Look where I was on the one-year anniversary of the first BallhawkFest:
When I got there, though, the day-of-game-tickets windows were closed and I found out there was only one student ticket left. The windows were going to open at 5:00 (ten minutes before the gates), so I either going to get that last ticket or go home. Would I get the last ticket and get to go in, just decide to splurge on a more expensive ticket, or would I get locked out of the stadium and have to wander around and take pictures like this game? While you wonder, I’ll inject this anecdote to build suspense for the answer [insert childish giggle here].
While I was waiting for the windows open, a guy approached me and said “Hi”. This guy was Chris Hernandez, a fairly new ballhawk, who those of you who read the comments may know better as “ch1088”. If you would like to read it, he already posted his entry of this game. The link to which is hiagh. His girlfriend and a friend of hers were with him, so those two held a spot for both of us.
Why did I need a spot in line? I got this at the ticket window:
The lines were rather long, but instead of being at the back of them, thanks to Chris and his friends, I “only” had this many people in front of me:
Do you know how car sickness works? Basically, your brain gets confused because your eyes tell you you’re moving, but you yourself aren’t, so you get nauseous -or something along those lines. I don’t really get car sick anymore, instead I get grounds crew sick. Instead I get nauseous when I see sun and feel warmth, but there is a tarp on the field.
Long story short: I got rejected by every one of the Nationals pitchers. Actually, I even got rejected by the position players that came out to throw. I’d estimate that fifteen balls were thrown in the stands by the Nationals. By the way, I’m not complaining, just reporting what happened. There were a ton of balls that left the hands of Nationals and fell into the stands, and I was having some bad luck considering there weren’t that many fans and I was one of the few with Nationals gear.
At this time, I was pretty sure that if I got a ball, it was going to be at the Nationals dugout during the game. Spoiler alert: my streak of bad luck with third-out balls and I didn’t get anything at the dugout the whole game. Anyway, I almost got three balls from Drew Storen when he bounced three slider into the dirt. I would have gotten each of the had it not been for the wheelchair section they all bounced into. All of them were going right in my direction, but all fell short in front of me where other people got them since I couldn’t go into the section. No, I didn’t get a ball from Storen, but when the position players came out to warm-up, you can bet I was waiting for them to finish and toss me a ball:
Actually, though, none of the position players tossed me the ball. See the guy in the Red? My guess is he’s a Strength and Conditioning guy. Anyway, after all of the players had gone into the dugout, he tossed me one of the balls they had left on the field. Here is a diagram of what happened:
The horizontal arrow starts from where the guy was standing and ends where I was standing when he threw the ball. The vertical arrow points to the kid I gave the ball away to right after I caught the ball. It was a perfectly good ball, but I was in essence making a sacrifice to the baseball gods for not shutting me out. Don’t you just love my religion? All of same practices and rationale but no dying is involved. Also, you can see Chris at the far left of the picture. He’s the one standing up in the red. The reason being, he was trying to get a ball from the Nationals dugout. He was constantly coaxing them into throwing him a ball, but got dissed each time.
The game wasn’t particularly interesting during the middle innings, this was all I snagged through six innings:
Something else was happening at this time. Can you spot it in this picture? (you can click on the picture to get a closer look):
By the time I saw the Star Wars people in the concourse, it had already been raining for a while. I liked it. When it rains, less people are in the stands. That’s just one example, but you can read a lot more reasons to attend a game where there is rain in my most recent mygameballs.com column, The Rainy Day Gambit.
Then, in the latter innings, it started to pour. Ian Desmond decided to be a little more generous to the fans that stuck around:
Also in the latter innings, the seats were empty enough for me to walk around without getting in anyone’s way, so I did:
Do you see how empty it was? I mean this kind of emptiness is nothing new to me just because I’m insane and brave ridiculous weather in the name of baseball, but why does it take a rain storm for either New York stadium to be this empty? The game went into extra innings (for the second time in four games between these two teams- all of which I attended), and the combination of that, the Mets giving up six runs in the top of the tenth, and the rain made foul ground ballhawking heaven. It was like batting practice but during the game. What do I mean by that? People were actually standing up with their gloves on:
I’m not kidding you, if the Nationals sent a righty to pitch instead of Tom Gorzelanny, I might have caught three foul balls. I had a reasonable shot at catching anything hit within four sections of me. I was sitting close to the dugouts, so here’s a better look at how empty it was there:
Also, I should probably mention that part of the reason I say I could have gotten maybe three foul balls is I actually *did* get a foul ball in the top of the tenth that landed one and a half sections away:
Danny Espinosa fouled a ball off that went pretty high, so I raced from the section to the left of where I took this picture from and just as the ball landed, I was on the first staircase you see in this picture. The ball then bounced off the seat and whizzed right by my ear. It then hit the first “elevated” row and bounced into the row under that. I had changed direction and was the only one within twenty feet of the ball, so I picked it up. Here is the ball with the spot I picked it up in the background:
It was fun, and just like that, I had my first hit “game” ball of the year.
After the game, I headed over to the umpire tunnel, but the folks at MLB.com mistakenly had David Rackley as the home plate umpire in the box score. I had gotten a ball from David Rackley earlier in the year, so I knew it wasn’t him. During the bottom of the tenth, I figured out the umpire was Alan Porter, with the help of Greg Barasch, who was at home watching the game. When the game ended, I headed to the first row of the section and yelled out to Porter before anyone else had access to him and he tossed me the ball:
At the umpire tunnel, I ran into Mark McConville, who you may remember from me mentioning a few times in entries last month. We really hadn’t said hi to each other yet, so we walked out of the stadium after none of the Nationals pitchers (the ones that were left anyway) didn’t toss any balls into the crowd.
- 3 Balls at this game ( I gave one away)
Numbers 355-357 for my lifetime (I’m showing the logos because they were both commemorative):
- 135 Balls in 30 Games= 4.50 Balls Per Game (16 balls under 500)
- 3 Balls x 26,735 Fans= 80,205 Competition Factor
- 39 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 15 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 3 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
- 82 Balls in 31 Games at Citi Field= 2.65 Balls Per Game
- 31 straight Games at Citi Field with at least 1 Ball
- 3 straight Games at Citi Field with at least 2 Balls
- 3 straight Games at Citi Field with at least 3 Balls
- Time Spent On Game 3:32- 11:24= 7 Hours 52 Minutes
- 1 Hit Game Ball this season
- 5 Pieces of bubblegum snagged and chewed at this game
I don’t care if I took this picture two days earlier, it’s the perfect picture to start off an entry of a game at Citi Field:
When I got off the train, there were maybe four other people waiting at the gate. Eventually, I struck up a conversation with a father and son close to me. It turns out they were from North Carolina. Why were they up at Citi Field for a baseball game then?The father actually went to high school with Bobby Parnell, or at least he gave off that impression. What I *do* know is that he knew Parnell enough that he had been working to meet up with him during B.P., and have Parnell’s number because he said he would text him when they were entering the stadium. This was the reason they was at the gates so early. Actually, that’s only a partial-truth. They was there early to try to meet up with Parnell, but they were there 2.5 hours early because the ticket rep they had spoken to told them Citi Field opened 2.5 hours before game time. Ha, ticket rep, I only wish it still did.
I kept up conversation with these two until two ballhawk friends, Ben Weil and Avi Miller, showed up at the gate and told me there was free pudding in a tent, about a hundred or so, feet away. I would have taken a picture of the pudding, but I want to send the message: “Yes, I’m a loser, but I’m not THAT much of a loser.” Us three then talked until the gates opened. As that happened, I was pretty much the only person out of everyone who entered the stadium who went to the right field side of the stadium.
There, I found this guy:
I would point out the ball with an arrow, but I like to assume a certain level of intelligence in my readership, and I trust that you can find it by yourself. Also, I should mention finding Easter Eggs is VERY rare at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. I don’t know why I presume it’s the ushers, but nowhere else where the gates open after the beginning of B.P. do I have such a problem finding Easter Eggs.
After that, my plan was to get a player to throw me a ball from here. This was my view of the field:
I then saw that a ballhawk named Vin had left the right field, so I made the ill-conceived decision to move over there. It was ill-conceived because this was my view there:
Do you know what “BB” stands for? Ballboy. Translation: never going to get a ball from me. Heck, I know a ballboy on the Yankees and he hasn’t thrown me a ball. Do you think this guy is going to toss me one? Nope. I stayed in this section for a whole Mets group, because they were mostly lefties, but I should have moved elsewhere.
Finally when I did move out of the section, I went to the left field seats. I spent the rest of bp there, but this was all I had to show for it:
Right from the spot where I took the picture, I caught that ball on the fly, off the bat of a player who I would later identify as Vinny Rottino. I offered this ball to a kid near me, but he turned me down. I must say: congratulations. I like giving baseballs away to kids, but I like it even more when they want to snag a ball for themselves and turn me down.
I was genuinely surprised that was it for B.P., though. Citi Field is semi-notorious for habitually slow B.P.s, but look at how the flags were blowing:
They were blowing straight towards left field, where I was for all of B.P. The reason there weren’t a bunch of balls in my section is the Orioles just didn’t lift any balls. Really all they had to do was get them a certain height and the jet stream would have done the rest.
Like I said, that was it for batting practice. Once it was done, I went over to the Orioles’ dugout to meet up with these people, with whom I spent the entirety of the game with:
They would be:
1. Ben Weil– A guy I believe I met at the ballpark one game and became friends with through just getting to know him at several games as “the guy who has every jersey known to man and monkey”. Seriously, just click on his name. Jerseys and hats are his “main” thing, but he has lots of other stuff too.
2. Avi Miller– A person who I met through Ballhawk Fest last year. He was in town for the Mets-Orioles series, because he is an Orioles fan. On a similar note, he is also a Camden Yards regular, who attends 8,000 Orioles games a year, you know, give or take 7,915 or so. He is either seeing if he can tweet without looking at his phone or hiding his face because R.A. Dickey had as many hits as the entire Orioles team combined.
3. Matt”y G”- Ben’s friend, who I first met in my last actual game before this, and who also engages casually in the ballhawking scene when he goes to games.
All three of us sat behind the Orioles. I was going to sit further down the line, but I figured that I might as well sit at the dugout, since it had been so long since the last time I’d done it. At first, I sat in the aisle seat due to other fans showing up with tickets to the seats Matt and Ben were sitting in. I was so out of practice when it came to third out balls, I completely forgot to get up when the Mets made the third out in the first inning. Ben actually had to say, “Go, Go!” I then realized what was happening, and moved down the stairs to get Mark Reynolds to throw me the ball. It was COMMEMORATIVE! That was actually my first Mets commemorative ball. Here is the ball with Reynolds at first:
After I got this ball, I wanted to give a ball away, so I put the commemorative ball in backpack and pulled out one of my bp balls. I then offered a ball to a girl, but she didn’t want it, so I gave the ball to whom appeared to be her brother:
As you can see, I’ve pointed out the two with green numbers. Well, the boy did accept the ball, but right about when I gave him the ball, I felt something hit my back. I turned around to see a baseball rolling around on the steps. According to Avi (with help from Ben), Wayne Kirby had thrown a ball meant for the girl who didn’t accept a ball from me, and someone else picked it up.
When I returned to our row, I switched seats with Ben; he sat in the aisle seat, and I sat in the fourth seat in. Sadly, for Ben, Mark Reynolds didn’t hook him up the rest of the night, nor did anyone really. We sat in this format for the rest of the night. I assume we would have shifted again had Ben gotten a ball, but like I said, he didn’t. I must say, though. This was probably THE best game I’ve had sitting with other people. Usually, either I am trying to get a ball and the person isn’t interested enough in snagging to sit next to me, or it is another ballhawk who is serious about snagging as well and we try to sit away from each other in order that we both have room to do our thing. Here, we all sacrificed that tiny advantage in getting third out balls to sit together. We just talked the whole time and made fun of each other. It was a great experience that reminded me you can have a sucky game ballhawking but still have a great time. Kind of like my first game at Target Field last year.
The only thing that really was a clear missed opportunity is that a foul ball came right into our section. Ben then shot up the stairs. I didn’t get a clear look at the ball, so I just followed him. That said, I learned from a Chris Young home run last year, that you should only trust YOUR eyes, so I looked to make sure he wasn’t misjudging the ball. When I saw the path of the ball, it looked like it was going ten rows up the stairs. I kept running up, but just then it hit one of the steps. Turns out, it had some massive backspin on it and came waaay back. I forgot this little tid bit about foul balls. Well actually, not really. I had practiced judging foul balls while my high school team was in Myrtle Beach, SC. The thing is, though, I was practicing on flat ground. In the stands, the incline of the seats magnifies any spin on the ball.
After the ball bounced off the step, it bounced back into a row behind us where a father (or was it a mother?) picked it up. This was kind of depressing. I should also mention there were two other semi-ballhawks in the section:
That in the yellow would be Aaron, who I believe goes by Howie sometimes, for whatever reason, and his friend whose name I don’t know. I know Aaron, or Howie, or whatever the heck you want to call him, because I sat down in this region with him last year.
The game was a great one. Not only did we get to see Ike Davis’ first career grand slam, but we also got to see R.A. Dickey pitch an absolute masterpiece. He threw 9 innings, 13 strikeouts, gave up 1 hit, and allowed no runs. Only the 7 hitter and pitcher got on base.If that weren’t enough, Dickey (like I mentioned earlier) had as many hits offensively as he gave up as a pitcher. Isn’t that something? I wonder how many times that has happened?
After the game ended, Ben and I headed over to the umpire tunnel where umpire Gary Cooper didn’t give a ball to anybody who was there. His ball pouch wasn’t flat either. Maybe I’m just operating out of context, but what is he going to do with those baseballs in the umpire room?
After all ball snagging opportunities were exhausted, we took the following picture by the dugout:
Admittedly, this isn’t the best take when it comes to me specifically, but it was the best group picture, so you have this awkward picture of me saying something while the camera was taking a picture; probably “Cal Ripken”.
I parted from the rest of the group at the jackie Robinson Rotunda and headed home on the “7” train.
- 3 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave one away)
numbers 265-267 for my lifetime:
- 45 Balls in 10 Games= 4.50 Balls Per Game
- 19 straight Games with at least 1 ball
- 10 straight games with at least 2 balls
- 10 straight games with at least 3 balls
- 3 Balls x 29,014 Fans= 87,042 Competition Factor
- 79 Balls in 30 games= 2.63 Balls Per Game at Citi Field
- 30 straight Games with at least 1 ball at Citi Field
- 2 straight Games with at least 2 balls at Citi Field
- 2 straight Games with at least 3 balls at Citi Field
- Time of Game 4:09- 9:42= 5 hours 33 Minutes
Ah, welcome to Sh… excuse me, Citi Field:
I was planning to get the $10 student ticket for this game. When I got there, though, those tickets were sold out, and the cheapest tickets were $37. Neither did I have the money, nor would I have paid that price had I brought enough money.
There I found myself in the situation of being at Citi Field with nothing to do. I figured that as long as I was there, I could take a tour around the stadium, since I had never been fully around Citi Field. Also, fun fact: up to this point in the season, I had taken more trips to Citi Field when I didn’t enter the stadium than I had to actually enter the stadium and go to the game. I had only gone to one game there so far, but I had gone once to pick up my six-game ticket plan and now this time.
My tour started off by the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, which is behind home plate. I then went down the first base side of the stadium:
On this side, there was…
The team store:
The Hodges V.I.P. entrance:
and whatever this thing is:
I then had to go around a parking lot, which I suspect may have been the players’ parking lot. I have two pictures here if anyone can confirm or deny this:
After passing that, I came upon the right field gate:
I then kept walking until I passed the Bullpen Gate:
I also took a picture of the picnic area just inside the gate:
Did you notice anything in that last picture? No? Here’s a closer look:
Apparently there was some pitcher working in the bullpen. I had half a mind to throw on my Reds gear and ask one of the coaches for a ball, but I knew I would then have to count this game in my stats, and there was really no hope of me getting another ball, since I wasn’t going to enter the stadium, thus probably not being worth my while. I guess it would have been a cool story. I think I’ll have to try that sometime in the future. I don’t think anyone has gotten a ball at Citi Field before the gates open, and it would be great to be that first person.
I then walked right behind the play area in dead-center:
Behind me at this point, was the huge collection of auto-related establishments. I’ve already blogged about this, so I didn’t feel as obligated to take a picture of this, so I didn’t. I then came across something I really wasn’t expecting to find.
As I walked behind the left field portion of the stadium, I saw this right here:
I figure out that it was the employees’ entrance. As I kept walking, I saw a checkpoint where there were two security guards checking to make sure only employees were passing:
I then passed by the left field gate, which, little known fact, I have actually entered through before:
After which, I passed by the Stengel V.I.P. entrance:
Here’s the view from the Stengel gate looking towards the JRR (Jackie Robinson Rotunda):
I must say, for all the things they mess up on, the Mets are pretty solid with letting you know where you are on the outside of the stadium. First of all, there are these map things:
then they also have these directional thingys:
So yeah, I just complemented the Mets on something. Maybe the apocalypse is this year.
As I kept walking, I passed the Seaver V.I.P entrance:
and then I was back to the ticket booth that denied me a $10 ticket. Here is my poor attempt at word play:
Then I was back at the Rotunda where I had started. I do want to explain a more minute detail of Citi Field to everyone, though. Outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, there are these funny looking patterns on the sidewalk:
Before Citi Field opened, the Mets made it so you could buy one of the little stones within one of those patterns. The darker ones cost one price and the lighter ones cost a different, presumably higher, price. Therefore, they each have a different message on them. Here are two examples:
Oh, and just because I can, here are two signs that are useless to 80% (or more) of people, but whose function is simply to idiot-proof Citi Field. I will give no further explanation:
That was it for my tour around Citi Field. I *was* then going to hop back on the train to go to Manhattan, but I saw Garrett Meyer and Zack Hample, so I stopped to chat with them at the gate until it opened. I didn’t take any pictures for myself and this blog, but I took the opening picture in Zack’s entry of the game. After the gates opened, I actually did get on the train and an hour-and-a-half later, I was back at home.
Since this was my first game of 2012 at Citi Field, let’s count all the things the Mets changed from 2011 that I thought would make Citi Field awesome, but ended up angering me.
1. They advertised people being able to buy a six game plan for as low as $9 a ticket.
I was ecstatic to see this because I usually buy my tickets from Stubhub, and Stubhub’s fees on each ticket are $11 plus whatever the ticket itself costs. However, when I bought the tickets, the fees the Mets added to the tickets bumped up the price of the plan from $54 to $89, so around $15 a ticket.
Now this wouldn’t have been a big deal on its own, but check out the ticket I bought at this game:
That’s right, I bought this ticket for only $10. Nowadays, the Mets sell tickets to people with valid student IDs for only $10, but they made sure to wait until AFTER the beginning of the season to publicize this fact. So in essence, what I did in buying the plan was waste $30 and make it so I *had* to attend those games or sell them on Stubhub if any plans got in the way, whereas I could choose not to go if I were constantly buying tickets the day of the game as I did here. For the record, I will probably not be able to attend four of those games that I bought, so in all likelihood, I wasted a lot more than $30 on the Mets.
2. They put up a section in Left Field that was closer to the field:
It should be obvious why I thought this was going to make Citi Field a much better place to snag baseballs. Closer to the field= more baseballs that make it into the seats. In addition, I didn’t account for how this would improve the ballhawking in the regular seating above the new section. As fellow ballhawk and neighbor Greg Barasch put it, “We would be in the place we normally are now, but it would be completely empty.” It makes sense, doesn’t it? Other fans see a section closer to the field than they are and they crowd it. In response to Greg’s comment, I jokingly said, “Yeah, but you know the Mets are going to find a way to mess this up, right?” Well, the Mets did.
Unlike my fantasized LF, there were ushers checking tickets, even during batting practice. So all the section does is act as like a perpetual season ticket holder section the Mets had last year. If you don’t remember what that was or have started reading this blog since then, it was a section on the field where season ticket holders could experience batting practice from the field. What this did was keep most toss ups from being thrown to the people in the upper part of the bleachers. So if there are any people in that section, they are a lot more likely to get a ball thrown to them simply because of their proximity to the field and thus any player who would throw a ball into the stands.
That ball, as I later discovered, is lopsided. If you hold the ball in the center, the right side of the ball has more mass than the left does. I don’t know if this will show up well in a photo, but do you see how the following picture has the ball slanted? That is because this particular ball cannot possibly sit on its middle due to the size differential between the sides. Weird, right?:
I stayed in the LF seats for a couple of minutes after that, but all the Mets in the cage were lefties, so I knew nothing was coming my way on the fly.
That brought me to the CF section, which also brings us to:
4. The Mets were going to move the fences in CF.
I thought this was going to mean they would also put in some extra seats as to make it possible for us ballhawks to catch baseballs that otherwise we would not have been able to reach. Instead this was the result:
The bottom concrete part is where the seating area ends and the orange is the top of the new wall. That means the Mets moved the fence closer, but the seats stayed the same. What did this create? A gap, and a rather large one too:
This is GREAT for using the glove trick or another retrieval device, but as it is well-documented, such devices are absolutely NOT allowed at Citi Field. That means myself and other people with devices are forced to drool over balls like the one in the picture above.
I was however, the only person in the section, so I was bound to get at least one ball there, right? Well, the Mets’ bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello went to throw a ball against the wall and I thought he was going to throw it to me, so I made a motion to catch it. As he released the ball he spotted me and tossed me a second ball he had with him. However, this was a half-hearted throw and landed a few feet short, making me lean into the gap for a catch:
I then moved over to RF, but I quickly left because R. A. Dickey was manning that portion of the outfield. He was an absolute jerk last year after being so nice in his first year with the Mets, and it was clearly the “2011 R. A.” rather than the “2010 R. A.” In addition, RF brings up… drumroll:
5. The Mets moved in the fences in RF.
Again, I thought they would add some general seating there and this would mean RF would actually be a feasible place to catch a baseball. Instead, this is what they did:
Similar to CF, the Mets added no new seating open to the public. Instead, they added a picnic-like area. The reason I say “a feasbible place to catch a baseball” is because as it is now, only the juts at the sides of the section can have a Home Run hit to them due to the overhang of the second deck. If the seating were to extend to the orange line, though, there would be a few rows of running room and some mild hope of catching a ball there. In addition to not living up to my child-like fantasy, the addition actually made that section worse. As it was last year, any ball that hit the angular wall would ricochet to the ground under the red “Modell’s” sign. This allowed experienced ballhawks to stay right above said sign and just ask whichever player picked up the ball from right above their head.
I *was* behind Zack Hample, but that’s not why I didn’t get a ball until the Reds started throwing. No, the reason for my drought was the Mets seem to not be physically able to hit a ball past the Party Deck if unless they pull it right down the foul line.
This was about the most interesting part of the rest of the Mets’ batting practice:
Has anyone ever seen a dot like that on the batting cage for the pitcher to aim at? Is this done all the time and I am just that oblivious to such details? What’s up with it? Should I stop asking so many rhetorical questions?
Anyway, I then moved over to foul ground when the Reds pitchers started throwing and lined up behind this throwing pair:
However, I had no idea what either of their names were, so when Johnny Cueto finished his throwing, I didn’t hesitate at all to wave my arms in the air and ask for a ball. I figured he would walk a little closer and throw me the ball, but he stopped right where he was and threw it a long way to me. The next picture shows how far away he was when he released the ball. The arrow on the left is where Cueto is now and the arrow on the right is where he was when he threw me the ball:
Not surprisingly, Cueto overthrew me, but the only fan behind me was on his phone and didn’t even notice the ball until it clanged off a seat right in front of him and caromed back closer to me.
Here is a picture of the ball with Cueto in the background once I got back to the LF seats:
After that, myself and the other ballhawk in attendance, Mark McConville had the treat of getting completely humiliated while Zack caught baseballs while on his cellphone:
He was getting interviewed by a Sirius XM radio station and they wanted to get him on the air live while he was snagging baseballs. That was one of two or three baseballs he managed to get players to toss him without using words.
I, on the other hand, got this:
It wasn’t all happy, though. That was the second ball that landed in that row. The first one was a ball hit to my left. I had a fancyish camera at this game and wanted to make use of it, so me, being the idiot that I am, tried to get a picture of the ball as I caught it. The action of holding the camera threw me off-balance and caused me to not only miss what would have been an easy catch, but also hit the metal armrest of a seat. This left what is a bruise that is half an inch deep, an inch tall, and three inches wide. I won’t show it for the more sqeamish people, but here is a link to the picture for those who want to see it, or you can read Zack’s account of the game, within which he details the bruise/cut (Oh, and before I get too side-tracked, that is the other ballhawk, Mark, going up to the front of the section in Reds gear.)
After I hit the armrest, my head was slowly lowering, so all I could see was some glove in the row behind me catch the ball. On the very next pitch or the pitch right after that, the same hitter hit a ball in the same row but even further to my left and I hobbled over there and picked up the ball. I guess Karma was feeling bad for me. This injury esentially fudged up my plan of going over to RF and asking a Reds player over there for a ball, because it was painful to put any significant pressure on the leg, and that was it for batting practice. The Reds hitters hit very little into the stands and their pitchers were throwing very little as well.
Oh well, at least it was a beautiful afternoon:
Also, see the usher in green, who I have further emphasized by putting an arrow over his head, in that last picture? Towards the end of batting practice, I gave him a ball that I told him to give to a kid of his choice.
One thing I do like about the Mets is that they have the lineups on the scoreboard even before the game begins. Here they are:
If you can’t tell, the Reds had 7 righties and the Mets had 6 lefties. Considering the Reds hadn’t faced a left-handed pitcher in almost a month at this point and were unlikely to hit a Home Run against one of the best left-handed pitchers in the National League, I sat in, you guessed it. Left Field.
My plan *was* to sit in the foul territory along the third base line, but with the limp I had, ushers were already checking tickets by the time I got to those seats and I decided to play Home Run balls in Left Field. I felt pretty good about that when, a few inning into the game, this was the view to my left:
That said, you may or may not have noticed in that last picture, but this was what the section I was planning to sit in looked like:
Thankfully nothing was hit there, but it was absolute torture watching the section be that empty.
Long story short, neither the Reds nor the Mets hit anything close to my section. I’m pretty sure I spent more time studying for an AP Macroeconomics test I had the next morning than I did paying attention to the game. This is saying a lot considering I wasn’t really invested in the test given it was going to be on the one year anniversary of my dad’s death, on which day I attempted to go to a Mets game. Then again, I guess I can’t complain about anything that happened this game considering most of fellow seniors were at prom right as I took that last picture. The one bright spot in the game is what I believe to be one of the few things the Mets managed to get right, and it is this:
I like that they have the spray chart for the hitters. Then again, it’s something that I, as a high school senior, can and have done on a daily basis, so it’s not that impressive. I’m sorry, am I being too negative? I just really don’t like that the Mets have messed up almost every “improvement” they have tried to make. I thoroughly enjoyed watching not one, but two Home Runs be hit by the Reds that would not have been Home Runs with the old dimensions.
Remember I mention I had a fancyish camera this game? Well one of the things said camera can do is take panoramic photographs, so I took one towards the beginning of the game and one towards the end of the game:
After the game, I headed out to the bullpens in CF and asked Reds bullpen catcher, Mike Stefanski, and even though not only the only fan wearing Reds gear, but the only fan there period, he completely ignore my request. I then got to think about how big of an idiot I was for banging my thigh against seat while I hopped/limped all the way from CF to the train station behind Home Plate.
- 4 Balls at this game (3 in this picture because I gave that one away to the usher)
Numbers 252-255 in my “collection”:
- 33 Balls in 7 Games= 4.71 Balls Per Game
- 16 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 7 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 7 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
- 4 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
- 4 Balls x 22,659 Fans= 90,636 Competition Factor (or an example of why this statistic is flawed)
- 76 balls obtained in 29 games = 2.62 Balls Per Game
- 29 straight Games at Citi Field with at least 1 Ball
- Time at Game 4: 13- 10:16= 6 hours 3 minutes
Again I wanted to avoid (and still am) avoiding Citi field at all costs but I had promised before the season to my service supervisor that I would take her grandson to a Mets game and that is the reason I went to this game. Before I get to the game, though, I must include a little story about how I almost lost my glove permanently earlier that day at my community service site.
I was playing catch with that grandson, whose name is Alex, on the roof of my service site on 76th and Columbus because the alternative would be to go to Central Park and I was lazy. Anyway, the roof is slanted so when I threw him a fly ball and he missed it, the ball didn’t just go straight across the roof like it would if we were on flat ground but it started rolling off the roof. Eventually it rolled off of the roof. It then landed in a neighbor’s patio area. For the record we did have another ball available to us but what kind of a ballhawk would I be not to use my glove trick. Here is a picture of the ball and the glove in the patio area:
The glove is pointed out by the arrow and the blue stress ball is in the circle (I know it’s tough to see but if look closely enough you should be able to see it through the shadows). This may seem like an easy thing for a person with a glove trick but it really wasn’t at all because the ball was under the table. This meant that to get the glove in a position behind the ball in order to pull it back I would have to throw the glove just over the ball but just under the table, which at this angle was like a window of a foot and there was no railing stopping me from falling 25 feet so I couldn’t see my target all that well. Also, I was at the outer limits of my fishing line when throwing the glove and so I couldn’t hold onto any of it. What I did was that I tied the line to the metal thing at the bottom of the last picture and threw the glove. Once the glove ran out of string it just jumped back toward me because obviously it didn’t have any more string to work with.
I tell this because after a few tries of throwing the glove from a 90 degree angle to the ball I wanted to try it from slightly off center and see if it would improve my chances. So, I untied the fishing line and moved over to my right a few feet. I then let my glove drop down and just as I released the glove I realized that I had not yet tied my glove to the metal thing. My glove was stuck in the position you see in the last picture.
I just want to clarify that the patio was actually in a different building from my service site but I was on their roof because in New York the buildings are side by side and all about the same height so the roofs are connected and Alex and I wanted more room to throw so we ventured a few roofs. Just to give you an idea of the drop from where I was throwing my glove and where my glove drop down, here is a picture I took from the fire escape:
The top left arrow shows where I was standing/sitting trying to retrieve the ball and the bottom arrow shows where the glove fell down to. Right after my glove fell down it was time for lunch and I realized I wasn’t going to figure this out soon and just ate my lunch while I thought of a solution.
My first thought was to create like an extendo arm of sorts with various brooms and things around the building and poking one of them through the holes between the fingers of the gloves but then I took that last picture and saw exactly how far down the glove was and realized I would have needed like 5 brooms and I wouldn’t be able to get concentrated weight on them like a cup trick does (a cup trick is a ball retrieving device that uses a cup and weight along with and adhesive to grab a baseball). I then put together a variation of the cup trick using only office supplies I found throughout the building:
1. A plastic cup from the water cooler.
2. A roll of tape- I pretty much put it for visual purposes because the tape is at the bottom of the cup and barely visible. Usually in a cup trick, the cup’s opening faces downwards to fit the large-ish baseball but I realized that all I needed to get was the fishing line on my glove trick and I could then pull up the glove itself. The tape was used to stick to the string which I would then pull up the glove with.
3. Paper clips- usually when trying to get tape to stick to something you push it down as hard as possible but because I was 25 feet above what I wanted to stick to the cup I had to make the cup as heavy as possible to apply the most pressure to the tape and get the maximum adhesiveness to between the string and tape.
4. Fishing line- used to lower the cup. You may ask, “Wait, Mateo, didn’t all of your line fall down with the glove?” Luckly I keep extra line in my backpack rolled around a pen just in case:
I lowered my new device, the tape attached to the stirng on my glove, pulled up the string, and pulled up the glove attached to the glove itself. This may have bored some of you but I just wanted to share it to show how I almost lost my glove.
Onto the game, Alex and I left JASA (my service site) at 3:30 and made a breif stop at Subway for food before continuing on the subway. I forgot what time but apparently it was early enough that I started taking pictures of the Citi Field sign from below:
If you see I pointed out the window on the second floor of the Stadium. That would be the Caesars club and I’ll get back to that in a minute or two.
I also took a picture of the blimp hovering above because the US Open was in town:
Once we got int the ballpark it was another Citi Field batting practice, slow as humanly possible. Alex and I started off by going to Right Field and asking for toss ups but then moved over to the Center Field section because I deemed the players freindlier there:
The red box shows where we had gone to as soon as the gates opened and the arrow under that points out Alex looking out to the field (with *my* Mets hat) he is a Yankee fan and I figured he would have a better chance of getting a ball from the Mets than me for a variety of reasons. After giving up on this idea because of a crowd that started to gather, we moved over to the Left field section. There, it was still incredibly slow but I got a baseball. In about the second bp group, Mike Stanton came up and launched a ball to deep Center Field. The ball took the luckiest series of bounces I have ever seen and landed in the seats. The arrows in the next picture show the path of the ball:
If you can’t tell from the yellow arrows, the ball: hit the apple, bounce on the edge of the container that holds the apple, bounced up in the air and landed in the seats. So had the apple not been up (which it usually isn’t) that ball would have fallen into the container but it didn’t and I ran over to get it nearly beating out someone who came down the staircase. Here is Alex holding the ball (again wearing *my* Marlins hat):
That was it for batting practice and the rest of the game as the Marlins threw next to nothing into the crowd. Anyway,this was our view for the game:
When I found out Alex wanted to go to this game I went ahead and bought better tickets than I usually do. For the whole Marlins series and Braves the tickets were pretty cheap and so for this game and the last I had club access. Due to this, I explored the stadium. With Alex I only went to the Caesars club and those were probably taken on this day but on the other day I also toured a bunch of the stadium and didn’t want the touring of Citi Field in tweo different entries so I held off on writing about it. Anyway here goes:
On my way to the Caesars club, I noticed a window through which was a view into the control room:
Here I learned something about the control room. Previously, I thought that the controls for the scoreboard (jumbotron if you prefer) were in a separate room from the SNY control room. Apparently, they do both in the same room. I just assumed it would be crowded and there would be a chance of commands being mixed.
I then entered the Caesars club itself:
Looking back on it, it probably should be Caesar’s club but I guess it was meant more as advertising for Caesars Casino and Resort than it reflected the actual quality of the club. So I actually take back the point I was intially going to make when I started that sentence. By the way, for anyone who has not been, on of the negative parts about Citi Field is that the whole place is visual and audible ambush on the part of marketers. You would have to be in the staircase or something like that to not see any advertising. Every other square inch of oufield wall has something on it, the scoreboard has more to do with advertising than it does with the actual baseball game, and the between ining shenanigans the Mets put on always have someone behind them. There is: the Cascarino’s pizza pass, the Pepsi max T-shirt toss, and I think the seventh inning stretch is even sponsored by Fisher nuts.
The club itself looked like this when I got inside:
It is bascially an admirals club in a baseball stadium with a restaurant is how I would describe it.
Now the view from there is something you will never see from an admirals club at the airport. I looked out the window and took a picture of the view. The left arrow (blue) shows where I get off the train and the right arrow (red) shows where the US Open was taking place (Arthur Ashe Stadium):
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Queens. I then looked out the window to my left and took a picture of that:
This is now the part where I wonder how the Mets don’t make absurd amounts of money because they advertise everyone and their mother and each of those cars costs $20 to that person to park. I mean this is one of the teams in the worst financial situations in the Major Leagues so imagine what the Yankees are producing in the revenue department.
I then went throught the club and found out there is like a corridor thing behind the bar/restaurant the club is centered around:
Another thing in the club is that they have an electronic ticket kiosk in the club itself:
It even has the same game up so you can buy tickets to a game that you are already at (this was probably still there because I chacked it during batting practice but the fact that someone could mess up and buy a ticket for that same game is at the very least slightly flawed.) The most likely reason that they had this in the club is that people splurge to buy club seats, go inside the club and are very impressed by the schmancyness of it and the kiosk is there to get them to buy a ticket for another day based on impulse.
Anyway, for those who don’t know, there is about a 40 minute gap between batting practice and the game itself. I made my rounds of the stadium during this time. I first went out of the club going towards the Right Field seats and stopped to take a picture from the worst club level seats available:
Pretty good, eh?I then headed up to see what the worst seat in the whole stadium looked like but when I stopped to take a picture from the outside of the Acela club:
Right in this moment is where I forgot where I was going to go next and so I went to the Promenade Club which was about 300 ft away instead of the worst seat in the stadium which is about 10 (mathematical) degrees above where I took that last picture, but no I had to forget that and go all the way to the Promenade Club.
On my way, I actually took a picture of something cool I never noticed:
This is the concourse behind Home Plate in the uppermost level and I had seen this before but I had never noticed the thing pointed out by the arrow. That would be the top part of the Citi Field logo that is at the top of the fifth picture in the entry. this happens to be right behind the Promenade Club, which is why I took a picture of it. Speaking of which, this is the view looking out from the Promenade Club:
The view looking into the Promenade Club looked something like this:
This would be the restaurant within the Promenade Club. If you use your x-ray goggles, this picture would look a lot similar to the picture with the top of the Citi Field logo showing. I then took a picture that I consider to be a better view of the field from the Promenade Club:
Do you agree? It was right at this moment that I realized where I had initially pondered wandering. That which I consider the worst seat is pointed out by the arrow in the top left. So, I took a picture inside the club to show the curviness of it (it curves to match the curve of the field):
And a picture outside the club to demonstrate the equally curved cross-aisle that runs in front of it:
Sadly, this is way past foul territory and can’t fulfill its best purpose. I then headed out to inspect the worst seat in the ballpark as I had been planning for about a quarter of an hour now.
After I made the trek to get to a section closer to the worst seat, I actually went up to the level on which the seat was:
What I mean when I say I got on the level of the worst seat is that I was stadning on a staircase like the one circled in the lower right corner. That staricase leads down to the uppermost concourse. So, when I was on the concourse itself I couldn’t see where I was in terms of the seats and so I went up a staircase and decided I would work my way across through the seats.
Speaking of the seats, do you notice how slanted the stairs are? I would say that they are at about a 20 degree incline. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, check out the view from the bottom of the stairs looking up:
Suffice to say I’ve climbed Mayan pyramids with less imposing stairs. I don’t know how the people with seson tickets there can climb those things every day.
Though, the climb is in fact rewarding. When you get all the way up there and go over to the highest seat you should be able to see the entire world, right? Wrong. This is the view you are priviledged to seeing:
That thing obstructing your view of the field would be the out-of-town scoreboard. The Mets were nice enough to put TV screens on the back but would you really want to come all the way out to the ballpark just to watch the game on TV like you could have done at home.
I then goofed off a little and pretended I was flying because I have seen planes go this low by Citi Field:
The reason for that being, that LaGuardia airport is right across the way. In fact, it can be seen from said worst seat in the stadium. Here is the picture i took from right there:
I think the expression is somewhere between sheer terror of the height I was at and a yawn because of how far I was away from the field. Look at the view to my right:
This is the area behind the scoreboard in Center Field. It includes the speed pitch, batting cages, miniature field, and a variety of restaurants. It may not look that high but it was terrifying being up there when you are used to being on the ground and seeing these things full size. This concluded my post-bp tour of (part of) the stadium but I realized in about the seventh inning of the previous game that I should go to the Acela club because I had access to it.
Even though the club was technically closed, I was still allowed to enter and take pictures. Of course, the first thing I took a picture of was the food prices:
Maybe it’s the fact that I can get 2 slices of pizza and a soda for $3.00 a block from my school but I think that $6.00 is just a ridiculous price to pay for a slice of pizza. The sad part is that it is actually reasonable when it comes to pizza at baseball parks. The same slice is probably in the $9 range at Yankee Stadium. After going through various mental calculations on what else I could do with the money I spent on a meal in the Acela club, I took a few more pictures of the restaurant itself starting from the entrance and going outward. Now I will just show the pictures and you can add your own commentary:
Fast-forwarding to the title game of this entry, Alex and I went to the Mets dugout at the end of the game to try and coax something out of the Mets players. This was the crowd after the game:
It is pretty big for a crowd after the game considering the Mets were an obscene amount of games out of first at that time. To better our odds at getting a ball, I dressed up Alex in my Mets gear because I thought they would be more likely to toss him a ball than me. Suffice to say that Yankee fans usually don’t like getting dressed in Mets gear and Alex was no different:
Of course he is no idiot so he put on a face more like this one for the Mets:
Unfortunately, it didn’t matter what face Alex put on because the Mets didn’t toss anything in the crowd and with the relievers not coming in through the dugout caveat that I mentioned in the last entry. We were stuck with the Mike Stanton Home Run as the last and only ball of the night.
I then went up the stairs and had the same usher that took the picture in the last entry take it this time and here is the (slightly worse) end result:
Thus, with a subway ride concluded my last visit to Citi Field this season.
Just a few conscious moments after my last game in Washington, I magically teleported to Citi Field:
I really wanted to stay in Washington and go to the majesty of Camden Yards but no. I had made arrangements with the now former pitching coach at Fordham Prep and had to be at Citi Field for this game because the next two had already been cancelled because of the threat Hurricane Irene posed on New York (I won’t get into what it actually because I’ve had worse thunderstorms).
Once I got in I made a beeline (or something like that), to Right Field and quickly got Lucas Duda to throw me a ball. I’m sorry that this is the only picture of the ball I have but Paint decided to stop responding while I was editing it and I only have this left as a product:
You can partially see the ball in my glove and Duda is under the red arrow.
I don’t know how quickly I did, but I did move over to the Left Field bleachers soon after. This is where things really slowed down. There were, I believe, Six other ballhawks at this game and the running lanes were clogged up as a result. It wasn’t that slow of a batting practice but there was just nowhere to move. When the Braves’ pitchers warmed up along the third base line I got Erik Hinske to toss me a ball that one of them overthrew. I was really happy about this because it almost guaranteed I would get another baseball because none of the pitchers saw me get it and so they would have no reason to not throw me a ball.
Apparently they did as that was in fact the last ball of my day. This was mainly because I wanted to stay in Left Field for as long as I could in bp because with six other ballhawks I knew I would lose my better than average spot and I would have to stand like 600 feet from Home Plate to have room to run a few sections. However, it was not any of the ballhawks at all but this guy:
that was the bane of my existence. Twice was I tracking a ball in mid-air and sure that I was going to catch it. Twice did I look to my left at the last moment to be stopped in my pursuit by this group just to see that guy (in a Red Sox hat) catch a Home Run without moving from his seat. Though, I guess I can’t blame him for just being there because I could have gone in the row in front of him and jumped up for the ball had I looked in that direction prior to the balls being hit there but I’m telling you that both would have been easy catches on the fly had I had the room to do so but such is life at Citi Field.
On top of that, the Braves weren’t throwing many baseballs to anyone over the age of 12 and even to these kids they were not throwing much. Towards the end of bp my guest (or maybe it was the other way around?) arrived and once bp ended we went almost directly to our seats. His actual name would be Chris Cositore and he is now the former pitching coach at Fordham (prep) because he just gratuated from Fordham (university) and is going on with his life blah, blah,blah. Anyway, here he is:
In case you can’t tell where we are, the seats were down the first base line and a bit closer to the outfield than the dugout. I don’t usually sit on this side of the field but the tickets were provided by the same guest that I had on this game and I’ll never pass up a deal to sit in good seats and not have to deal with Citi Field security for no additional cost.
A funny thing about this game involving Chris is that at the beginning of the game he started counting down the number of hitters for a perfect game. So when Chris Capuano (the Mets pitcher) got the first out he told me, “only 26 batters for a perfect game. He told me for every batter. When he got up to get food, he texted me the number every time an out was made. This was kind of his retaliation because he is just loyal enough of a Mets fan where you can make “your team stinks” jokes and they make sense but he doesn’t really take offense to them because he acknowledges the fact but he this was his obligatory retaliation. The way he announced it was before the game saying we were going to see the Mets’ first no-hitter. He was almost right. Capuano pitched a complete game shutout allowing only two hits. I went to the dugout after the game but didn’t get anything because:
1. Capuano wanted to (I assume) keep the game ball because he just pitched one of his best games ever.
2. The umpire tunnel is on the other side of the field on the third base side of the Field level seats.
3. The Mets relievers don’t got through the dugout to the clubhouse because there is a tunnel behind the bulpen that leads directly to the clubhouse and they have no need for going through the dugout.
Regardless, this was my view after the game:
After I eventually conceeded to the fact that there would be no more ball snagging opportunites, Chris and I got our picture taken by one of the “hospitality attendant”s. This was the first attempt that he described as: “a little dark”:
We then decided to move back where the light was (and I secretly ignited a great setting called “flash”) and this was the end product:
And I got the very rare luxury of getting driven home. Of course, it really wasn’t my house because I was staying over with friends. Anyway, that capped of my day at Citi. I then got to spend the next few days in Hurricane mode.
Today was the final chapter of the book “Why I despise going to baseball games during kids week.” This would be the line in front of me when I got to the game 30 minutes early:
But wait, it gets better. Here is the line behind me 10 minutes before the gates opened:
I initially wasn’t going to go to this game but then a member of the senior “club” that I volunteer at knew me as a person who went to baseball games offered me two tickets. So I went to the game and offered the other ticket to another ballhawk who happens to be my next door neighbor, Greg Barasch. Crazy, no? Though, looking back on it, I might have been better served to invite his dog as he makes for very tough competition. The one positive was that there was no season ticket holder section on the field:
Of course, that didn’t matter as nothing even came close, hit or otherwise, during the Mets portion of bp. I moved around a bit but not as much as I usually do. My desperation strategy for the last day of kids week was to stay put more and see if things would work out that way. It is safe to say that this strategy failed utterly and my first and only ball came from Alan Butts:
Butts is simply listed as “coach” on the roster and I suspect he is the bullpen catcher. Anyway, in the picture, the arrow pointing straight down shows where I was standing and the arrow pointing diagonally upwards is the path of the ball from Butts’ hand to my glove. That was it for batting practice.
Now to the game. This was a game/postgame of tough breaks. Due to paint’s inability to accurately depict this next scene I will put up the picture of where I was sitting and write out what then unfolded:
Josh Thole was up and he hit a sort of high foul ball. From that view, it immediately went into the lights. I knew that it would get out of the light so I just kept my eyes still on where I thought it would exit the lights. It then exited them on the left, sliced back to the right but was now under the lights. I could tell it was coming right at me. I mean RIGHT AT ME! Thole couldn’t have thrown it to me more perfectly. I simply stood up and was ready to make the easy chest level catch when the person in front of me, who is illuminated by my flash, stood up and deflected the ball just enough for it to scoot to the right of my glove and in the row behind me. To add insult to injury, the ball hit the person in the row behind me and one seat to my left. Just as I turned to see where it had gone the ball rolled under the seat right next to me:
Then it rolled two rows below me and to add a law suit against a person who has been both insulted and injured I climbed over a row and was a quarter of a second late to the ball as a lady in that row grabbed it:
Then after the game, I convinced the home plate umpire to flip me a ball but the person in front of me reached for it and as a result swatted it down beck into the tunnel the umpires exit through. A security supervisor who has a disposition against ballhawks then picked it up and walked straight past me before giving it to someone else. I would have been fine with this had the umpire blindly thrown the ball into the crowd because that is free game but he only reacted after I called him out by name and I am 97.639% sure that the ball was intended for me.
Oh and did I mention that it was also Fiesta Latina and as a result there were Jose Reyes banners being given away. Though most people used them as a cape instead:
On the subway, I saw a father and son decked out in Braves gear and could tell they had traveled a ways to get here. I also saw that the son had a glove with him. So, as is my natural inclination, I asked him if he had gotten a ball. When he said no, I then took my ball out of my backpack and gave it to him. They asked me if I was sure and I think I explained to them what I did or just told them to keep it.
- 1 ball at this game (no picture because I gave it away) number 188 for my career
- 127 balls in 30 games= 4.233333 Balls Per Game
- 56 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 26 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 1 ball*30,607fans= 30,607 competition factor
- Time At Game 4:45- 10: 12= 5 hours 27 minutes