Results tagged ‘ Braves ’

6/19/12 Braves at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

Question: What do you do when you have a baseball awards dinner in the Bronx and a ticket to the Orioles-Mets game?

Answer: You sell the Mets ticket on stubhub and buy a ticket to the Yankee game.

Also, look at the crew who assembled outside the gate:

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From left to right, that would be:

1. Myself
2.Greg Barasch- Frequent catch partner and fellow ballhawk.
3. Zack Hample- Oh, you know, just your average guy who’s caught more than 6,000 major league baseballs.
4. Matt Latimer- An MLB.com reporter, who was going to cover Zack during B.P. for a story.
5. Ross Finkelstein- Another fellow ballhawk, who I occasionally run into at games. This may be the first time we’ve gone to the same Yankee, though. Whatever, I’m too lazy to look it up.

Also at the gate, was this sign on a barricade:

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All of us pretty much made fun of all the ridiculous things on there, but after the fact, I thought, “You know what that’s actually not a bad idea to have all the prohibited stuff on a sign. It’s way better than playing that along with a song on a continuous loop 30 minutes before the gates open.” Are you listening, Mets?

Since there were so many of us, we actually spoke about who was going where during batting practice, as to divvy up the sections between us. I opted to go to left field. It would have been a great choice had a) the Yankees hit one ball into those seats during their portion of B.P. or b) Cody Eppley actually acknowledged any one over the age of 5.

Then, when most of the ballhawks came over to right field, here were the views to my left and to my right:

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Yes, there were a bunch of empty seats, but how the people were configured,the furthest I could run for a ball was 10 feet, so the ball would essentially have to be hit *right* at me. As for getting a Brave to toss me a ball, forget about it. There were tons of people in Braves gear and most were in the front row.

The closest I came to getting a ball was one hit directly over my head. I moved as close as I could to the landing spot, turned around and jumped, but it sailed what must have been a few inches into another guy’s glove.

Soon after this, I decided it was better to go back over to left field and deal with the other ballhawks than to deal with that mess of a section.

There it was emptier, but it started off with the same frustration. NOTHING was coming even close to me. Then it evolved into a different kind of frustration. A Braves hitter hit a ground-rule double. I lined myself up with the ball, and it was coming right towards my glove… until a hand in front of me deflected it over my right shoulder. Words cannot described how frustrated/nervous I was at this point. My goal is to get to 100 consecutive games with at least 1 ball. After that, the plan is I go to whatever games I please, regardless of whether I can make batting practice.

Throughout nearly all of Braves B.P., I was thinking about how much longer it would take me of I got shutout this game. I wasn’t as worried as I was in right field, though. Left field was much less congested, and I could actually run around for a ball that was hit. Here are the views to my right and my left:

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I didn’t feel confident, however, in my ability to get a Braves player to throw me a ball. Ironically, this is how my only ball of the day would come.

When I got to left field, I ran into Mark McConville, who had just arrived with, I believe, a few of his co-workers. He obviously didn’t have a ball yet either, so we were both pretty desperate. Actually, on that ball I missed that I mentioned earlier, Mark also almost came up with it, but another fan beat him to the ball.

Anyway, Mark and I had been giving Craig Kimbrel an earful for quite a few minutes. Finally, Kimbrel turned around and lofted a ball right at Mark, but those pesky hands are always up at Yankee Stadium. Even though the ball was very clearly intended for Mark, a hand deflected the ball. The deflection sent the ball right towards my stomach, and almost as if I had Alien Hand Syndrome, I grabbed the ball with my bare hand right before it had a chance to hit the seat in front of me. Here is the ball with Kimbrel and Chad Gaudin in the background:

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I then (deservedly) got a few lines (delivered jokingly) along the general lines of: “You’re killin’ me, Mateo.” from Mark. As relieved as I was to not get shutout, I felt really bad for him, since I was in a similar situation just moments earlier.

Then batting practice ended, and I spent a few minutes seeing Zack sign a couple of baseballs:

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as I talked with the reporter, Matt, and gave him all my contact information for… well who knows what it could turn into.

Then I conceded to the fact I that I had to go to the awards dinner I mentioned earlier.

It was my first game ever leaving right after batting practice, and I must say, I thought it would feel weirder than it did to be leaving as everyone else was entering the stadium:

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I guess I’m already accustomed to the notion from reading it on other ballhawks’ blog entries.

As for the dinner, I received this even though I have never played an inning of baseball for Fordham Prep:

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    Stats:

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• 1 Ball at this game

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Number 269 for my life:

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• 46 Balls in 11 Games= 4,18 Balls Per Game
• 20 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 1 Ball x 41,219 Fans= 41,219 Competition Factor
• 53 Balls in 15 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.53 Balls Per Game
• 15 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1Ball
• Time at Game 4:26-6:17= 1 Hour 51 Minute

Atlanta Braves 2012 Offseason Recap and Preview

The Braves’ story of 2011 should have been their historically great bullpen back three:

Sadly, it was their semi-historically great collapse at the end of the season:

Grade: D

Notable Additions:

Nothing. They really added absolutely nothing notable to their team. They *re-signed* a couple of notable people, but they added nothing that wasn’t already on the team.

Notable Subtractions:

Derek Lowe, Brooks Conrad, Alex Gonzalez, Wes Helms, Scott Linebrink, Julio Lugo, Nate McLouth, and George Sherill.

Why?: I get the fact that I created this category and made its title the rhetorical question that it is, but honestly, I cannot imagine why anyone would ask “Why” I gave the Braves such a bad grade. They added NOTHING! In addition to that, their subtraction list is almost a two-liner. Sure they’re not franchise-makers that are on that list, which is why I didn’t give the Braves an “F”, but it’s enough to say they lost a whole lot more than they brought in, which is the qualification for a “D”.

That silly little self-responsive rant said, the Braves are a young team, whose starters are on the upswing. I mean Jason Heyward can only bounce back from his past season. Any worse and they would just have to replace him with a replacement-level player.Freddie Freeman showed amazing spouts of talent that could make him into a very good 1st Baseman, Tommy Hanson still has to show us what he can do with a full season of work, my favorite Braves player, Julio Teheran, still has to show us what made him their top prospect. I could go on but those are the major names.

What it comes down to for the Braves in the end is that they have the potential to have a VERY good rotation (Jurrjens, Hudson, Hanson, Teheran, and another), they already have the best back end -if not entire bullpen- in the major leagues (O’Flaherty, Venters, and Kimbrel), and they can have an explosive offense if their pieces come together (Jones, Uggla, McCann, Heyward, Freeman, Bourn, and Prado). This team could actually surpass their season win-total from last season this year.

Predicted Record Range: 87-92 wins

Next Up: Los Dodgers de El Pueblo Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula

Re-view of Preview: Atlanta Braves

First off, here, is the entry horribly mangled by the transition to WordPress. It just happens that some pictures in certain entries appear as several in this particular entry appear as they were lost in the transition from Two Apart to WordPress.

 

Predicted Record: 91-96 wins

Actual Record: 89-73

 

This was pretty much right on because most of my prediction revolved around the acquisition of Dan Uggla, who was absolutely wretched compared to expectation this season. I mean, yes, he did have a 33 game hitting streak from the beginnings of July to the beginnings of April, but do you realize that despite that he had a .233 average for the season. This just shows how terrible his first half was that he could get at least 1 hit for 33 games straight and still not have an average above .250.

 

Imagine he actually hit his usual .260-.280. We would have a different World Series champion this year. It wouldn’t necessarily be the Braves, but they were the team the Cardinals beat out to get into the playoffs in the first place. Despite all of this, I still have no idea how the Braves didn’t make the playoffs. After the first game in their penultimate series against the Nationals (which I was at all three games of) the Braves magic number (number of their wins+ Cardinals losses to get into the playoffs) was 2 or 3. The weirder thing: a Nationals fan in the bleachers the second game was telling  a Braves fan that nothing would give him more joy than to keep them from the playoffs, which looked like a fantasy at that point.

 

Anyway, I pretty much nailed the Braves if Dan Uggla would have played up to expectations.

9/25/11 Braves at Nationals: Nationals Park

This was, at the time, what I thought to be my last game of the season. Let me be the first to announce that it was ****NOT**** how I’d imagine my last game would go. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it sure felt like it when I entered the stadium. I met up with Alex Kopp at the Center Field gate and we raced in as soon as the gates opened.

Normally, the Nationals take a while to start hitting but there wasn’t even a cage up:

(this is where you imagine a batting cage not being on the field because I lost all of pictures from the last few games of the season)

I understand that it was a day game but the reason that teams don’t take bp on a day game is usually because they had a night game the day before and they have to sleep in. The previous game, however, was a day game itself so I had really thought there would be bp.

I had already gone up to the second deck in Right Field because I wanted to get a ball from the pitchers but they took ten years to start warming up the the previous day and so people in Left Field had seen me waiting and came up.

Once the Nationals finally came out, the Braves were five minutes from starting their throwing. As a result, I only got in one request and the situation was a pretty unique one. I had been waiting all season to use this refrence but I waited for Tyler Clippard to stop throwing. The reason being, he was on a Nationals pre-game show with Drew Storen where a camera person followed them around for a day (they’re roommates). When Clippard was almost done making eggs for breakfast, he remarked that they were: “as smooth as the other side of the pillow.” Drew Storen then mocked him for it once more in the segment for butchering the idiom, cliche or whatever that type of saying is called. When Clippard finished throwing, I asked him if he could, “Toss it up to me as smooth as the other side of the pillow.” I could just tell that he was paying attention to me when I called, “Tyler!” but he turned away from me when I made the refrence was made. Clippard is usually not the friendliest of players and I thought that I could crack him open up a bit with that but apparently not.

This was enough dealing with the Nationals so when the Braves got on the field, I ran from the upper Right Field stands to the Left Field foul line. There another thing happened to me in that I am 95% sure I got a ball because my numbered balls skip that number and I remember giving the ball away to a kid but have no recollection of the player throweing me the ball. I have no idea how this happened but it just did. Let’s call this ball #2 on the day. To make things even weirder, I know almost exactly where I caught/gave away the ball. Weird, right?

I then stayed in Right Field/ the Red Seats for a few Braves bp groups (by the way, did I mention the Braves took bp once again while the Nationals didn’t). For some it would have been a failure as I got only one ball, but for me it was great. When I was in the Red Seats, Julio Teheran was shagging in Center Field. As I mentioned in the first entry of this weekend, my goal of the weekend was to get a ball from him because he is the first Colombian pitcher in the major leagues and I myself am a Colombian pitcher. My entire focus was on that one thing. If a ball were hit right to me at that moment it probably would have sent me to the hospital. When he shagged a ball in the R-CF gap and was about to toss it into the RF stands, I yell out as loud as I could, “Una pelota para un Colombiano por favor?” (A ball for a Colombian,please?). He then made a 180 to face me and threw me one of the dirties bp balls I have ever seen. I kid you not when I say that I had a minor case of the butterflies. I then went onto say that I was also a pitcher and to get his gesture of approval was something special.

 I then went over to Right Field for the Braves Lefties (Freeman, Heyward…) and that was slightly less crowded and I did marginally better. I truly didn’t care, though. There was at least 1 ball I can think of that I would have had if I were going 100% but my mission was accomplished and I was satisfied if I didn’t get anything else.

I did get another ball but I can’t really provide much detail because all I remember is that I had to run to my right, jump over at least 1 row of seats, and I didn’t catch it on the fly. I don’t know who hit it either. I then gave this ball to an usher in Right Field that I am friends with. I then did my thing during the game of running back and forth but the Nationals weren’t nice enough to hit any Home Runs.

When the game ended, the Nationals told us to stick around and so I did. They then proceeded to do one of the coolest things I have ever seen a team do. September was Fan appreciation month and the Nationals had been giving random goodies out to fans throughout the month but this was their last home game of the season. The whole Nationals team came out of the dugout with a laundry cart like this:

It was about 3′x 6′ and full of all sorts of cheap giveaway stuff (gloves, plastic bats, frisbees, etc). The Nationals went clockwise all the way from the 1st base dugout to the Left Field foul pole and threw stuff into the stands the whole time.  I was a little further back than most people as to have more room to move but this came with its drawbacks because only the heavier items had a chance of getting to me. I had no chance at any T-shirts or things of that nature. I did end up with a bag of butterscotch candy, though:

(this is where you picture one of those pharmacy 2 for $1 bags of butterscotch)

I didn’t get anything else but I was truly impressed by how fan freindly the Nationals were being. It was one of the best displays of it I have ever seen.

9/24/11 Braves at Nationals: Nationals Park

This was now the middle game of (barring playoff baseball) my last weekend of baseball for the year. I figuring that this would be my last shot at a full batting practice because the next game would be a day game. I was actually too optimistic in this prediction. For my seventh stright game at Nationals Park, there was not a full session of bp.

When the gates opened, I ran up to the second deck in Right Field expecting the pitchers to be throwing but once again they were nowhere to be found. The air was free of moisture but still the pitchers were in the clubhouse and the hitters were as well. I understand why they weren’t. I mean the game was a day game after a night game. so after the 9:45 end time of the last game, any wake up time before 10:00 would be simply criminal.

Anyway, the pitchers didn’t come out until about 11:15. This was 45 minutes before the gates opened. I saw the Braves coming out to throw about 15 minutes into the Nationals but wanted to get one ball from the Nationals because I had seen a load of Braves fans the day before. I eventually did get a ball from Ryan Mattheus. If you don’t know, I have lost all of my pictures from the last few games of the season (which explains the lack there of in this entry) this also meant that I no longer have photographic evidence of but I think that this ball was meant for another kid and so I gave it away to that same kid once I recovered the overthrow.

I then ran down to the lower level and went down the first base line seating because like the day before, I had seen a ball go in the seats that the people witing in line did not see. It wasn’t quite in the same wheelchair section but it was very close to the same seats. I then went over to the Braves side of the field along the third baseline and tried to get them to throw me a ball. However, I was aware of any balls of any ball pulled my way. There was in fact a ball pulled my way. It landed about a section to my left and from there it was a race between myself and a Braves fan. I beat him to the ball in the aisle by a margin, but he was flat out running and his momentum made me the middle of a sandwich  between him and the railing. I had just picked up the ball and held on but this did knock the air out of me and so I whimpered my way to Left Field where I recovered.

 

Those seats were too crowded for my taste and so I moved over to the “Red Seats” in R-CF. Just as I got there, Dan Uggla’s hitting group got up and so I was pretty sure I would have a chance at one ball if not a few. Surely enough, there were several balls within ten feet of me and the one of those that landed in the Red Seats ended up in my possession. I then gave it away to the smallest Braves fan in the section. I kind of gave it away to amend all the balls I was going to catch in that section, but sadly this was the last ball for me the whole day.

 

This was mostly because I then went to RF and the promotion on this day was “Pups in the Park”. People were allowed to bring their dogs to the ballpark as long as they kept them in, you guessed it: Right Field. When I got there, the space behind the actual seats was transplanted turf for the dogs to be “walked”. In the actual seats, there were all types of dogs even in batting practice and some of them weren’t so visible . On three separate occasions, I had to hurdle a dog in the stand en route to a ball. Twice, it cost me catching the ball.

 

It also affected me in the game because I stayed mostly in Left Field as to not have to deal with maneuvering the dogs behind the Right Field seats. Also, the seats themselves were more packed than usual. Although I would have been upset to lose the opportunity at a Home Run, I was sort of wishing there was a ball hit into the Right Field seat just to see what would happen with all of the dogs.

 

As for my the Left Field seats, there was nothing hit in my direction and I stayed at four balls for the day. It was a partially fun day, but be sure to check back for my next entry in around three days from now because all I can say is that the Nationals really did go all in on the fan appreciation day.

9/23/11 Braves at Nationals: Nationals Park

This day was just another example of why the batting practice gods hate me when I go to Nationals Park ( the Home Run gods like teasing me but that’s a whole other story). There was no batting practice because of rain which made it like the 6th game in a row where I didn’t have full batting practice when I went to Nationals Park (either the Nationals hit and the visiting team didn’t, vice-versa, or neither team hit at all). Today there was no batting period.

When the gates opened, I went up to my usual spot in the Upper Right Field seats thinking that the Nationals would follow their routine of warming up just as the gates opened. Let’s see, the gates opened at 4:30 and the Nationals didn’t start throwing until 5:15. This was 45 minutes after their usual time. I wasn’t expecting this but it actually helped me. In addition to throwing later, they did something else I hadn’t seen them do before: they threw in segmented groups. Let me explain, usually, all the pitchers come out at the same time and finish at the same time, but on this day, the first pair came out at 4:15 and the last pair of pitchers came out at about 4:40.

While I was in the second deck, I saw the Nationals throw two balls into the wheelchair section they have on both sides of the field. This section was pretty wet so they just left the balls there. The rest of the stadium (besides URF and L-CF) opens at 5:30 for a 7:00 game. I stayed in the Upper seats until 5:27 to make sure that I didn’t miss THAT many snagging opportunities but at 5:27 left to get in line when the rest of the stadium opened. I was like 2 seconds behind the people first getting into the rest of the stadium  and the other people knew enough to hurry up and look for balls but I had been the only one in the upper seats and thus was the only one who knew where the two balls were.

Now the rotating throwing partners come into play. Had all the players been throwing while I picked up the balls, most of them would have seen me get the balls and probably wouldn’t have thrown me any more. However as it was, I got Sean Burnett to throw me a ball and then changed outfits to get Tom Gorzelanny to throw me a ball.

Right after Gorzelanny threw me the ball, I noticed the Braves were warming up. Whenever I have the choice between trying to get balls from the Home team or the opposing team, 9 times out of 10 i will go with the opposing team because the odds are that there will be less fans with the opposing team’s gear than the home team’s gear. I did go over to the Braves side of the field and had my Braves gear on, but to my surprise, I was one of fifteen others in Braves gear. Fortunately, most of them were there for autographs, but I still didn’t get a ball thrown to me cleanly.

My main goal for this weekend in general was to get Julio Teheran to throw me a ball. This may have contributed to the fact I did get a ball thrown to me. I stayed right behind Julio and his throwing partner and just focused on getting a ball from him while he made his throwing partner look foolish with a variety of breaking pitches.The reasons I so desperately wanted a ball from Teheran is that I was a pitcher when I played organized baseball and am definitely part of the family of pitchers when it comes to my school of thought. The second part of this is that I was born in Colombia and so was Teheran. So the reason for trying to get a ball from him was that he is the first Colombian Pitcher in the major leagues and it would mean the world to get a ball from him because he also has a good chance of succeeding at this level. I threw in the part of me being of the Pitchers school of thought because yeah it would mean a lot for Edgar Renteria or Orlando Cabrera to throw me a ball but to have the first Colombian MLB Pitcher to throw me a ball would be great. Also, sorry if I sounded repetitive back there but it was just kind of an idea in my head and I wanted to get it as refined as I could. In retrospect, it probably just confused you more. Just to add on how much I’ve been paying attention to Teheran and want him to succeed, I went out of my way to see his first start with the Braves a while ago. The reason I focused so much on him in this series and not others is because he got sent down shortly after his first start as he struggled.

Enough of my man-crush on Julio Teheran, I just wanted to get the explanation out of the way because it really was the center of the weekend. I didn’t get anything from any other Pitchers because Teheran was facing me and I was right behind his throwing partner and was afraid that if he saw me get a ball he wouldn’t consider throwing me his. When he and his partner finished, I yelled out to him, ” Una pelota para un Colombiano?” This translates to: “A ball for a Colombian?” Good news: He heard me.

Bad News: He missed with his throw and the guy next to me got the ball. Either that or he thought the guy next to me had called out to him.

 

I then moved down the line and tried to get a ball from the other Braves pitchers. As I mentioned before, I didn’t get a Pitcher to throw a ball to me. Despite this, I did get a ball. Jonny Venters and his partner were the last throwing pair on the Braves. There was a kid right next to me that was much younger and so I knew I probably wasn’t going to get the ball thrown to me. So, I moved behind the kid and played the mis-throw. Venters did then overthrow the kid, I grabbed it, and handed it to the kid. When Venters finished throwing,  he started signing autographs and I got him to sign one of my baseballs from that day. I think he has signed for me before but mygameballs.com’s autograph database is being difficult and I gave away most of my autographed baseballs last year so I have no evidence. A funny thing happened in that Venter actually signed right next to where I had numbered the ball and looked a little funny at the ball. I wonder what went through his head. The obvious thought being that I am selling the autographs and so I number the balls to identify the balls.

 

For the game, I did my usual ritual of getting a ticket on each side of the outfield and running to Left Field for Righties and Right Field for Lefties. It was and ideal set-up for this ritual as both the teams were batting primarily from a different side of the line-up. That is to say, the Braves line-up was made of primarily Lefties and the Nationals lineup was made up of primarily Righties. This allowed me time to move back and forth between innings instead of At-Bats and also make me not feel like I wasted money on one of the tickets (this would happen if both teams were primarily Righties or Lefties).

 

It was mainly dead out in Home Run territory but then later in the game THIS happened. Jayson Werth hit a Home Run into the Left Field seats where I was sitting. It was really high and was the same direction as the Chris Young Home Run I had missed out on a few weeks prior. It ended up like five rows right behind where that Home Run had hit.

 

I was on an aisle seat as usual and here is a screen shot from when the ball was in the air:

The Left arrow is me and the Right is where the ball would hit. At this time, I saw there were no rows that would get me to a place where I could get to catching the ball on the fly without knocking down half-a-dozen people. So I stayed on the aisle and hoped the ball would bounce back towards the field off of the seat.

 

Here is a screen shot after the ball bounced of the seat and headed right in my direction:

The big arrow is pointing to my red Nationals hat and the little arrow is pointing to the ball coming off the seat and back to me. The ball bounced back right in my direction but I couldn’t see that because the girl in the Strasburg t-shirt’s back was blocking my view. She then deflected the ball and it landed in a seat in the row between us two. From there it was a race between our two hands to the ball and this was the result:

She was closer and reached for the ball faster. I think the Home Run in general felt too casual, it felt like nothing more than a batting practice ball. I feel that if I had been more into the game/aggressive I would have my first Home Run ball. Anyway, the arrow in the top third of the picture is pointing to where I am standing outside of the picture. Looking on sadly.

 

After the game, I got Eddie Perez to throw me a ball from the bullpen after the game. This made Six balls on the day even without batting practice.

 

And that was how my partially redemptive weekend in Washington went. In other news, tomorrow is my birthday and the 1 year anniversary of Observing Baseball. I hope to write something but it *is* my birthday and so if I don’t I will write it on Friday.

8/26/11 Braves at Mets: Citi Field

Just a few conscious moments after my last game in Washington, I magically teleported to Citi Field:

 I really wanted to stay in Washington and go to the majesty of Camden Yards but no. I had made arrangements with the now former pitching coach at Fordham Prep and had to be at Citi Field for this game because the next two had already been cancelled because of the threat Hurricane Irene posed on New York (I won’t get into what it actually because I’ve had worse thunderstorms).

Once I got in I made a beeline (or something like that), to Right Field and quickly got Lucas Duda to throw me a ball. I’m sorry that this is the only picture of the ball I have but Paint decided to stop responding while I was editing it and I only have this left as a product:

You can partially see the ball in my glove and Duda is under the red arrow.

I don’t know how quickly I did, but I did move over to the Left Field bleachers soon after. This is where things really slowed down. There were, I believe, Six other ballhawks at this game and the running lanes were clogged up as a result. It wasn’t that slow of a batting practice but there was just nowhere to move. When the Braves’  pitchers warmed up along the third base line I got Erik Hinske to toss me a ball that one of them overthrew. I was really happy about this because it almost guaranteed I would get another baseball because none of the pitchers saw me get it and so they would have no reason to not throw me a ball.

Apparently they did as that was in fact the last ball of my day. This was mainly because I wanted to stay in Left Field for as long as I could in bp because with six other ballhawks I knew I would lose my better than average spot and I would have to stand like 600 feet from Home Plate to have room to run a few sections. However, it was not any of the ballhawks at all but this guy:

that was the bane of my existence. Twice was I tracking a ball in mid-air and sure that I was going to catch it. Twice did I look to my left at the last moment to be stopped in my pursuit by this group just to see that guy (in a Red Sox hat) catch a Home Run without moving from his seat. Though, I guess I can’t blame him for just being there because I could have gone in the row in front of him and jumped up for the ball had I looked in that direction prior to the balls being hit there but I’m telling you that both would have been easy catches on the fly had I had the room to do so but such is life at Citi Field.

On top of that, the Braves weren’t throwing many baseballs to anyone over the age of 12 and even to these kids they were not throwing much. Towards the end of bp my guest (or maybe it was the other way around?) arrived and once bp ended we went almost directly to our seats. His actual name would be Chris Cositore and he is now the former pitching coach at Fordham (prep) because he just gratuated from Fordham (university) and is going on with his life blah, blah,blah. Anyway, here he is:

In case you can’t tell where we are, the seats were down the first base line and a bit closer to the outfield than the dugout. I don’t usually sit on this side of the field but the tickets were provided by the same guest that I had on this game and I’ll never pass up a deal to sit in good seats and not have to deal with Citi Field security for no additional cost.

A funny thing about this game involving Chris is that at the beginning of the game he started counting down the number of hitters for a perfect game. So when Chris Capuano (the Mets pitcher) got the first out he told me, “only 26 batters for a perfect game. He told me for every batter. When he got up to get food, he texted me the number every time an out was made. This was kind of his retaliation because he is just loyal enough of a Mets fan where you can make “your team stinks” jokes and they make sense but he doesn’t really take offense to them because he acknowledges the fact but he this was his obligatory retaliation. The way he announced it was before the game saying we were going to see the Mets’ first no-hitter. He was almost right. Capuano pitched a complete game shutout allowing only two hits. I went to the dugout after the game but didn’t get anything because:

1. Capuano wanted to (I assume) keep the game ball because he just pitched one of his best games ever.

2. The umpire tunnel is on the other side of the field on the third base side of the Field level seats.

3. The Mets relievers don’t got through the dugout to the clubhouse because there is a tunnel behind the bulpen that leads directly to the clubhouse and they have no need for going through the dugout.

Regardless, this was my view after the game:

After I eventually conceeded to the fact that there would be no more ball snagging opportunites, Chris and I got our picture taken by one of the “hospitality attendant”s. This was the first attempt that he described as: “a little dark”:

We then decided to move back where the light was (and I secretly ignited a great setting called “flash”) and this was the end product:

And I got the very rare luxury of getting driven home. Of course, it really wasn’t my house because I was staying over with friends. Anyway, that capped of my day at Citi. I then got to spend the next few days in Hurricane mode.

8/5/11 Braves at Mets: Citi Field

Today was the final chapter of the book “Why I despise going to baseball games during kids week.” This would be the line in front of me when I got to the game 30 minutes early:

But wait, it gets better. Here is the line behind me 10 minutes before the gates opened:

I initially wasn’t going to go to this game but then a member of the senior “club” that I volunteer at knew me as a person who went to baseball games offered me two tickets. So I went to the game and offered the other ticket to another ballhawk who happens to be my next door neighbor, Greg Barasch. Crazy, no? Though, looking back on it, I might have been better served to invite his dog as he makes for very tough competition. The one positive was that there was no season ticket holder section on the field:

Of course, that didn’t matter as nothing even came close, hit or otherwise, during the Mets portion of bp. I moved around a bit but not as much as I usually do. My desperation strategy for the last day of kids week was to stay put more and see if things would work out that way. It is safe to say that this strategy failed utterly and my first and only ball came from Alan Butts:

Butts is simply listed as “coach” on the roster and I suspect he is the bullpen catcher. Anyway, in the picture, the arrow pointing straight down shows where I was standing and the arrow pointing diagonally upwards is the path of the ball from Butts’ hand to my glove.  That was it for batting practice.

Now to the game. This was a game/postgame of tough breaks. Due to paint’s inability to accurately depict this next scene I will put up the picture of where I was sitting and write out what then unfolded:

Josh Thole was up and he hit a sort of high foul ball. From that view, it immediately went into the lights. I knew that it would get out of the light so I just kept my eyes still on where I thought it would exit the lights. It then exited them on the left, sliced back to the right but was now under the lights. I could tell it was coming right at me. I mean RIGHT AT ME! Thole couldn’t have thrown it to me more perfectly. I simply stood up and was ready to make the easy chest level catch when the person in front of me, who is illuminated by my flash, stood up and deflected the ball just enough for it to scoot to the right of my glove and in the row behind me. To add insult to injury, the ball hit the person in the row behind me and one seat to my left. Just as I turned to see where it had gone the ball rolled under the seat right next to me:

Then it rolled two rows below me and to add a law suit against a person who has been both insulted and injured I climbed over a row and was a quarter of a second late to the ball as a lady in that row grabbed it:

Then after the game, I convinced the home plate umpire to flip me a ball but the person in front of me reached for it and as a result swatted it down beck into the tunnel the umpires exit through. A security supervisor who has a disposition against ballhawks then picked it up and walked straight past me before giving it to someone else. I would have been fine with this had the umpire blindly thrown the ball into the crowd because that is free game but he only reacted after I called him out by name and I am 97.639% sure that the ball was intended for me.

Oh and did I mention that it was also Fiesta Latina and as a result there were Jose Reyes banners being given away. Though most people used them as a cape instead:

On the subway, I saw a father and son decked out in Braves gear and could tell they had traveled a ways to get here. I also saw that the son had a glove with him.  So, as is my natural inclination, I asked him if he had gotten a ball. When he said no, I then took my ball out of my backpack and gave it to him. They asked me if I was sure and I think I explained to them what I did or just told them to keep it.

STATS:

  • 1 ball at this game (no picture because I gave it away) number 188 for my career
  • 127 balls in 30 games= 4.233333 Balls Per Game
  • 56 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 26 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 1 ball*30,607fans= 30,607 competition factor
  • Time At Game 4:45- 10: 12= 5 hours 27 minutes

7/6/11 Rockies at Braves: Turner Field

Third and final day at Turner Field and I was very optimistic:

The first game was packed and the second game was slow HR wise in bp so why shouldn’t I have been. For those of you who don’t know, Turner Field opens 2 1/2 hours early. That means the gates were opened at 4:30 this day. I had been moving back and forth. When my mom caught up to me in a section and rightfully ask how many I had caught in forty minutes of batting practice I had to give her the second worst one-handed gesture I could have:

About five minutes later, I moved over closer to straight away left field in order to get a ball from the Rockies warming-up and en route caught  a Brooks Conrad Home Run:

but let me tell you right now that I could have easily had five baseballs. I moved back to my spot where I had been standing for ten minutes now and had moved from to catch the Conrad homer when a 14-ish year old kid came down the aisle. I moved aside and he slid right in to the row in front of me. Thirty seconds later, he called out to his dad asking if the Braves had been taking bp before then. When his dad answered yes, he pulled a ball out from under a seat and said he might have found one. Oh my goodness. How could I have not spotted that earlier. Oh yeah I’ll tell you, I figured since the stadium opened 2 1/2 hours early and most teams start hitting that early that there wouldn’t be any thing there. Still, let me show you how close I was:

The lower arrow shows where the ball had been. The upper left arrow shows where I had been standing. So this seat being an aisle seat in row 21 I was in the aisle adjacent to row 22. Gaaaah! As I explained before, I did not think at all to look for easter eggs so I have reason not to be disappointed but it was right in the row in front of me. On a lighter note, notice how the seat is designed so it cannot go completely up like the seat next to it. Whoever designed the seat forgot about the curvature of the stadium and so the armrest prevents the seat from going up.

That was it for bp the Braves weren’t really stingy and it wasn’t really crowded but people were in spots so that there wasn’t a full empty row except at the back of the left field bleachers or a ways away from home plate in deep left center. I stupidly stayed in this section of left field because, as I said, it wasn’t that crowded. The draw back was that the Home Runs that were hit always took some crazy bounce or were deflected by other people. One specific example when I came oh so close was a ball that bounced off of a person’s hands came back to me and I extended as far as I could over a seat but only managed to stop the ball’s momentum as someone picked it off the ground. I extended at chest level but did not think the scenario through as I would have gotten the ball had I extended for the ball at  a lower height (the ball was still going back towards me so if I would have given it more time to fall it would have come closer to me and thus right into my glove).  The toss-ups I normally get were also at a low as Jim Wright ignored me for half an hour and I am always afraid that if I call out to payers from too far away they will see me as impatient and not throw me a baseball when they come close to the wall. So I kept quiet but they kept away from the wall as Wright retrieved the majority of the balls. Here is a picture that describes the last sentence perfectly:

Jim Wright is the one in the middle with the ball in his hand he is standing to Houston Street I believe. Had he stayed longer (Street) I might have gotten a baseball out of him but he left soon afterwards.  I am the one in the stands with my hand and glove cupped around my mouth asking him if he could spare a baseball. You can also see the two groups of three pitchers on either side of the the picture that just stayed there. I don’t know that much about Wright but he also seemed like one of those coaches that keeps an eye out for how much the players are tossing balls into the stands and thus they don’t do it as often. Any ballhawks out there know what I am talking about? He was like a lesser Randy St.Claire this day. Kapish?

…I would also, in light of the Shannon Stone incident, like to tell any one that Turner Field, although with high walls and a gap like Ranger Ballpark, is a very safe place. In addition to the signs, like that which I am standing in front of in the previous picture, there are chains that prevent one from getting within two feet of the wall of places like bullpens. Anybody skeptical of Turner’s safety because of the gap can be assured that you would have to almost try and fall into the gap…

I then went  to the Rockies dugout in hopes of an early third out ball before going back to my ticketed seat in hopes of snagging foul balls in consecutive days. I first got Mark Ellis to toss me his pre-game warm-up ball but then a guy  reached right in front of me and grabbed the ball. I could have reached in front of him but I didn’t want to step on any toes, even if it was my last day (keep this in mind later). Thankfully, Ellis had another ball in his back pocket and threw it, this time OVER the grabby man:

Remember how I said I would get an early third out ball and run back to my section. I spent nine innings behind the dugout and did not get a single ball because of a variety of circumstances.

After the game, I went over to the umpire tunnel. At Turner Field, it is to the right side of the visitors’ dugout:

I went over there and waited for Home Plate Umpire, Cory Blaser, to walk over before asking him for a ball. He was about to walk right into the tunnel until he heard his name. At which point he back up out of the tunnel and rolled a ball across the dugout in my direction but then a teenager, younger than I , reached out in front of me  and grabbed the ball. He said the reason he did it was that he had been at the dugout the whole game and hadn’t gotten a third out ball “Wow, what do you think I’ve been doing all game”. He didn’t say sorry or offer me the ball (I wouldn’t have taken it and already had two baseballs but still that doesn’t justify his actions because he didn’t know either of those facts). Pretty disappointing considering how the game had gone to that point.

STATS:

  • 2 balls at this game
Numbers 118+119 for the career:
  • 58 balls in 18 game= 3.22 balls per game
  • 43 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 8 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 13 straight games away from NYC with at least 1 ball
  • 20 balls in 4 games= 5.0 balls per game on this trip
  • 2 balls*26,271 fans= 52,542 competition factor
  • Time at Game 3:57-9:54= 5 hours 57 minutes

7/4/11 Rockies at Braves: Turner Field

Oh Fourth of July. The proud day where Americana reigns supreme and the gates open… THREE HOURS EARLY?! Thank goodness my mom had taken a tour at 3:00 because had she not gone I would have showed up a little late for the gates as she warned me via phone of this scheduling change. As I arrived I saw this:

Nothing horrible but then I got the priviledge of sitting for half an hour doing nothing:

My first “ball” of the day was sort of a weird situation as Bullpen coach Eddie Perez threw a ball to a person. That person rejoiced because he thought he had gotten a ball. Eddie then flapped his glove like he wanted it to be thrown back. The man threw it back and Eddie continued this process with several other people. Eventually, I convinced Eddie to throw me the ball but then had to throw it back. I have had this situation happen to me before where I have caught a ball and the player asked for it back but the number of people that actually touched this ball makes me wonder if I should count it. For the moment, I am counting it but let me use the handy dandy poll daddy widget to find out the readers’ reaction/opinion

When the Braves pitchers began to warm-up along the 1st base foul line. You can expect I made my way over there (I was in left field). My mother however, thought I was coming back to left field right after the pitchers ended their warm-up. So before I go into detail on a miny snagging rampage here is a picture of a group of pitchers in left-center field (if you’re a little lost my mom had the camera so I don’t have any pictures of said rampage):

Now to the rampage. Although I didn’t get any balls from the pitchers warming up, a ball got hit to the wall in the right field corner where George Sherrill picked it up. Since I was in foul ground I was the closest to him because of a tunnel leading back into the depths of stadium where there were obviously no seats. So I called out and he promptly tossed me the ball. I then moved into the actual right field seats and caught a Home Run from a lefty I didn’t recognize at the time, but later identified as Freddie Freeman. This due to the fact that it was the exact same swing as Home Run he hit during the actual game (to be seen later). I stayed put in left field because a) there were a lot of lefties up and b) this was the crowd in left field at almost that exact same time:

You can see in the background how much less crowded the right field seats were. Anyway, a ball got hit into the Braves bullpen in right center field and no one went after it but me. Scott Proctor was in the bullpen and as he picked up the ball I got him to throw it to me . While I was coming back down the steps, a ball got hit and a kid around seven years old managed to stop it but it dropped into the gap between the walls and so I swooped in with my glove trick and after a bunch of tangling brought it up and handed it to him.

While in right, I noticed a fair amount of balls going into the center field bleachers (or Pavillion as the Braves so graciously renamed it). Like just as many as in left and right. Since it was 400+ feet from home plate to glove so there weren’t that many people there  but in all actuality the rightmost section (looking from home plate) is really right center and isn’t that out of the question when it comes to Home Runs.  Anyway, five minutes after I got there, Brian McCann hit a Home Run to that rightmost section I ran  and set up right behind the (barehanded) person camped under it but he deflected it forward and a third person out-scrambled him for it. This turned out to blessing in disguise as a the next pitch McCann launched a ball back to my right  and all I had to do was run ten steps and catch it. For those keeping score at home that is now six balls on the day, five sans Perez ball.

I met back with my mom in Left Field and stayed there for the remainder of Braves bp because I wanted to wait until the Rockies pitchers finished throwing:

I got nothing from them and returned to right field, this time with a photographer. The closest I came to a ball in left field because of the crowd was a ball that landed in the gap. I had my glove trick and got to the point quickest but gave way to a person with a cup trick type thing a few moments afterward. I add on the “type thing” because it was a cup trick but I am used to something other than a roll of duct tape being used as a weight:

Anyway, Rockies batting practice was pretty slow. Not necessarily in terms of balls hit into the stands but it seemed like there were never balls hit close enough to the stands to shout to the players for toss-ups. It was also pretty crowded in right field on the aisles so of course let me give you a picture of the middle of the row:

Towards the middle of Rockies batting practice, a lefty hit a Home Run to my right. I was two sections so I came a little late to the party but managed to win the scramble when the barehanded person inevitably dropped the ball and I scooped it up.  I then proceeded to give the ball to a kid also chasing it. I probably should have given it to a kid with a glove but it was more of a reactionary move to endear myself to the section as they had seen me snag a few balls. I just kept trying the players from close up using words and from far away using gestures:

but it was hopeless as I forgot my attention grabbing Rockies shirt in a rush to get to the stadium and just had my hat add that to the fact it was the Fourth of July and the stadium was packed, even in bp. So batting practice ended:

and I was happy as I had set my season high and tied my career high for balls in a game. I didn’t try to go for third out balls and set a new career high just yet. If it were to come, it would be a Home Run or a bullpen ball that sent me to #8 as this was the view from my seat:

Guess what. A Home Run did come within twenty feet of me and guess who caught it. Not me. This was my view right after the catch as I had to watch helplessly because of the crowd:

I mean he caught it on the fly so there was nothing I could really do about it but still I go in my mind to thinking how that would have played out on a day that was not the fourth of July. That of course, the Freddie Freeman Home Run that I referenced earlier that helped me identify him as the one that hit the ball that I caught.

There were mostly lefties hitting so I just watched the spectacle that was a family trying to land more peanut shells on the first wall than each other:

In the eighth inning it started to rain and the section really emptied out but it was too late:

as there were only six hitters after that point.

Still the Braves commemorated my six/seven ball performance with some nice fireworks:

a

Can you spot my hotel? I am staying at the Holiday Inn. I stayed for the entire fireworks ceremony and ended up drenched:

The funny part about that picture is the camera didn’t move that much it was the water on the lens that made it look so blurry.

Oh and remember how I said my glove trick got tangled on the first ball. Here is a picture of it after I got home:

Just keep that in mind when I write my next entry today/tomorrow.

STATS  

  • Seven balls at this game ( four pictured because I kept that many)
Which would be numbers 105-111 on the career:
  • 50 balls in 16 games= 3.13 balls per game
  • 41 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 11 straight outside of New York
  • 7 balls*36,137 fans= 252,959 competition factor
  • Time at game 3:38- 11:27=7 hours 49 minutes A record I do not think I will break any time soon.
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