Apparently it’s Award Season in the MLB community. Yeah, well I’m going to completely disregard that. I have interest in it, don’t get me wrong, but if you want to read about the awards, my friend Matt Huddleston is doing comprehensive coverage of all of the awards on his blog, The Unbiased MLB Fan. No, here at Observing Baseball we are completely self-absorbed in the awards converge, covering only awards that the staff (read: me, Mateo Fischer) win.
So yes, I won mygameballs.com’s Junior Ballhawk of the Year:
The subtitle phrases it perfectly when it says I am honored. If you are a ballhawk with any normalcy to your life’s schedule, there are many times when it may not seem worth it to keep ballhawking. Then there’s the fact that I had to do something half-way decent to be considered for the award. Then, after that, when you consider that this is a peer-voted award, it adds a whole new level of honored to the mix. To people outside of the ballhawk community (and maybe even to people inside it) this may not seem like much, but it feels pretty great to me right now. Getting back to the urge to quit that 95% of ballhawks get, there are very many things that make you want to quit, but at some point or another, unless you do in fact quit, there is something keeping you from quitting. This, although not directly, is an indication of what tips the scale back for me.
Now I’m not going to sit here and say that it was my goal to win any award at the beginning of this year, as indicated by its absence in the goals I *did* set for this year. (Psst. Link to that here.) In fact, I wasn’t even considering that when I wrote the goals. I didn’t even know I was going to be eligible for it at the end of the season. For those who don’t know, my birthday is in October, before the award voting began, but apparently, the cutoff date was in July That said, when I did eventually win the award, it meant something to me as I have described above. It is what it is: a really cool thing that came along through the course of doing my ballhawking thing throughout the season.
Anyway, thank you to Alan Schuster for just creating mygameballs.com and the people who voted for me. I don’t want this to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech or anything; I just want an entry on the blog documenting the fact that I won the award. This is a sort of awkward entry for me. On the one hand, I didn’t not want to write an entry and make it seem like I’m better than the award or anything, because it does mean something to me, but at the same time, I know it doesn’t mean that much to a lot of people.
Also, congratulations to all of the other ballhawks who received votes for Junior Ballhawk of the Year:
Keep your eyes glued to mygameballs.com for the next few days as the announcement for Ballhawk of the Year should be up, which is a much greater feat than this. Could it possibly be that Greg Barasch takes it and we be the first and possibly the last next-door neighbor combination to sweep the awards?
And I know this entry was both late and unrelated to the poll I’m conducting this offseason, but I felt it was necessary and I had a bunch of things that got in the way of entry writing this week. New entry up on Monday. Meanwhile, keep voting on the assortment of polls I have provided below if you have not already done so (P. S. Thanks to everyone who has voted, the main poll is over 20 votes as of me writing this):
If you have no clue what some of the entries in the first poll are, here’s the link to the entry where I explain them.
Update: So Greg didn’t win and the results proved to me that Ballhawk of the Year is just a popularity contest with a splash of actual stats looking. Anyway, congratulations to Zack, but a cool thing about that being announced is that there was a new addition made to the “award winners” page on mygameballs.com:
‘Twas the week before college, and action was dead. So I went to dear Citi. What’s wrong with my head?
I travelled with my neighbor, Greg Barasch, on the subway to the game. There began the motif of this game: fun people, bad baseball.
When we got to the gates, he went ahead and bought a student ticket for himself and Zack Hample. Meanwhile, I met a kid by the name of Michael who told me he had read this blog. I stupidly didn’t get a picture of all four of us before the gates opened, but I wanted to include Michael in the entry somehow, so….yeah. After that I got some free pudding the outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.
After I got in the gates, it didn’t take me long to miss my first ball of the day:
I had gone down to the first row to ask Josh Edgin for a ball. Just as I was leaning down, to cup my hands and yell at him, I saw a ball get hit to my right. Just to my right was the guy in blue in the last picture. I figured he would still be trying to get the ball from Edgin, so I hopped into the row behind him and got right to the spot I thought the ball was going. As I was tracking the ball, I saw him and his glove starting to reach up. He missed the ball, but deflected oh so slightly so that the ball that previously would have gone into the pocket of my glove hit the side of my glove and bounced two rows behind me. Greg had an eye out for this ball, so when it landed in the seats, he was already running for the ball and grabbed it.
When the gates opened, Greg and I took the left field seats and Zack took the seats in upper right field. That meant until Zack showed up in the section, I had this view of the “action” (if you can call Mets-Astros BP action):
Meanwhile, Zack had moved from right field to center field and got Dave Raceniello to toss him a ball:
That meant I was the only one not on the board yet.
I figured I would just go ask for a toss-up in center field:
There, I got my first look at the Mets’ All-Star game logo:
I don’t know what I think of the logo, but I can tell you with 90% certainty that unless I miraculously don’t have to pay for my ticket, I’m not going to the All-Star Game at Citi Field. I definitely don’t want to pay an extra-expensive ticket just to go to an extra-packed Citi Field. That and I kind of want my first All-Star Game to be at Target Field. Sure it’s a pretty bad stadium for snagging balls, but at least through two games, it actually feels like home in the same way that Nationals Park sort of does. I don’t know why, but I can only maybe say this for Yankee Stadium and definitely can’t for Citi Field.
Anyway, I don’t think you’re here to hear me talk about future plans. You’re here for the snagging (or lack thereof):
While I was in the center field seating, a ball got hit to Brandon Barnes (an Astros outfielder). I didn’t know his name, so I just gave him a generic request and he loft the ball to me as is shown by the arrow. It was a pretty good throw.
Then began the “nothingness”. First of all, if you don’t know, the Astros are a team of a bunch of guys who have maybe been in the major leagues for a year. On top of that, almost all of them had their warm-up jerseys on. Basically, they were indistinguishable from each other, so I had no clue who was who. The next thing is I made the mistake of standing behind this guy:
In standing behind Zack, I was banking on the fact that balls would be hit over his head enough that I could judge them well enough to make a jumping catch. That didn’t happen. Instead, Zack went on to catch three balls on the fly that I most definitely would have had if he weren’t there, but you can read about all that and more in his account of the game: 8/24/12 at Citi Field. By the way, I’ll do this for anyone, not just him. If you are a ballhawk who has a blog, and you go to the same game as me, just let me know and I will always feature it regardless of whether it comes out before or after my entry (as long as I remember to do it and it’s PG).
As for the game, I stayed out in left field because, as was the case with the previous, oh I don’t know, six Mets games, David Wright was sitting on 199 career home runs. Oh, and he hit it this game, but it was quite possibly the cheapest home run in the history of Citi Field:
Had it been either a foot lower or a foot further to the right, it wouldn’t have been a home run. To make matters even more frustrating, it was tossed up by the uniformed Astros right fielder to a fan who didn’t even catch it on the fly, yet got whisked away by security. You know what though, I’m happy for the fan. I’m just frustrated that I didn’t get it. In my ideal world, everyone in the stadium would get David Wright’s 200th home run, but obviously that’s not possible. The home run was so close it actually had to be reviewed by the umpires. When the umpires came back out and waved him through, I was honestly contemplating leaving the game right there.
Even though Greg had called me during the game to tell me the Astros didn’t have ANY commemorative baseballs (pretty much my only reason for scheduling this game), I had made the plan to go to the bullpens after the game, so I did:
There, I yelled out to the Astros bullpen catcher Javier Bracamonte for a ball, but he said something back in Spanish, shrugged, and walked away. On the bright side, this was my 50th game in a row with at least 1 Ball.
I then hopped over to the area behind the visitors dugout, because Zack and Greg were waiting for me. After much confusion, due to the post-game Merengue concert, we finally saw each other and headed to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda where I took pictures like this:
The reason we were in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda is Zack (shown by the left arrow) wanted to make sure a glove he had lost a few days earlier hadn’t shown up in the Mets’ Lost and Found. While we were there, we asked the guy designated by the second arrow to take a picture of all three of us since I would be leaving for Minnesota in two days:
First, the reason I am pointing at their two baseballs with a face like that is they both got balls at the end of the game and I didn’t. Second, the reason I took a bunch of pictures of the rotunda is that may very well have been my last game at Citi Field. If you’ve noticed, I go to a lot of Nationals games. Well that’s because my step-dad lives there. If you’ve ever noticed it, married couples don’t usually lives cities apart….so, there is a chance that by the time I get back from Minnesota next summer, I will be returning to Washington D.C. and not New York.
If that is the case, it’s been a blast being a part of the New York ballhawking scene for these couple of years. I have befriended so many people throughout the process (including a neighbor I had never talked to before) that it’s amazing. Although I may not have been in love with the stadiums, it was the people in the stands that I had the pleasure of conversing and competing with that made the experience even tolerable. Sure, I’ll also miss being in quite possibly the best city in the world, but this is a baseball blog, so I thank everyone out there that made that aspect of New York life so special. (If I indeed am moving. If I’m not moving, then keep making it special. Pretty please?)
Speaking of special people, after we left the rotunda, Zack, myself, and Greg all rode back on the train together, talking about things from nail biting to corner spots.
- 1 Ball at this game (I completely forgot to take a picture before I left for Minnesota)
- It was number 392 of my life.
- 170 Balls in 41 Games= 4.15 Balls Per Game
- 1 Ball x 25,513 Fans= C’mon can’t *you* do that math?
- 50 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 86 Balls at Citi Field in 33 Games= 2.61 Balls Per Game
- 33 straight Games at Citi Field with at least 1 Ball (It’s a wonder how I haven’t been shutout there.)
- Time Spent On Game 3:45- 10:56= 7 Hours 11 Minutes
Finally, it was my “game to survive at Yankee Stadium before I get back to Nationals Park”, and look who joined me for the occasion:
That would be me on the left and Ben Weil on the right. In fairly usual “Ben” fashion, he came running down the hill at which Yankee Stadium is at the bottom of and met me at the front of the line with five minutes to spare until the gates opened.
When said gates opened, it didn’t take long until I botched my first ball of the game:
I was in the lower-right hand comer of the section trying to get a Yankees player to toss me a ball. Just then, a Yankee lefty hit a ball. Off the bat, it looked like it wasn’t even going to make it to the warning track, but it just kept carrying and carrying. Eventually, it hit the railing perpendicular to the fourth row of seating, where it then floated right to Ben, standing in the back row of the section.
My ventures then took me to the left field foul line, where I asked for a ball from, and got rejected by, nearly the whole Blue Jays pitching staff. Okay, so maybe I only asked like two of them, but it was still frustrating. I then headed over to the left field seats… just to see that the right field seats had pretty much cleared up, and were better for snagging than where I now was:
Do you notice the guy in the lower-left corner of the picture? That would be Rick Gold. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Rick, prior to this game, had been at three of the same games as I had this year at Nationals Park. However, this would be the first time we would attend a Yankee game together since 2010 (before this blog existed and Rick had snagged his 1,000th ball).
In addition to Rick, Ben was standing on the same staircase with me. To be more specific, he was standing right behind me when I took the picture. Eventually, though, things would change so Rick would be in front, Ben in the middle, and me in the back. Then there was a ball hit. Rick, as he usually does, broke after the ball as soon as it was in the air. Ben, meanwhile, knew it was coming right on our staircase, so he did the smart thing and waited as long as he could to make a break on the ball ( as to not give me time and space to get in front of him and use my height advantage). The result of all of this was five gloves went up in the air for the ball- our three and two others- and mine came up with the ball:
I think the best way to described the way I caught the ball is that my glove was in the position a first base man scoops a ball in, but the glove was above my head. Truthfully, it was a stupid decision. With all of the gloves in the air, the chances of me getting smacked in the face with the ball vastly outweighed the chances of me catching the ball. But, I caught the ball, so chances are I’ll probably make the same mistake again and get hit in he face before I learn my lesson.
After this, I headed over to right field just as they were clearing the seats. Why? Thanks to Ben, I had a ticket for section 104, which meant I could stay there for all of batting practice. Just look at how empty it was once they cleared the seats of all other people:
Even better was the fact that the Blue Jays group of power lefties was up. I got two balls from this group. Both of which I will explain using the next picture:
My first ball was hit by Adam Lind. It hit off the metal strip above the guy yelling (as shown by the arrow), with a hand to his mouth. The second ball I wasn’t sure if I should count. It was hit by Cody Rasmus, and rattled around in the seats. Do you see the guy in the gray shirt and “NYPD” hat? That is Tak, a very friendly guy who is pretty starting to ballhawk this season. He was right on the ball, but didn’t catch it, so when the ball hit the ground, I picked it up. Tak, then just seeing a ball being taken, instinctively grabbed it through his legs. The combination of him being a friend and the awkward position we were now in made me let go of the ball. I initially wasn’t going to count this ball, but Tak talked me into it after batting practice ended. Also after batting practice ended, Tak and I got a picture together:
After we got the picture together, I showed Tak the “Mike Harkey” snagging opportunity that is always available at Yankee Stadium. We headed up to the top of the batter’s eye, where this was our view:
I left Tak in that spot with the advice “Act animated” and moved closer to the bullpen, so we wouldn’t be getting in each other’s way. When Harkey did throw his ball to the batter’s eye, it whizzed right past me. Initially, I was pretty upset. That was, until I saw who caught the ball:
I’m always happy when another ballhawk snags a ball, even at my expense. Even more so when said ballhawk catches 4 balls less than you per game according to his mygameballs.com account (that’s the link I attached to his name when I first introduced Tak in this entry).
As for the game, I was in left field, where this was my view of the game:
Do you see the right fielder in the picture? That would be Jose Bautista. In the first inning, he turned around with his warm-up ball in hand. I then got up and waved my arms around. He looked at me and tossed the ball, but he missed me and the ball sailed about 15 feet to my right (or at least I think he was aiming for me. I can’t be sure, but as you saw in the picture of myself and Tak, I was wearing a very attention-grabbing Blue Jays shirt.), but I had picked an empty row to sit in:
so I was able to get right behind the ball as it sailed towards my row. As it neared my glove, though, a twenty-something in front of me reached up and tipped the ball right into my row. He then dove into my row, but I tapped the ball just out his reach and picked the ball up.
As for the game itself, I saw some action, but it was just frustrating. Adam Lind hit a ball I could tell was going to clear the wall, but I also knew it was going to be in the middle of a packed row, so I went down my staircase just as a formality. Here is a screenshot:
The arrow on the left is where the ball landed and the arrow on the right is me running down the steps. After this, miraculous, but semi-tragic happened: the ball bounced within inches of my glove. Actually, the ball bounced right at my glove, but…well, let me put up another screenshot and then I’ll continue explaining:
You can see me in the attire I was in when I took the picture with Tak earlier. Then in front of me, there’s the kid/guy in the burgundy shirt bending down. As I said, the ball bounced and was headed RIGHT at my glove, but this guy deflected the ball away from me. The guy in the Yankee hat (in the screenshot) then tried to get down for the ball at the same time as me, but even though I take up virtually no space, both of us couldn’t fit through the narrow opening, so we both got stuck and the guy in the burgundy bent down and picked up the ball. If you’re at all counfused by my explanation of this, here’s the video:
Anyway, that was pretty much it for things of note for this day. The only other thing was it was now the second game where I had seen a pitcher with an innings total that was the same four digits repeated:
If you don’t know why I’m posting this, the explanation is in my last entry. Just scroll down, or, if you’re reading just this entry, go to the bottom of the page and click the “Previous Entry” thingamajig.
- 4 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I only kept two)
Numbers 343-346 for my life:
- 124 Balls in 26 Games= 4.77 Balls Per Game (or 6 Balls under 500)
- 4 Balls x 42,819 Fans= 171,276 Competition Factor
- 35 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 11 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 81 Balls in 21 Games at New Yankee Stadium= 3.86 Balls Per Game
- 21 straight Games at New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 Ball
- 6 straight Games at New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
- Time Spent On Game 3:38-10:44= 7 Hours 6 Minutes