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.
- 8 balls at (7 in this picture because I gave one away)
- 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
Normally I provide a picture at the beginning of an entry to describe the team’s last season. The Mets are no exception:
Chris Young, Chris Capuano, Boof Bonser, Chin-lung Hu, and Scott Harriston.
Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Pedro Feliciano, Hisanori Takahashi, Sean Green, Henry Blanco, John Maine, and Fernando Tatis.
Why?: Had I done this entry when I planned, I would have given them a C. With the subtractions of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo they actually did not hurt their chances of winning this year by that much. It also set them up for the future rather well not having to worry about the contracts of those two.
The only thing that it could be interpretted negatively as is, as a declaration of defeat by the Mets (that would be Mets fans that say this). Yes, it is a declaration of defeat, but come on, did Mets fans really expect them to get to the playoffs this year (some do).
Maybe this is just my talk radio trained ear overreacting to Mets fans expecting their team to do well. I wish them well for all the Mets fans in New York (Although, a worse team does mean more empty seats) but I just don’t see it this year… at all.
Predicted Record Range: 65-70 wins maybe they go on more extended versions of the tears last year because of injured players coming back but I also see two players in contract years that could act as trade bait. This number is assuming either Calos Beltran or Jose Reyes gets traded mid-season. If not, see this number go up maybe even by double digits.
Up Next: Washington Nationals
To try and hide this entry (as to not get hate mail from Mets fans) quickly I will try and get the Nationals Recap and Preview up ASAP.