A second consecutive day at Target Field and look who decided to join me for the game:
You may recognize the person on the left as Sean Bigness, who has sometimes left comments, and has been in several entries in the past. The person on the right–looking like he wants to be somewhere else at the moment the picture was taken–I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned on here, but it’s my friend Tony who lives in the same dorm as I do. Like Sean, he was supposed to attend a game during the Twins’ opening series with me before something came up for him. But with Tony having finished a 20-page paper the day before and Sean being done with whatever it is Sean does, we had a three-person baseball party set-up. You may notice that the picture I used to introduce the two was taken during the game. That’s because in trying to coordinate all three of us to go to the game together, we arrived late for my standards and didn’t have time to take a group picture outside the gates before they opened. In getting to the game it was revealed to me that the goal of the other two members of the group was to shut me out this game. Thankfully, they absolutely failed at their goal.
As we got in the gates, Sean got way too much joy from the fact that my ticket scanner wasn’t working and that he got in through the gates first. (I still beat him to the left field seats even though we entered the center field gate, Gate 3. That he wasn’t too happy about.) Pretty much as we got to the seats, a ball got hit to right, and I managed to get through Sean trying to box me out for the ball, but sadly it slowed me down enough where two guys closer to the ball closed in on the ball, and one picked it up. Right after that, I made the adjustment and stood in the row under him. Josh Willingham–who hit the first ball–hit another ball to almost the same exact spot. I outran Sean to the gap in the railing, got in front of him in his row, and then beat the other two guys to the ball for my first of the day. I’m pretty sure I got a picture of the ball, but I think I deleted it.
After that, I told Sean and Tony–who had now failed at their goal–that I was headed out to right field. I meant this when I said it to them, but in going to right field, I saw whoever the hitter was at that point hit a ball to the wall in right-center field, so since I was right behind that section of seating, I went down to the first row and asked who I believe was Ryan Pressly for a ball, and he tossed it up to me:
for my second ball of the day. Both Tony and Sean were somewhere between confused and astounded when I met them back on the concourse (since they had still been catching up to me at that point and hadn’t seen any of the events that lead up to the Pressly ball).
We then completed the journey to right field where it was Sean who first got a player to toss him a ball in Jared Burton. Fortunately for me, I don’t think Sean was actually expecting Burton to toss him up the ball because of the fact that he was wearing a White Sox hat, so he actually literally dropped the ball. It went into the flower bed, where I picked it up and handed it to Sean. This may be cheap, but I got possession of the ball before I handed it to Sean, so it counts for me. Here is Sean hanging his head in shame after I gave him the ball:
Sean then insisted Tony take a “roommate” picture (Sean will be my roommate for the next school year), so I got to pile on the fact that Sean didn’t catch the ball with our respective poses:
I tried for the rest of Twins BP (which lasted less than ten minutes after that point) for Jared Burton to toss me a ball, but he either saw me get the Pressly ball or had reached his quota for giving away baseballs, because I know he heard my requests in which I actually called him by name (unlike Sean did) and yet he didn’t toss me a ball.
For that last part of Twins batting practice, this was the view to my right:
While they had both given up on simply preventing me from snagging baseballs, they both wanted to snag at least one of their own. Sean was trying the first-row-and-hope-the-ball-just-barely-clears-the-wall strategy, and Tony was just trying to be able to see the ball with the sun in his eyes. While I was in the front row asking Jared Burton for one of the times I did, a ball flew over my head and instinctively Sean put his arm out to try to prevent me from getting out of the row. The ball then bounced off of the raised wheelchair section at the top of the section and back on to the field.
As the Rangers took over batting practice, I headed over to foul territory down the left field foul line to try to get a ball from the pitchers who were starting to warm up. When I got there, I noticed a ball on the warning track, so I asked the police officer on the field if I could get the ball to give to a kid. He picked up the ball and tossed it to me. Here is the ball right before I walked and gave it to a kid two sections away, since there were none in my section with gloves:
When I resumed trying to get a ball another interesting thing happened. I was looking towards the Rangers pitchers as I was in the first row closest to field and then I just saw in the periphery of my vision that people were moving around frantically as if a ball were headed towards up, so I turned my head just as a Rangers pitcher screamed, “Heads up!” and I saw an Ian Kinsler line drive absolutely screaming towards me but cutting to my right. There were people to my right, but they got out of the way of the ball, so I leaned over the row and caught the ball:
It was very similar to how my neighbor, Greg Barasch caught a foul ball while he was in Marlins Park last season:
Except I was further away, so I had more overall time to react to the ball. But you could argue that he had more time since I wasn’t paying attention to the ball until it was about half-way to me. Whatever. He got a Marlins Park commemorative game ball. He wins. I find it particularly interesting about that snag that I can make the more difficult catches this season so far, but it’s the easier hit-ball snags that have been giving me the most trouble.
After this catch, I figured getting a ball from the pitchers would be unlikely since most of them had seen me catch the ball, so I moved from foul territory to the outfield seating. As I got there, most of the pitchers had ended their throwing and were running “poles”–which if you don’t know, is just baseball jargon for running laps from foul pole to foul pole. One of these pitchers was Joe Nathan. When a ball got hit all the way to the wall, Nathan picked it up mid-stride and kept running, but as he did so, he scanned the crowd, saw me in “Rangers” gear. I put it in quotations because while I did have a Rangers hat on, I still have not bought a Rangers shirt, so it was simply a red shirt with a black-and-white Rangers logo printed on that I had made for the previous game but ended up not using because there was no batting practice. Once he saw me, he flipped the ball up for my sixth on the day:
This one was extra-special, though, because he is one of my favorite players ever from when he was the Twins closer, and I’ve been trying to get a ball from him for a couple of years now. With snagging a ball from him, only Tim Lincecum and Joe Mauer remain as active players from my “Favorite MLB Players” entry who I still haven’t snagged a ball from. I then headed out to the section in right-center field. There I got Tanner Sheppers to toss me a ball almost identically to Nathan. The only difference was that I was about 25 feet up from Sheppers, so considering he was basically shoveling the ball to me while he was running, he overshot me and the ball flew over my head and into the concourse. Thankfully no one back there was paying attention, so I managed to run into said concourse and pick the ball up:
It was soon after this, when I had shifted to pure right field, that Sean and Tony found me. I learned that they had gotten several food items between the two of them. They learned that I had absolutely cleaned up (for my standards, anyway) in their absence. It didn’t take long after they got back for a ball to get to the seats in the right-center field seats to my right. I thought it was going to hit and land in the seats, so I entered them and went lower than the ball to await the bounce back towards the field, but the ball’s trajectory was perfect enough that it just barely went under the overhang of the second deck and found its way to the concourse. Normally I would be mad, but look who ended up snagging it:
The ball bounced off the concrete on the concourse, the back metal mesh, and Tony snagged it while it was still mid-air. While it wasn’t his first snag ever, it was pretty impressive how quickly he reacted after the ball touched down.
After that I was entertained briefly by the fact that Derek Holland was trying to get the attention of a family in the third deck in foul ground in order to launch a ball to them. Here he is looking up to them:
Unfortunately they never looked down to the field since they were too busy paying attention to their food, so after about five to ten minutes of trying to get their attention, Holland gave up and tossed the ball to someone at field level.
I got my eighth ball of the day by asking Jason Frasor for a ball while he shagged it at the wall in right-center field while I was in the right field seats:
I then gave this ball away to a girl I had seen been trying to get a ball for a while at that point. I actually first denied her sister the ball, though, because I hadn’t seen her glove, so I said, “Sorry, I don’t give baseballs away to people who don’t have gloves.” It was at that point that I felt bad for denying her the ball. I told her I would give her the next ball I snagged, but Sean stepped in and gave her the ball that I had given him earlier on in the day. Here he is celebrating the fact that he gave the ball away behind the back of the girl he gave it away to:
Nice job, Sean.
I’ll spoil it for you right now and say that I didn’t snag another ball for the rest of batting practice. I search of this next non-exsitent snag, I moved over to the left field. It was actually Sean who managed to snag a ball there. Here’s how it happened:
Sean and Tony were still catching up to me at this point, so they were just entering the section at this point. As they were descending the staircase closest to the bullpen, a Ranger righty hit a ball into the row that they were crossing, so Sean walked into the row, and reached across his body to make the easy catch.
That was it for batting practice, but we stayed in left field for the start of the game:
where this was our view of the field:
My reason for this (other than to have an excuse to insert pictures from my “good” camera into the entry) was that I wanted to get a ball from the bullpen warm-ups so I would only have to get one ball after the game to finally crack double digits at Target Field. I didn’t, so I was going to have a tough task in front of me to get two baseballs after/during the game as we headed out to the standing room in the second inning.
In the standing room, we finally got the “good” camera out for some pictures since we weren’t running all over the place. The first picture we were going to take was me with the baseballs I had snagged that day and kept:
Plus the Derek Lowe ball from the previous day, since I hadn’t taken it out yet. Five of the six baseballs were from this game. (Nice try, by the way, Sean, but even though I don’t have Photoshop anymore, iPhoto can still get rid of “blemishes” in pictures.)
I then tried to take another picture of Sean and Tony, but this was the first take where Tony closed his eyes because of the flash:
And then again on the second take:
So finally on the third take, Tony went to extreme measures to keep his eyes open:
The only thing really interesting that happened from that point on was while Sean and I were playing catch in the stadium…Actually, there are three interesting things that happened; us playing catch inside Target Field was the first, but the other two surrounded it. Those two things were: 1. While we were playing catch, two police officers were walking towards us. Both Sean and I thought they were coming to tell us to stop playing catch, but what they instead did, because we were playing catch right above Gate 3, they made snowballs and tossed them down at the police officers who were manning the gate. It’s moments like this that make me appreciate NOT being in New York. Some people might think myself and other New York ballhawks are kidding when we say stuff like this, but I’m only partially kidding when I say that I probably would have come close to ejection if I did something similar in either New York stadium. Instead, these police officers actually turned it into something even more fun. They even pointed the fingers at us when the police officers they threw the snowballs at looked up at them. 2. While we were playing catch, I stopped Sean because I heard a familiar sound. It was the mascots being introduced for the Race at Target Field. I used to pretty much just ignore the race, but now I think I’m never going to miss it from now on. Anyway, as Sean and I watched, Skeeta (the mascot I ran as the previous day) pulled off her fourth victory in a row. I just thought it was cool at the moment, but I later learned that it is a record number of consecutive victories for one mascot, so it felt extra special to be a part of that, even if it is a record that probably won’t last forever. Skeeta almost extended the record to five consecutive wins, but started celebrating a little too early and got caught by Babe right at the finish line.
I’ll fast-forward the game for you and reveal that the Twins lost 4-3. At the end of the game, we worked our way to the dugout and I got a ball from home plate umpire Ted Barrett:
That would be ball number nine on the day for me. I made several attempts towards a ball number ten, but all fell short. Maybe my next game, so I can reach 100 career baseballs at Target Field as well as 500 total career baseballs in the same game? Who can know these things?
Anyway, we ended our day at the ballpark with a group picture–myself still pouting about not having cracked double digits at Target Field:
With that we headed back to campus where Tony and I went to have pizza before heading back to St. Paul, and Sean had fun monitoring drunk people while sober.
- 9 Balls at this game (6 pictured because I gave 3 away)
Numbers 482-490 for my lifetime:
- 44 Balls in 9 Games= 4.89 Balls Per Game
- 9 Balls x 27,404 Fans=246,636 Competition Factor
- 71 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 99 Balls in 23 Games at Target Field= 4.30 Balls Per Game
- 21 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 4:07-11:13= 7 Hours 6 Minutes
So I have a gap here that I have to bridge. I’m not quite in “ballhawking mode” just yet (my first game will probably in Baltimore on April 7th), so I’ll just write more miscellaneous entries until this weekend. That can range anywhere from writing entries about games that I have attended before I made this blog to just adding my opinion to MLB news.
In today’s entry I’ll do the latter. Obviously the biggest news today is that Tim Lincecum is to undergo Tommy John Surgery. If you haven’t heard the news, Lincecum injured his arm during his between-starts bullpen session yesterday. Reportedly he felt no discomfort in his March 27th start:
Anyway, I’m shocked and disappointed by this. If you’ve read this blog semi-frequently you know that Tim Lincecum is my favorite player in MLB right now. Part of the reason is that I always held the belief that he had a fantastically efficient delivery that would actually prevent him from getting arm injuries more so than the more conventional deliveries of pitchers now adays. So first I guess is the disappointment that what I believed to be true when it comes to pitching has seen its foundation rocked and all those people that diagramed how bad Lincecum’s delivery is/was were right:
I mean that’s pretty much it. All I can say is that Chien-Ming Wang, Joe Nathan, and Julio Teheran better stay healthy this year. Oh, and I just covered the basic facts, but if you want to read the whole article on what happened to “Timmy”, here is the link.
As a person who identifies himself as a Twins fan more than a fan of any other team, I would just like to forget that 2011 happened and be happy that Terry Ryan is back at GM to hopefully rebuild this shell of a team:
Josh Willingham, Jason Marquis , Jamey Carroll, Ryan Doumit, and Joel Zumaya.
Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Jose Mijares, Joe Nathan, and Matt Tolbert.
Why?: I just really don’t like that the Twins lost two of the most underrated Outfielders in baseball and their closer. This doesn’t seem like it went that well. To tell you the truth, I’m just still depressed that the Twins season was so bad and that I went to their stadium the one of the few series the whole year that it would be packed. I really can’t think straight anymore when it comes to the Twins. True, I did give the Twins a D- in this same entry last year, but I didn’t expect that losing most of their bullpen would result in a season of 30 fewer runs, and really, it didn’t. The whole team stunk last year. Michael Cuddyer was their All-Star rep and he ended the year with 20 HRs. This was a below-average season for him, but he was the best player on the team through the first half. They were just THAT bad.
I can’t explain at all what happened. It’s like the whole team just decided collectively to have the worst season of their careers. All I can say is that I really hope Terry Ryan can pick up where he left off and start getting the Twins back to the playoffs. Actually, the Twins never were a team for a big offseason haul. They really just didn’t lose too much in the offseason and developed talent. For example, they still made the playoffs the year Johan Santana. True, Bill Smith messed up big time by only getting back Carlos Gomez and Phillip Humber for Santana, but they made the playoffs (I remember that the Red Sox were offering Buchholtz and another player while the Yankees were on the verge of offering Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera. Everything worked out well in retrospect for the Yankee fan in me as the Mets took their rightful spot loserville, but I would have liked to see the Twins get a little more back. Yay for parenthetical statements!).
Also I really don’t like Target Field for the Twins. As a person who went there this year, it *is* a really nice stadium, it’s friendly and absolutely gorgeous, but it seems to be a disadvantage to the Twins. Yes they did do really well in the first year at Target Field, but this seems more natural. I guess I should actually wait a few more years to get a broader sample base, but it just doesn’t scream home to me like the Metrodome did. The Twins were better at home, but only by three games. I don’t know, maybe it’s just the fact that I prefer domed stadiums, but I would have liked to see the Twins stay in the H.H.H Metrodome -or whatever it is they’re calling it these days.
Predicted Record Range: 65-70 wins. I know I have the Twins getting worse as a result of this offseason, but I just can’t imagine them being worse than last season.
I wrote in my blog description that I like to keep my writing positive. So, let’s focus on the fact that the Rangers got to the World Series for the second straight year:
Yu Darvish and Joe Nathan.
C.J. Wilson, Darren Oliver, Brandon Webb,and Taylor Teagarden.
Why?: For all the hype the Rangers have gotten, and all of the talks they’ve been in, they really have had an uneventful offseason. So, I actually have them losing talent as of January 26th when I write this entry. I see CJ Wilson as a superior to Yu Darvish in 2012, just because the strike zone in Japan is bigger and I don’t know how he’ll adapt. Then I see Darren Oliver and the other two subtractions as making up for the addition of Joe Nathan. I am a big Joe Nathan fan, but I don’t know how much more he can return to his former form, because not only is he dealing with the Tommy John surgery (which I predicted after seeing him in person in the last year of the Metrodome), but he is also dealing with age at this point. So he probably would be regressing anyway now.
Although, this situation could, and probably will get better. As I said, the Rangers have been in a bunch of talks for free agents, so they have money. Now maybe they just spend all of this money on re-signing Josh Hamilton, but either way I see them picking up at least another minor piece if not a major one.
Predicted Record Range: 92-97 wins- This can change if they get another player this offseason, but this is where I see them currently.
Up Next: Houston Astros, but what division would you like to read about?
Now my second game at Target Field and you know I wasn’t arriving late:
This is actually an artsier picture than you may think. You see it is a metaphorical camera taking picture of the screen on which it is being broadcast on as I am the baseball catcher, being caught as a baseball in the device that I usually use to catch baseballs myself to catch baseballs which makes me … Oh whatever, you can get it is me being caught as I am acting like a baseball being hit into the glove.
That was 3 hours before the actual game time start. Since bp doesn’t start until 2 and 1/2 hours before I had some time to kill:
I wandered a little to the left of my gate and took a picture of the Twins’ former owner in front of Rod Carew’s gate 29. I don’t remember his name but my uncle knew him so he was the owner in the 60’s I’d say. Anyway, do you notice the funky yet beautiful wall behind the owner? That is made purely out of Minnesota limestone. Target Field is the greenest Stadium in baseball and part of that is how far the materials to build the stadium had to travel to get there.
I did mention the gate I got to Target Field so early to stand at, right? Well let me specify a bit. I got to the Stadium so early because of Gate 34:
Even more specifically, the fact that Gate 34 is behind the SRO section in Right Field. Since the gates are open that meant that any ball hit into that section would have a chance of bouncing to the gate where I could pick it up. I would have to be fast, though. As you can see, I wasn’t the only one that showed up this early. You can maybe see there is a person to the right of me in that last picture (I’m in the Twins shirt).
Things got pretty crowded pretty quickly. This is the view from the gate two hours before gametime:
That is my uncle Richard to the right, by the way. If that doesn’t give you an idea of the crowd this next one should:
Pretty self-explanatory. Due to the crowd, I was limited to one gate and when a baseball finally did get to the gate it was too far away for me to range and get it.
When I did get into the stadium it didn’t take me long to get a ball. Some player threw a ball to someone. I didn’t see the person but I saw the ball land in the rose bushes in front of my section so I picked the ball up. It was a bit out so I actually had to balance on my stomach in order to reach the ball and scared my uncle in the proccess. He thought I was about to flip out of:
Just a quick not on the picture. I love how it portays me as the haggard individual with the Red Sox shirt down and facial expression. This was obviously due to the fact I hadn’t gotten a ball the previous day.
I then left my uncle and went to Left Field before it got too crowded for me to snag anything. Clay Buchholtz quickly hooked me just seconds after I arrived on the scene:
The bigger red arrow points out where I was and still am standing and the smaller red arrow shows the path of the ball as it left Buchholtz’s hand. As you can see, the ball went a bit above my head. So, I climbed on the bleacher bench, jumped up, caught the ball, did a 180, and landed on that same bench. I recieved a bit of applause from the crowd but I could tell that from their faces it was applause that I was still alive because I was turning in mid air their faces showed sheer terror.
Guess how much I got after that toss-up: nada, nothing, zip, zero, zilch, squat, diddly, or diddly squat. I went back to the section where I got the first ball and was again the only one in Red Sox gear (no matter how much it pained me to put it on) but the player just weren’t throwing anything to me.
I called out to them:
None of the players or coaches would throw me a ball. I don’t know if it was that they saw me get the Buchholtz ball or what but on several occasions the Red Sox made gestures like they couldn’t throw it up to me and then threw a ball to a person without their garb five feet to my left.
I ended batting practice with my two baseballs here in this picture:
For the game, I just chilled in the SRO section for the game. I only moved back and readied myself for a Home Run when one of these three guys for the Red Sox came up:
Nothing came even close to the section but I had fun out there. It is similar to the Nationals CF area in that there is a lot of big board action. Richard got pictures of someone we identified as the PA Guy after extensive investigation:
T.C., the Twins’ mascot (TC stands for Twin Cities):
and a video memorial to Harmon Killebrew that the Twins now play everyday:
That last picture actually shows Killebrew’s signature that they emblazoned onto the outfield wall in RF to honor him. I go through the pictures because even though I didn’t see Killebrew play once he is in my top 10 favorite players all time because he was the only baseball card my dad recognized out of all the cards I had and because of that I did some research and found out what a great person he was besides the baseball he played. I would compare him to a Jim Thome in how he was. I am not religious but I also do not believe in coincidence and Killebrew died within two hours of my dad’s passing.
So how about we get some of those happy thoughts back in our head. My view for the game wasn’t THAT spectacular and it didn’t help that I was standing the whole time but it was still pretty good:
I think this and last game really set the tone for the trip in that it wasn’t great snagging wise but I had a great time at all the games I went to. The twins (my favorite team) beat the Red Sox (one of my least favorite teams) and Joe Nathan got the save. This would have made me happy on its own as he is one of my favorite players as well but it also made him the Twins’ all-time saves leader and it was special to be there for that. I don’t really know how to segway into this picture but I wanted to include it. So, here is Richard after the game:
2 balls at this game
Numbers 189-180 for my career
129 baseballs in 32 games= 4.03 balls per game
Time at Game 4:10-10:26
As a Yankee fan they are a gift (up to this point) because of their record both in and after the season, which is somewhere between .200 and .300 in the 21st century. As an appreciator of cost efficiency, there playoff results absolutely kill me:
Now by talking with other baseball fans I realize that many just wondered “What? How are the Twins going to even come close to last year’s success when they lost that much talent?” First, Joe Nathan was the second best closer in baseball since he became a closer after his trade from San Francisco (still one of the worst trades in MLB history even after the hype died down). Do you not think that would make up for at least two of the reliever’s departures (Pat Neshek making up for one other)? Second, had Justin Morneau finished the season like he started, .345 AVG 36 HR 120 RBI. Now I realize this would have been pretty unlikely but that would have at least put him in the MVP discussion if not won it for him and he is typically a second half guy. Thirdly, the Twins always outplay their expectations. For example, SI predicted them to finish in last place in 2008 after they lost Johan, and Torii. What did they do? Only tied for the lead in the division and eventually lose their playoff spot to the White Sox in a one game playoff: