Results tagged ‘ batting practice ’

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

9/12/12 Royals at Twins: Target Field

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

Did that mean there’d be batting practice?

Nope:

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

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

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

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

I then changed into my Royals gear:

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

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

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

But let’s take another look at that ball:

Yep. The Royals somehow had Oriole Park commemorative baseballs.

As for the game, this was my view:

That’s a pretty nice view for $20.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STATS:

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

Numbers 412-415 for my life:

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

8/21/12 Braves at Nationals: Nationals Park

Less than fifteen hours after saying goodbye to him in the morning, Rick Gold and I met up at the gates of Nationals Park for our 10th and final game together in 2012:

20120830-171724.jpgIf you haven’t read the entry, Rick and I were on a bus together close to 2 o’clock that same morning. It was one of those times for a sarcastic “Long time no see”, since both of us had woken up pretty soon before that.

Speaking of people sleeping, that’s what the Nationals players were apparently doing, because they didn’t take batting practice:

20120831-083010.jpgSince it was my last day at Nationals Park for this year, I I used this time to say goodbye to most of the ushers I knew.

Eventually, the Nationals pitchers came out to throw, so I headed over there. Here is where a season full of pretty much not asking pitchers for baseballs came in handy (in that they probably would have recognized me if I had). I yelled out to Ryan Mattheus as he finished throwing and he tossed me the ball:

20120831-083450.jpgI was on the board!

I then just hung around until the Braves started hitting. When Juan Francisco’s group came up first, both Rick and I moved up to the second deck in right field:

20120831-103749.jpgAs I said about Francisco in the last entry, dude hits BOMBS. I mean look how far I look how far away from home plate I was:

20120831-202719.jpgUnfortunately, he took probably less than twenty swings before finishing for the day.

I headed down to the lower level for the Braves group of lefties and Dan Uggla. There, two other ballhawks (Rick and a guy whose name I don’t know) took the two best spots in right, so I was forced to just stand in a middle spot and hope I could judge the ball better than them/ jump in front of them. When Jason Heyward hit a ball to my right, the ballhawk I didn’t know ran straight to his right. Meanwhile, I knew the ball was falling short of that. I ran into the row and made the running, backhanded catch:

20120901-131345.jpgAs soon as I caught it, I searched for a kid and gave it away. I soon there after got Jonny Venters to toss me a ball and gave that too away.

That would be it for snagging. As for the game, I headed out to left field:

20120901-160836.jpgStephen Strasburg was pitching, so I figured the righty-dominant Nationals would be more likely to go yard. I was right, but it was an inning *before* I got to my seat there. Oh, and there was a rain delay where it absolutely poured. It was my third rain delay in as many days. So it really was no big deal. The most notable part of it was before the delay started, it was raining at least three times harder than it was during the rain delay the game before.

During the rain delay, I got soaked, walked through the seats looking for tickets, got soaked, said goodbye to the ushers in the ballpark, got soaked, tried to get a ball from Alan Butts, got soaked, talked to Eddie Perez. Oh, and did I mention I got soaked? I don’t think I did. It was raining pretty hard. Do you remember when I said it was raining three times harder than the previous game DURING the game? Well during the rain delay, it rained about ten times harder. The rain would step up to “next level”, and then when you thought it couldn’t rain any harder, a burst of even harder rain.

 

Anyway, for the game, Stephen Strasburg and Paul Maholm managed to survive the rain delay to pitch again afterwards (the rain delay was in the second inning). Maholm went seven innings while Strasburg went six. Unfortunately for Maholm, it’s not how long you last, it’s how many runs you give up. Strasburg allowed just one run while Maholm allowed four.

 

STATS:

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

 

Numbers 384-386 for my “career”:

 

  • 164 Balls in 39 Games= 4.21 Balls Per Game
  • 3 Balls x 33,888 Fans= 101,664 Competition Factor
  • 48 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 4 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 124 Balls in 28 Games= 4.43 Balls Per Game at Nationals Park
  • 20 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
  • 4 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
  • 2 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
  • Time Spent On Game 3:32- 11:22= 7 Hours 50 Minutes

8/19/12 Mets at Nationals: Nationals Park

Let me just start with this: It was a Sunday game. I knew there would be no batting practice. The only reason I’m attending games like this is to not have to go to a bunch of games in Minnesota to accomplish my goal of going to at least 50 games this season.So I just want to survive these kind of games and get on with my life.

When I first entered the stadium there was absolutely no action on the field, so I headed over to right field to talk with an usher I know pretty well. He told me that before I got to the seats, Ross Detweiler threw a bullpen session and decided to throw the ball into the seats in foul ground. Unfortunately, those seats weren’t open to the public yet. I then saw the Mets warming up on the right field side, so I ran over, put on my ridiculous costume from the day before, and got Ramon Ramirez to toss me a ball like a wide receiver by asking him in Spanish:

20120824-140041.jpg I then headed back to right field. When the rest of the stadium opened, everyone else headed to the dugout to line up for “Signature Sundays”, but I headed right for where I thought the ball I had spotted earlier was. Look what I found there:

20120824-141501.jpgI would/should have had another, though. As I was running through the seats, a guard/usher tried to stop me saying that I couldn’t get to the front of the line by running through the seats. Right as I had to explain that I didn’t care about the Signature Sunday promotion, a Nationals pitcher, probably Stephen Strasburg, threw a ball randomly into the seats. I would have definitely had it had I not been stopped.

So, although I had a decent total for a game without batting practice, my expression in the next picture says it all:

20120824-142021.jpgAfter I found the “Easter Egg”, I lined up for the Signature Sunday thing, and watched in pain as a Mets throwing pair finished their game of catch in left field. What happened to Signature Sunday? It started raining, so the whole thing got cancelled.

I then headed out to right field where this was my view:

20120824-142324.jpgAt that point, I was actually a little happy it was raining. I knew coming into the game that there would be no BP, so rain would only help to drive away people from the stands.

As for the game, Gio Gonzalez had an okay start, allowing 1 run in five and two thirds innings; yet he won his sixteenth game of the season as the Mets’ Jeremy Hefner allowed five runs in an almost similar inning load (5).

The most exciting part of the game though came from this being my view of the game:

20120824-164516.jpgIn I want to say the seventh inning, I heard a collective laughter emanating from behind me; followed by Scott Hairston throw his glove on the field. It was the second time he had done so. He had thrown it on what appeared to be a bird on the field.

Eventually, Andres Torres swooped in and scooped it up:

20120824-184726.jpgYeah, the whole game was delayed for that.

Torres then handed the animal I still wasn’t sure the species of to a security guard who came from the Nationals bullpen with a towel:

20120824-190738.jpgHairston then got heckled for the rest of the game because he acted so afraid of it. Here he is laughing about it himself:

20120824-191033.jpg I had to look at the highlight ( maybe lowlight for Hairston), but I saw that it was actually a praying mantis that had invaded the field of play. See for yourself:

I then headed to a friend’s house for dinner right after David Wright flew out in my direction. It was pretty disappointing since he was THE reason I sat in the outfield for all three games. Actually, though, I stopped to give a ball to the usher I was talking about earlier since he had told me where it was hiding.

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

20120824-211952.jpgNumbers 373-374 for my lifetime:

20120824-212806.jpg• 152 Balls in 37 Games= 4.11 Balls Per Game
• 2 Balls x 33, 764 Fans= 67, 528 Competition Factor (yay mental math!)
• 46 straight Games with at least 1Ball
• 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 112 Balls in 26 at Nationals Park= 4.31 Balls Per Game
• 18 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
• 2 straight Games at Nationals with at least 2 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 11:03- 6:49= 7 Hours 46 Minutes

8/18/12 Mets at Nationals: Nationals Park

What happens when there’s a post-game concert at Nationals Park? I have to get to the ballpark super early to ensure I’ll get a $5 ticket. Even at that inordinately early time, there was still quite a line in front of me; hence my expression in this picture:

20120821-225037.jpgDon’t let how I took that picture fool you. There weren’t three people in front of me; there were more like fifty. We had those rope things you see at airports to guide lines in a twisty fashion.

Bored out of my mind and losing personal space by the second, I took this picture of one of the silver baseballs lining the garage above the box office:

20120821-225625.jpg Eventually, I did get my ticket and headed inside for batting practice. More specifically, I headed to left field for pitcher’s batting practice. When I got there, Stephen Strasburg hit a ball about fifteen rows behind the wall. Fortunately, I was about twenty rows behind the wall, so I ran into the row and made the reaching catch. I don’t think I mentioned this on the blog yet, but prior to the day before’s game, I mentioned it had been over a month since I had caught a ball on the fly via Twitter. Needless to say, that catch felt great. Oh, and here’s the ball from the spot I caught it:

20120821-231038.jpgThen I looked at the logo. Can you see what it is? Here’s a closer look:

20120821-231241.jpgYeah, forget great; when I saw the logo of the ball, the catch felt absolutely UH-MAY-ZING.

Then, for the second group of Nationals, i.e. Zimmerman, Morse, Werth, and LaRoche, I headed over to the Red Seats. Unfortunately, no one besides Morse was hitting anything even close to the Red Seats. And when Morse hit them in my direction, they were all sailing over my head into the restaurant area behind the Red Seats. (No, not the Red Loft, but he has hit it there before.) My only ball there came when Craig Stammen threw a ball into the crowd over his shoulder. I stepped a foot to my right and caught it. I then gave it away to the red-hatted kid who’s also in this picture: in this picture

20120822-125544.jpgThat was actually a commemorative ball. I believe it was a Shea Stadium one. Although, it’s not the first commemorative I’ve ever given away. That happened earlier this year in Baltimore.

I then headed over to right field where almost the exact same thing happened:

20120822-130210.jpgSome player I couldn’t see tossed a ball over his head while he was on the warning track, so I saw it and caught the ball right between the two guys in the “Zimmerman” jerseys. I then gave the ball away to the kid in the white “Harper” jersey.

Then later, almost the same thing happened AGAIN. Gio Gonzalez threw a ball up to the second deck in right field, but I could see it was falling short, so I positioned myself under the spot. When it bounced off the electronic scoreboard strip, (you know what I’m talking about, right? The things that most/all stadiums have along the second level seating that they use for advertising and additional animation during the game.) I caught it off the deflection:
20120822-132538.jpgI was about to toss *that* ball to the fan for whom it was intended, but Gio tossed a second one up there just as I was getting ready to throw the ball. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was my 150th ball of the season. Hooray for minor milestones and not throwing the balls away!

When the Mets came up to hit, I changed into my ridiculous Mets costume:
20120822-132946.jpgUnfortunately, the Mets didn’t toss me anything and the Mets hitters were….well, the Mets hitters. So that was it for me snagging-wise.

As for the game, I stayed out in right field. The game was a surprise pitching duel between Edwin Jackson and Jonathan Niese, with the only runs coming on an Ike Davis two- run home run. That’s just what I wanted, right? A lefty home run. Except he hit it opposite field.

After the game, I stuck around for Third Eye Blind’s post-game concert:
20120822-134312.jpgI had and have no idea who they are; I’m not into music that much, I probably have less than 100 songs on my iPhone, which I only really use for passing time. I just felt since I went through a bunch of hassle because of the concert, I might as well stick around a little longer for it. It was one of those “I paid my five dollars for this ticket, so I might as well get my money’s worth.” things.

Oh, and after I caught my first ball, I stubbed my toe on a railing in the left field seats. I was limping the whole game after that, but I didn’t know the extent to which my toe had reacted to the stubbing until I got home. I’ve truly never seen anything like it:
20120822-134729.jpgCan you imagine how hard I had to hit my foot on the railing for my toe to bruise that badly *through* the shoe I was wearing?

And now that you have the image of my bruised toe in your head, I’ll end the entry.

STATS:
• 4 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave two away)
20120822-140551.jpgCareer numbers 369-372:
20120822-140632.jpg• 150 Balls in 36 Games= 4.17 Balls Per Game
• 4 Balls x 42,662 Fans= 170,684 Competition Factor
• 45 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 110 Balls in 25 Games at Nationals Park= 4.40 Balls Per Game
• 17 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
• Time Spent On Game 2:16-11:42= 9 Hours 26 Minutes

8/17/12 Mets at Nationals: Nationals Park

Coming into this game, I was excited:

20120820-204553.jpgWe’ll get into my use of the past tense later, but the reason for my excitement was it was my first game at Nationals Park in a while. I was having my second “August” slump in as many years, and I thought Nationals Park would be the perfect cure.

When I got in, I did what I usually do and headed to the left field seats:

20120821-134840.jpgWhen you enter Nationals Park, the starting pitchers are hitting. That means you can go to either the left field seats, or the Red Seats to try to catch home runs. I choose the left field seats out of comfort, but the Red Seats are pretty good for pitcher’s batting practice since Stephen Strasburg, who’s the best hitting pitcher, hits most of his home runs to the Red Seats. A third option is going to right field and trying to get a ball from the relievers warming up. (You can’t go past the foul line, though. That opens an hour after the main gates open) I don’t use this option because I’m at Nationals Park fairly regularly and the pitchers would recognize me after a few days of doing this.

When the rest of the stadium was about to open, I headed over to the right field seats. I had seen a ball hit in the seats in foul territory, so I wanted to get it. When that part opened, I trailed a kid who was also looking for balls. The only difference was, I knew where the ball was. Unfortunately, he was taking up the whole aisle, so I couldn’t get past him. When we finally arrived at the row where the ball was, I spotted it and started moving closer to it, but the kid then picked up what I was looking at and RAN after the ball. Sadly, had I not been there with him, I probably would have gotten the ball. As I was taking my walk of shame back to the right field seats, a Nationals lefty hooked a ball right in front of me. I ran after and secured the ball quickly:

20120821-140404.jpgThat would be my one and final ball of the day. Long story short: there were no catchable balls, all bounces went away from me, and the Mets fans invaded the front row. That said; did you notice the logo on the ball? Snagging that ball alone made my day. If you couldn’t see it, here’s a close-up:

20120821-145420.jpgWhen I snagged it, my first reaction was utter confusion:

20120821-145640.jpgIt almost immediately jumped to excitement when I realized I had just gotten one of the commemorative balls I had missed before I started ballhawking:

20120821-145754.jpgI don’t think even that picture does my excitement justice.

As for the game, if you couldn’t gather it from the picture of the ball, I was sitting in the right field seats. While I was there, Johan Santana gave up two home runs that I could’ve been within ten feet of. (I determined the latter would be un catchable as soon as it got hit, so I ran to the front of the section in case I could get seen on TV.) The first was a Michael Morse opposite field grand slam that initially looked like it was headed RIGHT at me, but tailed into a crowded row at the front of the section. The second was a Bryce Harper two-run blast. Those would be all the runs the Nationals scored as they won the game 6-4.

I wish I could write more about this game, but frankly, there is no more to write about. It was a “meh” game in many respects.

STATS:
• 1 Ball at this game

20120821-154735.jpgBaseball number 368 (logo shown because I don’t usually mark commemorative balls:

20120821-154831.jpg• 146 Balls in 35 Games= 4.17 Balls Per Game
• 44 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 106 Balls in 24 Games at Nationals Park= 4.42 Balls Per Game
• 16 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
•Time Spent On Game 3:38-10:33= 6 Hours 55 Minutes

8/15/12 Rangers at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

What happens when you’re having an incredibly frustrating series and there’s almost a guarantee of rain, but you “have” to get to at least 17 more games in a month-and-a-half? You end up going to games you otherwise wouldn’t have. I knew going in there was not going to be batting practice, but then I saw how big the line was and let out a sigh:

20120819-135236.jpgOy. It’s tough enough to deal with that kind of crowd when there’s ball after ball being hit; never mind when it would be all of us competing for a couple pitchers warm-up balls.

When I entered the ballpark, I was forced to submit to the inevitable truth that there was no batting practice. On a completely unrelated note: Great day for a beach mat giveaway, eh?

20120819-135807.jpgActually, for some practically-thinking people, it was. They used it to separate themselves from their wet seats.

From the time I got into the seating bowl to the time the players started throwing, there was a lull of about half-an-hour, which I filled up by talking to the ballhawks in attendance, Zack Hample and Takyi Chan (I have mentioned him as “Tak” in past entries).

When the players did start throwing, I got a ball. But it wasn’t a player at all who threw it; it was a coach:

20120819-143828.jpgMore specifically, Andy Hawkins, the bullpen coach. He was throwing with the pitching coach Mike Maddux, so when he finished, I waved my arms, said some words, and he tossed me the ball.

Then it was time for this:

20120819-232617.jpgAfter about an hour of delay, this was the view of the field:

20120819-232832.jpgThere was one thing that caught my eye, though. Can you spot it?

20120819-232958.jpgThat’s right; there was a ball on the warning track. One of the Rangers players overthrew the ball while warming up and the ball sat there for almost the entirety of the nearly two hour rain delay.

Do you see the guy taking down the pole in the bullpen? By the time he was done taking down the poles, I was right next to the bullpen. When he was taking down the last pole, I said, “Excuse me, when you’re done…” he glanced at me, but looked away and never came back. Thankfully, another groundskeeper was walking right by the ball. So I got his attention and showed him where the balls was through hand signals. He picked up the ball, and walked over to toss me the ball:

20120820-002110.jpgThat was it for the game snagging-wise. The game itself was really Josh Hamilton vs. The Yankees. Hamilton finally hit his first and second home runs ever at Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately for the Rangers, that’s all they got out of their offense. It was a pretty bad series for an offensive powerhouse like themselves if you ask me.

Anyway, by the time the game finally ended, I was one of the proud few fans leaving at nearly 12:30:

20120820-134330.jpgYeah, that’s what Yankee Stadium’s exiting crowd looks like when it’s NOT crowded. Getting to the train is often one of the worst parts of each trip to a Yankees game.

STATS:
• 2 Balls at this game

20120820-144541.jpgNumbers 366-367:

20120820-144601.jpg• 145 Balls in 34 Games= 4.26 Balls Per Game
• 43 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 19 straight Games with at least 2Balls
• 88 Balls in 24 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.67 Balls Per Game
• 24 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 Ball
• 9 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:29-12:45= 9 Hours 16 Minutes

7/19/12 Mets at Nationals: Nationals Park

I thought I’d start off this entry a little differently. Basically, I want to give you guys an opportunity to have a look at what my day is like before I even enter the gates. I will do such a video for each stadium I visit from here on out (Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, and Target Field) Anyway, here is the video for Nationals Park:

Once we left the Red Seats in center field, Rick and I both headed over to the right field, only to realize it was Camp Day and those seats would be crowded come game time. While Rick checked a variety of things on his iPhone, I watched Ross Detweiler throw a bullpen session:

20120731-021046.jpg

20120731-021133.jpgIf you didn’t know, most starting pitchers throw at least one bullpen session between starts; some even throw two. Detweiler had started the opening opening game of the series, so I’m guessing he throws two, since he only took a day off from throwing. At the end of his session, Detweiler launched the ball he was throwing with into the seats in foul territory. Both Rick and I saw it and thought it went on our side of the tunnel- indicated by the glass panels- in the next picture:

20120731-022218.jpgKeep that in mind for later on in the entry.

Soon after that, Nationals hitters started hitting. All of which can be seen in the following picture:

20120731-022426.jpgThat’s right, a grand total of two Nationals hitters hit. That was the extent of batting practice. They didn’t even have any players go into the outfield; just the coaches came out to shag the balls. The two players were: a healthy Bryce Harper and a rehabbing Jayson Werth. You would probably guess that the super-prospect would hit more balls into the stands than the old, injured, failed multi-million dollar contract, right? Well I did too. Unfortunately, both of us were wrong and Werth hit many more homers to left as I watched in helpless despair from right. The one ball I had perfectly tracked, a barehanded fan reached right in front of me and deflected the ball away.

Then, right after they stopped hitting, I headed over closer to the foul pole very discreetly, as so Rick wouldn’t notice me:

20120801-014352.jpgNot to get a ball from the pitchers you see warming up, but remember that ball Detweiler threw into the stands earlier? That portion of the stands was about to open in two minutes when I took that last picture, and I wanted to be the first one in them to get the ball.

I was indeed the first person there, but when I got to the spot I thought the ball was, it was vacant. As Rick arrived on the scene, I went up to the top of the section and asked an usher where the ball had gone. He told me it had gone on the other side of the tunnel I mentioned earlier. I went down there, and he guided me as I motioned to where I thought the ball was. This was actually the same usher who gave me my first usher toss-up at Nationals Park ever. If you can find a picture him, you win………bragging rights. (Hint: the easies way to find the entry is through mygameballs.com.)

Thanks to this ushers arsenal of saving gestures, I found the ball right under a seat:

20120801-020113.jpgI then moved back over to the pitchers warming up. I figured Strasburg, since he doesn’t shag balls in the outfield, would probably not recognize me. So, I lined up behind Jim and his throwing partner, Jordan Zimmerman:

20120801-020407.jpgUnfortunately, Zimmerman ended up with the ball, which usually means I am not getting the ball (I had never gotten a ball from him, and he has never been fan-friendly per se). Fortunately, I was the only non-Mets fan, so after he scanned the stands, he threw me the ball:

20120801-021035.jpgI would have LOVED to have gotten the ball from Strasburg, but getting the ball from Zimmerman was a fun victory in a different regard.

Then, to my surprise, the complementary ticket I mentioned in the opening video, was right behind the umpire tunnel. So until the game began, I talked mostly with the two people in the next picture, and a person slightly out of the frame to the right:

20120801-022500.jpgI had been talking to the ushers a little the previous two games when I came down to get umpire balls, but in talking to them this day, both parties (myself and the ushers) learned that the other knew of “Zack”. The “Zack” in question being one with the surname Hample.We then had a discussion about the specifics of baseball collecting and my experience beginning in the hobby.

The guy in the red is Gio Gonzalez’s dad. He actually is the one who brought up the subject (kind of). I guess he saw me by Gio while I was trying to get a ball and said, “Are you a collector?” To which I responded, “Yes ” not knowing who he was. It turns out Gio’s father is an autograph collector and thought I was the same. It was a slightly frustrating process, but when the male usher jumped in with: “Oh. You know Zack?” Gio’s father faded out of the conversation and went to his seat. Sadly, his son would get knocked around by the Mets en route to a 9-5 loss.

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

20120801-103602.jpg

For some reason, I have horrible luck with third-out balls (whichever end of the dugout I go to, the ball goes to the other). Well, my luck continued for this game. I didn’t get a single third-out ball.

I’d just like to take a little time out to point out one of the members of the “Nat Pack”, Terrence. I mentioned a couple of entries ago that I believed he was the most energetic team employee I had ever seen at a baseball game (maybe I didn’t phrase it like that, but that’s what I meant). The ushers I had been talking to described this as the hottest game of the year. I don’t know about that, but it was in the 105 degree range. Well Terrence wasn’t slowing up at all. He inhabits the wheelchair section by the third base dugout. One of the things he does is whenever there’s a wave, he runs from one end of the section to the other “pushing” it along. There were more than a couple waves this game. Another example, of which I have photographic evidence, is what Terrence was doing when “Old Time Rock and Roll” started playing:

20120801-234227.jpg

That’s right. He picked up one of the fold-able chairs and started jumping around the section, pretending the chair was a guitar as he strummed it.

After the game, I was already by the umpire tunnel, so I asked the umpire, Chris Conroy for a ball. He gave it to me saying, “Here, because you took the time to look up my name.” Conroy, if my memory serves me right is number 99. I don’t know for certain, but I would bet that means he is one of the newer umpires, so I’m guessing not many people know his name:

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game (no picture because I forgot to take it). They were numbers 352-354 for my career

Numbers 352-354:

  • 132 Balls in 29 Games= 4.55 Balls Per Game (14 Balls under 500)
  • 3 Balls x 36,389 Fans (no way were there that many people)= 109,167 Competition Factor
  • 38 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 14 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 105 Balls at Nationals Park in 23 Games= 4.57 Balls Per Game
  • 16 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
  • 16 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
  • 2 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
  • Time Spent One Game 9:34- 4:07= 6 Hours 33 Minutes
  • This game will have been my 100th ever I have recorded on mygameballs.com. I have gone to more games than that, but I obviously didn’t keep a record of them before mygameballs.com, so this is the only milestone I can celebrate.

7/18/12 Mets at Nationals: Nationals Park

Oh, another frustrating day at Nationals Park. Except this time, I knew it was going to be frustrating before I even entered the gates. Thus, this was me waiting for the gates to open:

Rick Gold, who had been with me at the prior game, alerted me to the fact that Jayson Werth had already taken batting practice, which meant the Nationals as a whole had probably taken batting practice. With the impending thunderstorms, I could see from the gate that the cage wasn’t even up (one of the reasons Nationals Park is better than either of the New York Parks). I also didn’t know it at the time, but this was the 100th ball I had ever snagged at Nationals Park, which also marks the first time I’ve ever snagged 100 balls at any given stadium.

When the gates opened, Rick tried to go to right field to use his retriever on a home run ball that had landed behind the scoreboard. I, meanwhile took advantage of the information Rick had half-knowingly given to me. I went to the Red Seats and found a ball Jayson Werth had hit there earlier:

20120729-075654.jpgFor the record, Rick couldn’t find the ball. It was a mystery to both of us where it had gone, though, since we thought if anyone picked it up, it would be a person cleaning behind the scoreboard, but it was still filthy.

After I got my ball, the Nationals kept everyone under cover, because of the lightning storm passing through. NO one was allowed into the seats that weren’t covered. See for yourself:

20120730-001437.jpgThat last picture was the spot I was when Jon Rauch and his throwing partner warmed up. I had to watch in despair as they finished throwing, because I know I could have easily gotten him to toss me a ball had I been allowed to go down there.

Eventually, the Nationals did let everyone down into the seats. Pretty much everyone rushed to the Mets’ dugout:

20120730-002122.jpgI’m not going to lie; I did too:

20120730-002321.jpgThe only difference is: I wasn’t a zombie about it. I figured I would have a better shot at getting a ball from the Mets, but when Jayson Werth came out to throw with a trainer, I ran over to the other side of the stadium, changed into my Nationals shirt as I went over there, and got this from him:

20120730-002901.jpgWeird way to get two balls from the same player in one day, huh? Also, this was a minor milestone in that it was my 350th ball ever. It’s a pretty obscure milestone, so I’ll leave my elaboration at that.

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

20120730-004538.jpgThere were two righties pitching, so I figured I would camp out there. I had a pretty good amount of room to work with, even with Rick in right field too, but I forgot to get a picture of it. Sadly, the only home run in those seats came when I had already gone over to the Mets’ dugout. Rick told me I might have gotten it had I stayed. Oh well, I got this instead from a Mets ball boy:

20120730-005518.jpgSo I ended my day at three baseballs. That’s pretty good for me for a day without batting practice, so I was happy.

STATS:
• 3 Balls at this game

20120730-005801.jpgNumbers 349-351:

20120730-005952.jpg•129 Balls in 28 Games= 4.61 Balls Per Game (12 Balls under 500)
• 3 Bals x 31,660 Fans= 94,980 Competition Factor
• 37 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 13 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 102 Balls in 22 Games at Nationals Park= 4.64 Balls Per Game
• 15 Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
• 15 Games with at least 2 Balls at Nationals Park
• Time Spent On Game 3:40- 11:22= 7 Hours 42 Minutes (exactly one minute more than I had the previous day)

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