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.
- 3 balls at this game
- 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
Remember that I went to the game in May and it got cancelled. Well, it was rescheduled for this day in July and it looked fine:
Not as good as it did the day it got cancelled but not horrible rain-away-batting practice bad.
When I got to the gate I noticed something odd:
Do you see the gates marked by the arrows? I have never seen them before. I know I haven’t been to Citi Field in over a month but it was just weird seeing them. I know the purpose is to corral people even more and it is a good idea but I wonder why they hadn’t done it sooner. Also upon arriving, I wondered if my ticket from the initial game would work:
Initially, I was somber because going to this game reminded of the initial game in which I am now comfortable (with all the hecktivity gone) announcing that the responsibilities I was lifted of were those of taking care of my ailing dad. On that day May, 17, 2011 my father passed away.
What game? I was the first one to the left field bleachers beating all the other ballhawks in attendance (four according to mygamebals.com). I got Mookie Wilson to toss me a ball within the first minute. I first asked him if he could toss me a ball and he told me no but then tossed it up anyway after I said that it was ok and thanked him “anyway”. That is now the second time i have used the “can you toss me a ball please” line and that exact same scenario has occurred. The last time was in Miami. Here is a diagram of where I was and the flight of the ball:
The solid arrow is where I was and the dotted is how he threw me the ball. In retrospect, he was probably about five feet from the ball but whatever, you get the idea.
As the ballhawks arrived, I moved over to the empty center field section and running down the stairs, yelled out to Ryota Igarashi in Japanese for a ball. The next picture shows how the whole thing unfolded:
The names are pretty self-explanatory. The solid line is how far he went to shag the ball. The two dotted lines are what happened afterward. He liked my request so much we played catch for as many throws as it took me to fall into the seats. You see when I throw a baseball I have a longer stride than most people and that produces my right leg (I’m a righty) to come up after the pitch every time I want to get something behind the ball. If you look carefully behind the word “me” you will see there is a railing. Since I was on the right side of the railing, that cuts the aisle in half and made me make the choice of falling off a lot into the seats on my left, smacking my leg into the railing, or throw very slowly. I was going to go with the third but when I lobbed the ball into him and he made the hand gesture saying it was ok I tried to throw my slider but because the aisle was so narrow not only did the ball have no movement as I fell into the seats but I bounced it to him. I think he knew then to stop and called it of. Still, it was a great experience.
I moved over to right field in hopes that those players shagging there would toss me a ball but it didn’t take long to figure out they had seen me play catch with Igarashi. I moved back over to Left for Marlins bp.
But first, I want to show you one of the motifs of Mets bp:
If you can’t see the screen in front of 2nd base is down. Throughout the duration of bp it kept falling down. There wasn’t that much wind. I have had days were it was gusting circa 20 mph and the screen didn’t blow down. I don’t know I guess it’s just the Mets way of life.
As I got to left field and saw the first two batters I knew it was the big group:
Those hitters are (from left to right): Hanley Ramirez, John Buck, Mike Stanton, and Mike Cameron. I think if you take any two of them it is a pretty good time to be in left field but all four of them and you have a super group. I cannot think how good the left field seats in Sun Life Stadium would be this year if it opened 2.5 hours early. That said, I only got one ball from this group. I stayed back because of their power and it paid off when a ball bounced a few rows in front of me and I ran up an aisle an grabbed it off the paved steps:
When I look at it now it was hit pretty far. Guess who hit it. Mike Stanton. Of course that was not the only thing he hit:
In my 20+ games at Citi FieldI have never seen a player hit the Amtrak club. I am surprised that someone had not hit it sooner but not surprised it was Stanton to do it. Before I get too off topic, I want to mention I gave the Stanton ball to a kid who was chasing after me:
I can’t exactly tell if that is him in the stripes as I remember his face more but considering this is the only photo of its ilk…
I then convinced Randy Choate to toss me a ball in left field. After that I moved over to center field and got Brian Sanches (no that is not a typo) to toss me a ball in the corner spot. For those who don’t know, a corner spot is a place in a section where there is no possibility of anyone being in front or to one side of you because you are in the very first row and to the extremity of that specific section. Now the corner spot is not in this picture but it just demonstrates what happened:
Sanches is number 44 in that picture.
I then, as you can probably tell from the previous picture, moved over to right field in hopes of Mike or Mike (Stanton, Dunn) to throw me a a ball. I didn’t want to be recognized by Sanches who was not that far away so I sat down on the steps near the wall. The steps are so steep that I could sit down and still barely see over the wall:
Eventually a lefty hit a ball to the wall. Mike Dunn went to retrieve it but gave it to a kid much smaller than me. However, a second ball came and since I had made my presence know on the first ball he threw me the second ball:
That was it for bp. I stayed in left field for the game. Both center fielders were occasionally throwing their warm up balls into the stands but I didn’t get any as I was always one staircase away. I am pleased to announce however, Observing Baseball is going green:
I have now been using the promotional Earth Day Metrocard since Earth day itself.
- Six balls at this game (five pictured because I gave one away)
- 79 balls in 22 games= 3.59 balls per game
- 47 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 23 straight at Citi Field
- 4 straight games with at least 5 balls
- 6 balls* 32,411 fans=194,466 competition factor
- Time at game 4:36-10:19=5 hours 33 minutes