October 2012

9/29/12 Tigers at Twins: Target Field

It was the late afternoon, and I was back to Target Field for my second game of Fan Appreciation Weekend:

When I got in, all I can say is: I love Fox’s Saturday game-of-the-week:

Coming into this series, I figured I would have one game with batting practice (Friday) and two without (Saturday and Sunday). Because of Fox, this game got moved to 3:00 from its regular time of 12:00, thus making it so the cage was up when I got in– meaning their *would* be batting practice.

Except, on further inspection, it would only be the Tigers taking batting practice:

20121024-131440.jpgWhatever. I was expecting NO batting practice, so any at all was just fine with me.

As you can see, I was behind the Tigers’ dugout. So when Danny Worth came out with a baseball but no throwing partner, I–as I do with most players– half-jokingly asked him if he wanted to play catch. Upon me asking, he threw me the ball. We ended up having a 5-minute catch that ended in me throwing an extremely bad slider. Here he is going out to throw after his partner showed up:

20121024-135330.jpgAll I can say is it’s always a great experience to play catch with a major league player. I don’t care if it’s someone most people have never heard of, it’s a fun experience.

Anyway, Worth played catch for a while before heading into the field to work on his defense:

20121024-142601.jpgOn his way to second base, he hooked me up with not the ball we played catch with but a different ball. I promptly gave it away to a kid by the dugout. (Not the one in the orange in the previous picture.)

After that, I headed down the line to try to get a ball from the Tigers’ pitchers who were warming up:

20121024-143115.jpg

Except, if you can see, the two players closest to me were the Tigers’ two bullpen catchers, Scott Pickens and another one not on the roster. When Scott Pickens finished throwing, I asked him for the ball and he gladly obliged:

After that, I headed up to the left field bleachers for Miguel Cabrera’s group:

And this was the view to my left:

And this was the view to my left:

Unlike the previous day, the Tigers were indeed hitting balls to the first level in left field. Unfortunately, I ended up with the same amount of baseballs after this group as I did the previous day: zero. The guy you see in the orange in the last picture was right on the staircase I wanted to be on. In addition to that, by the way he moved in the bleachers, I could tell this wasn’t his first game trying to catch baseballs. In other words: he had range. This range resulted me in having to be a full section away from him if I hoped to catch anything, and the Tigers hit all of their baseballs outside of my range as a result.

In the next group, I headed over to right field as it was highlighted by Andy Dirks and Don Kelly (two lefties). While I was out in the standing room, I got this ball off the bat of Kelly:

Right off his bat, it bounced off the second deck you see in the picture. As I was running back to see where it was going, it was bouncing down the stairs. However, I wasn’t the only one chasing after the ball; there was actually another guy who had me beat as it went down the stairs. What happened was he took the wrong route to the ball. Before I explain his mistake, here is the ball’s path:

The ball bounced behind this souvenir stand. The other guy ran directly after the ball, going behind the stand as well. Meanwhile, I knew the concrete behind the stand in addition to the ball’s trajectory meant the ball would be most quickly reached by going in front of the stand, so I did that and awaited the ball like it was a routine ground ball.

During my time in right field, I was alternating between standing in the actual seats and the standing room itself. In my “actual seat” portion of batting practice, I convinced Brayan Villarreal to toss me a ball. Actually, I think “convinced” is too active a word. I pretty much tipped my Tigers cap at him when he looked my way and he tossed me the next ball he fielded:

That would be it for batting practice. Four balls was good, but there was almost certainly not going to be batting practice the next day, so if I stayed where I was for the day, I would have had to get five balls the final day to get to my goal of 444 career baseballs. As much as I don’t like to doubt what I can and can’t do, I preferred my chances of getting to my goal if I got as many baseballs as I could this day and not have to rely on a ridiculous non-BP day to get to my goal. Where I’m going with in all of this is that this was my view for position player pre-game warm-ups. Except there was one problem:

There were three baseballs brought out, but only one person brought his glove out. Thankfully, Austin Jackson righted this problem by tossing the two excess baseballs into the crowd even though no one played catch with them (one of many examples I have seen of him being a nice guy):

For those math majors of you at home, you’ll know that was my fifth ball of the day. This is great considering I didn’t expect to have any batting practice. What’s even better? This was my view for the game:

I didn’t get anything there, but there was a funny aspect of this game: It was the end of September in Minnesota, yet it was very warm. As I write this, Minnesota has shown its much cooler side (it’s 45 degrees), but at the time, it was so hot I had an excuse to finally buy a bottle (can?) of Harmon Killebrew root beer:

It was probably the best root beer I’ve ever had (but still not worth the $4.50 I paid for it…even if root beer is my favorite type of soda). Anyway, that was it for the day. It would leave me at 440 career baseballs. I would return the next day to attempt to get four baseballs in a BP-less day to reach my season’s goal of 222 baseballs I set in this entry.

STATS:

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

Numbers 436-440 for my lifetime:

  • 218 Balls in 52 Games= 4.19 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 32,839 Fans= 164,195 Competition Factor
  • 61 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 11 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 50 Balls in 13 Games at Target Field= 3.85 Balls Per Game
  • 12 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 11 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 11:07- 7:12= 8 Hours 5 Minutes

Observing Baseball’s Two-Year Anniversary

Sorry it’s two days late– given October 13th was Observing Baseball’s two-year anniversary– (YouTube was giving me problems uploading it, FOUR TIMES) but this is a video tribute-type thing I did for two years of Observing Baseball. Feel free to pause the video to click the links below the video that I allude to in the video itself. The reason I wanted to celebrate this way is because I know a bunch of you have joined on in the past year. Also, sorry for the length. I prioritized having everything in there over making it watchable for people with ADD. Enjoy:

1. One-year anniversary of Observing Baseball

2. Sabermetrics (the explanation)

3. 2011 Baltimore Orioles Offseason Recap and Preview

4. Survey of Adults’ Perception of Baseball

5. Case Study on Morality in Baseball

6. 4/17/11 Rangers at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

7. 6/15/11 Cardinals at Nationals: Nationals Park

8. 7/2/11 Cardinals at Rays: Tropicana Field (100th Ball game)

9. Ballhawk Fest 2011

10. 8/9/11 Red Sox at Twins (First Shutout)

11. 8/23/11 Diamondbacks at Nationals: Nationals Park (Earthquake Game)

12. Re-view of the Preview: Kansas City Royals

13. Collected Baseball knick-knacks

14. Some Statistical Blog Stuff

15. 4/7/12 Twins at Orioles: Camden Yards

16. 4/10/12 Fordham Prep at Elmira: TicketReturn.com Field

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

18. 6/22/12 Nationals at Orioles: Camden Yards

19. 7/6/12 Rockies at Nationals: Nationals Park

20. 8/20/12 Braves at Nationals: Nationals Park

21. 9/13/12 Royals at Twins: Target Field (Trevor Plouffe home run game)

And one good thing about being two days late on this entry is I get to shoutout all of the cool people who wished me a happy birthday. Here are said cool people:

9/28/12 Tigers at Twins: Target Field

So I filmed a Before The Gates Open Video… Wanna see it? Too bad, I’m showing you anyway:

Since it was Friday, the stadium opened 2 hours early– or when the Twins were still hitting. I didn’t get anything from the Twins. When the Tigers started to warm up, this was my view:

If you couldn’t tell, those were the position players. Both them and the pitchers didn’t give in to my requests for baseballs. Well not all of them, but while I was in the midst of waiting for players to finish throwing, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder’s hitting group started hitting. I first saw Cabrera, so I rushed over here:

At the time, Miguel Cabrera was only a couple home runs from having an outright triple crown. Let me just say this: I can see why he was in this position. He was hitting line drives everywhere on the field. Do you want to know what’s scary? It’s that he’s just so much more talented than other people. Major League Baseball is a place for freaks of nature. Miguel Cabrera is a freak among freaks.

Sadly, him and the other righty hitters in his group were hitting the ball too far, and were making on of the ballhawking flaws of Target Field very evident: besides the fact that you risk serious injury going up and down the bleachers due to the slope of it, this is also the view from the front row when you stare straight up:

That would be the overhang of the second deck. Because of the second deck, there are very few rows in the left field bleachers where a home run can be hit to without having to be a line drive.

It was a try unlucky day for me in general. Before the gates opened, when both Paul and Tony said they would be going into the standing room for Prince Fielder’s at-bats, I stated I would be going up to the second deck because I thought he’d be hitting them up there. Instead, I decided to try my luck in the standing room for Fielder’s at-bats. And whadda ya know, Fielder wasn’t hitting much at all, but whatever he did hit was going into the second deck. In running to right field for Fielder’s at-bats, I only missed one round of one righty hitter. In that round, Delmon Young hit THREE baseballs within five feet of where I had been standing for the righties. It was a generally disappointing group given it contained Fielder, Young, AND Cabrera. At the end of that group, I expected to have five baseballs; instead I was still at zero.

I was unable to get anything else for a long period in BP. Towards the end of it, though, I got Phil Coke to toss me a ball in the left-center field corner; I quickly gave it away to a kid right next to me who had also been calling out to him. I got a nod from Coke in response, so that was fun.

At the very end of batting practice, I went down to the Tigers’ dugout. I got there just as the equipment guy for the Tigers was packing up the balls. As he was bringing them into the dugout, I asked him if I could possibly have “the dirtiest ball in the bag. A ball that’s just a disgrace to the Tigers organization.” As he entered the dugout, and Paul said, “I’ve never heard someone say that before,” I thought my chances at the dugout were over. Just as I was about to leave, the guy came back out and tossed me my second ball of the game

He also tossed Paul his third ball of the game. (If you want to read Paul’s full account of the game, here’s the link.) (Oh, and if you want to read Tony’s, here’s that too. They’re both running some really great blogs….unless you hate the Twins. In that case, don’t read Tony’s blog. He’s a “real” fan. As in he writes about the team itself on his blog instead of just ballhawking/ MLB stuff like myself and Paul. If  it’s not the Twins but ballhawks you hate, then why are you reading this in the first place?)

Paul and I had no idea who he was, but as he was walking back into the dugout, he acknowledged a kid who called him Mario. We then both headed over to the bullpens to try to get a ball there:

I didn’t get anything from the coaches, but when Gerald Laird came out to warm up, I got him to throw me his warm-up ball after he was done playing catch:

I then continued to watch my new friend, Gerald, catch the pre-game bullpen session:

While this was going on, an usher who has always patrolled the staircase nearest to the bullpens, came up to us. Ironically right after Paul had told me this usher had kicked him out of the section once. What he did was pretty much the opposite. He told us we were welcome to sit in his section if we wanted to, but we just couldn’t stand on the aisle to watch the pitcher warm up; we would have to be in the bleacher-ed section of the seats. We even talked with him about how he had been an usher at Tigers Stadium for a while before going to Vietnam and then started ushering many decades ago in there Metrodome. Sadly, though, I *had* to sit in my seat in first-base foul ground, so I couldn’t take him up on his offer.

For the game, this was my view of the action:

The reason I “had” to sit in foul ground was this:

My mom was in town for parent’s weekend, so she decided to accompany me at game time. Actually, though, I should clarify: I wasn’t in my seat *all* the time; I still went to the standing room for power-hitting lefties, but I spent the rest of the game with her– the fact that she was paying for this game didn’t hurt either.

As for the game, Ryan Doumit was able to single-handedly drive in all four of the Twins’ runs as they sped to a 4-2 victory, which meant I got to see Glen Perkins close the game even though the crowd got excited to see Matt Capps warming up in the bullpen as if he was going to come into the game.

STATS:

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

Numbers 343- 345 for my life:

  • 213 Balls in 51 Games= 4.18 Balls Per Game
  • 3 Balls x 30,315 Fans= 90,945 Competition Factor
  • 60 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 10 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 45 Balls in 12 Games at Target Field= 3.75 Balls Per Game
  • 11 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 10 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:27- 10:32= 7 Hours 5 Minutes

9/24/12 Yankees at Twins: Target Field

After a week off from baseball, it was back to this place:

…for a match-up between my two favorite teams in baseball. (Well, actually I don’t know about that, but I’ll possibly get to that in an offseason entry.)

When I got in, this was my view:

However, the only reason I came to  an 85% full Target Field was because the Yankees were a power-hitting left-handed team. Thus, I was going to try again to go exclusively for hit balls, and my view was this for almost all of batting practice:

For a while, I was misjudging balls left and right. That “while” was called batting practice. I don’t know why, but when I’m on the same level as a baseball (i.e. field level), I have no problem judging fly balls. But whenever I’m elevated, I become a complete klutz trying to judge them. Despite this, I managed to snag a ball off the bat of Nick Swisher after in bounced in here:

Do you see the logo? That was an Oriole Park at Camden Yards ball. All of the balls I snagged during batting practice were.

It was about at this time that I saw how empty the section of seats in right field was compared to the standing room:

So I walked down into the section. That’s when I heard a voice behind me say, “Excuse me, you need a ticket for this section.” It was the usher right at the entrance to the section

“What?” I said, “Even for batting practice?”

“Yeah.”

“Is it just something for the Yankees series or the whole season?”

“The whole season.”

I didn’t want to blow up on him and make at least one new enemy, but that was absolute BS. That had never been a rule, and wouldn’t be in any of the games I would go to afterward. Since the ushers don’t always have the same usher for the same section, it was obvious he was a club-level usher or something like that and misinterpreted something his supervisor told him. Anyway, I had my one ball, so I just bit my tongue and moved on with my life.

I headed over to left field for a few hitters, but that yielded nothing but a look at some crowded bleachers:

Not to mention the searing sunlight those guys are shading their eyes from:

I forgot exactly all of the members of the group, but when a group of mostly lefties came up to hit, I went back to right field. There, I got a Curtis Granderson home run that landed in a beer vendor’s ice:

So yeah, that’ll be a fun fact to tell people: I’ve snagged a ball that was hit into ice.

Then I missed about three different balls out in the standing room. One resulted in some one getting a bloody nose and another almost took my head off because I looked away just as it was hit and didn’t see it until it was about ten feet away from me. After this, though, I managed to catch my first ball on the fly in the standing room ever. I just barely did, as it missed the flagpole by less than a foot before landing in my glove. I gave this ball away to a kid out in the standing room.

Then batting practice was about to end, so I started making my way to the Yankee dugout. When I just about got there, I noticed it was too crowded around the dugout for me to get a ball. Instead of pushing through the autograph seekers, I took this picture that illustrated me not knowing who to root for in this game as the transplanted New Yorker:

This was in left field. While I was there, I noted that even though batting practice had ended, the Yankees forgot to pick up a ball in foul territory, so I headed into foul ground and this was the result:

Yes, I used the glove trick to reel in the ball.

For those of you wondering, this was where the ball had been sitting:

Well, when I reeled it in. I actually had to knock the ball closer to get it into range.

I then went back to sit in my seat in left field when I realized: “This is stupid. I’m trying to get 222 baseballs this season. Why am I limiting myself by not asking for balls today? I mean, yeah, it makes me focus on hit balls, and I may very well benefit from it, but I have a goal to reach.” If you didn’t know, one of my goals at the beginning of the season was to double my career ball total up to that point. Before the season my career ball count was 222, so my goal for this year was to snag that many; or get the career total up to 444.

Anyway, so when Mike Harkey came into the bullpen and picked up a ball that had been hit in there during batting practice, I called out to him and he tossed me the ball:

Obviously, I’m used to getting balls from Mike Harkey tossed to me from much longer distances, but I’ll take that.

As for the game, the two lineups were mostly lefty. And given my seat was in left field, I played home runs in the standing room all day:

Out there, there were a couple things of note: 1. FSN had this camera installed right above the standing room that I had never seen before:

I was at all of the games I could possibly watch from this point on in the season, so does anyone who actually watched a game on the network know how it would possibly be used?

The second thing of note takes some setting up, so bear with me. When I’m out in the standing room, the fact that I have my glove on and stand further back than anyone watching the game often brings people to talk to me. Well to guys eventually did talk to me, and through our conversation I brought up that I give balls away to kids. A few innings after I talked to these guys, another guy showed up and asked me if I was the guy who gave baseballs away to kids in the hospitals. I’m guessing he misinterpreted what the other guys had told him, but we straightened things out. Anyway, he told me his son, Tucker was in the (I believe it is a specially children’s) hospital in Mankato. He asked me if I could possibly be willing to talk to the kids about what I do. During this conversation, what ended up happening is I gave him two baseballs, one with my e-mail address for the hospital to possibly talk to me about the opportunity and the cleanest OPACY ball I had snagged during BP for Tucker:

As for the actual game itself, the Yankees’ lefties were bombing away on Liam Hendricks, but I had nothing to show for it. Although, I did make it into the highlights for two of them.

1. When Curtis Granderson bombed his 40th home run of the season, it was hit so high that even though I was in the standing room when it took off, this is where I was when it landed:

I had run all the way up the stairs to the second level in right field. Link to the full video: here.

2. When Raul Ibañez yanked a ball down the right field line and the cameras cut to showing the standing room, this is where I was:

I was turned around when he hit it, but you can see I’m the first person reacting( in terms of moving) in the standing room. When the ball first showed up on the screen, this is where I and it where (hint: I’m not the one soaring through the night sky):

It felt like I was moving in slow-motion at the time, but looking at the replay, it looks like I was going really fast. Here is where I and the ball where when it bounced:

It then took a series of bounces away from me, and then a group of guys converged on it as I watched helplessly:

If you want to see the full thing, here is the link.

Suffice to say, I wasn’t thrilled with the trend:

Then in the seventh inning, Pedro Florimon came up to bat. As he had been since I got to Minnesota, he had yet to hit his first career home run. Then this happened:

I was in the standing room when it landed, but when I saw that it was indeed a home run, I rushed over to see what the deal was/ if I could miraculously find it while people searched the wrong place. But there was nowhere to stand, and you had a genius who did this:

If you didn’t notice it the first time, this was where I was in that highlight:

If you noticed, the guy put the flowers down just as the camera cut away. That’s because this supervisor came running down the stairs yelling at them to put the flowers down:

And let me clear up that this is isn’t a bad usher; it was just some fans doing something they shouldn’t have been doing. The flowers had been planted the previous day, so no one wanted them to get ruined just a day after they had been planted….even if that’s what eventually happened.

What ended up happening to me is this was my view for the remaining two innings of the game while I prayed no one hit a home run into the standing room:

I wanted to make sure these guys never left my sight:

After the game, this was the scene behind the flower beds:

This was the first flower pot they pulled out to search. When they found nothing there, they pulled out a second pot:

Meanwhile, I was showing the security officers the footage of the home run, so we could try to pinpoint which flower pot held the baseball. Here they are trying to figure it out:

The guy on the right even suggested I should get the ball if they found it to negotiate with Florimon. They main problem in finding it, though, was the camera was at an angle. So even  though it was in the middle of the partitions in the metal fence, it was most likely one or two flower pots off that in real life. Unfortunately, the guy on the right would leave before the ball was found, so his suggestion was lost.

Meanwhile, we had become the main spectacle in the stadium:

The game ended at 9:56, and we had been there for a good half-an-hour.

Eventually, I was allowed to search in the flowers as well:

I felt like Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory if you want to go by the movie’s title); just hoping for that golden ticket.

Sadly, after almost an hour of searching, it was an employee, and not myself who found the ball- which will probably lead to a life of negative word association with the word “Yahtzee”:

So yeah, that was a slightly anti-climactic ending, but I’m glad I was at least around to see what happened with the ball. For the record, there were a total of four flower pots pulled out to be searched. And if you’re wondering; Yes, they did make a mess in the seats:

At this point, it was 10:54, or almost an hour after the game had ended, and I’m pretty sure I was the last non-employee left in the stadium:

Although, the FSN guys were still in their mini-studio out in the standing room, having just finished with their segment:

Oh, and if that wasn’t late enough, I got lost for an hour and a half on my way back to my dorm when I was supposed to be studying for a test that same morning. (Yes, it was past midnight by the time I eventually got back to my dorm room.)

STATS:

  • 5 Balls at this game (2 Pictured because I gave 3 away)

Numbers 428-432 lifetime (you get logos this time because I don’t like to write on commemorative baseballs if I don’t have to):

  • 210 Balls in 50 Games= 4.20 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 33,720 Fans= 168, 600 Competition Factor
  • 59 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 9 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 42 Balls in 11 Games at Target Field= 3.82 Balls Per Game
  • 10 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 9 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 4:15- 12:35= 8 Hours 20 Minutes
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