Results tagged ‘ I hate New York (when it comes to ballhawking) ’

2011 Ballhawking Season End Review

Last year, I wrote an entry recapping how my ballhawking stats broke down by different categories. To be fair, I only snagged 56 baseballs so I don’t know why I broke them down so much but here is the second installment of that entry.

The overall numbers are:

Baseballs(B): 161

Games(G): 46

Balls Per Game(BPG): 3.50

Gameballs (GB): 2 (both foul)

Autographs: approximately 7 (mygameballs’s autograph database is being difficult)

Hit Balls(HB): 49 (The thing to work on next year)

Hit Balls Per Game (HPG): 1.07

Thrown Balls(TB): 96

Thrown Balls Per Game (TPG): 2.09

Easter Eggs(EE): 12 (The fact that I live in New York should explain this)

Easter Eggs Per Game (EPG): .26

Glove Trick Balls(GT): 4 (In three games)

Glove Trick Balls Per Game (GPG): 0.09 (I need to be less paranoid about security)

BP balls: 152

Balls During Game: 5 (I don’t sit by the dugouts much)

Balls After Game: 4 (The majority of these are bullpen balls)

Average Competition Factor (ACF): 98,609

High: 10

Balls Broken down by month:

April-

B: 19

G:8

HB: 5

HF: 2

TB: 14

BPG: 2.38

HPG: .63

FPG: .222222222222222

TPG: 1.75

High: 5

ACF: 80,292

May-

B: 3

G: 2 (This is where my dad’s condition was getting worse so I didn’t attend many games at all)

TB: 3

BPG: 1.5

TPG: 1.5

High: 2

ACF: 48,211

June:

B:16

G: 4

HB: 9

HF: 5

TB: 7

BPG: 4.0

HPG: 2.25

FPG: 1.25

TPG: 1.75

High: 6

ACF: 107,343

July-

B: 83

G: 14

HB: 25

HF: 12

TB: 47

EE: 9

GT: 2

BPG: 5.93

HPG: 1.79

FPG: .86

TPG: 3.36

EPG: .64

GPG: .14

High: 10

ACF: 152, 552

GB: 1

August- (I’d rather forget it but I’ll include it in the interest of fairness)

B: 24

G: 14

HB: 6

HF: 1

TB: 16

GT: 2

BPG: 1.71

HPG: .43

TPG: 1.14

GPG: .14

High: 5

ACF: 45,374

GB: 1

September-

B: 15

G: 4

HB: 4

HF: 1

TB: 8

EE: 3

BPG: 3.75

HPG: 1

FPG: .25

TPG: 2

EPG: .75

High: 6

ACF: 121,314

October-

B: 1

G: 1

TB: 1

TPG: 1

ACF: 50,940

Balls Broken down by Stadium

Yankee Stadium-

B: 10

G: 5

HB: 3

HF: 1

TB: 7

GT: HA!!

BPG: 2

HPG: .6

TPG: 1.4

High: 5

ACF: 83,416

Citi Field-

B: 31

G: 13

HB: 7

HF: 2

TB: 24

EE: Who am I kidding?

BPG: 2.38

HPG: .54

FPG: .15

TPG: 1.85

High: 6

ACF: 68,578

GB: 1

Nationals Park- I’m actually going to not count the one freak game where the gates didn’t open until 6:40 because of the earthquake.

B: 58

G: 11

HB: 17

HF: 8

TB: 37

EE: 4

BPG: 5.27272727

HPG: 1.54545454

FPG: .727272727

TPG: 3.36363636

High: 10

ACF: 148,698.3636

AT&T Park-

B: 2

G: 1

HB: 1

HF: 1

TB: 1

BPG: 2

HPG: 1

FPG: 1

TPG: 1

High: 2

ACF: 83,380

Tropicana Field-

B: 5

G:1

HB: 2

HF: 2

TB: 3

BPG: 5

HPG: 2

FPG: 2

TPG: 3

High: 5

ACF: 119,485

Turner Field-

B: 15

G: 3

HB: 5

HF: 4

TB: 8

GT: 2

BPG: 5

HPG: 1.66666

FPG: 1.33333

TPG: 2.66666

GPG: .666666

High: 7

ACF: 137,269.6666

GB: 1

Sun Life Stadium (Name as of October, 22, 2011)-

B: 15

G: 3

HB: 2

TB: 8

EE: 5

BPG: 5

HPG: .66666

TPG: 2.66666

EPG: 1.66666

High: 5

ACF: 92,086.6666

Oriole Park at Camden Yards-

B: 17

G: 3

HB: 10

HF: 2

TB: 4

EE: 3

BPG: 5.66666

HPG: 3.33333

FPG: .666666

EPG: 1

High: 8

ACF: 124,037.666

Target Field-

B: 2

G: 2

TB: 2

TPG: 2

ACF: 39,974

Miller Park (Like Nationals Park, I won’t count the freak game where I wasn’t present for batting practice because the game was moved up)-

B: 4

G: 1

TB: 2

GT: 2

BPG: 4

TPG: 2

GPG: 2

High: 4

ACF: 167,280

U.S. Cellular-

B: 2

G: 1

HB: 1

TB: 1

BPG: 2

HPG: 1

TPG: 1

High: 2

ACF: 59,400

I think this is all, but if anyone writes a comment suggesting more stats, I will almost certainly include them. Also, there are some stats that didn’t include, a link to my “mygameballs.com account” can be found to the right of this paragraph as the third link in the “Sites related to ballhawking” widget.  Once there, you can browse through my baseballs in a variety of different ways. For example, you can see where I catch most of my baseballs in the seats at a specific ballpark. So at Citi Field, most of my baseballs would probably be in LF because I spend most of my time there in B.P. This is just one of the things you can see there. It is actually scary how much time you can consume just looking a the different stats in the site.

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

6/15/11 Cardinals at Nationals: Nationals Park

Yeah I know I said I was going to write an entry about my game on the third of June but I was away from home so unless you wanted to see pictures like this…

Yes that is the whole image. I was in a rush to upload them to the internet for whatever reason and forgot they needed more time to upload

Anyway, I did indeed go to Washington DC on one of these:

Overpaid for a “Giant” ice cream sandwich:

Arrived two hours late and had to carry my suitcase backpack to the game:

But as Bono would say, “it(was) a beautiful day” and I was excited because this was actually my first time going to a stadium for batting practice knowing what I was doing outside of New York…why are you laughing?

I will now give you a moment to stand in awe of the majesty that is Nationals Park:

Well the sign at least but you have to admit it is a pretty nice sight to see. Or am I just brainwashed from hearing the Mets’ annoying repetitiive music an hour prior to the gates opening every day. It was also nostalgic to have the gates open  two and a half hours before game time.

At the gate I had met up with Rick Gold a ballhawk that in his younger days was native to Oakland. This comes into play because he immediately as the gates opened he went to right field. That meant that after getting my bag checked for the bomb that was obviously hiding beneath my clothes I would head to left field.

Just as I headed over there I saw this going on in right field:

If you can’t see, it is the Nationals pitchers warming up on the right field foul line. I have accustomed myself so much to 2 hour opening times that I forgot the home team did this 2 1/2 hours before game time.Anyway, I stayed in left field because of my uber-packed backpack.

Best no decision of the year. A matter of seconds after I decided this a ball flew to my left. It was quite a bit back from my row and there were already people converging at the point it would drop so my hope was the it would land and trickle down the seats.

This picture shows what happened:

The (very light, very small) red arrow is my path to the ball. The ball was clearly going behind where I was going to be able to run to. When it bounced up in the air after hitting a seat I was a foot from it and snatched it out of the air ala Rickey Henderson.

The next ball was a cleaner catch:

This next one was also over my head so I ran up the stairs, turned my shoulder and caught the ball over it. Demonstrated by the much more visible but at the same time poorly done red arrow. That one felt more like a Wide Receiver in football. But wait… it was only 6:39. Batting Practice hadn’t actually started until 6:35 so that meant I had already almost matched my season average in four minutes. Oooh I had a good feeling about this. So good I gave that ball to this young(er) Cardinals fan:

In the picture there is no reaction because he hadn’t actually presented it to his dad yet  but you can see his sister looking at it in his hands (don’t worry they were extremely nice about it).

Then a ball flew into the bullpen which put a damper on my spirits. Why? Because this is how many had gone in there:

(drools)

Four baseballs had already made their way in there which was exactly four more than the number of devices I had ready because of my late bus. Here was my script for the next portion of bp:

Cue: Lefty batters start hitting

For: Exit stage right

So that’s what I did when Roger Bernadina & Co. came up and was there ever room to run:

At Citi field if the seats are ever that empty in bp you are a) on the second deck or b) 400 feet from home plate. I just had three problems all in this picture:

1) Alex Kopp- a ballhawk that lives in New Jersey and caught nine baseballs that day.

2) Rick Gold- Mentioned previously that typically puts up double digits at Nationals Park

3) Cardinals Fans galore- For some reason (and I’ve only gone here for two series) the opposing teams fans out-number the Nationals’ fans and so it is almost easier to get balls from the Nationals than it is from the opposing team.

But when a ball went into foul ground I was further back as you can see from that last picture and since the right field bullpen blocked off the first 5-10 rows and so I had Alex beat and he gave up on getting the ball. In case you were wondering, there were people to my left that could have beaten me had it been a straight up race but no fans were allowed past the foul pole on either side. Now I knew the usher guarding the pole would get the ball but did they go over and wait for him to get the ball. I think not!

Here is a picture of the usher mid-sentence:


It is always nice to see ushers that are actually nice by nature as you can see by this gentleman’s smile but that wasn’t the only thing that was better about Nationals Park. Let me compare it to Citi Field for the moment:

The red line on top is where the overhang would be for Citi Field (left field) and the yellowish line is where Home Run balls would be completely out of the question. For those wondering, the line here at Nationals Park (right field was so far back the picture couldn’t even contain it.

As I returned to my spot, I saw that Jason Motte was having some fun at the fans’ expense by throwing a ball up just where a fan could not reach it so I naturally took this as a challenge to catch the ball but as I leaned out to attempt to catch the ball I noticed Jaime Garcia running to the wall after a ball. I asked him nicely in Spanish and he responded by joining Motte in tossing the ball up and trying to get me to catch it. Fortunately, he was way worse than Motte and tossed it at such an angle so that it was far from me on its way up but the backspin on the ball carried it towards me on the descent.

Here is the 90th ball of my young career with Jaime Garcia (#54) in the background:

Let me take this time to show the reason (besides my awesome Spanish skills), that this particular ball found its way into my glove:

First of all, sorry for not looking in the camera. I was distracted by a ball, this was the only shot with both the hat and shirt in it, and my camera screen was broken so I didn’t know either of the first two reasons.

I do not have any cardinals gear. The hat is actually on loan from the Greg Barasch baseball museum. Greg is a very talented and experienced ballhawk from New York that can be found at almost every Mets weekday home game (unfortunately for me) and also happens to be my next door neighbor of about 18 years. Y’all older readers may remember he also lent me a Rangers hat and towel that I used in my playoff game last year. So yeah, it is always nice to have that security blanket and I mean what are the odds that people in the same building much less floor get into the same hobby independently of each other. Oh and the shirt if you can see if actually turned inside out. That is because it is actually a Phillies shirt and I wanted to color coordinate.

Anyway from the start of my ballhawking career, I have not had much luck adjusting to the group of Pujols and Holliday but I figured that I would have a better chance taking on ten people just at batting practice in left than two ballhawks in right. My plan was to lay back here:

Catch anything that came back that far as I had lateral room to run and run up, hope the ball deflected off of someone’s hands and scramble for the ball. The later did happen… sort of.

About five minutes after I got to the section, Pujols hit a Home Run of decent height and length that I realized was going to be one rail gap short of where I was standing. I ran up but a barehanded man was camped under it. Yeah I could have reached in front of him as there was no way he was going to catch a ball going over 100 mph off the bat of Albert Pujols but ballhawks are already seen in enough of a negative light. So I stayed back right behind him, waited for the ricochet, and missed out on the ball as he deflected it to the side of him.

His reaction:

“Look at the mark Albert Pujols left on my hand!” This just goes to show why you bring your glove to the ball game. That group stopped hitting about ten minutes after that and so I went back to right field. However, how could I pass up an opportunity to take a picture of myself on the Stadium big screen.

Here it is:

If you can see I am actually holding the camera to my ear. This is because of two reasons: 1. My screen was/is broken and I had to hear the click to make sure I took the picture and 2. I had my glove on at this moment and needed my head for stability.

Thank goodness I didn’t stay for that long, though because as I was walking down the stairs of the right field stands, an infielder on the cardinals, Daniel Descalso hit a ball to either my right or my left (ok, I know that sounds vague but I know where the ball landed I just don’t remember what staircase I was coming down) fell into the seats and I beat the fan sitting down in the picture demonstrating how empty right field was. That was now five ball on the day and three of them had been hit balls. Last time I checked I was averaging 1.67 thrown balls per game (.67 hit which is a bit amazing to see the stark difference but irrelevant at the point I am trying to make). Discounting the security guard toss-up because that would have never been possible at Citi Field because of their useless railing blocking off foul territory from the outfield I only really had one toss-up for this game. There was a reason for that.

Normally, I have time to go home and print out my rosters for both teams but because of the whole bus situation I had to go on memory. This led to me either making anonymous requests “Excuse me but can you throw me the ball please?” which are far less effective than if they have a name behind them or getting their names wrong altogether. For example, I have since realized that I called Michell Boggs Kyle as I thought he was Kyle McClellan and I called some other person who I could not find Jaime Garcia who obviously came out later and threw me my other toss-up. Well, I wouldn’t get another toss-up for the rest of the day.

It was almost the end of batting practice and I was fine ignoring that it had been a pretty slow bp Home Runs wise because I had just matched my season high. Then came Lance Berkman. At least I think it was him but someone on the Cardinals hit five straight Home Runs to finish off bp all of which landed in this section outlined in red:

Alex was in the perfect spot to catch all of them but because there were five straight and he chased some to his left I had the chance to step into his spot and catch one on the fly. Nothing fancy I just moved a few feet to my left camped under it and caught the ball. That was now my fourth hit ball of the game. Now I don’t think i have gotten extremely better at tracking batted balls but I think that the margin for error is just so low in New York whereas here you can drift more like a real outfielder would do.

In the game I was planning to sit in right field because there were two righty pitchers but when the usher asked me to leave my first idea was to go here:

abut then I thought to myself that there would be Holliday and Pujols (yeah I did find out Holliday was still out from his appendectomy) would be hitting more Home Runs than any lefties that would be put in to face the righty pitchers. So I moved over here:

There were plenty of Home Runs, five if I recall correctly but the closest one was a Jayson Werth Home Run three sections over:

My only hope after that to tie my all time record of seven balls in one game was to get a ball from the bullpen:

Now the bullpen coach in the bottom right corner picked up three balls and tossed them into the crowd. Not knowing his first name (Derek) because I didn’t have my roster handy I relied on purely having a Cardinals hat (it didn’t work).

I then got to have my first experience of post-Nats game metro crowding:

STATS:

  • 6 Balls at this game (5 in this picture because I gave one away)

numbers 87-92 on the career:

  • 31 Balls in 12 games=2.58 balls per game
  • 37 games straight with at least 1 ball
  • 2 games straight at Nationals Park
  • 6 balls*27,130 fans= 162,780 competition factor
  • Time at Game 3:55-9:35= 5 hours 40 minutes

I did go the next day so that will be up soon but if you are wondering when I will get up the game before this it will be after I get back home from San Francisco. So June 28th-ish.

4/26/11 White Sox at Yankees: New Yankee Stadium

Let’s just say that I won’t be in the mood for Yankee games for a while. First, there were three people in line at 4:50 for a playoff game last year. This was the line at 4:45 for the center field gate:

Line 4/26/11.JPG

I
really don’t get how that can happen. That wasn’t that bad as most of
them didn’t go to the outfield for batting practice anyway (why do you
show up this early then?) Then when I optimistically entered the stadium
for a day of working on fly balls:
field as entering 42611.JPG 

Well actually that looks kind of nice but when you look further up as one does on Home Runs:
Sun 42611.JPG 

you’re
lucky if your eyes come back down with both retinas still fully
functioning. This made it nearly impossible for a skilled ballhawk to
catch a ball on the fly (without sunglasses) much less my unskilled
self. I lost three potential balls from this sun as I “had” to let them
drop and hope they stayed in place so I would be able to pick them up.

As
for toss-ups, normally Yankee player toss-ups are *very* (relatively
speaking) hard to come by as a wall of “here”s blasts as soon as the
player comes close to the ball but today it was just one fan. One kid
who seemed like a semi-regular by how the players recognized him, got
well over 50% of the toss-ups that went into the seats while I was
there.

Finally, Curtis Granderson stepped in and hit a fly ball
to my right. I ran to the direction it was hit in, descended two rows
after I saw it touch base and beat out aforementioned “kid” to find it
tucked between the pads of the seat for Ball #1 on the day.

I wanted to stayed a bit as Rafael Soriano went into the bullpen to try and get a toss-up from the ball left in the bullpen:
bullpen 42611.JPG
but as I had no spot at a rail gap in right field because of Ben Weil and Tony Bracco,
and there was a mostly righty group of Yankees coming up, I made my way
over to left field. Absoltuamently nothing. Two Home Runs and for some
reason the White Sox didn’t throw any of their warm-up balls into the stands. Had there been any I wouldn’t been able to move that much because when I got there the rail gaps in left-center had already been taken.

As the groups passed, more and more lefties came up to the plate. So when lefties came up, I went to both see how Jake Peavy was rehabing:
Jake Peavy 42611.JPG

And at the same time waited for him to end and get a ball from Pitching Coach, Don Cooper:
Don Cooper 42611.JPG
as he was sitting on a bag of about twenty baseballs.

As I looked up to see the time to get an idea of when security would come and try to kick me out, I saw this:
Ben rail gap 42611.JPG

How did Ben get in the rail gap that I had just seen occupied by a family of three? It was just that type of day. I could not catch a break.

Would I be able to escape the ticket checkers? Let me show you how in three easy steps:
1. Spot the guards coming from your left:
guards on left 42611.JPG

Guard #1 behind the two fans in the row furthest left, Guard #2 in the blue coming through the middle row, and Guard #3 checking the White Sox fan’s ticket towards the right. Whoa, they had never sent more than two guards to check tickets before.

2. Escape to your… wait no there’s a guard to right:
Guard right 42611.JPG

When I first developed a strategy to get past the ticket checkers only one guard came from your left and so you would be able to keep moving to your right until his sections of responsibility ended and go back to left field for the rest of bp.

3. Hope the guard to your right stops at a certain section

When they installed the second guard, they hoped he would make people just resign themselves to one side or the other and the guard stopped at a certain section and let the guys coming from left field get the people left in between them. This is the window where you would be able to just keep going left and out wait the guards but this security kept advancing until he met up with the left field guards. The result:

4. Get your ticket checked and be forced to leave.

Frus-tra-ting because of my false start to foul ground I wasn’t even allowed to go back and ask the other ballhawks if they could collaborate in getting me back into the field level seats. I tried going through the tunnel and asking them but apparently i wasn’t even allowed to stand in the tunnel leading to the section unless I had a ticket for that section.

5. Take a picture on the outside looking in:
outside looking in 42611.JPG

6. Wander Stadium looking for a lazy guard until the game starts.

Did not work. The Yankees have guards at every seat entrance (except for on the fourth level) well before the first pitch because they figure that if they charge so much for tickets than a person not sitting in their assigned tickets cost them that much more. Let’s do some math shall we? 137 entrances to the seats that have security guards (can we call it 140 for the sake of math) +1 supervisor for every ten openings+ 8 ticket checkers= 162 security guards for two hours before the game starts* even $6 per hour=$1,944 every game spent on security and I’m sure they make noticeably more than $6 per hour. That’s just the time from when the gates open until when the game begins.

7. Go back to your paid seat 5,000 feet from home plate:

Thumbnail image for 5 leagues away from the plate 42611.JPG

I would have wandered for the rest of the game but I had a guest to entertain all the way up there (I would introduce you but the picture I took was awful).

After the fifth inning I got incredibly bored and frustrated that I was all the way in section 432a. So, I asked the invited if he had ever been to the Yankee museum. He didn’t even know they had one.

Some of the things I saw:

1. World Series Ring:
WS Ring 2009 42611.JPG

2. The whole room centers on a display of Don Larsen’s last pitch from his perfect game. There is Yogi Berra:
Yogi 42611.JPG
Don Larsen:
Don 42611.JPG
and in between the two is a display case which is shaped on the top by the vertical curvature of Larsen’s last pitch. This case contains baseballs from many (maybe all but probably not) of the Yankee’s past and current players:
case side 42611.JPG
(this picture is from the Yogi Berra side so I was actually kneeling as I took this.)

They have autographs from players as far back as:
27th out 42611.JPG

and me with there most recent World Series trophy:
WS trophy 42611.JPG
Only in their museum did I wear a Yankee hat out of common courtesy but as you can tell by my face I was not too happy at the organization as a whole at this particular moment.

As we walked out of the museum, we immediately came upon then seats near the right field foul pole. I was scoping the area for lazy guards and what do you know, the first opening to the seats was security free. I pointed it out to my guest and we made quickly to our new seats.

A better view, wouldn’t you say:
this is better 42611.JPG

Though I wish I were in left field for the game as this was how empty it was:
I wish I were there 42611.JPG
When I pointed this out my guest called me whiner. I suppose this is true but with the Yankees it is actually deserved. The reason me wanting to be left field remains relevant three days after the fact is because Paul Konerko hit the game winning Home Run two sections from where I would have been sitting. There is actually a good story on what happened to this ball written by Tony Bracco.

That was it for me only one ball. By the way, I apologize for the lateness but Mlblogs has been acting up with the pictures again so I have had to work around those problems.

Stats:

  • 1 friggin ball at this game (#80)

Ball 42611.JPG

  • 19 balls in 8 games= 2.37 balls per game (Bleh)
  • 33 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 7 games straight with at least on ball at Yankee Stadium
  • 1 ball* 40,785 fans= 40,785 competition factor
  • Time at Game 4:45- 10:22= 5 Hours and 37 Minutes

Not sure when my next game will be this weekend all depends on how Fordham does in a tournament.

4/14/11 Orioles at Yankees: New Yankee Stadium

As I entered the Stadium, I saw this:
Beautiful day 41411.JPG

Great day for great bp right? At first it was.

As soon as I took that picture a security guard said something that I thought was “Hi”. After a round of unsuccessful bp I headed over to left field for the second Yankee group. As I was headed out, the security guard:
Security Guard 41411.JPG

pulled a ball out from behind the upper left seat of this section and handed it to me for #1 on the day.

I then went through a patch where neither Yankee nor Orioles were hitting balls to my part of left field. It was a group made out of all lefties except for one weak hitting righty. Since I wasn’t getting any toss-ups from the Orioles it was a tough bp. I think I probably should have been louder because it seemed like they always just missed my Orioles cap when scanning the crowd. Me not having my Orioles t-shirt didn’t exactly help either.

Then the power group came up. The group consisted of: Mark Reynolds, Derrek Lee, Caesar Izturis, and either Robert Andino or Adam Jones. This led to plenty of Home Runs to make up for the previous group. Most were out of my reach but several came into my axises of power. A few went over my head yadah, yadah.

Though, two came into my row. The first was hit by Derrek Lee two sections to my right (left if looking from home plate). I ran over and scooped it up as it trickled down back to my row for ball #2 on the day. The second, was hit by Mark Reynolds and actually landed in my row. So, I slid to get it before it rolled into the row in front of me. In the process of sliding I actually ripped the knee of my pants:
ripped pants 41411.JPG

In the process of putting my glove over the ball mid slide, I pushed the ball into the row in front of me where another fan grabbed the ball right before I could have gotten up.

Although the pants were double layered, I can still say I would have been much happier on this specific ball if I had gotten it because I pretty scraped up, not on the slide but on banging my knee on the seat getting up.

I was in no mood to keep running around in the outfield. So seeing as it was the last group of bp, I got a head start on the end portion of bp. Nothing came of that.  There I met up with Zack Hample and another ballhawk I had never met before named, Ben Weil (boys and girls, this is why you wear long pants even when it is warm outside:
Ouch!.JPG
(Can’t you tell a high quality camera picture when you see it. That would be both high quality photography and high quality camera.)

I stayed behind the Yankee dugout before the knee started hurting again and I knew I had to start moving to have it ready for the game (it was about 6:40 at the time). I abruptly left for right field because I knew there were two righties on the mound that day and the Yankees have many switch hitters.

From my spot in right I took time to laugh at those trapped in the bleachers I had been on my last trip to Yankee Stadium:
Bleachers 41411.JPG
Mwhahaha!

This would be my view from right:
Right field View 41411.JPG

The man in right field would be Nick Markakis, who hit a Home Run in the third inning (the link is here. I don’t know if that link takes you to the actual video or to the highlights in general but the specific video is titled “Markakis’ homer puts Orioles on top”). In the video, I am the hooded figure in maroon who goes down the steps while the Home Run is far away and then goes back up the stairs. I got to the right row but unfortunately I was blocked from catching the ball in the air so I waited for the rebound off the fan with no glove but he caught it on the fly.

To give you an idea of how close it came:
Home Run 41411.JPG

The fan that caught the ball was right behind the guy in the picture with a red and blue Yankee hat.

As far as the rest of the game goes, it was pretty good but for some reason the more I go to Yankee Stadium the less I am a fan of the Yankees themselves. Through this game, I was actually more disappointed that the Twins lost in a devastating fashion than the win the Yankees had. I was looking up here all game:
Twins Score 414111.JPG

The Yankees win, though. I had plenty of documentation for.

The catch and throw:
catch and throw SF 41411.JPG

The run scoring/ed:
walk-off 41411.JPG
The celebration:
celebration 41411.JPG
The pie:
Pie 41411.JPG
For those of you who don’t know what just happened, the Yankees won on a walk-off Sacrifice Fly by Nick Swisher (which is nice because from being in right field for the whole game I learned how much he interacts with the fans throughout the course of the game).

After the end Rafael Soriano threw a ball into my part of right field as he left the bullpen:
Rafael Soriano 41411.JPG
I didn’t want to get in front of the person who it was intended for so I let him try and catch it but he missed it completely and so neither of us got it.

Yankees 6 Orioles 5

Stats:

  • 2 Balls at this game

balls 41411.JPG

Which would be #66 and 67 for the young career:
sweet spots 41411.JPG
  • 2.0 Balls Per game
  • 28 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 5 straight games at Yankee Stadium with at least 1 ball
  • Competition Factor: 81,034
  • Time at Game: 4:30-10:30 Six hours

4/9/11 Nationals at Mets: Citi Field

So, I was on 67th street at 2:00 and had yet to pick up my Mets/Nationals gear. Long story short I showed up waay late to the game… but wait why haven’t the gates opened?
long line 4911.JPG

Did I actually show up late?
4:55 4911.JPG
Yeah, by almost a hour (last year I got to Citi Field 4:00-4:10 for a 7:10 game. If you can’t see that says 4:55)

Apparently the ever endearing Mets thought it best to open the gates a mere 2 hours before game time. This put me both at the back of a line of people and will take half an hour away from me every time I go to Citi Field. Why are both New York teams horrible at dealing with fans?

Anyway, the gates opened at 5:10 but I didn’t get until probably 5:20 because of the line delay.

As the gates opened I quickly identified the fans racing up the escalator as ballhawks Zack Hample and Joe Faraguna. Since they were probably going to go right to left field, I figured I should pray that the pitchers were still throwing in right.

They weren’t so I went to center field in hopes of getting a ball from the posse that shags balls there. At first, it seemed like that would never happen. Pedro Beato was cutting everything way in front of the wall (wasn’t that hard considering I was about a thousand feet from home plate). One then finally made its way to the wall. A group of kids was yelling at him and he didn’t turn around. Finally, I accused him of being racist towards Colombians. He laughed and threw me the ball.

On to left field. I got there and literally every feasible landing sector had a ballhawk patrolling it. There must have been half a dozen ballhawks. Let’s see how many I remember. 1+2 the ones listed two paragraphs above. 3. Tony Bracco. 4. Oliver Rowles. 5. Gary Kowal. 6. Ross Finkelstein. It must have been the fact that it was the first 7:10 game of the season but take my word for it there are almost never ballhawks at weekend games (which is why I like them). Just check the day of the week I made this major snag on. I think that was everyone but I can’t be that sure seeing as I didn’t talk to many on account of me moving around so much.

Nevertheless, none of the ballhawks dared to be in the corner of left field amongst a sea of weekend fans. So when Michael Morse hit a homerun behind that sea, I ran through my aisle to the ball. I was late because of a few fan but the ball hit off a seat and stayed in the air for what seemed like minutes before I caught it on that fly (technically it is not on the fly but it didn’t hit the ground so that’s good enough for me. If you haven’t picked up, I stink at tracking fly balls). I then got a toss up from a player I later identified as Chad Gaudin. I gave that one away to a kid who had missed the previous toss-up.

I then moved over to right field for the rest of Nationals bp. Seeing as I was the only Nationals fan in the section, you would think I would get a ball quickly:
DSCN1909.JPG

Nope. The two players: Tyler Clippard  and  Drew Storen were tossing up balls galore. Except not to me. It was so bad that even other Met fans started vouching for me as “#1 Nats fan up here”. One appeared to be thrown to me by Clippard but he under-threw it and another fan in the row in front of me reached it front and grabbed it. Solid day but could have gone way better. I seem to have a problem with finishing bps. I get a few early but then run dry in the closing minutes.

Though my seat for the game was pretty good:
DSCN1913.JPG

I would have gone to the third base side but since I am stubborn and was determined to get a ball from the two Nationals, I didn’t have time to run over there (security doesn’t let you enter after bp ends). There was no shot at getting an Ike Davis 3rd out ball. He threw them solely to the front to rows, which the security guard at the bottom of the stairs wasn’t giving access to.

Although, had a person not gone down the staris mid at-bat, I would’ve had my second foul ball at Citi Field:
DSCN1914.JPG

Imagine the two or three fans standing up are the fans that got in my way. The ball went where the two or three fans are and I ran down the stairs with plenty of fans but couldn’t reach out the extra three feet because of the fans and couldn’t run around them because of the railing. This left the ball going into the row of fans where it was dropped and recovered. It was actually a great night for foul balls on this side because of the two lefty pitchers but not that many balls went into my section.

I then missed out on an opportunity for an umpire ball because I was again, seated on the wrong side of the stadium (but it may be good security doesn’t know me, though. I saw the adverse affects this can have with Greg Barasch being essentially banned for the last few games of the season a year ago.)

The game was actually a decent one with the Mets winning 8-4. I would have a more detailed recollection of the game but I am doing this entry five days later.


Stats:

  • 3 Balls snagged (2 pictured because I gave one away )

    
Balls 4911.JPG 
A different side if you prefer below.

Sweet Spots 4911.JPG

  • 2.0 Balls Per Game
  • 27 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 16 ga
    mes straight at Citi Field with at least one ball.
  • Time at Game: 4:55 to 10:30= 5 hour and 35 minutes
  • Competition Factor= 95,088

4/5/11 Twins at Yankees: New Yankee Stadium

My post-school day began in the Fordham Prep Gym as the rain forced practice into the batting cage:
Thumbnail image for DSCN1858.JPG

Here as you can see, our starting catcher is shooting (and missing) a baseball at the basketball hoop.

This was the longest 1-hour practice I have ever been a part of. First, I could not wait to go to my first game of the season. Second, the game happened to be between my two favorite teams. Third, watching hitters in the cage if you are not involved gets monotonous after fifteen minutes much less an hour.

I was so excited you cannot believe. I have been waiting for baseball season since December and had a temporary case of ADHD where I literally could not sit still. I was so happy I was even described as glowing by one person. When I left the Prep at 3:45, I must have ran a seven minute mile to the train. I went through the whole shebang I did last time  with the train.

I am proud to say that I did not show up two hours early for the gate openings. I arrived promptly at:
4:30 phone 4511.JPG

I figured that in the playoffs people did not show up until 4:50 because they were there to see the game and only the ballhawks that were there would show up for batting practice.

Well… do you see anyone in front of me?
empty gate 4511.JPG

No one got there until about 4:45 and I will swear to you that for every 15 minutes that pass at any of the other Yankee Stadium gates, 5 pass at this gate. Even though it was only 40 minutes this time as opposed to 120 it still took FOREVER.

Finally time came to enter and I was just happy to see this:
Twins vs Yankees 4511.JPG

I was skeptical that there was going to be Bp and so when I arrived to this:
1_wet_ground_04_05_11.JPG
 I was ecstatic (well not exactly that considering I am in the picture).

After that picture was taken (I assume), I turned to the photographer and saw it was none other than, Zack Hample. If you do not know the story, I was a Watch With Zack client of his last year (which led to one thing which led to another which led to this blog). He quickly raced over to the left field side of the stadium. Seeing as the right field bleachers were much less crowded than they had been in my playoff game and I have enough trouble catching a ball on my own not competing with Zack, I stayed in right field. Bad move.

There would not be one Home run hit there and a wall of beggars would glue to the wall in the front row of the section. This would have gone pretty well had a ball gone into the seats but as I said, it didn’t happen. I then jogged to left field as the Twins did the same.

As the Pitchers warmed up I managed to wrongly judge that a ball was going to: go over my head, fall short, be right at me, not hit the top of the wall, not bounce back all the way to the field, was going to deflect off of a fan trying to catch the ball. Some of those more than one time. Had I played all correctly (or had ridiculous luck like last season) I would have had my all time record.

Then there were the pitchers. I camped behind the long toss partnership of Capps and Nathan. I was 99.9% sure that if Nathan ended up with the ball I would be able to coax it out of him because, as I put it to Nathan, ” Joe, could you give me the ball, please?Who else in the Stadium is wearing you jersey?”
DSCN1892.JPG

Unfortunately, even the depleted sea of “Here”s drowned out my request and the ball went to not even a Twins’ fan on the outfield side of him.

I then went down the line. 1 pairs. 2 pairs. Nothing. The Twins seemed like they didn’t even care about road fans. There must have been a dozen Twins fans but less than half of the balls went to Twins fans.

Now onto my fourth pair, I was wondering if Carl Pavano would even throw his ball into the stands considering how his experience in New York went. I was as usual trying to get in his line of view so he would see the Twins hat and shirt.

 
I did… sort of. He threw it to a kid directly into front of me. He under threw it and it hit the wall and bounce back to him. He then tried again and overthrew the kid. Since I was right behind him I picked it up for ball #1 on the day. I then felt bad for the kid and gave him the ball.
 
I figured this would get me brownie points with Pavano anyway but the law firm of Pavano, Slowey and Perkins:
 
DSCN1863.JPG 
randomly tossed balls into the crowd, sometimes without even looking.
 
Had Slowey actually looked where he was throwing I would have had another ball because I am almost sure that I was the only one who could give him a line about his offseason blog.
 
Though, my time was limited in left field because of guards that kick everyone without a ticket in left field that stayed longer than they normally do and so I was limited to being in foul ground.
 
By that time, the Twins took five more minutes of BP and finished. So I ran to behind the dugout to try and get one of the remaining baseballs, and failed. There I ran in again to Zack and had a guard take this picture:
7_mateo_and_zack.jpg
 
He wanted to get some water and not walk through the seats. I thought that as an expert he had a way of getting past security and back into left field but turns out he had a ticket (he was really sorry but it was my fault for not speaking up about that). So, I was now out of left field and had to try my options elsewhere.
 
Here is my view from the right field bleachers:
Bleacher view 4511JPG
 
and here I am getting the ever famous two syllable bleacher chant for wearing a Twins hat and shirt. ( I put the sweater on before I took the picture:

 
Thumbnail image for DSCN1866.JPG

 

This was not going well for me: I misplayed however many balls, couldn’t stay in left field, my camera screen broke so I couldn’t see what I was taking a picture of, and now the ___hole chant.

I didn’t want to stay there any longer because of the aformentioned chant and the fffffreeezing temperatures. So,  wandered around the Stadium to get warmer, hope a security guard was taking a break, and get a better view:

Better View 4511

In the third inning, I gave up trying to find an open spot in security decided it was boring and went up to the second level. Not three sections from the stairs I saw an open, unguarded aisle. I went down to take a seat and this was my view:

Foul ball territory 4511 .JPG

Prime Foul ball snagging territory.

 

As I was walking down the stairs and taking that picture. A foul ball zoomed back just a stair case to my left:

Foul ball.JPG

If it helps, the ball landed where the soda vendor is standing in the picture. I quickly got my glove on but was blocked by fans in their seat.

 

Throughout the game, I moved further to the right as I thought it was an akward angle where I was currently sitting but three foul balls went to the Foot Locker sign in the previous picture and none were sliced within three sections of me.

 

The game went well as I root for the Twins in Yankees-Twins games (the Yankees beat them too much) and the Twins loaded the bases and Delmon Young hit a double to empty the bases and send the game into extra innings where the Twins won it on a single with runners on first and third.

 

STATS:

 

  • 1 Ball at this game(no picture because I gave it away)

 

  • 1.0 Balls per game

 

  • 26 Straight games with at least 1 ball

 

  • 4 games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 ball

 

Oh, and sorry this entry took too long but MlBlogs was having weirdness and I couldn’t upload pictures.

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