Results tagged ‘ Josh Hamilton ’

9/9/13 Angels at Twins: Target Field

Having ended my previous game at 693 career baseballs, my goal for this game was to maybe get to 700 career baseballs. At the time gates were opening, though, this was my view at about the time gates were opening:

9913 Opening Picture

At this point, I felt as though I maybe wasn’t even going to snag one ball. Let me explain: This game was supposed to take place on April 17. Heck, I was there, if you want to read about it. But the game got rained out before it even began. Anyways, because of it being rescheduled, the game was scheduled to start at 6:10 instead of 7:10. I realized this various times beforehand, but for whatever reason, it didn’t register in my mind that I needed to leave an hour earlier than normal in order to get on time. Well not until half-an-hour before the gates were scheduled to open. Unfortunately, it takes longer than half-an-hour to get to Target Field from my apartment, so when I arrived here, the gates had been open for close to twenty minutes:

9913 Target Plaza

(If you can’t tell, I’m trying out editing my photographs to look a little better before I post them in the entries. It might be a one-entry thing, but it might become a regular thing if you guys like it.) But then one of the luckiest things ever happened. Just as I was running towards Gate 34, I saw all of the ticket scanners reacting to *some*thing I couldn’t see. Just then, I saw a baseball bouncing out of the gate. And since I was the only one out in Target Plaza, I walked over and picked it up for my first ball of the day. I’m guessing it was Josh Hamilton, since he was the only lefty in the group, but who knows. I then stupidly didn’t take a picture of the ball outside of the gate, but instead I was so focused on just getting IN to the stadium that I got my bag checked and headed to the right field seats. But then when there was a righty up, I finally took a picture of the presumed Josh Hamilton ball:

9913 Ball 1

And while I was so frantic about not having an awful day ballhawking due to my stupid mistake, it took me a moment to realize how few people were actually at this game. I mean just take a look at this picture of the left field seats that I took:

9913 View of left

There were what, maybe fifteen people in the left field seats. While I was thankful for having gotten a ball already, I was frustrated by the thought of how many baseballs I could have snagged had I showed up on time. I mean there would have been a serious chance for me to have broken the Target Field record for baseballs in a game.

I got up to three baseballs pretty quickly because of some Angels coach. I don’t know who he was, but I eventually figured out after the fact that it was either Bobby Knoop or Bill Lachemann. My first ball that he threw me came when he turned around and motioned that he was going to throw the ball to a little girl. Since 1. She wasn’t looking, and 2. She was very small and might not catch the ball, I told whoever the coach was that I would catch the ball for her. And so, he tossed it to me and I immediately gave the ball to her. Here she is with some of her siblings. (They’ll come into play later.)

9913 Ball 2 Girl

And then I later asked that same coach if he could spare a ball for me to keep. And I assume since I had helped the girl out earlier, he tossed me my third ball of the day:
9913 Ball 3

I then realized the group had changed from Hamilton’s to a group with Mark Trumbo in it, so I headed out to left field. There I met up with Paul Kom, who had been there the whole time, but I hadn’t seen since he was in left field the whole time. (Side note: Paul actually already wrote an entry about this game on his blog, if you’d like to check that out.) I caught up with him since it was the first time I had seen him since the game the day before the day this game was initially supposed to take place. Shortly after that, I convinced Michael Roth to toss me a baseball by being the first person in the stadium to actually know what his name was:

9913 Ball 4

I then headed back to right field for a group that included Kole Calhoun and Hank Conger. When I was there, Calhoun hit a ball a little to my right. I went over a couple feet, put up my glove, and dropped the ball as it hit my glove. If you noticed, I was using my lefty glove for the first time in a long while. In getting ready for the game, Brandon Nedoma told me he had forgotten his glove at home in Wisconsin. So when I finally realized how late I was, I threw my lefty glove in my backpack. What I didn’t realize at the spur of the moment was that my right-handed glove wasn’t in my glove. I only figured this out on the bus. I initially thought I had taken it out of my backpack when I went to the Mall of America with Ben Weil and his fiancé Jen the day before, but I still haven’t found it as I write this on September 22nd, so I suspect I may have left it at the game I went to the day before this when I decided spur-of-the-moment to leave that game at the national anthem. But anyway, I picked the ball up after I dropped it. I then gave the ball away to the brother of the girl I gave the second ball to:

9913 Ball 5 Boy

(He’s the one in the blue with the glove.) And then they told me that the second brother in that last picture to the right of the first two kids I had given a ball to. So when I got Buddy Boshers:

9913 Boshers

to toss me a ball, I turned and tossed it to the kid.

I then headed to left field and met up with Paul and his friend Matt at the bullpen:

9913 Paul and Matt

I think you can figure out who’s who, but if not, left-to-right it is: Paul, Matt. and myself. And then Paul got a ball at the bullpen (and maybe Matt too?) but I didn’t, so I just had the pleasure of watching the starting pitchers of both teams warming up:

9913 Pitchers

And then I was going to go out to the flag court, but then I saw this crowd in the left field seats at game time:

9913 LF crowd

What ended up happening was I stayed in left field for the whole game because I thought it would be great if I got my 700th ball via game home run. Matt and Paul also stayed with me for most of the game, but not even three minutes after they left to head to the dugout, Josh Hamilton gave me one of the next best things. He hit a double that bounced into the left field bullpen. With Matt and Paul gone, there were only two people in the bleachers who had the situational awareness to go to the bullpen: myself and a person in Angels gear. Now I hadn’t mentioned it yet, but for whatever reason, I had completely forgotten to bring either an Angels shirt or Athletics shirt (which will come into play in my next couple entries). Therefore, it was myself in a neutral blue shirt/University of Minnesota hat and this Angels fan. But as Steve Soliz, the Angels bullpen coach approached the ball, I asked him by name while the Angels fan had no clue what his name was, so Soliz tossed me the ball for my 700th career baseball:

9913 Ground-Rule Double

I’m not sure many better scripts could have been written. Anyways, I met up with Paul and Matt soon after, and we walked out of the stadium together. So I first got a second picture with my prized possession of the night:

9913 700

And then we got a parting picture together:

9913 Friends

What a day.

STATS:

  • 7 Balls at this game (4 pictured because I gave 3 away)

9913 Baseballs

Numbers 694-700 for my “career”:

9913 Sweet Spots

  • 254 Balls in 55 Games= 4.62 Balls Per Game
  • 7 Balls x 21,826 Fans= 152,782 Competition Factor
  • 117 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 22 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 19 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 11 straight Games with 4 Balls
  • 138 Balls in 29 Games at Target Field= 4.76 Balls Per Game
  • 27 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
  • 7 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 4:04-10:33= 6 Hours 29 Minutes

8/14/12 Rangers at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

So… I think I’ll start off the entry with a “Before The Gates Open” video:

If you didn’t get it from my video, this was my view of the field when I first got in:

20120817-132716.jpgI don’t believe any of us ballhawks got a ball out there.

No, my first ball of the day came when the Rangers started throwing. Nelson Cruz tossed a ball to me, but it sailed over my head where Greg Barasch picked the ball up. Went all the way to the ball bucket and picked a ball out of there:

20120817-133911.jpg(Do you see him? He’s the one closest to the bucket with the ball in his hand.) He then launched that ball over my head with relative ease from over 200 feet away. When I ran up the stairs chasing the ball, it bounced back towards the field and over my head where another fan got it. Cruz then got a third ball. This time, I made sure to be up higher on the staircase. He threw the ball, and I saw it was falling short, so I ran down the stairs, cut into the row, and caught the ball. All in all, it was a fun experience. Here’s the ball as Cruz headed off to right field:

20120817-155625.jpgFun.

My next ball came when I headed to the left field seats in fair territory. Ian Kinsler hit a ball that I could tell wasn’t going to reach me on the fly but might reach me after bouncing off someone’s hands. It bounced off some hands, off a seat; it then went behind me, and it then bounced off a glove behind me, where it landed in the row behind me and I picked it up. It was in this general area that I snagged it:

20120818-145954.jpg

After this it was time for Josh Hamilton’s group. All of us four ballhawks who had met at Gate 6 had the same idea: go to right field. For the record, I was the first one out of the left field section, but the other three followed seconds after. So, on our way to right field, we divvied-up the right field seats as to not get in each other’s ways, Zack got the field level seats, and Ben got the bleachers:

20120818-150845.jpgMeanwhile, Greg and I drew the short straws and were relegated to the second deck in right field.

There, I had one mission in mind: Get a ball from Joe Nathan. (He was/is one of my favorite players ever for his role on my beloved Twins.) Here was my view of him:

20120818-155449.jpgAnd this is how I tried to coax him in to throwing me a ball:

20120818-160409.jpgThat would be my Twins shirt, which I bought at the Metrodome, turned around to highlight how much of fan of Nathan’s I was.

Unfortunately, I wasted all of the remaining batting practice up there, but I *was* able to make it down to the dugout just as the players were running off, and I got a ball from a player I can best identify as Mark Lowe:

20120818-201222.jpgHe’s the left of the two players with their heads down.

After batting practice, I met up with a few ballhawks in the left field seats:

20120818-202528.jpgThen my neighbor, Greg Barasch showed up, so we had to take it again:

20120818-203214.jpgThe people- left to right- are:
1. Ben Weil- A ballhawk best known for having the biggest collection of jerseys in the Milky Way. (If you want to see just how big, I put a link to his name for a reason.) However, Ben purposely pulled off his beautiful Rangers jersey to display the shirt you see in the picture.
2. Greg Barasch- Probably the best ballhawk at amassing as many balls in a single game as he can in the country (even if he DOES always go for third-out balls at the games he goes to).
3. Matthew Latimer- A reporter for MLB’s Cut4, who may or may not interview me next season at a Yankee game if there’s a slow news day.
4. Zack Hample- The man, the myth, the sweater (that’s why he’s holding out his two-shaded shirt out).
5. Moi- I’m holding out three fingers because it was the third game in a row Zack and I had been to a game together.
6. Mark McConville- A ballhawk who you saw towards the end of the video. We’ve seen each other at quite a few games considering how many games he’s been to (12).

As for the game, Hiroki Kuroda threw a complete game two-hitter. Also, I personally found this stat amazing:

20120819-103056.jpgAm I the only one? That seems pretty spectacular.

STATS:
• 3 Balls at this Game

20120819-103341.jpgNumbers 363-365 for my lifetime:
20120819-103433.jpg• 143 Balls in 33 Games= 4.33 Balls Per Game
• 3 Balls x 44,533 Fans= 133,599 Competition Factor
• 42 Games with at least 1Ball
• 18 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 86 Balls in 23 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.74 Balls Per Game
• 23 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at the New Yankee Stadium
• 8 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:58- 10:12= 6 Hours 14 Minutes

San Diego Padres 2012 Offseason Recap and Preview

Lost in the Red Sox’s collapse was how well Adrian Gonzalez did on the Red Sox. Even more lost was how devastated the Padres were without him. Let us not forget, this was the team dominating the NL West for most of the season just a year prior. In 2011 however:

Grade: D+

Notable Additions:

Houston Street, Yonder Alonso, John Baker, Andrew Cashner, Mark Kotsay, Micah Owings, Carlos Quentin, and Edison Volquez.

Notable Subtractions:

Heath Bell, Aaron Harang, Mat Latos, Wade LeBlanc, Pat Neshek, Chad Qualls, and Anthony Rizzo.

Why?: While it is true that there were more “notable” players added than were lost, this seems like one of those “quality over quantity” situations. In the aggregate, the quality level of the players lost was just that much higher than that of the players gained to merit a D+ as a grade for their offseason.

 

It appears, though that the additions have a lot of potential to be integral parts. Huston Street is coming from the park most associated with being hitter friendly to the one most recognized with being a pitcher friendly park, so that can only serve to help him, as far as his statistics are concerned. Andrew Cashner are more obvious in that they are just high-potnetial prospects that could or could not pan out for the Padres. Micah Owings is a sort of double-edged sword of potnetial. The first is that he has the potential to become a great pitcher, but he is probably better known for his hitting, so if he isn’t pitching that well…hey, Babe Ruth was once a pitcher. Both Carlos Quentin and Edison Volquez are great talents that actually have shown themselves to be great players. Now it may be tougher for Quentin to do so in the monstrousity that is PETCO Park, but anyone remember when it was said that the EdisonVolquez-Josh Hamilton deal was said to be a win-win, because Hamilton and Volquez were doing so well for their respective teams?

 

The reason, though, that I gave the Padres the grade I did is that all this potential is just that, potential. The guys they lost were more consistently proven than those they gained. So it is *possible* that the subtractions show this grade to be unsure, but as of now, the additions are enough worse than the subtractions (as a whole) to earn a D+ grade. For those of you who don’t know, a C means the team gained/lost no talent, a C+ would mean they made a slight addition to the talent of the previous year, and a C- would mean they lost a bit of talent-not to be confused with potential. So if a team traded Bryce Harper for someone like Jonny Gomes, and Bryce Harper was not going to play that year, the team would probably get a C+, because Harper would not have helped their team that year anyway, but Gomes could help the team in that year. Except it would be done for all of the team’s additions and subtractions.

 

Predicted Record Range: 70-75 wins. I realize that I have the talent on the team getting worse, but I have this feeling that they were a little unlucky and shouldn’t have lost as many games as they did.

 

Next Up:

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?

 

 

Survey of Adults’ Perception of Baseball

I may have mentioned this is some other entry but here’s the actual layout of the survey:

I wanted to see how the average adult viewed baseball. So, instead of running up and down Fordham Road trying to get the ideas of random adults, I asked my 19 former and current high school teachers (20 if you count the baseball team’s pitching coach). The process went like this:
1. Ask teacher who their favorite baseball player was.
1a. If yes, why this was their favorite player
2. If no, what they would like to see in athletes as role models.
3. Wait a few weeks and then follow up with them if they gave me a name for the first question.
4. Asking who their favorite player was outside of New York.
5. Again, asking why.
The purpose of asking them their favorite player instead of outright asking what they think of the game is to see how well their ideals (or lack there of due to them compartmentalizing) matched up with what they think of the game. This is most evident in why they picked a certain player over another. Oh, and keep in mind that I am doing this in a private school in the Bronx so the results will be how adults view baseball in New York.
The Results:
5 Do not follow baseball
93% of favorite players were of New York teams (shocker) leading me to make step 4 (the one teacher that mentioned a non-New York player was a coin flip away from picking David Wright)
10 of those had a favorite player on the Yankees
 george.jpg
5 of those had a favorite player on the Mets
 metsfans.jpg
The Players chosen for question 1:
Derek Jeter 6
Derek-Jeter-derek-jeter-852758_400_400.jpg
David Wright 2
david-wright.jpg
Jose Reyes 2
Pittsburgh+Pirates+v+New+York+Mets+sBhfaN_0XwOl.jpg
Mariano Rivera 2
mariano rivera.jpg
Jorge Posada 2
jorge posada.jpg
Andy Pettitte  2
andy pettitte.jpg
Robinson Cano 1
large_new_york_yankees_robinson_cano_061909.jpg
R.A. Dickey 1
FloatingDickey.jpg
Tim Lincecum 1
tim-lincecum.jpg
 But like I said above, this study isn’t about the players themselves but how the teachers view the game. Let’s start with the teachers who don’t follow baseball:
This was by far the most varied bunch that I can categorized. With five different people there were five different answers, connecting occasionally but still, varied.
3 were about attitude
2 were about integrity
Because they were all different I will sum them all up (this is again, what they would like to see in athletes).
  1. This teacher actually watched as a kid but stopped in the 90’s because of the McGwire and Sosa steroids issue. His answer was: he would like to see more integrity in the game, less money, and more teams made up of non-superstars.
  2. I actually never asked him question 1 because he mentioned in a class that he didn’t watch sports. His answer was: An athlete should be gracious in both defeat and success. He repeated the same concept in different forms trying to get it just right. I have a feeling about what he meant. He was trying to get at that an athlete should not cry in defeat nor should he dance in victory. He should have grace no matter what the outcome. For example, if he loses, he should just walk off the field, comfort other teammates, and start preparing for the next game (professionally).
  3. He just thinks that professional athletes are a spoiled bunch. (Can anyone argue that this isn’t true in New York?) His answer was: he wanted to see less athletes living the fast life (he gave the example of Derek Jeter but I hope he meant it in terms of attitude because has anyone seen his mansion:
Derek-Jeter-mansion1.jpg
Over 5,000 square feet). He wanted athletes to be down to earth and to play hard and work hard.
4.     He simply doesn’t follow baseball, no special story. He wanted to see more well behaved and humble baseball players.
5.    The last again did not have any special story and simply did not want to see PEDs in baseball.
I think that there is a relationship between the fact that these people don’t watch baseball and their opinions are so varied. I think that it is because baseball is so big in the country that morals are shaped by it.
The people who gave me a name were far more uniform. Probably because most of these centered primarily on one player and one team.
The top five characteristics listed are:
  1. The player tries his best 7
  2. The player is a good teammate 6
  3. The player is a good role model 5
  4. The player is a leader 5
  5. The player is a hard worker 4
Remind you of anyone? This is mostly why I think that for those who watch it, baseball shapes the person more than the other way around.
Because I was getting so many Jeter and Yankee responses, I thought I should add another question to get a truer response. I wanted to see if their beliefs for why they picked the first player held up for the second one or if they had picked the first one by his play and created a list of his positive attributes to justify it to themselves (sorry to the teachers but a lot of people do this).
Obviously I did not follow up with those who don’t watch baseball but the results were:
43% were players who played in this past World Series (counting the Lincecum fan from question 1)
36% were players from the rival of their favorite team because they had respect for what that player can do.
29% of teachers were completely stumped. Taking over 3 minutes to answer the question because they had never thought about it before.
There were three teachers that picked Albert Pujols. I think it might have been that he is the best player in baseball.
The remaining teacher picked Jeff Francouer because he used to be on the teacher’s favorite team, the Mets, and threw him a ball during bp (I have much to teach that one).
The players for step 4:
Tim Lincecum 3
1292976585.jpg
Albert Pujols 3
t1_pujols.jpg
Cliff Lee 1
cliff-lee-indians.jpg
Buster Posey 1
Buster-Posey.jpg
Jeff Francoeur 1
jeff-francoeur-ny-mets-0f1930dba2835150_large.jpg
Ryan Howard 1
Ryan+Howard+San+Francisco+Giants+v+Philadelphia+g2hCHZW4AYAl.jpg
David Ortiz 1
david-ortiz-ap2.jpg
Josh Hamilton 1
2006-06-06-hamilton.jpg
Carl Crawford 1
6911_carl-crawford-all-star.jpg
Roy Halladay 1
RoyHalladay-1.jpg
Dustin Pedroia 1
dustin-pedroia.jpg030610_utley.jpg
and if you can’t believe that no one picked a certain bearded World Series hero. Well, neither can he:
wilson.jpg
The top five characteristics for this group were:
1. The player is very talented ( it could have been worded differently like: “He is a five tool player” but the gist of the teacher’s reasoning was talent) 7
2. The player is a professional 3
3. The player is a teammate 3
4. The player is determined/persistent 3
5. The player is a family man 3
Now, there are two similarities between the two lists but the major difference shows in that the #1 attribute by far for the non-New York players was the player’s talent. This is because when a player is from your favorite/local team you are more apt to chose him as a favorite player. When the player is not on your local team, you differentiate based on the actual attributes you value in a player. The reason for the overlap of the two categories is because when amongst your local team, you find a player who fits your attributes you are more likely to see him as your favorite.
Of course, this is just my opinion of the numbers. The beauty in statistics is that as empirical and objective as the numbers themselves may be. The interpretation of those numbers is entirely subjective.
*No teacher’s names were mentioned in the process of making this blog. Any physical or emotional damage is done at the risk of the teacher for reading this entry and Observing Baseball and all of its employees cannot be held accountable for any lowering of self-esteem that occurred from this entry. However, any praise for his entry is freely accepted at fischerm@fordhamprep.org

Minnesota Twins Offseason Recap and Preview

As a Yankee fan they are a gift (up to this point) because of their record both in and after the season, which is somewhere between .200 and .300 in the 21st century. As an appreciator of cost efficiency, there playoff results absolutely kill me:

1013-alds-yankees-twins-bas.jpg
Grade: D-
Notable Additions:
Minnesota+Twins+Introduce+Tsuyoshi+Nishioka+gXPYddKUVyol.jpg
Tsuyoshi Nishioka

Notable Subtractions:

Minnesota+Twins+v+New+York+Yankees+Game+2+RYzXOjc2_oll.jpg
Matt Guerrier, Ron Mahay, Jesse Crain, J.J. Hardy, Brain Fuentes, Joe Crede, Orlando Hudson, Nick Punto, and Jon Rauch.
Why?: They lost what could be a bullpen in itself this Offseason in addition to what could be an infield on its own. Now I am aware of the fact that they have replacements for most of those positions and should at least come close to last year’s success. So they should have a higher grade… if the grade were for the state of the team, but it aint, it’s for what the Twins did in the Offseason which was get an infielder and lose all that listed above.

Now by talking with other baseball fans I realize that many just wondered “What? How are the Twins going to even come close to last year’s success when they lost that much talent?” First, Joe Nathan was the second best closer in baseball since he became a closer after his trade from San Francisco (still one of the worst trades in MLB history even after the hype died down). Do you not think that would make up for at least two of the reliever’s departures (Pat Neshek making up for one other)? Second, had Justin Morneau finished the season like he started, .345 AVG 36 HR 120 RBI. Now I realize this would have been pretty unlikely but that would have at least put him in the MVP discussion if not won it for him and he is typically a second half guy. Thirdly, the Twins always outplay their expectations. For example, SI predicted them to finish in last place in 2008 after they lost Johan, and Torii. What did they do? Only tied for the lead in the division and eventually lose their playoff spot to the White Sox in a one game playoff:

19f84a92754af378f797fbb82894090c.jpg
I realize that there are a lot of “if”s in there but we must not forget that they did win 95 games without two of the faces of the franchise. I also remind people that they have made it to the playoffs more than anyone besides the Yankees since 2002 (they’re tied with the Angels).
Again, most of the fate of the team seemingly rests on how the injured players rebound but with the Twins they are coached in such a manner that whenever someone is injured there is always a person that steps up right behind him and temporarily. Though, if Morneau does comeback to full strength it will be the final piece that puts them over the top in the playoffs because of not only the statistical aspect he adds to the team but the protection he provides in the lineup to Joe Mauer. Also, I am not sure if it is over-looked by the common fan or not but if anyone was paying attention there was a party in support of Delmon Young as AL MVP at the end of the year.
Predicted Record Range: 91-96 this is assuming 2 out of the three injured Twins get back to true from by the all star break but if only one does then you can shift this scale down a few games.
Next Up: Chicago White Sox
I don’t know if any of you noticed but mine is the featured blog on the Mlblogs home page. So I would like to take this line to thank whoever was responsible for making that happen.
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