Tagged: Marlins

My Favorite MLB Teams

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:

1. Yankees

2. Red Sox

3. Blue Jays

4. Orioles

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:

Just Logo

But it would actually be me remaking the icon itself, which is this:

Icon 5

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:

4/25/13 Rangers at Twins: Target Field

After a week off from baseball, due to the game I was initially going to attend on Tuesday against the Marlins being postponed, it was back to Target Field:

42513 Opening Picture

Ah yes. The Texas Rangers. Historically a team that could always get enough runs to win, and relied on their pitching to not get knocked around. Sadly, though, I didn’t get to see their bombers this game, because, well, they didn’t show up:

42513 No BP

I thought it was really weird that there was no batting practice until I realized that they had played the last night’s game in Ananheim. As overlooked as it may be by  most baseball fans, that’s a long ways to travel overnight, especially when the time change is working against you. And also, as my friend Jonathan pointed out, they had beaten the Angels 11-3, so in a sense, they got their batting practice in. Why did he say this to me? Because he joined me for this game. Here is a picture of him waiting in line for the gates to open:

42513 Jonathan at gate

I really should do a better job of warning people when I’m about to take a picture of them. But progressing away from my digression, the reason that you can see so many people at the gates (who had sizable lines behind them) is 1. This was the first game that it was over 40 degrees for the majority of said game, and it was even warmer for BP because the sun was still out. And 2. The Twins, in partnership with 96.3 K-Twin were giving out a Glen Perkins fishing lure as a promotion:

42513 Fishing Lure

I ended up giving it away to a lady on the bus ride back, who had just missed out on it and wanted to give one to her nephew, but I guess it was a cool promotion? My experience with fishing is the catch-it-and-throw-it-back of summer camp, so………moving on to the snagging; when I got in, the pitchers for the Rangers were indeed throwing, so I moved behind them:

42513 Pitchers

When I got there, though, the awesomeness that is Derek Lowe took over. Jonathan took the next few pictures/video.

Here he is throwing me what I believe is a curveball. He spun a bunch of them to me as well as over-emphasizing the speeds of the “fast”balls he was tossing me from thirty feet out:

42513 Derek Lowe 1

He did so with such gems as: “Woo! What was that?! Twenty miles an hour?” Here I am throwing him what I believe is a change-up:

42513 Derek Lowe Change up

For the sake of completeness, here are the rest of the pictures that Jonathan took:

42513 Derek Lowe 3

42513 Derek Lowe 4 42513 Derek Lowe 5

And here is the video of us two throwing:

Finally, after TEN MINUTES of playing catch with me and then playing and additional session of catch with Yu Darvish that you saw earlier, Lowe tossed me the ball:

42513 Derek Lowe Ball

He’s now much higher on my favorite players list.

After that, I almost got Yu Darvish to sign the ball:

42513 Darvish signing

but he had to go to a pitcher’s meeting right before he got to me.

Then there was a lull because absolutely nothing was going on on the field, but one of the awesomest things that has ever happened to me at a baseball game happened. A Twins worker headed up to both myself and Jonathan and handed us each one of these flyers:

42513 Target Race Flyer

We were both going to be in the Race at Target Field. She actually said she had spotted us sitting by the dugout from the upper deck. What are the odds? So since there really wasn’t anything of note that happened between this point and the race, let’s get right to it, shall we?

In the bottom of the second inning, Jonathan and I headed out to the New Era Store in left field:

42513 New Era Store

From there, a different Twins employee took us through the elevator typically designated for the club and suite levels to the basement (or -2) level concourse:

42513 Basement

Sorry the picture is a bit blurry; we were walking and I didn’t want to stop to take pictures.

Anyway, I had to leave my phone in my backpack, so my detailing to you of what happened next will be all text. I didn’t know if I was supposed to be taking pictures, so I didn’t want to find out that I didn’t. We first arrived at a room that opened similar to a garage door. In there, among other things, were the mascot costumes and a broken Best Buy video game station, similar to that which I played on in my last game of last season. In there, we got completely suited up as the mascots. Jonathan and I actually ended up picking our mascots last, so I had Skeeta, leaving Jonathan stuck with Wanda:

42513 Skeeta and Wanda costumes

Skeeta (as in a shortening of the word “mosquito”)/myself is on the left while Wanda/Jonathan is on the right. After getting suited-up, we moved to an alcove of sorts right underneath the left field seats, where we got the rules and logistics explained to us. Then it was a little bit of waiting, and finally we got to go out onto the field. We got to exit to our (characters’) names being introduced and to the applause of the crowd. After the introduction, we lined up and waited for the countdown to “go”.  I was really nervous about getting an unfair start, so I hesitated a bit on the start, but I got the lead after ten feet or less and then never gave it up for the rest of the race. It was *really* awkward running in the mascot costumes, because the heads bobble up and down as you run, so I was actually going what felt like very slowly to me. It also caused me to be off-balance on turning, so I almost broke one of the main rules that were explained to me. In turning the corner by the foul pole, I almost ran onto the grass, but I managed to balance my head long enough for me to jump over the corner of the grass and take a really sharp turn down the last stretch of the race, which ended at the outfield end of the dugout. Again, I was running what felt to be VERY slowly, so I couldn’t believe that I was in the lead. Finally, though, I crossed the finish line as still no one had passed me. If you want to watch the video of the race, here it is:

Exciting to say the least. After the race finished, though. I thought we were going to the tunnel the umpires exit through. It wasn’t until the camera man was telling me to get off the field back from where I came from. I then grabbed the trophy and got off the field just as the first hitter of the inning was being introduced. In getting in through the door we were supposed to exit, though, we all had to duck, and Babe had to also turn sideways. That’s another thing: during the race, we were told not to hold our heads. I is so tempting given how wobbly they are, but apparently Target doesn’t like how awkward it makes the mascots look as they are running.

When we got back to the garage-type room, I got the organizer to take another picture of me celebrating:

42513 Skeeta da winna

Jonathan then headed up to the standing room and spent the game basically rephrasing how to say, “Did that just happen?” And with that, ended what probably what will be my favorite Twins loss/1-ball game ever.

STATS:

  • 1 Ball at this game

42512 Baseballs

Number 481:

42513 Sweet Spot

  • 35 Balls in 8 Games= 4.38 Balls Per Game
  • 1 Balls x 25,459 Fans=25,459 Competition Factor
  • 70 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 90 Balls in 22 Games at Target Field= 4.09 Balls Per Game
  • 20 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 4:05-11:22= 7 Hours 17 Minutes

Miami Marlins 2012 Offseason Recap and Preview

First of all, let me wish you a happy Leap Day. It is always nice to have an extra day in the year, no. Is it just me, or is it weird to see them as the Miami Marlins? I typed in Florida in the title but then had to erase it, and this coming from a person that saw the preliminary sketches of what is now the Marlins logo in the Summer of 2010 (it’s sort of a longish story, but I met the “Director of Creative Services”, Alfred Hernández, or at least that is what it say on his card,and he was/is in charge of the Marlins logo and authorizing its use anywhere. It was through a program I’ll mention later on in the entry.)  So why am I writing the Marlins’ entry on this day? That would be because March is National Optimism Month and I want to get all my pessimism out before then. Most of it surrounds this $650 million beaut:

 

Grade: A-

 

Notable Additions:

Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, Cahd Gaudin, Wade LeBlanc, Aaron Rowand, and Carlos Zambrano.

 

Notable Subtractions:

Chris Volstad, Burke Badenhop, John Baker, Mike Cameron, Clay Hensley, Jose Lopez, and Brian Sanches.

 

Why?: Yeah, yeah, I know that the Marlins gained a bunch of talent and lost essentially nothing. I agree that based just off of talent, their grade should be higher. Let me also set the records straight that I have nothing against the Marlins they are one of the middle-of-the-pack to front-of-the-pack teams when it comes to favorite teams with me. Now that we’ve gotten these things established, here is the real reason why I gave them the grade I did.

 

The Marlins’ plan as I interpret it is: get a bunch of players and hope it attracts a big crowd. There is some merit to this. First of all, Dolphins Stadium or whatever the heck you want to call it, is the equivalent of the Medowlands to New York in that it is fine to get to for a weekly event such as a football game, but it is 35 miles north of downtown Miami, so it was a pain in the neck to get to. Secondly, the new stadium is a much nicer one from what I saw while I was in Miami and the location also has the side effect of playing more towards the baseball-oriented Cuban residents that reside in the City closer to the new stadium (which happens to be the old Orange Bowl site).

 

However, the Marlins have a couple things that could mess this whole experiment up. First, the Marlins ticked a LOT of people off when they asked for public funding for the stadium. I personally know a couple Miami natives that just refused to go to games the last two seasons for this simple fact. Second, the Marlins got a lot of money from Miami-Dade County to fund their stadium (the total cost of the stadium was around $650 million and Miami-Dade raised about $500 million by selling bonds to help pay for the stadium. That’s almost 80% (76.9 is close enough, right?). I was in Miami for a three week course in Sports Administration a the University of Miami right when it was announced most of the stadium would be publicly funded. So, in addition to looking at how people in South Florida fudge the numbers to convince committees to let them hold the Super Bowl there so often, we also looked at how skewed the numbers the Marlins were using to convince the county to help fund the stadium. Now of course we weren’t using the real numbers, but we were estimating using numbers we did now, and if those number held any truth, the numbers were fudged quite a bit to convince people they needed help with the funding. Interestingly enough, it was announced December 3rd that the SEC would be investigating the Marlins’ use of public funding to build their new stadium. Unless the Marlins can come up with some clever way around this, they will in all likelihood be punished. How much? I have no idea, but the numbers do not stack up well in their favor, let’s put it that way. Lastly, the Marlins are assuming their newfound players will result in a winning team. However, they did only win 72 games last season good for dead last in the NL East, so I don’t know if they are as automatically in contention as everyone thinks. They may very well be, but the Nationals are also on the rise, the Braves have a good young foundation that will probably get better, and the Phillies are the Phillies. So it might not be the case that they win for the foreseeable future (and have high attendance figures) like they are expecting.

 

Predicted Record Range: 85-90 wins Let’s see, this would mean they added 13-18 wins in the offseason. This is a big jump. I’m not so sure about this prediction.

 

Next Up: 

Re-View of the Preview: Florida Marlins

First of all, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it. As I type this, it is already halfway through said holiday her in France. I hope, though, no matter what a anybody believes, that this be a good day for them. Now, here, is the link to the first entry predicting the then Florida Marlins’ 2011 season.

Predicted Record: 75-80 wins

Actual Record: 72-90

So I was a little off on this prediction. Though, I was a LOT closer than I thought when I initially looked at the discrepancy between the two records. That is because, I failed to put Josh Johnson in the Notable Subtractions column. Does anyone remeber the first two months or so of the season? Josh Johnson had about 3 or4  starts it seems that he had a no-hitter for the first 6 innings of a game. He was THE best pitcher in baseball when he got injured, and that is with Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw included. Johson was their bonafide Ace and had I known he would have been down for most of the season, I would have down graded the Marlins about four wins. Case in point, the second to last video on Johnson’s Player Page is entitled, “J.J. is key to Marlins’ success.”

Just a side note, as much as I like Josh Johnson, I don’t think he will get over his injury woes. Last Year, when Stephen Strasburg was coming up, everyone and their mother had their eyes on him. Curt Schilling was no exception. He did a segment with ESPN or MLBN where he looked at both Josh Johnson side-by-side with Stephen Stasburg because he wanted to look at a Pitcher of the same height of 6’5″ (Strasburg is 6’4″ and Johnson is 6’6″, but whatever)

 

Had Josh Johnson been out from the beginning of the season, I would have adjusted my prediction correctly. So all things considered, I predicted the Marlins’ season pretty well. They were who I thought they were! A team that was above average offensively, but not so spectacular to overcome any lack in pitching. I’m not saying their pitching staff was horrible without Johnson, but they have a lot of slightly above average homegrown Pitchers and some below average mercinaries. All in all, this is a well run organization for the funding it provides its GM with.

9/17/11 Marlins at Nationals: Nationals Park

As an introduction, I accidentally erased all of the pictures on my phone that I took at this game and for the rest of the season. The entries will go on as planned but they will lack pictures.

It was my first game in about three weeks so I was excited. That excitement quickly left me once I saw that the Nationals had foregone batting practice. Usually, only Left Field is open for the first hour of the stadium being open but in this case they had it open. That would have been great if the Nationals were hitting but because they were just throwing it actually brought more competition for the balls.

The one player I had set my sights on was Sean Burnett because I had done some research and saw it was his birthday. Unfortunately, his throwing partner, Tyler Clippard, ended up with the ball and because there were 5 ballhawks at this game in addition to regular fans, all the other balls had been caught by someone else. I asked Clippard if I could have the ball but there were ten year olds in the area and I wasn’t shocked when he threw the ball to them. I then had some time until the Marlins would start hitting and throwing. So, I went over to the Marlins dugout so I wouldn’t have to rush once they actually did come out to throw. I had gotten both Doug Slaten and Drew Storen’s autograph on my two ticket stubs (I bought one and Rick Gold gave me one). When I got over to the Marlins dugout, I just barely missed out on getting Gaby Sanchez to sign my ticket. I did however, get Emilio Bonifacio to sign the same ticket as Slaten. While he was signing, I asked him (in Spanish of course) if he could throw me a ball if I got his attention later on. Here is a picture of the two ticket stubs with the autographs on them:

The top ticket is Bonifacio and Slaten’s ticket while the bottom is Storen’s ticket

Later on, the Marlins pitchers went out to throw by the Left Field foul pole. I followed them out but while I was waiting for them to finish, I saw Bonifacio warming up back at the dugout. So, I hustled back and got there just in time. He had just finished up and was about to throw the ball, to a kid who I have seen a few times at Nationals Park, but hesitated when he saw me in the corner of his eye and threw the ball to me on the outfield end of the dugout, remembering his promise.

When I got back to the outfield, most of the pitchers had finished their throwing so I decided to stay in the Left Field seats for Mike Stanton’s power-packed hitting group. There were a few tough luck balls but the grand daddy of them all was a fly ball that I had judged perfectly and was camped under. Right at the last second, I saw a glove coming in front of mine and it caught the ball. I congratulated the person and was genuinely happy for them because they had brought a glove, but had a few bounces or toss-ups gone my way it could have been a good day considering Strasburg was pitching that night and double the norm showed up to batting practice.

I then moved over to Right Field to try my luck at catching a Logan Morrison Home Run. I actually did catch one in about the third row that I judged semi-perfectly and caught on the fly. I got many congratulations from the people around me but thought at the time that it was just a sign of things to come. Sadly, no other Lefties hit much to Right Field and the Marlins upheld their rep as a stingy team. So, that ended up being my last ball of batting practice and the game. I was in the outfield and could have gone to the bullpen but wanted to save that chance for the next day because I expected to be there (I had to search the District of Columbia for a Citi Bank and that caused me to not go) and wanted to save myself that opportunity for the next day where I planned to get at least five despite the fact that there was not going to be any batting practice, to make up for this below average day.

That was it. All in all it was a decent day to go to the ballpark and I did not regret going.

8/31/11 Marlins at Mets: Citi Field

Again I wanted to avoid (and still am) avoiding Citi field at all costs but I had promised before the season to my service supervisor that I would take her grandson to a Mets game and that is the reason I went to this game. Before I get to the game, though, I must include a little story about how I almost lost my glove permanently earlier that day at my community service site.

I was playing catch with that grandson, whose name is Alex, on the roof of my service site on 76th and Columbus because the alternative would be to go to Central Park and I was lazy. Anyway, the roof is slanted so when I threw him a fly ball and he missed it, the ball didn’t just go straight across the roof like it would if we were on flat ground but it started rolling off the roof. Eventually it rolled off of the roof. It then landed in a neighbor’s patio area. For the record we did have another ball available to us but what kind of a ballhawk would I be not to use my glove trick. Here is a picture of the ball and the glove in the patio area:

The glove is pointed out by the arrow and the blue stress ball is in the circle (I know it’s tough to see but if look closely enough you should be able to see it through the shadows). This may seem like an easy thing for a person with a glove trick but it really wasn’t at all because the ball was under the table. This meant that to get the glove in a position behind the ball in order to pull it back I would have to throw the glove just over the ball but just under the table, which at this angle was like a window of a foot and there was no railing stopping me from falling 25 feet so I couldn’t see my target all that well. Also, I was at the outer limits of my fishing line when throwing the glove and so I couldn’t hold onto any of it. What I did was that I tied the line to the metal thing at the bottom of the last picture and threw the glove. Once the glove ran out of string it just jumped back toward me because obviously it didn’t have any more string to work with.

I tell this because after a few tries of throwing the glove from a 90 degree angle to the ball I wanted to try it from slightly off center and see if it would improve my chances. So, I untied the fishing line and moved over to my right a few feet. I then let my glove drop down and just as I released the glove I realized that I  had not yet tied my glove to the metal thing. My glove was stuck in the position you see in the last picture.

I just want to clarify that the patio was actually in a different building from my service site but I was on their roof because in New York the buildings are side by side and all about the same height so the roofs are connected and Alex and I wanted more room to throw so we ventured a few roofs. Just to give you an idea of the drop from where I was throwing my glove and where my glove drop down, here is a picture I took from the fire escape:

The top left arrow shows where I was standing/sitting trying to retrieve the ball and the bottom arrow shows where the glove fell down to. Right after my glove fell down it was time for lunch and I realized I wasn’t going to figure this out soon and just ate my lunch while I thought of a solution.

My first thought was to create like an extendo arm of sorts with various brooms and things around the building and poking one of them through the holes between the fingers of the gloves but then I took that last picture and saw exactly how far down the glove was and realized I would have needed like 5 brooms and I wouldn’t be able to get concentrated weight on them like a cup trick does (a cup trick is a ball retrieving device that uses a cup and weight along with and adhesive to grab a baseball). I then put together a variation of the cup trick using only office supplies I found throughout the building:

1. A plastic cup from the water cooler.

2. A roll of tape- I pretty much put it for visual purposes because the tape is at the bottom of the cup and barely visible. Usually in a cup trick, the cup’s opening faces downwards to fit the large-ish baseball but I realized that all I needed to get was the fishing line on my glove trick and I could then pull up the glove itself. The tape was used to stick to the string which I would then pull up the glove with.

3. Paper clips- usually when trying to get tape to stick to something you push it down as hard as possible but because I was 25 feet above what I wanted to stick to the cup I had to make the cup as heavy as possible to apply the most pressure to the tape and get the maximum adhesiveness to between the string and tape.

4. Fishing line- used to lower the cup. You may ask, “Wait, Mateo, didn’t all of your line fall down with the glove?” Luckly I keep extra line in my backpack rolled around a pen just in case:

I lowered my new device, the tape attached to the stirng on my glove, pulled up the string, and pulled up the glove attached to the glove itself.  This may have bored some of you but I just wanted to share it to show how I almost lost my glove.

Onto the game, Alex and I left JASA (my service site) at 3:30 and made a breif stop at Subway for food before continuing on the subway. I forgot what time but apparently it was early enough that I started taking pictures of the Citi Field sign from below:

If you see I pointed out the window on the second floor of the Stadium. That would be the Caesars club and I’ll get back to that in a minute or two.

I also took a picture of the blimp hovering above because the US Open was in town:

Once we got int the ballpark it was another Citi Field batting practice, slow as humanly possible. Alex and I started off by going to Right Field and asking for toss ups but then moved over to the Center Field section because I deemed the players freindlier there:

The red box shows where we had gone to as soon as the gates opened and the arrow under that points out Alex looking out to the field (with *my* Mets hat) he is a Yankee fan and I figured he would have a better chance of getting a ball from the Mets than me for a variety of reasons. After giving up on this idea because of a crowd that started to gather, we moved over to the Left field section. There, it was still incredibly slow but I got a baseball. In about the second bp group, Mike Stanton came up and launched a ball to deep Center Field. The ball took the luckiest series of bounces I have ever seen and landed in the seats. The arrows in the next picture show the path of the ball:

If you can’t tell from the yellow arrows, the ball: hit the apple, bounce on the edge of the container that holds the apple, bounced up in the air and landed in the seats. So had the apple not been up (which it usually isn’t) that ball would have fallen into the container but it didn’t and I ran over to get it nearly beating out someone who came down the staircase. Here is Alex holding the ball (again wearing *my* Marlins hat):

That was it for batting practice and the rest of the game as the Marlins threw next to nothing into the crowd. Anyway,this was our view for the game:

When I found out Alex wanted to go to this game I went ahead and bought better tickets than I usually do. For the whole Marlins series and Braves the tickets were pretty cheap and so for this game and the last I had club access. Due to this, I explored the stadium. With Alex I only went to the Caesars club and those were probably taken on this day but on the other day I also toured a bunch of the stadium and didn’t want the touring of Citi Field in tweo different entries so I held off on writing about it. Anyway here goes:

I went up to the club level through the entrance close to Right Field:

On my way to the Caesars club, I noticed a window through which was a view into the control room:

Here I learned something about the control room. Previously, I thought that the controls for the scoreboard  (jumbotron if you prefer) were in a separate room from the SNY control room. Apparently, they do both in the same room. I just assumed it would be crowded and there would be a chance of commands being mixed.

I then entered the Caesars club itself:

Looking back on it, it probably should be Caesar’s club but I guess it was meant more as advertising for Caesars Casino and Resort than it reflected the actual quality of the club. So I actually take back the point I was intially going to make when I started that sentence. By the way, for anyone who has not been, on of the negative parts about Citi Field is that the whole place is visual and audible ambush on the part of marketers. You would have to be in the staircase or something like that to not see any advertising. Every other square inch of oufield wall has something on it, the scoreboard has more to do with advertising than it does with the actual baseball game, and the between ining shenanigans the Mets put on always have someone behind them. There is: the Cascarino’s pizza pass, the Pepsi max T-shirt toss, and I think the seventh inning stretch is even sponsored by Fisher nuts.

The club itself looked like this when I got inside:

It is bascially an admirals club in a baseball stadium with a restaurant is how I would describe it.

Now the view from there is something you will never see from an admirals club at the airport. I looked out the window and took a picture of the view. The left arrow (blue) shows where I get off the train and the right arrow (red) shows where the US Open was taking place (Arthur Ashe Stadium):

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Queens. I then looked out the window to my left and took a picture of that:

This is now the part where I wonder how the Mets don’t make absurd amounts of money because they advertise everyone and their mother and each of those cars costs $20 to that person to park. I mean this is one of the teams in the worst financial situations in the Major Leagues so imagine what the Yankees are producing in the revenue department.

I then went throught the club and found out there is like a corridor thing behind the bar/restaurant the club is centered around:

Another thing in the club is that they have an electronic ticket kiosk in the club itself:

It even has the same game up so you can buy tickets to a game that you are already at (this was probably still there because I chacked it during batting practice but the fact that someone could mess up and buy a ticket for that same game is at the very least slightly flawed.) The most likely reason that they had this in the club is that people splurge to buy club seats, go inside the club and are very impressed by the schmancyness of it and the kiosk is there to get them to buy a ticket for another day based on impulse.

Anyway, for those who don’t know, there is about a 40 minute gap between batting practice and the game itself. I made my rounds of the stadium during this time. I first went out of the club going towards the Right Field seats and stopped to take a picture from the worst club level seats available:

Pretty good, eh?I then headed up to see what the worst seat in the whole stadium looked like but when I stopped to take a picture from the outside of the Acela club:

Right in this moment is where I forgot where I was going to go next and so I went to the Promenade Club which was about 300 ft away instead of the worst seat in the stadium which is about 10 (mathematical) degrees above where I took that last picture, but no I had to forget that and go all the way to the Promenade Club.

On my way, I actually took a picture of something cool I never noticed:

This is the concourse behind Home Plate in the uppermost level and I had seen this before but I had never noticed the thing pointed out by the arrow. That would be the top part of the Citi Field logo that is at the top of the fifth picture in the entry. this happens to be right behind the Promenade Club, which is why I took a picture of it. Speaking of which, this is the view looking out from the Promenade Club:

The view looking into the Promenade Club looked something like this:

This would be the restaurant within the Promenade Club. If you use your x-ray goggles, this picture would look a lot similar to the picture with the top of the Citi Field logo showing. I then took a picture that I consider to be a better view of the field from the Promenade Club:

Do you agree? It was right at this moment that I realized where I had initially pondered wandering. That which I consider the worst seat is pointed out by the arrow in the top left. So, I took a picture inside the club to show the curviness of it (it curves to match the curve of the field):

And a picture outside the club to demonstrate the equally curved cross-aisle that runs in front of it:

Sadly, this is way past foul territory and can’t fulfill its best purpose. I then headed out to inspect the worst seat in the ballpark as I had been planning for about a quarter of an hour now.

After I made the trek to get to a section closer to the worst seat, I actually went up to the level on which the seat was:

What I mean when I say I got on the level of the worst seat is that I was stadning on a staircase like the one circled in the lower right corner. That staricase leads down to the uppermost concourse. So, when I was on the concourse itself I couldn’t see where I was in terms of the seats and so I went up a staircase and decided I would work my way across through the seats.

Speaking of the seats, do you notice how slanted the stairs are? I would say that they are at about a 20 degree incline. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, check out the view from the bottom of the stairs looking up:

Suffice to say I’ve climbed Mayan pyramids with less imposing stairs. I don’t know how the people with seson tickets there can climb those things every day.

Though, the climb is in fact rewarding. When you get all the way up there and go over to the highest seat you should be able to see the entire world, right? Wrong. This is the view you are priviledged to seeing:

That thing obstructing your view of the field would be the out-of-town scoreboard. The Mets were nice enough to put TV screens on the back but would you really want to come all the way out to the ballpark just to watch the game on TV like you could have done at home.

I then goofed off a little and pretended I was flying because I have seen planes go this low by Citi Field:

The reason for that being, that LaGuardia airport is right across the way. In fact, it can be seen from said worst seat in the stadium. Here is the picture i took from right there:

I think the expression is somewhere between sheer terror of the height I was at and a yawn because of how far I was away from the field. Look at the view to my right:

This is the area behind the scoreboard in Center Field. It includes the speed pitch, batting cages, miniature field, and a variety of restaurants. It may not look that high but it was terrifying being up there when you are used to being on the ground and seeing these things full size. This concluded my post-bp tour of (part of) the stadium but I realized in about the seventh inning of the previous game that I should go to the Acela club because I had access to it.

Even though the club was technically closed, I was still allowed to enter and take pictures. Of course, the first thing I took a picture of was the food prices:

Maybe it’s the fact that I can get 2 slices of pizza and a soda for $3.00 a block from my school but I think that $6.00 is just a ridiculous price to pay for a slice of pizza. The sad part is that it is actually reasonable when it comes to pizza at baseball parks. The same slice is probably in the $9 range at Yankee Stadium. After going through various mental calculations on what else I could do with the money I spent on a meal in the Acela club, I took a few more pictures of the restaurant itself starting from the entrance and going outward. Now I will just show the pictures and you can add your own commentary:

Fast-forwarding to the title game of this entry, Alex and I went to the Mets dugout at the end of the game to try and coax something out of the Mets players. This was the crowd after the game:

It is pretty big for a crowd after the game considering the Mets were an obscene amount of games out of first at that time. To better our odds at getting a ball, I dressed up Alex in my Mets gear because I thought they would be more likely to toss him a ball than me. Suffice to say that Yankee fans usually don’t like getting dressed in Mets gear and Alex was no different:

Of course he is no idiot so he put on a face more like this one for the Mets:

Unfortunately, it didn’t matter what face Alex put on because the Mets didn’t toss anything in the crowd and with the relievers not coming in through the dugout caveat that I mentioned in the last entry. We were stuck with the Mike Stanton Home Run as the last and only ball of the night.

I then went up the stairs and had the same usher that took the picture in the last entry take it this time and here is the (slightly worse) end result:

Thus, with a subway ride concluded my last visit to Citi Field this season.

8/2/11 Marlins at Mets: Citi Field

What are all these people showing up early for?:

I mean seriously, I hate to break it to those fans out there but the Mets are currently 20 games out of first place. The first place team has the best record in baseball but 20 games is never good. At least I was the first one in line. That fact gave me this emptiness close to a minute after I arrived to Left Field:

Within a few minutes, I got Manny Acosta to throw me a ball:

I stayed in Left Field for a good hour and only got one ball, a Home Run on the fly hit by John Buck. Then, once the seats got this crowded:

I moved over to Right Field where this was my view:

In that last picture, number 40 would be Michael Dunn. A few minutes after I took that picture he recognized a Marlins “fan” and threw me a ball perfectly between the other grabby hands in my section:

Sadly, this would be my last ball of the day as I was over-thinking, over-moving, and not coming up with much for all my work. One reason was this:

I mean not just the obvious obstacle the crowd would provide in catching balls but also I was playing conservatively on toss-ups and trying to use the strategy that got me into double digits at Nationals Park (not a particular strategy but rather strategy in general). This works in the sparsely inhabited seats of the Upper Right Field of Nationals Park but is a bit harder when competing with a crowd of others. This is not so much a commentary of this game but all the games I have been to this point (August 15th). I have to just take toss-ups when I can get them and not worry about other pitchers seeing me.

Anyway, I sat over in this area for the game:

Not my usual spot but I did have a guest on this day and joined him by his ticketed seat and sacrificed the foul ball opportunities/ third out opportunities. What else can I say? The most “exciting” thing was Hanley Ramirez spraining his shoulder a few feet away:

I went to the umpire’s tunnel after the game but Bill (?) Welke ran out of baseballs when he got to me after giving a pair of balls away twice and telling me he was out. I’m fine with that I’m just telling what happened.

STATS:

  • 3 balls at this game
numbers 185-187 for my career:
Before I keep on going with the usual stats, is it jus me or is the ball that Manny Acosta threw me lopsided?:
Anyone? It just looks like the left is lower than the right to me. Either that or all the logos were mis-printed.
  • 126 balls in 29 games= 4.34 Balls Per Game
  • 55 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 20 straight with at least 2 balls
  • 25 straight games with at least 1 at Citi Field
  • 3 balls*33,297 fans= 99,891 competition factor
  • Time at game 4:38-10:38= 6 hours on the dot