What are all these people showing up early for?:
I mean seriously, I hate to break it to those fans out there but the Mets are currently 20 games out of first place. The first place team has the best record in baseball but 20 games is never good. At least I was the first one in line. That fact gave me this emptiness close to a minute after I arrived to Left Field:
Within a few minutes, I got Manny Acosta to throw me a ball:
I stayed in Left Field for a good hour and only got one ball, a Home Run on the fly hit by John Buck. Then, once the seats got this crowded:
I moved over to Right Field where this was my view:
In that last picture, number 40 would be Michael Dunn. A few minutes after I took that picture he recognized a Marlins “fan” and threw me a ball perfectly between the other grabby hands in my section:
Sadly, this would be my last ball of the day as I was over-thinking, over-moving, and not coming up with much for all my work. One reason was this:
I mean not just the obvious obstacle the crowd would provide in catching balls but also I was playing conservatively on toss-ups and trying to use the strategy that got me into double digits at Nationals Park (not a particular strategy but rather strategy in general). This works in the sparsely inhabited seats of the Upper Right Field of Nationals Park but is a bit harder when competing with a crowd of others. This is not so much a commentary of this game but all the games I have been to this point (August 15th). I have to just take toss-ups when I can get them and not worry about other pitchers seeing me.
Anyway, I sat over in this area for the game:
Not my usual spot but I did have a guest on this day and joined him by his ticketed seat and sacrificed the foul ball opportunities/ third out opportunities. What else can I say? The most “exciting” thing was Hanley Ramirez spraining his shoulder a few feet away:
I went to the umpire’s tunnel after the game but Bill (?) Welke ran out of baseballs when he got to me after giving a pair of balls away twice and telling me he was out. I’m fine with that I’m just telling what happened.
- 3 balls at this game
- 126 balls in 29 games= 4.34 Balls Per Game
- 55 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 20 straight with at least 2 balls
- 25 straight games with at least 1 at Citi Field
- 3 balls*33,297 fans= 99,891 competition factor
- Time at game 4:38-10:38= 6 hours on the dot
Another nice and sunny day at Citi Field, right?:
Suffice to say it wasn’t looking good for batting practice and I was, at this moment, resigned to the fact I wasn’t going to have a full batting practice, if any.
When I got in, there was good news and there was bad news.
Good News: There was batting practice.
Bad News: Season ticket holders were on the field:
This meant I probably wasn’t going to get a toss-up in Left Field during Mets bp and that would mean I would have to get a quick ball hit to me to keep me in rhythm that is so important whenever I am at Citi Field because I move around so much for toss-ups.
Let’s just say this was the highlight of my day to that point:
That would be a picture of the Mets leaving the field. Why was it the highlight? Well, it meant that the section of fans in front of the Left Field stands would be leaving. This meant that I could put on my Marlins gear and be ignored by them instead of the Mets. I had a few close calls on hit balls but I’ll save you the useless information and just tell you about the closest of calls. Here is the diagram that shows what happened:
John Buck of the Marlins hit a Home Run right to my row. I had made sure there was no one I could run into in my row and so I just tracked the ball. I drifted over to where I could catch the ball and I reached up for the ball. Just as I did this, I saw a glove coming up and backwards. You see that man in the white? He jumped backwards nto my row because the ball was highish and he wasn’t going to catch the ball by jumping upwards (the path of the ball is shown by the white streak in the picture) his glove first hit mine and then his body bumped back into me and the ball bounced off of his glove and into the aisle. What then happened then was that he gave me about a tenth degree stare for costing him the ball as I told him I was sorry even though I hadn’t reached forward at all.
I went this way and went that way but just nothing was going my way. I finally went to Center Field for my third time on the day and just every Marlins player was completely ignoring my request I don’t know if it was part of what kids week (this week the Mets were letting in 3 kids 12 and under free for every paying adult) or if it was the general noise of New York but none of the players even tried to throw in my direction. It was 6:15 and I was getting worried about being shutout. Finally, at 6:18, Burke Badenhop threw a ball to a family in front of me:
The ball sailed over both the family and my heads and landed in the row behind me. I grabbed the ball but at the same time a lady came running in that row and grabbed onto my hand. She then started to try and pull the ball from my grasp as she simultaneously rubbed my hand against the coarse cement. I then, pulled my hand out and handed the ball to the girl of that family. The lady then apologized as she was trying to get the ball for them as well. As a result of this scrapping, my hand was pretty scuffed up:
You really see much because this picture was taken an hour later but my skin was peeled and I chipped the nail you can see of my middle finger. I know it probably would have been easy to avoid aggravating it but idiot me kept putting my hand in and taking it out of my pockets because all of my important things were on my right side and so I kept hurting it.
Normally, I would take a seat behind the dugout but decided not to on this. Due to the fact that I had luckily gotten 1 ball during batting practice, I knew 1 or even 2 balls from behind the dugout wasn’t going to help my day. So I set up camp a bit further from Home Plate:
Through the fifth inning, the only thing that came close was a Mike Stanton liner a few sections above. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, Angel Pagan sliced a liner to my left. It was going pretty fast so I went to the spot I thought it would hit down. I turned around three feet before that and just saw/heard the ball whizz two feet past my head and hit in a seat in front of me. There, I picked the ball up from the folded seat. I actually found out that I don’t have any pictures I could have used for diagrams or showing you where I ran.
So, my path was a mini z shape because of the railing. I ran a few feet to my left, went down a few stairs and then continued to my left. So imagine the place where I picked the ball up as the upper left part of the z. Anyway, a good ending to a frustrating day. Too bad this frustration has now extended over two weeks.
Here is a picture that I took of the ball after the game:
I didn’t get anything after the game but I was satisfied that my stategery paid off when it counted.
this ball doesn’t have any because up to this point I haven’t numbered foul balls but they are #s 83-84 for my career:
- 123 balls in 28 games= 4.39 Balls Per Game
- 54 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 19 straight games with at least 2 balls
- 24 straight games at Citi Field with at least 1 ball
- 2 balls*28,862 fans= 57,724 competition factor
- Time at game 4:35- 10:31= 5 hours 56 minutes
Remember that I went to the game in May and it got cancelled. Well, it was rescheduled for this day in July and it looked fine:
Not as good as it did the day it got cancelled but not horrible rain-away-batting practice bad.
When I got to the gate I noticed something odd:
Do you see the gates marked by the arrows? I have never seen them before. I know I haven’t been to Citi Field in over a month but it was just weird seeing them. I know the purpose is to corral people even more and it is a good idea but I wonder why they hadn’t done it sooner. Also upon arriving, I wondered if my ticket from the initial game would work:
Initially, I was somber because going to this game reminded of the initial game in which I am now comfortable (with all the hecktivity gone) announcing that the responsibilities I was lifted of were those of taking care of my ailing dad. On that day May, 17, 2011 my father passed away.
What game? I was the first one to the left field bleachers beating all the other ballhawks in attendance (four according to mygamebals.com). I got Mookie Wilson to toss me a ball within the first minute. I first asked him if he could toss me a ball and he told me no but then tossed it up anyway after I said that it was ok and thanked him “anyway”. That is now the second time i have used the “can you toss me a ball please” line and that exact same scenario has occurred. The last time was in Miami. Here is a diagram of where I was and the flight of the ball:
The solid arrow is where I was and the dotted is how he threw me the ball. In retrospect, he was probably about five feet from the ball but whatever, you get the idea.
As the ballhawks arrived, I moved over to the empty center field section and running down the stairs, yelled out to Ryota Igarashi in Japanese for a ball. The next picture shows how the whole thing unfolded:
The names are pretty self-explanatory. The solid line is how far he went to shag the ball. The two dotted lines are what happened afterward. He liked my request so much we played catch for as many throws as it took me to fall into the seats. You see when I throw a baseball I have a longer stride than most people and that produces my right leg (I’m a righty) to come up after the pitch every time I want to get something behind the ball. If you look carefully behind the word “me” you will see there is a railing. Since I was on the right side of the railing, that cuts the aisle in half and made me make the choice of falling off a lot into the seats on my left, smacking my leg into the railing, or throw very slowly. I was going to go with the third but when I lobbed the ball into him and he made the hand gesture saying it was ok I tried to throw my slider but because the aisle was so narrow not only did the ball have no movement as I fell into the seats but I bounced it to him. I think he knew then to stop and called it of. Still, it was a great experience.
I moved over to right field in hopes that those players shagging there would toss me a ball but it didn’t take long to figure out they had seen me play catch with Igarashi. I moved back over to Left for Marlins bp.
But first, I want to show you one of the motifs of Mets bp:
If you can’t see the screen in front of 2nd base is down. Throughout the duration of bp it kept falling down. There wasn’t that much wind. I have had days were it was gusting circa 20 mph and the screen didn’t blow down. I don’t know I guess it’s just the Mets way of life.
As I got to left field and saw the first two batters I knew it was the big group:
Those hitters are (from left to right): Hanley Ramirez, John Buck, Mike Stanton, and Mike Cameron. I think if you take any two of them it is a pretty good time to be in left field but all four of them and you have a super group. I cannot think how good the left field seats in Sun Life Stadium would be this year if it opened 2.5 hours early. That said, I only got one ball from this group. I stayed back because of their power and it paid off when a ball bounced a few rows in front of me and I ran up an aisle an grabbed it off the paved steps:
When I look at it now it was hit pretty far. Guess who hit it. Mike Stanton. Of course that was not the only thing he hit:
In my 20+ games at Citi FieldI have never seen a player hit the Amtrak club. I am surprised that someone had not hit it sooner but not surprised it was Stanton to do it. Before I get too off topic, I want to mention I gave the Stanton ball to a kid who was chasing after me:
I can’t exactly tell if that is him in the stripes as I remember his face more but considering this is the only photo of its ilk…
I then convinced Randy Choate to toss me a ball in left field. After that I moved over to center field and got Brian Sanches (no that is not a typo) to toss me a ball in the corner spot. For those who don’t know, a corner spot is a place in a section where there is no possibility of anyone being in front or to one side of you because you are in the very first row and to the extremity of that specific section. Now the corner spot is not in this picture but it just demonstrates what happened:
Sanches is number 44 in that picture.
I then, as you can probably tell from the previous picture, moved over to right field in hopes of Mike or Mike (Stanton, Dunn) to throw me a a ball. I didn’t want to be recognized by Sanches who was not that far away so I sat down on the steps near the wall. The steps are so steep that I could sit down and still barely see over the wall:
Eventually a lefty hit a ball to the wall. Mike Dunn went to retrieve it but gave it to a kid much smaller than me. However, a second ball came and since I had made my presence know on the first ball he threw me the second ball:
That was it for bp. I stayed in left field for the game. Both center fielders were occasionally throwing their warm up balls into the stands but I didn’t get any as I was always one staircase away. I am pleased to announce however, Observing Baseball is going green:
I have now been using the promotional Earth Day Metrocard since Earth day itself.
- Six balls at this game (five pictured because I gave one away)
- 79 balls in 22 games= 3.59 balls per game
- 47 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 23 straight at Citi Field
- 4 straight games with at least 5 balls
- 6 balls* 32,411 fans=194,466 competition factor
- Time at game 4:36-10:19=5 hours 33 minutes
Because the day before’s game was rained out, I had not gone to a baseball game in 12 days and was in a serious need for some baseball. Then I remembered why the Mets are known as the second most dysfunctional team in baseball.
First, I got to the stadium and the old man was indeed snoring:
Considering they had cancelled the game the previous day while it was still sunny I was not too optimistic this one would be played but stayed because I had already bought my ticket and didn’t want that money to go to waste if they did play. Many of the New York ballhawks (myself included) have been angered by the Mets changing gate opening times from 2.5 hour to 2 hours but I would have taken that today. I was awaiting a 5:10 gate opening time according to the schedule set by the Mets. So I stood out in a storm that was so bad I had to keep turning myself every few seconds to keep the side wind was blowing raindrops onto from getting too cold. As I write this entry June 8th I am still sniffling from the cold I got that day. I didn’t take any pictures just because I wanted to protect my camera as it has already gone through water damage (if any long time readers have noticed the pictures have gotten more misty since a few months ago, this is why). I waited and waited. 5:10 passed and still the gates were closed. At about 5:30, the Mets finally opened the gates:
Then they announced we would not be able to go anywhere besides the giftshop/museum:
Now when I say Dys- you say functional.
They kept us there because they weren’t sure if they were going to play the game or not. I get why they wanted to get us out of the rain but there were maybe twenty people waiting at this point. Would it really take that much to get twenty people out of the seating bowl if the game actually got called?
For those who have never been, the Mets’ museum is linked with the gift shop and is located towards the right side of the Jackie Robinson (when entering). In fact, you can faintly see it on the left side of the last picture underneath the staircase. So, I went in because I never had before. Having now been to the museums at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, I think that Citi Field does a better aesthetic job but Yankee Stadium had more substance. By this, I mean that Citi had things such as higher ceilings:
and better location (behind the prize jewel section that most people come through for Citi Field vs. on the third level only accessible by one random flight of ramps for Yankee Stadium). What I mean by the greater substance of the Yankees is simply the history of the Mets vs. the history of the Yankees. For example, the Mets had a quarter of the museum dedicated to buy-able artifacts:
The prices on the bottom portion would be for baseballs from different games. Not necessarily historic or anything. No, those cost a lot more than the regulars.
I thought that there was no chance for a game but I wandered and charged my phone for a while until finally there was an announcement. They would in fact be opening the gates for entry. They hadn’t scanned our tickets yet so we had to get out of the stadium only to come back in and get our tickets scanned:
The time at this point was around 6:35ish and as you can see more people had joined in the gift shop and had to get in but when eventually security got settled and let people in.
My view upon entering the bowl:
The tarp was finally being pulled off by the grounds crew.
I set up shop on the left side of the dugout because I wanted to be close to the dugout in case someone came out and started signing autographs but also wanted to be closer to left field in case they came out to throw. As I went down, Livan Hernandez tossed a ball to another ballhawk, Ben Weil. I felt good for Ben for keeping his streak alive but also disappointed I hadn’t spoken my Spanish louder as that might have been my only shot of the night. If that didn’t make me feel bad enough, a volcano of baseballs erupted on the right side of the dugout. I raced over but Mt. Stairs ran out of the baseballs from his bucket/bag:
I kid you not when I say he tossed 5-7 baseballs into the stands in a matter of 5 seconds. As I said, I was on the left side of the dugout so it was not enough time to weave through people to get to the left side of the dugout.
So now 6:50 and still no ball for me. Finally, the position players came out to throw at 6:55:
Most notably the pair you see in this picture, Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond. Ben and his fancy jersey and fitted Nationals hat elsewhere I thought I had a pretty good chance at this ball but I kept in mind that many times before I have suffered because I committed too much to a specific ball so I stayed alert. No one else came out of the dugout so as soon as they finished I waved my arms like crazy to get Desmond’s attention and he threw the ball to me. If I were writing this the day after I would remember the specifics but I know there was something unusual about the throw. Either it went over my head, I had to leap, it bounce, or something. Maybe it was just the fact that it was quite a distance. I don’t remember.
After I got this ball I looked at the pitching match-up, saw two lefties (Jonathan Niese and Tom Gorzelanny), and stupidly thought that I could make it to left field and get a Home Run. The guards usually start checking tickets at 6:20 but the gates didn’t even open until after that so I was hoping. By this time it was 7:00 and as I got out of the seats the National anthem started playing and I knew I was defeated. Throughout the game I wandered the stadium and got rained on. As I saw how little people were at the game:
(and the fact there were no Home Runs in the game), I was kicking myself because as you can see in the picture, I would have gotten as many baseballs as there were players that brought in a third out ball.
Anyway, it kept pouring and the Mets beat the Nationals 3-0 behind a strong performance behind Niese. Although there was something with Niese in what I believe was the seventh inning as he kept throwing balls back to the umpire probably because it was pouring at the time and the balls were extremely wet.
- One ball at this game (#83 on the career)
- 22 Balls in 10 games = 2.2 Balls Per Game ( I am not proud)
- 35 Games Straight with at least one ball (I am proud and amazed)
- 21 straight games at Citi Field with at least 1 ball
- 1 Ball* 24,527 fans (allegedly)= 24,527 competition factor
- Time at Game 4:50-10:10= 5 Hours 20 Minutes
Ah summer. Having finished my last exam the day before, (barely) I was ready to get my summer started and go to some baseball. Again I needed a respite from the matters at hand. Pardon the long time to get it up I didn’t write it the day after and mis-uploaded the pictures, went on the road and never wrote the entry.
Here goes. I entered the stadium and all the hawks were in attendance:
That’s right. A total of eight mygameballs.com members. Seeing this at the gate, I went towards the right field line because I figured it wasn’t worth it to race them to left. I stopped in foul territory and started searching for Easter eggs. As I was doing this, a ball rolled to around where I was (pardon also the pictures in vivid color I did have a cracked screen and couldn’t tell the pictures were shaded blue) :
Jason Isringhausen picked the ball up and after my request threw it to me. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know he was on the Mets. Until he turned around (so I saw the name on his back) I thought it was Lucas Duda. Either way he threw me a ball and I went over to left field promptly afterwards.
It was a slow bp considering I was sharing the left field seats with maybe a hundred people, half a dozen being very skilled. My only ball in left field was a ball that took this path:
Yes a random Met hit a ball into the second deck. I knew that it would be tough to get another ball in left field with all the competition. So I started running as soon as I judged it was going to go into the second deck because I knew it was early enough in batting practice that nobody would probably be up there. I was right. It took me about five minutes to find the ball once up there but it was worth the very long journey (because of the steep incline of the second deck, you have to climb up about fifty feet to get thirty feet over your friends in the first deck). My mistake was in running back up quickly just as I got down to the field level, because I thought another ball had gone up there. In all reality, the ball had gone up there but had I waited two seconds longer I would have seen that the ball ricocheted back onto the field. That cost me serious time.
To escape the crowd and make up for lost time, I moved over to center field in hopes of a ball getting drilled, rolling to the wall, and the player tossing it to me. How do you think it went?:
That player from which the arrow is pointing from is Bobby Parnell. When the ball rolled to the wall he jogged over and picked it up (solid line). I then called for it and he tossed it to me (dotted line).
That was it for the bp. Nothing from the Braves. Had I written this the day after I could have gone into more detail of how but I write this a month after the fact. So…
I sat in left field for the game:
Why? I thought there were two lefties on the mound. Want to see the line-ups:
That’s right, I did confuse Derek Lowe for a lefty. I was just thinking about how the ball moves out of the pitchers hands. Since Lowe is a sinker baller, and his ball moves away from lefties I thought that he himself was a lefty. I mean I knew that he was a righty but when glancing at the probable pitchers I thought he was a lefty. This was a big mistake since the line-ups (righty vs lefty) of the two New York teams (Yankees and Mets) are so predicated on the opposing pitchers, due to all the switch hitters in their line-ups, any Home Run i would catch would most likely be a Braves Home Run. More specifically: Chipper Jones or Dan Uggla.
Nothing came even close to me. The game itself was interesting as The Mets were up 3-1 until the eighth inning. Upon which they went onto surrender 5 runs in the next two innings and lose 6-3. I had been talking to a family the whole game and since the son had a glove, I saw if he had gotten a ball already and when he said he had not I gave him one of mine Keep in mind that I did have a cracked screen so I couldn’t see how badly this picture turned out:
Oh, and for those thinking that I could even have the slightest idea of how my pictures turned out, this is how cracked the screen is:
That is with the power on.
Update: I actually stumbled upon in my notes that I gave away the Parnell ball right after I caught it while I gave the ball away from the upper deck to the kid I mentioned before.
- 3 balls at this game (one pictured because I gave two away)
- 25 balls in 11 games= 2.27 balls per game
- 36 games straight with at least 1 ball
- 22 straight at Citi Field
- 3 balls*28,301 fans= 84,903 competition factor
- Time at game (I don’t really remember but let’s estimate it) 4:40- 10:10= 5 hours 30 minutes
(Dickey on left and Racaniello squatting fifty feet in front)
To 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:
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:
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.
no pictures yet but let me at least get the numbers up
- 2 Balls at this game
- 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
Today was the first day of trying a new strategy. I first went out to left field but once I got there, I saw that the season ticket holder bp field spot had actually grown:
- 18 balls in 7 games = 2.57 balls per game
- 32 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 19 straight games at Citi Field with at least 1 ball
4 balls* 22,232 fans= 88,928 competition factor
- Time at game: 10:26-4:05= 5 hours and 39 minutes