Yet another game, and it was again time to head to the second game of the Athletics series against the Twins at Target Field:
But sadly this would be the definition of my day:
More or less a conglomeration of semi-facetious sadness. The emotion was being caused here by the fact that my ballhawk friends Tony Voda and Paul Kom were inside early for season ticket holder early BP and I was stuck on the outside for the extent of it. That didn’t change my no-custom, though, of going to Gate 3 to actually get in the stadium:
Once I got in, it took me very little time to get Jarrod Parker to toss me a baseball. I then quickly turned and tossed it to one of the kids in the following picture for a reason I don’t remember:
(As I write this, the game happened over three weeks ago, so excuse me for not remembering which of the three kids in the picture I gave it away to.) I then had a lull in terms of snagging, but it was ended when I made my way to the right field bleachers. There I got Chris Young to toss me a ball by being the only one to call him by name:
I’ll spoil a part of this entry right now: I only got toss-ups this game. That said, I went on a mini-toss-up rampage. First I got A.J. Griffin to toss me a ball over a kid who was in front of me. Because I felt kind of bad for how cruel it must have seemed to see a ball be thrown at him but go over his head, I gave it to him:
Additionally, I told him Jerry Blevins’–since Blevins had seen me get the ball from Griffin but not me give it away–name and told him to ask him for a ball. My hope was that Blevins would overthrow him and I would get the ball. And that’s what happened…sort of. Blevins did miss the kid, but it was to his side. If you are not familiar with the right field bleachers at Target Field, they kind of jut out from the wall in right. But that’s not what’s important here. Do you see the flower pots that outline the box that is the “jut?” Well Blevins missed the kid to our right, so the ball went in the flower pots tot the right side of the “box” of the right field seats. And it then kind of went up the flowers. I ran over, picked the ball out of the flowers, and handed the ball to the kid for my fourth ball of the day:
I then figured I had exhausted my toss-up opportunities in right, so I headed to the right-center field seats. This was the best thing I could have done. As I got there, Ariel Prieto–a person listed on the A’s roster as simply “coach”–tossed a ball to a kid that landed a little short. As a result, it landed in the flower pots in front of him. As this happened, I told the kid that I would get the ball for him. So as Prieto watched, I pulled the ball out of the flowers and handed it to the boy:
After he saw me do this, Prieto gave me a thumbs-up, and a very promising gesture: the “I’ll give you the next one” gesture. Only one problem: as Prieto was trying to get a ball, Chip Hale tossed me a ball:
…or so I thought. Even though Prieto saw me get the ball from Hale, he tossed me the second “thank you for giving tha other one away to that kid” ball:
And that was it for the snagging for me on the day. After BP, though, I was on the second deck, and so I gave a ball to a vendor who I had promised one if I got more than a couple. I don’t know which one it was exactly, but here it is:
After which, I talked to an usher by that concession stand. And after talking to him for a while and learning that he is an usher for not only the Twins, but Gopher football and basketball games, I also gave him a ball. Basically, if you haven’t been keeping track, out of the seven balls I snagged, I gave away six.
I then headed down to the dugout to reunite with Tony and Paul, both of whom had been doing very well to that point (seven and eight balls snagged respectively) due to their early admission into the ballpark. They had both never snagged double digits, so I just stepped back while an A’s coach that they identified as Casey Chavez cleared the baseballs out of the bullpen. My hope was Chavez would overthrow one, but I was also perfectly content with my seven baseballs I had snagged to that point. Fortunately for Tony and Paul, Chavez didn’t throw any up, and they both got one step closer to their first ever double-digits games. I don’t know where Tony wandered off to, but I did manage to get this picture of Paul just before he left to go to the dugout and secure his first ever ten-ball performance:
And that’s when the game (read: frustration) commenced. Since I had and would be going to so many games this week, I had to find somewhere to do my reading for my classes. And since I wanted to go for home runs this game, the flag court seemed like the perfect place:
(For the record, that is a Kinesiology book, but the highlights aren’t mine. I always get used books whenever possible and make sure that I get the book in the bookstore with the highest amount of highlighted material that doesn’t look completely arbitrarily in case that person actually knew what they were doing in the class and the highlights could actually help me later on.) Well that was my view when the A’s catcher Stephen Vogt came up in the fourth inning. The A’s had already begun a ridiculous inning, but since Vogt had only hit like three home runs the whole season, I figured I might as well keep reading. And then this happened:
For the record, yes, I was the one in the bright green shirt who just barely missed the ball. As I read a part of my book, I heard the roar of the crowd and then looked up into the air. As I saw a white speck that was clearly headed over my head, I sprinted back as fast as I could. I then turned around right before I knew the ball was going to bounce, but it was three feet over my head and a bit to my left. So then, my only hope was it would bounce off the gate and back to me. But as I turned my head to the gate, there was a guy who was randomly right where the ball was bouncing to. My only hope was that he would drop the ball, but he didn’t.
That particular homer upset me, because I picked the ball up when it was almost at its apex. Had I started running as soon as it was hit, I could have had a ten foot head start and almost definitely could have turned around and caught the ball on the fly. I will say this, though: the homer was an absolute blast. I think it’s the furthest I’ve seen a ball hit on the fly during a game in person out there. That home run also capped off a ten-run fourth inning for the A’s which left the game at 13-1 going into the fifth inning.
Which brings up the next disappointment. I’ll say only two thing about this next clip. 1. I was completely prepared for this ball. 2. I don’t think I misplayed it at all, since it was hit at the same angle as the Vogt home run:
And with that, my day of “excitement” ended.
Oh, but wait…it didn’t. The Twins always have *some* group sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” But when there’s no group lined up, they often just ask people in the flag court if they want to be a part of that. Well since I was already out there, I went ahead and joined in the group:
But since it was September 11th, there was a big deal made of the singing of God Bless America. So big, in fact, that my friend Nick Badders saw me on TV all the way from the Bay Area in California:
Meanwhile, here was my view of the singing of it:
After that, I simply sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and then watched the painful rest of the game.
After the game, I headed to the dugout and managed to get a picture of Tony getting his then-eleventh ball of the game from the dugout attendant, Mario:
And then I just had to capture the magical moment where I was essentially the only person left in the stadium:
Why was I there so late? Because I had to go over to the other side of the stadium where I had entered at Gate 3 because my cup trick had been stopped at the gate by the security guard who checked my bag, citing: “they don’t like those here:”
And with that final “snag” of the night (happening a little after 11:00, since the game had gone four hours despite going only nine innings), I headed out to my bus and a much-needed day off from ballhawking.
- 7 Baseballs at this game (1 pictured because I gave the other 6 away)
- 267 Balls in 57 Games= 4.64 Balls Per Game
- 7 Balls x 24,522 Fans= 171,654 Competition Factor
- 119 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 24 straight Games with 2 Balls
- 21 straight Games with 3 Balls
- 13 straight Games with 4 Balls
- 3 straight Games with 5-6 Balls
- 151 Balls in 31 Games at Target Field= 4.87 Balls Per Game
- 29 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 9 straight Games with at least 2-4 Balls at Target Field
- 3 straight Games with at least 5-6 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:36-11:57= 8 Hours 21 Minutes
As much as I feel dislike towards the Red Sox as a person who grew up as a Yankee fan, I know that they are people with feelings too and I know I am causing them enough damage by just showing this picture of game 162. So I won’t add any commentary, but I have to show the picture because it *was* the story of their 2011:
Andrew Bailey, Aaron Cook, Mark Melancon, Clayton Mortensen, Vincente Padilla, Nick Punto, Cody Ross, Kelly Shoppach, and Ryan Sweeney.
Jonathan Papelbon, J.D. Drew, Jed Lowrie, Hideki Okajima, Josh Reddick, Marco Scutaro, Kyle Weiland, and Dan Wheeler.
Why?: When you actually look at the talent changing hands, the Red Sox are probably more of a C+/B- type offseason. However, the Red Sox’s owner, John Henry, also owns the English Premier Legaue Football club, Liverpool. Over the past year, Liverpool has added players totaling a dollar amount that is comparable to the Red Sox’s total payroll (when converted from pounds to dollars). Due to this spending spree with Liverpool, and the spending spree last year with the Red Sox, it is understandable that Henry didn’t want any major additions to the payroll. Given this fact, I bumped the Red Sox’s grade up to a B, because they managed to add some key pieces without spending a lot. Let me tell you, they were REALLY close to being a B+, but I didn’t want to bump them up too much.
As odd as it may seem, I think the Sox may have actually upgraded at the closer position. Since Andrew Bailey has been closing out games for the small-market Oakland Athletics, he really isn’t as exposed to mainstream America as most closers, but I can tell you he is one of the best in the business. Sure, he played for the A’s, which were offensively anemic, and thus gave him more save opportunities, but I remind you that he *did* win the AL ROY a few years ago and has maintained this production since.
I guess you can argue that Cody Ross is a good signing with the Green Monster out in Left Field, but I really can’t think of many RHBs that wouldn’t benefit from having a wall 300 feet away from them while they’re at the plate. Seriously, can you think of more than ten hitters that wouldn’t be helped by that? The only names I’m coming up with are right handed slap hitters like Derek Jeter, but I have a feeling even he would be assisted by the wall.
Other than this, I really have nothing else to report on the subject that could be summed up in less than 500 words. The names on the lists suggest that the Red Sox probably deserve a higher grade, but I do have my reasons behind the grade.
Predicted Record Range: 90-95 wins A bunch of people didn’t do as well as they could’ve. Also, I never thought I would say this, but it might be a good thing that John Lackey is out for the season.
I think this next image pretty well descirbes the Astros’ 2011 season, no? (even if it is fr0m 2004):
Jed Lowrie, Jack Cust, Chris Snyder, and Kyle Weiland.
Mark Melancon, and Clint Barmes.
Why?: Let me get one thing clear. I know the Astros are not in the AL West yet, but I think it’s better that I make transition now, because it just makes my life slightly easiser to have 15 teams in each league and 5 teams in each division. Secondly, I know the “Notable” names aren’t that notable, because I lowered my standards for the category especially for the Astros and they haven’t had much happening this offseason.
The Astros aren’t exactly an offensive power house. So I like their improvements on that front, but their most feared hitter is still Carlos, which doesn’t doom the lineup, but makes it less imposing than 90% of the other lineups in MLB. Long gone are the days of the Astros contending for the even the NL Central (at times the weakest division in the league), much less contending for the World Series as they did in 2005. It also doesn’t help that they are moving into the most improved division of 2011. Unless there is an extreme shift in culture, they may be lucky to win a division title before 2020.
I think I’ve covered the bases, right? The Astros stink, and they didn’t do much in the offseason.
Predicted Record Range: 60-65 wins
Up Next: In my last post, I put up a poll for what division you want next. You voted for the NL Central, for whatever reason. So, here is a poll of which team I should write about in said division: