Having ended my previous game at 693 career baseballs, my goal for this game was to maybe get to 700 career baseballs. At the time gates were opening, though, this was my view at about the time gates were opening:
At this point, I felt as though I maybe wasn’t even going to snag one ball. Let me explain: This game was supposed to take place on April 17. Heck, I was there, if you want to read about it. But the game got rained out before it even began. Anyways, because of it being rescheduled, the game was scheduled to start at 6:10 instead of 7:10. I realized this various times beforehand, but for whatever reason, it didn’t register in my mind that I needed to leave an hour earlier than normal in order to get on time. Well not until half-an-hour before the gates were scheduled to open. Unfortunately, it takes longer than half-an-hour to get to Target Field from my apartment, so when I arrived here, the gates had been open for close to twenty minutes:
(If you can’t tell, I’m trying out editing my photographs to look a little better before I post them in the entries. It might be a one-entry thing, but it might become a regular thing if you guys like it.) But then one of the luckiest things ever happened. Just as I was running towards Gate 34, I saw all of the ticket scanners reacting to *some*thing I couldn’t see. Just then, I saw a baseball bouncing out of the gate. And since I was the only one out in Target Plaza, I walked over and picked it up for my first ball of the day. I’m guessing it was Josh Hamilton, since he was the only lefty in the group, but who knows. I then stupidly didn’t take a picture of the ball outside of the gate, but instead I was so focused on just getting IN to the stadium that I got my bag checked and headed to the right field seats. But then when there was a righty up, I finally took a picture of the presumed Josh Hamilton ball:
And while I was so frantic about not having an awful day ballhawking due to my stupid mistake, it took me a moment to realize how few people were actually at this game. I mean just take a look at this picture of the left field seats that I took:
There were what, maybe fifteen people in the left field seats. While I was thankful for having gotten a ball already, I was frustrated by the thought of how many baseballs I could have snagged had I showed up on time. I mean there would have been a serious chance for me to have broken the Target Field record for baseballs in a game.
I got up to three baseballs pretty quickly because of some Angels coach. I don’t know who he was, but I eventually figured out after the fact that it was either Bobby Knoop or Bill Lachemann. My first ball that he threw me came when he turned around and motioned that he was going to throw the ball to a little girl. Since 1. She wasn’t looking, and 2. She was very small and might not catch the ball, I told whoever the coach was that I would catch the ball for her. And so, he tossed it to me and I immediately gave the ball to her. Here she is with some of her siblings. (They’ll come into play later.)
I then realized the group had changed from Hamilton’s to a group with Mark Trumbo in it, so I headed out to left field. There I met up with Paul Kom, who had been there the whole time, but I hadn’t seen since he was in left field the whole time. (Side note: Paul actually already wrote an entry about this game on his blog, if you’d like to check that out.) I caught up with him since it was the first time I had seen him since the game the day before the day this game was initially supposed to take place. Shortly after that, I convinced Michael Roth to toss me a baseball by being the first person in the stadium to actually know what his name was:
I then headed back to right field for a group that included Kole Calhoun and Hank Conger. When I was there, Calhoun hit a ball a little to my right. I went over a couple feet, put up my glove, and dropped the ball as it hit my glove. If you noticed, I was using my lefty glove for the first time in a long while. In getting ready for the game, Brandon Nedoma told me he had forgotten his glove at home in Wisconsin. So when I finally realized how late I was, I threw my lefty glove in my backpack. What I didn’t realize at the spur of the moment was that my right-handed glove wasn’t in my glove. I only figured this out on the bus. I initially thought I had taken it out of my backpack when I went to the Mall of America with Ben Weil and his fiancé Jen the day before, but I still haven’t found it as I write this on September 22nd, so I suspect I may have left it at the game I went to the day before this when I decided spur-of-the-moment to leave that game at the national anthem. But anyway, I picked the ball up after I dropped it. I then gave the ball away to the brother of the girl I gave the second ball to:
(He’s the one in the blue with the glove.) And then they told me that the second brother in that last picture to the right of the first two kids I had given a ball to. So when I got Buddy Boshers:
to toss me a ball, I turned and tossed it to the kid.
I then headed to left field and met up with Paul and his friend Matt at the bullpen:
I think you can figure out who’s who, but if not, left-to-right it is: Paul, Matt. and myself. And then Paul got a ball at the bullpen (and maybe Matt too?) but I didn’t, so I just had the pleasure of watching the starting pitchers of both teams warming up:
And then I was going to go out to the flag court, but then I saw this crowd in the left field seats at game time:
What ended up happening was I stayed in left field for the whole game because I thought it would be great if I got my 700th ball via game home run. Matt and Paul also stayed with me for most of the game, but not even three minutes after they left to head to the dugout, Josh Hamilton gave me one of the next best things. He hit a double that bounced into the left field bullpen. With Matt and Paul gone, there were only two people in the bleachers who had the situational awareness to go to the bullpen: myself and a person in Angels gear. Now I hadn’t mentioned it yet, but for whatever reason, I had completely forgotten to bring either an Angels shirt or Athletics shirt (which will come into play in my next couple entries). Therefore, it was myself in a neutral blue shirt/University of Minnesota hat and this Angels fan. But as Steve Soliz, the Angels bullpen coach approached the ball, I asked him by name while the Angels fan had no clue what his name was, so Soliz tossed me the ball for my 700th career baseball:
I’m not sure many better scripts could have been written. Anyways, I met up with Paul and Matt soon after, and we walked out of the stadium together. So I first got a second picture with my prized possession of the night:
And then we got a parting picture together:
What a day.
- 7 Balls at this game (4 pictured because I gave 3 away)
Numbers 694-700 for my “career”:
- 254 Balls in 55 Games= 4.62 Balls Per Game
- 7 Balls x 21,826 Fans= 152,782 Competition Factor
- 117 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 22 straight Games with 2 Balls
- 19 straight Games with 3 Balls
- 11 straight Games with 4 Balls
- 138 Balls in 29 Games at Target Field= 4.76 Balls Per Game
- 27 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 7 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 4:04-10:33= 6 Hours 29 Minutes
So… I think I’ll start off the entry with a “Before The Gates Open” video:
If you didn’t get it from my video, this was my view of the field when I first got in:
No, my first ball of the day came when the Rangers started throwing. Nelson Cruz tossed a ball to me, but it sailed over my head where Greg Barasch picked the ball up. Went all the way to the ball bucket and picked a ball out of there:
(Do you see him? He’s the one closest to the bucket with the ball in his hand.) He then launched that ball over my head with relative ease from over 200 feet away. When I ran up the stairs chasing the ball, it bounced back towards the field and over my head where another fan got it. Cruz then got a third ball. This time, I made sure to be up higher on the staircase. He threw the ball, and I saw it was falling short, so I ran down the stairs, cut into the row, and caught the ball. All in all, it was a fun experience. Here’s the ball as Cruz headed off to right field:
My next ball came when I headed to the left field seats in fair territory. Ian Kinsler hit a ball that I could tell wasn’t going to reach me on the fly but might reach me after bouncing off someone’s hands. It bounced off some hands, off a seat; it then went behind me, and it then bounced off a glove behind me, where it landed in the row behind me and I picked it up. It was in this general area that I snagged it:
After this it was time for Josh Hamilton’s group. All of us four ballhawks who had met at Gate 6 had the same idea: go to right field. For the record, I was the first one out of the left field section, but the other three followed seconds after. So, on our way to right field, we divvied-up the right field seats as to not get in each other’s ways, Zack got the field level seats, and Ben got the bleachers:
There, I had one mission in mind: Get a ball from Joe Nathan. (He was/is one of my favorite players ever for his role on my beloved Twins.) Here was my view of him:
Unfortunately, I wasted all of the remaining batting practice up there, but I *was* able to make it down to the dugout just as the players were running off, and I got a ball from a player I can best identify as Mark Lowe:
After batting practice, I met up with a few ballhawks in the left field seats:
The people- left to right- are:
1. Ben Weil– A ballhawk best known for having the biggest collection of jerseys in the Milky Way. (If you want to see just how big, I put a link to his name for a reason.) However, Ben purposely pulled off his beautiful Rangers jersey to display the shirt you see in the picture.
2. Greg Barasch– Probably the best ballhawk at amassing as many balls in a single game as he can in the country (even if he DOES always go for third-out balls at the games he goes to).
3. Matthew Latimer– A reporter for MLB’s Cut4, who may or may not interview me next season at a Yankee game if there’s a slow news day.
4. Zack Hample– The man, the myth, the sweater (that’s why he’s holding out his two-shaded shirt out).
5. Moi- I’m holding out three fingers because it was the third game in a row Zack and I had been to a game together.
6. Mark McConville– A ballhawk who you saw towards the end of the video. We’ve seen each other at quite a few games considering how many games he’s been to (12).
As for the game, Hiroki Kuroda threw a complete game two-hitter. Also, I personally found this stat amazing:
• 3 Balls at this Game
Numbers 363-365 for my lifetime:
• 143 Balls in 33 Games= 4.33 Balls Per Game
• 3 Balls x 44,533 Fans= 133,599 Competition Factor
• 42 Games with at least 1Ball
• 18 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 86 Balls in 23 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.74 Balls Per Game
• 23 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at the New Yankee Stadium
• 8 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:58- 10:12= 6 Hours 14 Minutes
Lost in the Red Sox’s collapse was how well Adrian Gonzalez did on the Red Sox. Even more lost was how devastated the Padres were without him. Let us not forget, this was the team dominating the NL West for most of the season just a year prior. In 2011 however:
Houston Street, Yonder Alonso, John Baker, Andrew Cashner, Mark Kotsay, Micah Owings, Carlos Quentin, and Edison Volquez.
Heath Bell, Aaron Harang, Mat Latos, Wade LeBlanc, Pat Neshek, Chad Qualls, and Anthony Rizzo.
Why?: While it is true that there were more “notable” players added than were lost, this seems like one of those “quality over quantity” situations. In the aggregate, the quality level of the players lost was just that much higher than that of the players gained to merit a D+ as a grade for their offseason.
It appears, though that the additions have a lot of potential to be integral parts. Huston Street is coming from the park most associated with being hitter friendly to the one most recognized with being a pitcher friendly park, so that can only serve to help him, as far as his statistics are concerned. Andrew Cashner are more obvious in that they are just high-potnetial prospects that could or could not pan out for the Padres. Micah Owings is a sort of double-edged sword of potnetial. The first is that he has the potential to become a great pitcher, but he is probably better known for his hitting, so if he isn’t pitching that well…hey, Babe Ruth was once a pitcher. Both Carlos Quentin and Edison Volquez are great talents that actually have shown themselves to be great players. Now it may be tougher for Quentin to do so in the monstrousity that is PETCO Park, but anyone remember when it was said that the EdisonVolquez-Josh Hamilton deal was said to be a win-win, because Hamilton and Volquez were doing so well for their respective teams?
The reason, though, that I gave the Padres the grade I did is that all this potential is just that, potential. The guys they lost were more consistently proven than those they gained. So it is *possible* that the subtractions show this grade to be unsure, but as of now, the additions are enough worse than the subtractions (as a whole) to earn a D+ grade. For those of you who don’t know, a C means the team gained/lost no talent, a C+ would mean they made a slight addition to the talent of the previous year, and a C- would mean they lost a bit of talent-not to be confused with potential. So if a team traded Bryce Harper for someone like Jonny Gomes, and Bryce Harper was not going to play that year, the team would probably get a C+, because Harper would not have helped their team that year anyway, but Gomes could help the team in that year. Except it would be done for all of the team’s additions and subtractions.
Predicted Record Range: 70-75 wins. I realize that I have the talent on the team getting worse, but I have this feeling that they were a little unlucky and shouldn’t have lost as many games as they did.
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?
I may have mentioned this is some other entry but here’s the actual layout of the survey:
- This teacher actually watched as a kid but stopped in the 90’s because of the McGwire and Sosa steroids issue. His answer was: he would like to see more integrity in the game, less money, and more teams made up of non-superstars.
- I actually never asked him question 1 because he mentioned in a class that he didn’t watch sports. His answer was: An athlete should be gracious in both defeat and success. He repeated the same concept in different forms trying to get it just right. I have a feeling about what he meant. He was trying to get at that an athlete should not cry in defeat nor should he dance in victory. He should have grace no matter what the outcome. For example, if he loses, he should just walk off the field, comfort other teammates, and start preparing for the next game (professionally).
- He just thinks that professional athletes are a spoiled bunch. (Can anyone argue that this isn’t true in New York?) His answer was: he wanted to see less athletes living the fast life (he gave the example of Derek Jeter but I hope he meant it in terms of attitude because has anyone seen his mansion:
- The player tries his best 7
- The player is a good teammate 6
- The player is a good role model 5
- The player is a leader 5
- The player is a hard worker 4
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: