Results tagged ‘ Orioles ’

6/18/12 Orioles at Mets: Citi Field

I don’t care if I took this picture two days earlier, it’s the perfect picture to start off an entry of a game at Citi Field:

When I got off the train, there were maybe four other people waiting at the gate. Eventually, I struck up a conversation with a father and son close to me. It turns out they were from North Carolina. Why were they up at Citi Field for a baseball game then?The father actually went to high school with Bobby Parnell, or at least he gave off that impression. What I *do* know is that he knew Parnell enough that he had been working to meet up with him during B.P., and have Parnell’s number because he said he would text him when they were entering the stadium. This was the reason they was at the gates so early. Actually, that’s only a partial-truth. They was there early to try to meet up with Parnell, but they were there 2.5 hours early because the ticket rep they had spoken to told them Citi Field opened 2.5 hours before game time. Ha, ticket rep, I only wish it still did.

I kept up conversation with these two until two ballhawk friends, Ben Weil and Avi Miller, showed up at the gate and told me there was free pudding in a tent, about a hundred or so, feet away. I would have taken a picture of the pudding, but I want to send the message: “Yes, I’m a loser, but I’m not THAT much of a loser.” Us three then talked until the gates opened. As that happened, I was pretty much the only person out of everyone who entered the stadium who went to the right field side of the stadium.

There, I found this guy:

I would point out the ball with an arrow, but I like to assume a certain level of intelligence in my readership, and I trust that you can find it by yourself. Also, I should mention finding Easter Eggs is VERY rare at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. I don’t know why I presume it’s the ushers, but nowhere else where the gates open after the beginning of B.P. do I have such a problem finding Easter Eggs.

After that, my plan was to get a player to throw me a ball from here. This was my view of the field:

I then saw that a ballhawk named Vin had left the right field, so I made the ill-conceived decision to move over there. It was ill-conceived because this was my view there:

Do you know what “BB” stands for? Ballboy. Translation: never going to get a ball from me. Heck, I know a ballboy on the Yankees and he hasn’t thrown me a ball. Do you think this guy is going to toss me one? Nope. I stayed in this section for a whole Mets group, because they were mostly lefties, but I should have moved elsewhere.

Finally when I did move out of the section, I went to the left field seats. I spent the rest of bp there, but this was all I had to show for it:

Right from the spot where I took the picture, I caught that ball on the fly, off the bat of a player who I would later identify as Vinny Rottino. I offered this ball to a kid near me, but he turned me down. I must say: congratulations. I like giving baseballs away to kids, but I like it even more when they want to snag a ball for themselves and turn me down.

I was genuinely surprised that was it for B.P., though. Citi Field is semi-notorious for habitually slow B.P.s, but look at how the flags were blowing:

They were blowing straight towards left field, where I was for all of B.P. The reason there weren’t a bunch of balls in my section is the Orioles just didn’t lift any balls. Really all they had to do was get them a certain height and the jet stream would have done the rest.

Like I said, that was it for batting practice. Once it was done, I went over to the Orioles’ dugout to meet up with these people, with whom I spent the entirety of the game with:

They would be:

1. Ben Weil- A guy I believe I met at the ballpark one game and became friends with through just getting to know him at several games as “the guy who has every jersey known to man and monkey”. Seriously, just click on his name. Jerseys and hats are his “main” thing, but he has lots of other stuff too.

2. Avi Miller- A person who I met through Ballhawk Fest last year. He was in town for the Mets-Orioles series, because he is an Orioles fan. On a similar note, he is also a Camden Yards regular, who attends 8,000 Orioles games a year, you know, give or take 7,915 or so. He is either seeing if he can tweet without looking at his phone or hiding his face because R.A. Dickey had as many hits as the entire Orioles team combined.

3. Matt”y G”- Ben’s friend, who I first met in my last actual game before this, and who also engages casually in the ballhawking scene when he goes to games.

All three of us sat behind the Orioles. I was going to sit further down the line, but I figured that I might as  well sit at the dugout, since it had been so long since the last time I’d done it. At first, I sat in the aisle seat due to other fans showing up with tickets to the seats Matt and Ben were sitting in. I was so out of practice when it came to third out balls, I completely forgot to get up when the Mets made the third out in the first inning. Ben actually had to say, “Go, Go!” I then realized what was happening, and moved down the stairs to get Mark Reynolds to throw me the ball. It was COMMEMORATIVE! That was actually my first Mets commemorative ball. Here is the ball with Reynolds at first:

After I got this ball, I wanted to give a ball away, so I put the commemorative ball in backpack and pulled out one of my bp balls. I then offered a ball to a girl, but she didn’t want it, so I gave the ball to whom appeared to be her brother:

As you can see, I’ve pointed out the two with green numbers. Well, the boy did accept the ball, but right about when I gave him the ball, I felt something hit my back. I turned around to see a baseball rolling around on the steps. According to Avi (with help from Ben), Wayne Kirby had thrown a ball meant for the girl who didn’t accept a ball from me, and someone else picked it up.

When I returned to our row, I switched seats with Ben; he sat in the aisle seat, and I sat in the fourth seat in. Sadly, for Ben, Mark Reynolds didn’t hook him up the rest of the night, nor did anyone really. We sat in this format for the rest of the night. I assume we would have shifted again had Ben gotten a ball, but like I said, he didn’t. I must say, though. This was probably THE best game I’ve had sitting with other people. Usually, either I am trying to get a ball and the person isn’t interested enough in snagging to sit next to me, or it is another ballhawk who is serious about snagging as well and we try to sit away from each other  in order that we both have room to do our thing. Here, we all sacrificed that tiny advantage in getting third out balls to sit together. We just talked the whole time and made fun of each other. It was a great experience that reminded me you can have a sucky game ballhawking but still have a great time. Kind of like my first game at Target Field last year.

The only thing that really was a clear missed opportunity is that a foul ball came right into our section. Ben then shot up the stairs. I didn’t get a clear look at the ball, so I just followed him. That said, I learned from a Chris Young home run last year, that you should only trust YOUR eyes, so I looked to make sure he wasn’t misjudging the ball. When I saw the path of the ball, it looked like it was going ten rows up the stairs. I kept running up, but just then it hit one of the steps. Turns out, it had some massive backspin on it and came waaay back. I forgot this little tid bit about foul balls. Well actually, not really. I had practiced judging foul balls while my high school team was in Myrtle Beach, SC. The thing is, though, I was practicing on flat ground. In the stands, the incline of the seats magnifies any spin on the ball.

After the ball bounced off the step, it bounced back into a row behind us where a father (or was it a mother?) picked it up. This was kind of depressing. I should also mention there were two other semi-ballhawks in the section:

That in the yellow would be Aaron, who I believe goes by Howie sometimes, for whatever reason, and his friend whose name I don’t know. I know Aaron, or Howie, or whatever the heck you want to call him, because I sat down in this region with him last year.

The game was a great one. Not only did we get to see Ike Davis’ first career grand slam, but we also got to see R.A. Dickey pitch an absolute masterpiece. He threw 9 innings, 13 strikeouts, gave up 1 hit, and allowed no runs. Only the 7 hitter and pitcher got on base.If that weren’t enough, Dickey (like I mentioned earlier) had as many hits offensively as he gave up as a pitcher. Isn’t that something? I wonder how many times that has happened?

After the game ended, Ben and I headed over to the umpire tunnel where umpire Gary Cooper didn’t give a ball to anybody who was there. His ball pouch wasn’t flat either. Maybe I’m just operating out of context, but what is he going to do with those baseballs in the umpire room?

After all ball snagging opportunities were exhausted, we took the following picture by the dugout:

Admittedly, this isn’t the best take when it comes to me specifically, but it was the best group picture, so you have this awkward picture of me saying something while the camera was taking a picture; probably “Cal Ripken”.

I parted from the rest of the group at the jackie Robinson Rotunda and headed home on the “7″ train.

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave one away)

numbers 265-267 for my lifetime:

  • 45 Balls in 10 Games= 4.50 Balls Per Game
  • 19 straight Games with at least 1 ball
  • 10 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 10 straight games with at least 3 balls
  • 3 Balls x 29,014 Fans= 87,042 Competition Factor
  • 79 Balls in 30 games= 2.63 Balls Per Game at Citi Field
  • 30 straight Games with at least 1 ball at Citi Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 2 balls at Citi Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3 balls at Citi Field
  • Time of Game 4:09- 9:42= 5 hours 33 Minutes

5/2/12 Orioles at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

As I had told a bunch of people who had asked me prior, I was 99% sure I was not going to this game. My high school baseball team had a game planned for Staten Island at 7:00 that night, but our game had been cancelled at 2:00. You may be thinking that I would be bent on attending the game the instant I got the call telling me our game was cancelled. I wasn’t. It was raining most of the day leading up to that point and the thought of going to the Yankee game never crossed my mind, probably because I had so vehemently denied to so many people who I was going to this game.

To give you some context as to my arrival at Yankee Stadium, the gates open at 5:00, which means I usually arrive at the stadium at 4:30, and it takes me approximately 30 minutes to get to Yankee Stadium. Now that I’ve told you all of this, it was not until 4:08 that it hit me I was now available to go to the game. I knew I was already late for my usual arrival time, so I had to make a quick decision as to whether it was worth my time. It was indeed a quick debate, and the winning argument was, “There’s baseball being played and you’re going to stay at home and do work? Go to the game, you idiot! The worst that can happen, you get shutout? You only have a 14 game streak, so it wouldn’t be that tragic if you did.” I bought my ticket and got ready the quickest I ever have for a game, getting out the door by 4:20.

I hopped on the “D” train and was at Gate 6 of Yankee Stadium by 4:50. I thought that another ballhawk would be there, given all that had planned to be there, so I would be able to go with them at the front of the line, but apparently a rainy Yankee Stadium was too scary for everyone but me. Actually, that’s not true, even I was worried that it would start raining any minute:

Although I had checked the forecast and it called for a 30% chance of rain at this time, the clouds were rather ominous which made me rather anxious. A bright spot, though, was that the threat of rain had scared off a bunch of regular fans and the line wasn’t that long; as you can see from the picture. Normally the line ten minutes before the gate opening time would be at least three times the length it was when I got there.

It had been an absolute downpour in the afternoon, so I was skeptical there would be batting practice, and when I got in the stadium, there wasn’t. There was, however, a cage set up:

That meant that either the Yankees had taken bp before we had entered or the Orioles were going to. I asked a camera man nearby if the Yankees had taken bp. When he said, “no” I was ecstatic, because that meant the weather had worked out perfectly so the ballhawks and other fans were driven away, but I would still get batting practice.

That said, the Orioles were still not hitting just yet, so I headed over to foul territory in an attempt to get a ball from one of the position players warming up:

Why do I have an arrow pointing to one of players? That would be Robert Andino. When he finished throwing and started walking to the dugout, I called out and said, “Robert, can you throw me that ball please?” He responded by stopping and saying, “Put down a sign.” I signaled back two fingers, and he made sure he was seeing it right by saying, “Is that curveball?” When I confirmed, he started his motion he had been practicing in his session of catch, pumping his leg once more than normal pitchers do and threw me a ball that spun downwards and into my glove.

I then went over closer to the foul pole to try to get a pitcher to toss me a ball:

However, I didn’t wait for them to finish their game of catch to ask them for a ball. The Orioles had already started hitting, and I saw Kevin Gregg was picking up baseballs on the warning track; so I ran over to where he was walking and asked him by name to throw me a baseball. Here is the result:

I then situated myself in LF since I figured the other pitchers had seen me get the ball and probably wouldn’t toss one of theirs to me.

My next ball came when I saw some righty hit a ball to my right. I ran over to the spot where I thought the ball was going to land and caught it all while pretty much everyone else in the section was frozen still. The following picture displays my route to the ball:

The arrow emanating from the bottom of the picture is my path and the other arrow is the path of the ball. I realize that it is hard to judge depth in a 2D image, but I caught the ball at about stomach height.

This was my third ball of the day, so I immediately looked to give it away:

The boy walking up the stairs was my first candidate since he had a glove on. I asked him if he had gotten a ball already, but surprisingly, he responded “yeah”. His father then added, “But we’ll take another.” I then thought, “Yeaaah, that’s not going to happen.” Right then, the man leaning over the wall towards the right of the picture asked, “Can I have that ball for my daughter?’ Normally I don’t give away balls to older people who don’t have gloves, but I also didn’t want to look like a bad guy for offering a ball to one person and then not giving it to another.

My next ball came off of the bat of Adam Jones. He hit a ball to my left that I could tell right away was going to fall short, but I judged it to be high enough to line up with the ball since it might bounce over the wall off the warning track. That’s exactly what happened, and although I didn’t catch the ball right off the warning track, it hit in a seat close enough to me where I could pick it up. The following picture shows only the path of the ball:

My next ball was almost exactly like ball #3 (the one I caught on the fly) except I believe I was a row deeper or shallower in the seats. This ball was also caught on the fly, and because I was feeling guilty for giving ball #3 away to a person who both asked me for it and didn’t have a glove, I waited until I was on the concourse and made sure to give this ball away to a kid with a glove when I moved over to RF.

Why did I move over to RF, you ask? Right after Adam Jones’ group, security cleared out everyone without a ticket for that section. I managed to get one ball while I was there. Chris Davis had been putting on a show in the batting practice of the first game of the series by repeatedly hitting balls into the second deck, so I was more on my toes than usually and was very vocal to the people surrounding me that he would be hitting balls in our direction. As a result, when he hit a ball to my left, I started moving right after it came off his bat. I then realized it was going into the second deck, so I slowed down. I did not, however, give up on the ball. I positioned myself so I would be ready if the ball caromed off the seats and down into the lower level where I was standing. When this happened, I was right next to where the ball fell to and picked it up. Like I mentioned in the previous game’s entry, ballhawking is both skill and luck in cases like this. That ball could have easily not have fallen to the lower level and another ball could have been hit back to my right that I would have missed because I was waiting for this ball, but I also could have given up on this ball and someone else could have picked it up instead of me. Anyway, here is the view of the second deck from where I picked up the ball:

Right after I grabbed this ball, I saw a kid running behind me for the ball, and I believe he had a glove on, so I gave him the ball.

That was it for batting practice. I headed up to my ticketed seat in the LF bleachers and talked for a while with an usher who I had been talking to the previous two games as well as a fellow ball-snagger, named Tak, that I’ve now seen a few times this season, but never saw before. I’ll just clarify something, I was in the bleachers while both of them were in the lower level seating. I then abruptly left these two, saying, ” I’m going to try to get a ball from the groundskeeper.” I then moved over to the bullpen where the groundskeeper was taking down the netting the Yankees install during bp to protect any relievers pitching in the bullpen. When he saw me, the groundskeeper looked up and held up one finger as to say, “Just give me a minute.” Right after that, I saw Tak approach the bullpen from the lower level also trying to get a ball. When the groundskeeper was done storing the netting and poles that held it up, he picked up a ball in the bullpen and tossed it to me. Here is my view right as he was about to toss me the ball:

I believe Tak also got a ball from him, but I’m not sure.

After that, the relievers filed in and finally the starting pitcher, Jake Arrieta, came into the bullpen and started preparing for the game. As I was waiting for him to finish up throwing, a fan right next to me started calling out to the coach in the bullpen standing next to Arrieta, saying, “Bill. Mr. Castro. Can you throw me that ball.” Upon which I asked him, “Are you asking that guy for the ball?” He then responded, “Yeah, his name is Bill Castro; I looked it up online.” If you don’t know, Bill Castro is the Orioles bullpen coach, so I can understand why this man would think that the coach in the bullpen would be the bullpen coach. However, as I’ll explain in a few seconds, that was incorrect.

Very soon after he said this, Arrieta finished throwing and t was my turn to call out to the coach, so I said, “Rick, can you toss me the ball please?” He then threw me the ball. Why did my request work? Well I’m glad you asked. You see when the starting pitcher goes into the bullpen to warm-up, the pitching coach goes out with him to look at his warm-up pitches. I mean it makes sense, doesn’t it? The starting pitchers are completely under the jurisdiction of the pitching coach, so why would the bullpen coach analyze a starting pitchers warm-up. I knew because of this and my recognition of the Orioles’ coaching staff that the coach in the bullpen was Rick Adair, the Orioles’ pitching coach. Here is the ball with Adair and Arrieta walking in the background:

If you lost track, that was my eighth and final ball of the game.

As for the game, it was a pretty interesting game. The Yankees lost 5-0. Jake Arrieta managed to shut-out the Yankees for five innings and the loss snapped a streak of 15 consecutive wins for Ivan Nova. This is very significant because if he would have won this game, it would have tied him for the Yankees’ franchise record.

STATS:

  • 8 Balls at this game (5 pictured because I gave 3 away)

Numbers 244-251 all time for me:

  • 29 Balls in 6 games= 4.83 Balls Per Game
  • 15 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 6 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 6 straight games with at least 3 balls
  • 3 straight games with at least 4 balls
  • 8 balls x 39,360 fans= 314,880 Competition Factor
  • 43 balls at the New Yankee Stadium in 12 games= 3.58 balls per game
  • 12 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 ball
  • 4 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 balls
  • 4 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 3 balls
  • 3 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 4 balls
  • Time at game 4:49- 10:19= 5 hours 30 minutes
  • I thought this would go well with the stats, but I have gone to 6 games this season, seen 3 series’, have gone to 2 stadiums, all while only seeing three teams play. I thought it was just kind of interesting.

5/1/12 Orioles at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

I was very optimistic coming into this game. I had just done very well in the previous day’s game, and that was with me basically only going for hit balls all game. I assumed no other ballhawks would be in attendance since the ones I had talked to during the previous day’s game said they would not be coming to the game. According to the aforementioned ballhawks, the forecast called for rain, but I was going to the game anyway since my school was taking a trip to the game. More on the field-trippers later. The reality, though, was that bp was dead. Here is a picture that I took once I settled into my spot in RF:

As you can see, there was one ballhawk in the section, Erik, a regular at Yankee Stadium, who you may recognize from when I pointed him out in yesterday’s entry.

Things looked pretty good. I had the back spot in the section right behind Erik, who had the middle spot. This was the view to my left:

This was the view to my right:

Unfortunately, the Yankees weren’t hitting anything deep and I missed two opportunities, shown in this next picture:

Both times I was close to the field coaxing players to throw me a ball. The numbers that are floating by themselves show where the balls landed, while the numbers by the arrows show where I ended after chasing that specific ball.

1. I was asking Boone Logan or someone for a ball when a lefty launched a ball clear over my head. I ran into the row where I could line up with the ball, but the ball was still several feet over my head despite being hit on a line, and I missed it when I jumped for the ball.

2. Again I saw a ball hit over my head, so I recalled what good ballhawks do and ran to where I thought the ball was going to land. Unfortunately, though, this was hit by a righty to RF and so it didn’t act like a typical fly ball in that it was curving back to where I had been. Had I not put my head down to run for the ball, it probably would have been an easy catch for me.

When the Yankees headed off the field, I realized, “There are two of us ballhawks and we are both in RF. That doesn’t seem right. Why don’t I just go to LF and make it easier for both of us?”

Once I got there, I saw Adam Jones shagging fly balls in CF, so when a ball came close to my section in LCF, I ran as close as I could get to him and called out to him, upon which he tossed me Ball #1 on the day. Here is the ball with Jones on the right side of my glove:

Soon after, I went over to foul territory in order to ask a pitcher for a ball. When Tommy Hunter finished throwing, I waved my arms like a madman, and when he noticed the bright orange brim of my hat, he tossed the ball to me a few rows back.

I then got my third ball in what we ballhawks call a “scramble”. A scramble is when a ball hits in the seats and people converge on the ball to pick it up.  A ball hit about four rows behind the wall, and since I was tracking the ball, I managed to pick it up before a man could get to it. I gave this ball away to a kid on the concourse after batting practice.

Soon after, I had to leave the LF seats since they were checking tickets and headed over to RF. I am about to post a picture that has two bp events linked to it:

The first is that it was yet another ball I missed out on. While I was in RF on my first “go around” this game, a righty hit a ball above the right part of the Modell’s sign. I was about to use my glove trick to knock the ball closer to me and reach through the bars to pull the ball out, but another guy decided to climb over the gate. As you may suspect, his action is completely against the Yankee Stadium rule, but he was just told not to do it again. The second ball involving this section hit in basically the same place (this time in my second stay in RF), but a few rows deeper. I had been following the ball the whole way, even though it was clearly over my head, in case there was a ricochet back to me. What do you know, that’s exactly what happened.

This is the perfect example of how ballhawking is a combination of luck and skill. To most observers, I just got lucky, but I put myself in a situation where that could happen. Had I stayed put where I was, because I probably wasn’t going to snag the ball, I would have missed out on this opportunity.

However, I wasn’t done with my missed opportunities.  I should have caught a ball whose landing spot is depicted in the picture below:

As you can see, even the people wearing sunglasses were shielding their eyes. A ball was hit to my left and as I was tracking it, the ball passed right in front of the sun and I lost it. It then proceeded to hit right where the red arrow is in the picture. Normally, that would have been an easy catch for me since it touched down in the exact same row I was running in. Instead, I was left covering my head from the ball like everyone else.

That was it for batting practice. My ticketed seat was for the bleachers, but I knew that nothing was going to be hit where I was sitting, and so I headed up to the seats furthest away from Home Plate to be with my classmates. This was the view:

Wouldn’t you know it, I actually came closer to catching a HR in this section than I would have in the bleachers. In the bottom of the first inning, Curtis Granderson absolutely launched a ball. He hit it so hard that the initial trajectory was actually RIGHT at us… before, you know, gravity kicked in. Regardless, the ball managed to land in the Upper Deck. This is a very rare feat in the New Yankee Stadium, because the third deck is actually further back than it was in the Old Yankee Stadium.

While I was up there, the coaches started asking me about how my batting practice went and I ended up giving both of the bus drivers for this event a baseball, including one who was attending a baseball game for the first time.

Two other things of note happened in this game.

1. Let’s play “What’s wrong with this picture?” You have to guess what had just happened for the first time by looking at the following picture. So, what *is* wrong with this picture?:

If you guessed Nick Johnson standing on second, you were correct. I took this picture after Nick Johnson got his first hit of the season, raising his batting average to an incredible .033. At the time, it was ruled an error on left fielder Eduardo Nuñez, but Major League Baseball retrospectively changed the ruling citing he never touched the ball.

2. The Orioles managed to hold on and win the game 7-1, which gave Buck Showalter his 1,000th win as a manager. I knew this because Avi Miller asked me to pick up some ticket stubs for him.

STATS:

  • 4 Balls at this game (1 pictured because I gave 3 away)They are numbers 240-243 for my “career”.
  • 21 Baseballs in 5 games= 4.20 Balls Per Game
  • 14 straight games with at least 1 baseball
  • 5 straight games with at least 3 balls
  • 2 straight games with at least 4 balls
  • 4 balls x 37, 790 fans= 151,160 Competition Factor
  • 35 ball at the New Yankee Stadium in 11 games = 3.18 Balls Per Game
  • 11 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 ball
  • Time at game 4:27- 10:17= 5 hours 50 minutes

4/30/12 Orioles at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

The whole time I spent before the gates actually opened was shaped by two things: 1. my home printer wasn’t working and 2. Avi Miller wanted a ticket stub from Buck Showalter’s 1000th win (he was sitting on 999 at the time). Due to these two things, I actually bought a physical ticket *at* Yankee Stadium for the first time in… a while:

Usually, the tickets for the bleachers are priced at $15. This day, however, they were $7.50 for whatever reason, so I lucked out and actually spent less than I would have had I bought the ticket at home. This is because I would have bought it from Stubhub and the *charges* on the ticket would have exceeded $10.

Right after I bought the ticket, I checked my phone only to find out it was only 3:45. Since the gates at Yankees Stadium open at 5:00 for a 7:00 game, I took a little tour of Yankee Stadium going around it clockwise. It started in the Babe Ruth Plaza:

then I went to Gate 6, probably Yankee Stadium’s most popular gate because of its proximity to the B, D, and 4 subway lines. It is also the gate I have been using this year. Last year I thought, for whatever reason, that this gate was behind Home Plate when in reality, it is by RF:

Soon after, I passed by the Press Gate -which, little known fact, I have actually been cleared by. If you ever see me with my red backpack, I still have the tag they put on as of May 1st, 2011. Here we have the Press Gate with the “welcoming commitee”:

Following which, I saw Gate 2, which is connected to the entrance to the Yankee offices, which I have also entered:

and took a picture of the side of the main parking garage connected to the stadium, which I have also entered once in what I believe is the first year of the stadium:

passed Gate 8, the CF gate that I used to use before I started using Gate 6:

then I took the sidewalk picture next to arrive back at Gate 6:

To pass the time until I “had” to get in line to be the first one in said line, I just sat on a bench, because I was simply exhausted from going to 8 games for my high school in 7 days and all the work that they produced. There, I sent a more or less cryptic tweet with this picture:

Soon after I arrived back at the gate, there was a whole crew of ballhawk related people. This time I actually asked them if they would mind posing for a picture since I rarely document the other ballhawks who go to the ballpark through posed photographs. Most times if I document the other ballhawks who are there, it’s a candid picture while we are out in the seats. Here are the people just outside Gate 6:

That would be:

1. Ben Weil- A New York based ballhawk that I run into a lot and occasionally exchange texts with whenever he needs to know where an umpire tunnel is, wearing the Garfield hat and Green Day t-shirt.

2. Billy- A friend Ben brought to this game.

3. Zack Hample- Most of the audience reading this will probably know who he is, but for those who don’t, he is best categorized as “that guy who catches all those baseballs”. He also has already written a blog entry about this game.

After I took this picture, Zack wanted a picture taken for his blog. Billy took Zack’s camera for two takes and here was the result:

I can understand if you don’t know what I look like since I don’t post THAT many pictures of myself in entries, but I’m the one on the right in this picture.

Once the gates opened, Zack, Ben and I hastily descended upon the RF seats. It was just us for a couple of minutes. In those couple of minutes, Zack managed to get on the board with two quick snags. I mention this because one of them was an opposite-field shot by Alex Rodriguez that was hit to our right. All three of us moved over to our right, but the ball was slicing back to our right. We kind of moved in step with each other from our individual spots. Ben had the spot furthest from the field and was closest to the landing spot of the ball, but missed it; I was in the spot closest to the field and knew I would have no shot at catching it on the fly, so I turned around and awaited the ricochet; and Zack was in between us two. I think he misjudged the ball, or it was hit too hard for him to react; as the ball was hitting the seats behind him, his momentum was carrying him towards CF, but he jumped and reached back with his bare hand and caught it. I can say with almost 100% certainty that I would have snagged that ball had he not been there, because my glove was directly in line with the path of the ball.

After our two minutes of solitude, this is what the seats to our left looked like:

As you can see, I’ve noted Billy walking over to us. As you can also see, I’ve pointed out another fan by the name of Erik. He is a regular at Yankee Stadium and is of the breed of ballhawk that only goes for hit baseballs. As he put it for me the following day, “If I get a thrown ball, it’s by accident.” He usually stands in the spot that I was taking the picture from, but I suspect he thought it would be better to stand over there because all three of us were in the RCF sections.

Also of note is that after a few balls were hit and Zack managed to snag another ball, we switched spots. Here is a picture that he took from his new spot at the front of the section:

I have included four annotations to the picture. Two are to point out myself and Ben awaiting a hit ball. The other two are pointing out two seemingly random people.

Guy 1- I went out to Yankees Stadium for all three games of their series with the Orioles (this was the first). He was there every game as well and we chatted about various things along with the usher for this section -not pictured. From what I can tell, Guy 1 goes to a bunch of games in different stadiums as well. Admittedly this isn’t that exciting, but I figured I would point him out while I was pointing out things from this pictures. Guy 2, however, was pretty exciting in my opinion.

Guy 2-  If you read my last entry, you know that I was running back and forth for foul balls all game long. Given that the crowd was under 100 people for the game, I got to see most of the people in the stadium that night; Guy 2 was one of them. I know because he was wearing the same exact sweater as the previous night. As I mentioned, this is Zack’s picture that he sent to me in an e-mail, but until I opened the picture, I had no idea this guy was at the Yankee game, probably because I was so focused on the batter that I never looked up to the bleachers. Serendipitous, isn’t it?

My first ball of the day came when some Yankee lefty hit a ball to my right. I went through my row, tracking the ball, and managed to catch it on the fly despite stubbing my toe on the way over and almost falling over. Here is the view of the field from where I caught the ball:

and here is the spot of how much I had run to get to the ball. It isn’t much, but I just wanted to show you for reference. The spot I started from is about where the guy in the blue jacket is standing, but in case you can’t find that, I provided an arrow as well:

After Zack got his third ball of the day, I realized it was time to go, so after taking a picture of Zack reenacting his double-milestone snag (it was both his 5,900th career ball and 200th snagged at the New Yankee Stadium) and saying namaste to Ben, I left for left, field that is. There I quickly missed my first ball that I just misplayed. However, I also quickly got a second chance and capitalized on it:

The solid arrow shows my path to the ball and the dotted arrow shows the path of the ball. Obviously, those people now in the path of my solid arrow weren’t there when I ran, but I took the picture after the snag itself. What happened was that I sprinted to around where I thought the ball was going to land. Meanwhile, the ball hit a seat and bounced in the air where I caught it mid-air.

My next ball was hit by Wilson Betemit, batting right-handed, about ten feet to my right. I drifted to it and caught the ball right in the row I had set up in. Here is the view of the field from the spot where I caught it:

The notable thing about this ball came after the snag, though. I thought it was about time for me to give away a baseball, so I quickly found a kid and tossed it to him. He initially accepted it, but then said, “No, you take it.” Obviously I’m more than fine with giving balls away to deserving kids, but I am always proud of them when they don’t accept a ball and try to get a ball on their own. I actually got a picture of him handing it back to me:

This was my third ball of the day, by the way.

My fourth ball of the game came after Zack came over and all three of us were together once again, as Ben had already been there for the last snag. It was also once again the same order: Zack on the bottom, myself in the middle, and Ben behind me. Some other righty hit a ball a little to our left. I thought the ball was headed pretty much to me, but Zack for some reason bolted to his right. Since I never trust my judgment on fly balls, I moved with him a little, but then realized my judgment was correct. At that point, I had moved down the steps just enough to be slightly out of position for the ball. I had to jump and came up with the ball. Right then, Zack yelled “Oh, robbed!” I turned around and saw that Ben had been right behind me with his glove up in the air.

Around this time, there was a drought of hit balls for quite some time. So far this season, I have tried to not ask for balls as much as I can. No, I’m not turning into one of those ballhawks that only catches balls hit off the bat, but sometimes my thought process when going for toss-ups affects my overall mentality more than it should and I wanted to just work on catching hit balls and then add asking players for balls after I have confidenc in my ability to snag batted balls. Long story short, all of the Orioles either ignored me, couldn’t hear me, or both. The main target of my verbal barrage was this guy right here:

Wei-Yin Chen is a reliever for the Orioles who happens to be from Taiwan. Once I suspected that he was Taiwanese, I started dropping my Chinese translation of “Can you toss me the ball, please?” I think he heard me because he turned around twice when he was beginning his motion to throw the ball back into the field, but he then went on to toss the ball to other fans both times. I’m a naturally quiet person, so yelling out to players has never been a strong suit. As Ben described me calling out to Chen, “I heard the first part, then the rest was like a whisper.”

Also in this lull, I made sure to take a picture of Ben behind me and it went very well despite my unintentionality in doing so:

I love it because it perfectly describes the situation for the second half of this batting practice in that we were both smiling… Time out: okay, I can’t prove that I’m smiling, but trust me when I say that I had an equally goofy smile to cause Ben to strike the pose. Time in… and then you have Zack up in the bleachers with what seems to be a slightly less happy face, because he wasn’t getting anything up in his bleachers. This was pretty nice since it is usually the opposite during games because Ben and Zack both get field level tickets while I get bleacher seats. I’m pretty sure I then caught my fifth ball of the day soon after.

I take pictures of the seats to remind myself of the baseballs I have caught, but sometimes I confuse the spots of the baseballs a little. However, I’m pretty sure that I caught it in the following spot, designated by the orange arrow:

Again, I caught it on the fly off of some righty, who I could not identify’s bat. Soonishly after that, ushers started checking tickets and I moved over to RF. From what I could tell, it is a new feature they added in about RF still being open until the end of bp. The reason I only went thrice to Yankee Stadium is that I was constantly in fear of getting shutout, but with this set-up, I can still try for balls in RF until the end of bp.

Here’s the view from my spot in RF:

There I would come close two a couple of balls, but I didn’t come up with any because of the two guys in the following picture:

Before I start explaining t he situations, I want to clarify that both weren’t mean about the balls they cost me; I’m pretty sure they don’t even know that they cost me baseballs. The first ball was to my left. I ran towards the spot where I thought the ball would land, but the guy with a rectangle surrounding his head ran after every ball full speed blindly and this ball was no exception. As I was slowing down to catch the ball, he was still running and his momentum pushed me out of position for the ball and he caught the ball. I would have normally stopped, but he was about to run into me and so I kept going as to not have a big collision with him. I did make contact with him, but had I not kept going it might have been a bigger hit than it was.

The second ball was hit to my right and I ran in the row between the guy in the circle and the guy in the rectangle. I was camped under the ball, but then suddenly the guy in the circle’s glove reached up and in the process nudged my glove out of position and he caught the ball.

That was it for batting practice. As for the game, I was in the bleachers. This was my view of the field:

Sadly, though, the better via TV was probably better in this scenario:

The game actually went pretty quickly. The Yankees won 2-1 on an Eric Chavez HR and the game only lasted 2 hours 22 minutes.

Since I was approximately 5 miles from Home Plate, I decided to wander for a chunk of the game and found something interesting:

I feel like an old person reminiscing, but it’s interesting because I can clearly remember when the prices for this exact item were $4.50 and $5.50 instead of $6.00 and $7.00 respectively. Is that just a product of inflation, or is it the Yankees jacking up the prices once they got into the new stadium? I don’t know, but it makes me that much more glad to be leaving New York for college. I will be going to the University of Minnesota this next fall.

STATS:

  • 5 Balls at this game

  • Numbers 235- 239 for my career
  • 17 Balls in 4 games= 4.25 Balls Per Game
  • 13 games with at least 1 ball
  • 4 straight games with at least 3 balls
  • 5 Balls* 36, 890 fans= 184,450 Competition Factor
  • 31 Balls in 10 games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.10 Balls Per Game
  • 10 straight games with at least 1 ball at the New Yankee Stadium
  • Time at Game 3: 27- 9:38= 6 hours 1 minute

4/8/12 Twins at Orioles: Camden Yards

Guess how I spent Easter. I had my bonnet:

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I had my peeps:

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and of course spent it at my cathedral:

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Now I was only here for my one, maybe two balls from the pitchers warming up since there would be no bp, but wait what’s this?:

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Apparently, as explained to me by Matt Hersl, early in the season, teams actually do hit a day game after a night game, or the Orioles anyway.

My first ball came when a ball hit down in the row where there is a gap in the railing:

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Avi Miller could have raced me for the ball, but as he said, he’s not up for knocking each other down. Another ball landed there a little while after and I “passed on” Avi’s act of kindness and let another fan get the ball even though it had bounced closer to me after hitting the seats.

My second ball, I believe, came from me running down the row that disappears into the upper-right corner of this next picture:

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I caught the ball, but I stumbled, because I chipped a cup holder and would have fallen on my face had I not grabbed a handrail on my way down.

My third ball, I believe (I know I caught my 2nd and 3rd balls this way, but I don’t know in which order) came from me running across and catching a ball right in front of Matt Hersl. I was right about where Matt is in this picture when I caught the ball:

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(Matt is the one in the gray shirt while Avi is the one in orange)

I then moved over to the flag court for Joe Mauer’s hitting group and sadly the only thing of note that happened was a vendor on Eutaw Street got nailed by a Joe Mauer HR. I don’t want to share the pictures of him, but here they are cleaning his blood off the ground:

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I then went into the CF seats where I got my 4th ball off a ground-rule double that rattled in the seats a bit in the rightmost section.

Then came an interesting scenario in that a person was trying to glove trick a ball, who was not a Ballhawk I recognized, and had no idea what he was doing. Can you identify why?:

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That’s right. He was doing the glove trick without a pen and was wondering why it wasn’t working. So I gave him my pen and as a result he handed me the ball. I then looked around for a person to give the ball to. After about five minutes, I found this little girl (she’s partially hidden by her mother):

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Normally, I can’t stand people who wear a team’s gear that isn’t playing in the game, because it’s a big “FU” to the teams playing, but an exception was clearly in order for this fan decked out in pink Nationals gear.

That was it for bp. Once again I was out in the flag court and thought the baseball gods had set me up with the perfect scenario to catch my first game HR with 12 of the 18 hitters hitting from the Left side of the plate, but sadly they were only baiting me and got me, hook, line, and sinker. You see there was a pretty good wind blowing in from RF, so even if a player managed to get the angle of his hit high enough, which is the challenge with getting a RF HR, it would be knocked down by the wind. There were two balls that looked good directly off the bat, but absolutely died, one of which still managed to get Justin Morneau a hit.

To top it off, the Twins nearly escaped a no-hitter with the previously mentioned Morneau hit being the first hit, but still lost the game, completing a less-than-desired start to the season for my Twins. I went to the umpire tunnel to try and get a ball from Bill Welke (I think his name is “Bill”, but a voice in my head is telling me Tim (I only memorize umpire’s last names). Avi told me he only gave away one ball, so I guess I’m not as embittered, not that I was before. This is, of course, if he only had one ball to give away, but I think he did, because I called him out by last name and was wearing this hat:

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After the game, I had two hours before my bus was scheduled to leave so I wandered all the places I had been with my dad on our trip to Camden Yards in 2008. So like the Harbor Area, our hotel, and things like that. I am now writing this from said bus and extremely regretful of that wandering since everything is tired. Throughout the whole day I was lugging around this backpack:

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As you can infer from its size, it is doubling as my suitcase back to New York.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get some sleep as I have to get up at 3:30 AM tomorrow to go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina…right after I post the stats.

STATS:
• 4 Balls at this game (3 pictured, because I gave one that I counted away)

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Numbers 228-231 for my career:

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• 9 Balls this season in 2 games= 4.5 Balls Per Game
• 11 straight games with at least 1 ball
• 2 straight games with at least 4 balls
• 4 balls*14,738 fans= 58,952 competition factor
• Time at Game 10:58- 4:07= 5 hours 11 minutes

4/7/12 Twins at Orioles: Camden Yards

So I *was* going to start this entry with a statement along the lines of “Whoo, it feels good to have baseball back! The truth is, it feels like I never really stopped ballhawking. Either that or I haven’t yet realized that baseball has started up yet. It does feel good to be at a baseball game, but it’s certainly not the same butterflies I had on my first game of last year.

Anyway, here is what happened in at the game itself. After a brief stop at the American Visionary Art Museum, I arrived at the gates of Oriole Park at Camden Yards:

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There I met up with Matt Hersl to buy my tickets for these two games: 2 for me at $9 a piece and 2 for this game for my mom and step-dad at $25 a piece. If you’re keeping track, that’s $68 total. I offered Matt $70 since I like to give the people who buy me season tickets SOMEthing for their efforts (I actually should have offered him $80, since he saved me around $10-15 by buying the tickets as a season ticket holder) 99% of other people do what? “Oh thanks” and take the extra two dollars, and that’s if they buy the tickets for you in the first place. What did Matt do? He gave me the $10 bill back, and actually took an $8 hit for buying me a ticket. Not only this, but he was just generally nice to me all day.

After that, we got in line with who I *believe* to be Tim Anderson and Ben Huff. I say “believe”, because we never formally introduced ourselves. We were then were met by Avi Miller, who was a shocker since I was initially going to buy the tickets from him, but he didn’t think he was going to be there for the whole weekend.

So we were all gathered at Eutaw street’s gate H and guess which dolt forgot to take a picture of the group? If you guessed Mateo Fischer, you guessed correctly.

For some reason, even with everyone outside the gates, I arrived at the LF seats before anyone else with Matt maybe three steps behind me, and this was my view:

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It felt nice having all of the Opening Day still up since this is the closest to attending an Opening Day I’ve ever been:

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Orioles was really dead considering Camden Yards is one of the best HR parks in the majors. I probably could have gotten a, if not a few, baseball(s) if I asked the right Orioles, but I held off on it since I wanted to get myself in the groove getting hit balls. I caved into the temptation, though, when the non-season ticket holders were about to be let into the LF seats. I asked Wilson Betemit, Pedro Strop, and Luis Ayala for a baseball and got ignored each time. Finally, a ball bounced off the warning track, and since there was no one around me and it was going over me head, I goofed off and caught it with my back facing the field. Here is the ball:

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I was in the second row of seats and reached back to the third row of seats to make the catch (can be seen in the background).

Almost immediately afterward, I changed into my favorite team’s (Minnesota Twins) gear and stationed myself behind the pitchers that were warming up:

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If you see the rightmost throwing pair, the guy closest to me is Glen Perkins. When they finished throwing, however, the far partner spotted me as a Twins fan and lobbed a ball clear over my head. He then immediately went back to talking with Perkins. By the way in which he did it, I thought he didn’t care about giving me a second chance at a ball. However, I wanted to stay and see if I could get a ball from the last throwing pair since I knew the far partner was Jeff Gray and 95% of baseball fans wouldn’t know that. Also, the number of people in the LF seats didn’t hurt in keeping me in foul territory:

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Now that may not seem like that many people, but considering there had been maybe ten people, I thought it would be worth it to stay and wait the extra few minutes for Gray to finish up throwing. In this time, the guy who missed me fielded a ball and looked in my direction. I realized what was up and crouched down like a catcher where he then proceeded to lob me a ball with no one around me. Here is the player, whose identity I haven’t the fainest clue of. He is the one on the left:

Avi Miller had just arrived on the scene and although he was ten rows below me (jokingly) claimed that the ball had clearly been intended for him. We then both went over to the Left Field seats, during this journey, I was reminded that the Orioles were using 20th anniversary Oriole Park at Camden Yards balls. I mean I remember reading about them in the offseason, but I had not planned this trip in anyway around those commemorative baseballs, so it was a bonus to say the least. The LF seats were pretty crowded, but as if right on the cue of me finding out the Orioles had been using the commemorative baseballs, I managed to range ten feet to my right and snag one on the fly myself:

I didn’t get that much applause, but about five people congratulated me after the fact. As for the ball itself, to say it was in good shape is a gross understatement, it was perfect beyond perfect. If you didn’t know it had been used, you never would have guessed so. Here is a shot I took after the game:

Since the LF seats were pretty crowded, and I acknowledged that I had gotten really lucky in getting that ball hit to where it was, I moved over to the CF seats. There, I got what would be my last ball of bp. A ball hit the seats a little behind me and bounced into seats closer to me. I then beat out a man to it. Seeing as I had outraced him to the ball and it was my fourth ball of the day, I offered it to him, but he told me to “keep it”.

I did then go out to the flag court, but no balls were hit out there, and even if they were, the sun would have made it near impossible to catch one on the fly:

The arrow shows where the sun was during bp ( I took the picture during the game) and the two lines show the general area where the balls were going in the sky. So even though they weren’t going directly through the sun, if you weren’t leaning against the fence at the front of the section, you would have to be staring into the sun waiting for a ball to be hit.

As you can tell, I was in the Flag Court for the game. There were more Righties than Lefties in the game, but as a continuation of my last three games, I’m just going to be there every game I go to Camden Yards until a HR gets hit there. Once that happens, I will either catch it or whiff and I can go on with my life.

Now usually, I change back into the Home Team’s gear, but I stayed in the Twins gear since that is my favorite team:

Now why did I have that look on my face? It was the fourth inning and the Twins were already losing 6-0 (they would go on to lose 8-2). After the game, I headed down to the Umpire Tunnel, and asked the umpire (whose last name I had been repeating since the first inning to remember), whose first name I don’t remember, but after asking “Mister Nelson” for a ball he tossed me up a perfect example of a rubbed-up Oriole Park Commemorative. Here it is right after I caught it:

and here it is when I took a picture of it at “home” after the game:

For the record, I *do* have game pictures, but wanted to get this entry up before I leave for South Carolina, so I’ll upload those to the Facebook page and notify y’all of it when it is done via the twitter page, but for now at least, that’s all that he wrote.

STATS:
• 5 Balls at this game

Numbers 223-227 for my “career”:

• 10 straight games with at least 1 ball
• 5 balls*31,532 fans= 157,660 competition factor (little fun fact: the competition factor from my last game at Camden Yards was 31,352, which is almost exactly the attendance of this game).
• Time at Game 4:04-9:57= 5 hours 53 minutes. Given, I did spend some of the time on the front end just waiting inside the Hilton, it was “at the ballpark” since I was waiting for the gates to open.

Baltimore Orioles 2012 Offseason Recap and Preview

I know the more hardcore Orioles fans might not like it, but the highlight of their season, from a national perspective was game 162:

Grade: C+

Notable Additions:

Wilson Betemit, Luis Ayala, Endy Chavez, Armando Galarraga, Jason Hammel, Matt Lindstrom, and Pat Neshek.

Notable Subtractions:

Luke Scott, Jeremy Accardo, Jeremy Guthrie, Mark Hendrickson, Felix Pie, Jai Miller, and Ronny Paulino.

Why?: This is almost the opposite of the Blue Jays’ situation in that the best players the Orioles lost were better than the best players they gained, but ue to the sheer number of players gained, did they end up improving on their team. As for the pictures, if you don’t know, I usually put up the picture of the player I perceive to be most notable in both the addition and subtraction categories. For this entry I put up Wilson Betemit and Luke Scott.

Betemit I really have no defense of other than that there really was no player that stood out to me. I could have just as easily put any of four players up as the picture, but I was feeling indecicive and Betemit was at the second on the alphabetically ordered list and he signed for the most years of any of the players. Luke scott on the other hand, I did pick more carefully. I know that for many, the instinct would be to put Jeremy Guthrie as the pictured subtraction, but I took into account the opportunity cost of losing Scott. With Guthrie, he would have been here for another year and the Orioles would have lost him for nothing (well a draft pick, but you know what I mean). With Scott, they probably would have signed him for a few years, and they also would have been getting a better player than they saw last year where as Guthrie has a potential to improve, but would have been less likely to.

Anyway, that’s pretty much all I have to say on the subject.

Predicted Record Range: 62-67 wins I just see the rest of the division getting that much better that there won’t be enough wins for the Orioles to win more games even with their roster improvements.

Next Up:

Re-view of the Preview: Baltimore Orioles

First off, here, is the link to the entry where I didn’t get carried away in the (at the time I wrote the entry) magic of the “Buck Show”.

Predicted Record: 70-75 wins

Actual Record: 69-93

Yes , I did give the Orioles an A+. Yes, I did only increase their win total by 4-9 games.Let me explainthe logic. The Orioles were on their way to at least an 100 loss season before Buck Showalter stepped in as manager. I knew that Buck was agreat manager, but I also knew he couldn’t keep winning at the level he was at the end of the 2010 season, because he had never done so with a team of the skill level of the Orioles. Therefore, I lowered their record of last season by 5 games to 61-101, gave the Orioles 3 of those wins back for the buck factor, to raise their record to 64-98,  then examined the net wins added on by their acquisitions and came to the decision that they were a 70-75 win team. Certain players’ undeperformances (Cough, cough, Kevin Gregg, cough, cough) then lead to their underachieving my expectations for them this year and fall just below the record range I predicted for them.

 

I still stand by my point that the Orioles helped their potential win total last season more than the Red Sox did. Case in point, what match-up ended the Red Sox’s season? The Red Sox may have boosted their potential win total for next year or the years afterward, but the Orioles are much better than they would have been had last offseason never happened. I certainly stand by my point now more than ever when I say that the Orioles *need* starting pitching to win even more games. I was in Baltimore for only three games and I could tell that this was the case.

 

Again, not a totally correct prediction, but I did very accurately predict how well the Orioles did in 2011.

7/24/11 Angels at Orioles: Camden Yards

Just another blistering hot day at Camden Yards:

But due to lack of material from a painfully slow day let me start before that. I started my day at 7:00 that morning as this was the time I set my alarm for to take the train to Baltimore. Thankfully, I could just ignore it because I was getting a ride from Garrett Meyer (thank you), a ballhawk from Kansas City also going to this game and also staying in Washington D.C. Anyway, I took the train to the stop near his place and we were off by 10:20. A pretty quiet ride except for the occasional off-the-top-of-the-head conversation starter. One example would be passing Nationals Park. Another example would be this:

This was a conflicting pair of bumper stickers because they said 1) So many cats: So few recipes 2) I love animals their delicious. Conflicting because I am a vegetarian and animal rights sympathizer and am offended if these were serious but am also a fan of good bumper sticker humor which this was if it is not to be taken seriously. I just decided to give the person the benefit of the doubt and laugh at the bumper stickers.

Eventually we got to the stadium at around 11:10. However, we parked about a mile away at the Ravens’ Stadium and I had to hustle to get to the gates in time (11:35) as I still had to buy my ticket in collaboration with Avi Miller (another thank you to him for getting me in early three days in a row), do some other things that would take me about 5 minutes, and get in line all before the gates opened.

Once I finally got in, I saw this:

No batting practice. I’m not upset or surprised simply reporting. It was a 1:35 game after a 7:10 game so it would have been a miracle on earth if either team were to take bp after a Saturday night full of…err…praying. To be honest, I really didn’t care about pre-game stuff past extending my streak of games with at least 1 ball to 50 straight games. Really the only reason I was at this game in the first place was because I had stayed in the flag court for two games straight with two righty pitchers with nothing coming close and thought that if I stood out there for a third straight game that the results would “regress towards the mean”. This is a fancy way of saying that I was hoping a Home Run would be hit this game out there and so I came for a third game.

After the last picture, I put on my Angels gear and felt a sharp pain in my upper back. I had felt it lightly since I entered the stadium but this was the first instance of a shooting pain. Do I know what the pain is? No, initially it felt like my left shoulder blade but also hurt when I moved only my right arm. Do I know how it happened? No, it was perfectly fine even while I was waiting in line to enter the stadium. The one thing I do now was that it was a pain (pun intended). It nagged me up until I arrived home in New York. I just wanted to inject this in as a factor in my lack of snagging enthusiasm and just let you know about it to reference it later on in the entry.

When I got to the 3rd base foul line, this was my view:

As you can imagine, it was a pretty empty seating area except for us ballhawks. This was however the most I have see for a game with no batting practice. There were about four of us waiting to try and get a ball from an Angels pitcher. Eventually I got my ball when Johan “Ervin” Santana (the one known as Ervin Santana actually changed his name while he was in the minor leagues from Johan in order to not be confused with the Mets’ ace) finished throwing. I asked him in Spanish and he told me “Corre”, which is to say “Run”. I took this as running up the steps while he tossed me a ball like a wide receiver. Evidently, that is what he was looking for as I ran up ten steps, turned around, and found a ball sailing towards me. It probably looked a bit slow and was not as fun as it would have been had my back not been hurting. Another side effect of the back pain was that I really couldn’t pull my arms up in front of my face to cup my mouth and yell at the more distant players for a ball. Also, I couldn’t hold my arms above my head and do my regular jumping-jackish motion to get their attention. As a result, Ervin was one of the latter players to finish and I couldn’t really ask for a ball from the other players because they had seen me get the ball and I didn’t have time to change my outfit to disguise myself.

Anyway, I then headed over to the Orioles bullpen t get a ball but the pitcher finished quickly and didn’t toss the ball to either me or Flava Dave who was also at the bullpen. At which point I idnetified Dan Haren as the late comer to the warm-up party along the third base line:

This turned out to be, besides watching Dan Haren throw a great sinker with almost no effort behind the ball, an unproductive waste of time as his throwing partner ended up with the ball and simply tossed the ball into the ball bag. I am sure that had Haren tossed the ball into the crowd it would have been mine because he actually went out of his way before he started throwing to acknowledge my existence with a wave. That said, many players have done this and from what I gathered from the other ballhawks, Haren is not the nicest fellow.

I then went over to the first base line to try and get an autograph and failed several times as there was a kid before me that was getting baseball cards signed. The players, it seemed, always looked up at him in a “are you serious?” manner and stopped signing after that. Maybe it was just these players but a baseball card from a fan means they are at the game with the sole purpose of getting them signed especially if you are, say Mark Hendrickson. I guess that the players didn’t like the fact they were being used to possibly make a profit and went on because they “really had to __”.

Speaking of Mark Hendrickson, he started throwing with some catcher (definitely was not Matt Wieters) and when he finished throwing, I had gotten the catcher’s attention throughout the their round of catch, so he threw me the ball:

I then moved up behind the cross aisle for some much needed shade:

By the way, can you spot Vernon Wells signing in that last picture? While I was up there I got a good chuckle out of knowing that I wasn’t the only one that was tired before 1:00:

Yeah I stayed there until game time blah, blah, blah. We all know why I was at this game. To catch a Home Run in the flag court:

To my dismay, this was how empty the seats were in Left field:

That along with the fact 12 out of 18 hitters were righties, meant that they were ideal snagging conditions. Suddenly when Mike Trout lifted his first career Home Run, I knew that one of the ballhawks there were going to get it in one shape or form. The only thing was that the ball hit pretty hard so I thought there might be an small chance that the ball would carom off the cross aisle and wall at the top of the section and bounce back towards the field. This did not happen. Instead this random passerby caught the ball:

As happy as I was that one of the ballhawks had caught the ball I still only stayed for moments as I had to get back to right field to not miss any of the lefties hitting:

As usual, nothing came up there. I was going to simply walk to Baltimore Penn station at that point but when Garrett Meyer used my phone to call Ben Weil and told him that “Me and [Mateo] want to see what [Zack] got.” I tagged along and stayed for a little while longer. Ben gave us the instructions on where to be and we arrived on the scene a few minutes later:

I had been in this room a few years earlier but it was still nice to be in A/C and chomping on ice while it was 10,000 degrees outside. Oh and on an interesting note, I had run into the guy on the right with the Orioles necklace credentials holder as we were both coming from the flag court and going to left field after Trout had hit his Home Run. Enroute, I informed him how the guy that had caught it looked like and while we were waiting in this room did the incredibly nice and “oriole” thing by thanking me even though there was already a swarm of police and the guy on the left so it wouldn’t have been hard to identify him.

It was also nice to see Mike Trout come out and greet his friends and family:

I have actually been rooting for him because (useless fact of the day): in the first year that the MLB draft was being televised, Mike Trout came to MLB Network’s Studio 42 with his parents. He was the only one to do so. Not Steven Strasburg, not Zack Wheeler, Mike Trout. Due to his courage I gained respect for him and keep him in the corner of my baseball observing eye. So it was really special to watch him enjoy this moment. It was also fun to see his gigantic self come out of the elevator and hear Garrett’s reaction, “Wow, can you believe he’s my age.” I really hadn’t thought about that but yeah he is only 3 years older than me and he has already hit his first Major League Home Run. After everything died down and we were kicked out of the waiting area, I said my goodbyes and  walked what felt like 5 miles, it was only 1.5,  because of the searing heat to the train station and waited for my pretty late train.

STATS:

  • 2 balls at this game
numbers 156-157 for my career:
  • 50 straight games with at least 1 ball. Now all I have to do is double everything I have done in my career and I will have 100 straight games.
  • 19 straight games doing so on the road
  • 15 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 2 balls*15,676 fans= 31,352 competition factor
  • Time at Game 11:20-5:31= 6 hours 11 minutes

7/23/11 Ballhawk Fest

Finally the day arrived. I say this after the fact but before it actually arrived I was a little worried about how ballhawk fest would go because I was worried about my streak being broken with so many ballhawks in attendance. Speaking of them, let me introduce to you all the ballhawks in attendance:

1. Garrett Meyer- #5 on the season leaders as of 7/26 and also the furthest traveled of us here coming all the way from Lawrence, Kansas.

2. Alan Schuster- The creator of mygameballs.com and organizer of this whole day long event.

3. Alex Kopp- A student at the University of Maryland who ballhawks really all over the place because he lives in New Jersey.

4. “Flava” Dave Stevenson- A ballhawk native to Baltimore who is very much a regular at Camden Yards.

5. Tim Cook- The second part of the now trio that is Cook & Son Bats’ Blog.

6. Oliver Rowles- Another ballhawk from New York that also usually inhabits the outfields of Citi Field or spring training stadiums when he’s at a game.

7. Zack Hample- Just click his name. If you don’t know him by now that such be sufficient. For the lazy people. He’s caught over 5,200 baseballs and inspired most of those present.

8. Mike Rowles- Oliver’s father and self proclaimed chaperone for the weekend.

9. Ben “…ny Batting Gloves” Weil- Yet another ballhawk from New York that showed up a bit late for softball (this picture was taken after we finished) because of the Lincoln Tunnel, “why are so many people going to New Jersey on a Saturday?”, etc.

10. Todd Cook- The primary unit in the Cook n’ Son trifecta.

-There were various people not int his picture who went to the game itself or were outside my lens.

1. Avi Miller- He just showed up for the game and didn’t show up for any of the pre-game festivities.

2. Jona- Zack’s girl friend who was simply outside of the picture because she too was taking pictures of the pre-group-picture set-up.

3. Jeremy Evans- This was a foreign name to me prior to ballhawk fest. Apparently he is a ballhawk from Pennsylvania who doesn’t have records of any of the balls that he has caught. I got all of this information from his mygameballs profile, I didn’t actually have much time to get to know him. The reason? He showed up at the game after the gates had opened and we were both focused on snagging baseballs.

4. Matt Hersl- He was “too sore” to play softball. He later admitted that he would have played had it not been 110 degrees. That actually was a hyperbole but it was over 100.

Obviously, the ten present and willing to play were not enough for a 9 on 9 softball game. Instead, Alan had devised a sort of Home Run Derby. Here we have Alan explaining the rules:

I don’t remember what the original format was but Alan added the fact that what he had said was merely a draft and anyone could add their own suggestions to it. Here we have everyone collectively having their “wait how are we doing this again?” moment before bombarding Alan with a plethora of suggestions:

This, inevitably changing how we were going to play the game. The rules, it seemed, changed by the half inning until the end of the second inning. This is what we ended up with:

  • 7 innings
  • 5 players on each team-once Ben showed up in the second in the bottom of the third-. Here is the roster:
  • A half inning constituted of every player of the team hitting.
  • A person  finished their turn when they got one out with both a soft and baseball.
  • An out was achieved by any ball that was not hit out of the infield or caught by the opposing team.
  • An out could also be achieved if a person failed to swing at a ball within three pitches.
  • A ball hit into the outfield uncaught was 1 point
  • A ball hit beyond the fence were 5 points
Does that make sense? I hope so because I still don’t truly understand it.
Anyway, my team won 44-29:
It was headed by an excellent offensive effort by Mateo Fischer and… okay so I didn’t score any runs for our team but I did have the most catches for our team. Our actual offensive leaders were everyone except for me and Ben as all of them-I believe- play softball in a league elsewhere. The game ended in spectacular fashion as the final out was recorded on a ball hit over the fence by Zack Hample that was caught at about the 6’6″ mark by Alan Schuster. Although, being the ballhawk that I am, I was waiting on the edge of the fence in case Zack hit a Home Run. when the ball jumped off of his bat I jumped off of the fence and was waiting right behind Alan in case the ball kept on carrying. Had Alan not been there, a big argument probably would have ensued over my tactics. I did however, have the excuse that it was ballhawk fest.
After the game, we went to a restaurant named DiPasquale’s in an assortment of gas guzzling vehicles. I went in Alex Kopps’s car with Garrett Meyer:
That would be Alex on the left with Garrett on the right.
At the restaurant, we split into two tables: Alex, Garrett, Dave, Oliver, Mike (Oliver’s dad), and myself at one table and everyone else I don’t feel like naming at the other table. If you want to find out who was at the other table, just take out everyone I listed from the first picture, add  Jona and Matt Hersl, and Viola! you have the second table. At lunch, I obviously ate but there were other goodies to be given out. Ben Weil provided different items to be given out of names being picked out of a hat. I got a bobble head doll of the “best mascot in baseball” as I am always hearing. Don’t I look just thrilled:
No not really. This is almost the worst bobble head I could have gotten minus a bobble head of the Yankees mascot. On the other hand, we did receive our official ballhawk fest T-Shirts:
The two faces because I the front was a very nice design but was only made to provide the basic information. The back because I was commemorating my deceased father by wearing this with his first initial on it instead of mine. For the better observants of baseball, you may have noticed that I have been wearing a sweat bands with the initials WRF. This is also to commemorate him. For those who haven’t noticed, here is a link to a picture I took in Atlanta with the band on.
For even more observant people, can you spot three items in both pictures that were photographed in this entry. Note: they may not be showing the same side that I photographed.
Anyway, it was late enough that our car went directly from the restaurant to the field. We took pictures, talked some more… blah, blah, blah. Enough of this preliminary shtuff, let’s get to the game.
I was about the fifth into the left field seats because I had to wait for Avi Miller (who provided me with season tickets the games before and after this one, thank you) to show his season ticket card and get us in to the section. I quickly made up for it by catching up to two of the other ballhawks in my section after I weaved through a family of non-balhawkfestians.
When I got to the section I picked a spot behind you-know-who in the second railing opening in the second aisle from left center:
Normally this would be snagging suicide but I figured I would just got with the best available spot as a cavalry of a dozen ballhawks would soon be upon me. I quickly got on the board by picking up a Mark Reynolds Home Run that landed behind me and half way into the row:
I think the only two people going after it were Matt Hersl and Zack Hample but can’t really remember.
The next ball came relatively soon after that Derrek Lee hit a ball about three steps behind me. I slowly backed up and simply reached up to catch it on the fly:
The next ball was also hit by Reynolds… I think. It was hit in the same general area as the last one as Reynolds was hitting them pretty well. I was one of the people that went furthest back on that ball but it still went over my head. It just kept carrying and carrying:
It hit off of the seats behind me and I picked it up… I think. To tell the truth, I remember this specific ball but don’t know if I actually got that specific ball. I do however, know my third ball was snagged in a ball hitting off of the seats and me picking it up.
My fourth ball was a little clearer as I was closer to the foul line to get a ball from the Angels pitchers (I didn’t get many balls from the Angels because my shirt arrived the day I got BACK from Baltimore and I had to settle with turning a Nationals jersey inside out) when an Orioles hitter-I think it was J.J. Hardy- hit a ball into the seats behind me. I went under where the ball clanked down thinking it would roll down the seats. The other fans chasing after it didn’t know this so I quietly pulled the ball out while they kept frantically searching for it. That gave me four balls for the day.
I then had a cold streak where most of the Angels player ignored me because I couldn’t identify them (it was so hot that they all had on the shirt they normally have under their jersey thus no number to identify them by) and a few balls I barely missed out on. To me this was a sign that I should leave for the flag court once people started arriving that didn’t have season tickets.
This was a good choice. When I arrived in the flag court the group including Russell Branyan started hitting. For those who don’t know, Russell Branyan is a DH type hitter that has enormous amounts of power but just doesn’t do much else. He did not disappoint.
My first ball from him came when he launched  a ball to the deepest part of the ballpark that could still be considered the flag court. Here is the view from where the ball struck the fence:
Can you see now what I mean? A foot further to the left and that ball is in the center field section. Thankfully it hit off the bottom of the fence and became a slow grounder back to me.
The second ball was an absolute blast:
To explain, the ball hit off of the canopy over Boog’s grill, bounced to the right, dribbled into the Weed & Lemonade stand (not pictured) where I picked it up.
The third and final ball I got out there was also hit by Russell Branyan and was also a bomb:
The right most pair of dotted arrows are the balls path wile the pair of solid arrows are my path to the ball. The ball bounced off of the railing so quickly I had to barehand the ball directly of the metal with my right hand. It hurt a bit but it was worth it. However, it might have caused me to miss out on another ball depicted by the dotted arrows on the left. Branyan hit yet another ball to near the top of the fence, because the last ball had ricocheted so quickly, I played a little further back and waited for the bounce but the ball went perfectly between the bars and someone else grabbed it.
Moving over to foul ground when Branyan wasn’t up, I was hoping to get a ball tossed to me but after getting completely ignored by a coach who was the only one shagging balls in that part of right field, I gave up as that was probably it for me over there. I then went over to center field:
right center was pretty dead because of those Angels fans but left center could have brought me something but others had the same idea as me:
We were now in Angels bp so you can find a ballhawk by looking for a red or yellow shirt. Anyway, as I was putting away my phone from that picture and grabbing my cup of free ice the Orioles were providing, I heard the slight roar and saw people moving like they were getting ready for a fly ball. I looked up and a ball was going right to my left. It bounced into a seat and I started running after it but another kid in a grey shirt plucked it out of the seat. I was really mad. Had I been paying attention, that would have been an *very* easy catch to make. That was it nothing else for bp.
For the game, I stood out in the flag court once more:
as my second goal- after getting one ball this day- was catching a Home Run on ballhawk fest. Wait… before I get too far from that picture, let me recount all the balls I gave away this day.
1. In center field, I saw a kid after batting practice who had a glove and asked him if he had caught a ball. He said no and I handed him one.
2. I saw he had a brother or friend with him and so I gave one to him too. These two were the last two balls I caught from Branyan.
3+4. The guy pointing and the guy in purple started off their stay in the flag court by telling me and Alex (standing to the right of those guys) that they were going to catch any ball hit into the section but once we started talking they showed some genuine appreciation/awe for us ballhawking and started to talk further to us. They then both asked if they could buy a ball off of me for a dollar each. Normally, the answer would be a definite no but since they showed such an interest I didn’t mind getting ripped off, as baseballs go for about $10 in the stores, and selling two of my baseballs as it *definitely * was not for the money. As far as I was concerned, this would be the best day for spreading the news of what ballhawking was because there were so many at the ballpark and I had my attention grabbing Ballhawk Fest T-Shirt on. The balls I gave away were my Derrek Lee ball and ball #4 that I think was hit by J.J. Hardy. This quickly turned into Jason Giambi and Derek Jeter by the time the guys got back to their friends.
After batting practice, I was in the lead in terms of baseballs caught at ballhawk fest. Leading Zack Hample by a margin of 7-5. Just before the game, that shrunk to 7-6. As nice as it would have been to widen the gap and surely get the most baseballs at the first ballhawk fest by sitting in a more ball friendly spot, I was sticking with my plan as I would have NEVER been able to forget a Home Run that would have gone into the flag court had I not been there. So, this was my view for the rest of the game:
Actually no, that would have been an improvement on my view of the game. For ballhawking purposes, I was about twenty feet behind this spot and as a result couldn’t see any of the game minus whatever replays and such showed up on the scoreboard. The closest ball I came to was a foul ball that Bobby Abreu pulled just to the right of the foul pole (looking from Abreu’s perspective). I had no chance at it. The only reason I was up there was because it was the second day of two righty pitchers starting and I figured the line-ups would be lefty heavy. Out of the 18 batters, 8 were lefty. So I was stuck on 7 balls. In the middle of the game, I had heard that Zack had caught a foul ball and we were tied from Alan Schuster. I would have tried for an umpire but the game was so close that I was just sensing a go ahead Home Run by Russell Branyan but alas, it never came. That was it.
I then went over to the Angels dugout for the closing pictures and such:
The yellow was definitely flying. Oh and by the way, that is Jeremy Evans in the Orioles hat between Alan (in the white hat) and the person in orangeish getting out of their seat.
Overall I would say it was a VERY fun and similarly exhausting day. In the end, I did end up being the co-leader for the first annual ballhawk fest. That might just have to go on my resume for my first job application.
STATS:
  • 7 balls at this game (3 picture because I “gave” four away)
numbers 149-155 for my career:
  • 49 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 18 straight doing so on the road
  • 14 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 6 straight games with at least 5 balls (could I maintain this streak the next day with no batting practice? No one comment on this if you have seen my mygameballs profile)
  • 3 straight games with at least 6 balls
  • 2 straight games with at least 7 balls (sorry have to get them  out of the way while I still have them)
  • 7 balls* 20,311 fans= 142,177 competition factor
  • Time at game 4:18- 9:46= 5 hours 28 minutes
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