‘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
Again I wanted to avoid (and still am) avoiding Citi field at all costs but I had promised before the season to my service supervisor that I would take her grandson to a Mets game and that is the reason I went to this game. Before I get to the game, though, I must include a little story about how I almost lost my glove permanently earlier that day at my community service site.
I was playing catch with that grandson, whose name is Alex, on the roof of my service site on 76th and Columbus because the alternative would be to go to Central Park and I was lazy. Anyway, the roof is slanted so when I threw him a fly ball and he missed it, the ball didn’t just go straight across the roof like it would if we were on flat ground but it started rolling off the roof. Eventually it rolled off of the roof. It then landed in a neighbor’s patio area. For the record we did have another ball available to us but what kind of a ballhawk would I be not to use my glove trick. Here is a picture of the ball and the glove in the patio area:
The glove is pointed out by the arrow and the blue stress ball is in the circle (I know it’s tough to see but if look closely enough you should be able to see it through the shadows). This may seem like an easy thing for a person with a glove trick but it really wasn’t at all because the ball was under the table. This meant that to get the glove in a position behind the ball in order to pull it back I would have to throw the glove just over the ball but just under the table, which at this angle was like a window of a foot and there was no railing stopping me from falling 25 feet so I couldn’t see my target all that well. Also, I was at the outer limits of my fishing line when throwing the glove and so I couldn’t hold onto any of it. What I did was that I tied the line to the metal thing at the bottom of the last picture and threw the glove. Once the glove ran out of string it just jumped back toward me because obviously it didn’t have any more string to work with.
I tell this because after a few tries of throwing the glove from a 90 degree angle to the ball I wanted to try it from slightly off center and see if it would improve my chances. So, I untied the fishing line and moved over to my right a few feet. I then let my glove drop down and just as I released the glove I realized that I had not yet tied my glove to the metal thing. My glove was stuck in the position you see in the last picture.
I just want to clarify that the patio was actually in a different building from my service site but I was on their roof because in New York the buildings are side by side and all about the same height so the roofs are connected and Alex and I wanted more room to throw so we ventured a few roofs. Just to give you an idea of the drop from where I was throwing my glove and where my glove drop down, here is a picture I took from the fire escape:
The top left arrow shows where I was standing/sitting trying to retrieve the ball and the bottom arrow shows where the glove fell down to. Right after my glove fell down it was time for lunch and I realized I wasn’t going to figure this out soon and just ate my lunch while I thought of a solution.
My first thought was to create like an extendo arm of sorts with various brooms and things around the building and poking one of them through the holes between the fingers of the gloves but then I took that last picture and saw exactly how far down the glove was and realized I would have needed like 5 brooms and I wouldn’t be able to get concentrated weight on them like a cup trick does (a cup trick is a ball retrieving device that uses a cup and weight along with and adhesive to grab a baseball). I then put together a variation of the cup trick using only office supplies I found throughout the building:
1. A plastic cup from the water cooler.
2. A roll of tape- I pretty much put it for visual purposes because the tape is at the bottom of the cup and barely visible. Usually in a cup trick, the cup’s opening faces downwards to fit the large-ish baseball but I realized that all I needed to get was the fishing line on my glove trick and I could then pull up the glove itself. The tape was used to stick to the string which I would then pull up the glove with.
3. Paper clips- usually when trying to get tape to stick to something you push it down as hard as possible but because I was 25 feet above what I wanted to stick to the cup I had to make the cup as heavy as possible to apply the most pressure to the tape and get the maximum adhesiveness to between the string and tape.
4. Fishing line- used to lower the cup. You may ask, “Wait, Mateo, didn’t all of your line fall down with the glove?” Luckly I keep extra line in my backpack rolled around a pen just in case:
I lowered my new device, the tape attached to the stirng on my glove, pulled up the string, and pulled up the glove attached to the glove itself. This may have bored some of you but I just wanted to share it to show how I almost lost my glove.
Onto the game, Alex and I left JASA (my service site) at 3:30 and made a breif stop at Subway for food before continuing on the subway. I forgot what time but apparently it was early enough that I started taking pictures of the Citi Field sign from below:
If you see I pointed out the window on the second floor of the Stadium. That would be the Caesars club and I’ll get back to that in a minute or two.
I also took a picture of the blimp hovering above because the US Open was in town:
Once we got int the ballpark it was another Citi Field batting practice, slow as humanly possible. Alex and I started off by going to Right Field and asking for toss ups but then moved over to the Center Field section because I deemed the players freindlier there:
The red box shows where we had gone to as soon as the gates opened and the arrow under that points out Alex looking out to the field (with *my* Mets hat) he is a Yankee fan and I figured he would have a better chance of getting a ball from the Mets than me for a variety of reasons. After giving up on this idea because of a crowd that started to gather, we moved over to the Left field section. There, it was still incredibly slow but I got a baseball. In about the second bp group, Mike Stanton came up and launched a ball to deep Center Field. The ball took the luckiest series of bounces I have ever seen and landed in the seats. The arrows in the next picture show the path of the ball:
If you can’t tell from the yellow arrows, the ball: hit the apple, bounce on the edge of the container that holds the apple, bounced up in the air and landed in the seats. So had the apple not been up (which it usually isn’t) that ball would have fallen into the container but it didn’t and I ran over to get it nearly beating out someone who came down the staircase. Here is Alex holding the ball (again wearing *my* Marlins hat):
That was it for batting practice and the rest of the game as the Marlins threw next to nothing into the crowd. Anyway,this was our view for the game:
When I found out Alex wanted to go to this game I went ahead and bought better tickets than I usually do. For the whole Marlins series and Braves the tickets were pretty cheap and so for this game and the last I had club access. Due to this, I explored the stadium. With Alex I only went to the Caesars club and those were probably taken on this day but on the other day I also toured a bunch of the stadium and didn’t want the touring of Citi Field in tweo different entries so I held off on writing about it. Anyway here goes:
On my way to the Caesars club, I noticed a window through which was a view into the control room:
Here I learned something about the control room. Previously, I thought that the controls for the scoreboard (jumbotron if you prefer) were in a separate room from the SNY control room. Apparently, they do both in the same room. I just assumed it would be crowded and there would be a chance of commands being mixed.
I then entered the Caesars club itself:
Looking back on it, it probably should be Caesar’s club but I guess it was meant more as advertising for Caesars Casino and Resort than it reflected the actual quality of the club. So I actually take back the point I was intially going to make when I started that sentence. By the way, for anyone who has not been, on of the negative parts about Citi Field is that the whole place is visual and audible ambush on the part of marketers. You would have to be in the staircase or something like that to not see any advertising. Every other square inch of oufield wall has something on it, the scoreboard has more to do with advertising than it does with the actual baseball game, and the between ining shenanigans the Mets put on always have someone behind them. There is: the Cascarino’s pizza pass, the Pepsi max T-shirt toss, and I think the seventh inning stretch is even sponsored by Fisher nuts.
The club itself looked like this when I got inside:
It is bascially an admirals club in a baseball stadium with a restaurant is how I would describe it.
Now the view from there is something you will never see from an admirals club at the airport. I looked out the window and took a picture of the view. The left arrow (blue) shows where I get off the train and the right arrow (red) shows where the US Open was taking place (Arthur Ashe Stadium):
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Queens. I then looked out the window to my left and took a picture of that:
This is now the part where I wonder how the Mets don’t make absurd amounts of money because they advertise everyone and their mother and each of those cars costs $20 to that person to park. I mean this is one of the teams in the worst financial situations in the Major Leagues so imagine what the Yankees are producing in the revenue department.
I then went throught the club and found out there is like a corridor thing behind the bar/restaurant the club is centered around:
Another thing in the club is that they have an electronic ticket kiosk in the club itself:
It even has the same game up so you can buy tickets to a game that you are already at (this was probably still there because I chacked it during batting practice but the fact that someone could mess up and buy a ticket for that same game is at the very least slightly flawed.) The most likely reason that they had this in the club is that people splurge to buy club seats, go inside the club and are very impressed by the schmancyness of it and the kiosk is there to get them to buy a ticket for another day based on impulse.
Anyway, for those who don’t know, there is about a 40 minute gap between batting practice and the game itself. I made my rounds of the stadium during this time. I first went out of the club going towards the Right Field seats and stopped to take a picture from the worst club level seats available:
Pretty good, eh?I then headed up to see what the worst seat in the whole stadium looked like but when I stopped to take a picture from the outside of the Acela club:
Right in this moment is where I forgot where I was going to go next and so I went to the Promenade Club which was about 300 ft away instead of the worst seat in the stadium which is about 10 (mathematical) degrees above where I took that last picture, but no I had to forget that and go all the way to the Promenade Club.
On my way, I actually took a picture of something cool I never noticed:
This is the concourse behind Home Plate in the uppermost level and I had seen this before but I had never noticed the thing pointed out by the arrow. That would be the top part of the Citi Field logo that is at the top of the fifth picture in the entry. this happens to be right behind the Promenade Club, which is why I took a picture of it. Speaking of which, this is the view looking out from the Promenade Club:
The view looking into the Promenade Club looked something like this:
This would be the restaurant within the Promenade Club. If you use your x-ray goggles, this picture would look a lot similar to the picture with the top of the Citi Field logo showing. I then took a picture that I consider to be a better view of the field from the Promenade Club:
Do you agree? It was right at this moment that I realized where I had initially pondered wandering. That which I consider the worst seat is pointed out by the arrow in the top left. So, I took a picture inside the club to show the curviness of it (it curves to match the curve of the field):
And a picture outside the club to demonstrate the equally curved cross-aisle that runs in front of it:
Sadly, this is way past foul territory and can’t fulfill its best purpose. I then headed out to inspect the worst seat in the ballpark as I had been planning for about a quarter of an hour now.
After I made the trek to get to a section closer to the worst seat, I actually went up to the level on which the seat was:
What I mean when I say I got on the level of the worst seat is that I was stadning on a staircase like the one circled in the lower right corner. That staricase leads down to the uppermost concourse. So, when I was on the concourse itself I couldn’t see where I was in terms of the seats and so I went up a staircase and decided I would work my way across through the seats.
Speaking of the seats, do you notice how slanted the stairs are? I would say that they are at about a 20 degree incline. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, check out the view from the bottom of the stairs looking up:
Suffice to say I’ve climbed Mayan pyramids with less imposing stairs. I don’t know how the people with seson tickets there can climb those things every day.
Though, the climb is in fact rewarding. When you get all the way up there and go over to the highest seat you should be able to see the entire world, right? Wrong. This is the view you are priviledged to seeing:
That thing obstructing your view of the field would be the out-of-town scoreboard. The Mets were nice enough to put TV screens on the back but would you really want to come all the way out to the ballpark just to watch the game on TV like you could have done at home.
I then goofed off a little and pretended I was flying because I have seen planes go this low by Citi Field:
The reason for that being, that LaGuardia airport is right across the way. In fact, it can be seen from said worst seat in the stadium. Here is the picture i took from right there:
I think the expression is somewhere between sheer terror of the height I was at and a yawn because of how far I was away from the field. Look at the view to my right:
This is the area behind the scoreboard in Center Field. It includes the speed pitch, batting cages, miniature field, and a variety of restaurants. It may not look that high but it was terrifying being up there when you are used to being on the ground and seeing these things full size. This concluded my post-bp tour of (part of) the stadium but I realized in about the seventh inning of the previous game that I should go to the Acela club because I had access to it.
Even though the club was technically closed, I was still allowed to enter and take pictures. Of course, the first thing I took a picture of was the food prices:
Maybe it’s the fact that I can get 2 slices of pizza and a soda for $3.00 a block from my school but I think that $6.00 is just a ridiculous price to pay for a slice of pizza. The sad part is that it is actually reasonable when it comes to pizza at baseball parks. The same slice is probably in the $9 range at Yankee Stadium. After going through various mental calculations on what else I could do with the money I spent on a meal in the Acela club, I took a few more pictures of the restaurant itself starting from the entrance and going outward. Now I will just show the pictures and you can add your own commentary:
Fast-forwarding to the title game of this entry, Alex and I went to the Mets dugout at the end of the game to try and coax something out of the Mets players. This was the crowd after the game:
It is pretty big for a crowd after the game considering the Mets were an obscene amount of games out of first at that time. To better our odds at getting a ball, I dressed up Alex in my Mets gear because I thought they would be more likely to toss him a ball than me. Suffice to say that Yankee fans usually don’t like getting dressed in Mets gear and Alex was no different:
Of course he is no idiot so he put on a face more like this one for the Mets:
Unfortunately, it didn’t matter what face Alex put on because the Mets didn’t toss anything in the crowd and with the relievers not coming in through the dugout caveat that I mentioned in the last entry. We were stuck with the Mike Stanton Home Run as the last and only ball of the night.
I then went up the stairs and had the same usher that took the picture in the last entry take it this time and here is the (slightly worse) end result:
Thus, with a subway ride concluded my last visit to Citi Field this season.
Just a few conscious moments after my last game in Washington, I magically teleported to Citi Field:
I really wanted to stay in Washington and go to the majesty of Camden Yards but no. I had made arrangements with the now former pitching coach at Fordham Prep and had to be at Citi Field for this game because the next two had already been cancelled because of the threat Hurricane Irene posed on New York (I won’t get into what it actually because I’ve had worse thunderstorms).
Once I got in I made a beeline (or something like that), to Right Field and quickly got Lucas Duda to throw me a ball. I’m sorry that this is the only picture of the ball I have but Paint decided to stop responding while I was editing it and I only have this left as a product:
You can partially see the ball in my glove and Duda is under the red arrow.
I don’t know how quickly I did, but I did move over to the Left Field bleachers soon after. This is where things really slowed down. There were, I believe, Six other ballhawks at this game and the running lanes were clogged up as a result. It wasn’t that slow of a batting practice but there was just nowhere to move. When the Braves’ pitchers warmed up along the third base line I got Erik Hinske to toss me a ball that one of them overthrew. I was really happy about this because it almost guaranteed I would get another baseball because none of the pitchers saw me get it and so they would have no reason to not throw me a ball.
Apparently they did as that was in fact the last ball of my day. This was mainly because I wanted to stay in Left Field for as long as I could in bp because with six other ballhawks I knew I would lose my better than average spot and I would have to stand like 600 feet from Home Plate to have room to run a few sections. However, it was not any of the ballhawks at all but this guy:
that was the bane of my existence. Twice was I tracking a ball in mid-air and sure that I was going to catch it. Twice did I look to my left at the last moment to be stopped in my pursuit by this group just to see that guy (in a Red Sox hat) catch a Home Run without moving from his seat. Though, I guess I can’t blame him for just being there because I could have gone in the row in front of him and jumped up for the ball had I looked in that direction prior to the balls being hit there but I’m telling you that both would have been easy catches on the fly had I had the room to do so but such is life at Citi Field.
On top of that, the Braves weren’t throwing many baseballs to anyone over the age of 12 and even to these kids they were not throwing much. Towards the end of bp my guest (or maybe it was the other way around?) arrived and once bp ended we went almost directly to our seats. His actual name would be Chris Cositore and he is now the former pitching coach at Fordham (prep) because he just gratuated from Fordham (university) and is going on with his life blah, blah,blah. Anyway, here he is:
In case you can’t tell where we are, the seats were down the first base line and a bit closer to the outfield than the dugout. I don’t usually sit on this side of the field but the tickets were provided by the same guest that I had on this game and I’ll never pass up a deal to sit in good seats and not have to deal with Citi Field security for no additional cost.
A funny thing about this game involving Chris is that at the beginning of the game he started counting down the number of hitters for a perfect game. So when Chris Capuano (the Mets pitcher) got the first out he told me, “only 26 batters for a perfect game. He told me for every batter. When he got up to get food, he texted me the number every time an out was made. This was kind of his retaliation because he is just loyal enough of a Mets fan where you can make “your team stinks” jokes and they make sense but he doesn’t really take offense to them because he acknowledges the fact but he this was his obligatory retaliation. The way he announced it was before the game saying we were going to see the Mets’ first no-hitter. He was almost right. Capuano pitched a complete game shutout allowing only two hits. I went to the dugout after the game but didn’t get anything because:
1. Capuano wanted to (I assume) keep the game ball because he just pitched one of his best games ever.
2. The umpire tunnel is on the other side of the field on the third base side of the Field level seats.
3. The Mets relievers don’t got through the dugout to the clubhouse because there is a tunnel behind the bulpen that leads directly to the clubhouse and they have no need for going through the dugout.
Regardless, this was my view after the game:
After I eventually conceeded to the fact that there would be no more ball snagging opportunites, Chris and I got our picture taken by one of the “hospitality attendant”s. This was the first attempt that he described as: “a little dark”:
We then decided to move back where the light was (and I secretly ignited a great setting called “flash”) and this was the end product:
And I got the very rare luxury of getting driven home. Of course, it really wasn’t my house because I was staying over with friends. Anyway, that capped of my day at Citi. I then got to spend the next few days in Hurricane mode.
Today was the final chapter of the book “Why I despise going to baseball games during kids week.” This would be the line in front of me when I got to the game 30 minutes early:
But wait, it gets better. Here is the line behind me 10 minutes before the gates opened:
I initially wasn’t going to go to this game but then a member of the senior “club” that I volunteer at knew me as a person who went to baseball games offered me two tickets. So I went to the game and offered the other ticket to another ballhawk who happens to be my next door neighbor, Greg Barasch. Crazy, no? Though, looking back on it, I might have been better served to invite his dog as he makes for very tough competition. The one positive was that there was no season ticket holder section on the field:
Of course, that didn’t matter as nothing even came close, hit or otherwise, during the Mets portion of bp. I moved around a bit but not as much as I usually do. My desperation strategy for the last day of kids week was to stay put more and see if things would work out that way. It is safe to say that this strategy failed utterly and my first and only ball came from Alan Butts:
Butts is simply listed as “coach” on the roster and I suspect he is the bullpen catcher. Anyway, in the picture, the arrow pointing straight down shows where I was standing and the arrow pointing diagonally upwards is the path of the ball from Butts’ hand to my glove. That was it for batting practice.
Now to the game. This was a game/postgame of tough breaks. Due to paint’s inability to accurately depict this next scene I will put up the picture of where I was sitting and write out what then unfolded:
Josh Thole was up and he hit a sort of high foul ball. From that view, it immediately went into the lights. I knew that it would get out of the light so I just kept my eyes still on where I thought it would exit the lights. It then exited them on the left, sliced back to the right but was now under the lights. I could tell it was coming right at me. I mean RIGHT AT ME! Thole couldn’t have thrown it to me more perfectly. I simply stood up and was ready to make the easy chest level catch when the person in front of me, who is illuminated by my flash, stood up and deflected the ball just enough for it to scoot to the right of my glove and in the row behind me. To add insult to injury, the ball hit the person in the row behind me and one seat to my left. Just as I turned to see where it had gone the ball rolled under the seat right next to me:
Then it rolled two rows below me and to add a law suit against a person who has been both insulted and injured I climbed over a row and was a quarter of a second late to the ball as a lady in that row grabbed it:
Then after the game, I convinced the home plate umpire to flip me a ball but the person in front of me reached for it and as a result swatted it down beck into the tunnel the umpires exit through. A security supervisor who has a disposition against ballhawks then picked it up and walked straight past me before giving it to someone else. I would have been fine with this had the umpire blindly thrown the ball into the crowd because that is free game but he only reacted after I called him out by name and I am 97.639% sure that the ball was intended for me.
Oh and did I mention that it was also Fiesta Latina and as a result there were Jose Reyes banners being given away. Though most people used them as a cape instead:
On the subway, I saw a father and son decked out in Braves gear and could tell they had traveled a ways to get here. I also saw that the son had a glove with him. So, as is my natural inclination, I asked him if he had gotten a ball. When he said no, I then took my ball out of my backpack and gave it to him. They asked me if I was sure and I think I explained to them what I did or just told them to keep it.
- 1 ball at this game (no picture because I gave it away) number 188 for my career
- 127 balls in 30 games= 4.233333 Balls Per Game
- 56 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 26 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 1 ball*30,607fans= 30,607 competition factor
- Time At Game 4:45- 10: 12= 5 hours 27 minutes
What are all these people showing up early for?:
I mean seriously, I hate to break it to those fans out there but the Mets are currently 20 games out of first place. The first place team has the best record in baseball but 20 games is never good. At least I was the first one in line. That fact gave me this emptiness close to a minute after I arrived to Left Field:
Within a few minutes, I got Manny Acosta to throw me a ball:
I stayed in Left Field for a good hour and only got one ball, a Home Run on the fly hit by John Buck. Then, once the seats got this crowded:
I moved over to Right Field where this was my view:
In that last picture, number 40 would be Michael Dunn. A few minutes after I took that picture he recognized a Marlins “fan” and threw me a ball perfectly between the other grabby hands in my section:
Sadly, this would be my last ball of the day as I was over-thinking, over-moving, and not coming up with much for all my work. One reason was this:
I mean not just the obvious obstacle the crowd would provide in catching balls but also I was playing conservatively on toss-ups and trying to use the strategy that got me into double digits at Nationals Park (not a particular strategy but rather strategy in general). This works in the sparsely inhabited seats of the Upper Right Field of Nationals Park but is a bit harder when competing with a crowd of others. This is not so much a commentary of this game but all the games I have been to this point (August 15th). I have to just take toss-ups when I can get them and not worry about other pitchers seeing me.
Anyway, I sat over in this area for the game:
Not my usual spot but I did have a guest on this day and joined him by his ticketed seat and sacrificed the foul ball opportunities/ third out opportunities. What else can I say? The most “exciting” thing was Hanley Ramirez spraining his shoulder a few feet away:
I went to the umpire’s tunnel after the game but Bill (?) Welke ran out of baseballs when he got to me after giving a pair of balls away twice and telling me he was out. I’m fine with that I’m just telling what happened.
- 3 balls at this game
- 126 balls in 29 games= 4.34 Balls Per Game
- 55 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 20 straight with at least 2 balls
- 25 straight games with at least 1 at Citi Field
- 3 balls*33,297 fans= 99,891 competition factor
- Time at game 4:38-10:38= 6 hours on the dot
Yeah I know I said I was going to write an entry about my game on the third of June but I was away from home so unless you wanted to see pictures like this…
Yes that is the whole image. I was in a rush to upload them to the internet for whatever reason and forgot they needed more time to upload
Anyway, I did indeed go to Washington DC on one of these:
Overpaid for a “Giant” ice cream sandwich:
Arrived two hours late and had to carry my suitcase backpack to the game:
But as Bono would say, “it(was) a beautiful day” and I was excited because this was actually my first time going to a stadium for batting practice knowing what I was doing outside of New York…why are you laughing?
I will now give you a moment to stand in awe of the majesty that is Nationals Park:
Well the sign at least but you have to admit it is a pretty nice sight to see. Or am I just brainwashed from hearing the Mets’ annoying repetitiive music an hour prior to the gates opening every day. It was also nostalgic to have the gates open two and a half hours before game time.
At the gate I had met up with Rick Gold a ballhawk that in his younger days was native to Oakland. This comes into play because he immediately as the gates opened he went to right field. That meant that after getting my bag checked for the bomb that was obviously hiding beneath my clothes I would head to left field.
Just as I headed over there I saw this going on in right field:
If you can’t see, it is the Nationals pitchers warming up on the right field foul line. I have accustomed myself so much to 2 hour opening times that I forgot the home team did this 2 1/2 hours before game time.Anyway, I stayed in left field because of my uber-packed backpack.
Best no decision of the year. A matter of seconds after I decided this a ball flew to my left. It was quite a bit back from my row and there were already people converging at the point it would drop so my hope was the it would land and trickle down the seats.
This picture shows what happened:
The (very light, very small) red arrow is my path to the ball. The ball was clearly going behind where I was going to be able to run to. When it bounced up in the air after hitting a seat I was a foot from it and snatched it out of the air ala Rickey Henderson.
The next ball was a cleaner catch:
This next one was also over my head so I ran up the stairs, turned my shoulder and caught the ball over it. Demonstrated by the much more visible but at the same time poorly done red arrow. That one felt more like a Wide Receiver in football. But wait… it was only 6:39. Batting Practice hadn’t actually started until 6:35 so that meant I had already almost matched my season average in four minutes. Oooh I had a good feeling about this. So good I gave that ball to this young(er) Cardinals fan:
In the picture there is no reaction because he hadn’t actually presented it to his dad yet but you can see his sister looking at it in his hands (don’t worry they were extremely nice about it).
Then a ball flew into the bullpen which put a damper on my spirits. Why? Because this is how many had gone in there:
Four baseballs had already made their way in there which was exactly four more than the number of devices I had ready because of my late bus. Here was my script for the next portion of bp:
Cue: Lefty batters start hitting
For: Exit stage right
So that’s what I did when Roger Bernadina & Co. came up and was there ever room to run:
At Citi field if the seats are ever that empty in bp you are a) on the second deck or b) 400 feet from home plate. I just had three problems all in this picture:
1) Alex Kopp– a ballhawk that lives in New Jersey and caught nine baseballs that day.
2) Rick Gold- Mentioned previously that typically puts up double digits at Nationals Park
3) Cardinals Fans galore- For some reason (and I’ve only gone here for two series) the opposing teams fans out-number the Nationals’ fans and so it is almost easier to get balls from the Nationals than it is from the opposing team.
But when a ball went into foul ground I was further back as you can see from that last picture and since the right field bullpen blocked off the first 5-10 rows and so I had Alex beat and he gave up on getting the ball. In case you were wondering, there were people to my left that could have beaten me had it been a straight up race but no fans were allowed past the foul pole on either side. Now I knew the usher guarding the pole would get the ball but did they go over and wait for him to get the ball. I think not!
Here is a picture of the usher mid-sentence:
It is always nice to see ushers that are actually nice by nature as you can see by this gentleman’s smile but that wasn’t the only thing that was better about Nationals Park. Let me compare it to Citi Field for the moment:
The red line on top is where the overhang would be for Citi Field (left field) and the yellowish line is where Home Run balls would be completely out of the question. For those wondering, the line here at Nationals Park (right field was so far back the picture couldn’t even contain it.
As I returned to my spot, I saw that Jason Motte was having some fun at the fans’ expense by throwing a ball up just where a fan could not reach it so I naturally took this as a challenge to catch the ball but as I leaned out to attempt to catch the ball I noticed Jaime Garcia running to the wall after a ball. I asked him nicely in Spanish and he responded by joining Motte in tossing the ball up and trying to get me to catch it. Fortunately, he was way worse than Motte and tossed it at such an angle so that it was far from me on its way up but the backspin on the ball carried it towards me on the descent.
Let me take this time to show the reason (besides my awesome Spanish skills), that this particular ball found its way into my glove:
First of all, sorry for not looking in the camera. I was distracted by a ball, this was the only shot with both the hat and shirt in it, and my camera screen was broken so I didn’t know either of the first two reasons.
I do not have any cardinals gear. The hat is actually on loan from the Greg Barasch baseball museum. Greg is a very talented and experienced ballhawk from New York that can be found at almost every Mets weekday home game (unfortunately for me) and also happens to be my next door neighbor of about 18 years. Y’all older readers may remember he also lent me a Rangers hat and towel that I used in my playoff game last year. So yeah, it is always nice to have that security blanket and I mean what are the odds that people in the same building much less floor get into the same hobby independently of each other. Oh and the shirt if you can see if actually turned inside out. That is because it is actually a Phillies shirt and I wanted to color coordinate.
Anyway from the start of my ballhawking career, I have not had much luck adjusting to the group of Pujols and Holliday but I figured that I would have a better chance taking on ten people just at batting practice in left than two ballhawks in right. My plan was to lay back here:
Catch anything that came back that far as I had lateral room to run and run up, hope the ball deflected off of someone’s hands and scramble for the ball. The later did happen… sort of.
About five minutes after I got to the section, Pujols hit a Home Run of decent height and length that I realized was going to be one rail gap short of where I was standing. I ran up but a barehanded man was camped under it. Yeah I could have reached in front of him as there was no way he was going to catch a ball going over 100 mph off the bat of Albert Pujols but ballhawks are already seen in enough of a negative light. So I stayed back right behind him, waited for the ricochet, and missed out on the ball as he deflected it to the side of him.
“Look at the mark Albert Pujols left on my hand!” This just goes to show why you bring your glove to the ball game. That group stopped hitting about ten minutes after that and so I went back to right field. However, how could I pass up an opportunity to take a picture of myself on the Stadium big screen.
Here it is:
If you can see I am actually holding the camera to my ear. This is because of two reasons: 1. My screen was/is broken and I had to hear the click to make sure I took the picture and 2. I had my glove on at this moment and needed my head for stability.
Thank goodness I didn’t stay for that long, though because as I was walking down the stairs of the right field stands, an infielder on the cardinals, Daniel Descalso hit a ball to either my right or my left (ok, I know that sounds vague but I know where the ball landed I just don’t remember what staircase I was coming down) fell into the seats and I beat the fan sitting down in the picture demonstrating how empty right field was. That was now five ball on the day and three of them had been hit balls. Last time I checked I was averaging 1.67 thrown balls per game (.67 hit which is a bit amazing to see the stark difference but irrelevant at the point I am trying to make). Discounting the security guard toss-up because that would have never been possible at Citi Field because of their useless railing blocking off foul territory from the outfield I only really had one toss-up for this game. There was a reason for that.
Normally, I have time to go home and print out my rosters for both teams but because of the whole bus situation I had to go on memory. This led to me either making anonymous requests “Excuse me but can you throw me the ball please?” which are far less effective than if they have a name behind them or getting their names wrong altogether. For example, I have since realized that I called Michell Boggs Kyle as I thought he was Kyle McClellan and I called some other person who I could not find Jaime Garcia who obviously came out later and threw me my other toss-up. Well, I wouldn’t get another toss-up for the rest of the day.
It was almost the end of batting practice and I was fine ignoring that it had been a pretty slow bp Home Runs wise because I had just matched my season high. Then came Lance Berkman. At least I think it was him but someone on the Cardinals hit five straight Home Runs to finish off bp all of which landed in this section outlined in red:
Alex was in the perfect spot to catch all of them but because there were five straight and he chased some to his left I had the chance to step into his spot and catch one on the fly. Nothing fancy I just moved a few feet to my left camped under it and caught the ball. That was now my fourth hit ball of the game. Now I don’t think i have gotten extremely better at tracking batted balls but I think that the margin for error is just so low in New York whereas here you can drift more like a real outfielder would do.
In the game I was planning to sit in right field because there were two righty pitchers but when the usher asked me to leave my first idea was to go here:
abut then I thought to myself that there would be Holliday and Pujols (yeah I did find out Holliday was still out from his appendectomy) would be hitting more Home Runs than any lefties that would be put in to face the righty pitchers. So I moved over here:
There were plenty of Home Runs, five if I recall correctly but the closest one was a Jayson Werth Home Run three sections over:
Now the bullpen coach in the bottom right corner picked up three balls and tossed them into the crowd. Not knowing his first name (Derek) because I didn’t have my roster handy I relied on purely having a Cardinals hat (it didn’t work).
I then got to have my first experience of post-Nats game metro crowding:
- 6 Balls at this game (5 in this picture because I gave one away)
numbers 87-92 on the career:
- 31 Balls in 12 games=2.58 balls per game
- 37 games straight with at least 1 ball
- 2 games straight at Nationals Park
- 6 balls*27,130 fans= 162,780 competition factor
- Time at Game 3:55-9:35= 5 hours 40 minutes
I did go the next day so that will be up soon but if you are wondering when I will get up the game before this it will be after I get back home from San Francisco. So June 28th-ish.
Looking to redeem myself for yesterday’s weather anomaly. The spirit of redemption was in the air. I could just feel it (well actually not in the air because it was absolutely fafafafreezing). I thought this would be a great day for snagging:
- 14 balls in 6 games this season= 2.33 balls per game
- 31 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 18 straight games at Citi Field with at least 1 ball
- 26,546 fans * 1 ball= 26,546 competition factor
- Time at Game 4:55- 10:23= 5 Hours 28 Minutes
- 6 straight games with Zack Hample/other ballhawks ruling my decisions sub/abconcious.