Again at Yankee Stadium, and look who I ran into:
This would be Greg Barasch, my former neighbor from when I lived in New York. And because he averages eight balls a game despite being in New York, I knew it was going to be a tougher-than-normal day at Yankee Stadium. But then again, I knew that in about a month, I would be at Target Field with very little or no competition most days, so I knew that in the end, being forced to another level just trying to get a couple of baseballs, it would only help me for when I had no competition in terms of being able to fully appreciate it.
And in at least the first few minutes, I was actually doing better than the competition I was facing–which is rare. I first went to the Yankees bullpen, where Hiroki Kuroda was going through the bullpen and tossing the balls that were in there back on the field. But when he was picking up the ball closest to me, I asked him in Japanese for the ball, he laughed, and tossed me the ball over the netting that separates the bullpen from the seats I was in:
And then it was back to my spot with Greg in front of me:
Normally I would think this would be an awful spot…and at the time it was, and I did in the moment–especially when he caught a home run that I would have otherwise gotten–but I then got two Lyle Overbay home runs within a matter of seconds. First over here:
And then with the first ball still in hand, I got the second one–off a bounce off of the Modell’s advertisement–over here:
So I was on the board with three baseballs in a matter of minutes. So when Ichiro’s group came up, I figured I had milked this section for all it was worth and headed into the second deck in right field. But I didn’t get anything; instead I just watched as Greg moved to my spot and snagged two baseballs there.
I then headed over to left field, where this was my spot/view:
And look who I saw out there:
That would be Rick Crowe. He’s a Chicago-based ballhawk who I first met back in 2011 when I was at my first game at US Cellular during my 2011 tour of Midwest colleges. He can usually be found in the seats of US Cellular Field for batting practice, but his practice at least back in 2011 was to lave after BP to go home and have dinner with his family. And while I don’t like people having no reason to leave before the game starts leaving before the game starts, having a family to have to go back to is a valid reason to do so for me.
Anyway, we planned to meet later in at his seat above the batter’s eye before the national anthem, but when I got there, the section I would have had to go to get to his seat was closed for a private event. Oh well; I’m sure I’ll run into him again down the line.
My next ball would come from the spot I took the picture of Rick from. Mark Trumbo blasted a ball into the left field bleachers, but the person who was under the ball ended up bobbling it:
And so the ball went into the tunnel that was behind me, where I picked it up. I then asked a kid who had run behind me if he had gotten a ball, and when he said no, I gave him the ball. That was my last ball for BP.
As for the game, this was my view of it:
And what a painfully slow game it was. I forgot which one it was, but one half-inning took 45 minutes as Mike Scioscia must have made 4 pitching changes. That, and because there was a call Scioscia believed had gone against him, (and despite the fact that I still haven’t seen the replay of it, from what I saw during the game, I agree with him.) Scioscia did something I have never seen a manager do and instead of signaling for the pitcher from the bullpen right away, he made it like a visit to the mound and made the home plate umpire, David Rackley walk out to the mound before he called for the pitcher he was going to bring in. Anyway, due to the painful slowness of the game’s pace, we were almost an hour behind normal game schedule. So when there was a rain delay:
Greg and I both expected not many people to come back to the seats. But when we went back into the seats, it was a truly ludicrous scene. First, the players were warming up while the tarp was being put away, which I’ve never seen:
But then there was also an insanely low amount of people that were present. Greg and I were both shocked how few Yankee fans emerged from what was probably the shortest during-game rain delay I had seen, and maybe Greg had seen. (It had only lasted a little over fifteen minutes.):
I mean, look at this panorama of the seats after the rain delay. (Click to enlarge, silly):
When the game eventually ended after 11:00, Greg and I took advantage of this fact, and yelled in unison at home plate umpire David Rackley. He was headed into the umpire tunnel with his head down, but after our “1,2,3…MR.RACKLEY!” he looked up and tossed us both a baseball. It was quite a beautiful moment of ballhawk teamwork:
And after that, we headed out, and I took a picture of the surprisingly-full Great Hall post-game:
And with that, I headed back to the place I was staying just to come back and do it the next day.
- 5 Balls at this game (4 pictured because I gave 1 away)
Numbers 631-635 for my “career”:
- 189 Balls in 45 Games= 4.20 Balls Per Game
- 5 Balls x 35,013 Fans=175,065 Competition Factor
- 107 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 12 straight Games with 2 Balls
- 9 straight Games with 3 Balls
- 96 Balls in 26 Games at Yankee Stadium= 3.69 Balls Per Game
- 26 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Yankee Stadium
- 13 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Yankee Stadium
- Time Spent On Game 3:24-11:44= 8 Hours 20 Minutes
The Blue Jays lose possibly the best pitcher in the league and what do they do:
Oh, nothing much. Just hit the most home runs of any team in the major leagues.
Frank Fancisco, Rajai Davis, Carlos Villanueva, Sean Henn, Corey Patterson, Octavio Dotel, Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch, and Juan Rivera.
Vernon Wells, Jeremy Accardo, Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, John Buck, Shawn Marcum, and Lyle Overbay.
Why?: I know that they lost three really good bullpen guys, but look. They also gained four former closers. I know that they lost two middle of the line-up hitters but got a bonafide lead off hitter and whatever you consider Juan Rivera and Corey Patterson to be.
The only thing that suffered in the offseason was the rotation. Not only because of what you might think in Marucm leaving for Milwaukee but also John Buck leaving. With Buck leaving the pretty consistent Blue Jay rotation has had three catchers in three years (or more?) and it is tough. I would make the analogy to Quarter Backs in football playing in different systems every year. It is tough to have to keep adjusting. Just when you get comfortable pitching to a certain catcher he leaves town.
Will the Blue Jays continue to hit home runs? I have no idea. All I know is that even though there were more homeruns, there was also a way lower team AVG. Takee Aaron HIll for example, normally he hits around 15 HRs and bats .280 but last year he hit 24 HRs (or something like that) and had an AVG of around the Mendoza line.
One thing I would tell people is to watch out for Blue Jay prospects in the future. With the new GM, Alex Anthopoulos, the Blue Jays invested a whole lot into scouting, which may pay dividends down the road.
Predicted Record Range: 77-82 wins I see them declining a bit even though they have people like Kyle Drabek coming up because I don’t think they can keep the home run production up in 2011.