed the ball, but deflected oh so slightly so that the ball that previously would have gone into the pocket of my glove hit the side of my glove and bounced two rows behind me. Greg had an eye out for this ball, so when it landed in the seats, he was already running for the ball and grabbed it.

When the gates opened, Greg and I took the left field seats and Zack took the seats in upper right field. That meant until Zack showed up in the section, I had this view of the “action” (if you can call Mets-Astros BP action):

Meanwhile, Zack had moved from right field to center field and got Dave Raceniello to toss him a ball:

That meant I was the only one not on the board yet.

I figured I would just go ask for a toss-up in center field:

There, I got my first look at the Mets’ All-Star game logo:

I don’t know what I think of the logo, but I can tell you with 90% certainty that unless I miraculously don’t have to pay for my ticket, I’m not going to the All-Star Game at Citi Field.  I definitely don’t want to pay an extra-expensive ticket just to go to an extra-packed Citi Field. That and I kind of want my first All-Star Game to be at Target Field. Sure it’s a pretty bad stadium for snagging balls, but at least through two games, it actually feels like home in the same way that Nationals Park sort of does. I don’t know why, but I can only maybe say this for Yankee Stadium and definitely can’t for Citi Field.

Anyway, I don’t think you’re here to hear me talk about future plans. You’re here for the snagging (or lack thereof):

While I was in the center field seating, a ball got hit to Brandon Barnes (an Astros outfielder). I didn’t know his name, so I just gave him a generic request and he loft the ball to me as is shown by the arrow. It was a pretty good throw.

Then began the “nothingness”. First of all, if you don’t know, the Astros are a team of a bunch of guys who have maybe been in the major leagues for a year. On top of that, almost all of them had their warm-up jerseys on. Basically, they were indistinguishable from each other, so I had no clue who was who. The next thing is I made the mistake of standing behind this guy:

In standing behind Zack, I was banking on the fact that balls would be hit over his head enough that I could judge them well enough to make a jumping catch. That didn’t happen. Instead, Zack went on to catch three balls on the fly that I most definitely would have had if he weren’t there, but you can read about all that and more in his account of the game: 8/24/12 at Citi Field. By the way, I’ll do this for anyone, not just him. If you are a ballhawk who has a blog, and you go to the same game as me, just let me know and I will always feature it regardless of whether it comes out before or after my entry (as long as I remember to do it and it’s PG).

As for the game, I stayed out in left field because, as was the case with the previous, oh I don’t know, six Mets games, David Wright was sitting on 199 career home runs. Oh, and he hit it this game, but it was quite possibly the cheapest home run in the history of Citi Field:

Had it been either a foot lower or a foot further to the right, it wouldn’t have been a home run. To make matters even more frustrating, it was tossed up by the uniformed Astros right fielder to a fan who didn’t even catch it on the fly, yet got whisked away by security. You know what though, I’m happy for the fan. I’m just frustrated that I didn’t get it. In my ideal world, everyone in the stadium would get David Wright’s 200th home run, but obviously that’s not possible. The home run was so close it actually had to be reviewed by the umpires. When the umpires came back out and waved him through, I was honestly contemplating leaving the game right there.

Even though Greg had called me during the game to tell me the Astros didn’t have ANY commemorative baseballs (pretty much my only reason for scheduling this game), I had made the plan to go to the bullpens after the game, so I did:

There, I yelled out to the Astros bullpen catcher Javier Bracamonte for a ball, but he said something back in Spanish, shrugged, and walked away. On the bright side, this was my 50th game in a row with at least 1 Ball.

I then hopped over to the area behind the visitors dugout, because Zack and Greg were waiting for me. After much confusion, due to the post-game Merengue concert, we finally saw each other and headed to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda where I took pictures like this:

and this:

The reason we were in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda is Zack (shown by the left arrow) wanted to make sure a glove he had lost a few days earlier hadn’t shown up in the Mets’ Lost and Found. While we were there, we asked the guy designated by the second arrow to take a picture of all three of us since I would be leaving for Minnesota in two days:

First, the reason I am pointing at their two baseballs with a face like that is they both got balls at the end of the game and I didn’t. Second, the reason I took a bunch of pictures of the rotunda is that may very well have been my last game at Citi Field. If you’ve noticed, I go to a lot of Nationals games. Well that’s because my step-dad lives there. If you’ve ever noticed it, married couples don’t usually lives cities apart….so, there is a chance that by the time I get back from Minnesota next summer, I will be returning to Washington D.C. and not New York.

If that is the case, it’s been a blast being a part of the New York ballhawking scene for these couple of years. I have befriended so many people throughout the process (including a neighbor I had never talked to before) that it’s amazing. Although I may not have been in love with the stadiums, it was the people in the stands that I had the pleasure of conversing and competing with that made the experience even tolerable. Sure, I’ll also miss being in quite possibly the best city in the world, but this is a baseball blog, so I thank everyone out there that made that aspect of New York life so special. (If I indeed am moving. If I’m not moving, then keep making it special. Pretty please?)

Speaking of special people, after we left the rotunda, Zack, myself, and Greg all rode back on the train together, talking about things from nail biting to corner spots.

STATS:

  • 1 Ball at this game (I completely forgot to take a picture before I left for Minnesota)
  • It was number 392 of my life.
  • 170 Balls in 41 Games= 4.15 Balls Per Game
  • 1 Ball x 25,513 Fans= C’mon can’t *you* do that math?
  • 50 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 86 Balls at Citi Field in 33 Games= 2.61 Balls Per Game
  • 33 straight Games at Citi Field with at least 1 Ball (It’s a wonder how I haven’t been shutout there.)
  • Time Spent On Game 3:45- 10:56= 7 Hours 11 Minutes

8/22/12 Reds at Phillies: Citizens Bank Park

I took a surprise trip to a certain ballpark a little while ago, so I thought I’d start with a Before the Gates Open video:

Note: Steve Carlton is *NOT* dead; I was thinking of Robin Roberts when I said it. They’re both Phillies great pitchers. How am I supposed to differentiate between them?

First off, here is the link to the entry I mentioned in the video: Blast From The Baseball Past. Now, onto the story of why I was even at this game:
See, my neighbor whom you saw in the video, Greg Barasch was discussing has taken a few trips to “the bank” (I actually have no clue if that’s what it’s dubbed; I just threw that in myself), and was discussing another this week. I was in Washington, so my accompaniment of him was dependent on what day of the week he went i.e. I didn’t want to go Monday and have to sacrifice my final two games at Nationals Park for two games in Citi Field. When he announced he was going on Wednesday, though, I jumped at the opportunity.

So…. that’s the story. Let’s get to the snagging.

When I entered the seating area, I was absolutely shocked by the fact that Citizens Bank Park has no hand railings in the seats:

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Interestingly enough, I was the first one in the stadium to snag a ball:

When I got in the seating area, Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick were talking. When a ball rolled to the wall, Kendrick ran over to grab it. When he did, I asked him for the ball and he tossed it up to me.

Then, a ball got hit towards a gloveless man and his kid. “Shockingly”, the ball bounced off his hands and into the flower bed in front of the section. I didn’t want to step in because the ball was, in fact, RIGHT in front of the man. After a few seconds, though, Greg dropped in and pulled the ball out along with a few weeds.

If you don’t know, fans are confined to left field for the first hour of the gates being open at Citizens Bank Park. Since the Phillies had recently converted to being a minor league team, the only legitimate righty hitter was Carlos Ruiz. He hit a ball pretty much right at me, so I stepped down a stair (to make sure no one could jump in front of me), jumped up, and caught the ball the ball on the fly:

Even with the balls I had caught on the fly in Washington, this was still exhilarating.

After that, I snagged the first ball I probably wouldn’t have snagged  had there been  hand rails. Michael Martinez hit a ball a section to my right, after hitting in the seats and initially deflecting away from me, I tracked it down and picked it up over here:

I then asked around for a kid in the section with a glove who had not yet gotten a ball. I came to this kid and gave it away to him:

Then came time for the Reds to hit.

I nearly got Johnny Cueto to throw me a ball while he was warming up, but he threw the ball to Greg instead (which put him ahead of me, 4-3. I would never tie him again.) After I got rejected by Cueto, I headed back to the spot where I caught the Ruiz homer. It was closer  to center field, so I knew I wouldn’t get that many home runs, but I had more room to run for balls. Then a Reds hitter hit a ball right in the same spot as Ruiz. I did the same exact thing as on the Ruiz ball: step a step down, ready myself and raise my glove/jump slightly at the last second. However, this time, there was someone in front of me contesting for the ball. In addition to this,  Jose Arredondo threw up his glove at the ball. It *just* missed the ball, so for at least half a second, I was completely convinced the ball was going to hit me in the face. Instead, this happened:

It was quite a great catch if I do say so myself. I had to deal with the glove of the kid in front of me, the glove of Arrendondo flying in the air, and then the part I didn’t mention: the kid was backing into me, so just as I made the catch, he fell and I had to catch him before he got a face-full of concrete.

Then Brandon Phillips’ group came up. I don’t know if you know this, but despite the measly 13 home runs Phillips had coming into the game, he hits far and plentiful bombs in batting practice. So does at least one other guy in his group. I should’ve probably had four or five of them had I known they would have gone so far into the stands. Instead, I snagged hit by one of those Reds righties and gave it to this kid in the bright orange:

(His dad in the blue had the ball as I took the picture.)

That would be it for batting practice. There weren’t many people, but they were in just the right spots to stop me from running full sections. You know what I mean? Maybe this picture’ll help:

See what I mean? It certainly wasn’t a Yankee Stadium crowd, but there’s no way to get to the section just to my right. I should also mention that it was around this time, I ran into a row, a kid ran right after me, so our feet got tangled, and I fell straight into the ground. I’m usually very good at making it so my legs just graze seats and such, but since my legs couldn’t move at all while I was falling, it smacked right into the metal arm rest. It never showed a bruise, but my leg hurt for a week after that every time I leg past about 35 degrees.

During the gam, this was my view:

See that guy in the row right in front of me in the gray? I’ll get back to him in a minute.

As for the game, the Reds ended up winning the game 3-2 behind a strong pitching performance from Bronson Arroyo. As for my snagging attempts during the game, they had a common theme: Jay Bruce-related heartbreak. EVERY inning, Jay Bruce would warm up with the Reds bullpen catcher. most of said innings, I yelled my lungs out trying to get his attention. There was NO way  he didn’t hear me. Even the Phillies fans were helping me; yet I came back to my seat empty-handed every time.

Between-inning toss-ups, though, were the least of my woes. In the top of the eighth inning, Jay Bruce launched a ball to my left. I ran as far as I could to my left, but I could tell it was a. headed to the second deck and b. I couldn’t even get in line with the ball. Then it hit this electronic scoreboard strip:

From there it bounced to my “new” left (I had turned around, since the ball was now behind me.), so I ran/limped as fast as I could after the ball in mid-air. Here is a diagram of the path of the ball after that:

To clarify, the ball bounced off of the guy in the red’s hands and bounced right past me (I was right next to him at this point). I saw the ball, so I just went down to thhe ground as soon as I could expecting it to bounced off the guy just out of the frame with the beer’s chest and fall down. After looking everywhere down there- all of which took place over the course of maybe two seconds- I couldn’t see it. Turns out, it had hit the guy’s head instead and bounced over a place that absolutely infuriated me:

Why? Here’s a hint: I have a red backpack.

That’s right, the ball bounced *right* to the seat I had been sitting in. Had I never run after the ball at all, I would have had my first ever home run ball. Here’s the highlight of the home run if you wish:

You can only see the ball bouncing off the scoreboard, though. Which is good since I would have driven myself insane watching the play had I been able to see what happened,

Remember the guy in gray? he was the one who leaned backwards in his chair and picked up the ball that rolled within inches of my backpack. He said it was really easy; not it an in-your-face manner, but just to let me know, since i had been going for balls all night and was the only one to even react to the Bruce home run as it was hit.

Bleh.

Thankfully, the game didn’t end on a negative note. At the end of the game, I headed over to the Reds/ Phillies bullpen area and got the Reds’ bullpen coach, Juan Lopez to throw me a ball from the other end of the bullpen. It was a pretty good job of aiming the ball from so far away:

After my sixth and final ball of the game, I met up with Greg, who had snagged 9 Balls, behind the Reds dugout. Interestingly, nine is the only number of balls he had ever failed to snag in a game before…or maybe I’m confusing this with another number:

And then we took the drive home to New York together while talking about a range of ballhawk-related subjects:

STATS:

  • 6 Balls at this game (4 pictured because I gave 2 away)

Numbers 387- 392 for my lifetime:

  • 49 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 5 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 3 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with at least 4-6 Balls
  • Time Spent On Game 11:41- 12:45= 13 Hours 4 Minutes
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