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:
This was another very quick game for me insofar as probably the majority of this game that I documented was via vlog and not pictures:
But it was not for lack of excitement that I under-documented the occasion. I mean look who was here at this game:
So if you’re new here, that would be myself on the right, but the other people (right to left in terms of heads) would be:
1. Ben Weil– Ballhawk and friend from New York who was visiting for a game, and who I’ve gone to plenty of games with in the past.
2. Matt Winters- I don’t exactly know his story, but we’ve met several times at games through him being a ballhawk/friend of both Ben and Zack. I want to say I heard somewhere along the line that he’s from LA, but that would have been last year in New York, and I can barely remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, so I wouldn’t trust my memory on that.
3. Rick Gold– I think I introduced him in the last entry, but if you weren’t around for that, Rick has snagged nearly 2,000 baseballs as well as 46 game home run balls–15 of which came in one season. I think I’d be content with that total for my lifetime.
As we waited for the gates to open up, it appeared as though our toughest obstacle besides each other was going to maybe be the weather. The clouds looked very ominous, and so I actually had to check if the cages were set up for BP. While it did rain throughout BP, they thankfully never stopped hitting. That didn’t stop me from not getting one hit ball all day, though. And while we’re foreshadowing, let me spoil the surprise for you and say that I didn’t get a “legitimate” ball for the duration of Nationals BP. What I mean is that with me not getting a hit ball all day, the only “toss-up” I got during Nationals BP was a overthrow by Ross Ohlendorf where I had stood behind the girl he was throwing the ball to just in case that exact scenario happened. When I got the ball, I then gave it to the girl he had thrown it to. I don’t have a picture of the ball itself, but here’s a diagram of the scenario to help you to better visualize the scenario–where I also felt the need to point out where Ben is standing in the picture:
My second ball came when I got Willie Bloomquist to toss me a ball in the Red Seats:
The great thing about getting toss-ups from position players is they usually shag baseballs before they have to go into hit. So once they go to hit, you can get a ball in the exact same spot from whichever pitcher takes their spot in the outfield. And that’s exactly what happened to me. When Bloomquist went in to hit, I got a ball from Zeke Spruill in the same corner spot of the Red Seats:
A cool ting about this baseball is that when I logged it in mygameballs.com later that night, Spruill did not yet exist in the database. That means that I was the first one on the site to snag a baseball from him, which is always an awesome experience. I’d say I’ve “inaugurated” about five players on the site. And I wish I had more to write about from my time in BP, but that was the third and final ball I would snag during it.
Once the game rolled around I sat in left field and pretty much talked to Ben for the whole game. Well for the portion that he was there for, anyways. In about the third inning he left and said he was going to meet his friend who works for merchandise at Nationals Park, and then didn’t get back to his seat until the 8th inning. Pretty much right after that I headed to the Diamondbacks dugout and got the home plate umpire, Greg Gibson, to toss me a ball:
This was my fourth and final ball of the game. I then met up with Ben and Matt after the game and we headed out of the stadium before going our separate ways. I went on the subway back to my apartment and they went to Ben’s car to head to New York. Again, I wish I had more to write about, but not much more happened.
- 4 Balls at this Game (3 pictured because I gave one away)
- Numbers 574-577 for my “career”:
- 131 Balls in 32 Games= 4.09 Balls Per Game
- 4 Balls x 31,172 Fans=124,688 Competition Factor
- 94 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 164 Balls in 36 Games at Nationals Park= 4.56 Balls Per Game
- 28 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
- 12 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
- Time Spent On Game 3:28-10:02= 6 Hours 34 Minutes
So this game was actually pretty simple, and I’m ashamed it took me so long to get this entry out, but the thought of writing was what kept me from even getting started on it. Anyway, here is the view of the field as I got it:
But before I get started on the snagging portion of the entry, let me tell you what lead up to this point. Because it was the last day that All-Star ballots were being accepted for prizes at Nationals Park (more on that later), I had to carry over 2,000 All-Star ballots with me to the ballpark that I had filled out the previous day:
As a result of that, I moved much more slowly than I normally do and missed a bus and two trains by less than ten seconds on my way to the ballpark. And as a result of that, I got to the gates less than five minutes before they opened. So instead of having a half-hour long conversation with Zack Hample, Rick Gold, and Zack’s mom–who I met at the gates–/take a picture with them to open up this entry with when I got to the gates, I pretty much had to get to the gates, get my ticket ready to be scanned, and enter. Now I thought I would have to carry my box of 1,500 All-Star ballots for the first hour of batting practice, but a regular of Nationals Park named Art was nice enough to let me leave them with him in the second row of the section closest to the visiting bullpen in left field and watch after them. So although I’m pretty sure you don’t read these, Art, thank you for allowing me to move freely about the ballpark.
Anyway, after getting shutout for the first two groups of Nationals hitters, my first baseball was really a cheapy. So there’s a Nationals usher in right field who is nice and lets me sit in right field even when I don’t have a ticket there. In return I give him baseballs whenever he asks for them to redistribute to kids during the games. Well when he saw me, he told me that he wanted me to catch a ball from Fernando Abad for him. See ushers aren’t technically allowed to get baseballs themselves, but he apparently knew Abad, so he called out to Abad and pointed to me as if to say, “Toss him the ball.” Abad obliged and even though I would give the ball away to this usher after batting practice ended, it was my first ball of the game:
After this group of hitters was done, about 80% of the players/coaches who had been shagging balls in the outfield jogged in, and so I would say there were only 4-5 people in the whole outfield. And because of this, Stephen Strasburg was left manning almost all of right field. I had never gotten him to even acknowledge me, much less toss me a baseball–Strasburg is one of those players who is quick to toss a baseball to a five-year-old–but pretty much doesn’t give you the time of day if your age has two digits–but I just kept asking him nicely for a ball every time he approached the wall. Finally on about the 20th time, he looked up and tossed me a ball. (Probably just to get me to shut up.):
And that would be my second and final ball of the day. I believe I missed a home run during Diamondbacks BP, but besides that they just weren’t hitting them wherever I was positioned, and the front row was packed with kids, so toss-ups were really tough to come by.
The most notable thing that happened between this snag and the end of Diamondbacks BP is that at least 1, if not 2 service men took a round of BP in the last group of Diamondbacks hitters:
As a son of a Vietnam Veteran (but a hater of war because of this fact), I appreciate the gesture by the Diamondbacks/Nationals, but I only wish they would have gotten better hitting servicemen to invite to take BP. These guys (or maybe guy. This took place weeks ago, so it’s not exactly fresh in my memory) I don’t think hit a ball into the outfield on the fly.
When batting practice ended, I headed back to the seats in left field to pick up my box of 1,500 ballots, took them to the table where they can be redeemed:
And from this got a Michael Morse bobblehead:
A Nationals Rally Towel:
And a Nationals Prize Pack:
The prize pack consists of a bobblehead (Ivan Rodriguez), a Nationals t-shirt, a Nationals hat, and a full program. (I feel the need to specify *full* program because the Nationals give away tiny gameday programs every day at the gates for free. I guess that would technically be a program and this things in the prize pack would be a Nationals magazine, but whatever.)
I then spent the first three innings filling out an additional 500 ballots (in addition to the 1,600 I had turned in for the prizes you saw above) and got an Adam Dunn. I should have taken a picture of it, but I didn’t. I guess it was a swing-and-a-miss on my part. *Bad pun that also makes fun of Adam Dunn completed*.
After that, I headed out to right field where this was my view:
If you’re new to this blog or for whatever reason do not know who the man in the A’s hat is, it is the Rick Gold I mentioned earlier in the entry. He has snagged nearly 2,000 baseballs in his life time along with nearly 50 game home run balls. So in addition to him being a much better ballhawk than I, the fact that he had already been in that section for 4 innings by the time I got there made me not want to compete with him directly and possibly cost both of us a ball. The way I was going to play it if a ball did indeed get hit to us is let him get his initial jump and then put my glove on just in case he read the ball incorrectly and I read it correctly. So he would have position, but I would (theoretically) be the mistake prevention back-up. Of course, as is the case when I’m there, nothing got hit within a section of us.
At the end of the game I headed to the dugout, but what came of that was no snagging but rather getting to talk to Zack and his mom (who was celebrating her birthday at the time)/watching Zack get a third-out ball tossed to him from 16 rows up and almost two sections to the right of Martin Prado, who tossed it to him. It was truly amazing how far Prado tossed it to him. I had gone down to the first row to try to get the ball from Prado, but when I couldn’t get his attention and saw his eyes lock on a target way behind me, I knew where the ball was headed. After that, the game ended, we said our goodbyes, and headed our separate ways.
- 2 Balls at this game (1 pictured because I gave the other away)
Numbers 572-573 for my lifetime:
- 127 Balls in 31 Games= 4.10 Balls Per Game
- 2 Balls x 30,287 Fans=60,574 Competition Factor
- 93 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 160 Balls in 35 Games at Nationals Park= 4.57 Balls Per Game
- 27 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
- 11 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
- Time Spent On Game 3:26-11:33= 8 Hours 7 Minutes
For so many years prior, the Diamonbacks had always been the team “with the talent to break through”. Finally in 2011, under the hands of Kirk Gibson, they did break through and won the division title:
Trevor Cahill, Craig Breslow, Jason Kubel, and Takashi Saito.
Jason Marquis, Sean Burroughs, Ryan Cook, Collin Cowgill, Armando Galarraga, and Micah Owings.
Why?: Just as the Padres’ situation was a “quality over quantity” situation favoring the subtraction column, this is a “quality over quantity” situation favoring the additions. Sure there aren’t as many additions as there are subtractions, but the talent level on the addition side of the equation vastly outweighs that of the subtraction side. On the addition side you have Jason Kubel and on the subtraction side you have Sean Burroughs (who I only included, because I almost caught his first HR back from his addiction problems the day of the Virginia earthquake). You can see how this would add up to me giving them a B.
The Diamonbacks actually got over-shadowed this offseason in terms of being a really good team that made improvements. The two teams getting the most press in that department are the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers. I really think people should be making a bigger deal about them than they are. The scary thing is that they won as many games as they did (94) with being a flawed team. The highest batting average on the team came from Gerardo Parra, who was quite possibly the weak spot in the lineup. If guys like Justin Upton and Chris Young could have higher batting averages instead of being just power threats, there’s no telling how good this team could be. I really can’t explain how this team won as many games as they did, yet it didn’t feel flukey.
Also just a thing that I find interesting. Anyone remember when the Diamondbacks were about to trade Justin Upton? He was on the block and everything, but they decided to keep him. What happens to this team if he is on some other team? Just an interesting thought.
Predicted Record Range: 91-96 wins
Next Up: Left are the only two team I did vlogs for in the last series of entries
First of all, here, is the link to the final initial entry (just don’t think about that and click the link).
Predicted Record: 60-65 wins
Actual Record: 94- 68
I really have no clue as to how the Diamondbacks pulled off this season other than players on the team got better. The 2010 squad won a mere 65 games, and the team actually got worse through their offseason moves. None of the notable additions I have in the initial entry did anything for the team in 2011. Really it was just young players progressing. The biggest example would be Ian Kennedy. I saw him as a Yankee and knew he could be a really good pitcher, but to go from 9-10 with a 3.80 ERA to 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA is amazing.
That’s really it for the Diamondbacks. There are countless other cases of players that got better on the team, but it would take me forever to list them all.
Just a note on the “Offseason Recap and Preview” entries, I don’t know how soon I will start them. The source I used last year for the Notable additions and subtractions doesn’t have them for this year. Does anyone know a good place to find this information? Would MLB.com have it somewhere in their countless links? Once I get this information, I will begin immediately. Until then, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll show you what has been happening in my uneventful life this offseason. Regardless, I will try and find a source for these things ASAP. Maybe I’ll just use MLB Network’s information. The only little caveat with this is that I would have to watch it EVERY single day. There are worse things that could happen to me, but it would be mildly inconvenient to me.
Also, I am currently at 98 comments all-time. So if anyone comments on an entry and doesn’t get a response within a couple days,that is why. I don’t want to be the 100th comment, because I may do something (give away something) to the 100th commenter, and no, you can’t just comment twice to get the 100th comment. If someone does this accidentally, I will just go with the 101st comment. I’m completely sure if/what I would do for the 100th commenter, but I’ll see who it is, and I’ll use that as a starting point for what the prize is.
This was now the third and final game of the redeem-my-horrible-roadtrip series. Since the previous two games had been overall disappointments/failures, this was the game that I was going to break out. That all went down the drain when out came the rain. When I arrived I thought the Nationals were actually going to take batting practice and I had good reason because as the red arrow in this picture shows, the cages were at one time indeed up:
I also noticed but could not take a picture of, the Nationals pitchers warming up ahead of schedule. I didn’t mind it at the time because they knew me and we were going to have batting practice even though it was slightly moist in the air and the constant threat of rain hung over our heads.
That picture was taken 30 minutes before the gate opened. In the meantime, I was waiting in line from a position from where I could not see what was happening. When I arrive to the field I found out the unfortunate truth:
The good news was that, as you can see, the Diamondbacks came out to throw and I wouldn’t have to wait out it the cold dampness in anticipation. I did have some competition out there but I got the weirdest ball by far. I was prepared to wait until the last pair finished and get my one ball but out of nowhere, Jeff Motuzas, the Diamonbacks bullpen catcher, threw me a ball. I believe none of the other ballhawks had gotten a ball yet, neither had I asked for the ball. To top it all off, Motuzas had thrown me a ball after the game the day before and would be more likely to recognize me As I was the last fan he interacted with. Was it because He had seen me at the previous game that he threw me the ball? Did he perhaps want to reward me for coming to another game? If he just forgot about me I don’t think he would have thrown me the ball because the others were calling out to him and wearing D-Backs gear. Weird, see what I mean? Here is the ball he threw me with Motuzas in the background.
Motuzas tossed me this ball in front of all the pitchers out there. This meant that most of the pitchers saw me get the ball. I then changed my get up by: switching my pants ( I had shorts under hiking pants), covering up my Diamondbacks shirt, putting on Mets give away glasses, and keeping my Diamondbacks hat on. Due to the change, I got Daniel Hudson to toss me a ball as he finished up his catch. Here is the ball with Hudson in the background:
By the way, the man looking back is not a ballhawk by most standards but his son was part of the competition I was talking about. This would also be the same kid that mocked me about snagging two balls at US Cellular in the first gameof the series (displeasure #7 if you want to got all the way down to the specific line(a parenthesis in parenthesis, are you allowed to do that? Anyway, the way that entry is set up is that the day was just a list of the things that went wrong for me that day so whenever I introduce one more thing it has the number and a period this specific thing that went wrong is introduced by a 7.)) The kid himself was over in the bullpen getting someone to throw him a ball.
Then the boringness began. It was now around 5:00 and the game wasn’t going to begin for another 2 hours and that meant no snagging opportunities for about an hour. I’ll just list the highlights of my stadium wandering:
1. I was going to go up to the Red Porch and take in a panoramic view of the stadium:
but that was closed:
2. I went to the CF portion of the outfield concourse and went to play area sponsored by Exxon Mobil called the Strike Zone:
the highlight of this was like a batting cage they had set-up:
This wasn’t your stadium-employee-lobs-ball-to-you batting cage. How it worked was you, the hitter, picked a certain pitcher to go against. For example, this hitter is facing Scott Kazmir. A clip plays on the wall of the pitcher winding up and throwing the ball and as the pitcher gets to the position where he would release the ball an actual ball shoots out of the wall where his hand is and comes at you. The hitter can also designate the speed they would like the ball at and the clip still plays in realtime. There is also a similar thing with pitching but it isn’t nearly as much fun. Demonstrated by the only ones playing it were the employees manning it. I only want to show this picture because it gets the ball just as it is about to hit the wall of strips of material that look like shredded paper:
3. When the rest of the stadium opened, (for those who don’t know, only Left Field and the upper deck in Right of Nationals Park are open from when the stadium opens until 5:30 for a 7:00 game) I went over into foul ground to for the Nationals pitchers’ errant throws when they warmed up before the game. Sadly there were no baseballs to be found but I did get an interesting shot of the tarp being rolled off:
Neat, huh? At least I think so. I like how I get the tarp right down the line. Then again, part of the experience was being that close to the unrolled tarp. I know that sounds quirky but for whatever reason it was slightly exciting. Maybe it was just that boring of a day?
4. I wandered the concourse and noticed that throughout the stadium, the Nationals honor random Hall of Famers like:
I guess the Nationals don’t have enough team history that they put these up. Can you imagine the Yankees putting up salutes to historic players from other teams? Didn’t think so. The Nationals do have more than those two but I didn’t want to include all of them in this entry because there were quite a few.
I then just waited for the rest of pre-game until the position players came out and started throwing at which time I set up in the stands and hoped they would throw me a ball:
I don’t remember exactly what happened but I ended up not getting anything from here and going out to another day of what I thought was going to be outfield running but it turns out that I could have just bought a ticket out in Left Field and I would have been just as well off because both teams are primarily running to begin with and the fact that both pitchers were lefties made them even more right heavy. I don’t remember the exact numbers but there were like 3 lefties in the entirety of both lineups excluding the pitchers.
While in Left Field, I had some room around me because the rain drove away everyone except the Nationals fans. So basically it was really empty in Left Field. Here are four pictures that should show how empty it was.
Behind me and to my right:
Angeled towards the field and to the right:
Behind me and to my left:
Angeled towards the field and to the left:
Due to how right handed heavy the lineup was and the fact that I had some room to move, I adjusted slightly for every hitter using a site called hittrackeronline.com. If you want to check it out the link is in the sidebar. Anyway, I looked at where each hitter hit his Home Runs and adjusted based on what I saw. So here is Michael Morse’s Home Run Chart:
Each of the blue dots is a Home Run he has hit this year. So, for Morse I would play further back in the seats because there is almost no pattern as far as the direction of the ball is concerned but the only constant is that he hits the ball far and I wanted to be going in on the ball and not back.
Also as a result of the righty-ness of the lineup , I stayed in Left Field for 80% of the time and my trips to Right Field only served to be a hinderance to me on this day. I consider two Home Runs to be partially lost opportunities because of my trips to Right. Partially because, it wouldn’t have been a sure thing if I had been in my seat in Left but it sure would have been much easier to get them if I had.
The first was a Chris Young Home Run where I was just getting back to my seat and looking to see which row I was in. As a result, I was looking to my right when Young hit the ball and didn’t see the ball once while it was in the air. Zack Hample had also taken up residence in the Left Field seats and since I didn’t want to look up for the ball and possibly miss my opportunity to get to the ball, I just watched him. I thought to myself “he’s going to at least get some glove on the ball so my best shot is that is to sit a few rows behind him and get the deflection.” The whole time I was going down the staircase. He went about four rows under where the ball hit and by default I was two rows under it. I had come from quite a bit up on the staircase so I would have been able to get to the spot had I just looked up to see where the ball was headed. The only variable in that situation would have been if I would be able to judge the ball correctly but I’m pretty sure I would have been within five feet of it and I’m almost certain I would have caught it.
You can see the video by clicking, here. I am in my light red Nationals shirt going down the steps and then into a row going towards the right of your screen. If you keep focus on me, you can see I didn’t look up once and me turn when the ball deflects off the seat.
The second Home Run is kind of a slippery slope argument but here goes. I was in Right Field for Miguel Montero’s At-Bat and was headed back to Left Field I usually go at a decent pace that gets me to the other side of the field within two pitches of the At-Bat starting but it was like the eighth inning or something like that and I was pretty tired and thought to myself: “Why am I running this fast for Paul Goldschmidt? I’ve never heard of him so he can’t have that much power. You know what I’m just going to walk the rest of the way and get there in time for (whoever was behind him in the lineup who I perceived to be a better HR threat).” So I slowed up to a walk and just as I was behind the Red Porch I saw a baseball rolling out onto the concourse and a crowd of kids about half a second behind it. They chased it almost all the way to the gate in Center Field and one of them picked it up. The ball had bounced on the staircase right next to the one I usually go down in Left Field. This means that I would have been right next to the ball when it landed or towards the top of the staircase where I could have turned around and outran the other kids that chased the ball, which was very frustrating. Had I just been where I usually sit in Right Field there is a 50-50 chance I would have caught the ball on the fly. At least there was a nice/weird looking sky:
It may not look *that* special but it was some legitimate freakiness going on because it didn’t seem like light being refracted but the clouds themselves were that color. I guess a better way of explaining it is that the orange color pierced the cloud instead of only being on one side of it like when the sun hits it.
Anyway, the video for the Goldschmidt Home Run can be seen by clicking, here. You can’t see me but you can better visualize what I described two paragraphs ago.
I then moved over to Right Field for the beginning of the final inning. I did this because I knew it was Justin Upton’s birthday and tried to get his final inning warmup ball through that. As he was finishing his throwing, I yelled out as hard as I could: “HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUSTIN.” I know he heard me unless he is partially hearing impaired because he was close enough to the wall but regardless he didn’t even acknowledge me much less throw me his warmup ball. The reason I put the latter as a superior negative to the former is that he has nothing to save the warmup ball from his final inning for. What is he going to do with it? There are no more innings to warmup for. I was also almost the only one in that section and was definitely the only Diamonbacks fan that bothered to look up his birthday if I wasn’t the only Diamonbacks fan in that section period.
I then went back to Left for the ninth itself because there were mostly righties coming up and I was more likely to get a ball from the Diamondbacks than the Nationals bullpen because there were obviously more people in Nationals gear than Diamondbacks gear. When I didn’t get anything, I took the metro to my temporary residence whenever I come to Washington and got myself packed to have the priviledge of taking the bus back to Manhattan the next morning just to go to another baseball game.
This was now the second game of the series that was supposed to redeem my horrible roadtrip and I did get a total that was like triple my average on that trip but the day was an overall failure. I did bring my camera and took pictures with it but later realized that I had taken them without the memory card and I had lost them forever. So, I will just write up my bp and the pictures will come during the game portion of the entry. Here it goes:
I went immediately up to the second deck in Right Field which was absolutely empty. Within five minutes of me getting there three Rick Ankiel Home Runs came up there. I ended up with one. The first hit in the seats to my right and I kind of lolligagged to it because I was the only one in the section but the ball bounced back onto the field. It was semi-catchable but that’s not the worst part. Had I run after that ball I would have been in postion to catch a ball he hit on the very next pitch except further to the right. That one also bounced back onto the field. Ankiel then hit a third ball back to my left and this time it stuck in the seats. I went over and grabbed that ball. Sadly, I quickly forgot that I snagged that ball because I was still moping about the previous two so keep this fact in mind. I didn’t get any toss-ups from the pitchers even though I was the only one because they now recognized me. I mean the same kid in the same Nationals hat and shirt every game really isn’t that hard to spot/recognize but it only occurred to me after the game.
Ankiel & rest of group then finish their session and Ankiel went out to shag in Right Field. I asked him for a bseball and he said some obscure words I couldn’t make out and I asked him to repeat. “Make a muscle.” He said. I then held my cotton clad arm and he tossed me my second ball of the day.
My third ball of the day can be explained in two words: Todd Coffey. Well maybe not but the story goes that Todd Coffey likes to throw a baseball and likes to throw them random distances. When the pitchers finished a drill where they ran routes like a Wide Receiver, Todd Coffey took those seven baseballs and just threw them to random spots in the stands. He threw one to the upper deck, a few in foul territory (later pocketed by ushers), and most of them in the second deck where I was standing. One of those that he threw to the second deck was on the fly:
The bright red arrow is where I caught the ball and the fainter red circle points out a part of the stadium called the Miller Light Scoreboard Walk. It is like a bar section where there are discounted beers before every game and is part of the reason why the Upper Right field seats are so empty. Most people don’t go up there because of baseballs and those who do are more inclined to get turned off by all the people drinking. Anyway, that’s not why I bring it up here, the reason that I bring it up is because most of the balls launched to the second deck went there where it was funny to see a baseball go into a crowd of people that were drinking and see what happened when they realized the fact. Suffice to say, Chaos insumed. I marked that ball #198 because I forgot that I had gotten the Ankiel homer and so I thought my next ball was going to be #199 when in fact it was #200.
#200 came when a Nationals lefty hit a ball to my left and an usher with whom Alex Kopp and Garrett Meyer have had problems with raced me to the ball. I beat her to it but she said she wanted to give it to someone. For the prospect of better ballhawk relationships I gave it to her not realizing that it was infact #200 and asked her who the ball was for she got someone caught off guard. I want to assume that it was because she thought of ballhawks as vile filth that only care about themselves and wouldn’t ask that question but she regained her composure within a second and answered that it was for her niece. She then asked me what I did with all the baseballs I got. I responded that I gave away about 1/3 to kids (Would you say this is about accurate? I actually used to give away more before the blog but since I like to keep enough to make for a good picture at the end of the entry) got about 1/6 signed (again used to do this a lot more last year because I wasn’t as focused on getting the balls themselves), and then kept the rest just in different places in my apartment (this is definitely true I have no idea what is going to happen with baseballs if I catch like 200 in a season. Most of the balls from this year are in unused bags because the filing cabinet I have is filled to the brim.) Soon after this, bp ended and the cages got pulled away. I had a clue why. While talking to a fan yesterday waiting in line for the gates to open, I found out that had the stadium opened on time, the Diamondbacks would not be taking bp in favor of fielding practice.
Sure enough, the Diamonbacks showed up for fielding practice and there were zero snagging opportunities until the Diamondbacks finished and when they did, they didn’t toss anything up to the only Diamonbacks “fan” within a mile of the dugout. I have no problem with fielding practice taking place AFTER bp but I just don’t understand why you have to cancel bp to make this happen. I however, am in no position to criticize, the Diamonbacks had been hitting wretchedly until that point and this series was the start of a run that separated them from the Giants in the NL West and will propbably get them into the playoffs. It just makes no sense to my limited knowledge of baseball. This was actually a first for me in that I bought seats on both sides of the Outfield. If you were following this adventure on the blog’s twitter account, you know that I was absolutely exhausted by the fifth inning. I repeat, THE FIFTH INNING. If I’m not mistaken, the reason I did this was because there were two righties on the hill and the established players on both teams (Justin Upton, Chris Young, Michael Morse, Ryan Zimmerman etc) were pure righties but had plenty of power lefties/switch hitters that almost only came in/hit lefty when there was a righty on the hill (Rick Ankiel, Danny Espinosa, Laynce Nix, Miguel Montero) those names but might be accurate but the point is the line-up was very mixed when it came to righties and lefties. The Diamondbacks were the main cause of my exhaustion as Kirk Gibson thought it would be funny to see me run back and forth all night and stacked his lineup in the Righty-Lefty format. The Nationals almost did the same thing but they had a pocket of righties at the middle of the order because those were the players that belonged at the middle of the order.
I ended up so exhauted that I had to do a bit of guess work and just guess which hitters were more likely to hit a Home Run than the others. Had I actually followed the lineup, there would have been many a time that I started running to one side of the OF and a batter change would cause me to turn around the other way. On average, if I left right as the first batter got out, I got to the other side of the OF by the second pitche of the second batter’s At-Bat.
I didn’t catch anything but came within 20 feet of Laynce NIx’s 9th inning Home Run and got a ball after the game ended from the Diamondbacks’ bullpen catcher, Jeff Motuzas:
I also managed to snag a bag of peanuts from a couple who bought two bags but didn’t have room for the second:
Or as it is known in the dictionary Observing Baseball edition, dinner. I am glad I had something to eat because this self-portrait sums up best how I was feeling a the moment:
Is it okay with everyone if I don’t write up the stats for the rest of the season? It has been uneventful to say the least and I am really more concerned with getting the entries up first than puting up my stats. If it is really important to you to see my stats, the best place to look at them by far is my mygameballs.com profile page which is linked to on the side bar on the right side of the screen and has better statistical categories than any I can think of—–>
I would rather forget this day as quickly as I possibly can. This three game series was supposed to be my redemption for a horrible trip to the mid-west (snagging wise). Just about everything went wrong that could have gone wrong. Let’s go through the list shall we.
1. My bus broke down and I had to switch buses causing a 30 minute delay at the very least.
2. I got to Washington 15 minutes after the earthquake that day and as a result the roads were blocked off and I arrived to Union Station (our final destination) at 3:30 which was 6 hours after we left New York. Due to the earthquake, Union station was closed and I couldn’t take the metro from there. Here is the crowd gathered there:
3. I had to walk about 2 miles with my backpack that was packed like a suitcase, in 90+ degree heat in my long pants and sweatshirt that I had on because the bus is always pretty cold, to the nearest train station and get on that. Though, I can be thankful I didn’t get to Washington like 30 minutes later because this was the traffic:
4. After finally getting on the train itself and riding my initial stops seamlessly and slowly, I ran into a bit of a crowd at my transfer station:
The crowd was like ten people deep all the way across a platform that was about 500 feet wide. So, it took a few trains for the 10th person back to get on a train because only so many people can fit on one train. Given the fact that the trains were running at reduced speeds for workers to make sure the tunnels were structurally sound and every other train was different at this same stop, it wasn’t a surprise that I got to the ballpark an hour and twenty minutes after I left Union Station at 4:50.
5. Due to the delayed metro etc., Nationals Park was understaffed and made us wait until 6:40 to enter the park. For example, here is a guard who usually supervises the whole let-in-the-people-at-4:30-and-make-sure-everything-goes-smooth actually setting up a gate:
6. The gates didn’t open until 6:40 which was 20 minutes before the game was scheduled to start and this is what I felt like:
Oh and want to see all the productive work I was getting accomplished:
I took the picture with some thought process in mind that I as going to explain here but it was along the lines of: “Usually that sign says WELCOME TO NATIONALS PARK but the fact that the gates aren’t open makes the sentence WE COME TO NATINALS PAK” For those who don’t know, the Nationals had a jersey mistake a few years ago where Majestic Athletic actually spelled their name as “Natinals” on the jerseys of Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn. Since then, it has been a running joke in baseball and beyond to call them the Natinals whenever they are trying to be put in a negative/mistake prone light and it as interesting that the bars left this message. I know it’s a bit confusing but it made sense in my head at the time. Oh and the “we” that the modified inscription was referring to was this whole pack of people that came to the ballpark but were still waiting to get in:
7. While I was at the gate waiting for it to open, I got into a discussion about snagging baseballs with a kid who was about 10 and with his dad and got ridiculed by him for only snagging two baseballs at US Cellular in my last game.
8. The final and most painful of the day’s misfortunes was during the game itself. So of course I will take you step by step through how exactly I messed this up. First of all, the video of this situation is here. It would be a video of Sean Burroughs’ first Home Run in five years due to substance abuse problems, which also happened to drive in the only two runs of the game. Now this is no Josh Hamilton story but it would have been nice to catch part of such a nice story and had I, who knows, he might have asked for it back because it meant so much to him.
Anyway, I will show you what to look for in the video.
1. Seconds 3-7 show me running across two sections towards where I thought the ball was headed, the ball hit off the hands of a person to whom the ball was hit, hit off my hand, bounce into a seat in the row in front of me and roll me reach down to grab it. Here I am beginning my run to the ball:
I apologize for the blurriness but this is from the video I linked to and the camera is moving. The arrow on the left is where I was sitting and the arrow to the right is pointing to the blurry reddish figure as I was wearing my D-Backs jersey. This next screen shot shows the moment about a half a second before the ball touched down:
The left arrow would be pointing to me and the right pointing to the guy off whose hands the ball bounced. Here the arrows represent the same things as they did in the last picture but it is while the ball is bouncing off of my hand:
2. Seconds 12-13 show the person in the row behind me holding the ball up:
The left arrow would be the guy with the ball in his seat and the right arrow would be me still looking for the ball. What happened was that the ball fell into the seat and I started looking for the ball in the seat but when it wasn’t there I started looking in the row in front of the seat and so forth when I noticed that everyone was looking behind me. This two seconds or so on the video actually document me looking at their faces and turning back to come to the sad realization that I had completely missed the ball. Let me put you in my head a little further by explaining how confused I was at this moment. I would have understood how the ball ended up in his hands but it had been traveling forwards and the person who was in possession of it was sitting down. I had no idea how this happened until I looked at the tape and saw that….
3. Seconds 48-54 show a replay of what happened in the seats and reveal this:
If you are confused as to what you are looking at I don’t blame you. the right arrow is just to show where I was. You can sort of see my maroon-ish jersey peeking out between the bald guy’s arm but the important thing is the left arrow, which shows the guy who ended up with the ball reaching through my legs to snatch up the ball. What I figured out later was that the ball was indeed wedged in the seat for how brief a moment but when I or the other people converging on the ball hit the seat towards the field the seat created a ramp of sorts for the ball and it shot through my legs just as I was searching for it in the seat.
9. Oh and there was something the camera didn’t pick up: the guy threw the ball back. Why would you go through all that effort to get the ball if you’re just going to throw it back onto the field.
By the way, here is the path I had to take to get to the ball in the first place:
The two connected arrows show the path I ran and the lone arrow points out the guy that ended up with the ball.
I don’t want to say, though, that it was just a day of bad breaks because there were two positives that happened.
1. I did get to see the Nationals top three prospects get honored and have their first taste of stardom:
2. There were people that saw my effort. This group of four:
commented a few times on how far I ran and what an effort I had given and eventually gave me this in the ninth:
Apparently they had gone to the Nats’ team store and bought that for me. It was a very kind gesture and as they say made my day. The end.
Today was the first day of trying a new strategy. I first went out to left field but once I got there, I saw that the season ticket holder bp field spot had actually grown:
- 18 balls in 7 games = 2.57 balls per game
- 32 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 19 straight games at Citi Field with at least 1 ball
4 balls* 22,232 fans= 88,928 competition factor
- Time at game: 10:26-4:05= 5 hours and 39 minutes
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.