In the spring of 2014 I really didn’t go to that many baseball games. With the combination of school and a newly-found internship with the NASL soccer team, Minnesota United FC, it wasn’t necessarily that there weren’t any six-hour blocks of time open in my schedule, but that I didn’t feel like I had time to deal with the peripheral time commitment that came with it. Doing the whole ballhawking-blogging-life thing can wear someone out. I applaud the people such as Alex Kopp and many others who can make this world part of their everyday life by working extra-hard in other aspects to accomodate it, but at this point in my life, I felt like other things needed to take precedent over attending baseball games and writing about them.
However, on one Tuesday, I left my internship in Golden Valley, Minnesota, I had to transfer buses to get back home. This transfer had me walking right here:
It took me right past Target Field’s Gate 34. At this point it was 6:30 and I had missed all of batting practice, but for some odd reason, I had brought my glove in my backpack to my internship (I seriously did not remember putting it in there). It was Jackie Robinson Day and I made the rash decision to go to the game and not care about my consecutive ball streak anymore. I had been saying to people for a while that once my streak reached 100 games, I wouldn’t care anymore. (I was at 127 coming into this game.) I had just seen what similar streaks had done to other ballhawks’ level of enjoyment at games and I didn’t want to deal with the pressure of keeping up the streak at every game I attended. However, some ballhawks, (namely Ben Weil) didn’t believe me, saying that I would still care no matter what. What he didn’t know was that I will be stubborn enough to prove my point in the face of disbelief regardless of underlying truth. With that, I walked into a game with a very slim chance of getting a baseball, fully expecting to get shut out for the sake of celebrating Jackie Robinson Day for the second year in a row at Target Field:
After entering, I headed to left field to get some evidence that it was actually Jackie Robinson Day:
And then listened to “Oh Canada” from there (since we were playing the Blue Jays):
And then I kind of stayed in that spot for most of the rest of the game (because it was cold and I had fallen in a creek earlier that day(true story) leaving my sneakers still wet) and sat under the heating lamps to stay even mildly warm. I kind of explored, but only about a fifty foot radius from that spot:
Anyways…I’ll spoil the surprise for you a little: Had I gone to this game and not snagged anything, I wouldn’t have bothered putting together the pictures into a full entry, unless something not-snagging-related happened during the game. I would have just written a one-paragraph summary of the game, or even nothing at all and gone on with my life. So yeah… I snagged an umpire ball at the end of the game.
But first, I went down to the left field seats once the frozen people that just weren’t having the game cleared out:
And when I say “cleared out,” I do mean that there were very few people left:
It wasn’t even just the left field seats either. The whole stadium had given up on the game with the Twins trailing 9-2 in the ninth inning:
The reason then that I picked the aisle between sections 129 and 130 with most of the ballpark empty was due to a connection to that staircase. Two season prior, I had gotten a Trevor Plouffe home run in the bottom of the ninth inning off of that staircase. And while ESPN’s hit tracker says that I would be smarter playing one section closer to center field, I’ve always liked that staircase for the illusion it creates of having more room to run.
Naturally, when Trevor Plouffe came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning, I was recreating my first home run in my head. Expect in this imaginary world making up for the fact that I started that home run with my glove off and didn’t catch it cleanly as a result. Well I knew that was unlikely, but then this happened:
For the record, I am the one in the blue sweater that you see going about five feet into the section before climbing the bleachers. And here was the result:
I will admit that half of me first going into the section before going up was just me not expecting the ball to carry that far in the cold April air. But the other part was that I thought it was going to bounce back down the bleachers once it hit (which it did) and have me see the ball bounce back down to someone that was below at the height in the seats where I had started the play. (A similar thing has happened to me before and it sucks.)
Here is the ball with the spot where I ended up picking up the ball in the background:
The girls to the left of glove you may be able to identify in the video from them staying put and not moving until I was already climbing the seats to get to the ball.
At that point, I knew there was not going to be another home run, so I headed to the dugout area, got a ball from home plate umpire, Eric Cooper:
And went home a little warmer because I had my second ever career home run with me. I would have been probably made miserable by the cold otherwise, but the happiness I had kept it bearable. Both of which have been Trevor Plouffe home runs in the bottom of the ninth.
While I’ve always kind of known which teams I like and which I don’t–although even those have changed throughout the years–I truly have never ranked the teams 1-30 as to which I like better than others. So that’s what I’m going to do right now. (Disclaimer: This is a list of how I order the teams in the offseason of 2013-14. While most of my decision in where to put a team in the rankings is based off of the franchise itself, some of it is based on who is on the team right now, so these rankings are subject to change over time.)
1. Minnesota Twins-
My story with the Twins is that I grew up a Yankees fan being from New York, but being that I look at things from a GM’s perspective, I thought that being Brian Cashman and having a $200-million payroll would be a pretty boring job creatively since he could essentially buy any player he wanted to. In thinking this, I thought of a team who had success but doing so with a reduced payroll that required teams to build their team in an innovative way on a much smaller budget. Being as it was the mid-2000s, the Twins was a natural choice seeing as they were a constant playoff team with one of the lowest budgets in baseball. Now don’t get me wrong; there’s a different challenge in being the GM of the Yankees: you’re never allowed to take a year off having success to rebuild your core/farm system, but I was entranced by the building of a successful major league team from a solid minor league core.
2. Washington Nationals-
In going to a ton of games at Nationals Park in 2011 I fell in love with the core of players that went 80-81 as well as the people who inhabited it. Ever since then, I have been a really big fan of the players that made up the core of the teams in the next two years. And because of me falling in love with the Nationals Park environment for whatever reason as well as the people who made it such a special place, I became a fan of the franchise as a whole.
3. Tampa Bay Rays-
Much like the Twins, the Rays endeared themselves to me by being a team that built their team intelligently–allowing them to achieve repeated success on a payroll that can’t compare to that of a larger market team.
4. San Francisco Giants-
The Giants is an interesting case because it started as simply a liking of a specific player: Tim Lincecum. However, as I kept up with Lincecum more and more as he began to turn from the Washington kid who could pitch insanely fast for his size to a household name, I grew to have a liking fro the other players on the Giants as well. I think having shared a hotel with the players in Milwaukee and having a mini-conversation with a couple of them as well as having a personal memory of what Brian Wilson was like pre-beard may have contributed to this connection to the team, though.
5. Texas Rangers-
I truly have no idea how the Rangers managed to climb my list so high. I used to not really be a fan of them in their team with the two Rodriguezes, but as they turned towards a team that relied more on pitching *in addition to* the offense the Rangers always seemed to have, I really liked the teams that they constructed around 2009-10.
6. New York Yankees-
While they have fallen down my list and I hate the franchise past the team itself, they still are my childhood team that I can’t help to root for.
7. Philadelphia Phillies-
While it was not the beginning of my fandom of them, this certainly sealed it for me. They’d be higher on the list for me, but Phillies fans.
8. Toronto Blue Jays-
Part of me always sympathized with our neighbors to the north. Even when the Expos were still a team, I liked the Blue Jays a lot and always secretly as a Yankee fan hoped they would surge up and break the norm of the AL East standings for a while in the early 2000s–which was:
2. Red Sox
3. Blue Jays
5. Devil Rays
I just really always wanted them to have success, and this translated to a fandom of the team when they played teams that weren’t my top-of-the-line favorite teams.
9. Milwaukee Brewers-
My liking of the Brewers began in around 2008 when CC Sabathia joined the team for half a season and did amazing with being in attendance for what should have been a no-hitter, (I might write about this/do a video for a “Blast From the Baseball Past” entry) but then I just had a fandom for the Fielder and Braun teams. My fandom for the team, though, has lessened the past couple of years for obvious reasons regarding one or more of the aforementioned players.
10. Oakland Athletics-
(See Tampa Rays.)
11. Cincinnati Reds-
I think this is kind of a fusion of many of the various teams I have talked about to this point. So in part it’s like the Rays where I liked that a solid major league team was built from the pooling of major league talent, but it is also a lot like the Giants since I really like Joey Votto as a player.
12. Atlanta Braves-
I think this is Nationals-esque in that I loved Turner Field and its atmosphere. I also liked the core and became much more of a fan because of people I have met that are passionate about the Braves. And I can say that the fact that Julio Teheran plays for them doesn’t hurt them at all.
13. Arizona Diamondbacks-
This is one of the teams that I honestly don’t know why I like more than most teams. I’ve just always liked Diamondbacks teams (after the 2001 season, that is.) Yeah, I don’t know.
14. Seattle Mariners-
This has been mostly the product of running into very nice baseball people who are fans of the Mariners. I’m also a fan of how good of a pitching team they have been despite being offensively anemic the past seasons.
15. Baltimore Orioles-
Similarly to the Mariners, I just know a ton of awesome baseball people that are Orioles fans. In addition to that, their stadium is my favorite in baseball. I would say that really the only reason they’re this far down the list is that some Orioles fans became obnoxious as they began to climb out of the AL East cellar.
16. Detroit Tigers-
I know that I’m supposed to hate the Tigers as a Twins fan, but the fact that we beat them in the game 163 we played them helps and I always admired the teams that had success more than most of the teams I am supposed to dislike.
17. Pittsburgh Pirater-
I can pretty safely say that if I weren’t a ballhawk, this team would be lower on the list, but because of the big ballhawk following in Pittsburgh, I have kept up and liked the Pirates and it was incredibly fun watching them have success for the first time in over two decades last season.
18. Miami Marlins-
Ah the Marlins. Those poor souls. I always had an affinity for them especially teams with the 30+ homer infields of Uggla, Ramirez, Cantu, and Jacobs. That said, Jeffrey Loria has made this a team that I can’t root for over half of the other teams. They remain a team that I’m intrigued by and want to root for, and they would skyrocket up this list if Loria ever sold them and kept them in Miami, but right now they’re just not a team I can really get behind.
19. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim-
I don’t know about this team. I want to like them in many respects, but they lost me when they started spending a bajillion dollars on free agents, trading for Vernon Wells, and then having success with not with their big free agent acquisitions but with the farm talent they had beforehand.
20. Colorado Rockies-
The Rockies are one of those teams I have a preference towards, but still in a kind of “eh” way. I’ve never disliked them really, but I’ve never really had any passion behind my support of them.
21. San Diego Padres-
I used to like them a lot more in the Trevor Hoffman era, but they’ve dropped a bit since then not necessarily because their lack of success but the players behind these teams. They just haven’t been groups of guys that I’d like to get behind.
22. Cleveland Indians-
Again, never disliked them but never really liked them.
23. Houston Astros-
I actually like the group of people in this team and could see myself liking a lot in the years to come. That said, they have made some pretty bad decisions in the past and it was not a shock that they were as bad of a team as they have been.
24. Kansas City Royals-
I actually like this franchise in terms of their ballpark and look, but then there are the people behind the scenes that ruin this team for me. At the ballpark, I have not heard many positive things about their ushers, and behind the franchise, I disagree on many things with the GM of the team, Dayton Moore. I think that the team could have been competing a long time ago had it not been for his guidance.
25. St. Louis Cardinals-
The main reason for them being this far down the list is the fact that their fans claim incorrectly that they are definitely the “best fans in baseball.” While I don’t think there is a no-doubt group of the best fans in baseball, if my experience with Cardinals fans in baseball has taught me anything, it is that while the Cardinals fan base may be in the top-10, they are definitely not the no-doubt best fans in baseball they claim to be.
26. Chicago White Sox-
I was a fan of the 2005 Astros and 2008 Twins. Enough said.
27. New York Mets-
They’re the Mets. I don’t know how many things I have admired about the Mets the past five years. If it’s any indication, the rendition of “Meet the Mets” that I have adopted begins:
Beat the Mets,
Beat the Mets,
Step right up and,
Sweep the Mets
28. Los Angeles Dodgers-
While I have kind of liked the players on the Dodgers for stretches, their recent acquisition by the Kasten-Johnson group and metamorphosis into baseball’s new Yankees has really turned me off to them. I have disliked them sans Vin Scully for a much longer time than just that, but that’s the most recent thing that provides a rational reason for disliking them.
29. Chicago Cubs-
I have never had any appeal to the Cubs, and I’m not particularly found of how Cubs fans overreact to prospects as well as how in-your-face Cubs fans I have interacted with have been about the most minor successes. Granted, it’s a conditioning that has come with being the fan of a team who last won a World Series when one’s great-grandparents were your age.
30. Boston Red Sox-
This is partially because I grew up a fan of the Yankees, but I also do like their stadium and the atmosphere of it. However, I can’t get over the attitude of their owner John Henry that many fans have adopted without realizing the absurdity of it of that the Yankees have a ridiculous advantage in terms of having a humongous payroll. The reason this argument infuriates me is because for the longest time, there was a gigantic gap in payroll between the Red Sox and the third largest payroll. Thus it was the rich crying poor in order to gain sympathy. The second reason is because the Steinbrenner family is actually a middle-of-the-pack ownership group in terms of wealth. The reason they invest so much money into the team is because they value winning. Therefore, if John Henry truly wanted to win, he could spend the extra money and win. The problem is that if he didn’t win with this extra money invested, he would be losing money. However, George Steinbrenner was taking the same risk when he invested his extra money; it was just that Steinbrenner’s Yankees did win every season and could thus keep spending. So what Henry did by calling out Steinbrenner and the Yankees was criticized him/them for doing what he didn’t have the guts to do with the Red Sox in order to give his fans the winning such a great fan base deserved. However, being the fans that they were, many Red Sox fans backed their owner without truly understanding what was behind these claims.
So those were my favorite teams. I am by no means “right” in any of my judgements. Picking a favorite team–or in my case *teams*–is something of complete subjectivity and can be done for any number of reasons. Also, the next entry is me making a new Observing Baseball Logo. I would actually like to make a clarification. So it’s actually not the logo itself–this:
But it would actually be me remaking the icon itself, which is this:
But besides that, keep voting for your favorite entries. I should mention that I’ll be doing various entries for Twinsfest, but you can vote for the stuff you want to see besides this on the poll below:
Well it was time again to go back to Target Field:
It was a weird sensation being at the gate. Despite that I hadn’t been at Target Field for months before the previous game, and my previous game before that anywhere was two weeks prior, sitting there, it felt like I had been going to Target Field everyday for months.
Since I again went to Gate 3, I headed straight for the left field seats:
That said, I got my first ball of the day in the right-center field seats from a a guy I couldn’t identify from the back to ask him for the ball by name, but identified as soon as he turned to throw me the ball as Brian Duensing:
I then saw there was some lefty in the group who was bombing balls. So in preparation for him starting to pull the ball, I headed to the standing room. The first round I was out there, this lefty hit a ball I could tell was falling short of me, but I could also tell it was going to make it to the flag court. There was just one problem: there was a crowd of people where the ball was going to land. So as I was running towards the spot, I yelled out for everyone to watch out. Most everyone cleared out with the exception of one kid. He didn’t know what was going on, so he just stayed in the spot. The ball hit off his shoulder and deflected away from me. As much as I would have liked to have gotten the ball, I didn’t pursue it, but instead just made sure he was okay. Even though he said he was, I pulled the ball I had gotten earlier and gave it to him.
Then, all too soon, this happened:
The Twins finished BP way before they normally do. I can’t remember exactly what time, but the Blue Jays had just gotten out to begin their stretching. At that time, it was a no-brainer for me to head over to foul ground and try to get a ball from the Blue Jays warming up. And when he was done throwing before anyone else, there was a no-brainer as to who I should try to get a ball tossed to me from. This man was Munenori Kawasaki (and he is Japanese):
Anyway, as he was jogging after being done with throwing, there was a wall of Blue Jays fans (this game was the highest concentration of Canadians I had seen outside of Canada since when I had gone to Comerica Park back in 2008 with my dad). But I wanted to say I had gotten a ball from Munenori Kawasaki very badly. So what I did was take a couple steps back on the staircase so he could see me over the heads of the other fans, and projected my request for a ball in Japanese to him loud enough so he would definitely hear me. I first yelled, “Munenori!” And when he looked up at me, I put my glove up and subsequently yelled–and this is phonetically; I have no clue how to actually write it out–” Choh-toh, boh-roh nah-gah-teh coo-dah-sai!” He then tossed me the ball dangerously low over the heads of the other fans. When I caught it, he held up his glove again. He wanted to play catch. I tossed him the ball, and then he realized he was due up in the cage, so he tossed me the ball a second time and headed to go hit. Sure I wish I could have played catch with him longer, but it’s cool to know that he would have kept playing catch had he not had somewhere to go at the moment:
That would be the only baseball I kept on the day. I would snag two more baseballs but gave both away. The first came when I headed to right field for the beginning of the Blue Jays hitters. I don’t know who he is exactly, but the Blue Jay in the next picture fielded a ball by the wall, and myself and the Blue Jays fan in the same picture both asked him for the ball, and he tossed it up. I don’t know who it was intended for since we were both wearing Blue Jays stuff, but since I was on the side closer to the player, even if the ball was intended for the other fan, it came right to me; so I gave the ball to the other fan:
I then realized that Edwin Encarnacion was in that same group, so I headed up to the second deck in left field. And although it was Girl Scout Day, or something along those lines, I managed to avoid all the girl scouts who were there quicker than the other ballhawks up there and got a ball Encarnacion hit almost to dead center in the second deck. It was a shot. Here is the view actually closer to the foul pole than where I picked it up, since I was getting my camera out as I was walking back to my original spot:
But right after I took that picture, one of the chaperones for the girls scouts came and asked if I had gotten the ball. Long story short: I gave the ball to her for her daughter, and that would be my last ball of the game. The rest of BP was one of the weirdest experiences I’ve had a baseball game. I just sat in the upper deck in center field not knowing at all what to do next. I usually have a problem running to a section too quickly, but here I had no clue where I wanted to go.
My snag happened during the softball home run derby that sometimes takes place after BP. The other contestants were righties, so I stayed in left for them:
But when TC came up, I knew from experience that he was a power-hitting lefty, so I headed up to the upper deck in right-center. And as a result, I got this:
TC had launched a ball that went into the seats above the small standing room in the upper deck in right-center. But then I felt really bored in the minutes leading up to the game:
And as the player readied themselves for the game, I came to the realization for the first time in a long time at a baseball game: I really didn’t want to be there. There was much work to be done for school since I was going to be only missing the Thursday and Sunday game the next week. And since I had never left a game early yet this year by my own choice, I didn’t fight my instinct, so I left the game to the sound of the national anthem through Gate 34 and went back to “the U” to watch part of Great Gatsby and eat s’mores:
- 4 Baseballs at this Game (1 pictured because I gave 3 away)
Numbers 690-693 for my career:
- 247 Balls in 54 Games= 4.57 Balls Per Game
- 4 Balls x 32,882 Fans=131,528 Competition Factor
- 116 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 21 straight Games with 2 Balls
- 18 straight Games with 3 Balls
- 10 straight Games with 4 Balls
- 131 Balls in 28 Games at Target Field= 4.68 Balls Per Game
- 26 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 6 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 2:20-9:35= 7 Hours 15 Minutes
Oh how good it felt to be back at Target Field. And look who joined me for the game:
If you’re semi-new to the blog, that’s me on the right and my friend Jonathan on the left. Jonathan, if you don’t know, accompanied me for the first time ever the game I snagged my first ever game home run. And today, we had my “fancy camera”, so he was going to be my designated photographer.
You also may have noticed that we were standing at Gate 3 instead of my usual Gate 34. I was trying something semi-new. Usually the only reason I ever went to Gate 3 was if I got to Target Field late, but here I just wanted to see how it would be like to be the first person in the left field seats, since this is usually where I bolt to anyways when the gates open.
So when we got in, I headed straight for the middle spot of the left field bleachers, and when he got there, Jonathan took a picture of me there:
And he didn’t get my first ball on camera, because he saw the ball falling short of the wall and didn’t bother to have the camera pointed that way. But anyway, it was a ground rule double some Twins hitter (I think Wilkin Ramirez, but am not certain) hit that bounced up, off a guy’s chest, and back to me. There was a second ground rule double later on, but a guy caught it two rows in front of me as it was headed straight towards me.
After I got this ball, the Twins ended BP ridiculously early. I’d say at 5:10. Usually during weekdays, we get a solid 5-10 minutes of Twins BP despite the gates opening at 5:30. As a result, Jonathan and I then headed over to foul territory to get a ball from the Blue Jays:
And I do mean WE. See the guy in the following picture that I’ve put an arrow over was playing catch with Rajai Davis:
Well when he was done throwing, I asked if he could toss me the ball. So as he was running off, he kind of submarined the ball and launched it over my head. And guess who got the ball:
I was happy for Jonathan, but I would have rather the player–whoever he was–been on target with his throw.
After that, I rushed out to right field for the Blue Jays first group. Since Jonathan was both in much less of a hurry to get there than I and was carrying the camera bag, I snagged two baseballs before he even got there and then two within a few seconds of him getting there. So here are the spots of the four baseballs labeled by their numbers on the day for me:
2. Adam Lind hit a ball straight over my head. Except by the time I looked at the ball, it was already halfway towards me, so I wasn’t able to get out my row. All I could do was see it go over my head and wait for it to bounce back into a row where I could pick it up.
3. Some Blue Jays righty hit an opposite-field home run into the flower pots. I was in the right field seats when it landed, but when I saw the people struggling to find/reach for it, I ran over to the flower bed in the right-center field seats, and offered to pick the ball up for them and hand it to them. So when I saw where it was, I leaned way down into the flower pots, picked the ball up, and handed it to the couple who was right above it.
4. There was another Blue Jays lefty homer–maybe Lind again. As it flew toward the corner of the rose bush, I moved over to the side of the section that juts out in right field just in case the ball stopped there. Well it hit the corner and as I got to the wall, it bounced up the side of the wall, I stopped the ball from bouncing any further with my glove, and picked it up.
5. Right before I got ball 4, Jonathan had arrived on the scene. So after I got it, I went towards him and into the aisle to see if he had gotten a shot of me getting the ball. Right as I turned away from him, I heard a clank to my right. A ball had hit just in the right-center field seats. This one Jonathan did get a shot of as I jumped the mini-wall separating the two sections and grabbed the ball:
I was nervous I was going to get yelled at for jumping over the wall, so I immediately turned to my left after getting the ball and tossed it to a kid who was fifteen feet away after making sure that he had not yet gotten a ball. But of course Jonathan didn’t get that on camera. (No, but seriously, taking pictures for a ballhawking entry is tough. It’s tough to realize what is going to happen next and what should have a picture taken of it if you’re not familiar with ballhawking. And if one is familiar with ballhawking, that usually means he/she is usually going to be ballhawking his/herself and can’t take pictures.)
After that, a group of mostly Blue Jays righties came up. Since righties usually try to hit opposite-field, I went into the right-center field section and tried to get toss-ups from the players who were shagging baseballs below me. Instead, though, one of those righties (Edwin Encarnacion?) hit an opposite-field home run into the flower bushes, and while the pictures I will show you were from a scenario later on almost exactly the same where I didn’t get the ball, they serve the purpose of visual aids. So when I first saw the ball hit, I ran towards the spot where it was landing:
And then when the ball went in the flower pots, I leaned down to the side of the woman it landed in front of (same woman as in this following picture, interestingly enough), picked it up:
And handed her the ball. I then realized that Edwin Encarnacion was starting to hit baseballs into the second deck in left field, so I went up there, since I suspected there would be many more to come. I was right.
Encarnacion and the rest of the people hit about 8 or 9 baseballs up there in their time at the plate. And I should preface the pictures you’re about to see and the fact that I only got 1 of those by saying that being in the seats in the second of Target Field is one of the worst places in fair territory to run for a baseball through the seats. But there was one ball I had tracked:
And I could tell the ball was going to be landing in the row below me, but unlike most places where there is barely a difference in height between rows, here the row in front of me was about two feet below me–despite how it may seem in the picture:
So I couldn’t get down fast enough and dropped the ball. But thankfully, I was able to trap the ball with my glove:
And when this group ended, I headed back to the seats in right-center in hopes of a toss-up. Well I didn’t get any player to toss *me* a ball, but when Jeremy Jeffress went to the wall to retrieve a ball:
And there were two kids who were asking him by name for the ball, I knew I had no chance competing with them for the ball directly. So instead, I used the ridiculous steepness of Target Field and went in the row behind them. I knew that unless Jeffress went out about twenty feet from the wall, he would have to toss the ball over the kids’ heads to get it to them. So like clockwork, this happened:
But of course I then immediately gave the ball to the kid, since I had still caught it over his head. (Well that and the fact that the ball was intended for him.) That was my last ball of batting practice.
Now stuck at 8 baseballs, I went to the bullpen(s) after batting practice with Jonathan:
And because there were a ton of baseballs in the Blue Jays bullpen, that’s whose team gear I was in while I was there. But when a familiar-but-unexpected face started tossing them up, I quickly took of my hat, covered my shirt, and got him to toss me one for my ninth on the day:
Can you tell who it is? No? It was TC Bear, the Twins mascot, who tossed it to me. He went through both bullpens and tossed up every single ball that was in both of them.
As for the game, both Jonathan and I headed out to the standing room in right in hopes of a game home run:
Of course, though, I knew both teams, minus maybe a select few members from either team, had any chance of putting a ball up there. What I did instead with my time was take a bunch of pictures, since I had my “good” camera at my disposal–like these:
And I did take more, but they’ll be in the Facebook gallery that I’ll put up some time after this entry gets up. In the meantime, though, here’s the link to the Facebook Page for this blog if you have a Facebook and want to “like” it.
After the game, both Jonathan and I headed to the dugout for an umpire ball. But since the game ended on a double play, I was caught off guard and had to quickly change the camera lens to the smaller one, gave it to Jonathan, and told him to take a continuous series of pictures if I managed to get the ball from home plate umpire, Mark Wegner. Wegner thankfully waited for the other members of his crew to get to the tunnel, so I was able to get down there in time:
And then I asked him for a ball as he approached:
And when Wegner tossed me the ball, I caught it in front of the hand of the man sitting next to me, who snatched at it not realizing that the ball was intended for me:
I then got a more proper picture with my tenth ball of the day as Jonathan and I awaited the bus to get back to campus:
And so concluded only my sixth double-digit game ever, but interestingly enough the fourth this season.
- 10 Balls at this game (6 pictured because I gave 3 away, and I think I lost one when my backpack fell open as I was running through the seats at one point during BP)
Numbers 680-689 for my lifetime:
- 243 Balls in 53 Games= 4.58 Balls Per Game
- 10 Balls x 27,044 Fans=270,440 Competition Factor
- 115 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 20 straight Games with 2 Balls
- 17 straight Games with 3 Balls
- 9 straight Games with 4 Balls
- 3 straight games with 5 Balls
- 127 Balls in 27 Games at Target Field= 4.70 Balls Per Game
- 25 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 5 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:42-2:00= 10 Hours 18 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
I think the Blue Jays’ 2011 season is best summed up by the culture lead by the one and only, Joey Bats:
Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, Jason Frasor, and Darren Oliver.
Frank Francisco, Shawn Camp, Nelson Figueroa, Chad Gaudin, Brad Mills, Jose Molina, Jon Rauch, Omar Vizquel, and Dewayne Wise.
Why?: First of all, let me say that this team definitely leads the league in “Francisco” related transactions. Maybe it’s just me, but they added both Fancisco Cordero and Ben Francisco. Then I think they made sure not to re-sign Frank Francisco just to add him to the list.
Really the grade from this came in that the average talent level of the players they added was far greater than that of the players lost, but there were just too many players lost to give the Blue Jays a grade that suggested they got better this offseason (for those who don’t know, a “C” means the team added just as much talent as they lost in an offseason. Anything above means they improved in terms of talent, anything below means they got worse in terms of talent. The degree to which they were better or worse than a “C” dictates how much talent they gained or lost. Also, by talent, I mean to suggest how much better they made the team itself for the next season. So although a minor league may be talented beyond belief, if he isn’t expected to play in MLB that next season they didn’t add any talent as far as I am concerned. I do give brownie point in the grades for good moves in terms of the long term, but the grade is based on how well the team set itself up for the immediately subsequent season. So that would be 2012 for this offseason.)
I really don’t feel like getting into the specifics, but I feel as though this is really the same team, talent-wise, as last season, so I gave them a “C”.
Predicted Record Range: 80-85 wins I don’t know why, but I just think this team could get a few games better this season, even though they really added a net-value of nothing.
Here, is my entry analyzing the Blue Jays’ 2010-11 offseason and predicting their 2011 season’s successes.
Predicted record: 77-82 wins
Actual Record: 81-81
Some how someway I predicted the Blue Jays’ 2011 pretty accurately. Let me explain my relationship with the Blue Jays: I do admire them as a team, but because of the circumstances (distance and the TV situations this creates), I pay attention to them probably the least out of the teams in the AL East with the Rays a close second.
Truth be told, I have little to no idea how the Blue Jays won their games. The extent of this knowledge is propbably that Jose Bautista was really hot in the first half and ended up with 50-some odd HRs.
I can’t really tell you how, but I was right in predicting the Blue Jays’ season even if I did pay less attention to them than I normally do in most seasons. Although, I do stick with my prediction of them getting better in the next few years as a result of Alex Anthropoulos, as he has demonsrtated his above-average ability to piece together what seem to be great trades (you can’t really evaluate any trade until all of the players in the trade leave the respective teams they were traded to).
The Blue Jays lose possibly the best pitcher in the league and what do they do:
Oh, nothing much. Just hit the most home runs of any team in the major leagues.
Frank Fancisco, Rajai Davis, Carlos Villanueva, Sean Henn, Corey Patterson, Octavio Dotel, Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch, and Juan Rivera.
Vernon Wells, Jeremy Accardo, Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, John Buck, Shawn Marcum, and Lyle Overbay.
Why?: I know that they lost three really good bullpen guys, but look. They also gained four former closers. I know that they lost two middle of the line-up hitters but got a bonafide lead off hitter and whatever you consider Juan Rivera and Corey Patterson to be.
The only thing that suffered in the offseason was the rotation. Not only because of what you might think in Marucm leaving for Milwaukee but also John Buck leaving. With Buck leaving the pretty consistent Blue Jay rotation has had three catchers in three years (or more?) and it is tough. I would make the analogy to Quarter Backs in football playing in different systems every year. It is tough to have to keep adjusting. Just when you get comfortable pitching to a certain catcher he leaves town.
Will the Blue Jays continue to hit home runs? I have no idea. All I know is that even though there were more homeruns, there was also a way lower team AVG. Takee Aaron HIll for example, normally he hits around 15 HRs and bats .280 but last year he hit 24 HRs (or something like that) and had an AVG of around the Mendoza line.
One thing I would tell people is to watch out for Blue Jay prospects in the future. With the new GM, Alex Anthopoulos, the Blue Jays invested a whole lot into scouting, which may pay dividends down the road.
Predicted Record Range: 77-82 wins I see them declining a bit even though they have people like Kyle Drabek coming up because I don’t think they can keep the home run production up in 2011.