Results tagged ‘ todd cook ’

8/3/13 BallhawkFest

After our adventure the previous night that got us back to Washington past midnight, Chris Hernandez and I got up to get to Philadelphia for BallhawkFest a little later than we wanted to. And so when we should have been playing softball with all of the other BallhawkFest attendees, this was our view:

8313 In Car

But thankfully, this was where we were when it came time for the luncheon at McFadden’s:

8313 Crhis Running

That would be Chris running behind me alongside the stadium. Thankfully we made the luncheon more or less right after everyone else got there. And the best part was even though we were the last ones to get there, we got our food before anyone else. The luncheon would also result in me getting a Minnesota Twins long-sleeve shirt (thank you, Zack), Cardinals mini home plates, and my 2012 Junior Ballhawk of the Year award certificate.

Then it was time to get to the gates. First a couple of us made the trip over there:

8313 At Gates 1

And then a lot more showed up:

8313 At Gates 2

Although at this point, we knew the tarp was on the field, so it wasn’t looking good for us snagging. One person in the foreground of that last picture was particularly vocal about a certain streak ending. It was the calm before the storm, though. We waited and took pictures, but I killed most of my time by playing catch with Tim Cook in the street alongside the gate.

When the gates opened, everyone went in while my anxieties about this game compounded. Todd Cook had bought a ticket for me the night prior, and because I had to essentially get up and head to BallhawkFest, I never printed it out. Now at a bunch of places, you can just scan your phone as long as it has the barcode on it, but I learned that here at CBP, you can’t. So while everyone else was in the stadium for a good five minutes, I was getting a printout of my StubHub ticket:

8313 Ticket

Which was slightly difficult since the ticket was in Todd’s name and not mine. But eventually, I did get int the stadium with everyone else:

8313 In Stadium

When I got in, only two pairs of Braves pitchers were throwing, but I got neither ball. My best shot was to get one from Julio Teheran, but I don’t think he heard me saying that I was a Colombian. My next closest opportunity to getting a ball was when I got David Carpenter to throw me a ball from 100-200 feet away. Unfortunately, though, the ball fell short and he didn’t come to the warning track to pick it up.

If you go back and take a second look at it, you may see something interesting in that last picture. As we waited, the grounds crew came out with the batting cage and screens. So by the time the Phillies came out to throw, the cage was set up and ready to go:

8313 Phillies throwing

But with the abundance of people wearing Phillies red, it came as not surprise to me that I didn’t get a ball. Despite the fact that I saw there was now going to be batting practice, I was still worried as to how many baseballs I could put on the board. Pretty much everyone else had one or two baseballs at this point, and despite a ton of running and changing shirts that I had done up to this point, which I spared you the details of, I was still at zero baseballs. After I left foul ground, I ran into Ben Weil, and his girlfriend Jen. Ben at this point had two baseballs and was leading the pack. Jen, however, said she was rooting for me. And although I didn’t mean to, I kind of scoffed at that because the way things were going, it felt like I would be lucky to get *a* baseball with all of the competition. Let me explain why. Up to that point, I had been absolutely exhausted by the other ballhawks, because usually during a game with no BP, a ballhawk is the only one smart enough to go to place x. Well during this game, by the time I got to place x, there were 5 other people right on my tail. So after they got there, I had to get creative and think of another place where I could possibly get a ball, but with less competition. The cycle then repeated itself. Turns out, though, Jen had more confidence in me than I did.

Soon after I got into the right field seats, a ball was hit and rolled to the wall. Rick Sporcic was also in the right field seats. And although he was occupied with a baseball further towards center field, I hurried up and got my (read: Tim Anderson’s) cup trick out to pick up the ball, because I had heard he was good with his retriever. By the time I had gotten my ball, though, he was still trying to get his from in front of the wall. My guess is the right field wall is much taller than the left field wall in Pittsburgh, so he wasn’t used to it and his retrieving skills were slowed down as a result. Anyway, I didn’t get a picture since I was in a hurry to get the ball, but here’s a picture that’ll show you where I got the ball:

8313 Ball 1 Diagram

The place I took that picture from also happens to be where I got my second ball of the day. I leaned over the wall to see if a ball I had spotted from right field was cup trick-able, and just as I realized it wasn’t, Joe Savery came over to pick up that and another ball. He tossed the ball I was eying to a kid next to me and the other to me:

8313 Ball 2

I know Ben was right next to me, since he also came over to see if he could cup trick the ball, but I don’t think he got a ball tossed up to him then. I actually don’t know if he got another ball for the rest of BP.

After getting that ball, I headed to straight-away left field to try to get a hit ball. It was a zoo:

8313 LF

I mean forget all of the people in general, just look at the ballhawks who were right behind me:

8313 Ballhawks 1 8313 Ballhawks 2

Had I not misjudged several home runs, I could have been up to 4 or 5 baseballs for the day after my time in right field. But instead I spent the rest of my BP getting punked by the Phillie grounds crew chalk dispenser:

8313 Chalk Dispenser

Most teams use a cart-type thing to apply the chalked foul lines, but the Phillies instead use this thing where they pond to red side part with the mallet that is a mini-bat with a baseball at the end to apply the chalked line. Unfortunately, it looked from left field like there was a baseball sitting on the warning track in foul territory. So I ran all the way over to find out that this could in fact not be snagged.

The closest I came to snagging another baseball was when a ball rolled to the wall in left field, I ran over to where it was, and was about to pull out the cup trick when a Phillies player picked the ball up and threw it into the stands.  Little did I know, but had I been a little quicker to the ball, I could have had the outright lead at the end of BallhawkFest.

How did this happen? Well after BP ended, I went to take a group picture in center field:

8313 Group Picture CF

And then wnet behind the dugout. Since this was *Ballhawk*Fest, I expected there to be at least one other person joining me behind the Braves dugout before the game, but they just never came. So when the Braves came out to throw, I was one of the few people in Braves gear behind the dugout. Using this, I first got Chris Johnson to throw me a ball. His throw was a bit high, so it tipped off the top of my glove, bounced in the row behind me, and I had to run for it to just beat out a man who was also going for it. He was so close to it that I gave him the ball. It was only after I took the picture of him that I realized he already had a baseball (D’oh):

8313 Guy I gave Ball 3

So since I had grabbed the ball before I gave it to him, that was ball number 3 for me on the day. Ball number 4 took no time at all after that. I’m not sure if he had seen me miss the Johnson toss-up, but when Justin Upton came in from throwing with his baseball, I screamed his name, and just like Johnson, he scanned the crowd as if searching for a little kid who deserved it more before settling for tossing the baseball to me:
8313 Ball 4

I say I wonder if he saw the Johnson toss-up tip off of my glove, because I his line of sight when he was tossing with his brother BJ was slightly off of me, but it’s possible that he just tossed me the ball to give me a second chance. Oh well; who knows?

Then once the game started, I moved over one staircase to be on the right staircase for a third-out ball. It was after the top of the first inning that I saw Ben come down into that same section, so I moved down to join him. One out later, Jen joined us. So the plan at the third out was all three of us were going to go down for the third-out ball and odds are one of us would get it. Well it turns out it wasn’t just us, but Quinn Imiola (who you may remember from this entry if you’ve been reading the blog for a couple years, and whose birthday it was that day–as was announced by his dad at the luncheon in a hilarious/purely-”dad” way.) had gotten past the guard at the top of the steps right before the third out and also tried for the third-out ball. As it turned out, with all of those people there, Freddie Freeman lofted the ball right to me. As we returned to our seats, where we all went into the same row, we were apparently suspicious-looking enough with the culmination of all four of us going down for the ball and Quinn going back to a different seat than the one he had gotten out of to go for the third-out ball that the usher who had come down from the top of the steps asked to see all of our tickets. Ben and Jen actually had a ticket (it just wasn’t on that aisle), but Quinn and I didn’t have a ticket for the section at all. So the usher kicked Quinn and myself out of the section completely, telling us that he better not see us back there for the rest of the game, and asked Ben and Jen to go to their actual seats in the middle of the row–which Ben had no interest in doing. So as the rest of the group pondered where they would go, I took the picture of the Freeman ball:
8313 Ball 5

The conversation eventually lead to us wandering towards left field, where the other three would eventually sneak down into, and I would continue onto right field, where I actually had a ticket for:

8313 From Right

After a few innings of being there, I got a tweet from Harrison Tishler (who already published an entry about this game/day that you should check out) asking if he could join me. When I said yes, he and his parents were there within half-an-inning:

8313 Tishlers

It was almost as if I was a ballhawk magnet, because after that, the Cooks arrived as well as Quinn and Alan Schuster, the organizer of the whole event and founder/webmaster of mygameballs.com, the site that’s the reason this event even exists:

8313 Alan and Todd 8313 Tishlers, Quinn, and Tim

And soon after that, Zack Hample, Ben Weil, and Chris Hernandez also came to the same section (although the other staircase). I should mention that this was a slow process, though. The game lasted 12 innings, so all of these arrivals weren’t within a half-inning of each other. The highlight of most of this slow-ish game besides talking to all of these fun and cool people I don’t get to see on a regular basis was taking an unintentionally-artsy picture of the scoreboard:

8313 Scoreboard

It was my initial plan to go to the bullpen after the game, but with so many other ballhawks now converged around it, when the Braves scored a run in the top of the 12th, I headed to the Braves dugout. However, as I exited the right field seats, I got a call from Zack. I thought it was weird right away because he rarely calls me outside of a baseball game; much less *during* a game itself. Turns out he had gotten kicked out of the stadium by security because of the escalation of an incident that he had with them after he had caught John Mayberry Jr.’s home run earlier in the game. I feel like I was a bad friend for what I did, but I figured Zack as “king of ballhawks” would understand as I got Ben to call him and handle the situation as I ran to the dugout. I figure Zack would have done the same thing with me. (Aren’t I so good at justifying my actions to myself?)

Quinn also came down to the dugout after the game, and as I went for the umpire ball–where the umpire ended up talking to a family for about ten minutes after the game, and giving them his last extra baseball, Quinn got Craig Kimbrel to toss him the ball he had recorded the save with. Not a bad birthday present, eh? Here he is in his Braves gear with his parents to the right of the frame:

8313 Quinn and Parents

For the record, I know the names of all of the parents, but I don’t know if they want their names out there. I actually met Quinn’s parents the day I met Quinn in South Carolina. Anyway, we were being told to clear out of the section, so that’s why Quinn is a little blurry.

I then got a text from Ben saying to meet outside the third base gate. When we got there we saw Zack, but the group who had stayed in right field were still not there. Eventually they did get there and Zack got to tell the story of his ejection about fifteen times:

8313 Zack Storytelling

After that, the plan was to get a parting group picture. As we set up for that, I got a panoramic picture of all of the ballhawks mingling:

8313 Panorama Ballhawks

And here was the final group picture:

8313 Final Group Picture

In talking to everyone, it turned out that Jeremy Evens (in yellow), the Cooks, and I had all tied for the lead at 5 baseballs a piece. If you remember the first BallhawkFest in 2011, I was tied with Zack for the lead at I believe 7 baseballs. So I have never gone to a BallhawkFest where I didn’t have a share of the lead. And I probably just jinxed any chance of doing so next year’s BallhawkFest.

I then headed off with the Cooks in their car to the 30th Street Station, but not before taking a look at the Veterans Stadium field in the parking lot and getting one last shot of the stadium:

8313 CBP Last Shot 8313 VS Rubber

And so concluded one of the funner days of my life. While I wish I could have made it for the full experience, I had a blast and will be sure to try my hardest to be there for next season’s festivities, wherever it may be. (Insider’s hint: It may be the closest to home a BallhawkFest has ever been for me.) Thank you to everyone who made and keeps making this event what it is. The reason I constantly recommend it to people is because while it may be a tough event snagging-wise, it is a truly unique phenomenon that is something really special as well.

STATS:

  • 5 Balls at this Game (4 pictured because I gave 1 away. And apparently lost my Phillies hat somewhere along the line as well.)

8313 Baseballs

Numbers 606-610 for my career:

8313 Sweet Spots

  • 164 Balls in 41 Games= 4.00 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 41,161 Fans=205,805 Competition Factor
  • 103 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 8 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 5 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 4 straight Games with 4 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with 5 balls
  • 12 Balls in 3 Games at CBP= 4.00 Balls Per Game
  • 3 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at CBP
  • 2 straight Games with at least 2-5 Balls at CBP
  • Time Spent On Game 10:07-3:25= 17 Hours 18 Minutes

7/20/13 Dodgers at Nationals: Nationals Park

I was supposed to actually go to the game before this, but I got there late enough that the game was no longer worth it to me, so I sold my ticket to a scalper and went home. That game was because of me setting up two bank accounts and the meeting to do so running incredibly late, but this one was good ol’ Washington DC Metro. I left my apartment at 3:16, which for a 4:30 gate opening time is more than enough time, since the commute itself only takes about half-an-hour. But once I took my 13 minute bus ride to the train station, I waited for over 15 minutes for the train, from where I had to take another train, which I waited for in two different metro stations for a total of about half-an-hour. At the end of all of it, I got to Nationals Park at about 5:10, and after running from the metro station to the stadium along with all of the stress of the whole situation, I was absolutely exhausted:

72013 Mateo exhausted

(I didn’t feel at all in the mood to do a second take, since being unintentionally (the intention being on my part; not of others) late to batting practice/ is one of the most sure-fire ways to get me mad.) As I entered the stadium, I made a straight shot for the right field seats just in time to see Todd Cook make a very impressive catch. Here he is right after it:

72013 Todd Cook

(If you don’t know Todd and his sons, Tim and Kellan, they’re the ones on the left-hand side of the frame.) I had actually been a section away from the ball when it was hit wondering where the Cooks were, since I knew they were at the game. Given the fact that I was late and still had no baseballs to that point, I ran after where the ball was headed in case of a deflection. Just then I saw a man come from the right field corner spot and reach behind two people to make a backhand catch. It took me a couple seconds, but I then realized it was Todd. I yelled to try to get his attention, but he was too far away, and my main focus at the time was to get on the board so I could relax. So I got Fernando Abad to toss me a ball from about 75 feet away from the wall, but the ball passed through the sun just before getting to me. Not having sunglasses on at the time, all I could do was put my glove up where I thought the ball was going to go and hope I could time the squeeze of my glove just right. I put my glove in the right place, because I felt the ball hit the palm of my hand, but I closed my glove a fraction of a second too late, because moments later I saw the ball rolling around on the ground and getting picked up by this guy:

72013 Other Guy

With the crowd there for Davey Johnson bobblehead day, I sincerely thought I had just blown my best chance of avoiding a shutout. Anyway, it was right after that Todd Cook saw me and came to say hello:

72013 Todd Cook Everybody

I then spent the next few minutes talking to Tim while simultaneously keeping the corner of my eye on the field for flying baseballs. A couple minutes after that, it was almost time for the rest of the stadium to open. Todd and I had both seen a ball hit in foul territory, so here we are getting ready to rush for it:

72013 Race to the seats

It was just then that for whatever reason the sprinklers went off on the field at this time:

72013 Sprinklers

This worried me because I thought that might be a sign the Dodgers weren’t going to take BP. Turns out it didn’t matter because not only did Todd correctly guess where the ball was and beat me to it, but I didn’t get anything for the rest of BP. The Dodgers were a surprisingly-bad hitting team and their pitchers were being stingy.

After BP, the Cooks and I both went to the bullpen, where I got a picture of Tim with one of his BP balls:

72013 Tim BP Ball

But the Cooks soon left to go exploring/to their actual seats, so that left me watching Zack Grienke first mistakenly go to the center field side of the bullpen looking for an entrance, and then warm up by doing what we pitchers call “shadowing”:

72013 Grienke Shadowing

Shadowing is when a pitcher mimics his pitching motion without actually releasing the ball to completely focus on just practicing and refining his mechanics. Grienke then played long-toss outside of the bullpen and eventually came back into the bullpen to warm up by actually throwing to a catcher:

72013 Grienke and Catcher

When Grienke was done, and Rick Honeycutt was putting the extra baseball in the bullpen bag, I asked him if he could get a baseball that had gone in the flowers at the back of the bullpen for me. Either he didn’t hear what I had said or was just too lazy to get it, he got a ball out of the bag and tossed it to me:

72013 Ball 1

Having avoided a shutout, I decided I was done ballhawing for the day, and texted Todd to see where he and the boys were. I figured that because I really enjoy spending time with the Cooks, and the fact that we don’t go to the same game that often meant my time would be much better served going around with them than trying to get an extra baseball to pad my stats.

So I met them at the picnic area above left field:

72013 Picnic Area

Little did I know it since I had never been there before sunset, but it has an amazing view of Washington. It also has an amazing view of the concourse behind the left field seats, which leads to the center field plaza:

72013 LF Concourse

Pretty neat, huh? The boys used this view to take pictures with their respective cameras:

72013 Boys n Cameras

The reason Tim has his own camera because he used to borrow his dad’s and break it. And Kellan has his own because while Todd didn’t let him use his after past experience with Tim, Kellan borrowed Tim’s camera and broke that. So Kellan’s is actually a vlog camera that can also take pictures, is waterproof, and most importantly, can be dropped from 7′ in the air and not be damaged at all.

We then went to their actual section behind home plate. Todd and I took advantage of the fact that we were in the last row of seats to be able to spit our sunflower seeds away without having to worry about hitting anyone with them….That is until we realized we were right above the upper-level concourse. Tim took advantage to get some shots of the pitcher and hitter from an interesting angle:
72013 Tim Taking Pictures

We then went all over the place during the game, but towards the end of it, we got a lady to take a picture of us. I asked her to take it landscape, but she insisted that Kellan’s head couldn’t fit in the frame:

72013 Group Picture Take 1

(Hmm…I wonder why.) We then bent down, and did a second take:

72013 Take 2

(*sigh* Close enough.) At the end of the game, we headed down to the field-level concourse to try to get down for an umpire ball. When we got down there, a camera man asked Tim if he wanted to film a bit. So here is Tim filming stuff that the cameraman later told us was on the air in the Dodgers’ broadcast of the game:

72013 Tim on Camera

That was awesome. And even more awesome was the fact that Tim got the save ball after Chris Withrow’s first career win. Well…sort of. Kenley Jansen initially did toss Tim the ball, but when he went into the dugout and got told what he had just done, he asked to swap baseballs with Tim for another and Tim gladly obliged. It would have been cool had Tim walked away with that small souvenir, but I am glad the Mr. Withrow got his baseball. I think it’s possible it meant a little something to him as well.

STATS:

  • 1 Ball at this Game :-{

72013 Baseball

Number 578 for my lifetime:

72013 Sweet Spot

  • 132 Balls in 33 Games= 4.00 Balls Per Game
  • 1 Balls x 41,816 Fans=41,816 Competition Factor
  • 95 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 165 Balls in 37 Games at Nationals Park= 4.46 Balls Per Game
  • 29 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
  • Time Spent On Game 3:30-1:24= 9 Hours 54 Minutes

Weird Observing Baseball Facts and Records

Ah weird numbers: my specialty. So, it was completely natural for me to write this entry. What better to do than find arbitrary statistics about my blog and place meaning in them. Just call me the Tim Kurkjian of the MLBlogs world. (Kurkjian still does the “Kurk-gems” segment, right? I’ve pretty much stopped watching Baseball Tonight in favor of MLB Tonight on MLB Network.) Here goes some of the random numbers.

Words:

First, let’s start off with the big one: number of words total. Over the course of this blog, I have written 225, 518 words. That’s a lot of words. I am astounded by this number personally. With the number of entries I currently have up, that works out to an average of 823 words per entry. However, you’ve got to keep in mind there are certain kinds of entries that are way under and over this average. For example, none of my “Re-view of the Preview” entries even reached this number. I don’t think any of them even surpassed the 600 word plateau. With the average for the thirty of those being 200-300 words, it brings the average way down. If I had to guess, my average ballhawking entry is probably in the 1,400 word range. My longest entry ever is 3,631 words. You can check that out here. It was when I met up with the Cook family in Washington D.C., so I decided to take up Todd Cook’s style of writing for a day and over-document. It wasn’t my longest entry by a mile, though. The next closest entry in terms of words was my informal tour of Citi Field where I covered a lot of ground in general with a guest by the name of Alex also joining in with me. (And for the record: no, he didn’t accompany me on my mini-tour of Citi Field. He entertained himself in the club level while I ran around the stadium for five minutes.) You can check out that entry if you’d like by clicking these words I have typed in this sentence. That entry was 3,344 words long. The least amount of words I have ever written in an entry is 19 words. The reason for it was because the entry itself was pretty much a video entry, so the 19 words were the introduction the video. Click here for the link to that entry. I believe it was my first video filmed with a high-quality camera. And by high-quality, I mean not a webcam. As for the quality of the video…Eh, I made an unsuccessful attempt at a homemade teleprompter that is very obvious when you watch the video.  It’s pretty bad looking bad at it. But hey, cut me some slack; it was my third video ever.

Baseballs given away:

Next fact: The past two years I have snagged 384 baseballs. Of those, I have given 110 of them away. For those who don’t have a calculator, that is 29% of the baseballs I have snagged I have given away. Whenever I talk to people and they ask me the question everyone asks ballhawks: “What do you with all of the baseballs?” I tell them that I give about a third of them away. So that’s pretty accurate, right? In 2011, I gave away 34 of 161 snagged (21%). The most I gave away that year was 4 baseballs in a game. I can’t remember when that was, but to me now, that’s a low “high” number. I think my lack of giving stems from the fact that I was snagging baseballs at a ton of different stadiums for my successful period of ballhawking in July, so I didn’t have to worry about pleasing any ushers for later games. I was planning to give the majority of my baseballs towards the end of the year when I wasn’t as mobile. When this happened, however, I hit an absolute cold streak where I wasn’t snagging more than three baseballs at a game that often at all. As such, I didn’t have that many baseballs to give away. As a result, the middle of the summer remained my peak for giving away baseballs. In 2012, I gave away 76 of 223 baseballs (34%). This was lead by games where I gave away a ton of baseballs. The most I gave out in a game was 7 baseballs ( I snagged 9, I believe that day). However, it was one of three games where I gave away 6 or more baseballs this year.

Pictures:

In my entries I have used a total of 4,545 pictures. That averages out to 16.5 pictures per entry. That’s a lot higher than I would have guessed. Although, I guess the list is top heavy with ballhawking entries bearing the brunt of the load. The most pictures I’ve used in a single entry was the same as the entry where I wrote the most words ever with 80 pictures.

Commemorative Baseballs:

I have snagged 30 commemorative baseballs since I started this blog. I snagged a Citi Field commemorative baseball in 2010, but besides that, all of my commemorative snags have come this past year. My record for snagging commemorative baseballs in one game is 7. This came–I believe–when the Nationals were using nothing but Shea Stadium and Nationals Park commemorative baseballs.

Time Spent On Game:

I have roughly spent 40,882 Minutes on the 85 games I kept track of either the “Time at Game” or “Time Spent On Game” stat for. That’s over 681 Hours I have spent on baseball games. If you don’t know how the stat works, it is the time I spend at the ballpark itself plus the time I spend traveling to and from the ballpark. For the games where I only had the “Time at Game” stat, I added a round amount of hours (usually 2 hours for local games) to the total I had in place to account for transportation time. For those without calculators, the average amount of time I spent on a game was 481 Minutes or just over 8 Hours.

Video:

As of late I have been incorporating videos a little more than before, but I have been using videos in my entries for over a year now. As a result, I have uploaded 6074 seconds of video to YouTube for this blog. Why seconds? Because have you ever tried to add up times when they’re in this format: 6:51+ 4:26? No, because it’s annoying as heck. Also, I do have other YouTube videos out there (I’ll get to some of those in the next entry), but these are the videos made for the purpose of incorporating them into a blog entry. If you’re wondering what that seconds mark translates into in the 0:00 format, though–First of all, get a calculator; I’m sick of doing all of the math for you–it is 101 Minutes 14 Seconds. If you divide that by the number of videos, it is an average of 6:20 per video. However, I should include the caveat that the shortest video I have put on YouTube is 6 six seconds, which kind of throws off the average (and can be found in the entry I’m linking to here). Meanwhile, the longest video is 16 Minutes 2 Seconds. That was the entry where I took apart a baseball a couple weeks ago.

That’s all I have for you for now. Surprisingly–even though it doesn’t appear that way–this entry is over 1,000 words. However, if you have any obscure stats you think of and would like for me to include, leave your suggestions down below in the comments, and if it doesn’t take an eternity to calculate like these almost did, I will calculate it and add a section below that last one right above this paragraph.

I realize I have been off schedule lately, but the holiday/finals time threw a wrinkle in my plans. So, to make it up to you, I plan to have published three new entries (in addition to this one) by/on January, 1, 2013. While it is pretty set in stone what those three will be, you can keep voting on which entries I will write after those in this poll down here. I will include all of the already-used ideas below it as well as the rankings of the remaining categories:

1. Ballhawk Interviews- 33 votes

2. Stadium Profiles- 26 votes

3. Ballhawk Profiles- 33 votes

4. Dissect (a) Baseball(s)- 26 votes

5. Tour Target Field when there’s snow on the ground- 26 votes

6. Weird Observing Baseball Facts and Records- 28 votes

And here are the standings for the remaining poll items as they stand while I type these words:

T1. Observing Baseball Trivia/MLBlogs I Recommend- 28 votes

3. Ballhawking Gear- 27 votes

T4. My Favorite MLB Players/Characters of Observing Baseball- 25 votes

6. Ask a Statistician- 24 votes

T7. Salute to Up-and-coming Blogs/10 Minutes with 2 GMs- 23 votes

9. Instructional Videos- 22 votes

10. My Favorite MLB Teams- 21 votes

T11. Gate Opening Times of MLB Stadiums/Complementary Tickets!- 20 votes

T13. Blast From The Baseball Past/ Battle of the Retreival Devices- 19 votes

15. Reference Guide to Ballhawk Terms- 18 votes

16. Evaluate and Critique Ballhawk Statistics- 16 votes

T17. New Observing Baseball Icon/Look at MLBlogs Themes- 15 votes

19. Format of the Entries- 12 votes

If you’re confused as to what all of these names mean, here is the link to the entry where I explain nearly all of them. And here is the entry where I explain the other two.

Also, you can vote which of the remaining days you’d like to read an entry on. I don’t know, for example if people are more or less likely to read something on Christmas, so here you can tell me that. Unlike the other poll, though, you can only vote for three days and not as many times as you’d like:

227,100 Words Written so far

7/7/12 Rockies at Nationals: Nationals Park

On-field photo day, and 100+ degree heat meant one thing: no batting practice:

20120711-084225.jpgFortunately for me, though, even 3.5 hours before game time(which is when the gates opened), players still warm up:

20120711-114717.jpgIn that last picture, Ryan Zimmerman was taking ground balls. It was approximately 10 minutes since the gates had opened, and I had already gotten two balls. I had been watching Zimmerman warm up from the third base side of the field when he threw a ball away, into the stands. I was on the phone with Todd Cook when I saw it. It took me a second, but then I realized no one was over on the first base side, and I could run over and find it. So I ran over, and someone had beat me to the seats, but he walked right past the ball, so here’s what I found:

20120711-115530.jpgYay, but wait, there’s more. It seemed as though there’s a reason Ryan Zimmerman was practicing so early: he can’t aim. Once I picked up the first ball, Zimmerman threw a second ball into the stands, and I had two balls within the first fifteen minutes of the gate being open:

20120711-235245.jpgI could have had three balls at that point, but the guy I mentioned previously had found a ball down the line before I could get there.

I then headed over to Ryan Mattheus and Tom Gorzelanny further down the line (the guy/kid I mentioned in the last paragraph also in the picture):

20120712-000739.jpgThere, another kid came up to me and asked me, “Are you Mateo?” It was Danny, one of the bloggers on the MLBlog, NYBisons. Since I try to avoid asking Nationals for baseballs, so I don’t wear out my sources because I go to so many games, and they will probably recognize me at a certain point, I helped out both Danny and the other guy to get a ball from the two players. When Ryan Mattheus came back, though, he tossed all three of us a ball. Awesome:

20120712-003601.jpgAfter that, no other players were warming up ,so I waited for the field to open and goofed around on it when it did:

However, it wasn’t all fun and games. After I took that picture, I saw something just past the camera that prompted me to take a more somber picture:

During the season, I really can’t keep up with the baseball world that well, so this was where I learned the Twins were still in last place in the AL Central. Booo!

I then took a lap around the field and took pictures of the stands from the perspective of the field, just because that was the awesomest part of this whole experience: seeing where I am normally trapped from the perspective of the field, from which I am usually trying to coax balls out of players. I figured me explaining this would get old after about two pictures, so here are a couple of the pictures I took with a 1-2 sentence caption following it:

A guy had stayed in the right field seats to take pictures of his family members. That’s when it actually dawned to me the implications of being on the field versus being in the stands.

The view of the Red Seats from the warning track.

The spot of both Greg Barasch and the 20th ball he had snagged the previous night’s game. I think you can figure out which is which.

The view of the left field seats from in front of the bullpen.

The seats in third base foul ground. Those are the seats I was most fascinated by when I was on the field, but I don’t know why. I think it is because that is usually the spot closest to the field I can ever get while actively pursuing baseballs (when the opposing pitchers are warming up). When I’m there, I’m so close, but I feel so far away from the field at the same time, so to actually BE on the field on the other side of the fence is a minor victory of sorts.

The main reason I didn’t want to drag out those caption is, because although I have a bunch of pictures of that sort; after I got to the end of the line by the visitors’ dugout, I turned around and took a video of my journey all the way around the field. So, here it is:

After that, I know I’m a loser for doing so, but I headed back to the other side of the field. There just wasn’t ANYTHING to do. I was pretty sure both Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard (the players throwing in the video) would recognize me, and I thought I saw some Rockies players coming out to throw on the other side of the field.

Look who was just done taking a picture as I got to the other side of the field:

I’ll name the individuals in two pictures from now, but all you have to know is these are the Cooks of Cook & Son Bats. Here is the picture Todd has just taken as I took my last picture:

Here they are right after taking the picture:

1. Todd Cook- The Father of the Cook and Son group. Who has already published his entry of this game, which you can check out by clicking…here.

2. Tim Cook- The elder of the two Cook sons. As I took this picture, no one had yet noticed I was there, but shortly after, Tim was the one to spot and identify me.

3. Kellan Cook- The younger of the two Cook Sons.

4. Greg- Not technically a “Cook”, but he was a friend of Todd’s from their town in Pennsylvania, so he accompanied them on their journey to Washington.

After I met up with the Cooks, I watched Jeremy Guthrie play catch:

20120713-132335.jpgWe then all headed to a “cooling station” in center field:

The “cooling” coming from the fact that it was in the shade and there were fans blowing out water. There, I took a few pictures of things I found interesting. First, do you see the door that is open? I took a picture of what is right inside that room:

I don’t know the exact function of everything in there, but it’s interesting, isn’t it?

I had seen this patch of grass, but I finally found out that it is used as extra grass if they need to patch up anything on the field.

There was obviously no batting practice, so the “L Screen” was in this gap in center field. I wish it were on the field, but it was nice to be able to see and touch one.

I also took a picture of the seats in right field, because I’m usually up there asking a groundskeeper down in the gap I was now standing in for a ball. It was another one of those “Oh, how many times I wished I could be down here” moments.

We didn’t spend all of our time in the cooling station though. It *was* On-Field Photo day after all. So I’m now going to go through all of the pictures I took of people while on the field. Just keep in mind I both couldn’t see what I was taking a picture of because of the intense sun, and I was shaking the hand of the person as I was taking their picture, so some of the pictures came out pretty bad:

(right to left) Rick Eckstein and Trent Jewett. Hitting and First Base Coaches.

Jim Lett, bullpen coach.

(left to right) Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, and Michael Morse. They’re all laughing because as they passed, a Mariners fan yelled out “Michael!” to Morse. When Morse acknowledged him, he then yelled out, “Worst trade ever.” He was of course referring to the fact that Morse had been with the Mariners, but was traded for Ryan Langerhans, who is no longer even with the team. Meanwhile, Morse had hit 31 home runs for the Nationals the previous season along with a .303 average and 95 RBIs.

I don’t know exactly who this is (I may have if i just took the half-second to look at his ID), but if I had to guess I’d say he is some sort of broadcaster for the Nationals.

Randy Knorr, bench coach.

Steve McCatty, pitching coach.

(left to right) Danny Espinosa and Stephen Strasburg

Bryce Harper

Ryan Mattheus, who had tossed me a ball earlier and gave me one of the ice pops you see him holding in this picture:

I brought it up to the Cooks, sitting in the shade, to give to Tim, but apparently, if he eats anything colored red, he gets a little crazy, so I ate it instead.

An occluded Tyler Moore.

Edwin Jackson ft. Mateo Fischer’s fingers.

Mike Gonzalez, guest starring my fingers.

Roger Bernadina

(left to right) Craig Stammen and Jordan Zimmerman.

Ross Detweiler

Jayson Werth

Henry Rodriguez (giving Tim a high-five).

Rick Ankiel. If you look closely, you can the reflection of me shaking his hand in his sunglasses.

Adam LaRoche. He was actually the only player who allowed Tim to squirt him twice with Tim’s squirt bottle he had been carrying around all day. Tim ended up squirting three different Nationals players a total of four times. Tim squirted LaRoche, Stammen, and I believe Rodriguez, but I’m not sure.

Davey Johnson, the Nationals’ manager.

Sean Burnett

Jesus Flores? I really have no clue who it is, but his photo day picture looks the closest of anyone on the Nationals roster.

Ray Knight, whose fame came from winning the World Series with the Mets in 1986, but for some reason is a broadcaster for the Nationals; more specifically, MASN.

After we decided as a group it was time to leave the field, Tim and Todd made a brief stop to take a picture with the person Todd and I both agree is the best “crowd hype person” (I don’t want to call them cheerleaders, since baseball doesn’t have that, but that’s essentially what they’re there for in baseball) in all of baseball, Terrence:

He’s there every day, and I’d say he probably uses the most energy of anyone in the stadium each of those days. Todd said it jokingly, but he may not be as far off as you might think, that he burns 20,000 calories a game.

Now I’d just like to go over a few things of note I found while walking before I get too far away in the events of the day for them to be relevant anymore. First: When we passed the standings on the wall in right field, Tim wanted to try to touch the standings, or something like that. So he reached through the fence. After he did it Kellan did as well, mimicking his older brother, so I turned back and got a picture of it:

That’s when I noticed something very interesting about the video board. From afar, the letters of the standings look white. However, from up close, one can see there is no white at all at work in the board:

Each “pixel” of white is actually three red, green, and blue dots at work together. I guess this makes sense since you hear that TVs are “RGB”s sometimes, but I had never actually seen this phenomenon at work. I’m just curious how you would create a color such as yellow with this set-up, or if you even could.

Second: If you saw the video I embedded earlier in the entry, you may have seen me stop at around the 33 second mark and point my camera towards the dirt, where you saw what looked like a piece of paper on the ground. Well, that piece of paper was a ticket, and when I was on the first base side of the field with the Cooks, I identified exactly which section the ticket was for:

Yep, it was a club level ticket. That meant I could finally access the club level at Nationals Park. Other than being a mildly good spot for foul balls, I really never have a reason to buy a club level ticket, given the cost (this one was $55). This ticket meant I would finally be able to explore up there.

Also while I was on the first base side, all of the Cooks were usually up in the shade, but Tim joined me down on the field when some of the players passed by. On one of those excursions, a Nationals “fan” photographer took a picture of the two of us together:

Sorry for the watermark. It would have cost me $29 to get the picture without it.

Fast-forwarding to when we were exiting the field…We all decided the place to be was the Red Porch’s indoor restaurant. On the way there, though. The Cooks saw the pig at Nationals Park. (Apparently, there’s a sculpture of a pig at EVERY ballpark in the major leagues.) When we went over there, I saw the Danny that I mentioned earlier in the entry. I then got a picture of him with his two baseballs so far (both of which I have mentioned already):

For the record, that is his “Rockies” shirt, and Tim is waiting for me to finish taking the picture so we could head over to the Red Porch.

When we got over there, it was as packed as could be, so we took a seat on some couches outside it. Here is a picture Todd took of me and his two sons:

Eventually, Todd left to get some food. Meanwhile, Tim “killed” me with his squirt bottle approximately 12,735 times. I then got a message on my phone that looked like such:

I had no idea anyone was even throwing, since I couldn’t see the field from our spot. So I raced down to the Red Seats to see how this had happened, but by the time I got down there, Todd had already returned to the couches.

I returned momentarily to have get an explanation from Todd and pick up my things, but I quickly headed off to try to get a ball from the Rockies. On my way, I saw this and had half a mind to see if I could glove trick one of the balls:

I actually didn’t get any baseballs from the Rockies, but I did get two players to sign two of my baseballs (Josh Roenicke and Adam Ottavino). Here is Ottavino signing my ball:

While I was trying to get a ball from the Rockies, Todd got one from Drew Pomeranz. He then went up into the shade with Kellan and took a picture of those who stayed out in the sun:

Myself (Mateo, if you haven’t picked up on that already) and Danny were both trying to get a ball from the last reliever, but Tim was just there pretty much to tag along. If you can see it, Danny was on the phone. The person he was on the phone with was on the phone with was Quinn Imiola, a fellow Buffalo-based ballhawk, who, if you’ve been reading this blog long enough, I met at a minor league game in Myrtle Beach. Neither of us got the ball, but here was the view when the reliever was still throwing:

After that, I parted ways with the Cooks and headed up to the club level. First, I went up to my “ticketed section”:

I entered the section, but it was pretty crowded, so I made the decision I was going to stay in the outfield during the game after I toured the club level. You know the drill. I’m going to post the pictures rapid-fire.

The left field entrance to the club level.

The “tunnel” emanating from the left field entrance. The doors to the suites were on the left hand side of this tunnel.

The tunnel then lead to a (I imagine) usually very open area, but people were crowding it to escape the heat.

A bar area from which there was also a field view.

Opposite the bar was this gigantic window, offering a view of the neighborhood outside of Nationals Park. The window went all the way across the “open area”, which was rather large.

This was just one of the food options in the “open area”.

The first reason I include this picture is that the area is approximately a fourth of the total “open area”, just to give you an idea of how large it was. The second reason is: Do you see the staircase in this picture? That leads up to an all-suite level. I got up there and started exploring, but before I could start taking pictures, an usher/guard type person asked me for my ticket and told me I couldn’t be up there.

During the game, I sat in two main spots. Here is the view from my usual seat in left field:

Pretty much everyone in the lineup was right handed, so I moved between this spot and the spot I have pointed out with the orange arrow. It was a long run in intense heat, so I pretty much only did it between innings when I could take it slowly.

From the spot in foul ground, I got what almost could have been Teddy’s first win in the Geico Presidents Race. Well he’s had a bunch of those, but this one was particularly entertaining, since I was so close to the action. If you don’t know the history, Teddy has NEVER won the presidents race in however many years it has been done. The presidential mascots that run in it are those symbolizing the four presidents on Mount Rushmore.

Teddy came down the stretch way in front of the other three presidents:

but he veered at the sight of the grounds crew waving popsicles in front of him:

Eventually, the other three presidents passed right by him:

…and as they passed the finish line, Teddy fell into the wheelchair section after his beloved popsicles:

I didn’t get anything during the game, but I had fun running around. In addition, I met Alan Schuster in this section during the game. He got there late because he was already on his way to the game when he realized he forgot his tickets at home. He lives in Virginia, so it was a pretty big set-back. Alan, if you don’t know, is the webmaster of  mygameballs.com, the ultimate site for ballhawk statistics. If you haven’t already, go check it out. Also, if you have ever caught a ball at a major league baseball game, make an account. It is super easy and even if you’re not a hardcore ballhawk, it is a great way to keep track of all of the baseballs and autographs you get at games. It’s better than forgetting from whom and how you got them, I’ll tell you that much.

Nearing the end of the game, this was my view:

I then tried to get a ball from whoever the home plate umpire was for that game:

but do you see all of those kids waiting? He gave a ball away to each of them, so he only had one ball left. As he passed me, I called out to the umpire by his last name, but when he looked back, he thought the guy next to me had been the one who called out to him, so he tossed him his final ball instead of me.

I then headed over to the Rockies dugout, and although all of the Rockies players dissed me, I saw a ball come out of the corner of my eye, so I caught it:

The person who threw the ball then reappeared, so I saw it was one of the Rockies ball boys or something along those lines:

Actually, though, I was only one of the people he threw a ball to. He must have thrown 10 balls into the stands. I’ve never seen anything like it from someone who wasn’t on the team.

Of course, even when someone like that throws 10 balls into the crowd, there is usually at least a kid that doesn’t get one. It’s just impossible to have EVERYone get a ball. I thought I didn’t see a kid next to me get a ball, so I asked him if he had gotten a ball at this game. He said he didn’t, so I pulled the ball out of my glove and put it into his. Here he is with it:

I then headed out to the center field plaza, fully expecting to just get on the Metro and leave. However, when I got there, the Cooks (and Greg, but I have filed him under this for the entry for the sake of brevity) were taking their final picture of the day:

So I got to formally say “goodbye” to them before I rode my way back to my apartment in Washington. If you made it to this point in the entry: Congratulations, you have more patience than I do. Not bad for a game I initially wasn’t going to go to, right?

STATS:

  • 4 Balls at this Game (3 pictured because I gave one away)

Numbers 334-337 for my life:

  • 115 Balls in 23 Games= 5 Balls Per Game
  • 4 Balls x 28,032 Fans= 112,128 Competition Factor
  • 32 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 8 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 7 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 7 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 94 Balls at Nationals Park in 19 Games= 4.95 Balls Per Game
  • 10 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
  • 10 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Nationals Park
  • 8 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Nationals Park
  • 6 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Nationals Park
  • Time Spent On Game 11:38- 7:57= 8 Hours 19 Minutes
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