Archive for the ‘ Target Field ’ Category

4/12/13 Mets at Twins: Target Field

After the Twins decided to take a week-long break from the winter-like conditions of Minnesota. And look who was at the gates when I got there:

41213 Tony at the gate

With his St. Cloud State hockey jersey for a day of mourning since the Huskies had lost in the Frozen Four the previous day.

There was also something else going on at Gate 34 when I got there:

41213 KTwin Booth

That would be the 96.3 K-Twin Booth with the Rider, Lindsay & Coomer airing when I got there. Then, while in a conversation involving Robin Ventura, A-Rod, and Lou Gherig, something awesome happened. I saw one of the hosts wave at me. Ron Coomer had left at that point, but you see, the “Lindsay” part of the show would be Lindsay Guentzel, who if you recall, I met the night I snagged my one–and to this point only–home run ball, when she gave me her baseball card. Well, she had spotted me from the booth; presumably when Tony yelled out something that I have forgotten and Lindsay acknowledged him on-air.

Anyway, the “other” host who was in the booth, Mark Rider, signaled for me to enter the booth from the door on the other side, and, long story short: I got a min-interview with them on K-Twin in the six minutes before the gates opened. I know I sounded like a complete idiot for parts of it, because I was in-part still in shock from the spontaneity  of it all, but I managed to get enough interesting stuff out for maybe someone to relate to what are some of the things that I like about ballhawking. And at the end of the interview, I thanked the two hosts for what was an amazing experience and got a picture with Mark Rider, courtesy of Lindsay:

41213 Mark Rider and Mateo Fischer

I then got in pretty quickly after that despite mine being the only gate that the operators of happened to forget how to open. Another interesting aspect of this game that will make it stand out in my mind for a very long time is that it had been snowing the two days prior and it was supposed to snow during batting practice and the game itself. As a result, I got treated to a show one usually doesn’t see at the gates:

41213 Clearing Snow from Gate 34

Yep. That would be a worker on a ladder clearing the snow from atop the awning above the turnstiles.

Once I got in, I hesitated a little in the right-center field section of seating before going out to the left field bleachers. There I managed to quickly catch a ball on the fly of an unidentified Twins player:

41213 Ball 1

I misjudged it at first, though. I ran to get in line with the ball, but it wasn’t until the ball was almost on me that I realized it wasn’t going to carry to me due to the sub-40 degree temperature of the game. So I leaned over a row of bleachers and caught the ball.
Oh, and just in case you look at the field and don’t believe that it had been snowing the previous two days, that’s because the field is heated and workers cleared the stands of snow. Here, for example, is the batter’s eye:

41213 Batters eye

That’s what the entire field would look like if it weren’t heated.

In left field, I had run into a fellow ballhawk who also happens to attend the University of Minnesota, Brandon Nedoma, who I had met in the final series of the 2012 season, so I decided it would be better for both of us if I headed to right field to try to get a ball. I did:

41213 Ball 2

It came in the form of a toss-up from Ryan Pressly, which, fun fact, was the first ball recorded from him ever on mygameballs.com. That’s cool.

I then headed over to foul territory in case any Twins righty pulled a grounder down the line:

41213 Target Field Down the line

But the Twins ended their hitting soon after I got there. With my now two baseballs for the day, I headed over further into foul ground where the Mets were stretching:

41213 Mets stretching

It is at this point that I would like you to save your spot in the entry and go back up to examine the title. You see how it begins 4/12/13, right? That means this game was played on the twelfth day of April. Now look at some of the darker-colored spots in that last picture. Those white spots aren’t my phone’s camera acting up; they are snow flakes. It was actually snowing even though we were almost half-way through April! Since it was one of my goals to see a batting practice/game in the snow while I was here at Minnesota, I loved it, but that doesn’t spot me from realizing how ridiculous that actually is.

The result of me going over there was I got Daniel Murphy to toss me my third ball of the game:

41213 Ball 3

I actually didn’t even recognize him at the time. I was hoping the ball would end up with his throwing partner, Ruben Tejada, but he ended up with the ball, so I in my Mets ski hat flashed my glove and he threw me the ball from about 80 feet out.

I then headed over to the pitchers warming up further down the line. Now I didn’t get anything, so normally I wouldn’t talk about it, but I had to give you some context for the following picture:

41213 Pitchers warming up

Ho-ly snow. It may not look like much, but keep in min that the shutter speeds on iPhones are very fast to avoid blurring. Let give you an idea of how hard the snow was falling. I couldn’t identify the ball while it was in the air a couple times when it traveled between Brandon Lyon and LaTroy Hawkins. Yeah. It was that bad.

I then headed over to right field and got my fourth ball of the day from Tom Goodwin:

41213 Ball 4

Giving a new definition to the term “snowball”. But that’s not all, take a look at the view from the standing room:

41213 Right Field snow

“Cray” is but one of many adjectives that could be used to describe the weather at the moment.

I then moved over to the seats in right-center field. It should be noted that although I’m in these seats a bunch, they are worst of the three outfield sections; it’s just that the other two are usually far more crowded and/or I’m trying to get a ball specifically from the person in right-center field. While I was there, I asked Marlon Byrd for a ball. He then tossed it against the wall below me twice (jokingly) before tossing the ball up to me:

41213 Ball 5

And that was it for batting practice. It was incredibly frustrating but not at the same time. How you ask? It was frustrating because I know that I probably could have set my Target Field record for balls in a game had it not been for the cold, because NOTHING was flying out into the stands. The cold air was knocking everything down before it got there. I mean a better hitting team could have hit a few out, but there wasn’t really anyone hitting baseballs into the stands besides David Wright. Ike Davis was hitting the out, but they were mostly landing in the batter’s eye section.

As soon as batting practice was done, I made a beeline for one of the Twins’ best promotions to date. You see, because of the snow, the Twins tried to salvage as many of the paid attendance as possible by providing free coffee and hot chocolate throughout the game. (Sorry for the blurry picture. My fingers were at this point already half-way frozen, so holding the phone steady was tough):

41213 Hot Chocolate station

Talk about heaven on earth. By the end of the night, I would have drunk close to, if not over ten cups of hot chocolate. Here is the picture of my first with the diamond in the background:

41213 Hot Chocolate

I would stand in the standing room most of the game in the slight chance that someone launched a ball out there despite the cold (they didn’t) with occasional trips around the concourse of the stadium to keep somewhat warm. And I wasn’t the only one who thought low-30s was cold for a baseball game. Here is a view of the seats in the ninth inning:

41213 Empty Stands

To be fair to the fans, though, this wasn’t a game to stick around for. A bunch more people gave it a try to begin the game but either got cold or discouraged when the Twins were losing 10-2 by the second inning. I don’t blame them. But I also thank them for leaving, because it made me getting this ball from home plate umpire, Mike Everitt that much easier since I was the only one by the tunnel when he left the field:

41213 Ball 6

It was right after this that I saw Tony appear in the Champions Club side of the dugout. (He had been there the whole game, but this was the first time I had seen him since I came down to the dugout. And again, sorry for the blurriness, but my hand was shaking and my fingers frozen in a curled position, so I wasn’t in ideal shape to take a picture.):

41213 Tony by the dugout

Besides it being nice to see him again, he gets the assist on my next baseball because just as I was set to leave, I asked Tony if there was anyone still in the dugout, and he told me that the dugout attendant, or whatever his official title is, was still in there. Moments later, the attendant, whose name I believe is Mario, emerged with about five baseballs. The first of which went to Tony. The next one Mario threw tome to give to the kid next to me. Cheap I know, but since I had the ball first before giving it away, it was my seventh ball of the day. Mario almost threw me the last ball he had, but there was a little girl who had still not gotten one, so he apologized to me before tossing it to her. Disappointing that I couldn’t tie my Target Field record, but I can’t argue with that logic.

After that, I said goodbye to Tony and a friend with whom I have several classes with and had met me at the dugout, and then I left. But on my way out, I made sure to take a picture of the microphone that had broadcast me all over Twins Territory just a few long hours earlier. (Normally they would have been short hours, but the cold took its toll.):

41213 96.3 KTWIN Microphone

Good times. And even better:

<blockquote data-conversation=”none” data-cards=”hidden”>

@observebaseball come up with more stories and we will have you on again! It was awesome! twitpic.com/cj4vy7

— Lindsay Guentzel (@LindsayGuentzel) April 13, 2013
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async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8">
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STATS:

  • 7 Balls at this game (5 pictured because I gave 2 away)

41213 Baseballs

Numbers 452-458 for my life:

41213 Sweet Spots

  • 12 Baseballs in 3 Games= 4.00 Balls Per Game
  • 7 Balls x 23,735 Fans= 166,145 Competition Factor
  • 65 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 15 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 67 Balls in 17 Games at Target Field= 3.94 Balls Per Game
  • 16 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:00-11:36= 8 Hours 36 Minutes

4/3/13 Tigers at Twins: Target Field

Another day of the week, another day in the winter wonderland that is Target Field:

4313 Opening picture

Thankfully this day the Tigers started hitting a little less later after we were let in to the stadium, if that makes sense. This time, I headed almost directly to left field when the gates opened:

4313 View from LF

But when I realized that the Tigers weren’t hitting just yet, I headed to foul ground to try to get a ball from the pitchers warming up:

4313 Pitchers

This resulted in me getting a ball from Brayan Villarreal:

4313 Villarreal ball

Then I decided that right field was far less crowded than left field, so I headed over there for the hitting group that included Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and Victor Martinez. The decision on which side of the outfield to stand on for this group is harder than you may think. While Miguel Cabrera is a triple crown winner (and a right handed hitter), a bunch of his home runs at Target Field will be lost to the second deck overhang in left field. Also, he is one of those hitters who can seriously drive the ball out to any part of the field, and not just his pull side. On the other hand, Prince Fielder usually takes very short rounds of batting practice. Last year in the final series against the Twins, there were several times when he took one-pitch rounds. He literally got in the cage, swung at one pitch, and got back out of the cage. Usually when a hitter does this it’s at the very end of his group’s hitting as a sort of “lightning round”, but he did it in the middle rounds and was the only one doing it. To combat this, though, Victor Martinez hits the ball for way more power from the left side of the plate.

It turned out that I made the right decision:

4313 Martinez ball

That would be a home run ball from Victor Martinez. I completely misjudged it, as I did for all but one ball this batting, but thankfully it landed in a row with no one else in it. It was a very frustrating batting practice in this regard. I don’t know what it was, but whenever I thought the ball was coming right to me, the ball died because of the cold and didn’t even make it to the seats, but then when I thought it was going to fall just short of me, the ball would fly over my head and less than two feet over my glove. I would say I lost two to three baseballs to misjudgments on my part. I also didn’t know it at the time, but this was my 450th career snag.

Thankfully, though, there was one ball that I didn’t misjudge. When Prince Fielder got up, I moved back in the right field section of seating, as I usually do. He then launched a ball that I could tell was going over my head, so I sprinted back and looked back at where the ball was going to land. The ball then hit the gated fencing of the second deck terrace (I don’t know if that’s the proper word for it, but it feels right):

4313 Path of ball 1

and then bounced down in the standing room before bouncing back up in the air:

4313 Path of ball 2

where I managed to grab it before it could bounce back down and also managed not to run into the person running full speed in the opposite direction at the ball while it was mid-air.

I was then going to go down to the first row of the section of seating to give the ball to one of a group of kids who had been trying really hard to get a ball from the Tigers players, but people were blocking the staircase to go down there. So instead, I gave the ball to this kid who was in the wheelchair-ish seating at the top of the section of seats:

4313 Kid I gave ball away to

For the record: yes, he did have a glove; I just would have much rather given it to kids who were very actively pursuing a baseball, and I felt obligated to give a ball away since I had now snagged five baseballs this season without giving one away. That would be the last ball I snagged this game, bringing my total up to three baseballs for the day.

As for the game, I tried to get a ball from the bullpen in the pre-game warm-ups:

4313 Bullpen

But the opportunity somehow managed to slip me by despite there being a ball on the ground of the bullpen right in front of me. It was then that I decided to stay in left field for the beginning of the game because:

1. This was my view:

4313 View for the game

2. There were invisible people sitting to my right:

4313 View to my right

But mostly 3. This spot was almost guaranteed to be in the sun for the whole game- While this game was not as cold as Opening Day, it was forecasted–and thus I was prepared for it–to be mid-50s. It was in the high 30s for most of the game. In the sun it was bearable; in the shade, I was getting frostbite.

Given this, once enough people arrived in the seats to force me up into the shaded part of the seats, I gave up sitting in left field and just headed over to the standing room section:

4313 View from the SRO

It’ll take me a while to get sick of that view. The wind I was experiencing on the other hand…

While I was up there, I spent a good chunk of my time 1. Using groups of people who walked into the standing room as human windshields and 2. Talking to an usher who happened to be in my sports management interview paper group. The basic premise of the interview groups is we separated the 150-student class into groups of what people wanted to go into when they were done with school, and so this usher and I were both in the “Front Office: MLB” group, in which we interviewed Terry Ryan (if you don’t know who he is, close this entry effective-immediately and don’t return until you have done some Google research on him. If you’re really interested, you can listen to the interview here: Terry Ryan interview. It’s pretty boring from an outside listener’s standpoint, but that’s because it was for a class first, so there were mandatory questions we had to ask him. Anyway, I talked with this usher about first the cold and then how we both have become less invested in the outcomes of games as a result of us both attending a ton of games. He for work, and I for ballhawking.

When he took his break and I resumed withstanding the cold with nothing to distract me, I noticed that whoever had conducted the raising of the flag ceremony had forgot to lock the flag pole, so I took a peek inside just to see what was in there:

4313 Open Flag pole

Fun times. Cold times.

Then in the bottom of the ninth inning, I headed over to left field again to try to get a ball from one of the bullpen players. I figured the game would be over pretty soon with the Tigers up 2-1, but the Twins thankfully made me go home a couple outs early. See Phil Coke walked Trevor Plouffe, who then got pinch-run for by Jamey Carroll. Then Brian Dozier got a single to send Carroll. This brought up Eduardo Escobar. He then launched a ball that looked to be headed to my left into the bullpen. Instead, the cold knocked it down for a walk-off double.

The Tigers players got out of the bullpen as fast as they could, so this probably cost me a ball, but I was fine with this as it was a Twins win. What I was really afraid of when there were runners on first and third was extra-innings. This would have been torture. So really, anything besides this was fine by me, and a walk-off win was just icing on the cake. If you’re having trouble picturing the walk-off, here’s a picture showing where I was and where the ball landed:

4313 Last Play diagram

After that, I walked back to the Minneapolis side of campus, where I took the Campus Connector back to my dorm on the St. Paul side.

STATS:

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

4313 Baseballs

Numbers 449-451 for my lifetime:

4313 Sweet Spots

  • 5 Balls in 2 Games= 2.5 Balls Per Game
  • 3 Balls x 22,963 Fans= 68,889 Competition Factor
  • 64 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 14 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 60 Balls in 16 Games at Target Field= 3.75 Balls Per Game
  • 15 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 12:05-7:18= 7 Hours 13 Minutes

4/1/13 Tigers at Twins: Target Field- Opening Day

Oh how great this day was:

4113 Opening Picture

I still sort of can’t believe that it really happened. Oh, and by the way, I refer to great in its true sense and not the sense it has come to mean. As in although it was great in the “awesome” sense, there was also great cold, and great hoopla, and a great amount of “stuff” happening.

What do I mean by “stuff”? Well, here’s some shots of the Target Plaza that show the greater level of activity than 30 minutes before the gates open on a regular game day.

First off, here is my view of Target Field’s Gate 34 just as I arrived from my last class of the day:

4113 Target Plaza

Then, there was apparently something being filmed at my usual napping spot in front of Gate 34:

4113 Glove

And then the gate itself. With its own personal radio booth, courtesy of 96.3 K-Twin:

4113 Gate 1

And then a second picture. This time more of the people at the gate, partially to show you how people were dressed up to deal with the sub-30 degree temperatures:

4113 Gate 2

Once I got to the gate itself, there were…well, normally I would say “familiar faces”, but that wasn’t necessarily the case here. The first person who I recognized was Paul Kom, along with his friend, Asher:

4113 Paul and Asher

And then there was Tony Voda, who I didn’t really recognize because this is how he looked from my initial perspective:

4113 Tony in Bigfoot costume

He was also here at the game with a friend, whose name was Jared. Here are the two of them, with the photo credit going to Paul:

4113 Tony and Jared

I was actually supposed to have a companion of my own in the way of Sean, but something came up for him the day of. I tried to get a few other people to come with me, but all of them had things going on. I truly do not get some people. I get not going to just some game, but it’s Opening Day of Major League Baseball! Anyway, long story short: no one ended up being able to make the game and I ended up taking the $33 hit and going with my imaginary friend, Tommy McActuallywantstogotoabaseballgame. Then, at 1:00, the gates were finally opening:

4113 Tom Kelly opening gate

Remember when I said there was a great amount of “stuff” going on? Notice Tom Kelly helping in the opening of the gates on the left hand side. I think I would have absolutely ate that up if it weren’t around 20 degrees and the gates weren’t opening for the first time this season.

Unfortunately this was the view as I ran in and got my magnetic schedule:

4113 View as I got in

The Twins had started batting practice early, so they got done right before we entered and the Tigers were still several minutes from getting started. So I went over behind the cage and tried to get a ball from Rafael Belliard:

4113 Rafael Belliard

I yelled out to him, but unfortunately all I got was a wave and a smile. To be fair, I only yelled out “Rafael!”, but I was going to follow it with “Can you toss me a ball please?” I think he thought I was just saying hi.

My next opportunity came when the pitchers warmed up down the left field line:

4113 Pitchers down the line

Unfortunately one ball went to a much smaller and cuter game-goer than I, and then the second, I found out had already been promised to Paul because he had thrown back a previous overthrow.

Then it was off to the outfield. Therein lied the problem with Opening Day. You see Target Field is a pretty bad ballhawking stadium ceteris paribus, but it especially wretched with any substantial crowd because it is so reliant on the first few rows of the outfield sections. In left field, it was crowded enough that the first rows that were clear enough to run through were under the overhang, where no balls could be hit. In right field, the actual seating was completely full, so I would have had to stand out in the standing room section and hope that a ball get hit out there. Translation: I went into the section of seating in right-center field and asked for toss-ups. Unfortunately for me, the man patrolling the patch of ground in front of this section was Doug Fister, who although he may not be like this all the time, was being an unresponsive jerk. By the end of the day, I didn’t even mind that he completely rejected me several times. There was an early teenage girl dressed head-to-toe in bright orange who was yelling his ear off (politely) for almost half-an-hour with no avail. Once Fister moved out of the section, though, I got my first ball of the day pretty quickly from Drew Smyly:

4113 Smyly Ball

I then spent the rest of my batting practice in the standing room. Apparently I wasn’t smart enough to realize that if it’s tough to get the ball out there normally, it is nearly impossible to get a ball into the standing room when it’s below 30. So (shocker!) nothing came out there with Prince Fielder having already hit.

I did see something very interesting while I was in right field, though:

4113 Ice in right field

If you can’t make out what it is that arrow points to, I’ll just tell you. It’s ice. This marked the first time I had seen ice in a stadium that wasn’t being used for the purpose of refrigerating beverages. I guess the whole “it’s usually 90+ degrees whenever I’m in a baseball stadium” thing comes into play here.

As I started to head toward their dugout, the Tigers dugout, they finished batting practice, and I don’t know if it was the cold or what, but usually if I start heading to the dugout before batting practice itself, I’ll beat the ball bag to the dugout. This time, however, the pack-up process was accelerated by about 200%.

At this point, I found myself in a very interesting situation: my ticket was in left field but I was now  in the moat behind the Tigers dugout. At this point I told myself I would see if I could stay until the players started warming up down the line. Ushers started checking tickets in the section, but through a series of maneuvers, I got past them and stayed in the section. Then when I didn’t get a ball from any of the Tigers players warming up, I decided “You know, they’re using the Opening Day commemorative baseballs. I might as well stay down here for the rest of the game.” And so, this became my view of the action for 9 innings:

4113 View of the game

A pretty nice view for my first Opening Day game ever, eh? What would have that cost at Yankee Stadium? Two, or three…thousands of dollars? Probably more since it was Opening Day. Want to know what’s even more sad about that fact? This is how Yankee Stadium looked in the ninth inning:

4113 Yankee Stadium Opening Day

I’ve only seen a stadium anywhere near that empty in a handful of cases, and all of them involved inclement weather. Oh, and if you’re even thinking of arguing that people wanted to leave because of the cold, please refer to the paragraph of text under the fourth picture in the entry.

What that seat also gave me a great view of was the storied Opening Day ceremonies. First, both rosters were announced. At which point every player lined up on the field as his name was called:

4113 Players lined up

Then, probably the best part even though I’m not overly-nationalistic was the national anthem. What they did first to prepare for that was bring the famed “giant flag” on the field:

4113 Flag spread out

They then had a veteran raise the flag on the mast as they always do. Except here’s where that “great” Opening Day twist comes in. The veteran who raised it this day was Rod Carew.

Onto the game, I was obviously going for third out balls, but the first two didn’t even make it to the dugout. I believe one was tossed into the stands by an outfielder. The other didn’t make it to the dugout because of this guy:

4113 Ski mask guy

First a little background information on said “guy”:

1. Yes, he is wearing a leopard skin suit jacket.

2. He was wearing a ski mask for batting practice.

3. You might see someone who holds up *a* sign during games; he had a stack of them for the different Tigers players.

4. He had a gold-plated glove.

5. Even though he was supposedly a Tigers super fan, he asked me on several occasions during batting practice to identify Tigers players. (That reminds me. I probably should have included this story earlier, but I don’t know where to fit it into the entry above so I’m just going to tell the story here in these parentheses. Anyway, a hilarious thing happened when the Tigers players came out to warm up before the game. A group of 3-4 Twins fans saw Austin Jackson run out to warm up and immediately starting yelling things like “We love you, Torii” or “We miss you, Torii,” and kept it going for a while until Torii Hunter actually came out onto the field. Then they just started to realize–and confirmed after asking myself–that they were indeed not cheering for Torii Hunter. Murmuring and a retreat away from the field ensued.)

6. He was one of those fans who demands respect for his team from the opposing fans while trashing their team.

Anyway, Miguel Cabrera had the ball and was headed to the dugout when he saw this fan in the corner of his eye, stopped, and threw him the ball. I wasn’t bitter at the time, and I was even more fine with it two innings later when Prince Fielder tossed me a third-out ball of my own:

4113 Ball 2

But wait do you notice anything special about this ball? How about now?

4113 OD Commemorative ball

Opening Day commemorative baseball, baby! And yes, this was the first one I had ever gotten as a result of this being my first Opening Day game ever. The rest of the game played, and the Tigers unfortunately pulled it out despite the Twins limiting Justin Verlander to his shortest start in approximately 3.5 years.

At the end of the game, my plan was to get a ball from home plate umpire, Jim Joyce. I was going to go down the main staircase to the umpire’s tunnel, but I surprisingly met up with Paul in the ninth inning and he took that staircase, so my plan was to go down the secondary staircase and yell out to Joyce before he got to the tunnel since this staircase was closer to where the umpires exited the field, but for whatever reason, people stayed in their seats, so there was no space in the front row for me to get down. Fortunately, though, Paul managed to snag his own Opening Day commemorative, so that made up for it. Basically, this was my reaction to not getting an umpire ball:

4113 Mateo at the end of game

In that: “I didn’t get another ball and I only snagged two baseballs this game, but so what? It was an absolutely great game/experience. (Minus the cold. I’m still trying to forget how miserable it was in the shade.)

Tony and Paul had three and four baseballs, respectively, when I left, and they each managed another from the Tigers equipment person afterwards to push their totals up to four and five. A ton compared to my measly two, but if there was one game I didn’t care, it was this one.

STATS:

  • 2 Balls at this game:

4113 Baseballs

Numbers 447-448 for my career (I realize that the last entry from this past season said I ended the season at 445, but in the offseason I realized that I never inputted my sixth baseball from my one game at Citizens Bank Park, so everything from that point on is technically one baseball above whatever I have it at. I just don’t feel like going back and changing all of the entries. This is just a day for long parenthetical insertions, I guess.)

4113 Sweet Spots

  • 2 Balls in 1 Game= 2.00 Balls Per Game
  • 2 Balls x 38,282 Fans= 76,564 Competition Factor
  • 63 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 13 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 57 Balls in 15 Games at Target Field= 3.80 Balls Per Game
  • 14 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 12:05- 7:46= 7 Hours 41 Minutes

9/30/12 Tigers at Twins: Target Field

It was Sunday, September 30th 2012. It was my last game of the season. Except, when I awoke early Sunday morning, it didn’t feel like it at all. It just felt like another day at the ballpark. Except I semi-changed things up by going to Harmon Killebrew’s gate:

I knew there wouldn’t be batting practice, and my bus drops me off right by Gate 3 when I take it; so I didn’t feel like walking to Gate 34.

When I entered the left field seats, this was my view:

No surprise there.

I went down to the Tigers’ dugout, but there wasn’t anything going on down there:

See? Nothing.

Eventually, Jeff Kunkel– one of the Tigers’ bullpen catchers– came out to play catch with one of the pitchers:

I don’t remember who the pitchers was, but I do remember that after playing catch they went to the bullpen to throw a bullpen session.

Then there was a long break in action. How long? It was long enough for Kunkel to go to the bullpen, catch the session, and come back out to be the catching partner of the next pitcher who came out:

I don’t know who it was. The face looked most Luke Putkonen, but he didn’t look 6’6″, which Putkonen is listed at. But who knows, MLB players routinely “round up” on their listed heights, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it was Putkonen.

Anyway, at this time, the Twins came out to throw:

I had half a mind to go over there, but I decided against it since my most notable competition on my side of the field was a family who were expecting the Twins to take batting practice and a couple of kids with their parents.

It looks like I made the right decision, because minutes later, I got this from Luis Marte by working some Spanish magic:

One down, four to go to get to my goal of 444 career baseballs. I gave this ball away to the family I mentioned before, since they had engaged me in conversation over day games after night games, the Twins, and a whole bunch of other things.

After Marte, I would get a giant boost in my campaign for four baseballs in a BP-less day. Two words: Phil. Coke:

Yeah he’s one of the nicer players out there, but the reason he was so good in my quest for four baseballs on the day is he was absolutely the most wild I have ever seen a pitcher in a session of catch.

Here was my view of Coke and his throwing partner, the other bullpen catcher, Scott Pickens:

To give you an idea of Coke’s wildness in this particular session, Pickens was at least thirty feet in front of the stands. Now that you have this fact in your mind: Coke threw four balls into the stands by me. The first almost decapitated me because I wasn’t paying attention to Coke at the time. I ducked just in time as the ball whizzed over my head, bounced off a seat two rows behind me, and bounced back onto the field. After that I was sure to pay attention. The next ball actually technically didn’t make it into the stands on the fly. As soon as the ball was half-way between Coke and Pickens, I could tell it was sailing way over Pickens’ head, so I moved into position and caught the ball right at the wall. So even though I was in the stands, I caught the ball itself over the field of play. Without a hesitation, I gave the ball back to Pickens and he told me he would give me the ball when they were done throwing.

The third ball was a HUMONGOUS overthrow that sailed over even my head. It then bounced off of a seat behind me and bounced back towards me. At this point, I acted like a catcher who was blocking a ball in the dirt and just blocked the ball with my chest, deflecting it to the seats to my left. Basically, this was the path of the ball:

After I deflected the ball, I ran after it and just barely scooped it up before anyone else could get to it. I then proceeded to give the ball to the second-closest to the ball who just happened to be a ten-year old boy with a glove. This was technically my second ball of the day since I gave the first overthrow I snagged back to Pickens. I was gave away two consecutive baseballs because I knew I was approaching milestone/goal territory and I wouldn’t want to give away any of the latter balls I snagged in the day.

 

Then a fourth bounced to almost the exact same location, but this time, there was someone closer to me after the deflection, so he scooped it up. I really didn’t have a chance because I wasn’t paying attention to Coke at the time, Instead, I was talking to the family I gave the Marte ball to, so I didn’t see the ball until I turned around and saw it hit the seats.

 

When Coke finally finished throwing, he came to sign autographs. Pickens headed straight for the dugout and Coke headed straight for the foul line. This is where he showed his awesomeness. First, there were a bunch of baseballs sitting on the foul line. He picked up a couple of baseballs. The first he threw up to the second level. When the woman who he threw it to didn’t catch it, he jokingly got on her case by flinging his glove on the ground, yelling “COME ON!”, and then using her former softball playing to further his discussion even though she was a hundred feet away. The second ball also went to that woman and she caught it this time. (No glove on, by the way.) He then came over to start signing. While he started signing, he asked me if Pickens had given me the ball. When I said no, he jokingly reprimanded Pickens for not doing so and tossed me a ball:

While he kept signing, we talked for 1-2 minutes about the ball he just tossed me and why I hadn’t snagged the last ball he threw into the crowd. I realize that doesn’t seem like that long time, but it is when you consider it was a major league player I was talking  to, it’s pretty special.

 

Because I had to get four baseballs in a BP-less game, I got a ticket in Target Field’s “moat” to have a shot at a ball during the game, since I figured I would enter the game under four baseballs for the day.I waited there until the position players came out to throw. When they finished throwing, I got Andy Dirks to toss me career baseball number 444:

Oh. Yes:

This effectively eliminated the possibility of me going to a playoff game in 2012 (I didn’t, but I was seriously considering a trip to Detroit.) What it also did was it made it so I wouldn’t have to sit by the dugout for the game. Sure, those seats are nice and all, but I wanted to end my season with a game home run if I could. So instead, I stood out here for most of the game:

How awesome would it be to end my season with a Prince Fielder, Justin Morneau, or Joe Mauer home run. Or even better, an opposite field bomb by Miguel Cabrera to lock-up the triple crown for him. Alas, the only home run any of those players hit was a Prince Fielder home run to left field.

 

In the middle innings, though, I was kind of tired, so I decided to do something I had always wanted to do at a major league stadium but was always to busy running around to do: I went to Target Field’s Best Buy gaming station to play MLB The Show:

Yeah, for one real baseball inning, I was that guy who pays no attention to the game and just plays video games at a baseball stadium. And you know what, it felt nice to relax a little in frantically trying to get to first fifty games in the season and then reach 444 career baseballs, I hadn’t had much of a break in the action between ballhawking, blogging, and schoolwork. (If you’ve noticed the relaxed pace of entries lately, it’s because I still had some overload left in me. I’ll be ramping the blogging schedule back up in a bit.) So yeah, it was nice:

For the record, I was the Nationals; not the Astros.

 

When I realized I was never going to score any runs because I had no clue how to hit in the game (yes, it took three innings to realize this),  I headed back out to the standing room section just in time:

That would be Mike. He and his friend (not pictured) are– besides myself, Tony Voda, and Paul Kom– the closest thing Target Field has to regular ballhawks. I believe they are both season ticket holders, but they only try to catch baseballs on less than half of the games they go to. Anyway, he was dressed in this get-up to pay homage to Red Solo Cup. If you don’t know about it, don’t worry, I didn’t know about the song until I got to Minnesota. Mike pretty much always has the hat on, but this was the first time I had seen him with the cup costume itself.

 

As previously mentioned, there was no action out on the standing room. At the end of the game, I headed down to the moat and got a ball from home plate umpire, Jim Wolf:

This meant I had officially “passed” my goal of 222 baseballs in 2012. Yay?

 

After which, I simultaneously tried to get the lineup card(s) from Jim Leyland and tried to get a ball from the Tigers relievers coming back from the bullpen:

It wasn’t because of my multitasking, but I failed at both. When I realized there would be no on-field demo by FSN due to Kids Run The Bases, I went around the stadium saying goodbye to all of the ushers I had met in the last month of season and I headed out.

 

One last thing before I get to the stats portion of the entry: my next entry will be a statistical recap of the season. I have a general idea of how I’m going to go about it alla last year’s review, but let me know in the comments below if you have any ideas for stats you think of or anything you would like to see in review of the season.

 

STATS:

  • 5 Baseballs at this game (3 pictured because I gave 2 away):

Numbers 441-445 for my career:

  • 223 Balls in 53 Games= 4.21 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 32,554 Fans= 162,770 Competition Factor
  • 62 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 12 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 55 Balls in 14 Games= 3.93 Balls Per Game
  • 13 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 12 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 11: 44- 4:47= 5 Hours 3 Minutes

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

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

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
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