Tagged: Easter Egg

8/19/12 Mets at Nationals: Nationals Park

Let me just start with this: It was a Sunday game. I knew there would be no batting practice. The only reason I’m attending games like this is to not have to go to a bunch of games in Minnesota to accomplish my goal of going to at least 50 games this season.So I just want to survive these kind of games and get on with my life.

When I first entered the stadium there was absolutely no action on the field, so I headed over to right field to talk with an usher I know pretty well. He told me that before I got to the seats, Ross Detweiler threw a bullpen session and decided to throw the ball into the seats in foul ground. Unfortunately, those seats weren’t open to the public yet. I then saw the Mets warming up on the right field side, so I ran over, put on my ridiculous costume from the day before, and got Ramon Ramirez to toss me a ball like a wide receiver by asking him in Spanish:

20120824-140041.jpg I then headed back to right field. When the rest of the stadium opened, everyone else headed to the dugout to line up for “Signature Sundays”, but I headed right for where I thought the ball I had spotted earlier was. Look what I found there:

20120824-141501.jpgI would/should have had another, though. As I was running through the seats, a guard/usher tried to stop me saying that I couldn’t get to the front of the line by running through the seats. Right as I had to explain that I didn’t care about the Signature Sunday promotion, a Nationals pitcher, probably Stephen Strasburg, threw a ball randomly into the seats. I would have definitely had it had I not been stopped.

So, although I had a decent total for a game without batting practice, my expression in the next picture says it all:

20120824-142021.jpgAfter I found the “Easter Egg”, I lined up for the Signature Sunday thing, and watched in pain as a Mets throwing pair finished their game of catch in left field. What happened to Signature Sunday? It started raining, so the whole thing got cancelled.

I then headed out to right field where this was my view:

20120824-142324.jpgAt that point, I was actually a little happy it was raining. I knew coming into the game that there would be no BP, so rain would only help to drive away people from the stands.

As for the game, Gio Gonzalez had an okay start, allowing 1 run in five and two thirds innings; yet he won his sixteenth game of the season as the Mets’ Jeremy Hefner allowed five runs in an almost similar inning load (5).

The most exciting part of the game though came from this being my view of the game:

20120824-164516.jpgIn I want to say the seventh inning, I heard a collective laughter emanating from behind me; followed by Scott Hairston throw his glove on the field. It was the second time he had done so. He had thrown it on what appeared to be a bird on the field.

Eventually, Andres Torres swooped in and scooped it up:

20120824-184726.jpgYeah, the whole game was delayed for that.

Torres then handed the animal I still wasn’t sure the species of to a security guard who came from the Nationals bullpen with a towel:

20120824-190738.jpgHairston then got heckled for the rest of the game because he acted so afraid of it. Here he is laughing about it himself:

20120824-191033.jpg I had to look at the highlight ( maybe lowlight for Hairston), but I saw that it was actually a praying mantis that had invaded the field of play. See for yourself:

I then headed to a friend’s house for dinner right after David Wright flew out in my direction. It was pretty disappointing since he was THE reason I sat in the outfield for all three games. Actually, though, I stopped to give a ball to the usher I was talking about earlier since he had told me where it was hiding.

STATS:
• 2 Balls at this game (1 pictured because I gave 1 away)

20120824-211952.jpgNumbers 373-374 for my lifetime:

20120824-212806.jpg• 152 Balls in 37 Games= 4.11 Balls Per Game
• 2 Balls x 33, 764 Fans= 67, 528 Competition Factor (yay mental math!)
• 46 straight Games with at least 1Ball
• 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 112 Balls in 26 at Nationals Park= 4.31 Balls Per Game
• 18 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
• 2 straight Games at Nationals with at least 2 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 11:03- 6:49= 7 Hours 46 Minutes

7/18/12 Mets at Nationals: Nationals Park

Oh, another frustrating day at Nationals Park. Except this time, I knew it was going to be frustrating before I even entered the gates. Thus, this was me waiting for the gates to open:

Rick Gold, who had been with me at the prior game, alerted me to the fact that Jayson Werth had already taken batting practice, which meant the Nationals as a whole had probably taken batting practice. With the impending thunderstorms, I could see from the gate that the cage wasn’t even up (one of the reasons Nationals Park is better than either of the New York Parks). I also didn’t know it at the time, but this was the 100th ball I had ever snagged at Nationals Park, which also marks the first time I’ve ever snagged 100 balls at any given stadium.

When the gates opened, Rick tried to go to right field to use his retriever on a home run ball that had landed behind the scoreboard. I, meanwhile took advantage of the information Rick had half-knowingly given to me. I went to the Red Seats and found a ball Jayson Werth had hit there earlier:

20120729-075654.jpgFor the record, Rick couldn’t find the ball. It was a mystery to both of us where it had gone, though, since we thought if anyone picked it up, it would be a person cleaning behind the scoreboard, but it was still filthy.

After I got my ball, the Nationals kept everyone under cover, because of the lightning storm passing through. NO one was allowed into the seats that weren’t covered. See for yourself:

20120730-001437.jpgThat last picture was the spot I was when Jon Rauch and his throwing partner warmed up. I had to watch in despair as they finished throwing, because I know I could have easily gotten him to toss me a ball had I been allowed to go down there.

Eventually, the Nationals did let everyone down into the seats. Pretty much everyone rushed to the Mets’ dugout:

20120730-002122.jpgI’m not going to lie; I did too:

20120730-002321.jpgThe only difference is: I wasn’t a zombie about it. I figured I would have a better shot at getting a ball from the Mets, but when Jayson Werth came out to throw with a trainer, I ran over to the other side of the stadium, changed into my Nationals shirt as I went over there, and got this from him:

20120730-002901.jpgWeird way to get two balls from the same player in one day, huh? Also, this was a minor milestone in that it was my 350th ball ever. It’s a pretty obscure milestone, so I’ll leave my elaboration at that.

During the game, this was my view of the action:

20120730-004538.jpgThere were two righties pitching, so I figured I would camp out there. I had a pretty good amount of room to work with, even with Rick in right field too, but I forgot to get a picture of it. Sadly, the only home run in those seats came when I had already gone over to the Mets’ dugout. Rick told me I might have gotten it had I stayed. Oh well, I got this instead from a Mets ball boy:

20120730-005518.jpgSo I ended my day at three baseballs. That’s pretty good for me for a day without batting practice, so I was happy.

STATS:
• 3 Balls at this game

20120730-005801.jpgNumbers 349-351:

20120730-005952.jpg•129 Balls in 28 Games= 4.61 Balls Per Game (12 Balls under 500)
• 3 Bals x 31,660 Fans= 94,980 Competition Factor
• 37 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 13 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 102 Balls in 22 Games at Nationals Park= 4.64 Balls Per Game
• 15 Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
• 15 Games with at least 2 Balls at Nationals Park
• Time Spent On Game 3:40- 11:22= 7 Hours 42 Minutes (exactly one minute more than I had the previous day)

7/7/12 Rockies at Nationals: Nationals Park

On-field photo day, and 100+ degree heat meant one thing: no batting practice:

20120711-084225.jpgFortunately for me, though, even 3.5 hours before game time(which is when the gates opened), players still warm up:

20120711-114717.jpgIn that last picture, Ryan Zimmerman was taking ground balls. It was approximately 10 minutes since the gates had opened, and I had already gotten two balls. I had been watching Zimmerman warm up from the third base side of the field when he threw a ball away, into the stands. I was on the phone with Todd Cook when I saw it. It took me a second, but then I realized no one was over on the first base side, and I could run over and find it. So I ran over, and someone had beat me to the seats, but he walked right past the ball, so here’s what I found:

20120711-115530.jpgYay, but wait, there’s more. It seemed as though there’s a reason Ryan Zimmerman was practicing so early: he can’t aim. Once I picked up the first ball, Zimmerman threw a second ball into the stands, and I had two balls within the first fifteen minutes of the gate being open:

20120711-235245.jpgI could have had three balls at that point, but the guy I mentioned previously had found a ball down the line before I could get there.

I then headed over to Ryan Mattheus and Tom Gorzelanny further down the line (the guy/kid I mentioned in the last paragraph also in the picture):

20120712-000739.jpgThere, another kid came up to me and asked me, “Are you Mateo?” It was Danny, one of the bloggers on the MLBlog, NYBisons. Since I try to avoid asking Nationals for baseballs, so I don’t wear out my sources because I go to so many games, and they will probably recognize me at a certain point, I helped out both Danny and the other guy to get a ball from the two players. When Ryan Mattheus came back, though, he tossed all three of us a ball. Awesome:

20120712-003601.jpgAfter that, no other players were warming up ,so I waited for the field to open and goofed around on it when it did:

However, it wasn’t all fun and games. After I took that picture, I saw something just past the camera that prompted me to take a more somber picture:

During the season, I really can’t keep up with the baseball world that well, so this was where I learned the Twins were still in last place in the AL Central. Booo!

I then took a lap around the field and took pictures of the stands from the perspective of the field, just because that was the awesomest part of this whole experience: seeing where I am normally trapped from the perspective of the field, from which I am usually trying to coax balls out of players. I figured me explaining this would get old after about two pictures, so here are a couple of the pictures I took with a 1-2 sentence caption following it:

A guy had stayed in the right field seats to take pictures of his family members. That’s when it actually dawned to me the implications of being on the field versus being in the stands.

The view of the Red Seats from the warning track.

The spot of both Greg Barasch and the 20th ball he had snagged the previous night’s game. I think you can figure out which is which.

The view of the left field seats from in front of the bullpen.

The seats in third base foul ground. Those are the seats I was most fascinated by when I was on the field, but I don’t know why. I think it is because that is usually the spot closest to the field I can ever get while actively pursuing baseballs (when the opposing pitchers are warming up). When I’m there, I’m so close, but I feel so far away from the field at the same time, so to actually BE on the field on the other side of the fence is a minor victory of sorts.

The main reason I didn’t want to drag out those caption is, because although I have a bunch of pictures of that sort; after I got to the end of the line by the visitors’ dugout, I turned around and took a video of my journey all the way around the field. So, here it is:

After that, I know I’m a loser for doing so, but I headed back to the other side of the field. There just wasn’t ANYTHING to do. I was pretty sure both Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard (the players throwing in the video) would recognize me, and I thought I saw some Rockies players coming out to throw on the other side of the field.

Look who was just done taking a picture as I got to the other side of the field:

I’ll name the individuals in two pictures from now, but all you have to know is these are the Cooks of Cook & Son Bats. Here is the picture Todd has just taken as I took my last picture:

Here they are right after taking the picture:

1. Todd Cook- The Father of the Cook and Son group. Who has already published his entry of this game, which you can check out by clicking…here.

2. Tim Cook- The elder of the two Cook sons. As I took this picture, no one had yet noticed I was there, but shortly after, Tim was the one to spot and identify me.

3. Kellan Cook- The younger of the two Cook Sons.

4. Greg- Not technically a “Cook”, but he was a friend of Todd’s from their town in Pennsylvania, so he accompanied them on their journey to Washington.

After I met up with the Cooks, I watched Jeremy Guthrie play catch:

20120713-132335.jpgWe then all headed to a “cooling station” in center field:

The “cooling” coming from the fact that it was in the shade and there were fans blowing out water. There, I took a few pictures of things I found interesting. First, do you see the door that is open? I took a picture of what is right inside that room:

I don’t know the exact function of everything in there, but it’s interesting, isn’t it?

I had seen this patch of grass, but I finally found out that it is used as extra grass if they need to patch up anything on the field.

There was obviously no batting practice, so the “L Screen” was in this gap in center field. I wish it were on the field, but it was nice to be able to see and touch one.

I also took a picture of the seats in right field, because I’m usually up there asking a groundskeeper down in the gap I was now standing in for a ball. It was another one of those “Oh, how many times I wished I could be down here” moments.

We didn’t spend all of our time in the cooling station though. It *was* On-Field Photo day after all. So I’m now going to go through all of the pictures I took of people while on the field. Just keep in mind I both couldn’t see what I was taking a picture of because of the intense sun, and I was shaking the hand of the person as I was taking their picture, so some of the pictures came out pretty bad:

(right to left) Rick Eckstein and Trent Jewett. Hitting and First Base Coaches.

Jim Lett, bullpen coach.

(left to right) Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, and Michael Morse. They’re all laughing because as they passed, a Mariners fan yelled out “Michael!” to Morse. When Morse acknowledged him, he then yelled out, “Worst trade ever.” He was of course referring to the fact that Morse had been with the Mariners, but was traded for Ryan Langerhans, who is no longer even with the team. Meanwhile, Morse had hit 31 home runs for the Nationals the previous season along with a .303 average and 95 RBIs.

I don’t know exactly who this is (I may have if i just took the half-second to look at his ID), but if I had to guess I’d say he is some sort of broadcaster for the Nationals.

Randy Knorr, bench coach.

Steve McCatty, pitching coach.

(left to right) Danny Espinosa and Stephen Strasburg

Bryce Harper

Ryan Mattheus, who had tossed me a ball earlier and gave me one of the ice pops you see him holding in this picture:

I brought it up to the Cooks, sitting in the shade, to give to Tim, but apparently, if he eats anything colored red, he gets a little crazy, so I ate it instead.

An occluded Tyler Moore.

Edwin Jackson ft. Mateo Fischer’s fingers.

Mike Gonzalez, guest starring my fingers.

Roger Bernadina

(left to right) Craig Stammen and Jordan Zimmerman.

Ross Detweiler

Jayson Werth

Henry Rodriguez (giving Tim a high-five).

Rick Ankiel. If you look closely, you can the reflection of me shaking his hand in his sunglasses.

Adam LaRoche. He was actually the only player who allowed Tim to squirt him twice with Tim’s squirt bottle he had been carrying around all day. Tim ended up squirting three different Nationals players a total of four times. Tim squirted LaRoche, Stammen, and I believe Rodriguez, but I’m not sure.

Davey Johnson, the Nationals’ manager.

Sean Burnett

Jesus Flores? I really have no clue who it is, but his photo day picture looks the closest of anyone on the Nationals roster.

Ray Knight, whose fame came from winning the World Series with the Mets in 1986, but for some reason is a broadcaster for the Nationals; more specifically, MASN.

After we decided as a group it was time to leave the field, Tim and Todd made a brief stop to take a picture with the person Todd and I both agree is the best “crowd hype person” (I don’t want to call them cheerleaders, since baseball doesn’t have that, but that’s essentially what they’re there for in baseball) in all of baseball, Terrence:

He’s there every day, and I’d say he probably uses the most energy of anyone in the stadium each of those days. Todd said it jokingly, but he may not be as far off as you might think, that he burns 20,000 calories a game.

Now I’d just like to go over a few things of note I found while walking before I get too far away in the events of the day for them to be relevant anymore. First: When we passed the standings on the wall in right field, Tim wanted to try to touch the standings, or something like that. So he reached through the fence. After he did it Kellan did as well, mimicking his older brother, so I turned back and got a picture of it:

That’s when I noticed something very interesting about the video board. From afar, the letters of the standings look white. However, from up close, one can see there is no white at all at work in the board:

Each “pixel” of white is actually three red, green, and blue dots at work together. I guess this makes sense since you hear that TVs are “RGB”s sometimes, but I had never actually seen this phenomenon at work. I’m just curious how you would create a color such as yellow with this set-up, or if you even could.

Second: If you saw the video I embedded earlier in the entry, you may have seen me stop at around the 33 second mark and point my camera towards the dirt, where you saw what looked like a piece of paper on the ground. Well, that piece of paper was a ticket, and when I was on the first base side of the field with the Cooks, I identified exactly which section the ticket was for:

Yep, it was a club level ticket. That meant I could finally access the club level at Nationals Park. Other than being a mildly good spot for foul balls, I really never have a reason to buy a club level ticket, given the cost (this one was $55). This ticket meant I would finally be able to explore up there.

Also while I was on the first base side, all of the Cooks were usually up in the shade, but Tim joined me down on the field when some of the players passed by. On one of those excursions, a Nationals “fan” photographer took a picture of the two of us together:

Sorry for the watermark. It would have cost me $29 to get the picture without it.

Fast-forwarding to when we were exiting the field…We all decided the place to be was the Red Porch’s indoor restaurant. On the way there, though. The Cooks saw the pig at Nationals Park. (Apparently, there’s a sculpture of a pig at EVERY ballpark in the major leagues.) When we went over there, I saw the Danny that I mentioned earlier in the entry. I then got a picture of him with his two baseballs so far (both of which I have mentioned already):

For the record, that is his “Rockies” shirt, and Tim is waiting for me to finish taking the picture so we could head over to the Red Porch.

When we got over there, it was as packed as could be, so we took a seat on some couches outside it. Here is a picture Todd took of me and his two sons:

Eventually, Todd left to get some food. Meanwhile, Tim “killed” me with his squirt bottle approximately 12,735 times. I then got a message on my phone that looked like such:

I had no idea anyone was even throwing, since I couldn’t see the field from our spot. So I raced down to the Red Seats to see how this had happened, but by the time I got down there, Todd had already returned to the couches.

I returned momentarily to have get an explanation from Todd and pick up my things, but I quickly headed off to try to get a ball from the Rockies. On my way, I saw this and had half a mind to see if I could glove trick one of the balls:

I actually didn’t get any baseballs from the Rockies, but I did get two players to sign two of my baseballs (Josh Roenicke and Adam Ottavino). Here is Ottavino signing my ball:

While I was trying to get a ball from the Rockies, Todd got one from Drew Pomeranz. He then went up into the shade with Kellan and took a picture of those who stayed out in the sun:

Myself (Mateo, if you haven’t picked up on that already) and Danny were both trying to get a ball from the last reliever, but Tim was just there pretty much to tag along. If you can see it, Danny was on the phone. The person he was on the phone with was on the phone with was Quinn Imiola, a fellow Buffalo-based ballhawk, who, if you’ve been reading this blog long enough, I met at a minor league game in Myrtle Beach. Neither of us got the ball, but here was the view when the reliever was still throwing:

After that, I parted ways with the Cooks and headed up to the club level. First, I went up to my “ticketed section”:

I entered the section, but it was pretty crowded, so I made the decision I was going to stay in the outfield during the game after I toured the club level. You know the drill. I’m going to post the pictures rapid-fire.

The left field entrance to the club level.

The “tunnel” emanating from the left field entrance. The doors to the suites were on the left hand side of this tunnel.

The tunnel then lead to a (I imagine) usually very open area, but people were crowding it to escape the heat.

A bar area from which there was also a field view.

Opposite the bar was this gigantic window, offering a view of the neighborhood outside of Nationals Park. The window went all the way across the “open area”, which was rather large.

This was just one of the food options in the “open area”.

The first reason I include this picture is that the area is approximately a fourth of the total “open area”, just to give you an idea of how large it was. The second reason is: Do you see the staircase in this picture? That leads up to an all-suite level. I got up there and started exploring, but before I could start taking pictures, an usher/guard type person asked me for my ticket and told me I couldn’t be up there.

During the game, I sat in two main spots. Here is the view from my usual seat in left field:

Pretty much everyone in the lineup was right handed, so I moved between this spot and the spot I have pointed out with the orange arrow. It was a long run in intense heat, so I pretty much only did it between innings when I could take it slowly.

From the spot in foul ground, I got what almost could have been Teddy’s first win in the Geico Presidents Race. Well he’s had a bunch of those, but this one was particularly entertaining, since I was so close to the action. If you don’t know the history, Teddy has NEVER won the presidents race in however many years it has been done. The presidential mascots that run in it are those symbolizing the four presidents on Mount Rushmore.

Teddy came down the stretch way in front of the other three presidents:

but he veered at the sight of the grounds crew waving popsicles in front of him:

Eventually, the other three presidents passed right by him:

…and as they passed the finish line, Teddy fell into the wheelchair section after his beloved popsicles:

I didn’t get anything during the game, but I had fun running around. In addition, I met Alan Schuster in this section during the game. He got there late because he was already on his way to the game when he realized he forgot his tickets at home. He lives in Virginia, so it was a pretty big set-back. Alan, if you don’t know, is the webmaster of  mygameballs.com, the ultimate site for ballhawk statistics. If you haven’t already, go check it out. Also, if you have ever caught a ball at a major league baseball game, make an account. It is super easy and even if you’re not a hardcore ballhawk, it is a great way to keep track of all of the baseballs and autographs you get at games. It’s better than forgetting from whom and how you got them, I’ll tell you that much.

Nearing the end of the game, this was my view:

I then tried to get a ball from whoever the home plate umpire was for that game:

but do you see all of those kids waiting? He gave a ball away to each of them, so he only had one ball left. As he passed me, I called out to the umpire by his last name, but when he looked back, he thought the guy next to me had been the one who called out to him, so he tossed him his final ball instead of me.

I then headed over to the Rockies dugout, and although all of the Rockies players dissed me, I saw a ball come out of the corner of my eye, so I caught it:

The person who threw the ball then reappeared, so I saw it was one of the Rockies ball boys or something along those lines:

Actually, though, I was only one of the people he threw a ball to. He must have thrown 10 balls into the stands. I’ve never seen anything like it from someone who wasn’t on the team.

Of course, even when someone like that throws 10 balls into the crowd, there is usually at least a kid that doesn’t get one. It’s just impossible to have EVERYone get a ball. I thought I didn’t see a kid next to me get a ball, so I asked him if he had gotten a ball at this game. He said he didn’t, so I pulled the ball out of my glove and put it into his. Here he is with it:

I then headed out to the center field plaza, fully expecting to just get on the Metro and leave. However, when I got there, the Cooks (and Greg, but I have filed him under this for the entry for the sake of brevity) were taking their final picture of the day:

So I got to formally say “goodbye” to them before I rode my way back to my apartment in Washington. If you made it to this point in the entry: Congratulations, you have more patience than I do. Not bad for a game I initially wasn’t going to go to, right?

STATS:

  • 4 Balls at this Game (3 pictured because I gave one away)

Numbers 334-337 for my life:

  • 115 Balls in 23 Games= 5 Balls Per Game
  • 4 Balls x 28,032 Fans= 112,128 Competition Factor
  • 32 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 8 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 7 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 7 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 94 Balls at Nationals Park in 19 Games= 4.95 Balls Per Game
  • 10 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
  • 10 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Nationals Park
  • 8 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Nationals Park
  • 6 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Nationals Park
  • Time Spent On Game 11:38- 7:57= 8 Hours 19 Minutes

9/24/11 Braves at Nationals: Nationals Park

This was now the middle game of (barring playoff baseball) my last weekend of baseball for the year. I figuring that this would be my last shot at a full batting practice because the next game would be a day game. I was actually too optimistic in this prediction. For my seventh stright game at Nationals Park, there was not a full session of bp.

When the gates opened, I ran up to the second deck in Right Field expecting the pitchers to be throwing but once again they were nowhere to be found. The air was free of moisture but still the pitchers were in the clubhouse and the hitters were as well. I understand why they weren’t. I mean the game was a day game after a night game. so after the 9:45 end time of the last game, any wake up time before 10:00 would be simply criminal.

Anyway, the pitchers didn’t come out until about 11:15. This was 45 minutes before the gates opened. I saw the Braves coming out to throw about 15 minutes into the Nationals but wanted to get one ball from the Nationals because I had seen a load of Braves fans the day before. I eventually did get a ball from Ryan Mattheus. If you don’t know, I have lost all of my pictures from the last few games of the season (which explains the lack there of in this entry) this also meant that I no longer have photographic evidence of but I think that this ball was meant for another kid and so I gave it away to that same kid once I recovered the overthrow.

I then ran down to the lower level and went down the first base line seating because like the day before, I had seen a ball go in the seats that the people witing in line did not see. It wasn’t quite in the same wheelchair section but it was very close to the same seats. I then went over to the Braves side of the field along the third baseline and tried to get them to throw me a ball. However, I was aware of any balls of any ball pulled my way. There was in fact a ball pulled my way. It landed about a section to my left and from there it was a race between myself and a Braves fan. I beat him to the ball in the aisle by a margin, but he was flat out running and his momentum made me the middle of a sandwich  between him and the railing. I had just picked up the ball and held on but this did knock the air out of me and so I whimpered my way to Left Field where I recovered.

 

Those seats were too crowded for my taste and so I moved over to the “Red Seats” in R-CF. Just as I got there, Dan Uggla’s hitting group got up and so I was pretty sure I would have a chance at one ball if not a few. Surely enough, there were several balls within ten feet of me and the one of those that landed in the Red Seats ended up in my possession. I then gave it away to the smallest Braves fan in the section. I kind of gave it away to amend all the balls I was going to catch in that section, but sadly this was the last ball for me the whole day.

 

This was mostly because I then went to RF and the promotion on this day was “Pups in the Park”. People were allowed to bring their dogs to the ballpark as long as they kept them in, you guessed it: Right Field. When I got there, the space behind the actual seats was transplanted turf for the dogs to be “walked”. In the actual seats, there were all types of dogs even in batting practice and some of them weren’t so visible . On three separate occasions, I had to hurdle a dog in the stand en route to a ball. Twice, it cost me catching the ball.

 

It also affected me in the game because I stayed mostly in Left Field as to not have to deal with maneuvering the dogs behind the Right Field seats. Also, the seats themselves were more packed than usual. Although I would have been upset to lose the opportunity at a Home Run, I was sort of wishing there was a ball hit into the Right Field seat just to see what would happen with all of the dogs.

 

As for my the Left Field seats, there was nothing hit in my direction and I stayed at four balls for the day. It was a partially fun day, but be sure to check back for my next entry in around three days from now because all I can say is that the Nationals really did go all in on the fan appreciation day.

9/23/11 Braves at Nationals: Nationals Park

This day was just another example of why the batting practice gods hate me when I go to Nationals Park ( the Home Run gods like teasing me but that’s a whole other story). There was no batting practice because of rain which made it like the 6th game in a row where I didn’t have full batting practice when I went to Nationals Park (either the Nationals hit and the visiting team didn’t, vice-versa, or neither team hit at all). Today there was no batting period.

When the gates opened, I went up to my usual spot in the Upper Right Field seats thinking that the Nationals would follow their routine of warming up just as the gates opened. Let’s see, the gates opened at 4:30 and the Nationals didn’t start throwing until 5:15. This was 45 minutes after their usual time. I wasn’t expecting this but it actually helped me. In addition to throwing later, they did something else I hadn’t seen them do before: they threw in segmented groups. Let me explain, usually, all the pitchers come out at the same time and finish at the same time, but on this day, the first pair came out at 4:15 and the last pair of pitchers came out at about 4:40.

While I was in the second deck, I saw the Nationals throw two balls into the wheelchair section they have on both sides of the field. This section was pretty wet so they just left the balls there. The rest of the stadium (besides URF and L-CF) opens at 5:30 for a 7:00 game. I stayed in the Upper seats until 5:27 to make sure that I didn’t miss THAT many snagging opportunities but at 5:27 left to get in line when the rest of the stadium opened. I was like 2 seconds behind the people first getting into the rest of the stadium  and the other people knew enough to hurry up and look for balls but I had been the only one in the upper seats and thus was the only one who knew where the two balls were.

Now the rotating throwing partners come into play. Had all the players been throwing while I picked up the balls, most of them would have seen me get the balls and probably wouldn’t have thrown me any more. However as it was, I got Sean Burnett to throw me a ball and then changed outfits to get Tom Gorzelanny to throw me a ball.

Right after Gorzelanny threw me the ball, I noticed the Braves were warming up. Whenever I have the choice between trying to get balls from the Home team or the opposing team, 9 times out of 10 i will go with the opposing team because the odds are that there will be less fans with the opposing team’s gear than the home team’s gear. I did go over to the Braves side of the field and had my Braves gear on, but to my surprise, I was one of fifteen others in Braves gear. Fortunately, most of them were there for autographs, but I still didn’t get a ball thrown to me cleanly.

My main goal for this weekend in general was to get Julio Teheran to throw me a ball. This may have contributed to the fact I did get a ball thrown to me. I stayed right behind Julio and his throwing partner and just focused on getting a ball from him while he made his throwing partner look foolish with a variety of breaking pitches.The reasons I so desperately wanted a ball from Teheran is that I was a pitcher when I played organized baseball and am definitely part of the family of pitchers when it comes to my school of thought. The second part of this is that I was born in Colombia and so was Teheran. So the reason for trying to get a ball from him was that he is the first Colombian Pitcher in the major leagues and it would mean the world to get a ball from him because he also has a good chance of succeeding at this level. I threw in the part of me being of the Pitchers school of thought because yeah it would mean a lot for Edgar Renteria or Orlando Cabrera to throw me a ball but to have the first Colombian MLB Pitcher to throw me a ball would be great. Also, sorry if I sounded repetitive back there but it was just kind of an idea in my head and I wanted to get it as refined as I could. In retrospect, it probably just confused you more. Just to add on how much I’ve been paying attention to Teheran and want him to succeed, I went out of my way to see his first start with the Braves a while ago. The reason I focused so much on him in this series and not others is because he got sent down shortly after his first start as he struggled.

Enough of my man-crush on Julio Teheran, I just wanted to get the explanation out of the way because it really was the center of the weekend. I didn’t get anything from any other Pitchers because Teheran was facing me and I was right behind his throwing partner and was afraid that if he saw me get a ball he wouldn’t consider throwing me his. When he and his partner finished, I yelled out to him, ” Una pelota para un Colombiano?” This translates to: “A ball for a Colombian?” Good news: He heard me.

Bad News: He missed with his throw and the guy next to me got the ball. Either that or he thought the guy next to me had called out to him.

 

I then moved down the line and tried to get a ball from the other Braves pitchers. As I mentioned before, I didn’t get a Pitcher to throw a ball to me. Despite this, I did get a ball. Jonny Venters and his partner were the last throwing pair on the Braves. There was a kid right next to me that was much younger and so I knew I probably wasn’t going to get the ball thrown to me. So, I moved behind the kid and played the mis-throw. Venters did then overthrow the kid, I grabbed it, and handed it to the kid. When Venters finished throwing,  he started signing autographs and I got him to sign one of my baseballs from that day. I think he has signed for me before but mygameballs.com’s autograph database is being difficult and I gave away most of my autographed baseballs last year so I have no evidence. A funny thing happened in that Venter actually signed right next to where I had numbered the ball and looked a little funny at the ball. I wonder what went through his head. The obvious thought being that I am selling the autographs and so I number the balls to identify the balls.

 

For the game, I did my usual ritual of getting a ticket on each side of the outfield and running to Left Field for Righties and Right Field for Lefties. It was and ideal set-up for this ritual as both the teams were batting primarily from a different side of the line-up. That is to say, the Braves line-up was made of primarily Lefties and the Nationals lineup was made up of primarily Righties. This allowed me time to move back and forth between innings instead of At-Bats and also make me not feel like I wasted money on one of the tickets (this would happen if both teams were primarily Righties or Lefties).

 

It was mainly dead out in Home Run territory but then later in the game THIS happened. Jayson Werth hit a Home Run into the Left Field seats where I was sitting. It was really high and was the same direction as the Chris Young Home Run I had missed out on a few weeks prior. It ended up like five rows right behind where that Home Run had hit.

 

I was on an aisle seat as usual and here is a screen shot from when the ball was in the air:

The Left arrow is me and the Right is where the ball would hit. At this time, I saw there were no rows that would get me to a place where I could get to catching the ball on the fly without knocking down half-a-dozen people. So I stayed on the aisle and hoped the ball would bounce back towards the field off of the seat.

 

Here is a screen shot after the ball bounced of the seat and headed right in my direction:

The big arrow is pointing to my red Nationals hat and the little arrow is pointing to the ball coming off the seat and back to me. The ball bounced back right in my direction but I couldn’t see that because the girl in the Strasburg t-shirt’s back was blocking my view. She then deflected the ball and it landed in a seat in the row between us two. From there it was a race between our two hands to the ball and this was the result:

She was closer and reached for the ball faster. I think the Home Run in general felt too casual, it felt like nothing more than a batting practice ball. I feel that if I had been more into the game/aggressive I would have my first Home Run ball. Anyway, the arrow in the top third of the picture is pointing to where I am standing outside of the picture. Looking on sadly.

 

After the game, I got Eddie Perez to throw me a ball from the bullpen after the game. This made Six balls on the day even without batting practice.

 

And that was how my partially redemptive weekend in Washington went. In other news, tomorrow is my birthday and the 1 year anniversary of Observing Baseball. I hope to write something but it *is* my birthday and so if I don’t I will write it on Friday.

7/31/11 Mets at Nationals: Nationals Park

It was a sunday day game so you know what that means:

Wait… no. This can’t be right. There are never cages set up on a Sunday day game. I must have looked in the wrong album. Wow!

Yes there was indeed batting practice as Garrett Meyer- recently back from a one game excursion to Philadelphia- so astutely noticed outside the gates. I would also like to thank him for providing me with a ticket. I had bought one but the printer in my Washington residence decided a great day to be unavailable.

As you can tell from that last picture, I was in the upper Right Field seats again. My first ball came when I was about to leave the section, but then a ball rolled almost to the wall. Rick Ankiel picked it up and let me share the dialogue that occured:

“Hey Rick!”

“What?”

“Can you toss me the ball, please?”

I couldn’t hear what he said that well next. So I said, “What?”

“Show me your muscle” he said raising his arm. I then raised my arm like his and he tossed me the ball. I appreciate his effort to be fan-friendly but that was kind of weird and over-the-top.

I then made my journey to left field:

This didn’t go as well as I planned it so I moved over to the Red Porch. After, of course, drooling over the baseballs in the bullpen and really wishing I had back-up rubber bands as I had lost the one on my glove a few minutes earlier:

In Center Field, a person was trying to get a ball by just the darling-est of means: “Hey [Brian Bixler], how much longer do you think you’re going to be with the Nats?” Surprisingly, Bixler did not throw him the ball. On the next ball, I simply gave my standard request for a ball with please at the end and I got the ball. After that though, Bixler told me that it was because I was polite. I guess you can be really sensitive to those things when you have just been called up (Bixler got called up when Jerry Hariston Jr. got traded in between my first and second games here at Nationals Park).

My third ball of the game came when I moved back to Left Field and Jose Martinez fielded a ball towards the right of the bullpen right in front of it. There must have been at least 15 other voices but he surprisingly reacted to my spanish leaning out the place where I had lost my retainer the day before. He then threw a perfect strike to me and I vanished back up to the second deck:

There that same bullpen catcher person that doesn’t show up on the coaches roster threw a ball up to a kid. It went over him right to me and I caught it and handed it to the kid as it was obviously intended for him. This was the kid:

As you can tell,(if you’ve ever gone to Nationals Park) I was heading back over to Left Field. This was because batting practice had ended and I was moving over to the bullpen to get a ball from the pitcher warming up in the bullpen whose name escapes me. After realizing that it was going to take a while for him to finish and hearing that the rest of the park was now open, I ran over to foul ground on the first base side because I had seen all the balls in the Right Field stands picked up by the guards and I knew where a ball was in foul ground. Sure enough my ball waited for me:

This was easy for two reasons 1) half of the fans were racing to find balls in the Right Field stands like pictured in the upper part of the last picture and 2) the other half was racing to get a good spot by the dugouts for Signature Sunday.

Back over to the other side of the ballpark, a couple of pitchers were warming up and I got Mike Pelfrey to throw me a ball:

If you look closely, you can see that same pitcher (whoever he is) was still warming up in the bullpen. I then tried to help the kid in the last picture to get a ball from either Ryota Igarashi or Pedro Beato but sadly neither ended up with the ball and I didn’t have a chance to use my linguistic skillz.

I did however get Ryota Igarashi to sign a ball of mine:

The man himself in behind the circle I drew as the crowd had engulfed him in that picture. It is a very interesting autograph, no? I wonder if all Japanese pitchers sign like that? It makes sense now but it just never occurred to me. As I was going through my baseballs to find a good one to get signed, I saw how scuffed up the ball I found was and took a picture. Here it is with where I found it in the background:

As far as the game was concerned, I once again sat in the Left Field seats where this was my view:

It was definitely a tale of two line-ups as the Nationals possessed a line-ups:

I actually apologize as I initially wrote this part in the last entry thinking it happened last game but it actually happened this game:

Nothing else came my way during the game except for a Scott Hariston Home Run which hit right where the dotted arrows show the flight of the ball:

 

When it touched down, it hit off a fan’s (pointed out by the solid arrow) hands, fluttered in the air and got caught by that same fan. You could hear the crowd about to boo him but then cheer him when he caught it the second time.

The Hariston Home Run was one of two he hit in the game, providing the Mets with their only runs of the game and forcing the game into extra innings where the Nationals loaded the bases against Bobby Parnell through a series of Mets errors (not the statistical category this included Parnell hitting a batter and such) and getting a walk of hit through the use of the Baltimore chop.

 

After the game ended, I got one of the bullpen catchers, Eric Langill, to throw me a ball from the bullpen bag. Whoomp here it is:

One of the things that I do like about the Mets is that their bullpen bag is full of rubbed up balls so the pitchers don’t have to make an adjustment when they come into the game. Other teams probably do this too but the Mets are the first team I have noticed doing it.

 

STATS:

  • 7 balls at this game (6 pictured because I gave 1 away)
numbers 175-182 for my career (notice the Mets bullpen balls?):
  • 121 balls in 27 games this season= 4.48 balls per game
  • 53 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 22 straight on the road
  • 18 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 3 games straight with at least 7 balls
  • 6 straight games at Nationals Park with at least 1 ball
  • 37 balls in 6 games at Nationals Park = 6.17 balls per game
  • 25 balls on this specific excursion = 8.333333 balls per game
  • 7 balls* 25,307 fans= 177,149 competition factor
  • Time at Game 11:01- 5:45= 6 hours 44 minutes

7/22/11 Angels at Orioles: Camden Yards

My first game at Camden Yards ballhawking and guess where it began:

You may be thinking: “Wait Mateo, isn’t Union Station in Washington D.C.” You would be right to ask that question because it indeed is. I was staying in D.C. to avoid lodging costs.

Long story short, I departed six hours before game time and got there two and a half before it (with a Subway break in between):

Isn’t that a majesty. For the record, that itself is not the park it is the warehouse that sits behind the right field standing room section. You can also see in that picture that the sun is beating down at this moment. Keep that in mind.

I was the third one into the left field seats and as a result I found three Easter Eggs. The first two spots (approximately) are here in this picture:

The third in this one:

The ballhawks out there can probably see who beat me to the seats but here are the two IDs. Man in orange going up the stairs: Matt Hersl. The man in pink: Zack Hample. Between the three of us, I think we found maybe ten Easter Eggs. It was just so hot that the Ushers didn’t check for baseballs. In the background with  floppy hat on, you can see “Flava” Dave Stevenson in the background searcing for his own Easter Eggs.

Now let’s use that last picture to show how things were like with upwards of five ballhawks in attendance (not including me). I will use that last picture again to show what happened when a righty hit a ball into the left field stands:

The dotted arrow is the path of the ball and the solid arrows are all our different paths to the ball. Obviously you can’t see me in the picture So my arrow simply points out from the bottom of the picture but all others have arrows coming from them and a second arrow if they changed directions. I think that Matt Hersl was the first to the ball but it was on the ground but in the scrum he had with Flava Dave and another two fans (Zack had pretty much given up on the ball) it rolled out to his right. Whoever was to his right basically had to reach down and pick the ball up before they realized it had moved positions. Who was to his right? ME!! That gave me my fourth ball of the day.

The Angels were then coming out to throw so I veerryy sloowwly back up the staircase to change elsewhere (don’t want the Angels seeing me). Slowly because I knew the Orioles were still hitting and didn’t want to give up a chance at any Home Runs that could have landed in the seats. Sure enough, Mark Reynolds blasted a ball:

I was in the cross aisle and heading out but when the ball landed close to the top of the section I: dropped my backpack, bolted down the steps (an aisle lower than the ball had landed because they tend to trickle down), and ran over to the spot where the ball had landed. I don’t remember if it trickled down or not but I did pick it up and proceeded to change into my Angels gear  to the congratulations of an usher. I was in love with Camden Yards already.

The Angels started throwing and I was careful not to go down too early because it has been my experience that if you go before the first throwing pair starts waining you are stuck waiting for people to end at the dismay of all the balls that are getting hit into the outfield. Eventually, I moved down to the foul pole and was going to ask Hisanori Takahashi for his ball but he did not end up with it and moved away. Keep this in mind. Finally Jordan Walden and Bobby… something or other, finished throwing and I asked Jordan for a ball. He threw his ball to another kid but then picked up another ball and threw it to me. I now had 6 on the day and was eyeing my record of 7/double digits because it was very early in Angels bp but then the left field seats got crowded. It was weird. As you can see in the picture above it wasn’t really “crowded” but because of this being the game before ballhawk fest many ballhawks showed up early and thus the gaps between the railings were filing up. Being my usual over-pensive self I moved to the flag court to avoid the ballhawks’ competition. Actually that’s only half true. I also moved out there because it was about 107 degrees (no hyperbole) and I had started to see tinsel like sparkles in the corners of my eyes. Here was my best attempt at a picture of myself during this time:

That picture was once I got back in the concourse. I can only imagine how exhausted I must have looked before that. Combine those factors with the fact that I had banged my thigh into a seat earlier made it time to take a slow walk over to right field. By the way this was my view in the flag court:

Why was I playing back where I couldn’t see the batter? The split second advantage that I would gain by seeing the ball on its way up would be lost in the fact that I would be going backwards instead of forwards. Whatever, it didn’t matter because no balls came up there.

I then went into the center field section and hid myself as best I could from Jordan Walden, who was shagging in right field, because he had already thrown me a ball. I stayed in center for the duration of batting practice and first got Hisanori Takahashi to throw me a ball in left center field because I asked him in Japanese. He was about a microsecond away from tossing the ball in before he heard a familiar language which led him to turning around and tossing the ball up.

My second ball came from a ground rule double hit by Russell Branyan- assist by the rubberized warning track- which bounce up and rattled around in the seats for a bit before I picked it up. There were a couple of those but there was an extreme lack of mobility in the center field section. I ended bp with eight balls but gave the last Branyan ball to a kid in that center field section. I stupidly didn’t get a picture of her or remember what she looked like but she was close by when I got the ball. I might have gotten double digits had the Angels not ended bp at:

6:07? My watch is also 4 minutes ahead so that made it more like 6:02 that they Angels already left the field. Anyway, I stayed out in the flag court for the duration of the game as there were two righty pitchers but no balls came even close due to two offensively challenged line-ups taking the field:

Such is life. I ended the day at eight.

STATS:

  • 8 balls at (7 in this picture because I gave one away)
numbers 140-148 on my career:
  • 48 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 13 straight with at least 2 balls
  • 5 straight with at least 5 balls
  • 17 straight games on the road with at least 1 ball
  • 8 balls* 24,823 fans= 198,584 competition factor
  • Time at game 4:21- 10:01= 5 hours 40 minutes
Don’t yet know how thorough I will be with the ballhawk fest entry. So pardon me if it takes a few days.