Results tagged ‘ MLB ’
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:
2. Red Sox
3. Blue Jays
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:
But it would actually be me remaking the icon itself, which is this:
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:
After a brief trip to Baltimore, it was back to Washington. And look who was there to greet me:
That, if you don’t know from past entries like this one, is Rick Gold, a fellow ballhawk who lives in New Jersey and works for MLB.com, and as a result goes to games pretty much everywhere, but likes to come visit Washington perhaps more than any other city. What we’re doing in the picture is it was my first day in Washington with my behemoth of a glove that is either 14 or 15 inches. (I forgot which it is exactly and it doesn’t say on the glove itself.) And Rick’s glove is also pretty large at 14″, so we were previewing the battle of the big gloves that was going to take place during the day. I had my glove in front of his in the picture, but I’ll give you a brief preview and say that he put on a show during BP.
His day started off rough with a missed catch on a home run ball during pitcher’s BP. But fortunately he had his cup trick to retrieve the ball from the gap in front of the Red Seats and caught another ball on the fly later that Craig Stammen hit. Meanwhile in the left field seats, I managed to catch a ball off of the bat of Nathan Karns who hit a couple out:
It’s crazy to think that Karns can hit, because the Nationals pitching staff, although their in-game numbers might not necessarily reflect it, are one of the better hitting staffs in the league during BP. They routinely outperform the hitters in terms of home runs for a hitting group.
My next ball came in the Red Seats when Nathan Karns came out to field baseballs. I think I was the only one who knew his name since he had just made two starts at that point, so when I call out to him by name as he approached the wall to retrieve a ball, he tossed me the baseball for my second ball of the day. My third ball came when bench coach, Randy Knorr, fielded a ball by the Red Seats. I asked him by name for a ball and he hooked me up. Right as I got the ball, I asked a group of three kids who had gotten a ball yet. They all said they hadn’t, so I gave the ball to the kid closest to me on the left and told them I would give one of the others a ball if I snagged another ball out there in the Red Seats:
I didn’t so just that one kid got a ball from me. Although I did see another snag a ball in the time I was there afterwards. I left there when I saw the Mets players coming out to throw. The Mets are pretty bad in BP to begin with, so I knew I wouldn’t be missing much in going into foul territory for a couple of rounds. But I get ahead of myself. I forgot to mention how exactly the clinic Rick Gold was putting on unfolded. By the time I headed over into foul ground, he already had eight baseballs. If you don’t know, Rick doesn’t go for toss-ups, so besides the ball he got using his ball retriever, the other seven were hit baseballs. These seven included five balls caught on the fly and balls caught on three consecutive pitches. All were opposite field home runs by Ryan Zimmerman, and it was truly something to see. I watched him chase down and catch the first one, then as I turned to pay attention to Zimmerman again, I saw another ball headed out there, and Rick ran back towards where he had started to catch the second. I then saw him running back to where he caught the first ball and catch the third ball. He literally had two balls in his throwing hand when he caught the last of the three since he didn’t have time to put any in his backpack. He would end the game at ten baseballs with six caught on the fly. I can only imagine what numbers he could have gotten to had he been going for toss-ups as well. Or does he maybe miss some hit baseballs because he was asking for a ball somewhere in there? Does his three consecutive catches in a row? I don’t know, but it was a spectacular performance. The best I’ve ever seen in terms of a ballhawk going off by catching the hit ball.
When the Mets pitchers finished throwing, I got Scott Rice to toss me a ball:
First of all, this ball was a result of the surprising lack of Mets fans that went into foul ground to watch them warm up. But secondly, I was concentrating on another throwing pair, but when Rice and his partner Greg Burke got done throwing, I got into the first row, and as Rice kept walking by me with the ball, I asked him by name if he could toss me the ball. Not surprisingly–as I was the only one to do so, he obliged me for my fourth ball of the game.
My fifth ball of the day came when I headed back out to the Red Seats. When Matt Harvey went to dead center field to retrieve a ball, I went to the corner spot at the front-left of the section and asked him for the ball. He looked up at me and tossed me the ball:
Batting practice would end within five minutes of me getting this ball, so that would be it for me for BP. Towards the end of the game, though, I headed down here as the Mets lead the game 2-1:
I figured the game was over since the Mets had their pretty-reliable closer Bobby Parnell on the mound. But that’s when the Mets showed why they were the Mets and why the Nationals were the Nationals. You see this is the second game I have been to between these two teams where the Mets lead the whole game, but the Nationals went on a roll in the bottom of the ninth that made it look like they were just toying with the Mets. I’ll just tell you what happened. Ryan Zimmerman hit a double to lead off the inning. Zimmerman then advanced on a wild pitch. Adam LaRoche then hit a single to score Zimmerman. At this point I was very unhappy even though the Nationals–who I am a fan of–had tied the game because I really didn’t want extra innings since I was already by the dugout, and that’s where it appeared this game was headed. But again, thank you to the Mets for being the Mets, because Ian Desmond doubled to make it runners on second and third with no outs. (Since Trent Jewett, the third base coach was obviously not going to send LaRoche in that situation.) Roger Bernadina then came up, but with Steve Lombardozzi hitting behind him and the obvious benefits of having a force-out at every base, he was intentionally walked. Lombardozzi then thankfully hit a walk-off sac-fly to end the game.
At the end of the game, I had kids in front of me in the corner spot to the umpire’s tunnel, but home plate umpire Wally Bell actually didn’t give them any baseballs; which is very odd. Just in case, though, I started to say, “Mr. Bell…” And before I could even finish my request, Bell had already tossed me my sixth ball of the night:
It just goes to show, sometimes all it takes is asking and knowing the person’s name.
- 6 Balls at this Game
Numbers 538-543 for my “lifetime”:
- 97 Balls in 23 Games= 4.22 Balls Per Game
- 6 Ball x 31,473 Fans=188,838 Competition Factor
- 86 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 135 Balls in 30 Games at Nationals Park= 4.50 Balls Per Game
- 22 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
- 6 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
- 4 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
- 2 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 4-5 Balls
- Time Spent On Game 2:53-10:38= 7 Hours 45 Minutes
My day began at Avi Miller‘s house. See, Avi and his parents were kind enough to put up with me for a couple of days as I needed a place to stay while going to a couple Orioles games. I have to say it was a really nice/fun place to stay. Avi and I had stayed up watching MLB Network–which I had regrettably not watched in forever leading up to that point–and I worked on entries as I watched and we ate pizza that I somehow got talked into letting Avi pay for even thought *he* was the one letting me stay with him. But anyway, the way to get to the ballpark from Avi’s is to drive to the subway station and take that to the ballpark. We could drive the whole way, but given how often Avi goes to games, it doesn’t make any sense, because 1. It costs $8 for him to park by the ballpark. 2. It puts extra wear on the car. And: 3. It costs a lot more in gas to get to the ballpark than the $1.20 for the subway.
But why am I prolonging the introduction to this entry and my account of the time before I got to the ballpark? Well because not much happened in batting practice itself. Once I got int the gates, here was my view of the field:
While I’ve heard it many times via word of mouth, I don’t think I’ve seen it written yet, so I figure I’ll get it out there: OPACY has become a tougher ballpark to ballhawk at. One reason for the ballhawks who used to come there many years ago is the competition. Several years ago (like 2010 and before that) there was virtually no competition during the first half-hour, so if you were in left field courtesy of a season ticket, you essentially had the place to yourself and could clean up for thirty minutes. The second reason is the Orioles don’t really have a team suited for the ballpark. I remember running all over the place when Mark Reynolds and Derrek Lee were on the team, but now really the only player who consistently gets balls into the left field seats is J.J. Hardy, and even he is having a rough year in that regard. You’d almost rather go out onto the flag court for parts of the 30 minutes to try to get a Chris Davis homer. And all of the players/coaches who patrol left field during batting practice are already accustomed to not tossing baseballs up for this first half-hour, so it’s not an automatic thing like it used to be to get on the board with a season ticket. I wasn’t there super consistently before, but from what I heard, it used to almost be easy to get four or five baseballs before the seating bowl opened up to the general public, and that’s before any of the visitor’s BP even took place.
During this BP, though, the Orioles hit definitely less than five baseballs into the stands, and I’m pretty sure that’s including ground-rule doubles. Nothing even came close to me. And what made it so frustrating is that although Alex Kopp, who I showed you guys in the previous game’s entry was there, Tim Anderson wasn’t here for today’s or the next day’s game, so I wanted so badly to take advantage, since I knew it would be a rarity to have an opportunity like this, but then the Orioles let me down. I mean look at how much space I had to run around if a ball got hit into the stands:
Oh, and I don’t think I mentioned it in the last game’s entry, but I was particularly looking forward to Tim being away because he jumped and caught a ball during that BP that almost certainly would have made its way into my glove had he not been there. He made a great play on it, and I horribly misjudged the ball. I still would have made the catch, but he picked the right row to run in and I went two rows deeper.
But back to this game. What made it even more frustrating is that the big, bad Tigers decided to take the day off of hitting because they had just played an 11-inning game in Pittsburgh where they got beat 1-0. I mean to me, getting shutout for 11 innings by the Pirates means you should probably be taking extra hitting, but you know, whatever your methods are, Jim Leyland, I won’t question them. It was as a result of the Tigers not hititng, however, that I probably had one of my more memorable experiences at the ballpark. And by memorable I mean…well, you’ll see.
Since the Tigers weren’t hitting, I went behind the Tigers pitchers warming up to try to get a ball from them. Since I had previously had a good encounter with him at Target Field, I got behind Phil Coke’s throwing partner to hopefully get a ball from Coke when they were done. When they finished catch, and I asked Coke for a ball, he looked and me and started backing away from me. I didn’t know what to make of it until he got into the “set” position of pitching of the stretch and flipped his glove upwards–which is to say he was going to throw me a fastball. I thought he was just going to throw the ball at my glove nice and easy, but no, this was Phil Coke, so he threw the ball full-force. So given the fact that it was Phil Coke not off a mound, it was probably in the high-80s. I wasn’t expecting this at all, so as the ball went way higher than I thought it would, I just managed to tip the ball as it zoomed way past me into the stands. I then ran back and retrieved the ball. I thought that was the end of it, but Coke signaled for me to toss the ball back to him. I tossed it back to him and he readied himself again. This time he crow-hopped into the throw–so the ball was almost definitely in the mid-90s–and I had to jump this time just to tip the ball. The ball then hit off a seat behind me and ricocheted all the way past the cross-aisle:
When I went back and got this ball, I was more than prepared to toss it back to him for another chance to catch it, but as you can somewhat see in the last picture, he had moved onto a new victim in the blue. That’s an OPACY regular by the name of Doug. Coke fired one ball at Doug before he told everyone to clear the area and then proceeded to fire another ball at Doug. Avi described it perfectly in what he said afterwards (I’m somewhat paraphrasing), “In an age where some teams encourage players to not even toss baseballs up into the stands because of liability, that has got to be the most reckless thing I’ve ever seen a player do at the ballpark.” Of course, Avi had probably the best reason to say it because after it deflected off a seat, one of Coke’s throws went less than a foot above Avi’s head. But alas, I had to keep my crown as the only one who got hit in the head with a baseball while I was at OPACY.
But anyway, that was pretty much it for the day. Avi, Alex and I hung out in club level pretty much until the game started. Tonight was Union Night, so OPACY was completely sold-out out. I mean just check out the sight on Eutaw Street before the game began:
So Alex and I sat out in the flag court at one of the picnic tables. And after having to move about seven times because people kept on showing up to their seats for the first three or four innings, Avi came and joined us out there. Here are those two as I was leaving to go get an umpire ball:
And I didn’t. The previous day I was in prefect position for an umpire ball, but an usher moved a couple kids in front of me just before the umpire passed through–like he literally grabbed the two kids and lifted them into the row of seats right in front of me–so I didn’t get a ball that day. I figured this was the usher’s custom, so this game I went to the other side of the tunnel in hopes of being on the corner spot on that side. I was, but unfortunately for my hopes of getting an umpire ball, the Orioles rallied back in the ninth inning, which they had begun trailing, and Chris Dickerson hit a walk-off home run, which I–albeit jokingly–called. This affected me trying to get a ball because the crowd was going absolutely berserk, so when I tried calling whoever the home plate umpire was by name, he couldn’t hear me at all. Heck, I could barely hear myself calling out to him. So he exhausted all of his baseballs on the kids awaiting him before he got to me. All in all it was a pretty boring day to ballhawk besides the Coke incident. I got my one ball there, Alex got his right at the beginning of BP when an usher directed him to a ball that had been hit in the seats before we entered, and I don’t even know if Avi got a ball, since he has a good approach and just relaxes during BP and snags whatever comes his way. He doesn’t really set expectations fro himself, so whatever he does in terms of baseballs and autographs is almost like a nice treat in addition to being at the ballpark. Anyway, I headed out to the flag court where I met up with Avi, where we would prepare ourselves for a game the next day that while much more adventuresome, would be just as frustrating to me.
- 1 Baseball at this Game
Number 535 for my “life”:
- 89 Balls in 21 Games= 4.24 Balls Per Game
- 1 Ball x 46,249 Fans=46,249 Competition Factor
- 84 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 43 Balls in 10 Games at OPACY= 4.30 Balls Per Game
- 10 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at OPACY
- Time Spent On Game 3:23-12:14= 8 Hours 51 Minutes
Just to have it on the record who my favorite MLB players are and were as of January, 12, 2013. That, and maybe for you guys to get a better idea of me as a baseball fan:
Vote for who you think the next entry should be about:
And of course, if you haven’t already, vote for what you think the next entry should be after that:
Exhausted entry ideas:
1. Ballhawk Interviews- 33 votes
2. Stadium Profiles- 26 votes
3. Ballhawk Profiles- 33 votes
4. Dissect (a) Baseball(s)- 26 votes
5. Tour Target Field when there’s snow on the ground- 26 votes
6. Weird Observing Baseball Facts and Records- 28 votes
7. New Observing Baseball Icon- 17 votes
8. MLBlogs I Recommend- 33 votes
9. Observing Baseball Trivia- 32 votes
10. My Favorite MLB Players- 28 votes
11. Characters of Observing Baseball- 29
239,315 Words Written so far…
Ah weird numbers: my specialty. So, it was completely natural for me to write this entry. What better to do than find arbitrary statistics about my blog and place meaning in them. Just call me the Tim Kurkjian of the MLBlogs world. (Kurkjian still does the “Kurk-gems” segment, right? I’ve pretty much stopped watching Baseball Tonight in favor of MLB Tonight on MLB Network.) Here goes some of the random numbers.
First, let’s start off with the big one: number of words total. Over the course of this blog, I have written 225, 518 words. That’s a lot of words. I am astounded by this number personally. With the number of entries I currently have up, that works out to an average of 823 words per entry. However, you’ve got to keep in mind there are certain kinds of entries that are way under and over this average. For example, none of my “Re-view of the Preview” entries even reached this number. I don’t think any of them even surpassed the 600 word plateau. With the average for the thirty of those being 200-300 words, it brings the average way down. If I had to guess, my average ballhawking entry is probably in the 1,400 word range. My longest entry ever is 3,631 words. You can check that out here. It was when I met up with the Cook family in Washington D.C., so I decided to take up Todd Cook’s style of writing for a day and over-document. It wasn’t my longest entry by a mile, though. The next closest entry in terms of words was my informal tour of Citi Field where I covered a lot of ground in general with a guest by the name of Alex also joining in with me. (And for the record: no, he didn’t accompany me on my mini-tour of Citi Field. He entertained himself in the club level while I ran around the stadium for five minutes.) You can check out that entry if you’d like by clicking these words I have typed in this sentence. That entry was 3,344 words long. The least amount of words I have ever written in an entry is 19 words. The reason for it was because the entry itself was pretty much a video entry, so the 19 words were the introduction the video. Click here for the link to that entry. I believe it was my first video filmed with a high-quality camera. And by high-quality, I mean not a webcam. As for the quality of the video…Eh, I made an unsuccessful attempt at a homemade teleprompter that is very obvious when you watch the video. It’s pretty bad looking bad at it. But hey, cut me some slack; it was my third video ever.
Baseballs given away:
Next fact: The past two years I have snagged 384 baseballs. Of those, I have given 110 of them away. For those who don’t have a calculator, that is 29% of the baseballs I have snagged I have given away. Whenever I talk to people and they ask me the question everyone asks ballhawks: “What do you with all of the baseballs?” I tell them that I give about a third of them away. So that’s pretty accurate, right? In 2011, I gave away 34 of 161 snagged (21%). The most I gave away that year was 4 baseballs in a game. I can’t remember when that was, but to me now, that’s a low “high” number. I think my lack of giving stems from the fact that I was snagging baseballs at a ton of different stadiums for my successful period of ballhawking in July, so I didn’t have to worry about pleasing any ushers for later games. I was planning to give the majority of my baseballs towards the end of the year when I wasn’t as mobile. When this happened, however, I hit an absolute cold streak where I wasn’t snagging more than three baseballs at a game that often at all. As such, I didn’t have that many baseballs to give away. As a result, the middle of the summer remained my peak for giving away baseballs. In 2012, I gave away 76 of 223 baseballs (34%). This was lead by games where I gave away a ton of baseballs. The most I gave out in a game was 7 baseballs ( I snagged 9, I believe that day). However, it was one of three games where I gave away 6 or more baseballs this year.
In my entries I have used a total of 4,545 pictures. That averages out to 16.5 pictures per entry. That’s a lot higher than I would have guessed. Although, I guess the list is top heavy with ballhawking entries bearing the brunt of the load. The most pictures I’ve used in a single entry was the same as the entry where I wrote the most words ever with 80 pictures.
I have snagged 30 commemorative baseballs since I started this blog. I snagged a Citi Field commemorative baseball in 2010, but besides that, all of my commemorative snags have come this past year. My record for snagging commemorative baseballs in one game is 7. This came–I believe–when the Nationals were using nothing but Shea Stadium and Nationals Park commemorative baseballs.
Time Spent On Game:
I have roughly spent 40,882 Minutes on the 85 games I kept track of either the “Time at Game” or “Time Spent On Game” stat for. That’s over 681 Hours I have spent on baseball games. If you don’t know how the stat works, it is the time I spend at the ballpark itself plus the time I spend traveling to and from the ballpark. For the games where I only had the “Time at Game” stat, I added a round amount of hours (usually 2 hours for local games) to the total I had in place to account for transportation time. For those without calculators, the average amount of time I spent on a game was 481 Minutes or just over 8 Hours.
As of late I have been incorporating videos a little more than before, but I have been using videos in my entries for over a year now. As a result, I have uploaded 6074 seconds of video to YouTube for this blog. Why seconds? Because have you ever tried to add up times when they’re in this format: 6:51+ 4:26? No, because it’s annoying as heck. Also, I do have other YouTube videos out there (I’ll get to some of those in the next entry), but these are the videos made for the purpose of incorporating them into a blog entry. If you’re wondering what that seconds mark translates into in the 0:00 format, though–First of all, get a calculator; I’m sick of doing all of the math for you–it is 101 Minutes 14 Seconds. If you divide that by the number of videos, it is an average of 6:20 per video. However, I should include the caveat that the shortest video I have put on YouTube is 6 six seconds, which kind of throws off the average (and can be found in the entry I’m linking to here). Meanwhile, the longest video is 16 Minutes 2 Seconds. That was the entry where I took apart a baseball a couple weeks ago.
That’s all I have for you for now. Surprisingly–even though it doesn’t appear that way–this entry is over 1,000 words. However, if you have any obscure stats you think of and would like for me to include, leave your suggestions down below in the comments, and if it doesn’t take an eternity to calculate like these almost did, I will calculate it and add a section below that last one right above this paragraph.
I realize I have been off schedule lately, but the holiday/finals time threw a wrinkle in my plans. So, to make it up to you, I plan to have published three new entries (in addition to this one) by/on January, 1, 2013. While it is pretty set in stone what those three will be, you can keep voting on which entries I will write after those in this poll down here. I will include all of the already-used ideas below it as well as the rankings of the remaining categories:
1. Ballhawk Interviews- 33 votes
2. Stadium Profiles- 26 votes
3. Ballhawk Profiles- 33 votes
4. Dissect (a) Baseball(s)- 26 votes
5. Tour Target Field when there’s snow on the ground- 26 votes
6. Weird Observing Baseball Facts and Records- 28 votes
And here are the standings for the remaining poll items as they stand while I type these words:
T1. Observing Baseball Trivia/MLBlogs I Recommend- 28 votes
3. Ballhawking Gear- 27 votes
T4. My Favorite MLB Players/Characters of Observing Baseball- 25 votes
6. Ask a Statistician- 24 votes
T7. Salute to Up-and-coming Blogs/10 Minutes with 2 GMs- 23 votes
9. Instructional Videos- 22 votes
10. My Favorite MLB Teams- 21 votes
T11. Gate Opening Times of MLB Stadiums/Complementary Tickets!- 20 votes
T13. Blast From The Baseball Past/ Battle of the Retreival Devices- 19 votes
15. Reference Guide to Ballhawk Terms- 18 votes
16. Evaluate and Critique Ballhawk Statistics- 16 votes
T17. New Observing Baseball Icon/Look at MLBlogs Themes- 15 votes
19. Format of the Entries- 12 votes
If you’re confused as to what all of these names mean, here is the link to the entry where I explain nearly all of them. And here is the entry where I explain the other two.
Also, you can vote which of the remaining days you’d like to read an entry on. I don’t know, for example if people are more or less likely to read something on Christmas, so here you can tell me that. Unlike the other poll, though, you can only vote for three days and not as many times as you’d like:
227,100 Words Written so far
Apparently it’s Award Season in the MLB community. Yeah, well I’m going to completely disregard that. I have interest in it, don’t get me wrong, but if you want to read about the awards, my friend Matt Huddleston is doing comprehensive coverage of all of the awards on his blog, The Unbiased MLB Fan. No, here at Observing Baseball we are completely self-absorbed in the awards converge, covering only awards that the staff (read: me, Mateo Fischer) win.
So yes, I won mygameballs.com’s Junior Ballhawk of the Year:
The subtitle phrases it perfectly when it says I am honored. If you are a ballhawk with any normalcy to your life’s schedule, there are many times when it may not seem worth it to keep ballhawking. Then there’s the fact that I had to do something half-way decent to be considered for the award. Then, after that, when you consider that this is a peer-voted award, it adds a whole new level of honored to the mix. To people outside of the ballhawk community (and maybe even to people inside it) this may not seem like much, but it feels pretty great to me right now. Getting back to the urge to quit that 95% of ballhawks get, there are very many things that make you want to quit, but at some point or another, unless you do in fact quit, there is something keeping you from quitting. This, although not directly, is an indication of what tips the scale back for me.
Now I’m not going to sit here and say that it was my goal to win any award at the beginning of this year, as indicated by its absence in the goals I *did* set for this year. (Psst. Link to that here.) In fact, I wasn’t even considering that when I wrote the goals. I didn’t even know I was going to be eligible for it at the end of the season. For those who don’t know, my birthday is in October, before the award voting began, but apparently, the cutoff date was in July That said, when I did eventually win the award, it meant something to me as I have described above. It is what it is: a really cool thing that came along through the course of doing my ballhawking thing throughout the season.
Anyway, thank you to Alan Schuster for just creating mygameballs.com and the people who voted for me. I don’t want this to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech or anything; I just want an entry on the blog documenting the fact that I won the award. This is a sort of awkward entry for me. On the one hand, I didn’t not want to write an entry and make it seem like I’m better than the award or anything, because it does mean something to me, but at the same time, I know it doesn’t mean that much to a lot of people.
Also, congratulations to all of the other ballhawks who received votes for Junior Ballhawk of the Year:
Keep your eyes glued to mygameballs.com for the next few days as the announcement for Ballhawk of the Year should be up, which is a much greater feat than this. Could it possibly be that Greg Barasch takes it and we be the first and possibly the last next-door neighbor combination to sweep the awards?
And I know this entry was both late and unrelated to the poll I’m conducting this offseason, but I felt it was necessary and I had a bunch of things that got in the way of entry writing this week. New entry up on Monday. Meanwhile, keep voting on the assortment of polls I have provided below if you have not already done so (P. S. Thanks to everyone who has voted, the main poll is over 20 votes as of me writing this):
If you have no clue what some of the entries in the first poll are, here’s the link to the entry where I explain them.
Update: So Greg didn’t win and the results proved to me that Ballhawk of the Year is just a popularity contest with a splash of actual stats looking. Anyway, congratulations to Zack, but a cool thing about that being announced is that there was a new addition made to the “award winners” page on mygameballs.com:
3. Dissecting a Baseball – Except I should clarify I would be dissecting multiple types of baseballs, not just MLB ones.
Be sure to vote as soon as you can because I want to start publishing regular entries this Monday, so I’ll write about what it is that has the most votes at the end of today
It was Sunday, September 30th 2012. It was my last game of the season. Except, when I awoke early Sunday morning, it didn’t feel like it at all. It just felt like another day at the ballpark. Except I semi-changed things up by going to Harmon Killebrew’s gate:
I knew there wouldn’t be batting practice, and my bus drops me off right by Gate 3 when I take it; so I didn’t feel like walking to Gate 34.
When I entered the left field seats, this was my view:
No surprise there.
I went down to the Tigers’ dugout, but there wasn’t anything going on down there:
Eventually, Jeff Kunkel– one of the Tigers’ bullpen catchers– came out to play catch with one of the pitchers:
I don’t remember who the pitchers was, but I do remember that after playing catch they went to the bullpen to throw a bullpen session.
Then there was a long break in action. How long? It was long enough for Kunkel to go to the bullpen, catch the session, and come back out to be the catching partner of the next pitcher who came out:
I don’t know who it was. The face looked most Luke Putkonen, but he didn’t look 6’6″, which Putkonen is listed at. But who knows, MLB players routinely “round up” on their listed heights, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it was Putkonen.
Anyway, at this time, the Twins came out to throw:
I had half a mind to go over there, but I decided against it since my most notable competition on my side of the field was a family who were expecting the Twins to take batting practice and a couple of kids with their parents.
It looks like I made the right decision, because minutes later, I got this from Luis Marte by working some Spanish magic:
One down, four to go to get to my goal of 444 career baseballs. I gave this ball away to the family I mentioned before, since they had engaged me in conversation over day games after night games, the Twins, and a whole bunch of other things.
After Marte, I would get a giant boost in my campaign for four baseballs in a BP-less day. Two words: Phil. Coke:
Yeah he’s one of the nicer players out there, but the reason he was so good in my quest for four baseballs on the day is he was absolutely the most wild I have ever seen a pitcher in a session of catch.
Here was my view of Coke and his throwing partner, the other bullpen catcher, Scott Pickens:
To give you an idea of Coke’s wildness in this particular session, Pickens was at least thirty feet in front of the stands. Now that you have this fact in your mind: Coke threw four balls into the stands by me. The first almost decapitated me because I wasn’t paying attention to Coke at the time. I ducked just in time as the ball whizzed over my head, bounced off a seat two rows behind me, and bounced back onto the field. After that I was sure to pay attention. The next ball actually technically didn’t make it into the stands on the fly. As soon as the ball was half-way between Coke and Pickens, I could tell it was sailing way over Pickens’ head, so I moved into position and caught the ball right at the wall. So even though I was in the stands, I caught the ball itself over the field of play. Without a hesitation, I gave the ball back to Pickens and he told me he would give me the ball when they were done throwing.
The third ball was a HUMONGOUS overthrow that sailed over even my head. It then bounced off of a seat behind me and bounced back towards me. At this point, I acted like a catcher who was blocking a ball in the dirt and just blocked the ball with my chest, deflecting it to the seats to my left. Basically, this was the path of the ball:
After I deflected the ball, I ran after it and just barely scooped it up before anyone else could get to it. I then proceeded to give the ball to the second-closest to the ball who just happened to be a ten-year old boy with a glove. This was technically my second ball of the day since I gave the first overthrow I snagged back to Pickens. I was gave away two consecutive baseballs because I knew I was approaching milestone/goal territory and I wouldn’t want to give away any of the latter balls I snagged in the day.
Then a fourth bounced to almost the exact same location, but this time, there was someone closer to me after the deflection, so he scooped it up. I really didn’t have a chance because I wasn’t paying attention to Coke at the time, Instead, I was talking to the family I gave the Marte ball to, so I didn’t see the ball until I turned around and saw it hit the seats.
When Coke finally finished throwing, he came to sign autographs. Pickens headed straight for the dugout and Coke headed straight for the foul line. This is where he showed his awesomeness. First, there were a bunch of baseballs sitting on the foul line. He picked up a couple of baseballs. The first he threw up to the second level. When the woman who he threw it to didn’t catch it, he jokingly got on her case by flinging his glove on the ground, yelling “COME ON!”, and then using her former softball playing to further his discussion even though she was a hundred feet away. The second ball also went to that woman and she caught it this time. (No glove on, by the way.) He then came over to start signing. While he started signing, he asked me if Pickens had given me the ball. When I said no, he jokingly reprimanded Pickens for not doing so and tossed me a ball:
While he kept signing, we talked for 1-2 minutes about the ball he just tossed me and why I hadn’t snagged the last ball he threw into the crowd. I realize that doesn’t seem like that long time, but it is when you consider it was a major league player I was talking to, it’s pretty special.
Because I had to get four baseballs in a BP-less game, I got a ticket in Target Field’s “moat” to have a shot at a ball during the game, since I figured I would enter the game under four baseballs for the day.I waited there until the position players came out to throw. When they finished throwing, I got Andy Dirks to toss me career baseball number 444:
This effectively eliminated the possibility of me going to a playoff game in 2012 (I didn’t, but I was seriously considering a trip to Detroit.) What it also did was it made it so I wouldn’t have to sit by the dugout for the game. Sure, those seats are nice and all, but I wanted to end my season with a game home run if I could. So instead, I stood out here for most of the game:
How awesome would it be to end my season with a Prince Fielder, Justin Morneau, or Joe Mauer home run. Or even better, an opposite field bomb by Miguel Cabrera to lock-up the triple crown for him. Alas, the only home run any of those players hit was a Prince Fielder home run to left field.
In the middle innings, though, I was kind of tired, so I decided to do something I had always wanted to do at a major league stadium but was always to busy running around to do: I went to Target Field’s Best Buy gaming station to play MLB The Show:
Yeah, for one real baseball inning, I was that guy who pays no attention to the game and just plays video games at a baseball stadium. And you know what, it felt nice to relax a little in frantically trying to get to first fifty games in the season and then reach 444 career baseballs, I hadn’t had much of a break in the action between ballhawking, blogging, and schoolwork. (If you’ve noticed the relaxed pace of entries lately, it’s because I still had some overload left in me. I’ll be ramping the blogging schedule back up in a bit.) So yeah, it was nice:
For the record, I was the Nationals; not the Astros.
When I realized I was never going to score any runs because I had no clue how to hit in the game (yes, it took three innings to realize this), I headed back out to the standing room section just in time:
That would be Mike. He and his friend (not pictured) are– besides myself, Tony Voda, and Paul Kom– the closest thing Target Field has to regular ballhawks. I believe they are both season ticket holders, but they only try to catch baseballs on less than half of the games they go to. Anyway, he was dressed in this get-up to pay homage to Red Solo Cup. If you don’t know about it, don’t worry, I didn’t know about the song until I got to Minnesota. Mike pretty much always has the hat on, but this was the first time I had seen him with the cup costume itself.
This meant I had officially “passed” my goal of 222 baseballs in 2012. Yay?
After which, I simultaneously tried to get the lineup card(s) from Jim Leyland and tried to get a ball from the Tigers relievers coming back from the bullpen:
It wasn’t because of my multitasking, but I failed at both. When I realized there would be no on-field demo by FSN due to Kids Run The Bases, I went around the stadium saying goodbye to all of the ushers I had met in the last month of season and I headed out.
One last thing before I get to the stats portion of the entry: my next entry will be a statistical recap of the season. I have a general idea of how I’m going to go about it alla last year’s review, but let me know in the comments below if you have any ideas for stats you think of or anything you would like to see in review of the season.
- 5 Baseballs at this game (3 pictured because I gave 2 away):
Numbers 441-445 for my career:
- 223 Balls in 53 Games= 4.21 Balls Per Game
- 5 Balls x 32,554 Fans= 162,770 Competition Factor
- 62 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 12 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
- 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
- 55 Balls in 14 Games= 3.93 Balls Per Game
- 13 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
- 12 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
- 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 11: 44- 4:47= 5 Hours 3 Minutes
Now my third game at Target Field since starting school, I was starting to develop a routine by walking directly from my last class of the day to Target Field and falling asleep in the giant glove outside the gates:
The glove itself, for those who don’t know, is to commemorate all of the Twins Gold Glove winners in history. (That’s the plaque right over my right shoulder in the picture.) The position of the glove is to commemorate the furthest home run in Twins history; which I believe was measured at 520ft.
It isn’t exactly ideal to show up two hours before the gates open, but one of the perks is being the absolute first fan to check into the game using MLB.com’s At The Ballpark app. What I didn’t know was the perk of that was this:
Here’s the t-shirt’s front design:
And here’s the back design:
I didn’t wear it that day, but you may see it in a couple entries (hint, hint).
Once 4:30 rolled around, I went up to the gates-as is my usual routine- and readied myself for any baseball that might reach me at the gate. It’s very unlikely, but I like that there’s at least a possibility of getting a ball. It makes the time go so much faster. Citi Field gate time goes slowly for reasons I have already mentioned, and Yankee Stadium minutes, if there’s no one I know is at the gates, takes FORever. Long story short: I didn’t get any balls that bounced to the gate, but what *did* happen was, out of the blue, a guy pulled up to me in a trolley-type thing and handed me a baseball through the gates:
Just like that, I was on the board. At that moment, I decide I wasn’t going to ask for a ball for the rest of the game. I was just going to go for home runs and help other kids get baseballs.
Want to see the crowds outside the gate five minutes before it opened?
When the gates opened, I headed straight for right field, because I figured the Indians group who had supplied with so many baseballs the first day would be hitting just as I got in. Instead of getting a hit ball, right when I got to the seats, Corey Kluber saw my Indians gear, flashed a ball he had, and threw it up to me. I realize that all of these may seem VERY unlikely given the fact I said I wasn’t asking for any baseballs, but I swear, I didn’t ask for *any* of these. Kluber just looked up at me, and tossed me the ball:
Given the fact I got two balls, though, I was considering asking for balls if I got in a rhythm catching hit balls. Unfortunately,those two would be the only ones I would get for the extent of batting practice. Unlike Saturday, there wasn’t THAT big of a crowd, but nothing was coming close to me.
This was my view for most of Indians batting practice:
When there’s enough room, so far my strategy has been to be in a spot where I can both run back to the standing room or run down to catch a ball that is hit in the seats in right field.
I then headed over to left field, but as you guessed it, not much came my way. The balls that did come my way, but I lost them in the sun even though I was wearing sunglasses:
I think Target Field left field is one of the underrated sun havens.
While I was there, though, I saw a crime against what might as well be ballhawks everywhere. It was only directed at one person (not myself), but it was pretty bad. Here ‘s something to help you out:
As you can see, I labeled some people. Well, it all started when Francisco Morales threw the ball snagger a ball. Esmil Rogers looked at him and tapped his foot as if he were waiting for the ball snagger to give the ball away to the kid next to. I suspect it was because he had seen the guy get a ball before. And the ball snagger *did* give the ball away, and Rogers clapped for him. That’s all fine and good, but when a line drive got hit RIGHT at the ball snagger, Rogers stepped right in front of it and caught the ball on the fly. When a ball rolled right to where this guy was standing in the corner spot, Rogers stepped in front of the ball and snagged the ground ball so the guy couldn’t scoop it up as it rolled to him.
I mean, yeah, he snagged ONE ball. Big deal. He did what you wanted him to do and you repay him by blocking two balls that he would have gotten. WHo was he hurting by snagging TWO baseballs? It isn’t like some kid would have gotten that ground ball had he not been there. And on that note, how are you helping ANYone by then taking the ball and throwing it right back into the infield bucket? What you saved the Indians $20? Good job, Mr. Rogers. Gee double-oh dee jay oh bee; good job, good job. It’d be one thing if you tossed the ball to a recipient you deemed more deserving, but this is just being an absolute jerk over nothing.
Sorry for the mini-rant; I try not to do that too much. But I thought I needed to get that off my chest because it just makes no sense to me when people who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars, or millions of dollars a year obsess over a fan getting a couple baseballs. Fine, he already got a ball. That means you won’t toss him a ball if he asks, not you have to attempt to the best of your ability to make sure he doesn’t get another ball for the rest of the game.
That’s all I have to say about batting practice. For the game, I sat over here:
Actually, my ticketed seat was “better” (being closer to directly behind home plate), but I figured I’d have a better chance of catching a foul ball here, since it didn’t have the hindrance of the protective netting. I also kept my Indians gear on and waved my arms whenever I would have usually been yelling, because, you know, I had that whole “I’m not going to ask for balls for the rest of the game” thing going on.
At the end of the game, though, I raced down to the dugout to see if I could finally get my first line card (I didn’t say anything about asking for lineup cards). I got rejected. However, I was right by where the umpires exit the field- known as the umpire tunnel. Usually, I always look up who the umpire is, but I didn’t even bother to this time, since I wasn’t going to ask him for a ball. Then, a weird thing happened. The only other game I had gone to the umpire tunnel, a swarm of kids ran to it just as the game ended. Since this was my only experience of it thus far, I figured that was the norm. This time NO one was at the umpire tunnel. The umpire was literally searching the crowd for people to throw balls to. Since I was the only one with a glove, he flipped me a ball:
I later searched and found out the home plate umpire’s name was D. J. Reyburn.
I then went to the other side of the dugout. There were two little sister who in conjunction with their parents, had been trying all game to get a ball from the dugout, but had failed to this point. I went over, and as Dave Miller, Francisco Morales, and Armando Camacaro neared the dugout. I just pointed almost cartoonishly at the two girls; acting as a billboard for “give these two kids a ball”. They both did, and as I guess a reward, Armando Camacaro also tossed me a ball:
If you’re wondering (you’re probably not) Camacaro’s name translates to bedcar.
Geez. Why can’t convincing players to toss me baseballs be this easy when I *want* them to toss me baseballs? I mean seriously, I got four toss-ups without even asking for them; yet when I want a toss-up, it seems like I’ll never crack a player. Anyway, weird times at Target Field.
- 4 Balls at this game
Numbers 408- 411 for my “career”:
- 189 Balls in 45 Games= 4.20 Balls Per Game
- 4 Balls x 27, 526 Fans= 110, 104 Competition Factor
- 54 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 4 straight Games with at lest 2-3 Balls
- 3 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
- 21 Balls in 6 Games at Target Field= 3.50 Balls Per Game
- 5 straight Games at Target Field with at least 1-2 Ball(s)
- 4 straight Games at Target Field with at least 3 Balls
- 3 straight Games at Target Field with at least 4 Balls
- Time Spent On Game 2:17- 10:41= 8 Hours 24 Minutes
I thought I’d start off this entry a little differently. Basically, I want to give you guys an opportunity to have a look at what my day is like before I even enter the gates. I will do such a video for each stadium I visit from here on out (Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, and Target Field) Anyway, here is the video for Nationals Park:
Once we left the Red Seats in center field, Rick and I both headed over to the right field, only to realize it was Camp Day and those seats would be crowded come game time. While Rick checked a variety of things on his iPhone, I watched Ross Detweiler throw a bullpen session:
If you didn’t know, most starting pitchers throw at least one bullpen session between starts; some even throw two. Detweiler had started the opening opening game of the series, so I’m guessing he throws two, since he only took a day off from throwing. At the end of his session, Detweiler launched the ball he was throwing with into the seats in foul territory. Both Rick and I saw it and thought it went on our side of the tunnel- indicated by the glass panels- in the next picture:
Soon after that, Nationals hitters started hitting. All of which can be seen in the following picture:
That’s right, a grand total of two Nationals hitters hit. That was the extent of batting practice. They didn’t even have any players go into the outfield; just the coaches came out to shag the balls. The two players were: a healthy Bryce Harper and a rehabbing Jayson Werth. You would probably guess that the super-prospect would hit more balls into the stands than the old, injured, failed multi-million dollar contract, right? Well I did too. Unfortunately, both of us were wrong and Werth hit many more homers to left as I watched in helpless despair from right. The one ball I had perfectly tracked, a barehanded fan reached right in front of me and deflected the ball away.
Then, right after they stopped hitting, I headed over closer to the foul pole very discreetly, as so Rick wouldn’t notice me:
Not to get a ball from the pitchers you see warming up, but remember that ball Detweiler threw into the stands earlier? That portion of the stands was about to open in two minutes when I took that last picture, and I wanted to be the first one in them to get the ball.
I was indeed the first person there, but when I got to the spot I thought the ball was, it was vacant. As Rick arrived on the scene, I went up to the top of the section and asked an usher where the ball had gone. He told me it had gone on the other side of the tunnel I mentioned earlier. I went down there, and he guided me as I motioned to where I thought the ball was. This was actually the same usher who gave me my first usher toss-up at Nationals Park ever. If you can find a picture him, you win………bragging rights. (Hint: the easies way to find the entry is through mygameballs.com.)
Thanks to this ushers arsenal of saving gestures, I found the ball right under a seat:
I then moved back over to the pitchers warming up. I figured Strasburg, since he doesn’t shag balls in the outfield, would probably not recognize me. So, I lined up behind Jim and his throwing partner, Jordan Zimmerman:
Unfortunately, Zimmerman ended up with the ball, which usually means I am not getting the ball (I had never gotten a ball from him, and he has never been fan-friendly per se). Fortunately, I was the only non-Mets fan, so after he scanned the stands, he threw me the ball:
Then, to my surprise, the complementary ticket I mentioned in the opening video, was right behind the umpire tunnel. So until the game began, I talked mostly with the two people in the next picture, and a person slightly out of the frame to the right:
I had been talking to the ushers a little the previous two games when I came down to get umpire balls, but in talking to them this day, both parties (myself and the ushers) learned that the other knew of “Zack”. The “Zack” in question being one with the surname Hample.We then had a discussion about the specifics of baseball collecting and my experience beginning in the hobby.
The guy in the red is Gio Gonzalez’s dad. He actually is the one who brought up the subject (kind of). I guess he saw me by Gio while I was trying to get a ball and said, “Are you a collector?” To which I responded, “Yes ” not knowing who he was. It turns out Gio’s father is an autograph collector and thought I was the same. It was a slightly frustrating process, but when the male usher jumped in with: “Oh. You know Zack?” Gio’s father faded out of the conversation and went to his seat. Sadly, his son would get knocked around by the Mets en route to a 9-5 loss.
During the game, this was my view of the action:
For some reason, I have horrible luck with third-out balls (whichever end of the dugout I go to, the ball goes to the other). Well, my luck continued for this game. I didn’t get a single third-out ball.
I’d just like to take a little time out to point out one of the members of the “Nat Pack”, Terrence. I mentioned a couple of entries ago that I believed he was the most energetic team employee I had ever seen at a baseball game (maybe I didn’t phrase it like that, but that’s what I meant). The ushers I had been talking to described this as the hottest game of the year. I don’t know about that, but it was in the 105 degree range. Well Terrence wasn’t slowing up at all. He inhabits the wheelchair section by the third base dugout. One of the things he does is whenever there’s a wave, he runs from one end of the section to the other “pushing” it along. There were more than a couple waves this game. Another example, of which I have photographic evidence, is what Terrence was doing when “Old Time Rock and Roll” started playing:
That’s right. He picked up one of the fold-able chairs and started jumping around the section, pretending the chair was a guitar as he strummed it.
After the game, I was already by the umpire tunnel, so I asked the umpire, Chris Conroy for a ball. He gave it to me saying, “Here, because you took the time to look up my name.” Conroy, if my memory serves me right is number 99. I don’t know for certain, but I would bet that means he is one of the newer umpires, so I’m guessing not many people know his name:
- 3 Balls at this game (no picture because I forgot to take it). They were numbers 352-354 for my career
- 132 Balls in 29 Games= 4.55 Balls Per Game (14 Balls under 500)
- 3 Balls x 36,389 Fans (no way were there that many people)= 109,167 Competition Factor
- 38 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 14 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
- 105 Balls at Nationals Park in 23 Games= 4.57 Balls Per Game
- 16 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
- 16 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
- 2 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
- Time Spent One Game 9:34- 4:07= 6 Hours 33 Minutes
- This game will have been my 100th ever I have recorded on mygameballs.com. I have gone to more games than that, but I obviously didn’t keep a record of them before mygameballs.com, so this is the only milestone I can celebrate.