Results tagged ‘ houston astros ’

My Favorite MLB Teams

While I’ve always kind of known which teams I like and which I don’t–although even those have changed throughout the years–I truly have never ranked the teams 1-30 as to which I like better than others. So that’s what I’m going to do right now. (Disclaimer: This is a list of how I order the teams in the offseason of 2013-14. While most of my decision in where to put a team in the rankings is based off of the franchise itself, some of it is based on who is on the team right now, so these rankings are subject to change over time.)

1. Minnesota Twins-

My story with the Twins is that I grew up a Yankees fan being from New York, but being that I look at things from a GM’s perspective, I thought that being Brian Cashman and having a $200-million payroll would be a pretty boring job creatively since he could essentially buy any player he wanted to. In thinking this, I thought of a team who had success but doing so with a reduced payroll that required teams to build their team in an innovative way on a much smaller budget. Being as it was the mid-2000s, the Twins was a natural choice seeing as they were a constant playoff team with one of the lowest budgets in baseball. Now don’t get me wrong; there’s a different challenge in being the GM of the Yankees: you’re never allowed to take a year off having success to rebuild your core/farm system, but I was entranced by the building of a successful major league team from a solid minor league core.

2. Washington Nationals-

In going to a ton of games at Nationals Park in 2011 I fell in love with the core of players that went 80-81 as well as the people who inhabited it. Ever since then, I have been a really big fan of the players that made up the core of the teams in the next two years. And because of me falling in love with the Nationals Park environment for whatever reason as well as the people who made it such a special place, I became a fan of the franchise as a whole.

3. Tampa Bay Rays-

Much like the Twins, the Rays endeared themselves to me by being a team that built their team intelligently–allowing them to achieve repeated success on a payroll that can’t compare to that of a larger market team.

4. San Francisco Giants-

The Giants is an interesting case because it started as simply a liking of a specific player: Tim Lincecum. However, as I kept up with Lincecum more and more as he began to turn from the Washington kid who could pitch insanely fast for his size to a household name, I grew to have a liking fro the other players on the Giants as well. I think having shared a hotel with the players in Milwaukee and having a mini-conversation with a couple of them as well as having a personal memory of what Brian Wilson was like pre-beard may have contributed to this connection to the team, though.

5. Texas Rangers-

I truly have no idea how the Rangers managed to climb my list so high. I used to not really be a fan of them in their team with the two Rodriguezes, but as they turned towards a team that relied more on pitching *in addition to* the offense the Rangers always seemed to have, I really liked the teams that they constructed around 2009-10.

6. New York Yankees-

While they have fallen down my list and I hate the franchise past the team itself, they still are my childhood team that I can’t help to root for.

7. Philadelphia Phillies-

While it was not the beginning of my fandom of them, this certainly sealed it for me. They’d be higher on the list for me, but Phillies fans.

8. Toronto Blue Jays-

Part of me always sympathized with our neighbors to the north. Even when the Expos were still a team, I liked the Blue Jays a lot and always secretly as a Yankee fan hoped they would surge up and break the norm of the AL East standings for a while in the early 2000s–which was:

1. Yankees

2. Red Sox

3. Blue Jays

4. Orioles

5. Devil Rays

I just really always wanted them to have success, and this translated to a fandom of the team when they played teams that weren’t my top-of-the-line favorite teams.

9. Milwaukee Brewers-

My liking of the Brewers began in around 2008 when CC Sabathia joined the team for half a season and did amazing with being in attendance for what should have been a no-hitter, (I might write about this/do a video for a “Blast From the Baseball Past” entry) but then I just had a fandom for the Fielder and Braun teams. My fandom for the team, though, has lessened the past couple of years for obvious reasons regarding one or more of the aforementioned players.

10. Oakland Athletics-

(See Tampa Rays.)

11. Cincinnati Reds-

I think this is kind of a fusion of many of the various teams I have talked about to this point. So in part it’s like the Rays where I liked that a solid major league team was built from the pooling of major league talent, but it is also a lot like the Giants since I really like Joey Votto as a player.

12. Atlanta Braves-

I think this is Nationals-esque in that I loved Turner Field and its atmosphere. I also liked the core and became much more of a fan because of people I have met that are passionate about the Braves. And I can say that the fact that Julio Teheran plays for them doesn’t hurt them at all.

13. Arizona Diamondbacks-

This is one of the teams that I honestly don’t know why I like more than most teams. I’ve just always liked Diamondbacks teams (after the 2001 season, that is.) Yeah, I don’t know.

14. Seattle Mariners-

This has been mostly the product of running into very nice baseball people who are fans of the Mariners. I’m also a fan of how good of a pitching team they have been despite being offensively anemic the past seasons.

15. Baltimore Orioles-

Similarly to the Mariners, I just know a ton of awesome baseball people that are Orioles fans. In addition to that, their stadium is my favorite in baseball. I would say that really the only reason they’re this far down the list is that some Orioles fans became obnoxious as they began to climb out of the AL East cellar.

16. Detroit Tigers-

I know that I’m supposed to hate the Tigers as a Twins fan, but the fact that we beat them in the game 163 we played them helps and I always admired the teams that had success more than most of the teams I am supposed to dislike.

17. Pittsburgh Pirater-

I can pretty safely say that if I weren’t a ballhawk, this team would be lower on the list, but because of the big ballhawk following in Pittsburgh, I have kept up and liked the Pirates and it was incredibly fun watching them have success for the first time in over two decades last season.

18. Miami Marlins-

Ah the Marlins. Those poor souls. I always had an affinity for them especially teams with the 30+ homer infields of Uggla, Ramirez, Cantu, and Jacobs. That said, Jeffrey Loria has made this a team that I can’t root for over half of the other teams. They remain a team that I’m intrigued by and want to root for, and they would skyrocket up this list if Loria ever sold them and kept them in Miami, but right now they’re just not a team I can really get behind.

19. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim-

I don’t know about this team. I want to like them in many respects, but they lost me when they started spending a bajillion dollars on free agents, trading for Vernon Wells, and then having success with not with their big free agent acquisitions but with the farm talent they had beforehand.

20. Colorado Rockies-

The Rockies are one of those teams I have a preference towards, but still in a kind of “eh” way. I’ve never disliked them really, but I’ve never really had any passion behind my support of them.

21. San Diego Padres-

I used to like them a lot more in the Trevor Hoffman era, but they’ve dropped a bit since then  not necessarily because their lack of success but the players behind these teams. They just haven’t been groups of guys that I’d like to get behind.

22. Cleveland Indians-

Again, never disliked them but never really liked them.

23. Houston Astros-

I actually like the group of people in this team and could see myself liking a lot in the years to come. That said, they have made some pretty bad decisions in the past and it was not a shock that they were as bad of a team as they have been.

24. Kansas City Royals-

I actually like this franchise in terms of their ballpark and look, but then there are the people behind the scenes that ruin this team for me. At the ballpark, I have not heard many positive things about their ushers, and behind the franchise, I disagree on many things with the GM of the team, Dayton Moore. I think that the team could have been competing a long time ago had it not been for his guidance.

25. St. Louis Cardinals-

The main reason for them being this far down the list is the fact that their fans claim incorrectly that they are definitely the “best fans in baseball.” While I don’t think there is a no-doubt group of the best fans in baseball, if my experience with Cardinals fans in baseball has taught me anything, it is that while the Cardinals fan base may be in the top-10, they are definitely not the no-doubt best fans in baseball they claim to be.

26. Chicago White Sox-

I was a fan of the 2005 Astros and 2008 Twins. Enough said.

27. New York Mets-

They’re the Mets. I don’t know how many things I have admired about the Mets the past five years. If it’s any indication, the rendition of “Meet the Mets” that I have adopted begins:

Beat the Mets,

Beat the Mets,

Step right up and,

Sweep the Mets

28. Los Angeles Dodgers-

While I have kind of liked the players on the Dodgers for stretches, their recent acquisition by the Kasten-Johnson group and metamorphosis into baseball’s new Yankees has really turned me off to them. I have disliked them sans Vin Scully for a much longer time than just that, but that’s the most recent thing that provides a rational reason for disliking them.

29. Chicago Cubs-

I have never had any appeal to the Cubs, and I’m not particularly found of how Cubs fans overreact to prospects as well as how in-your-face Cubs fans I have interacted with have been about the most minor successes. Granted, it’s a conditioning that has come with being the fan of a team who last won a World Series when one’s great-grandparents were your age.

30. Boston Red Sox-

This is partially because I grew up a fan of the Yankees, but I also do like their stadium and the atmosphere of it. However, I can’t get over the attitude of their owner John Henry that many fans have adopted without realizing the absurdity of it of that the Yankees have a ridiculous advantage in terms of having a humongous payroll. The reason this argument infuriates me is because for the longest time, there was a gigantic gap in payroll between the Red Sox and the third largest payroll. Thus it was the rich crying poor in order to gain sympathy. The second reason is because the Steinbrenner family is actually a middle-of-the-pack ownership group in terms of wealth. The reason they invest so much money into the team is because they value winning. Therefore, if John Henry truly wanted to win, he could spend the extra money and win. The problem is that if he didn’t win with this extra money invested, he would be losing money. However, George Steinbrenner was taking the same risk when he invested his extra money; it was just that Steinbrenner’s Yankees did win every season and could thus keep spending. So what Henry did by calling out Steinbrenner and the Yankees was criticized him/them for doing what he didn’t have the guts to do with the Red Sox in order to give his fans the winning such a great fan base deserved. However, being the fans that they were, many Red Sox fans backed their owner without truly understanding what was behind these claims.

So those were my favorite teams. I am by no means “right” in any of my judgements. Picking a favorite team–or in my case *teams*–is something of complete subjectivity and can be done for any number of reasons. Also, the next entry is me making a new Observing Baseball Logo. I would actually like to make a clarification. So it’s actually not the logo itself–this:

Just Logo

But it would actually be me remaking the icon itself, which is this:

Icon 5

But besides that, keep voting for your favorite entries. I should mention that I’ll be doing various entries for Twinsfest, but you can vote for the stuff you want to see besides this on the poll below:

8/1/13 Astros at Orioles: Camden Yards

So for the third time in as many days, I was at Oriole Park at Camden Yards (or OPACY for short) to see the Houston Astros take on the hometown Baltimore Orioles. And for the third consecutive day, I was not alone at the gates. Here was the crew:

8113 Opening Picture

Left to right that would be ballhawks/OPACY people:

1. Grant Edrington.

2. Mateo Fischer- As performed by Mateo Fischer.

3. Chris Hernandez- Who came from New York only to get misdirected by people outside OPACY and get to the gates with eight minutes to spare.

4. Rick Gold- I’ve introduced Rick many a time.

5. Alex Kopp- Who had generously let me sleep at his house the past two days.

6. Zevi- Who I believe for the first time I’ve ever been, was going to a game that Avi Miller was not attending.

How did these people scatter once inside? Here are my right, left, and frontal views once we all got inside the stadium:

8113 View 1

8113 View 2 8113 View 3

So in that last picture, you may notice that Alex was in front of me. That’s usually not good news at all, since he is way better at judging fly balls than I am, but in this particular instance it benefited me. Usually the OPACY regulars–and even myself–don’t even try to get the Orioles players and coaches to toss us baseballs, but Alex convinced Miguel Gonzalez to toss him a ball. Unfortunately for Alex, Gonzalez air-mailed him and I picked the ball up for my first of the day:

8113 Ball 1

Gonzalez would be the Oriole in black with the orange glove, who seems on his way to pick up the baseball in the distance. I felt bad for doing that, even though it was natural and he would do (and has done in the past) the same thing to me. But don’t feel too bad, because he would go on to snag seven baseballs on the day and further distance himself from me in the mygameballs.com standings.

My second baseball of the day came when I quickly went into foul territory right at the end of Orioles BP and got Astros catcher, Carlos Corporan, to toss me a baseball. I didn’t get a picture of it, because I thought I had a shot at a quick third baseball, but none of the other Astros who were throwing acknowledged me.

Like my first, my next ball would also come as a result of Alex and Tim Anderson’s cup trick that he had lent me the previous day. When Rick Gold and I simultaneously went from left to right field, he asked me if I wanted the flag court or the seats. Right then I saw a baseball in the gap in front of the seats, so I said, “Seats,” and went into the section. As I got into the section, an usher by the name of Charlie recognized me from earlier and asked me if I had a ball retriever, because his son had dropped a ball into the gap. Since I was headed to there anyway, I gladly obliged and got the ball for his son. I then asked for the baseball back for a second to take this picture of it:

8113 Ball 3

(And no, my thumb isn’t broken. I truly have no clue why it’s bent that way in the picture.) Sadly this would be my last ball of BP. I almost got a ball during the Astros last mostly-lefty group, but it bounced into a trash can, and Grant realized it a half-second before I did and pulled the ball out of a food tray inside the trash can.

While I wasn’t completely dissatisfied in myself like I am during many 3-ball performances, I realized I was sitting at 599 baseballs and kind of wanted to get my 600the baseball before the day was over. At the end of BP, I went to the Astros dugout. There I asked Javier Bracamonte while he was unloading the BP baseballs into ball bags if he could toss me a spare baseball. He motioned that I go to the bullpen for when he arrived there. So I journeyed and met up with Chris, who had still not gotten an Astros 50th anniversary commemorative, which was pretty much the reason he drove down for this game. So waited at the bullpen. Through such things as Jason Castro’s catching drills:

8113 Bullpen 1

And even when Bracamonte got to the bullpen, he kept telling me to wait. Not in a mean way, but more of a “I’m going to hook you up, but I have to do bullpen catcher stuff right now” kind of way. Finally, after a ton of time, he tossed me what was now my third 50th anniversary commemorative baseball:

8113 Ball 4

I kind of felt bad because Chris had still not gotten one of these. If you can see Bracamonte’s blurred face in the background of the last picture, he’s semi-confused because Chris was explaining to him that he wanted Javier to toss him a commemorative baseball, but I think he was misinterpreting it and thought that Chris was asking him for a 2013 Astros commemorative baseball, which the Astros don’t take on the road with them(…yet). In this next picture, I believe Bracamonte is going back to the ball bag to search for a commemorative. (FYI, if you see this Astros in the immediate future in search of the 2012 commemorative baseball, their bullpen bag was comprised of almost exclusively commemorative baseballs.):

8113 Bullpen 2

Eventually, Chris did get his commemorative toss-up from Bracamonte. I would show you the picture, but I took it with Chris’ phone, so I suspect that will be in his blog entry when it’s up.

I stayed in left for the first half-inning of the game, but then headed back to right field, where it finally dawned on me that I had snagged my 600th baseball ever. Since I thought it was a photo-worthy moment, I had Alex take a picture of me with the ball:

8113 600 Picture

And that was it. At the end of the game, both Chris and I headed down to the umpire tunnel:

8113 Umpire Tunnel

(He was taking a picture of his view. Here’s mine at the same time):

8113 My View

But neither of us got a baseball from the umpire since he was out of baseballs by the time he got to us. After everything died down at the dugout, we went to Chris’ car and headed back to my apartment in Washington, where we would stay the next day before coming back to OPACY the next day.

Semi-side-note. I never released it because it became factually inaccurate, but we filmed a video before heading off to OPACY the next day, so here’s that if you want to check it out:

I then filmed a video to kind of substitute the fact that I never released that one a few days ago, so here’s the more recent video for those of you who care:

Okay, and now I’m done with the entry.

STATS:

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

8113 Baseballs

Numbers 597-600 for my “career”:

8113 Sweet Spots:logo

  • 154 Balls in 39 Games= 3.95 Balls Per Game
  • 4 Balls x 17,909 Fans=71,636 Competition Factor
  • 101 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 6 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 3 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with 4 Balls
  • 62 Balls in 16 Games at OPACY= 3.88 Balls Per Game
  • 16 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at OPACY
  • 6 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at OPACY
  • 4 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at OPACY
  • Time Spent On Game 4:18-11:20= 7 Hours 2 Minutes

7/31/13 Astros at Orioles: Camden Yards

After spending the night at Alex Kopp‘s, I was off to my second Orioles-Astros game in as many days. Here’s what the left field seats looked like as I entered them:

73113 Opening Picture

You may notice I numbered some people. Those would be ballhawks/OPACY regulars:

1. Grant Edrington.

2. The previously-mentioned Alex Kopp.

3. Avi Miller.

As for snagging, this Orioles BP was particularly bad, so I didn’t snag my first baseball until I picked up a ball Matt Domiguez overthrew another fan with after playing catch down the 3rd base line. I then immediately gave the ball to the kid Dominguez had intended the ball to go to. Little did I realize it at the time, but that marked the 100th consecutive game I had snagged a baseball at. This was huge for me because I had long said that once I got to 100 consecutive games, I would cease to care about my streak and not avoid games because I thought they would put my streak in jeopardy. So this was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. But I obviously didn’t realize it because I gave the ball away.

I then got Jonathan Villar to actually toss me a ball for my second on the day:

73113 Ball 1

Did you see the logo of the ball? That’s right; it was an Astros 50th anniversary commemorative baseball. If you don’t know what commemorative baseballs are, they’re baseballs that are manufactured to commemorate special occasions. This particular one was made last year to commemorate 2012 being the Astros’ 50th season as a franchise. While many other ballhawks were looking forward to the commemorative baseball the Astros have been using this year to commemorate their first season in the American League, I had never gotten this commemorative baseball in 2012, so I was ecstatic.

 

My next two baseballs require a bit of back story. If you’ve read my Camden Yards entries before, you may have noticed that one very regular ballhawk was missing the past two games: Tim Anderson. For this series with the Astros and the Orioles next series against the Mariners, he was vacationing with his family in Ocean City, Maryland. Because of this and the fact that Alex Kopp had lost his cup trick, Tim gave Alex his cup trick while he was gone. The morning before this game at work, though, Alex made a new cup trick. Since he didn’t need two cup tricks, I asked him if he could lend me Tim’s for the duration of my stay in Baltimore. So with my new toy, when I saw a baseball go into the gap in front of the center field bleachers, I ran over and cup tricked the ball in this spot:

73113 Ball 3 Diagram

As I was pulling the ball up, I was made aware that a kid had dropped the ball into the gap when an Astros player had tossed it to him. So after I pulled the ball up, I gave it to him. Another–way more awesome–thing happened while I was retrieving the ball. As I was pulling up the cup, (and found out that the trick must be dropped and not simply lowered onto the ball) a second ball hit the wall just to my right and settled less than three feet away from my spot. I moved over a little, cup tricked the ball, and found out it was another Astros 50th anniversary commemorative. So thank you, Tim, for lending Alex your cup trick, and thank you, cup trick, for getting me two extra baseballs:

73113 Tim Cup Trick

I then headed out into the flag court for the last or second to last Astros group, because they were mostly lefties. Alex and Grant also joined me out there. And somehow we each managed to semi-rob each other of a ball. Grant got a ball that I was just about to trap with my glove, Alex caught a ball in front of Grant’s glove, and then I got a ball that got ripped out of Alex’s hands:

73113 Ball 5

What happened was Robbie Grossman hit a ball that bounced on Eutaw Street and went on top of the metal awning-type thing you see in the background of that last picture. A guy was camped under it waiting for the ball to drop, but as it did, Alex jumped up and grabbed the ball with his bare, left hand. The guy also reached for it, but what he got was Alex’s hand. So what he ended up doing was pulling Alex’s fingers off of the ball. The ball then dropped to the guy’s feet, where I picked it up before another passerby could. And that was it for BP. I then at the end of BP handed the final ball I had snagged to an usher who lets us sit in the wheelchair seats to the left of the flag court and instructed him to give the ball to the first kid he saw with a glove. Partially because I wanted the usher to see that I cared about giving away baseballs to kids, but also partially because that last lefty Astros group had put on a show, which had me running all over the place and too exhausted/lazy to find a kid myself.

The highlight (or low-light, depending on how you see things) of the game itself also involved Robbie Grossman. Minus Avi, this was how Grant, Alex, and I were stationed for the game:

73113 Flag Court set-up

For a righty, that is. For a lefty, we all stood up and moved to our respective spots. Alex stayed right where he was, Grant moved to the right part of the flag court, and I took the section of the flag court closest to the foul pole. Little did we know, but despite the show he had put on in BP, when he came up in the second inning, Robbie Grossman was at zero career home runs. So as I walked to my spot in the flag court, I saw a baseball flying at a trajectory that would put it over the seats just to the left of the foul pole, and onto Eutaw Street. I knew exactly where the ball was going to land, and bolted after it, but the problem was it was just hit too hard, and I was too out of position. So as it hit off of the warehouse, and rolled rapidly off the awning, none of us ballhawks had a shot at it, and it bounced off of one person’s hands before some person who had just been walking on the street got it. Had it just even slowly rolled off of the awning or taken one more bounce, I think one of us three would have gotten it. Here is where the ball bounced initially:

73113 HR Spot

And here is a picture that shows the landing spot relative to the warehouse:

73113 HR Spot 2

After that, our entertainment (well mostly my entertainment) came from seeing if the Astros could score more runs than millions of dollars they had on their payroll. See, earlier that day, the Astros had made a series of trades that dropped their payroll to $13 million. To give you an idea of how low that is, we calculated that the lowest a team could possibly pay a 25-man roster (so with every player making league minimum) was about $12.5 million. So essentially, besides Erik Bedard and a couple other guys, the Astros were a roster comprised entirely of guys making league minimum. Sadly, though, they only routed the Orioles 11-0 and not 14-0. I mean seriously, when would have been the last time a team scored more runs than millions of dollars they had on their payroll? Anyway, that was it for the game. I didn’t even bother with the umpire tunnel, and instead headed out with Alex immediately after the last out so we could get to his place as quickly as possible.

STATS:

  • 5 Balls at this Game (2 pictured because I gave 3 away)

73113 Baseballs

Numbers 592-596 for my “lifetime”:

73113 Logos

  • 150 Balls in 38 Games= 3.95 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 25,265 Fans=126,325 Competition Factor
  • 100 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 5 straight games with 2 Balls
  • 2 straight games with 3 Balls
  • 58 Balls in 15 Games at OPACY= 3.87 Balls Per Game
  • 15 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at OPACY
  • 5 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at OPACY
  • 3 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at OPACY
  • Time Spent On Game 4:05-10:28= 6 Hours 23 Minutes

7/30/13 Astros at Orioles: Camden Yards

After a three-week hiatus, it was time once more to go back to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. And look at the group there as the gates opened:

73013 Opening Group Picture

That would be:

1. Zevi- Whose last name I am still not sure of.

2. Me- As played by Mateo Fischer.

3. Grant Edrington- Whom I was introduced to face-to-face at the gates before this picture was taken.

4. Alex Kopp- A ballhawk who caught Chris Davis’ 100th home run, and may have done something nearly as special involving Davis a couple entries after this one. (Translation: stay tuned to this blog for about three more entries if you want to read about it.

5. Avi Miller- The very hospitable, unofficial king of Camden Yards.

As we ballhawks ran into the left field seats, Alex beat me to one easter egg down the third base line, but I then saw a ball going down the stairs behind him as he was walking back towards me. What I should have done was kept walking calmly past him like nothing was going on, since his back was turned to the ball. What I did instead was start running before I got past him, he saw me running, turned around, ran for the ball, and picked it up.

My first actual baseball came as a product of what I’d like to call hustle, but I think is more just me getting lucky. An Orioles lefty hit a towering foul ball, so being the ballhawk closest to foul territory, when I saw the ball was probably going to bounce off the warning track and into the seats, I bolted over there. I didn’t at all expect to get the ball, since there was a man within ten feet of where the ball landed, but when I saw he couldn’t find the ball, I accelerated and saw the ball in the front row. It had trickled down the stairs and this guy had no clue it had done so. As I saw it and started running, though, there was another man opposite me who was trying to get autographs. He noticed me running, and then saw the ball. When this happened, the ball was between us but slightly closer to him. So it turned into a 20-yard footrace. I beat him to the ball, and made sure to cover the ball with my glove, since I’ve gotten my hand stepped on in similar situations. I then walked back to left field with my first ball of the day:

73013 Ball 1

See if you can identify two of the guys from the opening picture in their left field seat spots:

73013 Ballhawks in LF

Anyway, my next baseball also came in foul ground. (Spoiler alert: all of mine this day did.) I went over there at the beginning of a group of Orioles who were mostly lefties. I figured they might hit a ball or two into foul ground. And I was right. I was paying attention to something else, but when I turned, I saw a ball going to touch down in the seats by me, and I ran over to pick it up:

73013 Ball 2

I sadly did not know pretty much any of the Astros, and they all had their numbered jerseys covered, so I didn’t get any toss-ups from them. the next ball I came even relatively close to was a hit baseball from Dave Clark. If you know who that is, you may say, “But, Mateo, Dave Clark is a coach on the Astros.” Well yes, but the way I almost got a baseball hit by him was he was hitting fungoes off of the right field wall for outfielders to learn the caroms of the ball. Several of these went over the wall, and one I had perfectly tracked and lined up, but someone reached in front of me at the last second and robbed me:

73013 Dave Clark

My next and final baseball that I snagged was in right field foul ground. I was down there to get a toss-up from an Astros coach/trainer-looking person when an Astros righty hit a ball in front of me. I ran down to it, but as soon as it hit a seat, it bounced sideways. I then ran and grabbed it, but a kid who had also been chasing it also grabbed the ball right after I did. He then started pulling on the ball, and as I have done in the past, I let go of the ball and counted it:

73013 Ball 3 Diagram

I’ve said it before in this blog, but I don’t think a situation has arisen thus far this year that has required me explaining it, so I’ll explain my rationale for the newer readers. I don’t like having a scoring system that incentivizes being a not-nice person. That’s why even though some ballhawks don’t count baseballs they give away baseballs (and I completely understand their way of seeing things) I count them, because it allows me to be a nice person despite my scoring system, whereas I might be much less likely to give baseballs away to kids if I didn’t count them in my stats. Additionally, if I grab onto a baseball and another person grabs onto it afterwards, my standard procedure is to let go, let them have the ball, and count it anyway. Because while this person grabbed onto a ball that I already had possession of, it wouldn’t be nice of me/look good if I ripped the ball out of their hands, so I just let it go. I felt okay about the decision in this particular instance until I saw that the ball I had just let go of was a Houston Astros 50th anniversary commemorative baseball. Then I kind of wished I had ripped it out of the kids’ hands and given him one of the baseballs I had snagged earlier in BP.

That was it for snagging, though. I was in the flag court the whole game, and I believe the only homer that was hit in the game went to left field. The highlight of the game by far was watching Jonathan Villar–who we were watching since he had/has 0 career home runs–steal home. I don’t think any of us on the flag court (Grant, Alex, and myself) saw him right away, but it was amazing once we picked him up out of the corner of our eyes and realized what had just happened. Take a look for yourselves:

Oh, and another thing that was amazing that I forgot to mention earlier in the entry was that Chris Carter hit the facing of the second deck in left field. I don’t know exactly how far that is, but it was certainly the farthest hit baseball I’ve seen hit there, and one usher said the only person he had ever seen do that was Jose Canseco–if that puts anything into perspective for you. Main point: Play back for Chris Carter.

STATS:

  • 3 Baseballs at this game (2 pictured because I let 1 slip away voluntarily)

73013 Baseballs

Numbers 589-591 for my “career”:

73013 Sweet Spots

  • 145 Balls in 37 Games= 3.92 Balls Per Game
  • 3 Balls x 24,904 Fans=74,712 Competition Factor
  • 99 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 4 straight games with 2 Balls
  • 53 Balls in 14 Games at OPACY= 3.79 Balls Per Game
  • 14 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at OPACY
  • 4 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at OPACY
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at OPACY
  • Time Spent On Game 1:20-10:20= 9 Hours

8/24/12 Astros at Mets: Citi Field

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and this:

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

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

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

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

STATS:

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

Houston Astros 2012 Offseason Recap and Preview

I think this next image pretty well descirbes the Astros’ 2011 season, no? (even if it is fr0m 2004):

Grade: C+

Notable Additions:

Jed Lowrie, Jack Cust, Chris Snyder, and Kyle Weiland.

Notable Subtractions:

Mark Melancon, and Clint Barmes.

Why?: Let me get one thing clear. I know the Astros are not in the AL West yet, but I think it’s better that I make transition now, because it just makes my life slightly easiser to have 15 teams in each league and 5 teams in each division. Secondly, I know the “Notable” names aren’t that notable, because I lowered my standards for the category especially for the Astros and they haven’t had much happening this offseason.

The Astros aren’t exactly an offensive power house. So I like their improvements on that front, but their most feared hitter is still Carlos, which doesn’t doom the lineup, but makes it less imposing than 90% of the other lineups in MLB.  Long gone are the days of the Astros contending for the even the NL Central (at times the weakest division in the league), much less contending  for the World Series as they did in 2005. It also doesn’t help that they are moving into the most improved division of 2011. Unless there is an extreme shift in culture, they may be lucky to win a division title before 2020.

I think I’ve covered the bases, right? The Astros stink, and they didn’t do much in the offseason.

Predicted Record Range: 60-65 wins

Up Next: In my last post, I put up a poll for what division you want next. You voted for the NL Central, for whatever reason. So, here is a poll of which team I should write about in said division:

Texas Rangers 2012 Offseason Recap and Preview

I wrote in my blog description that I like to keep my writing positive. So, let’s focus on the fact that the Rangers got to the World Series for the second straight year:

Grade: C-

Notable Additions:

Yu Darvish and Joe Nathan.

Notable Subtractions:

C.J. Wilson, Darren Oliver, Brandon Webb,and Taylor Teagarden.

Why?: For all the hype the Rangers have gotten, and all of the talks they’ve been in, they really have had an uneventful offseason. So, I actually have them losing talent as of January 26th when I write this entry. I see CJ Wilson as a superior to Yu Darvish in 2012, just because the strike zone in Japan is bigger and I don’t know how he’ll adapt. Then I see Darren Oliver and the other two subtractions as making up for the addition of Joe Nathan. I am a big Joe Nathan fan, but I don’t know how much more he can return to his former form, because not only is he dealing with the Tommy John surgery (which I predicted after seeing him in person in the last year of the Metrodome), but he is also dealing with age at this point. So he probably would be regressing anyway now.

Although, this situation could, and probably will get better. As I said, the Rangers have been in a bunch of talks for free agents, so they have money. Now maybe they just spend all of this money on re-signing Josh Hamilton, but either way I see them picking up at least another minor piece if not a major one.

Predicted Record Range: 92-97 wins- This can change if they get another player this offseason, but this is where I see them currently.

Up Next: Houston Astros, but what division would you like to read about?

 

 

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