Tagged: baseballs

4/17/13 Angels at Twins: Target Field (sort of)

Again, it was another day of class before heading off to Target Field. This time, though, I was prepared for the cold it had to throw at me. Sort of, anyway:

41713 Mateo Bomber cap

I had a good streak of four consecutive games going with at least 6 baseballs, but really I just wanted to get four or more baseballs to keep my average for the season above 5.00 Balls Per Game. I’ll spoil it for you right now and say that sadly wasn’t the case. Once I got in the gates, I quickly got on the board by getting a toss-up from a player I couldn’t identify at all, since none of his face was showing with him having a hat on as well as sunglasses:

41713 Ball 1

There had been a couple of baseballs hit into the bullpen, so he went in there to clean them out. When he did I simply asked him for a ball. My next ball came once I headed to the section of seats in right-center field. Mike Trout fielded a ball close to the wall there and so I shouted out to him. He was about to throw the ball to the bucket in shallow center field, but he turned and tossed me the ball instead:

41713 Ball 2

He’s a nice player. Over the three days I was there, he probably gave out the most baseballs per-minute of any of the Angels players. Oh, and do you notice the condition of the baseball he tossed me? One word: pearl.

My third baseball came when I headed back to left field and got who I believe to be Scott Downs to toss me a baseball. I was on a pretty good roll, since the gates had opened fifteen minutes ago at that point. (A ball every five minutes is a *very* good pace for me. To give you an idea, if I averaged this at a stadium where the gates opened 2.5 hours early for the entirety of batting practice, I would snag almost twenty baseballs.) But just five short minutes later at 5:50, the Angels ended batting practice and headed to the dugout. Wow. A stadium opening 1.5 hours early is hard enough, but I missed as much batting practice as I actually saw. Anyway, I headed to the dugout and braced myself for the snow/rain that was in the forecast. As I did this, the grounds crew began to do the same:

41713 It's a tarp!

I then waited for about an hour in the rain. As I looked at the crowd that was showing for the game, I was thinking big thoughts of what I could do during the game. I was seriously thinking I could tie my Target Field record of eight baseballs despite only being at three to this point. Then it happened:

41713 Postponment

Of course. After seeing this, I took a dejected walk of shame to my bus back to St. Paul.

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 1 away on my way out to a kid for showing up to the game despite it raining)

41713 Baseballs

Numbers 478-480 for my life:

41713 Sweet Spots

  • 34 Balls in 7 Games= 4.86 Balls Per Game (Nooooo! So close!)
  • 3 Balls x (an estimated, because the Twins didn’t actually put it up)25,000 Fans= 75,000 Competition Factor
  • 69 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 19 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 6 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 89 Balls in 21 Games at Target Field= 4.24 Balls Per Game
  • 20 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 6 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:39-7:35= 3 Hours 54 Minutes

4/13/13 Mets at Twins: Target Field

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

41313 Opening Picture

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

41313 Ball 1

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

41313 Swarzak ball picture

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

41313 Infielders warming up

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

41313 Ball 3

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

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

41313 Softball set-up

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

41313 Softball KTWIN

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

41313 Softball Field

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

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

41313 Mateo ready to snag

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

41313 Lexus Hat

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

41313 Mateo with 2 hats

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

41313 Ball 6

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

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

41313 Circle Me Mets

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

STATS:

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

41313 Baseballs

Numbers 459-464 for my lifetime:

41313 Sweet Spots

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

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

Capture

Characters of Observing Baseball: Zack Hample

Zack Hample COB

Entries with Zack in them: 27

How I met Zack: I don’t know if there was a single time I heard of Zack. The first distinct event I remember, though, was this: I was known–among other things–as the baseball-obsessed kid in my pre-teen years. (Trust me; I have the years worth of baseball books I never read to prove it.) Anyway, as I alluded to in that last sentence in parentheses, this lead everybody and their grandmother to go with baseball-related books when in doubt as gifts. One such book was “Watching Baseball Smarter”. Unlike most of the books that I have been given–which I convinced myself I’d read later as I put them on my bookshelf, only to be left, still unread–it seemed interesting, so I started reading it. While it ended up not being a book I particularly enjoyed, when I saw the author’s picture on the back, I thought, “Hey, that’s that guy who catches baseballs that I’ve heard of a few times.” (Again, because I was “the baseball kid”, a couple of people had told me about Zack before that point, but it was never more than a mention until I realized *he* had written the book.) After I read the book, I went on two road trips with my dad and snagged a combined four baseballs in 18 games. While it’s true that I didn’t get to the gates before they opened, didn’t really ask players at all for baseballs, and didn’t read Zack’s blog, I was kind of feeling, “You know, this whole do-it-yourself snagging thing really isn’t working, so I should learn directly from the expert himself.” So, that next year I saved up the whole year to A. Go to a “Watch With Zack” game, and B. Go on a third baseball road trip with my dad where I would have a clue as to how to snag a baseball. And that Watch With Zack Game was where I met Zack (more specifically, the 79th street subway station). I would write more about the experience, but I’m saving it for the “Blast from the Baseball Past” entry I hope to write on the game eventually. In the meantime, here’s Zack’s entry on the game.

First of all, since this is the first entry of its ilk, let me go through what this series of entries unofficially is. There are many people who I mention or just appear in my ballhawking entries, so these entries are to give you some background into the person and my relation to them. (So why they are even appearing in the entries.) Zack, for the .0000009% of you who don’t know, is the snagger of 6,459 baseballs (as of January, 14, 2013), and as such has appeared in a ton of my ballhawking entries since we are often at the same game in New York.

If you didn’t pick it up in the paragraph where I described how I met Zack, Zack was the one who taught me how to ballhawk. He was the inspiration for me starting to ballhawk and the reason this blog exists in general. Granted I haven’t written any other of these “Character of Observing Baseball” entries yet, but I’d say this is probably the hardest to write since there is so much known about Zack already out there, so most things I would write would be redundant. That, and my encounters with him are numerous enough that I can’t just narrate to you those one or two times I’ve been to the same game as him. My best advice is to click the “26” earlier in the entry and simply read a few of the entries for my experiences at game with him. So, good people, I give you a few links to somewhat get to know Mr. Hample yourself:

1. Blog

2. Website

3. Twitter

And, for fun: 4. Wikipedia Page

Now, just because I think you were too lazy or whatever to click the “26”, here are some of the synopses of the games we have both attended:

1. 4/9/11 Nationals at Mets- Every ballhawk in the New York it seemed came to this game because back then everyone went to Citi Field instead of Yankee Stadium only to find out that the reason they had gone there had been taken away from them by the Mets in that the Mets pushed the gate opening time from two-and-a-half hours before first pitch to two hours before it.

2. 4/14/11 Orioles at Yankees- Zack formally introduced me to Ben Weil forcing my first memory of Ben being the scrapes on his legs from the Yankee Stadium ground.

3. 4/17/11 Rangers at Yankees- I showed up half way through batting practice for this Sunday Night Baseball game only to almost out-snag Zack for the first time ever.

4. 4/21/11 Astros at Mets- I got Zack to sign my copy of “The Baseball and got Nelson Figueroa to sign a ball and take a self-shot with my camera. What did Zack snag? Only the first ever mygameballs.com-recorded Citi Field home run snag, which just so happened to be Mike Nickeas’ first career home run.

5. 7/24/11 Angels at Orioles- Zack caught Mike Trout’s first ever home run, so I got to have a semi-behind-the-scenes look at OPACY and got to see a 19-year-old Trout in person as he met with his family for the first time after hitting his first major league home run.

6. 8/1/11 Marlins at Mets- This time it my turn to snag a game ball. I snagged an Angel Pagan foul ball which Zack, myself, his half-brother, and his half-brother’s son had fun taking pictures of (none of which show up in the entry, but I that was the main interaction during the game).

7. 8/15/12 Rangers at Yankees- There was a bunch of rain , so Zack explained to me the difference between him and Mickey Mantle, helped me snag a ball from a groundskeeper, and provided almost half of the pictures I used in the entry.

8. 8/24/12 Astros at Mets- Since it was my last game before going off to school in Minnesota, I rode back the entire subway journey back with him and Greg Barasch.

9. 8/14/11 Rangers at Yankees- I did a “Before The Gates Open” video in which Zack made a ridiculous cameo–from which the picture up top is a screen cap of.

I think I could write more about the other games, but again, check them out. Mostly because I don’t feel like transcribing the entries all into this one single entry. And if you were wondering…Yes, making it so you can find every game I attended with any given ballhawk through tags is one of my mini-projects under the larger project of re-doing the blog this winter. I already have it so you can see every entry a certain player hit or tossed me a ball, but I realize now that I had no clue what tagging entries actually meant. So if you notice, as of late, I haven’t really been tagging the entries myself; I’ve just been using all fo the tags WordPress suggests for me. That’s because I’m trying to figure out what I actually want my tags to be used for. Once I have a concrete idea and get up the motivation to undertake the project, I’m going to re-do almost all of the tags. That’s yet another reason why I got rid of so many entries from the past. Anyway, if you couldn’t tell, the main part of the entry is over, so this is the part where I tell you to vote for the entry(s) you would like to see next if you haven’t already:

And here are the already-exhausted entry ideas. For those who don’t know, after all of the items on the poll get written, I will put some of the exhausted entries back up and we’ll do this all over until Opening Day (yes I capitalize it; it’s a national holiday) rolls around:

1. Ballhawk Interviews- 33 votes

2. Stadium Profiles- 26 votes

3. Ballhawk Profiles- 33 votes

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

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

6. Weird Observing Baseball Facts and Records- 28 votes

7. New Observing Baseball Icon- 17 votes

8. MLBlogs I Recommend- 33 votes

9. Observing Baseball Trivia- 32 votes

10. My Favorite MLB Players- 28 votes

11. Characters of Observing Baseball- 29 votes

Not proofread.

240,670 Words Written so far…

Resolutions/Goals for 2013

So typically I post an entry on or around the new year setting out my goals for ballhawking the next year like this and this. Well, given this is the definition for resolution:

the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.

And this is the definition for goal:
the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.
And since it’s pretty obvious most of the things in those prior two lists were mostly goals, my first change to this year’s list was obviously the title of the entry itself as you can see above.
Secondly, ballhawking will no longer be my sole focus. For this entry, I will be establishing goals and resolutions for many different things. I haven’t thought of them all while I write these words, but I’m going to think of them later and write all of them below. For each different category, I will have 10 different goals/resolutions.
Ballhawking:
1. Have multiple double-digit games- I never have in a season before. The most games I have ever had in a season where I snagged 10 or more baseballs is one. In 2013 I think that needs to change one way or another.
2. Snag 4 or more game balls- In the past three seasons I have snagged 1, 2, and 3 game balls, respectively. I’d like to keep that growth going. It’ll probably easier to do it if I don’t wait until July 23rd to snag my first game ball.
3. Snag multiple game home run balls- This may not jive with my previous goal–since that is most easily achievable in foul territory–but I’d like my Plouffe home run snag to not be a one-time thing.
4. Snag 100 thrown baseballs,100 hit balls, 50 on the fly, 10 Easter Eggs, and 5 Glove Trick balls- I came pretty close last year with all of these, but I have still never done most of them. The only one I passed last year was the thrown ball mark. I would be willing to give away some in this department to supplement the other categories.
5. Give away a third of my baseballs or more- Since I tell everyone that I give away about a third of my baseballs, I figure I should make it a point to actually live up to that figure. I did last year, so I’m hoping to repeat.
6a. Average 4.5 Balls Per Game
6b. Average 5 Balls Per Game- Towards the end of the season it felt nearly impossible for me to do this (I averaged 4.21 Balls Per Game this season.) but we’ll see if I got better. I, for whatever reason, seem to struggle when the calendar hits August; but I think that if I can get off to the same hot start I did this year and then just not fall off the cliff at the end of the season, I can achieve one, if not two parts of goal 6. I would like to say that I was above both goals at one point or another. True, I was only averaging more than 5 balls a game for one game, but I still was doing it.
7. Go to a new stadium- I didn’t last year, and I’m very disappointed that I didn’t. I, like so many other baseball fans, would like to see all 30 stadiums, and I’d rather not take 25 years to do it, so stepping it up next season is a must.
8. Go to 50 Games again- I could up the ante by raising this goal, but I like milestone numbers and the next one I think I could make a case for is 75. And as far as I can tell you right now, I’m not going to 75 games next season.
9. Make it to 100 straight Games with at least 1 Ball- I’ve often mentioned that I will stop caring about which games I go to once I reach this mark. Frankly, having to worry about it every game I go to is limiting and stressful, so I want to get it done as quickly as possible.
10. Do all of this with a new glove- I can’t say too much as I want to save it for the “Ballhawking Gear” entry, but I got tired of using my mom’s glove since I wasn’t able to find my glove from this game forward. I definitely went “out there” with my selection of glove, but it wasn’t without reasons behind the purchase. It could go very well or it could go horribly wrong.
Writing:
1. Write at least 10 entries each month in 2013-(FAILED) It’s really easy to do during baseball season, but I want to keep things consistent all the way through the year. Now that I’ve written this goal down, I think I can do it.
2. Write 100,000 words- It just seems like a good, round number to shoot for. I won’t research it because it’s annoying to do it, but I would guess that I’ve never done it in a single year before. It’s possible I did it last year. We’ll see if it’s on WordPress’ statistical report this year (I’ll be making it visible for you guys tomorrow. I may have seen the report by the time you read this, but I’m writing the entry ahead of time, so I have no clue how many words I wrote this year.
3. Proofread at least 10% of my entries- Besides my internship in spring of 2012, I didn’t proofread a single one of my entries and I can’t imagine how many mistakes. If I proofread an entry, I will try to remember to put something at the end by the “x Words Written so far” line; this will be my means of tracking my success in this goal. (Note: Perhaps it’s due to inexperience, but I am awful at proofreading my own writing, so just because I proofread something does *not* mean it is perfect.
4. Write ballhawking entries all within a week of the game (FAILED)- When you’re going to game after game, it is really easy to just give up on trying to keep up with entries. And by no means do I feel I have to. I mean, there was a time during the season last year when I was getting the entries written the day after I went to the games, but that’s just frosting. What I want to avoid is getting extremely backed-up on entries. Those scenarios are the killers. So, my goal is to never publish an entry a week or more after the game took place.
5. Write 20 entries in one month- Sure it’s harder when I don’t have any cheapy entry series’s like Offseason Recap and Preview or Re-view of the Preview to pad my entry numbers, but it’s been a while and I want to have one month this year where I just go absolutely bonkers and put a twenty spot on the board.
6. Write 6 mygameballs.com columns- I’m supposed to be writing one every month (whoops)and I realistically know that will not happen with everything else going on, but I’d like to fulfill at least half my requirement.
7. Read 5 baseball books- Yes, this goes under “writing” because part of writing is reading. And although I’m not a huge reader of books–they’re just too long. I read tons of things via blogs and other websites, but they’re all delivered in small doses. I guess that’s just the nature of the generation–but I’m not a huge writer either. I figure if I can write a baseball blog, I can read five books on my own. I realize that’s not much, but it really is nearly impossible to read for recreation while doing all of the things you would like to do in college, and in the summer I’m off going to baseball games and blogging.
8. Average 1,000 Words Per Entry (If I capitalize a series of random words like this, it usually doesn’t mean I messed up, they usually have some sort of significance behind them. In this case it’s that “Words Per Entry” is a statistics that I made up on the spot.)- I figure that if I average 823 words with small-entry series’s like the two I previously mentioned, I can average this much in the long run.
9. Write a 4,000-word entry– It seems crazy, and I have no clue what I would write it about, but I would like to write a super-crazy-long entry this year.
10. Go on a streak of 5 days in a row publishing an entry– The past three days I have published an entry each day. I don’t think it would be *that* hard. It’s just a little more difficult when trying to average 1,000 Words Per Entry and managing all of the other stuff that gets in the way of writing for five consecutive days. I think I’ve gotten into double digits with consecutive days posting an entry ( I’m pretty sure my record for most entries in a single day is four), but they were mostly short entries, so it should be interesting to see if I can do it with “real” entries.
Video:
1. Average less than 5 Minutes Per Video- Right now the average is 6:20, and I know I personally don’t want to watch a video that long, so I would like to lower the amount of time my videos take up.
2. Upload 100 Minutes of video- That means what? 20+ videos? I think I can do that.
3. Re-do the “Before the Gates Open” videos for all of the ballparks I visit in 2012- I think I can do them better now that I’ve had some experience doing them, so I want to take another stab at them. I’m saving the details for the Ballhawking Gear entry (which will have to wait until I get back to Minnesota to be done, since I have most of the “gear” there). However, I can say that I plan to do have them a little more “professional-looking”, or at least that’s the plan.
4. Not do a video over 15 Minutes- Ideally I wouldn’t have any videos over ten minutes, but there will be those nuggets that have things that can’t be cut; making the video longer than ten minutes. However, that leads me to my next resolution….
5. Not include things I don’t have to- It would be one thing if my videos were masterpieces of entertainment value, but I don’t think ANY of my videos needed to be over ten minutes this year. I should have been more selective about what I included in the videos.
6. Use more appropriate transitions and effects- I feel like many times I didn’t include things when I could’ve, but other times I feel I used effects, music, and other things just for the sake of having them instead of using something that actually fit the situation.
7. Do one all-video ballhawking entry- This maybe the 10+ minute video, but I wan to do one entry where really the whole entry is done by video. It should be interesting.
8. Do a ballhawk highlight video- I meant to do this last year, but it was supposed to be during BallhawkFest, which I never ended up attending. We’ll see. I don’t feel like I’m ready to do the video yet, but you never know how far I can progress during this first half of the year. I just don’t want it to be a video I end wishing I did later when I was better at filming/editing, so it wouldn’t be a tragedy if I didn’t do it this year, but the main goal of this list is to remind myself of things, and this is one of those things I’d like to remind myself about.
9. Do the “stuff people say to ballhawks” video- see above.
10. Get to 50 subscribers on Youtube- I mean I only have 14 as of right now, but I plan on producing better content, so maybe more subscribers? I’m trying to stay away from goals I can’t control, but this is one of those that I can’t help but stay away from.
Twitter:
1. Get to 300 followers- I’m at 167 as of right now. I mean there aren’t a ton of people out there that haven’t already followed me that are likely to, so this is pretty hard, and again, not in my control, but I thought it’d be fun to have this goal. Plus, I can’t think of many goals for Twitter.
2. Not reach 7,000 tweets- I’m at 3,555 right now, and while I can’t control how much people tweet me–thus how many times i respond to them I don’t want to be an account that spams others’ feeds, which brings me to number 3…
3. Be an account I would want to follow- While most tweets are driven by whatever is happening around me, I’d like to just remind myself of this. I want people who follow me to enjoy the experience. I don’t want people to regret following me every day and going back and forth on whether they should unfollow me.
4. Tweet more from the games I go to- At least I think I should. If you guys who follow me on Twitter think that I should actually do that less, feel free to tell me. I just think that sometimes I think I let the idea of making each blog entry almost a complete surprise gets in the way of using Twitter what it’s for and letting people know what’s happening. Usually I go a long time without tweeting at a game and then I’ll just go berserk one game with the tweets. I’d rather just keep it consistent throughout the season–dependent on the interesting-ness of the game.
5. Focus on quality and not relevance- With Twitter it’s easy to get caught up in only focusing on things that are relevant within the past three days or so. I’d like to instead of focusing on that, focus on what people might find interesting. This isn’t really quantifiable, but that’s why this particular number is a resolution and not a goal.
6. Not manufacture material- Often it feels like I *need* to tweet something every day or whatever. I need to remember that I tweet plenty as it is. There is no need to even send out a tweet every day if I don’t actually have anything related to baseball that is interesting. Many times I’ll send out these “manufactured” tweets because I feel like “hey, I haven’t sent out a tweet in a while; I should probably do that.” I need to remember that it’s more than okay that I haven’t sent out a tweet as I spend more than enough time reading my timeline.
7. Reference Twitter context in entries- Sometimes I forget that not everyone who reads my blog entries follows me on Twitter, so I need to remember to reference any Twitter context that I superimpose into any entries I may do so on.
8. Spend less time on Twitter– I’m not judging anyone who does this, because I am currently one, but I need to not feel the need to read EVERY. SINGLE. TWEET. On my feed. I seriously don’t know if I’ve missed a tweet since around November or earlier. I mean remembering them is a whole other thing, but it is for me, my morning newspaper and my afternoon/every other time of the day entertainment platform. If I haven’t checked it in a while, I seriously do feel the need to scroll through and skim all of the tweets I missed. It’s because of a psychological thing that most all of us humans have–but I won’t get into that right now. I just need to be okay with maybe not needing to be so attached to the internet world.
9. Welcome followers- Oftentimes a person will follow me and/or I will follow a person and we’ll never converse. Spam-bots aside, I think it’s because we’re both nervous about looking completely awkward initiating conversation out of nowhere. However, if I greet all of my followers, it will give them some talking material if they really did wan to follow *me*. So, it would help me get to know people on Twitter a lot easier.
10. Meet three people I’ve only known over Twitter/ the internet- Sure, Twitter and the e-community is a great, but real life is, well, real life.
Facebook:
1. Post pictures from games within a week of the entry for the game being up- I really fell behind last year. I’d like for that not to happen to anywhere near that extent this season. Especially when I only use Facebook for ONE thing, which brings me to my next point…
2. Figure out another thing I can use Facebook for besides a behind-the-scenes look at the games- With just this present, the blog page doesn’t really present something unique other than it’s another medium to get to my blog from. I want it to provide something unique so people actually want to “like” and experience the page. Any Suggestions?
3. Get 30 “likes”– This number is because that’s the number of “likes” it takes to get analytics on the page. I currently have 14, so I think it’s do-able.
4. Interact with people slightly more on Facebook- With Facebook and myself it’s pretty much a “drop my content and then peace-out” thing. I don’t really know Facebook since I don’t actually use it outside of the page, which everyone who has ever “friend request”ed me on Facebook ever will know. I don’t exactly know how, but I’d like to interact with people on there that I don’t get to interact with on Twitter because they simply aren’t on Twitter.
5. Not accept a friend request- You may be like “Whoa; mean person here,” but it’s not so much a goal as it is a statement. Simply put, I *don’t* use Facebook the way you are “supposed to use it; I use for my page and that’s it. So I guess it’s kind of just a statement of my resoluteness. If only they had a word for that (yes, that is sarcasm. I think you can figure the word out).
6. Maybe post some non-game pictures- I feel bad for the Facebook people now that’s it’s winter, because all that really happens on the page is a post (is that what it’s called?) pops up on the page anytime I publish a new entry. Really the main idea of creating an account on Facebook was to post the pictures I took at games but couldn’t put on the blog because it would take forever to do so. I never thought there would be people whose only window into my blog was the Facebook page. An example of this would be like when I was working on the icon I might’ve posted something on the Facebook page’s timeline with a rough draft of the icon or the original picture I used for the icon. I don’t know, I’ll build on this as it solidifies in my mind.
7. Maybe dip into some other social networks– I realize that it is *the* biggest social network in the world, but before Facebook I never realized that through opening accounts on social networks I would meet new people and expose new people to my content. I always thought that it would just be a new way to connect with the people who were already reading. A couple people have mentioned Instagram, and I was right on the cusp of creating an account when there was the split between them and Twitter and the mass-exodus of people when someone misunderstood a change in their terms and conditions and spread it to the world (I may be altering the story in my paraphrasing of it, but this is just what I’ve heard). Anyway, I wanted to wait and see what happened when all the commotion had subsided. And it has, so what does everyone think? Should I go ahead with the Instagram creation? (What is this? Like item number 3 or 4 on your comment homework? Feel free to leave monster comments if you want to answer all of them or a small one if you want to just answer one. Or don’t comment at all. Whatever.) I’ve also thought about, well, many other social networks, but I’ve always talked myself out of them like I did with Twitter and Facebook a few years ago.
8. Try to respond to things on a timely basis- I have done this so far–or so I believe. However, it’s been mostly luck that I check the page the days on or after people post stuff on there. I think I should check more often to be able to maintain this level of responsiveness.
9. Maybe write longer things on Facebook- On Twitter there are a bunch of things I wish I could write but they are just too long for the 140 character limit. Then I think of putting them on the blog, but they don’t deserve their own entry either and aren’t really long enough either to stand on their own. Facebook could be the place for these in-between pieces.
10. See if there’s a way to integrate Twitter and Facebook- Like I said, I’m rarely on Facebook and I’m constantly on Twitter. And it’s not like they’re mutually exclusive to each other. They are just two different forms of social networking. So, if there was a way to link the two together (besides publishing tweets to the Facebook account. I’ve thought of that and may do it.) I could better devote excess time to Facebook and thus be more active on there.
So that’s it. I know I have a ton of things on the list, but if at any point while reading this you stopped and thought, “Wait, why didn’t he put that as a goal/resolution?” feel free to suggest to me in the comments any resolutions/goals you think I should include. You can even suggest a whole new category for me to write 10 goals/resolutions for if you’d like to. I can’t guarantee that I’ll say yes to ANYthing, but if it seems reasonable/cool, I more than likely will tack on to the entry.
Two last things. First, Paul Kom, Nick Badders, and I had a thing going today where we would all publish our entries on the same day and give each other a plug. Paul has already published his entry, so you can go check that out here. And Nick hasn’t published his entry as of me writing this, but he said he would around noon today. So if it is after noon on the first day of 2013, you can click this link and it will most likely take you to his entry. And if not, that’ll at least take you to his blog where you can find the entry/homepage by clicking the name of the blog (7000 Coliseum Way) at the top of the page.
Oh, and now that I’m done with holiday-season stuff, I will go back to writing more of the entries from the poll I have set up. If you haven’t yet voted and you would like to, here’s the poll:
“Ballhawking Gear is currently the most voted-for item on the poll, but I can’t do this until at least January 22nd when I get back to Minnesota–since a ton of said gear is in Minnesota–so I’ll skip over it for the time being. So, unless there is some objection to the following entry (I still won’t do Ballhawking Gear from New York if there’s objection) will be Observing Baseball trivia. This would begin Friday and most likely span the whole weekend. The winner of the trivia contest would win…I don’t know. That’s another part of your comment homework: tell me what you think the winner of the trivia should get. Please keep it to reasonable things, though. After all I *am* a broke college student.
As a part of your poll homework, here’s a poll those of you who voted on the main poll two months ago and have been fed up that you can vote on it can partake in. I want you to tell me what kind of questions you’d like to see on the Observing Baseball Trivia. I will make it so you can vote for as many items on the poll as you would like. And if you hate all of my suggestions or have a great idea of your own, you can insert your own idea along with or as a substitute to your other choices:
I also won’t be able to do “Ten Minutes With Two GMs” until the 22nd either, so if/when that becomes the second option, I’ll write the third option on the list–whatever that may be at the time.
And actually in writing this entry, I completed one of my goals on the list. This entry is over 4,100 words long. If you stuck around this long, thank you and have a great 2013.
Oh, and if I didn’t formally mention this yet, I picked the new Observing Baseball icon. It was number 5, or this one:
Icon 5
So this is the image I get to bombard you with for the next year or so.
Not proofread.
234,941 Word Written so far

Winter Writing Ideas

1. Blast From The Baseball Past

2. New Observing Baseball Icon

3. Dissecting a Baseball – Except I should clarify I would be dissecting multiple types of baseballs, not just MLB ones.

Be sure to vote as soon as you can because I want to start publishing regular entries this Monday, so I’ll write about what it is that has the most votes at the end of today

Ballhawking Season’s End Review- 2012

If you want to know the context for this entry, here’s last year’s version. I go over stats from the past season of ballhawking. It’s fun for my stat-geek mind. If you’re into stats, it might be fun for you too, but it’s really to have a record of everything. Feel free to leave a comment below suggesting any other stats you’d like to see in the entry.

Here are the overall numbers:

Baseballs (B): 223 (12th on mygameballs.com)

Games (G): 53 (12th on mygameballs.com)

Balls Per Game (BPG): 4.21 (24th on mygameballs.com. Ouch.)

Game Balls (GB): 3 (23rd on mygameballs.com)

Hit Balls (HB): 94

Hit Balls Per Game (HPG): 1.77

Balls Caught On The Fly (COF): 41

Balls Caught On Fly Per Game (CPG): 0.77

Thrown Balls (TB): 119

Thrown Balls Per Game (TPG): 2.25

Easter Eggs (EE): 7 (which is actually less than last year)

Easter Eggs Per Game (EPG): 0.13

Glove Trick Balls (GT): 3

Glove Trick Balls Per Game (GPG): 0.06

Balls During The Game: 5 (less than last year)

Balls After The Game: 16

Average Competition Factor (ACF): 143,718 (16th on mygameballs.com)

High: 11 (14th on mygameballs.com

Overall Snag Tracker:

Stats Broken Down By Month:

April-

B: 17

G: 4

HB: 14

COF: 5

TB: 2

BPG: 4.25

HPG: 3.5

CPG: 1.25

TPG: .5

High: 5

ACF: 130,511

May-

B: 19

G: 4

HB: 8

COF: 2

TB: 11

BPG: 4.75

HPG: 2

CPG: 0.5

TPG: 2.75

High: 8

ACF: 167,425

June-

B: 60

G: 11

HB: 30

COF: 17

TB: 28

GT: 1

EE: 1

BPG: 5.45

HPG: 2.73

CPG: 1.55

TPG: 2.55

GPG: 0.09

EPG: 0.09

High: 11

ACF: 211,817

July-

B: 39

G: 11

HB: 10

COF: 1

TB: 25

EE: 4

BPG: 3.55

HPG: 0.91

CPG: 0.09

TPG: 2.73

EPG: 0.36

High: 7

ACF: 115,158

August-

B: 38

G: 12

HB: 17

COF: 8

TB: 19

EE: 1

GT: 1

BPG: 3.17

HPG: 1.55

CPG: 0.73

TPG: 1.73

EPG: 0.09

GPG: 0.09

High: 9

ACF: 106,822

GB: 1

September-

B: 50

G: 11

HB: 10

COF: 2

TB: 19

EE: 1

GT: 1

BPG: 4.55

HPG: 0.91

CPG: 0.18

TPG: 1.73

EPG: 0.09

GPG: 0.09

High: 8

ACF: 140,522

GB: 2

Balls broken down by Stadium:

New Yankee Stadium-

B: 65

G: 16

HB: 32

COF: 15

TB: 33

BPG: 4.06

HPG: 2

CPG: 0.94

TPG: 2.06

High: 8

ACF: 144,034

Snag Trackers for Yankee Stadium in 2012:

Snag Trackers for just the hit balls:

And for just the thrown baseballs:

Nationals Park-

B: 65

G: 15

HB: 21

COF: 10

TB: 37

EE: 5

GT: 2

BPG: 4.33

HPG: 1.40

CPG: 0.67

TPG: 2.47

High: 9

ACF: 114,684

Snag Trackers for Nationals Park:

Snag Trackers for just the hit balls:

And just for the thrown balls:

Target Field-

B: 53

G: 12

HB: 14

COF: 4

TB: 37

EE: 1

GT: 1

BPG: 4.42

HPG: 1.17

CPG: 0.33

TPG: 3.08

High: 8

ACF: 136,276

GB: 2

Snag Trackers:

Snag Trackers for just hit balls:

And just for thrown balls:

Oriole Park at Camden Yards-

B: 21

G: 4

HB: 17

COF: 9

TB: 4

BPG: 5.25

HPG: 4.25

CPG: 2.25

TPG: 1

High: 11

ACF: 190,801

;

Snag Trackers:

Just the hit balls:

And just the thrown balls:

Citi Field-

B: 14

G: 5

HB: 6

COF: 1

TB: 7

BPG: 2.80

HPG: 1.20

CPG: 0.20

TPG: 1.40

High: 4 (so sad, but so Citi Field at the same time)

ACF: 71,614

GB: 1

Snag Trackers:

Just the hit balls:

And just the thrown baseballs:

Citizens Bank Park:

20121105-035008.jpg

**EDIT/NOTE**: In looking at the image above, I realized I put this into my records incorrectly. I snagged 6 baseballs during this game, as you can see from the entry. That means I actually snagged 224 baseballs this season. I’m dumb for doing that, but I’m just going to leave everything as it is. If you want to see how that extra baseball affects my stats, click the link over there ——> in the sidebar for “my mygameballs.com account”. I got all of these stats from there and the site has more information stored than I could ever write about, so you should check it out anyway and sign-up if you have ever snagged a ball at a baseball game. And to those of you on mygameballs.com, make sure you not only vote for president and all that stuff, but make sure you vote for Ballhawk of the Year and Junior Ballhawk of the Year. Voting is now open for the two awards on your account’s page. Back to the rest of the entry…

In this version because I only attended one game there this season and I didn’t want to do all of the stats stuff for just one game.

As for my New Year’s Resolutions, they’re not really resolutions; they’re goals, but whatever. We’ll see how many of them I managed to reach:

1. Go to 50 games- Yes, I went to 53.

2. Average 4.5 Balls Per Game- No, I averaged 4.21.

3. Go to 8 Stadiums- No, I went to 6, but I could have gone to 8 easily without school getting in the way (both high school and college).

4. Double my career total- Yes, I did it on the last game of the season.

5. Catch one Game Home Run. Period- Yes, Trevor Plouffe’s game-tying home run to be specific.

6. Catch 5 Game Balls total- No, I only got started catching game balls at the end of July and only managed to snag 3. I’ll take game balls in back-to-back games over this goal, though.

7. Be in the mygameballs.com Top 10- No, I was in 12th. You were right, Alex.

8. Go to 10 games at Nationals Park before June’s end- I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote this goal, but no, I didn’t.

9. Average 5.0 Balls Per Game at Nationals Park- No, I averaged almost half-a-ball under this mark.

10. Average 3.5 Balls Per Game at Citi Field- No, I didn’t anticipate Citi Field becoming a worse ballpark due to their additions.

11. Average 2.5 BPG at Yankee Stadium- Yes, I actually blew this out of the water with a 4.06 average.

12. Improve on my HB/TB ratio- Yes, from 0.51:1 in 2011 to 0.79:1 in 2012.

13. Go to Camden Yards 3 times- Yes, I went 4 times in 2012.

14. Enjoy the summer of Baseball- I would say I did. Some times I wasn’t having fun, but overall, the whole summer was a pure blast.

15. Post Entries Regularly- Compared to 2011, I definitely posted my entries a lot more quickly when discounting these past few entries at the end of the season that have taken me forever to get up.

 

If you made it this far: thank you. You are too kind. (And you probably have a longer attention span than I do. Even if I did write this whole entry pretty much in one night.) I will be trying very hard to get a video up Friday explaining my winter blogging plans. I’m very excited the potentiality for awesomeness the stuff I have planned for the winter, so make sure you check the blog sometime during this next weekend November 9-11. If it isn’t up then, that means I decided to post the video November 12th. Anyway, the winter blogging plans are dependent on reader input, so make sure to read and vote on what you want to read. But anyway, I feel like I’m just confusing you. More explanation will come Friday…or Monday. It depends on when the video comes out. I haven’t even fully scripted the video. If you were wondering, I am planning to get on a regular entry-posting schedule; or at least attempt one. That’ll be in the video too, so like I said, watch out for a video coming soon.

9/30/12 Tigers at Twins: Target Field

It was Sunday, September 30th 2012. It was my last game of the season. Except, when I awoke early Sunday morning, it didn’t feel like it at all. It just felt like another day at the ballpark. Except I semi-changed things up by going to Harmon Killebrew’s gate:

I knew there wouldn’t be batting practice, and my bus drops me off right by Gate 3 when I take it; so I didn’t feel like walking to Gate 34.

When I entered the left field seats, this was my view:

No surprise there.

I went down to the Tigers’ dugout, but there wasn’t anything going on down there:

See? Nothing.

Eventually, Jeff Kunkel– one of the Tigers’ bullpen catchers– came out to play catch with one of the pitchers:

I don’t remember who the pitchers was, but I do remember that after playing catch they went to the bullpen to throw a bullpen session.

Then there was a long break in action. How long? It was long enough for Kunkel to go to the bullpen, catch the session, and come back out to be the catching partner of the next pitcher who came out:

I don’t know who it was. The face looked most Luke Putkonen, but he didn’t look 6’6″, which Putkonen is listed at. But who knows, MLB players routinely “round up” on their listed heights, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it was Putkonen.

Anyway, at this time, the Twins came out to throw:

I had half a mind to go over there, but I decided against it since my most notable competition on my side of the field was a family who were expecting the Twins to take batting practice and a couple of kids with their parents.

It looks like I made the right decision, because minutes later, I got this from Luis Marte by working some Spanish magic:

One down, four to go to get to my goal of 444 career baseballs. I gave this ball away to the family I mentioned before, since they had engaged me in conversation over day games after night games, the Twins, and a whole bunch of other things.

After Marte, I would get a giant boost in my campaign for four baseballs in a BP-less day. Two words: Phil. Coke:

Yeah he’s one of the nicer players out there, but the reason he was so good in my quest for four baseballs on the day is he was absolutely the most wild I have ever seen a pitcher in a session of catch.

Here was my view of Coke and his throwing partner, the other bullpen catcher, Scott Pickens:

To give you an idea of Coke’s wildness in this particular session, Pickens was at least thirty feet in front of the stands. Now that you have this fact in your mind: Coke threw four balls into the stands by me. The first almost decapitated me because I wasn’t paying attention to Coke at the time. I ducked just in time as the ball whizzed over my head, bounced off a seat two rows behind me, and bounced back onto the field. After that I was sure to pay attention. The next ball actually technically didn’t make it into the stands on the fly. As soon as the ball was half-way between Coke and Pickens, I could tell it was sailing way over Pickens’ head, so I moved into position and caught the ball right at the wall. So even though I was in the stands, I caught the ball itself over the field of play. Without a hesitation, I gave the ball back to Pickens and he told me he would give me the ball when they were done throwing.

The third ball was a HUMONGOUS overthrow that sailed over even my head. It then bounced off of a seat behind me and bounced back towards me. At this point, I acted like a catcher who was blocking a ball in the dirt and just blocked the ball with my chest, deflecting it to the seats to my left. Basically, this was the path of the ball:

After I deflected the ball, I ran after it and just barely scooped it up before anyone else could get to it. I then proceeded to give the ball to the second-closest to the ball who just happened to be a ten-year old boy with a glove. This was technically my second ball of the day since I gave the first overthrow I snagged back to Pickens. I was gave away two consecutive baseballs because I knew I was approaching milestone/goal territory and I wouldn’t want to give away any of the latter balls I snagged in the day.

 

Then a fourth bounced to almost the exact same location, but this time, there was someone closer to me after the deflection, so he scooped it up. I really didn’t have a chance because I wasn’t paying attention to Coke at the time, Instead, I was talking to the family I gave the Marte ball to, so I didn’t see the ball until I turned around and saw it hit the seats.

 

When Coke finally finished throwing, he came to sign autographs. Pickens headed straight for the dugout and Coke headed straight for the foul line. This is where he showed his awesomeness. First, there were a bunch of baseballs sitting on the foul line. He picked up a couple of baseballs. The first he threw up to the second level. When the woman who he threw it to didn’t catch it, he jokingly got on her case by flinging his glove on the ground, yelling “COME ON!”, and then using her former softball playing to further his discussion even though she was a hundred feet away. The second ball also went to that woman and she caught it this time. (No glove on, by the way.) He then came over to start signing. While he started signing, he asked me if Pickens had given me the ball. When I said no, he jokingly reprimanded Pickens for not doing so and tossed me a ball:

While he kept signing, we talked for 1-2 minutes about the ball he just tossed me and why I hadn’t snagged the last ball he threw into the crowd. I realize that doesn’t seem like that long time, but it is when you consider it was a major league player I was talking  to, it’s pretty special.

 

Because I had to get four baseballs in a BP-less game, I got a ticket in Target Field’s “moat” to have a shot at a ball during the game, since I figured I would enter the game under four baseballs for the day.I waited there until the position players came out to throw. When they finished throwing, I got Andy Dirks to toss me career baseball number 444:

Oh. Yes:

This effectively eliminated the possibility of me going to a playoff game in 2012 (I didn’t, but I was seriously considering a trip to Detroit.) What it also did was it made it so I wouldn’t have to sit by the dugout for the game. Sure, those seats are nice and all, but I wanted to end my season with a game home run if I could. So instead, I stood out here for most of the game:

How awesome would it be to end my season with a Prince Fielder, Justin Morneau, or Joe Mauer home run. Or even better, an opposite field bomb by Miguel Cabrera to lock-up the triple crown for him. Alas, the only home run any of those players hit was a Prince Fielder home run to left field.

 

In the middle innings, though, I was kind of tired, so I decided to do something I had always wanted to do at a major league stadium but was always to busy running around to do: I went to Target Field’s Best Buy gaming station to play MLB The Show:

Yeah, for one real baseball inning, I was that guy who pays no attention to the game and just plays video games at a baseball stadium. And you know what, it felt nice to relax a little in frantically trying to get to first fifty games in the season and then reach 444 career baseballs, I hadn’t had much of a break in the action between ballhawking, blogging, and schoolwork. (If you’ve noticed the relaxed pace of entries lately, it’s because I still had some overload left in me. I’ll be ramping the blogging schedule back up in a bit.) So yeah, it was nice:

For the record, I was the Nationals; not the Astros.

 

When I realized I was never going to score any runs because I had no clue how to hit in the game (yes, it took three innings to realize this),  I headed back out to the standing room section just in time:

That would be Mike. He and his friend (not pictured) are– besides myself, Tony Voda, and Paul Kom– the closest thing Target Field has to regular ballhawks. I believe they are both season ticket holders, but they only try to catch baseballs on less than half of the games they go to. Anyway, he was dressed in this get-up to pay homage to Red Solo Cup. If you don’t know about it, don’t worry, I didn’t know about the song until I got to Minnesota. Mike pretty much always has the hat on, but this was the first time I had seen him with the cup costume itself.

 

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

This meant I had officially “passed” my goal of 222 baseballs in 2012. Yay?

 

After which, I simultaneously tried to get the lineup card(s) from Jim Leyland and tried to get a ball from the Tigers relievers coming back from the bullpen:

It wasn’t because of my multitasking, but I failed at both. When I realized there would be no on-field demo by FSN due to Kids Run The Bases, I went around the stadium saying goodbye to all of the ushers I had met in the last month of season and I headed out.

 

One last thing before I get to the stats portion of the entry: my next entry will be a statistical recap of the season. I have a general idea of how I’m going to go about it alla last year’s review, but let me know in the comments below if you have any ideas for stats you think of or anything you would like to see in review of the season.

 

STATS:

  • 5 Baseballs at this game (3 pictured because I gave 2 away):

Numbers 441-445 for my career:

  • 223 Balls in 53 Games= 4.21 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 32,554 Fans= 162,770 Competition Factor
  • 62 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 12 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 55 Balls in 14 Games= 3.93 Balls Per Game
  • 13 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 12 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 11: 44- 4:47= 5 Hours 3 Minutes