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:
When I woke up for this game, I knew that all of my nightmares had been true. See most people have a nightmare about oversleeping an exam or job interview. Well I have nightmares of oversleeping a baseball game. It wasn’t exactly that bad, but I woke up late enough where I knew that I had time only to get my bag ready, get out the door, and sprint to the nearest major city bus stop, which was almost a mile away. I then realized realized mid-trip that I had taken the wrong bus, and that this one wouldn’t take me to Target Field. I had to get off this bus to run to the light rail, which then somehow got me to the game less than half-an-hour after the gates opened. And when I got in, I was greeted with a most welcome surprise:
Maybe you can’t tell, but there was batting practice going on. Unlike some teams, the Twins–as I have learned from the ushers–never take batting practice on Sundays, so the visiting team usually follows suit and forgoes it as well. However, the Indians had a possibility of a Wild Card game the next day, they had to stay sharp and take batting practice.
Upon entering the stadium, it took me less than five minutes to get a baseball. I have no clue who the who tossed it to me was since he was a coach-type person who isn’t on the roster, but it was good for my first ball of the day:
My next ball came when the Indians pitchers were throwing down the left field line. Again, I don’t know the name of the man who threw me the ball, but I can say that he was an Indians relief pitcher:
After that, I headed back up to the flag court. There I quickly got and gave away a Jason Kubel homer. And that was it for me for batting practice. After which, I headed to the bullpen. There Scott Diamond was just getting to the bullpen. I also met a ballhawk whose nickname is “Panda.” We had met several times at the dugout after games as we were both going for an umpire ball, where he actually instructed me to call him Panda. Anyway, he has always been nice, so we struck up a conversation there. During this I got both Scott Diamond and Rick Anderson to wave at me, so I figured that I had the ball in the bag if either of them ended up with the ball. Surely enough, Rick Anderson ended up with the ball, so I called out when he was high-fiving the other pitchers; and with an assist from Jared Burton, I got the ball:
And then it was time for the game itself. Like the previous game, (click the “previous entry” button at the bottom of this entry if you’re on the page for this entry only, or click on the title of this entry and then do that if you want to read that entry) the Twins were again doing the “autographed baseball every inning” thing, so I did that every at the bottom of every inning and positioned myself at the Twins dugout at the top of every inning to try to get a third-out ball. At the top of the first inning, the Twins sent this tweet out:
I had been at the team store by Gate 29 at that time, so I sprinted to the flag pole. I got there only about ten seconds after the tweet had been sent out, but there was already a sea of people with phones. (Well like five, but it might as well have been given how quickly I got there.) All of them were looking up and down at the flag pole area and then their phones in confusion. I didn’t see anyone with a ball fleeing the scene, so I assumed that the prize had not been given out yet. Using my previous experience with the contest, I figured the representative hadn’t yet arrived with the ball. So I looked around for a person with credentials hanging from his/her neck. And then I saw a woman that matched this description perfectly walking from my right. Before anyone could even realize what I was doing, I had claimed the ball. I know that there were definitely people who hadn’t seen me get the ball at all because two asked me after the fact if the ball had already been claimed by someone.
My next ball came at the Twins dugout. After several innings of trying, I finally got a Twin to toss me a third-out ball. Clete Thomas, who was the left fielder, made a catch for the third out. When he jogged back to the dugout, I thought there was no chance that I’d get the ball, since I was behind a crowd of five kids, so I backed up a little and took advantage of the fact that I was the only one actually with Twins gear on. Not expecting him to actually toss me the ball, I waved my arms. And he lobbed the ball perfectly enough that it just barely cleared the kids’ gloves and landed in my glove for the basket catch. But I then pulled out a ball from my backpack and gave it to one of the kids.
Then when I finally stopped going after the autographed baseballs, I went to the Indians dugout and got Yan Gomes to toss me a third-out strike out ball. It was the first time I’ve ever been able to adjust to the strike out ball. Usually I’m committed hard to the third-out ball on the outfield end of the dugout, so I miss the strike out third-out ball. This time, though, I was able to identify the fact that it was a strike out, go to the back of the section, and run down the proper staircase in time for Gomes to see my Indians attire:
Suffice to say I was proud of myself. However, I wasn’t able to get any of the other players from the two teams to toss me a third-out ball, so my next baseball wouldn’t come until the game had ended.
Unfortunately, the Twins were unable to win and force the first ever-three way Wild Card situation, so the Indians were on the field celebrating after the game:
The good thing about this, though, was that after C.C.Lee tossed me a ball at the dugout, Vinnie Pestano–who was walking right behind Lee and of course saw me get the first ball–tossed me a second ball without me even asking:
Little did I know at the time, but the first of these was my 200th ball ever at Target Field. This made it the first stadium I’ve snagged 200 balls at, and it put me at nine for the day. Had I been able to get to the outfield end of the dugout in time, I might have ended the day with 14 baseballs by how many the two bullpen catcher were throwing into the stands. But because of the amount of people who stayed because of the celebration, the area was packed and couldn’t get to that side in time. Instead I decided to try to get on the Twins side in case they were to throw up any miscellaneous items they no longer needed for the offseason. I didn’t make it in time for that, but I did get Panda to take my picture with the remaining six baseballs:
Now you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned giving away three baseballs in the entry thus far. That’s because I don’t remember which baseballs I gave away before this point. This is because after this point I resolved to give away baseballs who had been nice to me all year. But before that, I made sure to run into Tony Voda for one last time. I don’t think I mentioned him before this point in the entry, but he was indeed there, and had an amazing game in his own regard. (To find out how, click his name, which will take you to his entry for this game.)
Now you may notice (1. That Tony is dressed up like Waldo. I’d like to explain it, but I think it’s best if you just imagine why he did it. I mean, it is pretty self-explanatory. But also…) that I have something made out to myself. Tony had been in the behind-home-plate club earlier in the game. So when I passed by on the Twins dugout side to talk to him, he handed that to me. You see, he did something in April of this year that was pretty awesome. He asked his readers (which I include myself in) if they wanted a hand-written copy of the entry he was going to write, and this (these words are a link to the contents of the envelope you see in the last picture) was the result. After that, I went to the ushers in that I most liked and gave away all but two of my baseballs. The two I kept were the one signed by Bert Blyleven and my 756 career baseball, because I thought it’d be fun to keep the ball that tied me with Barry Bonds if each of my baseballs were a major league home run. After which, I went on my way, but not before I took a final picture at Gate 34 with the Bert Blyleven ball:
And then got on the bus where I read the Events Operations Guide that one of the ushers gave me as a parting gift:
And with that I rode off into the sunset (literally) back to my apartment.
- 9 Balls at this Game (2 pictured because I gave 7 away)
- 317 Balls in 64 Games= 4.95 Balls Per Game
- 9 Balls x 30,935 Fans= 278,415 Competition Factor
- 126 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 31 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 5 straight Games with at least 3-5 Balls
- 3 straight Games with at least 6 Balls
- 201 Balls in 38 Games at Target Field= 5.29 Balls Per Game
- 36 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 16 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Target Field
- 5 straight Games with at least 3-5 Balls at Target Field
- 3 straight Games with at least 6 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 11:15-5:30= 6 Hours 15 Minutes
And to wrap up this entry, which was for my last game of the season, I would like to write to end with this preliminary forecast of what is to come. Obviously I can’t tell the future, and I do love ballhawking. However, this shall be my last season of full-time ballhawking for the foreseeable future. I have been trying to do it as long as I can, but with this being my sophomore year of college, I think it’s time for me to start doing something work-related during my summers instead of spending it going to baseball games and then writing about them. Not to say there’s anything wrong with it; Go ahead and do that for as long as you can. But with the “work” world readily approaching, it seems like I need to get an internship or something related. This coming Tuesday I have a face-to-face interview at Target Field regarding a Baseball Operations position. I feel as though I am a really good candidate for the position, but there are also–I’m sure–many other VERY qualified candidates. So if I get this internship, I will be working that the whole summer and will then almost definitely not going to any Twins games as a ballhawk, but I may be able to attend other teams’ home games. If I don’t get that internship, my next option would be to try to get an internship with the St. Paul Saints, but I’ve heard those are very time-demanding, so I don’t know which games I could even try to make.
As for the offseason, I plan to make it pretty much the same as last year. So I will post my review of my season ballhawking next, and then I’ll make a video of the entry ideas I have for the winter and you’ll vote throughout the offseason as to which entries you want to read. (I’ll explain the details more clearly in the video.) I’ll probably be blogging 1-2 times per week until I run out of offseason to do so. Past that I have no clue what I’ll be writing about, but rest assured that I will be writing about something. So until then, thank you for reading this season, and we’ll see where this blog is when the 2014 season rolls around:
In my second-to-last game of the season, look who decided to join me at an unfamiliar gate:
It was Paul Kom. Actually, though, there are a couple odd things with this picture. Yes, we were both at a gate very foreign to the both of us, but 1. You may notice I’m pointing to my glove. I decided to go with a catcher’s mitt this game instead of my lefty glove. 2. We thought of this idea completely independently of each other. You see there was also another person joining us for this game, my friend Jonathan Mueller. You may remember him best as the person who joined me on the night I snagged my only home run off the bat of Trevor Plouffe. Well Jonathan and I both walked from the University of Minnesota campus. In doing so, we almost *had* to pass by Gate 34. In doing so, I saw Paul and the man most commonly known as “Waldo”, formerly know as Greg Dryden:
It was at that point that I informed Jonathan we were going to go to Gate 6 in right field. I made the decision that I didn’t want to compete with both of them in right field as the gates opened, so I was going to go to left field. I decided to go to Gate 6 since I had seen the people from there get into the left field seats faster than myself the last few times when I came from Gate 3 in center field. Less than a minute after getting there, I got a text message from Paul asking me if I had gotten to the stadium yet. This inquiry quickly led to him telling me that he planned to come to Gate 6. Keep in mind that he had no clue I was there.
Once we got in, I quickly ran into the left field seats whereas Paul went first to the seats down the left field line. The result? A quick 1-0 Mateo lead. As I was running down the steps of the left field seats, a Twins righty hit a ball in the first section from the foul pole. I COMPLETELY lost the ball in the sun, so I ducked for cover instead of running towards the spot I thought the ball was going to land, but when it did land, I ran over and grabbed it for my first ball of the day:
Or maybe I was just telling him what Shairon Martis’ name is. I’m not really sure which.
Then when the Indians started throwing down the left field line, I headed over there. There, I got Michael Brantley to toss me a ball. Extra-super special e-shoutout on Twitter to whoever can find the ball in this next picture:
Here’s a hint:
I then headed out to the flag court where I did a bunch of running after baseballs like this one:
Only one of which I actually ended up getting. Here’s a four-picture collage I put together to show you what happened:
Top left: Me seeing the ball bounce off the concrete past the guy who was in front of me.
Top right: Looking up at now again-airborne ball as it floated through the air.
Bottom left: Me watching the ball that is now on its descent and in the frame of the picture hoping that my catcher’s glove would be able to make the catch.
Bottom right: Nor with all of the eyes out on the flag court on me, making the catch–much to the chagrin of the guy pursuing the ball from behind.
My next two baseballs came from the same person. When I went to the right-center field seats, there was a kid there who asked Chris Perez for a ball. When Perez threw it into the flower bush, I ran down, and made it very clear that I gave the ball to the kid after pulling it out of the flowers. As a “reward” for doing this, Perez then tossed me the next ball he fielded:
Coincidentally, Jonathan took a picture at this same exact moment:
And that would be my last ball of batting practice.
After BP, all three of us–myself, Jonathan, and Paul–went to the bullpen. Both Paul and I got one of these there:
If you can’t tell the autograph, I got mine from Anthony Swarzak. I don’t remember who tossed Paul his two. Let me explain what these balls are and why I didn’t count this as a “snag.” Every fan appreciation weekend of the year, the Twins each sign one of these tee balls and toss them into a random part of the crowd. I didn’t count mine because while it did come Anthony Swarzak, a major league pitcher, it was still a tee ball and felt cheap.
We then decided to all stay in the left field seats and play home runs for the game. In the second inning, though, I looked at my Twitter timeline and noticed that the Twins sent out this tweet:
Granted, we had already missed the first two innings of the contest at that point, but I still asked both Paul and Jonathan if they wanted to do it. They did, and actually got three of the baseballs to my none. Paul got the first two baseballs after we started:
And Jonathan was in the right spot and was able to get the final autograph ball:
We then went to the flag court and took advantage of another perk of Fan Appreciation Weekend. When we saw a Target Field employee with a box, we realized that it was them about to hand out some sort of prize to the section on behalf of some Twins player. Because of what we thought was going to happen, I went and sat down in the section right before the inning break. And as a result, I got a bag of Cracker Jack:
But I wasn’t the only one. Jonathan was smart enough to act on my observation as well and got a bag for himself:
And that was it for the excitement during the game. After the game, all three of us headed down to the dugout. Paul and I tried for an umpire ball. Here’s a shot Jonathan got of both myself and Paul asking home plate umpire Tony Randazzo for a ball. (I’m on the far left and Paul’s on the far right.)
Good for us, both were able to get a ball from him:
But don’t feel bad for Jonathan. In looking through the seats for ticket stubs to send to my friend Avi Miller, I found this for him:
And with that upside-down bag of chips, all of us left to go to Paul’s car, and we all went home; Paul staying at my apartment for the night before heading of to the game the next afternoon.
- 6 Balls on the Game (5 pictured because I gave 1 away)
- 308 Balls in 63 Games= 4.89 Balls Per Game
- 6 Balls x 24,074 Fans= 144,444 Competition Factor
- 125 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 30 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 4 straight Games with at least 3-5 Balls
- 2 straight Games with at least 6 Balls
- 192 Balls in 37 Games at Target Field= 5.19 Balls Per Game
- 35 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 15 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Target Field
- 4 straight Games with at least 3-5 Balls at Target Field
- 2 straight Games with at least 6 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:45-1:14= 9 Hours 29 Minutes
Now my third game at Target Field since starting school, I was starting to develop a routine by walking directly from my last class of the day to Target Field and falling asleep in the giant glove outside the gates:
The glove itself, for those who don’t know, is to commemorate all of the Twins Gold Glove winners in history. (That’s the plaque right over my right shoulder in the picture.) The position of the glove is to commemorate the furthest home run in Twins history; which I believe was measured at 520ft.
It isn’t exactly ideal to show up two hours before the gates open, but one of the perks is being the absolute first fan to check into the game using MLB.com’s At The Ballpark app. What I didn’t know was the perk of that was this:
Here’s the t-shirt’s front design:
And here’s the back design:
I didn’t wear it that day, but you may see it in a couple entries (hint, hint).
Once 4:30 rolled around, I went up to the gates-as is my usual routine- and readied myself for any baseball that might reach me at the gate. It’s very unlikely, but I like that there’s at least a possibility of getting a ball. It makes the time go so much faster. Citi Field gate time goes slowly for reasons I have already mentioned, and Yankee Stadium minutes, if there’s no one I know is at the gates, takes FORever. Long story short: I didn’t get any balls that bounced to the gate, but what *did* happen was, out of the blue, a guy pulled up to me in a trolley-type thing and handed me a baseball through the gates:
Just like that, I was on the board. At that moment, I decide I wasn’t going to ask for a ball for the rest of the game. I was just going to go for home runs and help other kids get baseballs.
Want to see the crowds outside the gate five minutes before it opened?
When the gates opened, I headed straight for right field, because I figured the Indians group who had supplied with so many baseballs the first day would be hitting just as I got in. Instead of getting a hit ball, right when I got to the seats, Corey Kluber saw my Indians gear, flashed a ball he had, and threw it up to me. I realize that all of these may seem VERY unlikely given the fact I said I wasn’t asking for any baseballs, but I swear, I didn’t ask for *any* of these. Kluber just looked up at me, and tossed me the ball:
Given the fact I got two balls, though, I was considering asking for balls if I got in a rhythm catching hit balls. Unfortunately,those two would be the only ones I would get for the extent of batting practice. Unlike Saturday, there wasn’t THAT big of a crowd, but nothing was coming close to me.
This was my view for most of Indians batting practice:
When there’s enough room, so far my strategy has been to be in a spot where I can both run back to the standing room or run down to catch a ball that is hit in the seats in right field.
I then headed over to left field, but as you guessed it, not much came my way. The balls that did come my way, but I lost them in the sun even though I was wearing sunglasses:
I think Target Field left field is one of the underrated sun havens.
While I was there, though, I saw a crime against what might as well be ballhawks everywhere. It was only directed at one person (not myself), but it was pretty bad. Here ‘s something to help you out:
As you can see, I labeled some people. Well, it all started when Francisco Morales threw the ball snagger a ball. Esmil Rogers looked at him and tapped his foot as if he were waiting for the ball snagger to give the ball away to the kid next to. I suspect it was because he had seen the guy get a ball before. And the ball snagger *did* give the ball away, and Rogers clapped for him. That’s all fine and good, but when a line drive got hit RIGHT at the ball snagger, Rogers stepped right in front of it and caught the ball on the fly. When a ball rolled right to where this guy was standing in the corner spot, Rogers stepped in front of the ball and snagged the ground ball so the guy couldn’t scoop it up as it rolled to him.
I mean, yeah, he snagged ONE ball. Big deal. He did what you wanted him to do and you repay him by blocking two balls that he would have gotten. WHo was he hurting by snagging TWO baseballs? It isn’t like some kid would have gotten that ground ball had he not been there. And on that note, how are you helping ANYone by then taking the ball and throwing it right back into the infield bucket? What you saved the Indians $20? Good job, Mr. Rogers. Gee double-oh dee jay oh bee; good job, good job. It’d be one thing if you tossed the ball to a recipient you deemed more deserving, but this is just being an absolute jerk over nothing.
Sorry for the mini-rant; I try not to do that too much. But I thought I needed to get that off my chest because it just makes no sense to me when people who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars, or millions of dollars a year obsess over a fan getting a couple baseballs. Fine, he already got a ball. That means you won’t toss him a ball if he asks, not you have to attempt to the best of your ability to make sure he doesn’t get another ball for the rest of the game.
That’s all I have to say about batting practice. For the game, I sat over here:
Actually, my ticketed seat was “better” (being closer to directly behind home plate), but I figured I’d have a better chance of catching a foul ball here, since it didn’t have the hindrance of the protective netting. I also kept my Indians gear on and waved my arms whenever I would have usually been yelling, because, you know, I had that whole “I’m not going to ask for balls for the rest of the game” thing going on.
At the end of the game, though, I raced down to the dugout to see if I could finally get my first line card (I didn’t say anything about asking for lineup cards). I got rejected. However, I was right by where the umpires exit the field- known as the umpire tunnel. Usually, I always look up who the umpire is, but I didn’t even bother to this time, since I wasn’t going to ask him for a ball. Then, a weird thing happened. The only other game I had gone to the umpire tunnel, a swarm of kids ran to it just as the game ended. Since this was my only experience of it thus far, I figured that was the norm. This time NO one was at the umpire tunnel. The umpire was literally searching the crowd for people to throw balls to. Since I was the only one with a glove, he flipped me a ball:
I later searched and found out the home plate umpire’s name was D. J. Reyburn.
I then went to the other side of the dugout. There were two little sister who in conjunction with their parents, had been trying all game to get a ball from the dugout, but had failed to this point. I went over, and as Dave Miller, Francisco Morales, and Armando Camacaro neared the dugout. I just pointed almost cartoonishly at the two girls; acting as a billboard for “give these two kids a ball”. They both did, and as I guess a reward, Armando Camacaro also tossed me a ball:
If you’re wondering (you’re probably not) Camacaro’s name translates to bedcar.
Geez. Why can’t convincing players to toss me baseballs be this easy when I *want* them to toss me baseballs? I mean seriously, I got four toss-ups without even asking for them; yet when I want a toss-up, it seems like I’ll never crack a player. Anyway, weird times at Target Field.
- 4 Balls at this game
Numbers 408- 411 for my “career”:
- 189 Balls in 45 Games= 4.20 Balls Per Game
- 4 Balls x 27, 526 Fans= 110, 104 Competition Factor
- 54 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 4 straight Games with at lest 2-3 Balls
- 3 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
- 21 Balls in 6 Games at Target Field= 3.50 Balls Per Game
- 5 straight Games at Target Field with at least 1-2 Ball(s)
- 4 straight Games at Target Field with at least 3 Balls
- 3 straight Games at Target Field with at least 4 Balls
- Time Spent On Game 2:17- 10:41= 8 Hours 24 Minutes
However, as you can tell from the picture, the crowds were a little beefed up. Not only was it the first “weekend” game I had ever attended at Target Field, it was also “Tom Kelly Day”. More on that in a bit.
When I got in, I decided to do the same things as the previous day’s game (if you want to read it, go down to the bottom of this entry and click “Previous Post”): go to left field as soon as the gates open for Josh Willingham’s group. Unfortunately, I didn’t account for what the excess crowd would do to the playability of the section:
Keep in mind this was just minutes after the gates opened.
Instead of trying to compete with them for the first couple of rounds of Indians hitters, I moved into foul ground and tried to get a ball from the Indians position players who were throwing. When one of the players finished, I waved my glove and asked for the ball from him in Spanish. He then tossed it to me:
I made sure to remember the face, and when I looked it up, I saw it was Michael Brantley who tossed me the ball. You know, the totally non-hispanic guy who was born in Bellevue, Washington who I had just asked for a ball in Spanish. Whoops. I guess I’m lucky he didn’t hear my request and just saw me waving my glove.
I then moved out to right field for the group that had supplied me with so many hit balls the previous day. I didn’t get any hit balls, but I managed to get a ball from Shin-Soo Choo, who was manning right field. Sadly, no I didn’t have the chance to ask him for a ball in Korean. What happened was he threw a ball into a guy in the second deck and it bounced off of the electronic scoreboard facing of it, so I snagged it off the bounce:
I was about to throw the ball up to the guy, but he told me that Choo had already tossed him a second ball while I wasn’t looking.
After that, I didn’t really feel like competing with the crowds in extremely cramped right field section, so instead, I competed with the crowds in a slightly-less-cramped-but-extremely-steep-with-an-overhang-blocking-most -of-the-seats left field section. There I got Ubaldo Jimenez to toss me a ball by the bullpens in the part of the left field seats closest to center field:
The dotted arrow is to show where Jimenez jogged to retrieve the ball, and the solid arrow is his throw to me. The kid in the Blackburn shirt had already gotten a ball-as you can see-so I gave the ball to a kid half a section to my right in the first row who still hadn’t gotten a ball.
Later on, a ball got hit to the wall in straight-away left field, and Tony Sipp went to retrieve it. As he approached the wall, I yelled out, “Tony.” When he picked up the ball, he flipped me the ball over a row of fans:
For those of you who weren’t counting, that was my thirty second ball of the day. For those of you who were counting, you’ll know it was my fourth ball of the day. I had a shot at a fifth ball, but…well, let me just explain what happened. Anyway, I felt bad because in that row of fans he had flipped the ball over to me, was a kid who had a glove, but just wasn’t speaking up- much like I used to be (some would argue like I still am). So, I handed him the ball right after confirming he hadn’t gotten one this game.
A ball got hit that I could tell was to my left and falling short of me in the sixth row of the section. So, I ran into the third row and even though I could tell the ball was going to land in the second row, I hoped someone would botch a catch, because there was no way I was going to catch the ball without smacking someone with my glove. Anyway, here is what happened:
I was right behind the guy in white, and at the very last second, he must have lost the ball in the sun because he ducked and put his hands over his head. That’s when the ball hit directly off his upper spine and just to my left. I could have gone after the ball, but I realized right away where the ball had hit, so I made sure he was okay. Just as a general rule, I try NOT to be that guy who cares more about a baseball than anyone else’s well being.
Anyway, soon after that, batting practice ended. Spoiler Alert: Since I was playing for home runs all game, I wouldn’t get another ball for the rest of the game. However, it *was* Tom Kelly Day. This meant his number was getting retired in a big ceremony with members from his teams and the current team involved and different speakers talking about his tenure as manager. I took a bunch of pictures, but I’ll share a couple that I took:
Here is Tom Kelly’s retired number under the black shroud.
The on-field set-up. Kelly’s friends and family were down the first base line and former players were down the third base line.
Tom Kelly walking towards the podium. He was preceded by all of the other players whose numbers have been retired by the Twins. The only deceased of the group being Jackie Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, and Kirby Puckett, who got a video tribute in lieu of walking to their seats. by the pitcher’s mound.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that there was also a give-away that came along with Tom Kelly Day. They also gave away an oar. Yes, an oar:
Why? Just click the bottom picture to read the text on the oar. I realize it looks tiny compared to the top picture. They’re both the same size, but I rotated it, so you wouldn’t have to turn your computers to read it. I’d imagine this would be quite hard for those of you reading this on a desktop.
As for the game, this was my view for the entirety of it:
Yes, I realize this picture was taken after the game, but I completely forgot to take a picture during the game itself. As previously mentioned, there was nothing even close to me. In fact, the lone home run was hit by an Indians righty September call-up.
- 4 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 2 away)
- 185 Balls in 44 Games= 4.20 Balls Per Game
- 4 Balls x 33,698 Fans= 134, 792 Competition Factor
- 53 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 3 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
- 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
- 17 Balls in 5 Games at Target Field= 3.4 Balls Per Game
- 4 straight Games at Target Field with 1-2 Ball(s)
- 3 straight Games at Target Field with at least 3 Balls
- 2 straight Games at Target Field with at least 4 Balls
- Time Spent On Game 2:38- 10:40= 8 Hours 2 Minutes
(For the record, the glove gets HOT when exposed to direct sunlight, so you need something underneath you so you won’t burn. I used my Indians shirt.)
Anyway, since it was a Friday and the gates were opening two hours early (as opposed to 1 1/2 hours Monday through Thursday), Josh Willingham’s group was still hitting, and so I went to left field right away:
Right as I got there, Josh Wilingham launched a ball in my direction. I got in line with it, but I could tell the ball was sailing over my head, so I started going up the bleachers. Just as I was five feet from the landing spot, the ball landed and deflected back towards the field. Gaaah! Here is a diagram if you’re having trouble visualizing it:
That wasn’t the end of my left field woes, though. Willingham hit another ball three sections to my right. I could tell the ball was headed right over the heads of the people in the section, so all the ball had to do was stay in the spot it landed and I would easily scoop it up. Instead, the ball deflected back my way, but it tailed back towards the field. Since I was running full speed through a row of bleachers, I couldn’t stop and change directions, so it landed right by where I had just run by and some other person picked it up. Again a diagram for the people who aren’t able to visualize this:
(The dotted arrow is my running path while the solid arrow is the ball’s deflection. That guy standing on the bleacher wasn’t there when the ball landed there.)
After that, Willingham hit yet another ball over the fence. This time, I had a beat on it. I ran about fifteen feet to my right and made the catch:
That felt really good as it was my first ever ball at Target Field I had caught on the fly.
After that, I headed over to the Indians dugout as they warmed up, but I got shutout by the infielders. I was going to stay and try to get a ball from a pitcher, but I saw there was a mostly-lefty group nearing their second round of swings in the batting cage. So…. I headed out to right field and readied myself.
My first ball out there was hit by Carlos Santana and would start a theme for me: balls that went over my head but I managed to beat people out for. As the name of the theme suggests, the ball went over my head and to my left, but when it bounced, I played the deflection and scooped up the ball before anyone else could:
I don’t know who hit my next ball-it might have been Santana again, but I don’t know-but the same exact thing happened; except this time it went over my head and to my right:
The last ball from this group of hitters came when Asdrubal Cabrera hit right in the middle of the section and over my head:
That would be ball number 4 for those of you keeping score at home. I didn’t really realize it at the time, but my next ball would be career number 400. I actually had been making a big deal about #400 back in New York, but I guess the magic of it wore away as it kept taking me longer and longer to get there. Anyway, as much as I would have liked #400 to be hit, I’m perfectly fine with what ended up happening. When a ball got hit to the warning track to my right, I looked over to see who was retrieving it. I couldn’t recognize practically anyone else on the Indians, so I was relieved when Chris Perez got the ball. Not only is Perez very distinguishable with his long hair, but he is one of- if not THE- nicest players in all of baseballs when it comes to toss-ups. When I yelled out a request at him, he turned around and kindly obliged:
It took me a few minutes to realize it was number 400, which fortunately didn’t cost me. Had there been a kid with a glove, I might have given him that ball. This mistake actually happened to me with ball number 200. STILL, there was no kid to give the ball away to. I mean, yeah, there were kids, but none with gloves. I have truly never seen anything like it. I don’t know if this is true, but it may have been my longest streak ever without giving away a ball. (I had caught five at this point.)
Then the next group of Indian hitters came up to the plate. A couple rounds in, Casey Kotchman hit a ball to my right, so I ran over and made the catch:
After that, I FINALLY found a kid with a glove two sections away and gave him the ball:
My next ball came when an Indians pitcher threw a ball to a kid in front of me, but sailed him by two feet. I was right behind him, so I picked the ball up and naturally gave it to the kid.
I then headed over t right field for the final group of BP. There, I convinced Joe Smith to toss me a ball for my eighth and final ball of the day:
As impressive as this is, I feel I really could have done much better. In addition to the balls I detailed that I missed in left field at the beginning of batting practice, there were countless other in right field. Why do I tell you this? I don’t want any sympathy or anything (mostly because it was *me* messing up my opportunities); it is because I might have passed the Target Field record of twelve had I been on my game. Oh well, I’ll have plenty of other shots at it.
As for the game, it was freezing. I guess I should have expected that when I came to Minnesota for college. What made matters worse was I was out in the standing room section in right field where the winds came through. It was so cold, in fact, that I actually bought food at the ballpark. I usually never do since it adds on a considerable expense if I do it with any sort of regularity. Anyway, to warm me up, I got a bucket of mini-donuts:
They look pretty vile from that picture, but they were absolutely amazing. And since they were baked right on the spot, they served to warm me up for a couple innings. This, however, could not make up for the Twins’ loss as they had gone up 4-0 only to lose 7-6. Since I was playing home runs the whole game, that was it for snagging.
- 8 balls at this game (6 Pictured because I gave 2 away)
- 8 Balls x 30,111 Fans= 240,888 Competition Factor
- 52 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 13 Balls in 4 Games at Target Field= 3.25 Balls Per Game
- 3 straight Games with at least 1-2 Ball(s) at Target Field
- 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 2:15- 11:38= 9 Hours 23 Minutes
Before I get started with this entry, I’ve been posting entries pretty quickly in the last 48 hours, so you may not have been able to read the entires that preceded this one. Here are the links to the two entries, so you can give them the love they deserve:
1. The Bergino Baseball Clubhouse– A couple of weeks ago, I went to this baseball store, so I wrote an entry about my trip there using the pictures I took. Please, if you are a baseball fan, read the entry; even more so if you live in New York.
2. 6/25/12 Indians at Yankees: Yankee Stadium– When I publish this entry you are reading, this entry will be less than 24 hours after the entry I am talking about, I want to make sure all you readers who check every so often know that I did indeed write an entry before this that you can read if you to.
Onto the account of the game…
I arrived a little late Yankee Stadium for my taste, and expected a bit of a line in front of me, but c’mon, this is ridiculous:
Thankfully, there were some other ballhawks at the front of the line, so I not so discreetly slipped into line with them. We all talked for the ten to fifteen minutes I was in line, and I actually found out, when I said I was going to the University of Minnesota, that one of them was originally from Minnesota; more specifically, a suburb of the Twin Cities by the name of Apple Valley. It was great that I had people I could stand in line with. However, when it came to the gates opening, two of the other ballhawks had announced they were going to right field. Therefore, I decided to try my chances in left field. In all likelihood, this cost me a ball. I remember one of the ballhawks named George coming over to left field after a few minutes and saying, “Yeah, there were only a few balls hit over there.” To this I responded, “There haven’t been ANY over here yet.” Whatever, all I needed was two baseballs and I was set for the game. I was currently sitting on baseball #298, and I really wanted to get #300 on what would have been my deceased dad’s 70th birthday.
This was my view of the field from my spot in left field:
It was pretty evident early on the pitchers in this part of the ballpark weren’t going to be throwing up many balls. Myself and George were yelling out their names, but they kept throwing balls into the infield ballboy (who was the one I went to high school with).
Just soon after that, a ball got hit to my right, and…well I’ll just diagram what happened in this picture:
The dotted lines are the path the ball took in the air and then when it hit the ground, the solid line emanating from the bottom of the screen is my path to the ball, and the other solid guy coming from the guy in the Yankee jacket (which I also own) is his path as he was really the only one competing with me for the ball. As I ran after the ball, it bounced off the concrete and thankfully didn’t bounce away, so I picked it up before that guy got to the ball.
Then Andruw Jones stepped up to the plate. H hit a ball so far to my left, I was considering not even chasing it because I thought it would go into the visitors’ bullpen. For some reason, though, I went half way through my row in semi-pursuit. I’m guessing my thought was it might bounce off the bleachers and come back to me. The ball narrowly missed both of those and went into the tunnel right next to the bullpen and cutting into the bleachers. I ran in after the ball and retrieved number 300. SUCCESS:
I didn’t really celebrate; instead I asked the kid who called me a “son of a…” were his glove was, making sure to say I might have given him a ball if he had a glove on. Of course I wouldn’t have given him #300, but I might have pulled out the previous ball. I’m not really strict about giving balls to kids with gloves, but the older the person, the more they need a glove, in my mind, before I give them a ball.
After this, I lined up in foul territory behind the Indians pitchers and position players:
Remember how the previous day I was having trouble getting players to toss me a ball because I only had an Indians hat? I came up with a little solution to that:
I printed out the Indians logo and simply taped it to my shirt, so it would kind of look like I had Indians stuff on. Right then, I got to see it work for the first time:
The player I have pointed out with my arrow threw me a ball right as he left the field. Anyone have an idea who he is. He’s probably a position player, if that helps at all.
After that, I went over to try to get a ball from one of the pitchers. While I was walking over there, Zack Hample was already calling out to the pitching coach, Scott Ridinsky, telling him, “Scott, show me the gun!” Ridinsky then threw a ball clear over his head, and I was in just the right row that I was able to jog to the right spot and make the catch. Sorry, Zack. Zack then looked back at Ridinsky with a look as if to say, “What happened?” Ridinsky then pointed as his arm as if to say, “I guess it’s too strong.”
I then messed around trying to get Chris Perez to toss me a ball with the University of Miami shirt I had on, but when I gave up trying this, I moved over to the right field seats (because the left field side was checking tickets), where I caught a home run off the bat of Travis Hafner. I then went to the left field bleachers where I got Chris Perez to toss me a ball. Both balls are pictured in the next picture:
The smaller arrows show what happened on the first ball, and the larger arrows show what happened on the second:
1. Travis Hafner hit a ball to my right, so I moved over and even though I thought the ball was clearly going over my head, I took a little jump and amazingly the ball was in my glove when I came back down. I then looked back to see I had robbed Zack of a ball a second time. Don’t worry for him, though. He still managed to set the Yankee Stadium record this game. The thing that stunk about this ball for me was there was an Indians player on the field who had told me he would throw me the next ball he got, but just as he fielded this ball, I caught the Hafner home run, so he didn’t throw me the ball. Had that ball been hit two seconds later, I would have had two balls from the right field seats.
2. Soon after the Hafner ball, security cleared out everyone in the right field seats who didn’t have a ticket, so I went up to my ticketed section in the left field bleachers. After I got there, a ball got hit to Chris Perez, who is one of the friendliest players in the league, so I called out to him, he turned around, and threw me the ball. Pretty simple, right? I then gave that ball away to the kid in the “Ruth” t-shirt in the next picture:
I spent most of the rest of my time in the bleachers trying to get an overthrow from another Perez toss-up, since he was tossing so many balls up.
That would be it for batting practice. After batting practice, I would first try to get a ball from the groundskeeper in the visitors’ bullpen:
After that failed I went up to the top of the batter’s eye, where this was my view:
Why? Do you see the guy wit the arrow pointing at him? That would be Yankees bullpen coach, Mike Harkey. After the day’s starter has finished warming up, he usually tosses around five balls into the stands. I obviously had a ticket in the left field bleachers, so this was as close as I could get. When he looked my way, I waved my arms like crazy, so he tossed the ball my way. Here is the ball:
Why do I have that usher in the picture? I told him beforehand I was trying to get a ball from Harkey, so when Harkey threw the ball up to me, it was drifting to my right and this guy caught it and then handed it to me. So yeah, technically I didn’t get the ball from Harkey, but I would have caught the ball had this guy not been there. Just then I realized I had set my record for most ball in a game when Yankee Stadium had cleared both sides of the outfield seats before batting practice had ended. Not a bad way to celebrate June 26th at all.
As for the game, this was my view:
You see the player in the lower right picture? That would be Dewayne Wise. He made a very controversial catch in this game, so I feel almost obligated to mention I was at this game. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the link. Other than that, Phil Hughes pitched an incredible game, going, I believe, eight scoreless innings before the Yankees bullpen nearly gave the game back. The final score was 6-4. Oh and want to see what my “Indians” shirt looked like after the game?
I just wanted to share one more picture from the game:
The special thing about this picture is Justin Masterson was at 100 inning pitched on the season. This may seem uneventful, but how many people actually reach 100 innings in a season before the All-Star break? I mean you can count out all relievers. To make it even more unusual, he had two outs in the inning, so I really only had a few seconds to realize it. Also, I think it’s pretty special that we both passed milestones this game. Masterson with his 100th inning and myself with my 300th ball. I don’t know, maybe i’m trying to manufacture something, but I love it when numbers match up like that.
Speaking of which…
- 7 Balls at this Game (6 pictured because I gave 1 away)
numbers 299-305 for my life:
- 83 Balls in 17 Games= 4.88 Balls Per Game
- 26 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 7 Balls x 43,006 Fans= 301,042 Competition Factor
- 61 Balls in 17 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.59 Balls Per Game
- 17 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at the New Yankee Stadium
- 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at the New Yankee Stadium
- Time Spent On Game 4:13- 10:17= 6 Hours 4 Minutes