Results tagged ‘ Zack Hample ’

5/6/11 Dodgers at Mets: Citi Field

Finally back to Citi Field for a game after ten days and what do I see?
Big Crowd 5611.JPG

The invasion continues. Why is it that there are so many more people outside thew gates for a team that is actually WORSE than last year? I just hope these are people who still think that gates open 2.5 hours before game time.I was with quite a few ballhawks at the gate so I actually took the path to right field (I would just like to point out that my backpack was about 50lbs from school stuff I would need over the weekend as I came to this game directly from school). On my way over there, this guard:
Guard macro 5611.JPG
Well actually there you can’t see much so here is a more zoomed view:
Guard Micro 5611.JPG
(He would be just to the right of the foul pole on the concourse) Anyway, the guard stopped me on my trot to right field and asked me, “Are you trying to get a ball?”. (Uh…Duh) So he told me that a ball had been hit to the lowest level right of the foul pole two pictures ago.So I checked and I checked. I must have checked for a good ten minutes as he kept telling me to circle the area. Eventually the guard in the top left of this picture:
Guard+ Ball spot 5611.JPG
who was in the elevated seats towards the bottom right of the picture found the ball (which was 50 ft away from where the other guard had told me. I am appreciative but how can one get it THAT wrong) and tossed it to me.I don’t know but from the response I got from the players I think they saw me looking for the ball and getting it tossed to me. I was the only one in a section as Ryota Igarashi shagged many a ball within 10ft of me, I asked him in Japanese for every one except the last, and he cold denied me ( my Japanese is bad but not terrible).As you can see by the last picture, if familiar with Citi Field, I moved to right field after getting the ball tossed to me but as more of those ballhawks at the gate had started to trickle to right field as it was already 20 minutes to half an hour since the gates had opened. To give an idea, right field at Center Field is not that good when you are all alone much less with other ballhawks:
rightfield Citi Field 5611.jpg

In addition to having a terrible incline, the only place where a non-frozen rope homerun has any chance of landing in the seats is to the left or right of the red MODELL’S sign where the wall slants back toward the field.In center field, there was, R.A.Dickey and the bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello:
View from center 5611.JPG
(Dickey on left and Racaniello squatting fifty feet in front)
I knew this wasn’t going to go well as a ball came to the wall within five seconds of my arrival, Dickey caught it and threw it back to Racaniello after me asking him. This wasn’t good because a) I was close enough to steal his hat if I so desired and b) I was the only one in the whole section. I got to know him as a nice guy last year so I think he saw me get the ball from the security guard in foul ground. My only hope was that Racaniello would shag one but when he moved up those fifty feet I fled for the riches of left field.And by that I mean that I was a proletariat. The number of people wasn’t too bad:
view to left 5611.JPG
Pretty good amount considering it was half and hour into Batting Practice:
view to right 5611.JPG
but yet the Dodgers weren’t hitting to my section (normally this isn’t a problem but because of so many ballhawks…) and the players were quite stingy. Did I mention that I didn’t have their roster because I rushed out of school? Oh yeah, that made it doubly hard and frustrating considering they had their game jerseys. The easiest way to get a player’s attention however simplistic it may sound is to shout out his *first* name. This would have been cake had I printed out the roster but no.Two that I reasonably could have had were one hit by Rod Barajas which I was camped under but Zack (yes, that one again) came two rows in front of me, jumped and caught the ball. The second was… well let me put the picture up first:
2nd missed 5611.JPG
The ball came down about where the family is sitting down. As the ball descended, I moved over that way but was blocked by the gentleman in the black Mets shirt. He didn’t get it either the man in the black shirt to the left of him in the picture did.I then got one ball tossed up by Tony Gwynn Jr for #2 on the day. That was it. Nothing more. A little while ago I would have been happy but now that I have gotten that number so much I just want to get something else higher. Here is the ball anyway:
Tony Gwynn ball 5611.JPGTo the game. I sat out in left field as Jonathan Niese was pitching and left field is the best (maybe only feasible) place to catch a Home Run at Citi Field:
view from LF 5611.JPG

My first shot during the game was when Terry Sands caught a ball right at the wall…
Warning Track TSands 5611.JPG
He actually might have touched the wall on his deceleration. This meant a good chance for a toss up for my, decked out in royal blue or what ever you call this color. Not! He caught it and ran all the way back to the dugout to toss the ball into the stands.Well good I had Matt Kemp and Juan Uribe in the line-up to give me a chance at a Home Run snag. Well…no, they went a combined 1 for 9 on the day. In the second inning, just as I was getting my glove on once more after James Loney struck out, Rod Barajas launched a fly ball in my direction. Initially, I thought it was going to die at the wall but I saw it carrying. I ran up towards the front of the section and because it was in a row and I wasn’t about to reach in front of people, I moved behind the person that was about to catch it and hoped he would move his hands away from his body as I would be all over any rebound that went straight back. But don’t take my word for it. The video is called “Barajas’ solo shot” and it is 42 seconds long and is from 5/6/11.I am the figure running in the white hooded sweater. Now for those of you who actually saw the video, you will know that the ball just barely cleared the wall and the guy had it in his hands but bobbled it on to the field. So no one in the section ended up getting it:
Almost HR 5611.JPG
Though I do feel sorry for him because as you can partially see in the picture he generated the most animated response to anything I have seen so far at Citi Field his season. (The man is the second one in on the first row and to the right.

That was it as far as action is concerned. The Mets ended up actually winning on Home Runs that went to right and right center, both uncatchable. No, this was not a coincidence, both were caused by the design of Citi Field.

Oh, and on the train I found a new use for commemorative cups:
Cup w/balls 5611.JPG
Sadly, my cup not runneth over.

no pictures yet but let me at least get the numbers up

 

STATS    

  • 2 Balls at this game
numbers 81 and 82 on the career
  • 21 balls in 9 games=2.3333 balls per game
  • 31 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 2 balls*35,948 fans= 71,896 competition factor
  • Time at game 4:41- 10:03= 5 hours 24 minutes

 

 

 

 

4/22/11 Diamondbacks at Mets: Citi Field

Looking to redeem myself for yesterday’s weather anomaly. The spirit of redemption was in the air. I could just feel it (well actually not in the air because it was absolutely fafafafreezing). I thought this would be a great day for snagging:

Welcome 42211.JPG
This was definitely NOT the case. Here is the view of the outfield to my left:
Outfield 42111.JPG
Looks harmless great for a day of redeeming,right? Well, the view to my right in the Outfield:
Right Outfield 42211.JPG
Well that’s pretty bad too but below was the stupid season ticket holders batting practice on the field made toss-up almost impossible for all of Mets Bp.
Diamondbacks Bp:
DBacks Bp 42211.JPG
 is best summed up as, “They (weren’t) throwing anything and (weren’t) hitting anything” I thought it was just the left field guys but when I went over to right field, the Major League coach (whatever that is),Wilson Valera, was hitting back every ball that came to the wall with a fungo:
Don Baylor 42211.JPG
Every… Single… One.
That was it. Nothing for the duration of Bp.
The plan as for the game was, go back into foul territory for the Diamondbacks’ at-bats and go for third out balls when the Mets were hitting.
Zack Hample was in Left Field (yeah he was at yet another of my games) for the game but I did meet two other ballhawks:
Group Photo take 2 42211.JPG
They would be: Howie (a ballhawk/autograph collector) in the Happy Youngster shirt and Jordan Elkin (ballhawk just this season who has already caught a Russell Martin Home Run and is averaging 3.33 balls per game)  in the red and balck sweater. Yes I did crop myself out of the picture because the person taking the picture couldn’t check to make sure he got the picture right because of my cracked camera screen.
Anyway, I used my, whatever shade of Red the Diamondbacks gear is now, hat to get Russell Branyan to throw me the third inning third out ball for #1 on the day. Sweet relief! I now went almost solely for foul balls over here:
Foul View 42211.JPG
I actually should have had two and learned a valuable lesson, Never Give Up On A Ball. The first Foul ball:
1st Foul 42211.JPG
went about three people deep in the row started by the kid in the Navy blue hood and black windbreaker. Rushing down only by looking at the ball, I stopped chasing once I got to the row it was going to land in because I couldn’t go any further into the row. The ball was then dropped into the row in front of the people, which I could have easily entered and caught the rebound had I been aware of the fact.
The next foul ball, bounced of the electronic video strip:
Video strip 42211.JPG
Fell down:
Rush down 42211.JPG
And landed a row behind me:
Thumbnail image for Foul ball spot 42211.JPG
It actually landed in the chair of the gentle man in the jeans but everyone (including Jordan) rushed to a spot they thought it landed two seats to the right. I didn’t want to get in that mess (if you look carefully, you can see the result of the spilling of various beverage and food items) nor deny Jordan of his first foul ball if he got it.
Turns out, they were chasing a phantom ball as the man leaning over the baby carriage:
Foul Catcher 42211.JPG
snatched it from underneath their noses.
That was pretty much it for the night. The umpire, Greg Gibson, only gave out one ball that was designated to one person in the stands.
One other thing of note, though. I got partial documentation of it while I was taking this picture:
Keith Olbermann? 42211.JPG
of a poster saying, “Why leave a city with six professional sports teams and the Mets?” (so true now that the Knicks are relevant again). The poster is towards the upper part of the picture (left if oriented properly) but after taking it I realized the person cut off by the bottom of the picture looked like Keith Olbermann. It may indeed have been him as the person was carrying a briefcase and wore a mlb.com credential holder but the person also had a cane and broken/fractured foot. So can anyone who follows Olbermann tell me if something happened. Obviously, it doesn’t make much of a difference now but it would be a fun story to tell/know. Matt, do you read ballhawking entries or just the “Offseason Recap and Preview”s?
Oh, and the Mets won their third straight.
Diamondbacks 1 Mets 4
Stats:
  • 1 measly ball at this game (#75)
Ball 42211.JPG
  • 14 balls in 6 games this season= 2.33 balls per game
  • 31 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 18 straight games at Citi Field with at least 1 ball
  • 26,546 fans * 1 ball= 26,546 competition factor                                                                
  • Time at Game 4:55- 10:23= 5 Hours 28 Minutes
  • 6 straight games with Zack Hample/other ballhawks ruling my decisions sub/abconcious.
Just a warning, the entry about Sunday might not go up quickly because I have no charger for my battery.

4/21/11 Astros at Mets: Citi Field

Finally a normal day for snagging (last year the majority of my games were Citi Field Weekday games). I was excited enough to notice the outer beauty of Citi Field (well I guess it’s not technically outside but can be seen from outside) :
42 in JRR 42111.JPG

Yep, that’s it the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.

Although, I don’t have a picture of the line as of yet (because I was too busy getting my copy of The Baseball signed by the author). Though I think it was due to the fact that there were fans who still thought the gates opened at 4:40.

The view as I got to left field:
DSCN2072.JPG

For a long time it was surprisingly empty there considering the line at the gates.

But if you have really good eyes you noticed that:
ze flags 42111.JPG

the flags show the wind was blowing directly in. None of the balls were carrying.

Normally this wouldn’t have been a problem because the players would still toss balls up but when I looked to see the balls that had rolled to the wall I saw this:
stupid season tickets 42111.JPG

That would explain why none of the players made an effort to get the balls at the wall. This would continue until Astros batting practice. The wind however, would continue all of Batting Practice.

As my running lanes got clogged up and the hitting group of Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee came up, I decided I wanted to get at least one ball on the day. So I moved up to the second deck in left field and hoped the winds would swirl just as someone hit a high Home Run. Unfortunately I can’t get my exact section because of the sun but this picture should give you an idea of how empty it was:
 
2nd deck 42111.JPG

Right after I got up there (Don’t let the distance between the decks fool you. It was a trek in it’s own), a ball got hit two rows behind the exact spot I was standing in on the first level. Nothing was even coming close to my level as it was being knocked down by the wind but I decided that two go down would be a double waste of time. So, I decided to wait until the group finished hitting or I caught a ball, whichever came first.

Surprisingly, Carlos Lee absolutely launched a ball, through the wind, and I easily caught it on the fly (but it only got to the third row of the section). I then quickly ran down, decided that the left field section wouldn’t yield much, and decided to go to the right field bleachers. On the way, I stopped at the top of the center field section pondering whether or not to go down. While I talked to the Security Guard at the top, a ball got hit behind Bud Norris who was patrolling that section. Mid-sentence, I broke off going down to convince him t give it to the only Astros fan in the section. Guess what, it worked.

I came back up to the congratulatory guard (even though I was wearing Astros gear) and continued out to right field. This was a mistake. Although I was the only one wearing Astros gear, there was only one lefty in the final group, Michael Bourn, and he was working on hitting the ball the other way. Even if there was a Home Run in that section, I feel I wouldn’t have caught it because of the sun:
Sun 42111.JPG

 Feeling accomplished and not feeling like being locked out, I moved into right field foul territory to try and catch a foul ball considering there were tow lefties, Chris Capuano and J.A. Happ, starting:
Foul bp 42111.JPG

There I came to recognize Nelson Figueroa as one of the more fan friendly players. He was patrolling left field during bp. Immediately after that ended, he gave some one his glove and signed autographs all the way from the corner in right field to the Mets’ dugout. That is about 200 ft of autographs. He signed my ball:
Nelson Figueroa signing ball 42111.JPG 

and even granted my ridiculous request of taking a self portrait for the 2011 http://www.mygameballs.com scavenger hunt  (which I am still undecided on whether or not I will enter but he seemed like a friendly guy):
Nelson Figeroa self-portrait 42111.JPG
Sorry it is sideways but Mlblogs undoes any rotations a person does to a picture (if you want to see proof of the “self” part, look in his sunglasses.

The game itself was surprising as the Mets actually routed someone else. In the process, Mike Nickeas collected his first career Home Run . Now, I don’t know what there is in the video as I can’t watch them myself for whatever reason but it was Zack Hample that caught the ball. As far as what he told me it is a great story to what happened afterward. Here is the link.

No foul balls anywhere near me but at least I had a great view of the game for a $25 ticket:
View 42111.JPGMax 42111.JPG

If you can’t tell because of my unsteady hand, that is my backpack loaded with free soda. It might be a fun thing to collect in addition to baseballs.

Stats:

  • 2 Balls at this game

Balls 42111.JPG

Numbers 73 and 74 for the Career:
Sweet Spots 42111.JPG
  • 13 balls in 5 games this season= 2.60 balls per game
  • 30 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 17 straight games at Citi Field with at least 1 ball
  • 32,819 fans* 2 balls=65,638 Competition Factor
  • Time at Game  4:45-10:00= 5 hours 15 minutes
  • 5 straight games with Zack Hample ruling my subconscious decisions

4/17/11 Rangers at Yankees: New Yankee Stadium

Ah Sunday Night Baseball. The lights, the people, and the only game going on at that time. The ballhawk’s nightmare. First, there is the normal weekend crowd. Then, there is the Sunday Night Baseball crowd. Then, there’s the fact it is a Yankee game.

So a ballhawk like myself would have to get there extra early right? Well, I didn’t. I set myself up to get to the ballpark at 5:30 but because of the MTA’s modified 1 train schedule on weekends which has it not working from my station to the stop before Yankee Stadium. In a nutshell, I got to the ballpark at 6:24, my ticket blew away into the street as I was told to take out my phone. Not a good day to that point.

Sorry for the lack of pictures during BP itself but I was in a frenzy trying to get a ball considering all the previously mention factors but I did manage to get a picture as I entered:
its grandness 41711.JPG

That managed to calm me down some but don’t let it fool you, the left field stands were absolutely crammed considering how big they are. Actually, I shouldn’t say that. There were more competent people than I expected. In Citi Field on the weekends it is actually easier to snag baseballs because everyone crams in the front row and there are no ballhawks to be found. Here, you had Zack Hample, two other people who looked like they knew what they were doing and a whole mess of roadblocks in the guise of fans.

From this, it is no surprise that my first ball was thrown. Seeing little hope for Home Run snags, I headed over to foul ground to get a ball from the pitchers warming up. I initially lined up behind Neftali Feliz because of the Spanish factor but moved onto new pairs as the former pairs didn’t throw me a ball.

Finally, Mark Lowe saw my Ranger’s gear and tossed me his warm-up ball for Ball #1 on the day. I was relieved. It seemd like the perfect set of circumstances to get shutout.

I then moved back into fair territory and as this happened a ball came to Neftali Feliz. He threw it back but I managed to get in the words, “la proxima, por favor?” which translates to, “the next one please”. Within five minutes another ball came to him and he lofted it to me for Ball #2 on the day. I was ecstatic. I had just matched my season average in Yankee Stadium on the weekend.

After this, I moved over to pull city in left field expecting security to come down any minute asking for people’s tickets. That’s when a person I identified as Adrian Beltre:
Beltre 41711.JPG

hit a Home Run a section to my left. I got there with plenty of time but from the corner of my eye it looked like someone was camped under the ball. I didn’t want to reach in front of the person so I backed off and prepared for a ricochet. But I then saw the person back off as they seemed to be afraid of the ball. I quickly put out my glove and snow-coned the ball. For those of you just following, this is a big deal because I am HORRENDOUS at tracking fly balls and catching them in the seats.

I moved back to my spot and after a whole five minutes Matt Harrison tossed me a ball for #4 on the day (being the Rangers fan that I am). This was by far my most efficient day snagging five balls in fifty minutes of Bp.
 
That’s right, five. First, I did a manuvering job to not get kicked out by security. Ironically after this message aired on the big screen:
 
 
Oh, Security 41711.JPG
It is under the red arrow and the ironic part says says, “Guests will be treated in a consistent professsional and courteous manner by Yankee Stadium Staff an the Yankees ask for the same in return.” Ha!
 
Then, Bp ended:
Bp ending 41711.JPG
 
I stayed by the Ranger’s bullpen as Alexei Ogando warmed up. As he played catch the bullpen catcher, Josh Frasier, went into the bullpen and tossed the hit balls to the bleacher creatures. After being encouraged, he tossed “one up to a Rangers fan”.
 
 
I knew that I wasn’t going to be getting anything else until gametime So, I took my spot in foul territory and look who showed up right in front of my eyes:

Kruk walking 41711.JPG

Under the red arrow would be ESPN’s John Kruk picking his favorite seat of Yankee Stadium as he will every Sunday Night Baseball.

 

Here he is doing the actual segment:

Best Seat 41711.JPG

The listed attendance was 40, 811 and for once it felt like that. This picture is from before the game and it is still pretty full:

Thumbnail image for attendance 41711.JPG

 

The snagging room was as good as it ever will be because of the brief spurts of rain/lightning.

 

The view to my left:

To the left 41711.JPG

 

The view to my right:

To the right 417111.JPG

Sadly, the only ball that came within 100 ft of me went into the second level just as I thought I had it caught.

 

The game as all I have gone to at Yankee Stadium was indeed exciting. The Yankees won again by scoring a run in the eighth off of Arthur Rhodes.

 

Rangers 5 Yankees 6

As I left, I saw the set atop a parking garage of Baseball Tonight:

BT set 41711.JPG

 

Stats:

  • 5 Balls at this game

Balls 41711.JPG

Numbers 68-72
Sweet Spots 41711.JPG
  • 11 Balls in 4 games so far this season= an average of 2.75 Balls Per Game
  • 29 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 6 straight at Yankee Stadium (just to clarify I only got one ball at the old Yankee Stadium waaay before this blog so Yankee Stadium refers to the new one)
  • Competition Factor 40811 fans* 5 balls= 204,055
  • Time at game 6:24-11:14= 4 hours and 50 minutes

4/14/11 Orioles at Yankees: New Yankee Stadium

As I entered the Stadium, I saw this:
Beautiful day 41411.JPG

Great day for great bp right? At first it was.

As soon as I took that picture a security guard said something that I thought was “Hi”. After a round of unsuccessful bp I headed over to left field for the second Yankee group. As I was headed out, the security guard:
Security Guard 41411.JPG

pulled a ball out from behind the upper left seat of this section and handed it to me for #1 on the day.

I then went through a patch where neither Yankee nor Orioles were hitting balls to my part of left field. It was a group made out of all lefties except for one weak hitting righty. Since I wasn’t getting any toss-ups from the Orioles it was a tough bp. I think I probably should have been louder because it seemed like they always just missed my Orioles cap when scanning the crowd. Me not having my Orioles t-shirt didn’t exactly help either.

Then the power group came up. The group consisted of: Mark Reynolds, Derrek Lee, Caesar Izturis, and either Robert Andino or Adam Jones. This led to plenty of Home Runs to make up for the previous group. Most were out of my reach but several came into my axises of power. A few went over my head yadah, yadah.

Though, two came into my row. The first was hit by Derrek Lee two sections to my right (left if looking from home plate). I ran over and scooped it up as it trickled down back to my row for ball #2 on the day. The second, was hit by Mark Reynolds and actually landed in my row. So, I slid to get it before it rolled into the row in front of me. In the process of sliding I actually ripped the knee of my pants:
ripped pants 41411.JPG

In the process of putting my glove over the ball mid slide, I pushed the ball into the row in front of me where another fan grabbed the ball right before I could have gotten up.

Although the pants were double layered, I can still say I would have been much happier on this specific ball if I had gotten it because I pretty scraped up, not on the slide but on banging my knee on the seat getting up.

I was in no mood to keep running around in the outfield. So seeing as it was the last group of bp, I got a head start on the end portion of bp. Nothing came of that.  There I met up with Zack Hample and another ballhawk I had never met before named, Ben Weil (boys and girls, this is why you wear long pants even when it is warm outside:
Ouch!.JPG
(Can’t you tell a high quality camera picture when you see it. That would be both high quality photography and high quality camera.)

I stayed behind the Yankee dugout before the knee started hurting again and I knew I had to start moving to have it ready for the game (it was about 6:40 at the time). I abruptly left for right field because I knew there were two righties on the mound that day and the Yankees have many switch hitters.

From my spot in right I took time to laugh at those trapped in the bleachers I had been on my last trip to Yankee Stadium:
Bleachers 41411.JPG
Mwhahaha!

This would be my view from right:
Right field View 41411.JPG

The man in right field would be Nick Markakis, who hit a Home Run in the third inning (the link is here. I don’t know if that link takes you to the actual video or to the highlights in general but the specific video is titled “Markakis’ homer puts Orioles on top”). In the video, I am the hooded figure in maroon who goes down the steps while the Home Run is far away and then goes back up the stairs. I got to the right row but unfortunately I was blocked from catching the ball in the air so I waited for the rebound off the fan with no glove but he caught it on the fly.

To give you an idea of how close it came:
Home Run 41411.JPG

The fan that caught the ball was right behind the guy in the picture with a red and blue Yankee hat.

As far as the rest of the game goes, it was pretty good but for some reason the more I go to Yankee Stadium the less I am a fan of the Yankees themselves. Through this game, I was actually more disappointed that the Twins lost in a devastating fashion than the win the Yankees had. I was looking up here all game:
Twins Score 414111.JPG

The Yankees win, though. I had plenty of documentation for.

The catch and throw:
catch and throw SF 41411.JPG

The run scoring/ed:
walk-off 41411.JPG
The celebration:
celebration 41411.JPG
The pie:
Pie 41411.JPG
For those of you who don’t know what just happened, the Yankees won on a walk-off Sacrifice Fly by Nick Swisher (which is nice because from being in right field for the whole game I learned how much he interacts with the fans throughout the course of the game).

After the end Rafael Soriano threw a ball into my part of right field as he left the bullpen:
Rafael Soriano 41411.JPG
I didn’t want to get in front of the person who it was intended for so I let him try and catch it but he missed it completely and so neither of us got it.

Yankees 6 Orioles 5

Stats:

  • 2 Balls at this game

balls 41411.JPG

Which would be #66 and 67 for the young career:
sweet spots 41411.JPG
  • 2.0 Balls Per game
  • 28 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 5 straight games at Yankee Stadium with at least 1 ball
  • Competition Factor: 81,034
  • Time at Game: 4:30-10:30 Six hours

4/9/11 Nationals at Mets: Citi Field

So, I was on 67th street at 2:00 and had yet to pick up my Mets/Nationals gear. Long story short I showed up waay late to the game… but wait why haven’t the gates opened?
long line 4911.JPG

Did I actually show up late?
4:55 4911.JPG
Yeah, by almost a hour (last year I got to Citi Field 4:00-4:10 for a 7:10 game. If you can’t see that says 4:55)

Apparently the ever endearing Mets thought it best to open the gates a mere 2 hours before game time. This put me both at the back of a line of people and will take half an hour away from me every time I go to Citi Field. Why are both New York teams horrible at dealing with fans?

Anyway, the gates opened at 5:10 but I didn’t get until probably 5:20 because of the line delay.

As the gates opened I quickly identified the fans racing up the escalator as ballhawks Zack Hample and Joe Faraguna. Since they were probably going to go right to left field, I figured I should pray that the pitchers were still throwing in right.

They weren’t so I went to center field in hopes of getting a ball from the posse that shags balls there. At first, it seemed like that would never happen. Pedro Beato was cutting everything way in front of the wall (wasn’t that hard considering I was about a thousand feet from home plate). One then finally made its way to the wall. A group of kids was yelling at him and he didn’t turn around. Finally, I accused him of being racist towards Colombians. He laughed and threw me the ball.

On to left field. I got there and literally every feasible landing sector had a ballhawk patrolling it. There must have been half a dozen ballhawks. Let’s see how many I remember. 1+2 the ones listed two paragraphs above. 3. Tony Bracco. 4. Oliver Rowles. 5. Gary Kowal. 6. Ross Finkelstein. It must have been the fact that it was the first 7:10 game of the season but take my word for it there are almost never ballhawks at weekend games (which is why I like them). Just check the day of the week I made this major snag on. I think that was everyone but I can’t be that sure seeing as I didn’t talk to many on account of me moving around so much.

Nevertheless, none of the ballhawks dared to be in the corner of left field amongst a sea of weekend fans. So when Michael Morse hit a homerun behind that sea, I ran through my aisle to the ball. I was late because of a few fan but the ball hit off a seat and stayed in the air for what seemed like minutes before I caught it on that fly (technically it is not on the fly but it didn’t hit the ground so that’s good enough for me. If you haven’t picked up, I stink at tracking fly balls). I then got a toss up from a player I later identified as Chad Gaudin. I gave that one away to a kid who had missed the previous toss-up.

I then moved over to right field for the rest of Nationals bp. Seeing as I was the only Nationals fan in the section, you would think I would get a ball quickly:
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Nope. The two players: Tyler Clippard  and  Drew Storen were tossing up balls galore. Except not to me. It was so bad that even other Met fans started vouching for me as “#1 Nats fan up here”. One appeared to be thrown to me by Clippard but he under-threw it and another fan in the row in front of me reached it front and grabbed it. Solid day but could have gone way better. I seem to have a problem with finishing bps. I get a few early but then run dry in the closing minutes.

Though my seat for the game was pretty good:
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I would have gone to the third base side but since I am stubborn and was determined to get a ball from the two Nationals, I didn’t have time to run over there (security doesn’t let you enter after bp ends). There was no shot at getting an Ike Davis 3rd out ball. He threw them solely to the front to rows, which the security guard at the bottom of the stairs wasn’t giving access to.

Although, had a person not gone down the staris mid at-bat, I would’ve had my second foul ball at Citi Field:
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Imagine the two or three fans standing up are the fans that got in my way. The ball went where the two or three fans are and I ran down the stairs with plenty of fans but couldn’t reach out the extra three feet because of the fans and couldn’t run around them because of the railing. This left the ball going into the row of fans where it was dropped and recovered. It was actually a great night for foul balls on this side because of the two lefty pitchers but not that many balls went into my section.

I then missed out on an opportunity for an umpire ball because I was again, seated on the wrong side of the stadium (but it may be good security doesn’t know me, though. I saw the adverse affects this can have with Greg Barasch being essentially banned for the last few games of the season a year ago.)

The game was actually a decent one with the Mets winning 8-4. I would have a more detailed recollection of the game but I am doing this entry five days later.


Stats:

  • 3 Balls snagged (2 pictured because I gave one away )

    
Balls 4911.JPG 
A different side if you prefer below.

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  • 2.0 Balls Per Game
  • 27 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 16 ga
    mes straight at Citi Field with at least one ball.
  • Time at Game: 4:55 to 10:30= 5 hour and 35 minutes
  • Competition Factor= 95,088

4/5/11 Twins at Yankees: New Yankee Stadium

My post-school day began in the Fordham Prep Gym as the rain forced practice into the batting cage:
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Here as you can see, our starting catcher is shooting (and missing) a baseball at the basketball hoop.

This was the longest 1-hour practice I have ever been a part of. First, I could not wait to go to my first game of the season. Second, the game happened to be between my two favorite teams. Third, watching hitters in the cage if you are not involved gets monotonous after fifteen minutes much less an hour.

I was so excited you cannot believe. I have been waiting for baseball season since December and had a temporary case of ADHD where I literally could not sit still. I was so happy I was even described as glowing by one person. When I left the Prep at 3:45, I must have ran a seven minute mile to the train. I went through the whole shebang I did last time  with the train.

I am proud to say that I did not show up two hours early for the gate openings. I arrived promptly at:
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I figured that in the playoffs people did not show up until 4:50 because they were there to see the game and only the ballhawks that were there would show up for batting practice.

Well… do you see anyone in front of me?
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No one got there until about 4:45 and I will swear to you that for every 15 minutes that pass at any of the other Yankee Stadium gates, 5 pass at this gate. Even though it was only 40 minutes this time as opposed to 120 it still took FOREVER.

Finally time came to enter and I was just happy to see this:
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I was skeptical that there was going to be Bp and so when I arrived to this:
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 I was ecstatic (well not exactly that considering I am in the picture).

After that picture was taken (I assume), I turned to the photographer and saw it was none other than, Zack Hample. If you do not know the story, I was a Watch With Zack client of his last year (which led to one thing which led to another which led to this blog). He quickly raced over to the left field side of the stadium. Seeing as the right field bleachers were much less crowded than they had been in my playoff game and I have enough trouble catching a ball on my own not competing with Zack, I stayed in right field. Bad move.

There would not be one Home run hit there and a wall of beggars would glue to the wall in the front row of the section. This would have gone pretty well had a ball gone into the seats but as I said, it didn’t happen. I then jogged to left field as the Twins did the same.

As the Pitchers warmed up I managed to wrongly judge that a ball was going to: go over my head, fall short, be right at me, not hit the top of the wall, not bounce back all the way to the field, was going to deflect off of a fan trying to catch the ball. Some of those more than one time. Had I played all correctly (or had ridiculous luck like last season) I would have had my all time record.

Then there were the pitchers. I camped behind the long toss partnership of Capps and Nathan. I was 99.9% sure that if Nathan ended up with the ball I would be able to coax it out of him because, as I put it to Nathan, ” Joe, could you give me the ball, please?Who else in the Stadium is wearing you jersey?”
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Unfortunately, even the depleted sea of “Here”s drowned out my request and the ball went to not even a Twins’ fan on the outfield side of him.

I then went down the line. 1 pairs. 2 pairs. Nothing. The Twins seemed like they didn’t even care about road fans. There must have been a dozen Twins fans but less than half of the balls went to Twins fans.

Now onto my fourth pair, I was wondering if Carl Pavano would even throw his ball into the stands considering how his experience in New York went. I was as usual trying to get in his line of view so he would see the Twins hat and shirt.

 
I did… sort of. He threw it to a kid directly into front of me. He under threw it and it hit the wall and bounce back to him. He then tried again and overthrew the kid. Since I was right behind him I picked it up for ball #1 on the day. I then felt bad for the kid and gave him the ball.
 
I figured this would get me brownie points with Pavano anyway but the law firm of Pavano, Slowey and Perkins:
 
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randomly tossed balls into the crowd, sometimes without even looking.
 
Had Slowey actually looked where he was throwing I would have had another ball because I am almost sure that I was the only one who could give him a line about his offseason blog.
 
Though, my time was limited in left field because of guards that kick everyone without a ticket in left field that stayed longer than they normally do and so I was limited to being in foul ground.
 
By that time, the Twins took five more minutes of BP and finished. So I ran to behind the dugout to try and get one of the remaining baseballs, and failed. There I ran in again to Zack and had a guard take this picture:
7_mateo_and_zack.jpg
 
He wanted to get some water and not walk through the seats. I thought that as an expert he had a way of getting past security and back into left field but turns out he had a ticket (he was really sorry but it was my fault for not speaking up about that). So, I was now out of left field and had to try my options elsewhere.
 
Here is my view from the right field bleachers:
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and here I am getting the ever famous two syllable bleacher chant for wearing a Twins hat and shirt. ( I put the sweater on before I took the picture:

 
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This was not going well for me: I misplayed however many balls, couldn’t stay in left field, my camera screen broke so I couldn’t see what I was taking a picture of, and now the ___hole chant.

I didn’t want to stay there any longer because of the aformentioned chant and the fffffreeezing temperatures. So,  wandered around the Stadium to get warmer, hope a security guard was taking a break, and get a better view:

Better View 4511

In the third inning, I gave up trying to find an open spot in security decided it was boring and went up to the second level. Not three sections from the stairs I saw an open, unguarded aisle. I went down to take a seat and this was my view:

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Prime Foul ball snagging territory.

 

As I was walking down the stairs and taking that picture. A foul ball zoomed back just a stair case to my left:

Foul ball.JPG

If it helps, the ball landed where the soda vendor is standing in the picture. I quickly got my glove on but was blocked by fans in their seat.

 

Throughout the game, I moved further to the right as I thought it was an akward angle where I was currently sitting but three foul balls went to the Foot Locker sign in the previous picture and none were sliced within three sections of me.

 

The game went well as I root for the Twins in Yankees-Twins games (the Yankees beat them too much) and the Twins loaded the bases and Delmon Young hit a double to empty the bases and send the game into extra innings where the Twins won it on a single with runners on first and third.

 

STATS:

 

  • 1 Ball at this game(no picture because I gave it away)

 

  • 1.0 Balls per game

 

  • 26 Straight games with at least 1 ball

 

  • 4 games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 ball

 

Oh, and sorry this entry took too long but MlBlogs was having weirdness and I couldn’t upload pictures.

“The Baseball” book review

When I first heard of the fact that Zack was doing a book on the baseball itself I thought to myself, ” now why is he doing a book about the creation of the baseball. He should sell a second book solely on the topic of snagging baseballs. The other stuff will just come across as fluff to his fan base.” Boy was I wrong. I was hooked in the first few chapters of the predicted “fluff”.

 

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If you notice, my book might be the most worn 1 day old book I at least have ever seen.

Let me show you the anatomy of the book.

Part 1: Baseballs in the news

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80 pages

Contains:

Ch 1: The Souvenir Craze

Ch 2: Foul Ball Lore

Ch 3: Death By Baseball

Ch 4: Stunts

Ch 5: Foul Balls in Pop Culture

 

Part Two: Historical and Factual Stuff

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110 pages

Contains:

Ch 6: The Evolution Of The Baseball

Ch 7: The Rawlings Method

Ch 8: Storage Preparation and Usage

 

Part Three: How To Snag Major League Baseballs

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112 Pages

Contains:

Ch 9: Before You Enter The Stadium
Ch 10: Batting Practice

Ch 11: How To Get A Player To Throw A Ball To You

Ch 12: The Game Itself

Ch 13: Top 10 Lists and Other Things Of Interest 

 

I must say that every part seems like its own separate book. Each begin at the beginning of time for that respective subject. So will I in encompassing this book.

 

In the beginning, the world was a dark void where fans could not keep the baseballs they caught. That’s basically how the book starts, by introducing the fact that baseballs were too expensive for teams to replace. Then goes on to explain the fan revolt caused by this fact. Personally I would have had this section elsewhere in the book, but more on the structure later.

 

We then start to read the effect the value had/has produced many controversies amongst fans because of the greed of fans. Examples range from, Steve Bartman having to be transferred by his company to The Up For Grabs  controversy. From there, he shows how the price of baseballs has evolved, showing the 10 most expensive baseballs.

 

Move on to chapter 2. He again builds the chapter from beginning to end. Starting with the effect of the institution of the “foul balls are strikes” rule and what had happened prior to that. Leading all the way up to Denard Span hitting his own mother with a foul ball in 2009 spring training. This is a chapter of crazy stories that was extremely well researched and was not the summaries of the incidents but the whole story.

 

Then a more in a ( somewhat) more somber version of the previous chapter ( Hample was not himself somber as he took the role of reporter but the stories were obviously sad) retelling the tales of deaths by the baseball ranging from Ray Chapman to the seagull that almost had Dave Winfield incarcerated for six months in Canada ( Why would he kill a seagull *on purpose*? He’s from Minnesota). This was essentially the same as the last chapter but I get the separation to create the effect of an in memoriam.

 

The next is the scientific experimentation section of the book with stunts ranging from Myth Busters in baseball to Pakistanis trying to smuggle heroin inside of baseballs ( dang dogs!).This provides practical knowledge and some great fun facts about how things in baseball were proved and some of the crazy things the lull of baseball has made its players attempt. This was again really fun to read and great for retrospective reference ( I love when I can actually use big words and they make some sense together).

 

Then come the more relevant facts of the book to today. Of the past chapters you might say ” but Mateo, how do they affect the price of tea in China”. They don’t. This chapter might not have an affect on anything in China but it sure does have more to do with the modern world. First Hample undergoes the endlessly critiqueable ( that is a word… right?) job of choosing the most relevant foul balls in movies and TV shows. He analyzes the logistical flaws with each of twelve scenes such as, did the extras reacts in Movies from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to shows like  CSI: NY. Although, the critiques were even more uniform than my team recaps and previews (ok, so maybe they weren’t that uniform). The next section in this chapter was a personal highlight, celebrity ballhawks. I don’t really care about the significance of the ball as much as the human element that it added to the celebrities. The Celebrities ranged from Charlie Sheen to Justin Bieber totaling 9 . The section was done like the others with fun in the section and loads of background information.

 

Now to the negative. Chapter six starts off Part Two of the book, Historical and Factual Stuff. This is a great reference book on its own but feels like your are reading every single plaque in Cooperstown on a section dedicated to the history of the baseball from 1847 to 2009:

all_the_plaques.jpg

The content which obviously cannot be avoided was about exciting as Irish history. That being: the English kicked them around, things got a little better, then they got kicked around some more, then they lived a little more happily in poverty, then there was black 47. Except in this section, after the initial architecture of the ball it was: hitters were complaining that the ball was dead, then they made livelier balls, then the pitchers complained about that, then they conducted some tests, then not much evidence showed up on the tests, and the last three steps repeated for about 100 years. Did I mention this section lasts for 62 pages? Had I been the author I think I would have merged this with various other sections but that’s just me. My advice to any reader is to read around it in some way shape or form. Either read it before or after the rest of the book and segment it so you don’t have to read it all at once. It definitely accomplishes the goal of being a history of the baseball’s evolution but might be best served as a reference when information is needed, as it might be tough for the more ADD readers ( I normally pay very good attention for long periods of time and still struggled sticking with this section).

 

The next section was based on the actual construction of the ball and is taken mostly from Hample’s trip to the Rawlings Baseball Factory in Costa Rica. The chapter goes from how to deconstruct a baseball( which is awesome if you ever get the chance to do it. Though I would not use nail clippers but an object similar to an awl to get the stitches off as they were too deep for me to get with the clippers) to the process to what commemorative baseballs are and how they are made. This is a great section, very informative with pictures to explain most things that a person would have questions about.

 

We are now on chapter 8 of 12 and the last of chapters on the baseball itself. This chapter is about how the balls are kept so that they are in prime playing condition at game time. This starts with the story behind the creation of now commonly used Lena Blackburne mud that helps pitchers grip the baseball.It then goes on to explain how teams started keeping balls in temperature and humidity controlled rooms starting when the Rockies used a humidor to counteract the arid nature of Coors Field.

 

Now ow ow the moment you have all been waiting for or or (well most of you anyway), How To Snag Major League Baseballs alls alls. Even though the rest of the book was great, this seemed to flow with a little more life than the previous two. First, this part has its own introduction.

The section starts off with chapter nine, the pre-game preparation. This was a great tutorial in what to do before you get in covering all the basics it ranged from how to choose a game to what to do when you arrived at the stadium.

He then goes on to explain the intricacies of the most important snagging time, batting practice. This was a bit more descriptive than the original namesake of part three. For example, when I started going early to batting practice I was hung up on the idea of hitters from both sides of the plate being able to hit the ball to me and so I stood in foul ground. A strategy I learned was almost completely wrong and should only be used on occasion when the situation demands it. You will have no problem if you have gone to batting practice but for the more inexperienced ballhawks there are technical problems such as the failure to mention that most rails block you from moving to a specific side if you are not standing in a place where there is a gap like here:

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You see how the railing prevents movement to your opposite side if you are not in the gap. This definitely messed me up in my earlier days. The book even taught me why my string is always tangled in the glove trick.

The next chapter is the toughest to put into practice, getting a player to toss you a ball. This is because the form in which you get different players to toss you a ball can vary so much from player to player. What I do like is that he does not write an aggressive strategy but one more along the lines of “it caint huit” or ” it can’t hurt” for those who don’t speak Brooklyn. He wrote the strategies that will always put you in more favor with the players and don’t have the possiblity of a backfire (although if you change hats right in front of players from either team “it caint heylp”). I guarantee that if you follow these instructions you will get at least one baseball  for every two games you go to ( and I say this reluctantly because that is an average of .5 balls per game, meaning that my skill only accounted for 2 balls a game which is pretty sad).

Finally, most casual fans don’t care about bp balls. They don’t mean anything. A game homer(or foul)’s where it’s at. In this chapter Hample goes from what the real odds are for catching a foul ball to how long NYC security guards will kick you out after the game. This section goes into great depth because great depth is required. It is well written but I am surprised he didn’t have any fun with his home runs celebrations given the informal atmosphere of the book:
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The last chapter was, at least for me, the best chapter of the whole book. It was a chapter going from the top 10 ballhawks of all time to how to document your collection. I found this chapter to be more informative of the whole book. The interviews with the ballhawks were fantastic because I knew of them but did not know them as a person. For example, I found out that I share a birthday with Minnesota’s best ballhawk, Greg Dryden. I know that the 10 best ballparks section will help me get a few extra baseballs at the respective stadiums.

All in all, like I told the author yesterday, this is one of my favorite books top 5 if not higher. The book was great and I would recommend the book to any mildly interested in baseball.

If you want to buy it, the paperback is $14.95 discounted on Amazon and Ebay though ( I don’t think I have a Canadian following) and is available in most bookstores. Hope you enjoyed and find the review useful.

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