Results tagged ‘ Target Field ’

5/10/13 Orioles at Twins: Target Field

I wasn’t exactly thrilled to go to this game, but in trying to get to 60 games this season, there are such games that I have to just suck up and go to anyway. Why did I not want to be at this game? This guy:

51013 Willingham Bobblehead Box

It was Josh Willinghammer bobblehead day, and I while I do like the bobblehead–despite the boring box–I knew a ton of other people would as well, and I was right. Here is the view in the bleachers to my right, right as I entered the stadium:

51013 View bleachers right

And here was the view in the bleachers to my left with the friend who joined me from my residence hall that day, Kyle:

51013 Kyle and people

I had told Kyle a couple of times of my baseball ventures and so he asked me if he could accompany me to a game whenever I was going to one next. It was like a week-and-a-half before the game, and the Twins were gone for a while, so this was the one we ended up going to. We had left our dorm at around 3:50, and got to the game at about 4:40, and by the time we got there, there was already a line at Gate 3 that went half-way to Gate 6. I won’t include a map, but if you want you can check it out and see what I mean. It would be a normal line size for Yankee Stadium, but for here it was massive.

It soon became clear that everyone was way more concentrated in the left field bleachers. Had I been smart and realized that the weather was relatively warmer, I might have gone up to the second deck and played for Josh Willingham, Adam Jones and players of their ilk to hit baseballs into the second deck. But sadly I didn’t think of it and instead just went over to the right-center field seats and got a ball from Josh Roenicke:51013 Roenicke Ball

I had called out to Roenicke on a previous ball, but when he looked back at me, he thought the kid next to me had asked him for the ball. But then when I asked him for a ball when another rolled to the wall, he looked up and saw that I was all alone, so he tossed me the ball. I didn’t realize it until I went back and checked my stats, but that was my 100th baseball ever at Target Field, making Target Field only the second stadium I’ve accomplished that at. That was it for me for the Twins portion of BP, because as I said before, it was crowded. Target Field is an okay ballpark when there’s no one around. When it’s crowded, it shows its true ballhawking colors.

When Twins BP ended, I made my way to the Orioles dugout, but nothing was going on:

51013 Mateo waiting

It was at the time that actual baseball-snagging action started to occur that I got a message from Sean saying that he had just parked and was headed to Gate 34. Since I was not ready to sacrifice snagging opportunities to go give him his ticket, I recruited Kyle to head out there and give him the ticket despite the fact that neither had met the other beforehand.

After Kyle left, I first tried to get a ball from the position players tossing by the dugout:

51013 PP dugout

But all of them tossed their balls onto the field after they were done. I then tried to get a ball from the position players warming-up just past third base, but instead of getting a ball from them, one of the Orioles bullpen catchers, Ronnie Deck (unofficial assist to Avi Miller for the fact that I know his name), saw that the players weren’t tossing me a ball, so he tossed me a ball without me even asking for one:

51013 Deck the balls with houghs of holly

(Notice the Orioles couple realizing I had gotten a ball and unintentionally photo-bombing me.) I gave this ball away to a kid as I was walking towards the left field foul pole.

In the time that it took Kyle to get out to right field, the position players warmed up completely. By the time Sean and Kyle were making their way back to me, I was almost to the foul pole in foul territory. So as I saw them cutting across the seats towards the dugout where Kyle had left me, I started waving towards them to draw their attention. They were behind me (read: away from the field), so I had to look back to wave to them. It was at this time I heard the crowd make some noise; like as if a ball was rolling on the warning track near the stands that a player might toss up. Right after I heard that, I felt a blow to both my left and right legs at about the knee area. While I was looking away from the field, an Orioles player–probably Manny Machado–had pulled a ball down the line and it managed to strike not one, but both of my legs on the fly. It actually didn’t hurt much at all right after the ball hit me. No, the most painful part of that whole incident was the fact that the ball bounced right off of me to the hands of the guy in front of me. However, it was because of this that I got my second ball of the day. Tommy Hunter had seen the whole thing go down, so when he was done throwing, he came over and signed a ball for me and my “troubles”:

51013 Hunter signing

As he gave me the ball and left, I said, “Thanks, Tommy. I appreciate it.” and he kind of smiled. It was the kind of smile that made me think I had gotten his name wrong. I was pretty sure it was Tommy Hunter, so I was confused by why he acted this way. I realized why when I read the writing on the ball. Here was the signature itself:

51013 Hunter Ball 1

but here was what he wrote on the ball itself for me:

51013 Hunter Ball 2

Hunter had gone to run poles, so by the time I had read the ball and understood it, he was already in center field, but when he made it back to the left field foul pole, I jokingly told him my reason for getting hit while giving him a hard time about putting what he did on the ball.

After that, I headed out to the seats in right field:

51013 View from RF

And when I looked to my right, I saw a couple of interesting things.

1. There was pretty much the whole Orioles roster in the outfield at one point:

51013 Lots of Orioles

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole, but that’s what, 15 people in the outfield that you can see in that picture alone?

2. The left field seats were absolutely packed because of the bobblehead day:

51013 Bleachers Packed

At most other stadiums that’s a decent-sized crowd, but because of the steepness and overhang in left field, I knew I wouldn’t have a chance at a ball in left field. This was particularly frustrating because it was J.J. Hardy’s group that was hitting, and he hit several baseballs to the spot where I usually play him at any ballpark. It was crowded, but who knows if I don’t have an extra couple of baseballs if I had been in left field for that group.

But with my legs making any movement very painful, I was stuck in right field. Sean and Kyle, who both knew how much of an annoyance it can be to follow me around when I’m running back and forth, seemed pretty content with just staying in right field, though:

51013 Sean and Kyle

They even had time to go get food and get back to find me still in the section that they had left me in. (This is usually not the case if you leave my side for over five minutes.)

Anyway, I wouldn’t get any other baseballs for the rest of batting practice itself, but at the very end of BP, I went down to the Orioles dugout and got their hitting coach, Jim Presley to toss me a ball as the baseballs were being transferred from the ball basket to the ball bag.

After that, I headed out to center field to try to get a ball from the groundscrew member who clears the batter’s eye of baseballs after batting practice, but I just barely missed him, getting there as he was headed off the batter’s eye:

51013 Batters eye failure

The three of us alternated sitting behind the third base seating moat and the standing room in right field, but I couldn’t get another ball for the rest of the game.

Sean had brought his car to the game, so once we finally got out of the parking garage that Sean had parked in and got through the Minnesota traffic, Sean dropped Kyle and I off at our dorm on the St. Paul campus. Sean and I had just agreed the day prior that we were going to be taking a weekend trip to his home in Chicago so he could visit his mom on Mother’s Day and I could go to a couple of games at U.S. Cellular Field. So when he left us at the dorm just before midnight, it was knowing that we would be seeing each other just a few short hours later on our way to Chicago.

STATS:

  • 4 Baseballs at this game (3 pictured because I gave 1 away)

51013 Baseballs

Numbers 491-494 for my life:

51013 Sweet Spots

  • 48 Balls in 10 Games= 4.80 Balls Per Game
  • 4 Balls x 31,360 Fans=125,440 Competition Factor
  • 72 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 103 Balls in 24 Games at Target Field= 4.29 Balls Per Game
  • 22 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:51-11:43= 7 Hours 52 Minutes

4/26/13 Rangers at Twins: Target Field

A second consecutive day at Target Field and look who decided to join me for the game:

42613 Opening Picture

You may recognize the person on the left as Sean Bigness, who has sometimes left comments, and has been in several entries in the past. The person on the right–looking like he wants to be somewhere else at the moment the picture was taken–I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned on here, but it’s my friend Tony who lives in the same dorm as I do. Like Sean, he was supposed to attend a game during the Twins’ opening series with me before something came up for him. But with Tony having finished a 20-page paper the day before and Sean being done with whatever it is Sean does, we had a three-person baseball party set-up. You may notice that the picture I used to introduce the two was taken during the game. That’s because in trying to coordinate all three of us to go to the game together, we arrived late for my standards and didn’t have time to take a group picture outside the gates before they opened. In getting to the game it was revealed to me that the goal of the other two members of the group was to shut me out this game. Thankfully, they absolutely failed at their goal.

As we got in the gates, Sean got way too much joy from the fact that my ticket scanner wasn’t working and that he got in through  the gates first. (I still beat him to the left field seats even though we entered the center field gate, Gate 3. That he wasn’t too happy about.) Pretty much as we got to the seats, a ball got hit to right, and I managed to get through Sean trying to box me out for the ball, but sadly it slowed me down enough where two guys closer to the ball closed in on the ball, and one picked it up. Right after that, I made the adjustment and stood in the row under him. Josh Willingham–who hit the first ball–hit another ball to almost the same exact spot. I outran Sean to the gap in the railing, got in front of him in his row, and then beat the other two guys to the ball for my first of the day. I’m pretty sure I got a picture of the ball, but I think I deleted it.

After that, I told Sean and Tony–who had now failed at their goal–that I was headed out to right field. I meant this when I said it to them, but in going to right field, I saw whoever the hitter was at that point hit a ball to the wall in right-center field, so since I was right behind that section of seating, I went down to the first row and asked who I believe was Ryan Pressly for a ball, and he tossed it up to me:

42613 Ball 2

for my second ball of the day. Both Tony and Sean were somewhere between confused and astounded when I met them back on the concourse (since they had still been catching up to me at that point and hadn’t seen any of the events that lead up to the Pressly ball).

We then completed the journey to right field where it was Sean who first got a player to toss him a ball in Jared Burton. Fortunately for me, I don’t think Sean was actually expecting Burton to toss him up the ball because of the fact that he was wearing a White Sox hat, so he actually literally dropped the ball. It went into the flower bed, where I picked it up and handed it to Sean. This may be cheap, but I got possession of the ball before I handed it to Sean, so it counts for me. Here is Sean hanging his head in shame after I gave him the ball:

42613 Shameful Sean

Sean then insisted Tony take a “roommate” picture (Sean will be my roommate for the next school year), so I got to pile on the fact that Sean didn’t catch the ball with our respective poses:

42613 Roomie picture

I tried for the rest of Twins BP (which lasted less than ten minutes after that point) for Jared Burton to toss me a ball, but he either saw me get the Pressly ball or had reached his quota for giving away baseballs, because I know he heard my requests in which I actually called him by name (unlike Sean did) and yet he didn’t toss me a ball.

For that last part of Twins batting practice, this was the view to my right:

42613 Sean and Tony in right field

While they had both given up on simply preventing me from snagging baseballs, they both wanted to snag at least one of their own. Sean was trying the first-row-and-hope-the-ball-just-barely-clears-the-wall strategy, and Tony was just trying to be able to see the ball with the sun in his eyes. While I was in the front row asking Jared Burton for one of the times I did, a ball flew over my head and instinctively Sean put his arm out to try to prevent me from getting out of the row. The ball then bounced off of the raised wheelchair section at the top of the section and back on to the field.

As the Rangers took over batting practice, I headed over to foul territory down the left field foul line to try to get a ball from the pitchers who were starting to warm up. When I got there, I noticed a ball on the warning track, so I asked the police officer on the field if I could get  the ball to give to a kid. He picked up the ball and tossed it to me. Here is the ball right before I walked and gave it to a kid two sections away, since there were none in my section with gloves:

42613 Ball 3

When I resumed trying to get a ball another interesting thing happened. I was looking towards the Rangers pitchers as I was in the first row closest to field and then I just saw in the periphery of my vision that people were moving around frantically as if a ball were headed towards up, so I turned my head just as a Rangers pitcher screamed, “Heads up!” and I saw an Ian Kinsler line drive absolutely screaming towards me but cutting to my right. There were people to my right, but they got out of the way of the ball, so I leaned over the row and caught the ball:

42613 Ball 5

It was very similar to how my neighbor, Greg Barasch caught a foul ball while he was in Marlins Park last season:

Except I was further away, so I had more overall time to react to the ball. But you could argue that he had more time since I wasn’t paying attention to the ball until it was about half-way to me. Whatever. He got a Marlins Park commemorative game ball. He wins. I find it particularly interesting about that snag that I can make the more difficult catches this season so far, but it’s the easier hit-ball snags that have been giving me the most trouble.

After this catch, I figured getting a ball from the pitchers would be unlikely since most of them had seen me catch the ball, so I moved from foul territory to the outfield seating. As I got there, most of the pitchers had ended their throwing and were running “poles”–which if you don’t know, is just baseball jargon for running laps from foul pole to foul pole. One of these pitchers was Joe Nathan. When a ball got hit all the way to the wall, Nathan picked it up mid-stride and kept running, but as he did so, he scanned the crowd, saw me in “Rangers” gear. I put it in quotations because while I did have a Rangers hat on, I still have not bought a Rangers shirt, so it was simply a red shirt with a black-and-white Rangers logo printed on that I had made for the previous game but ended up not using because there was no batting practice. Once he saw me, he flipped the ball up for my sixth on the day:

42613 Ball 6

This one was extra-special, though, because he is one of my favorite players ever from when he was the Twins closer, and I’ve been trying to get a ball from him for a couple of years now. With snagging a ball from him, only Tim Lincecum and Joe Mauer remain as active players from my “Favorite MLB Players” entry who I still haven’t snagged a ball from. I then headed out to the section in right-center field. There I got  Tanner Sheppers to toss me a ball almost identically to Nathan. The only difference was that I was about 25 feet up from Sheppers, so considering he was basically shoveling the ball to me while he was running, he overshot me and the ball flew over my head and into the concourse. Thankfully no one back there was paying attention, so I managed to run into said concourse and pick the ball up:

42613 Ball 7

It was soon after this, when I had shifted to pure right field, that Sean and Tony found me. I learned that they had gotten several food items between the two of them. They learned that I had absolutely cleaned up (for my standards, anyway) in their absence. It didn’t take long after they got back for a ball to get to the seats in the right-center field seats to my right. I thought it was going to hit and land in the seats, so I entered them and went lower than the ball to await the bounce back towards the field, but the ball’s trajectory was perfect enough that it just barely went under the overhang of the second deck and found its way to the concourse. Normally I would be mad, but look who ended up snagging it:

42613 Tony with ball

The ball bounced off the concrete on the concourse, the back metal mesh, and Tony snagged it while it was still mid-air. While it wasn’t his first snag ever, it was pretty impressive how quickly he reacted after the ball touched down.

After that I was entertained briefly by the fact that Derek Holland was trying to get the attention of a family in the third deck in foul ground in order to launch a ball to them. Here he is looking up to them:

42613 Derek Holland

Unfortunately they never looked down to the field since they were too busy paying attention to their food, so after about five to ten minutes of trying to get their attention, Holland gave up and tossed the ball to someone at field level.

I got my eighth ball of the day by asking Jason Frasor for a ball while he shagged it at the wall in right-center field while I was in the right field seats:

42613 Ball 8

I then gave this ball away to a girl I had seen been trying to get a ball for a while at that point. I actually first denied her sister the ball, though, because I hadn’t seen her glove, so I said, “Sorry, I don’t give baseballs away to people who don’t have gloves.” It was at that point that I felt bad for denying her the ball. I told her I would give her the next ball I snagged, but Sean stepped in and gave her the ball that I had given him earlier on in the day. Here he is celebrating the fact that he gave the ball away behind the back of the girl he gave it away to:

42613 Sean and Kid 2

Nice job, Sean.

I’ll spoil it for you right now and say that I didn’t snag another ball for the rest of batting practice. I search of this next non-exsitent snag, I moved over to the left field. It was actually Sean who managed to snag a ball there. Here’s how it happened:

42613 Sean catch

Sean and Tony were still catching up to me at this point, so they were just entering the section at this point. As they were descending the staircase closest to the bullpen, a Ranger righty hit a ball into the row that they were crossing, so Sean walked into the row, and reached across his body to make the easy catch.

That was it for batting practice, but we stayed in left field for the start of the game:

42613 Us peoples in LF

where this was our view of the field:

IMG_0825

My reason for this (other than to have an excuse to insert pictures from my “good” camera into the entry) was that I wanted to get a ball from the bullpen warm-ups so I would only have to get one ball after the game to finally crack double digits at Target Field. I didn’t, so I was going to have a tough task in front of me to get two baseballs after/during the game as we headed out to the standing room in the second inning.

In the standing room, we finally got the “good” camera out for some pictures since we weren’t running all over the place. The first picture we were going to take was me with the baseballs I had snagged that day and kept:

42613 Baseballs in RF

Plus the Derek Lowe ball from the previous day, since I hadn’t taken it out yet. Five of the six baseballs were from this game. (Nice try, by the way, Sean, but even though I don’t have Photoshop anymore, iPhoto can still get rid of “blemishes” in pictures.)

I then tried to take another picture of Sean and Tony, but this was the first take where Tony closed his eyes because of the flash:

42613 Sean and Tony take 1

And then again on the second take:

42613 Sean and Tony take 2

So finally on the third take, Tony went to extreme measures to keep his eyes open:

42613 Sean and Tony take 3

The only thing really interesting that happened from that point on was while Sean and I were playing catch in the stadium…Actually, there are three interesting things that happened; us playing catch inside Target Field was the first, but the other two surrounded it. Those two things were: 1. While we were playing catch, two police officers were walking towards us. Both Sean and I thought they were coming to tell us to stop playing catch, but what they instead did, because we were playing catch right above Gate 3, they made snowballs and tossed them down at the police officers who were manning the gate. It’s moments like this that make me appreciate NOT being in New York. Some people might think myself and other New York ballhawks are kidding when we say stuff like this, but I’m only partially kidding when I say that I probably would have come close to ejection if I did something similar in either New York stadium. Instead, these police officers actually turned it into something even more fun. They even pointed the fingers at us when the police officers they threw the snowballs at looked up at them. 2. While we were playing catch, I stopped Sean because I heard a familiar sound. It was the mascots being introduced for the Race at Target Field. I used to pretty much just ignore the race, but now I think I’m never going to miss it from now on. Anyway, as Sean and I watched, Skeeta (the mascot I ran as the previous day) pulled off her fourth victory in a row. I just thought it was cool at the moment, but I later learned that it is a record number of consecutive victories for one mascot, so it felt extra special to be a part of that, even if it is a record that probably won’t last forever. Skeeta almost extended the record to five consecutive wins, but started celebrating a little too early and got caught by Babe right at the finish line.

I’ll fast-forward the game for you and reveal that the Twins lost 4-3. At the end of the game, we worked our way to the dugout and I got a ball from home plate umpire Ted Barrett:

42613 Ball 9

That would be ball number nine on the day for me. I made several attempts towards a ball number ten, but all fell short. Maybe my next game, so I can reach 100 career baseballs at Target Field as well as 500 total career baseballs in the same game? Who can know these things?

Anyway, we ended our day at the ballpark with a group picture–myself still pouting about not having cracked double digits at Target Field:

42613 Group picture

With that we headed back to campus where Tony and I went to have pizza before heading back to St. Paul, and Sean had fun monitoring drunk people while sober.

STATS:

  • 9 Balls at this game (6 pictured because I gave 3 away)

42613 Baseballs

Numbers 482-490 for my lifetime:

42613 Sweet Spots

  • 44 Balls in 9 Games= 4.89 Balls Per Game
  • 9 Balls x 27,404 Fans=246,636 Competition Factor
  • 71 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 99 Balls in 23 Games at Target Field= 4.30 Balls Per Game
  • 21 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 4:07-11:13= 7 Hours 6 Minutes

4/25/13 Rangers at Twins: Target Field

After a week off from baseball, due to the game I was initially going to attend on Tuesday against the Marlins being postponed, it was back to Target Field:

42513 Opening Picture

Ah yes. The Texas Rangers. Historically a team that could always get enough runs to win, and relied on their pitching to not get knocked around. Sadly, though, I didn’t get to see their bombers this game, because, well, they didn’t show up:

42513 No BP

I thought it was really weird that there was no batting practice until I realized that they had played the last night’s game in Ananheim. As overlooked as it may be by  most baseball fans, that’s a long ways to travel overnight, especially when the time change is working against you. And also, as my friend Jonathan pointed out, they had beaten the Angels 11-3, so in a sense, they got their batting practice in. Why did he say this to me? Because he joined me for this game. Here is a picture of him waiting in line for the gates to open:

42513 Jonathan at gate

I really should do a better job of warning people when I’m about to take a picture of them. But progressing away from my digression, the reason that you can see so many people at the gates (who had sizable lines behind them) is 1. This was the first game that it was over 40 degrees for the majority of said game, and it was even warmer for BP because the sun was still out. And 2. The Twins, in partnership with 96.3 K-Twin were giving out a Glen Perkins fishing lure as a promotion:

42513 Fishing Lure

I ended up giving it away to a lady on the bus ride back, who had just missed out on it and wanted to give one to her nephew, but I guess it was a cool promotion? My experience with fishing is the catch-it-and-throw-it-back of summer camp, so………moving on to the snagging; when I got in, the pitchers for the Rangers were indeed throwing, so I moved behind them:

42513 Pitchers

When I got there, though, the awesomeness that is Derek Lowe took over. Jonathan took the next few pictures/video.

Here he is throwing me what I believe is a curveball. He spun a bunch of them to me as well as over-emphasizing the speeds of the “fast”balls he was tossing me from thirty feet out:

42513 Derek Lowe 1

He did so with such gems as: “Woo! What was that?! Twenty miles an hour?” Here I am throwing him what I believe is a change-up:

42513 Derek Lowe Change up

For the sake of completeness, here are the rest of the pictures that Jonathan took:

42513 Derek Lowe 3

42513 Derek Lowe 4 42513 Derek Lowe 5

And here is the video of us two throwing:

Finally, after TEN MINUTES of playing catch with me and then playing and additional session of catch with Yu Darvish that you saw earlier, Lowe tossed me the ball:

42513 Derek Lowe Ball

He’s now much higher on my favorite players list.

After that, I almost got Yu Darvish to sign the ball:

42513 Darvish signing

but he had to go to a pitcher’s meeting right before he got to me.

Then there was a lull because absolutely nothing was going on on the field, but one of the awesomest things that has ever happened to me at a baseball game happened. A Twins worker headed up to both myself and Jonathan and handed us each one of these flyers:

42513 Target Race Flyer

We were both going to be in the Race at Target Field. She actually said she had spotted us sitting by the dugout from the upper deck. What are the odds? So since there really wasn’t anything of note that happened between this point and the race, let’s get right to it, shall we?

In the bottom of the second inning, Jonathan and I headed out to the New Era Store in left field:

42513 New Era Store

From there, a different Twins employee took us through the elevator typically designated for the club and suite levels to the basement (or -2) level concourse:

42513 Basement

Sorry the picture is a bit blurry; we were walking and I didn’t want to stop to take pictures.

Anyway, I had to leave my phone in my backpack, so my detailing to you of what happened next will be all text. I didn’t know if I was supposed to be taking pictures, so I didn’t want to find out that I didn’t. We first arrived at a room that opened similar to a garage door. In there, among other things, were the mascot costumes and a broken Best Buy video game station, similar to that which I played on in my last game of last season. In there, we got completely suited up as the mascots. Jonathan and I actually ended up picking our mascots last, so I had Skeeta, leaving Jonathan stuck with Wanda:

42513 Skeeta and Wanda costumes

Skeeta (as in a shortening of the word “mosquito”)/myself is on the left while Wanda/Jonathan is on the right. After getting suited-up, we moved to an alcove of sorts right underneath the left field seats, where we got the rules and logistics explained to us. Then it was a little bit of waiting, and finally we got to go out onto the field. We got to exit to our (characters’) names being introduced and to the applause of the crowd. After the introduction, we lined up and waited for the countdown to “go”.  I was really nervous about getting an unfair start, so I hesitated a bit on the start, but I got the lead after ten feet or less and then never gave it up for the rest of the race. It was *really* awkward running in the mascot costumes, because the heads bobble up and down as you run, so I was actually going what felt like very slowly to me. It also caused me to be off-balance on turning, so I almost broke one of the main rules that were explained to me. In turning the corner by the foul pole, I almost ran onto the grass, but I managed to balance my head long enough for me to jump over the corner of the grass and take a really sharp turn down the last stretch of the race, which ended at the outfield end of the dugout. Again, I was running what felt to be VERY slowly, so I couldn’t believe that I was in the lead. Finally, though, I crossed the finish line as still no one had passed me. If you want to watch the video of the race, here it is:

Exciting to say the least. After the race finished, though. I thought we were going to the tunnel the umpires exit through. It wasn’t until the camera man was telling me to get off the field back from where I came from. I then grabbed the trophy and got off the field just as the first hitter of the inning was being introduced. In getting in through the door we were supposed to exit, though, we all had to duck, and Babe had to also turn sideways. That’s another thing: during the race, we were told not to hold our heads. I is so tempting given how wobbly they are, but apparently Target doesn’t like how awkward it makes the mascots look as they are running.

When we got back to the garage-type room, I got the organizer to take another picture of me celebrating:

42513 Skeeta da winna

Jonathan then headed up to the standing room and spent the game basically rephrasing how to say, “Did that just happen?” And with that, ended what probably what will be my favorite Twins loss/1-ball game ever.

STATS:

  • 1 Ball at this game

42512 Baseballs

Number 481:

42513 Sweet Spot

  • 35 Balls in 8 Games= 4.38 Balls Per Game
  • 1 Balls x 25,459 Fans=25,459 Competition Factor
  • 70 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 90 Balls in 22 Games at Target Field= 4.09 Balls Per Game
  • 20 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 4:05-11:22= 7 Hours 17 Minutes

4/16/13 Angels at Twins: Target Field

Another day, another beautiful game at Target Field. And this time, I had company:

41613 Opening Picture

That would be myself on the right underneath the “Gate 34″ sign and my friend Jonathan on the left. If Jonathan seems familiar, it’s because he’s filmed a couple of videos for me, and thus ended up in a couple Behind the Scenes and Blooper videos, but he also had joined me for exactly one game prior to this one. That game would be the one where I snagged my one–and to this point only–game home run off the bat of Trevor Plouffe. So, if you feel like clicking on the picture and zooming in, that’s why I’m crossing my fingers in the picture, because I was hoping he would be my good luck charm once again.

He wasn’t the only one with me at the gates, though. The photo credit for that picture goes to Tony Voda (who actually has an entry written about this very game that you should check out by clicking here. Don’t worry, I made it so the link opens in a separate tab/window). I was going to take a picture (Well, more specifically, have Jonathan take a picture) of the two of us, but he suggested we take the picture when Paul Kom (who also wrote an entry about this game)arriveth to the gates. Well Paul eventually arrived, but to a different side of the gates than we thought we would see him on:

41613 Paul and Tony

If you’re new to this blog or are just unfamiliar with the two, that would be Tony on the right bowing his head in shame and Paul on the other side of the gates taking a picture of us outsiders. He was enjoying this moment way too much, though. Check it out:

41613 Paul Laughing

Oh, Paul. He had gotten free tickets, so that’s why he was at this game. Those tickets happened to be a part of a 20-game plan, so Paul checked to see if those tickets could get him into the gates early. As you can tell, he was right. This lead to Tony–who owns a 20-game plan–questioning whether he could get in the gates too, and…well…see for yourself:

41613 Tony inside

41613 Mateo outside

Yeah, so there was that. Unfortunately for them, there was no batting practice (Ha ha) going on at the time, so they were still on a level playing field with me when I got in the gates. Paul, however, used the extra time before the gates formally opened to get positioning and snag the first baseball of any of us. The next person to snag a baseball, however, was a very unlikely one:

41613 Jonathan ball

That’s right. Jonathan managed to pick up a Mike Trout home run that landed in the seats. Remember how I said in the last entry that struggling with the hit ball can be frustrating in two ways: either not many baseballs are reaching the stands or you’re misjudging them? Yes? No? Well for only the second time this season, baseballs actually were reaching the stands, but I was just flat-out misjudging them. If I went down two rows on my initial read, the ball was flying over my head; if I backed up on the ball, it died a couple rows in front of me.

In just giving up on chasing home run baseballs for the first round of the Angels’ second BP group, I headed over to foul territory to try to get a ball from the pitchers warming up. When I got there, I immediately knew which pitcher I was going to try to get a ball from. I have mentioned it a couple of times, but just to refresh who didn’t read the entries in which I mentioned it: I am adopted from Colombia. So, given this fact, my obvious target for a toss-up was the Angels’ Colombian-born closer, Ernesto “Ernasty/Ernie/E-Money” Frieri. As I got in position to get a ball from Frieri, though, I saw two guys to my left looking towards me in a really weird way. They then looked slightly past my feet in that same weird way. I looked to my right and saw there was a baseball that lay there completely untouched. I grabbed it and then handed it to one of the guys, since I wouldn’t have gotten the ball had he not semi-pointed it out to me.

After this I asked Ernesto Frieri for a ball once he was done throwing by using the phrase: “Una pelota para un Colombiano?” It translates to: “A ball for a Colombian?” He turned out of the crouch he had been receiving the pitches from his throwing partner from and tossed me the ball. He then proceeded  to do something that has never happened before: he followed his toss and walked up to me. He asked me a bunch of questions and we ended up having a five-minute conversation consisting of nothing but him asking me questions about my life. It was a pretty awesome experience. At the end of it, he told me (even though I didn’t ask) that he can’t sign anything during batting practice itself because he would get fined, so that I should find him after batting practice. It was okay with me, though, because I don’t care excessively about autographs. What I did ask from him is if he could take a picture with me, and, well:

41613 Ernasty and Me

A great experience to say the least.

It however did negatively affect my snagging experience, because due to my natural paranoia, I didn’t want him to see/hear me asking any other players for baseballs because he might think that I just made up that I was Colombian to get a ball from him, which isn’t true. Before I got to that, though, I managed to snag my third baseball of the day. I saw a baseball on the ground, just out of my reach. Normally I would have just reached out and grabbed it, but since there was a police officer not more than twenty feet away, I asked him if I could get the ball for a couple to my left (since I had just gotten the ball from Frieri pretty much a couple seconds prior). He tossed me the ball, and I then promptly handed the ball to the wife/girlfriend half. Here’s where the ball was:

41613 Ball 3 location

And here is the couple–who thanked me multiple times–I gave the ball away to:

41613 Couple

I then went cold for a very long portion of batting practice. My next ball came in the right-center field section of seats. When I headed over there, I saw a person who I couldn’t recognize the first batting practice of the series, but because he had entered that previous game, I knew it was Garrett Richards. Once I identified the player as Garrett Richards, I asked him for a ball and him toss it to me for my fourth ball of the day. Here’s a general idea of how he tossed me the baseball:

41613 Ball 4 Diagram

That would be my last ball of batting practice. After batting practice Tony and I met up at the bullpens:

41613 Tony and Me

(Yeah, I have no idea what I’m doing there either.) Almost immediately as I got there, though, I noticed a person clearing the baseballs in the batter’s eye, so I quickly excused myself from the conversation I was having with Tony, ran over to the corner spot in the right-center field seating(right above the flowers in the picture above), and shouted at the groundskeeper to get his attention. The result was my fifth ball of the day. At that point Tony had snagged three baseballs, so here he is conveying that fact:

41613 Tony "3" V

(You can see the corner spot itself in this picture above and to the left of  Tony’s head and the 96.3 K-Twin ad.) And at this point I didn’t know how many baseballs I had snagged, but I knew it was either four or five. See, I just keep track of how many baseballs I give away, let the pictures I take remind me of how I snagged the baseballs, and then add the number of baseballs I have given away to the number of baseballs I have in my backpack to figure out my total. Anyway, here I am conveying my uncertainty, with Tony giving his thought on the matter?

41613 Tony and Mateo 3

For the game, I stayed out in the right field standing room, where this was my view:

41613 Target Field view from RF

I would have taken a lot more pictures of the game, but I had lost my gloves earlier in the week and despite the sun showing itself for stints during this game, it was still cold enough that I didn’t want my hand constantly exposed to the cold. Instead I just leaned against the original Metropolitan Stadium flagpole with my hands in my sweater pockets:

41613 Flagpole Base

I did, however get one picture that I think is kind of nice of the view behind me as the sun was setting:

41613 View behind RF Target Field

Nothing came even close to going out to right field, but I got down to the dugout just as the game ended and managed to snag a baseball from home plate umpire, Paul Nauert:

41613 Ball 6

After that, I headed over to the other side of the dugout and got Steve Soliz to toss me a ball for my seventh day. I then got Jonathan to take a picture of myself with those last two baseballs I snagged at the dugout:

41613 Mateo with dugout baseballs

And while we’re mentioning Jonathan, he is my same boat in that we both generally dislike hecklers. The difference between us two is that I just like the uncreative hecklers. Jonathan, on the other hand, hates the whole idea of heckling. So much so that even though he’s a Cardinals fan and is not happy with Albert Pujols having left St. Louis, when fans by us started heckling Pujols, who was then at-bat, Jonathan tried to counter it by giving Alberta positive reinforcement such as, “You’re doing a great job out there” and gems of that ilk.

And after I snagged my last two baseballs, I briefly looked around to see if I could spot Tony and see how he did during the game. I assumed since I had last seen him sitting on three baseballs that I had the lead for baseballs at Target Field. On the bus I received a call from Tony and found out he had managed to more than double his total during the game and snagged five baseballs, bringing his total to eight baseballs for the game. An amazing performance that would have to make my possession of the Target Field lead wait for another day.

STATS:

  • 7 Balls at this game (5 pictured because I gave 2 away)

41613 Baseballs

Numbers 471-477 for my “career”:

41613 Sweet Spots

  • 31 Balls in 6 Games= 5.17 Balls Per Game
  • 7 Balls x 23,299 Fans= 163,093 Competition Factor
  • 68 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 18 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 5 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 4 straight Games with at least 4-6 Balls
  • 86 Balls in 20 Games at Target Field= 4.30 Balls Per Game
  • 19 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 5 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • 4 straight Games with at least 4-6 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 4:01-11:37= 7 Hours 36 Minutes

4/13/13 Mets at Twins: Target Field

Just a few short hours after I had left Target Field to go back to St. Paul and my dorm, I was back yet again to see my Twins take on the New York Mets:

41313 Opening Picture

Once again, the below-freezing temperatures scared people away, so I wanted to start the game off strong. I did so by quickly get a ball from who I believe was Brian Duensing soon after the gates opened:

41313 Ball 1

After I snagged this baseball, I headed over to left field. Over there, first of all, nothing was going over the fence again because of the cold, but I also managed to get Anthony Swarzak to toss me a baseball. He tossed it to me over three rows of fans, so when I got the ball I asked a kid in the front row if he had gotten a ball yet, and when he told me he hadn’t, I tossed him the Swarzak ball:

41313 Swarzak ball picture

When the Twins finished batting practice, I headed over to foul ground to try to get a ball from the infielders/pitchers warming up:

41313 Infielders warming up

This time there was no snow (yet) but I managed to get Jeremy Hefner to toss me a ball:

41313 Ball 3

That would be my third on the day. After that, the only ball I got for the remaining portion of BP was tossed to me by Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the right-center field seats. In my recounting of batting practice, it may seem like it went really quickly, but it didn’t. It’s just that the other part that I’m not writing about is me running back and forth between left and right field and the Mets again not hitting many home runs during batting practice. It’s truly frustrating because I like snagging hit baseballs waaaaay more than I do toss-ups, but this stadium is just awful for hit baseballs to begin with and was not being helped by the cold weather knocking everything down, so all I could really hope to get was a couple of toss-ups.

After batting practice, though, the opportunity presented itself for me to snag a different type of ball:

41313 Softball set-up

What you are seeing is a Softball home run derby about to begin. The notable contestants were TC, the Twins’ mascot, and then the two hosts of the radio show I had been on the day prior, Mark Rider and Lindsay Guentzel. As you can maybe tell from the picture, I was in left field for the beginning of the derby. Neither of the two right handed hitters pulled the ball my way (although Lindsay was the only one of the two to hit a home run). So when I realized that Rider wasn’t going to be hitting the ball into the stands in the opposite field any time soon, I headed up to the second deck in right field (both he and TC Bear are left handed). By the time that I got up there, Rider was already done, but look what I got once TC took his hacks:

41313 Softball KTWIN

The story of the ball is I saw it coming towards me right off the bat, but then I realized that the ball wasn’t going to hit under the overhang. It was at this point that I ducked and covered my head with my glove and other hand. When I heard the ball bang off of the 96.3 K-Twin advertisement (serendipitous, eh?), I looked around for where the ball dropped and picked it up. As you can see i the picture inside of the green circle, the ball left a big dent in the sign. Now here is the ball with the softball set-up in the background to give you an idea of how far it traveled:

41313 Softball Field

The bear’s got some pop. He ended up winning the home run derby. I think I’ve only seen him get beat once in all of the derbies that I’ve seen.

Interestingly enough, my next notable moment of the game also included the K-Twin crew. For the game, I was again out in the standing room section, ready to snag as always:

41313 Mateo ready to snag

Of course nothing came even close to me, but I was ready if it did. Anyway, in the bottom of the sixth inning, I took a lap of the stadium to keep warm, and when I got back, the K-Twin radio hosts were in the standing room. In addition to being a part of the home run derby, they were also being invited to sing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” for the seventh inning stretch. Since the stretch is sponsored by Lexus, they give out hats for all of the singers. They had an extra, so Lindsay asked if I wanted it to thank me for being on the show the day prior. And while I already do have a bajillion hats, of course I would:

41313 Lexus Hat

That guy who is giving the low thumbs-up and smiling would be the person who was filming both Lindsay and Rider as they did their various activities throughout the day. I thought it was cool that before I took that picture *he* asked me how many baseballs I had snagged that day. And of course I also had to put the hat on right away:

41313 Mateo with 2 hats

Anyway, I would get nothing out there all game, as I previously mentioned. But towards the end of the game I first got a cup of hot chocolate, because I was freezing and needed SOMEthing to warm me up since it wasn’t exactly sweatshirt weather. And then, I headed down to the dugout and got a ball from home plate umpire, Marty Foster. After that, I stuck around for a while longer just in case anyone else was in the dugout. (This and last night’s snag would not have been possible in New York, since I probably would have been told to leave before the game even ended.) Eventually, Mario, the attendant popped out of the clubhouse in order to do his final cleanings, and when I held up my glove, he picked up a ball that was there and tossed it to me with surprising accuracy:

41313 Ball 6

I say surprising because he needled the ball right through the opening between the camera and the diagonal dugout railing from half-way down the dugout. Had he been off by a foot in either direction–something many major league players have been when tossing balls to me–the ball would have hit either and not reached me/possibly have taken out a camera.

After that I headed out, and found it funny that this sign I had seen earlier in the game had been left on the ground by its owners:

41313 Circle Me Mets

And with that I left to enjoy the rest of my baseball-free weekend to go do homework the next two days because I had spent all of my time thus far in the weekend attending baseball games.

STATS:

  • 6 Balls at this game (5 pictured because I gave 1 away)

41313 Baseballs

Numbers 459-464 for my lifetime:

41313 Sweet Spots

  • 18 Baseballs in 4 Games= 4.50 Balls Per Game
  • 6 Balls x 28,804 Fans= 172,824 Competition Factor
  • 66 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 16 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 3 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with at least 4-6 Balls
  • 73 Balls in 18 Games at Target Field= 4.06 Balls Per Game
  • 17 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 3 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 4-6 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 11:35-7:17= 7 Hours 42 Minutes

Oh, and a column that I wrote for mygameballs.com is up now, so if you want to go check it out, here’s the link:

Capture

4/3/13 Tigers at Twins: Target Field

Another day of the week, another day in the winter wonderland that is Target Field:

4313 Opening picture

Thankfully this day the Tigers started hitting a little less later after we were let in to the stadium, if that makes sense. This time, I headed almost directly to left field when the gates opened:

4313 View from LF

But when I realized that the Tigers weren’t hitting just yet, I headed to foul ground to try to get a ball from the pitchers warming up:

4313 Pitchers

This resulted in me getting a ball from Brayan Villarreal:

4313 Villarreal ball

Then I decided that right field was far less crowded than left field, so I headed over there for the hitting group that included Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and Victor Martinez. The decision on which side of the outfield to stand on for this group is harder than you may think. While Miguel Cabrera is a triple crown winner (and a right handed hitter), a bunch of his home runs at Target Field will be lost to the second deck overhang in left field. Also, he is one of those hitters who can seriously drive the ball out to any part of the field, and not just his pull side. On the other hand, Prince Fielder usually takes very short rounds of batting practice. Last year in the final series against the Twins, there were several times when he took one-pitch rounds. He literally got in the cage, swung at one pitch, and got back out of the cage. Usually when a hitter does this it’s at the very end of his group’s hitting as a sort of “lightning round”, but he did it in the middle rounds and was the only one doing it. To combat this, though, Victor Martinez hits the ball for way more power from the left side of the plate.

It turned out that I made the right decision:

4313 Martinez ball

That would be a home run ball from Victor Martinez. I completely misjudged it, as I did for all but one ball this batting, but thankfully it landed in a row with no one else in it. It was a very frustrating batting practice in this regard. I don’t know what it was, but whenever I thought the ball was coming right to me, the ball died because of the cold and didn’t even make it to the seats, but then when I thought it was going to fall just short of me, the ball would fly over my head and less than two feet over my glove. I would say I lost two to three baseballs to misjudgments on my part. I also didn’t know it at the time, but this was my 450th career snag.

Thankfully, though, there was one ball that I didn’t misjudge. When Prince Fielder got up, I moved back in the right field section of seating, as I usually do. He then launched a ball that I could tell was going over my head, so I sprinted back and looked back at where the ball was going to land. The ball then hit the gated fencing of the second deck terrace (I don’t know if that’s the proper word for it, but it feels right):

4313 Path of ball 1

and then bounced down in the standing room before bouncing back up in the air:

4313 Path of ball 2

where I managed to grab it before it could bounce back down and also managed not to run into the person running full speed in the opposite direction at the ball while it was mid-air.

I was then going to go down to the first row of the section of seating to give the ball to one of a group of kids who had been trying really hard to get a ball from the Tigers players, but people were blocking the staircase to go down there. So instead, I gave the ball to this kid who was in the wheelchair-ish seating at the top of the section of seats:

4313 Kid I gave ball away to

For the record: yes, he did have a glove; I just would have much rather given it to kids who were very actively pursuing a baseball, and I felt obligated to give a ball away since I had now snagged five baseballs this season without giving one away. That would be the last ball I snagged this game, bringing my total up to three baseballs for the day.

As for the game, I tried to get a ball from the bullpen in the pre-game warm-ups:

4313 Bullpen

But the opportunity somehow managed to slip me by despite there being a ball on the ground of the bullpen right in front of me. It was then that I decided to stay in left field for the beginning of the game because:

1. This was my view:

4313 View for the game

2. There were invisible people sitting to my right:

4313 View to my right

But mostly 3. This spot was almost guaranteed to be in the sun for the whole game- While this game was not as cold as Opening Day, it was forecasted–and thus I was prepared for it–to be mid-50s. It was in the high 30s for most of the game. In the sun it was bearable; in the shade, I was getting frostbite.

Given this, once enough people arrived in the seats to force me up into the shaded part of the seats, I gave up sitting in left field and just headed over to the standing room section:

4313 View from the SRO

It’ll take me a while to get sick of that view. The wind I was experiencing on the other hand…

While I was up there, I spent a good chunk of my time 1. Using groups of people who walked into the standing room as human windshields and 2. Talking to an usher who happened to be in my sports management interview paper group. The basic premise of the interview groups is we separated the 150-student class into groups of what people wanted to go into when they were done with school, and so this usher and I were both in the “Front Office: MLB” group, in which we interviewed Terry Ryan (if you don’t know who he is, close this entry effective-immediately and don’t return until you have done some Google research on him. If you’re really interested, you can listen to the interview here: Terry Ryan interview. It’s pretty boring from an outside listener’s standpoint, but that’s because it was for a class first, so there were mandatory questions we had to ask him. Anyway, I talked with this usher about first the cold and then how we both have become less invested in the outcomes of games as a result of us both attending a ton of games. He for work, and I for ballhawking.

When he took his break and I resumed withstanding the cold with nothing to distract me, I noticed that whoever had conducted the raising of the flag ceremony had forgot to lock the flag pole, so I took a peek inside just to see what was in there:

4313 Open Flag pole

Fun times. Cold times.

Then in the bottom of the ninth inning, I headed over to left field again to try to get a ball from one of the bullpen players. I figured the game would be over pretty soon with the Tigers up 2-1, but the Twins thankfully made me go home a couple outs early. See Phil Coke walked Trevor Plouffe, who then got pinch-run for by Jamey Carroll. Then Brian Dozier got a single to send Carroll. This brought up Eduardo Escobar. He then launched a ball that looked to be headed to my left into the bullpen. Instead, the cold knocked it down for a walk-off double.

The Tigers players got out of the bullpen as fast as they could, so this probably cost me a ball, but I was fine with this as it was a Twins win. What I was really afraid of when there were runners on first and third was extra-innings. This would have been torture. So really, anything besides this was fine by me, and a walk-off win was just icing on the cake. If you’re having trouble picturing the walk-off, here’s a picture showing where I was and where the ball landed:

4313 Last Play diagram

After that, I walked back to the Minneapolis side of campus, where I took the Campus Connector back to my dorm on the St. Paul side.

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 1 away)

4313 Baseballs

Numbers 449-451 for my lifetime:

4313 Sweet Spots

  • 5 Balls in 2 Games= 2.5 Balls Per Game
  • 3 Balls x 22,963 Fans= 68,889 Competition Factor
  • 64 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 14 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 60 Balls in 16 Games at Target Field= 3.75 Balls Per Game
  • 15 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 12:05-7:18= 7 Hours 13 Minutes

4/1/13 Tigers at Twins: Target Field- Opening Day

Oh how great this day was:

4113 Opening Picture

I still sort of can’t believe that it really happened. Oh, and by the way, I refer to great in its true sense and not the sense it has come to mean. As in although it was great in the “awesome” sense, there was also great cold, and great hoopla, and a great amount of “stuff” happening.

What do I mean by “stuff”? Well, here’s some shots of the Target Plaza that show the greater level of activity than 30 minutes before the gates open on a regular game day.

First off, here is my view of Target Field’s Gate 34 just as I arrived from my last class of the day:

4113 Target Plaza

Then, there was apparently something being filmed at my usual napping spot in front of Gate 34:

4113 Glove

And then the gate itself. With its own personal radio booth, courtesy of 96.3 K-Twin:

4113 Gate 1

And then a second picture. This time more of the people at the gate, partially to show you how people were dressed up to deal with the sub-30 degree temperatures:

4113 Gate 2

Once I got to the gate itself, there were…well, normally I would say “familiar faces”, but that wasn’t necessarily the case here. The first person who I recognized was Paul Kom, along with his friend, Asher:

4113 Paul and Asher

And then there was Tony Voda, who I didn’t really recognize because this is how he looked from my initial perspective:

4113 Tony in Bigfoot costume

He was also here at the game with a friend, whose name was Jared. Here are the two of them, with the photo credit going to Paul:

4113 Tony and Jared

I was actually supposed to have a companion of my own in the way of Sean, but something came up for him the day of. I tried to get a few other people to come with me, but all of them had things going on. I truly do not get some people. I get not going to just some game, but it’s Opening Day of Major League Baseball! Anyway, long story short: no one ended up being able to make the game and I ended up taking the $33 hit and going with my imaginary friend, Tommy McActuallywantstogotoabaseballgame. Then, at 1:00, the gates were finally opening:

4113 Tom Kelly opening gate

Remember when I said there was a great amount of “stuff” going on? Notice Tom Kelly helping in the opening of the gates on the left hand side. I think I would have absolutely ate that up if it weren’t around 20 degrees and the gates weren’t opening for the first time this season.

Unfortunately this was the view as I ran in and got my magnetic schedule:

4113 View as I got in

The Twins had started batting practice early, so they got done right before we entered and the Tigers were still several minutes from getting started. So I went over behind the cage and tried to get a ball from Rafael Belliard:

4113 Rafael Belliard

I yelled out to him, but unfortunately all I got was a wave and a smile. To be fair, I only yelled out “Rafael!”, but I was going to follow it with “Can you toss me a ball please?” I think he thought I was just saying hi.

My next opportunity came when the pitchers warmed up down the left field line:

4113 Pitchers down the line

Unfortunately one ball went to a much smaller and cuter game-goer than I, and then the second, I found out had already been promised to Paul because he had thrown back a previous overthrow.

Then it was off to the outfield. Therein lied the problem with Opening Day. You see Target Field is a pretty bad ballhawking stadium ceteris paribus, but it especially wretched with any substantial crowd because it is so reliant on the first few rows of the outfield sections. In left field, it was crowded enough that the first rows that were clear enough to run through were under the overhang, where no balls could be hit. In right field, the actual seating was completely full, so I would have had to stand out in the standing room section and hope that a ball get hit out there. Translation: I went into the section of seating in right-center field and asked for toss-ups. Unfortunately for me, the man patrolling the patch of ground in front of this section was Doug Fister, who although he may not be like this all the time, was being an unresponsive jerk. By the end of the day, I didn’t even mind that he completely rejected me several times. There was an early teenage girl dressed head-to-toe in bright orange who was yelling his ear off (politely) for almost half-an-hour with no avail. Once Fister moved out of the section, though, I got my first ball of the day pretty quickly from Drew Smyly:

4113 Smyly Ball

I then spent the rest of my batting practice in the standing room. Apparently I wasn’t smart enough to realize that if it’s tough to get the ball out there normally, it is nearly impossible to get a ball into the standing room when it’s below 30. So (shocker!) nothing came out there with Prince Fielder having already hit.

I did see something very interesting while I was in right field, though:

4113 Ice in right field

If you can’t make out what it is that arrow points to, I’ll just tell you. It’s ice. This marked the first time I had seen ice in a stadium that wasn’t being used for the purpose of refrigerating beverages. I guess the whole “it’s usually 90+ degrees whenever I’m in a baseball stadium” thing comes into play here.

As I started to head toward their dugout, the Tigers dugout, they finished batting practice, and I don’t know if it was the cold or what, but usually if I start heading to the dugout before batting practice itself, I’ll beat the ball bag to the dugout. This time, however, the pack-up process was accelerated by about 200%.

At this point, I found myself in a very interesting situation: my ticket was in left field but I was now  in the moat behind the Tigers dugout. At this point I told myself I would see if I could stay until the players started warming up down the line. Ushers started checking tickets in the section, but through a series of maneuvers, I got past them and stayed in the section. Then when I didn’t get a ball from any of the Tigers players warming up, I decided “You know, they’re using the Opening Day commemorative baseballs. I might as well stay down here for the rest of the game.” And so, this became my view of the action for 9 innings:

4113 View of the game

A pretty nice view for my first Opening Day game ever, eh? What would have that cost at Yankee Stadium? Two, or three…thousands of dollars? Probably more since it was Opening Day. Want to know what’s even more sad about that fact? This is how Yankee Stadium looked in the ninth inning:

4113 Yankee Stadium Opening Day

I’ve only seen a stadium anywhere near that empty in a handful of cases, and all of them involved inclement weather. Oh, and if you’re even thinking of arguing that people wanted to leave because of the cold, please refer to the paragraph of text under the fourth picture in the entry.

What that seat also gave me a great view of was the storied Opening Day ceremonies. First, both rosters were announced. At which point every player lined up on the field as his name was called:

4113 Players lined up

Then, probably the best part even though I’m not overly-nationalistic was the national anthem. What they did first to prepare for that was bring the famed “giant flag” on the field:

4113 Flag spread out

They then had a veteran raise the flag on the mast as they always do. Except here’s where that “great” Opening Day twist comes in. The veteran who raised it this day was Rod Carew.

Onto the game, I was obviously going for third out balls, but the first two didn’t even make it to the dugout. I believe one was tossed into the stands by an outfielder. The other didn’t make it to the dugout because of this guy:

4113 Ski mask guy

First a little background information on said “guy”:

1. Yes, he is wearing a leopard skin suit jacket.

2. He was wearing a ski mask for batting practice.

3. You might see someone who holds up *a* sign during games; he had a stack of them for the different Tigers players.

4. He had a gold-plated glove.

5. Even though he was supposedly a Tigers super fan, he asked me on several occasions during batting practice to identify Tigers players. (That reminds me. I probably should have included this story earlier, but I don’t know where to fit it into the entry above so I’m just going to tell the story here in these parentheses. Anyway, a hilarious thing happened when the Tigers players came out to warm up before the game. A group of 3-4 Twins fans saw Austin Jackson run out to warm up and immediately starting yelling things like “We love you, Torii” or “We miss you, Torii,” and kept it going for a while until Torii Hunter actually came out onto the field. Then they just started to realize–and confirmed after asking myself–that they were indeed not cheering for Torii Hunter. Murmuring and a retreat away from the field ensued.)

6. He was one of those fans who demands respect for his team from the opposing fans while trashing their team.

Anyway, Miguel Cabrera had the ball and was headed to the dugout when he saw this fan in the corner of his eye, stopped, and threw him the ball. I wasn’t bitter at the time, and I was even more fine with it two innings later when Prince Fielder tossed me a third-out ball of my own:

4113 Ball 2

But wait do you notice anything special about this ball? How about now?

4113 OD Commemorative ball

Opening Day commemorative baseball, baby! And yes, this was the first one I had ever gotten as a result of this being my first Opening Day game ever. The rest of the game played, and the Tigers unfortunately pulled it out despite the Twins limiting Justin Verlander to his shortest start in approximately 3.5 years.

At the end of the game, my plan was to get a ball from home plate umpire, Jim Joyce. I was going to go down the main staircase to the umpire’s tunnel, but I surprisingly met up with Paul in the ninth inning and he took that staircase, so my plan was to go down the secondary staircase and yell out to Joyce before he got to the tunnel since this staircase was closer to where the umpires exited the field, but for whatever reason, people stayed in their seats, so there was no space in the front row for me to get down. Fortunately, though, Paul managed to snag his own Opening Day commemorative, so that made up for it. Basically, this was my reaction to not getting an umpire ball:

4113 Mateo at the end of game

In that: “I didn’t get another ball and I only snagged two baseballs this game, but so what? It was an absolutely great game/experience. (Minus the cold. I’m still trying to forget how miserable it was in the shade.)

Tony and Paul had three and four baseballs, respectively, when I left, and they each managed another from the Tigers equipment person afterwards to push their totals up to four and five. A ton compared to my measly two, but if there was one game I didn’t care, it was this one.

STATS:

  • 2 Balls at this game:

4113 Baseballs

Numbers 447-448 for my career (I realize that the last entry from this past season said I ended the season at 445, but in the offseason I realized that I never inputted my sixth baseball from my one game at Citizens Bank Park, so everything from that point on is technically one baseball above whatever I have it at. I just don’t feel like going back and changing all of the entries. This is just a day for long parenthetical insertions, I guess.)

4113 Sweet Spots

  • 2 Balls in 1 Game= 2.00 Balls Per Game
  • 2 Balls x 38,282 Fans= 76,564 Competition Factor
  • 63 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 13 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 57 Balls in 15 Games at Target Field= 3.80 Balls Per Game
  • 14 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 12:05- 7:46= 7 Hours 41 Minutes

Favorite MLB Players

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

Not Proofread/watched.

239,315 Words Written so far…

9/30/12 Tigers at Twins: Target Field

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:

See? Nothing.

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:

Oh. Yes:

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.

 

As previously mentioned, there was no action out on the standing room. At the end of the game, I headed down to the moat and got a ball from home plate umpire, Jim Wolf:

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.

 

STATS:

  • 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

9/29/12 Tigers at Twins: Target Field

It was the late afternoon, and I was back to Target Field for my second game of Fan Appreciation Weekend:

When I got in, all I can say is: I love Fox’s Saturday game-of-the-week:

Coming into this series, I figured I would have one game with batting practice (Friday) and two without (Saturday and Sunday). Because of Fox, this game got moved to 3:00 from its regular time of 12:00, thus making it so the cage was up when I got in– meaning their *would* be batting practice.

Except, on further inspection, it would only be the Tigers taking batting practice:

20121024-131440.jpgWhatever. I was expecting NO batting practice, so any at all was just fine with me.

As you can see, I was behind the Tigers’ dugout. So when Danny Worth came out with a baseball but no throwing partner, I–as I do with most players– half-jokingly asked him if he wanted to play catch. Upon me asking, he threw me the ball. We ended up having a 5-minute catch that ended in me throwing an extremely bad slider. Here he is going out to throw after his partner showed up:

20121024-135330.jpgAll I can say is it’s always a great experience to play catch with a major league player. I don’t care if it’s someone most people have never heard of, it’s a fun experience.

Anyway, Worth played catch for a while before heading into the field to work on his defense:

20121024-142601.jpgOn his way to second base, he hooked me up with not the ball we played catch with but a different ball. I promptly gave it away to a kid by the dugout. (Not the one in the orange in the previous picture.)

After that, I headed down the line to try to get a ball from the Tigers’ pitchers who were warming up:

20121024-143115.jpg

Except, if you can see, the two players closest to me were the Tigers’ two bullpen catchers, Scott Pickens and another one not on the roster. When Scott Pickens finished throwing, I asked him for the ball and he gladly obliged:

After that, I headed up to the left field bleachers for Miguel Cabrera’s group:

And this was the view to my left:

And this was the view to my left:

Unlike the previous day, the Tigers were indeed hitting balls to the first level in left field. Unfortunately, I ended up with the same amount of baseballs after this group as I did the previous day: zero. The guy you see in the orange in the last picture was right on the staircase I wanted to be on. In addition to that, by the way he moved in the bleachers, I could tell this wasn’t his first game trying to catch baseballs. In other words: he had range. This range resulted me in having to be a full section away from him if I hoped to catch anything, and the Tigers hit all of their baseballs outside of my range as a result.

In the next group, I headed over to right field as it was highlighted by Andy Dirks and Don Kelly (two lefties). While I was out in the standing room, I got this ball off the bat of Kelly:

Right off his bat, it bounced off the second deck you see in the picture. As I was running back to see where it was going, it was bouncing down the stairs. However, I wasn’t the only one chasing after the ball; there was actually another guy who had me beat as it went down the stairs. What happened was he took the wrong route to the ball. Before I explain his mistake, here is the ball’s path:

The ball bounced behind this souvenir stand. The other guy ran directly after the ball, going behind the stand as well. Meanwhile, I knew the concrete behind the stand in addition to the ball’s trajectory meant the ball would be most quickly reached by going in front of the stand, so I did that and awaited the ball like it was a routine ground ball.

During my time in right field, I was alternating between standing in the actual seats and the standing room itself. In my “actual seat” portion of batting practice, I convinced Brayan Villarreal to toss me a ball. Actually, I think “convinced” is too active a word. I pretty much tipped my Tigers cap at him when he looked my way and he tossed me the next ball he fielded:

That would be it for batting practice. Four balls was good, but there was almost certainly not going to be batting practice the next day, so if I stayed where I was for the day, I would have had to get five balls the final day to get to my goal of 444 career baseballs. As much as I don’t like to doubt what I can and can’t do, I preferred my chances of getting to my goal if I got as many baseballs as I could this day and not have to rely on a ridiculous non-BP day to get to my goal. Where I’m going with in all of this is that this was my view for position player pre-game warm-ups. Except there was one problem:

There were three baseballs brought out, but only one person brought his glove out. Thankfully, Austin Jackson righted this problem by tossing the two excess baseballs into the crowd even though no one played catch with them (one of many examples I have seen of him being a nice guy):

For those math majors of you at home, you’ll know that was my fifth ball of the day. This is great considering I didn’t expect to have any batting practice. What’s even better? This was my view for the game:

I didn’t get anything there, but there was a funny aspect of this game: It was the end of September in Minnesota, yet it was very warm. As I write this, Minnesota has shown its much cooler side (it’s 45 degrees), but at the time, it was so hot I had an excuse to finally buy a bottle (can?) of Harmon Killebrew root beer:

It was probably the best root beer I’ve ever had (but still not worth the $4.50 I paid for it…even if root beer is my favorite type of soda). Anyway, that was it for the day. It would leave me at 440 career baseballs. I would return the next day to attempt to get four baseballs in a BP-less day to reach my season’s goal of 222 baseballs I set in this entry.

STATS:

  • 5 Baseballs at this game (4 pictured because I gave 1 away)

Numbers 436-440 for my lifetime:

  • 218 Balls in 52 Games= 4.19 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 32,839 Fans= 164,195 Competition Factor
  • 61 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 11 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 50 Balls in 13 Games at Target Field= 3.85 Balls Per Game
  • 12 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 11 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 11:07- 7:12= 8 Hours 5 Minutes
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