What happens when there’s a post-game concert at Nationals Park? I have to get to the ballpark super early to ensure I’ll get a $5 ticket. Even at that inordinately early time, there was still quite a line in front of me; hence my expression in this picture:
Bored out of my mind and losing personal space by the second, I took this picture of one of the silver baseballs lining the garage above the box office:
Eventually, I did get my ticket and headed inside for batting practice. More specifically, I headed to left field for pitcher’s batting practice. When I got there, Stephen Strasburg hit a ball about fifteen rows behind the wall. Fortunately, I was about twenty rows behind the wall, so I ran into the row and made the reaching catch. I don’t think I mentioned this on the blog yet, but prior to the day before’s game, I mentioned it had been over a month since I had caught a ball on the fly via Twitter. Needless to say, that catch felt great. Oh, and here’s the ball from the spot I caught it:
Then, for the second group of Nationals, i.e. Zimmerman, Morse, Werth, and LaRoche, I headed over to the Red Seats. Unfortunately, no one besides Morse was hitting anything even close to the Red Seats. And when Morse hit them in my direction, they were all sailing over my head into the restaurant area behind the Red Seats. (No, not the Red Loft, but he has hit it there before.) My only ball there came when Craig Stammen threw a ball into the crowd over his shoulder. I stepped a foot to my right and caught it. I then gave it away to the red-hatted kid who’s also in this picture: in this picture
I then headed over to right field where almost the exact same thing happened:
Some player I couldn’t see tossed a ball over his head while he was on the warning track, so I saw it and caught the ball right between the two guys in the “Zimmerman” jerseys. I then gave the ball away to the kid in the white “Harper” jersey.
Then later, almost the same thing happened AGAIN. Gio Gonzalez threw a ball up to the second deck in right field, but I could see it was falling short, so I positioned myself under the spot. When it bounced off the electronic scoreboard strip, (you know what I’m talking about, right? The things that most/all stadiums have along the second level seating that they use for advertising and additional animation during the game.) I caught it off the deflection:
I was about to toss *that* ball to the fan for whom it was intended, but Gio tossed a second one up there just as I was getting ready to throw the ball. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was my 150th ball of the season. Hooray for minor milestones and not throwing the balls away!
When the Mets came up to hit, I changed into my ridiculous Mets costume:
Unfortunately, the Mets didn’t toss me anything and the Mets hitters were….well, the Mets hitters. So that was it for me snagging-wise.
As for the game, I stayed out in right field. The game was a surprise pitching duel between Edwin Jackson and Jonathan Niese, with the only runs coming on an Ike Davis two- run home run. That’s just what I wanted, right? A lefty home run. Except he hit it opposite field.
After the game, I stuck around for Third Eye Blind’s post-game concert:
I had and have no idea who they are; I’m not into music that much, I probably have less than 100 songs on my iPhone, which I only really use for passing time. I just felt since I went through a bunch of hassle because of the concert, I might as well stick around a little longer for it. It was one of those “I paid my five dollars for this ticket, so I might as well get my money’s worth.” things.
Oh, and after I caught my first ball, I stubbed my toe on a railing in the left field seats. I was limping the whole game after that, but I didn’t know the extent to which my toe had reacted to the stubbing until I got home. I’ve truly never seen anything like it:
Can you imagine how hard I had to hit my foot on the railing for my toe to bruise that badly *through* the shoe I was wearing?
And now that you have the image of my bruised toe in your head, I’ll end the entry.
• 4 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave two away)
Career numbers 369-372:
• 150 Balls in 36 Games= 4.17 Balls Per Game
• 4 Balls x 42,662 Fans= 170,684 Competition Factor
• 45 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 110 Balls in 25 Games at Nationals Park= 4.40 Balls Per Game
• 17 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
• Time Spent On Game 2:16-11:42= 9 Hours 26 Minutes
Coming into this game, I was excited:
We’ll get into my use of the past tense later, but the reason for my excitement was it was my first game at Nationals Park in a while. I was having my second “August” slump in as many years, and I thought Nationals Park would be the perfect cure.
When I got in, I did what I usually do and headed to the left field seats:
When you enter Nationals Park, the starting pitchers are hitting. That means you can go to either the left field seats, or the Red Seats to try to catch home runs. I choose the left field seats out of comfort, but the Red Seats are pretty good for pitcher’s batting practice since Stephen Strasburg, who’s the best hitting pitcher, hits most of his home runs to the Red Seats. A third option is going to right field and trying to get a ball from the relievers warming up. (You can’t go past the foul line, though. That opens an hour after the main gates open) I don’t use this option because I’m at Nationals Park fairly regularly and the pitchers would recognize me after a few days of doing this.
When the rest of the stadium was about to open, I headed over to the right field seats. I had seen a ball hit in the seats in foul territory, so I wanted to get it. When that part opened, I trailed a kid who was also looking for balls. The only difference was, I knew where the ball was. Unfortunately, he was taking up the whole aisle, so I couldn’t get past him. When we finally arrived at the row where the ball was, I spotted it and started moving closer to it, but the kid then picked up what I was looking at and RAN after the ball. Sadly, had I not been there with him, I probably would have gotten the ball. As I was taking my walk of shame back to the right field seats, a Nationals lefty hooked a ball right in front of me. I ran after and secured the ball quickly:
That would be my one and final ball of the day. Long story short: there were no catchable balls, all bounces went away from me, and the Mets fans invaded the front row. That said; did you notice the logo on the ball? Snagging that ball alone made my day. If you couldn’t see it, here’s a close-up:
As for the game, if you couldn’t gather it from the picture of the ball, I was sitting in the right field seats. While I was there, Johan Santana gave up two home runs that I could’ve been within ten feet of. (I determined the latter would be un catchable as soon as it got hit, so I ran to the front of the section in case I could get seen on TV.) The first was a Michael Morse opposite field grand slam that initially looked like it was headed RIGHT at me, but tailed into a crowded row at the front of the section. The second was a Bryce Harper two-run blast. Those would be all the runs the Nationals scored as they won the game 6-4.
I wish I could write more about this game, but frankly, there is no more to write about. It was a “meh” game in many respects.
• 1 Ball at this game
• 146 Balls in 35 Games= 4.17 Balls Per Game
• 44 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 106 Balls in 24 Games at Nationals Park= 4.42 Balls Per Game
• 16 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
•Time Spent On Game 3:38-10:33= 6 Hours 55 Minutes
Look where I was on the one-year anniversary of the first BallhawkFest:
When I got there, though, the day-of-game-tickets windows were closed and I found out there was only one student ticket left. The windows were going to open at 5:00 (ten minutes before the gates), so I either going to get that last ticket or go home. Would I get the last ticket and get to go in, just decide to splurge on a more expensive ticket, or would I get locked out of the stadium and have to wander around and take pictures like this game? While you wonder, I’ll inject this anecdote to build suspense for the answer [insert childish giggle here].
While I was waiting for the windows open, a guy approached me and said “Hi”. This guy was Chris Hernandez, a fairly new ballhawk, who those of you who read the comments may know better as “ch1088”. If you would like to read it, he already posted his entry of this game. The link to which is hiagh. His girlfriend and a friend of hers were with him, so those two held a spot for both of us.
Why did I need a spot in line? I got this at the ticket window:
The lines were rather long, but instead of being at the back of them, thanks to Chris and his friends, I “only” had this many people in front of me:
Do you know how car sickness works? Basically, your brain gets confused because your eyes tell you you’re moving, but you yourself aren’t, so you get nauseous -or something along those lines. I don’t really get car sick anymore, instead I get grounds crew sick. Instead I get nauseous when I see sun and feel warmth, but there is a tarp on the field.
Long story short: I got rejected by every one of the Nationals pitchers. Actually, I even got rejected by the position players that came out to throw. I’d estimate that fifteen balls were thrown in the stands by the Nationals. By the way, I’m not complaining, just reporting what happened. There were a ton of balls that left the hands of Nationals and fell into the stands, and I was having some bad luck considering there weren’t that many fans and I was one of the few with Nationals gear.
At this time, I was pretty sure that if I got a ball, it was going to be at the Nationals dugout during the game. Spoiler alert: my streak of bad luck with third-out balls and I didn’t get anything at the dugout the whole game. Anyway, I almost got three balls from Drew Storen when he bounced three slider into the dirt. I would have gotten each of the had it not been for the wheelchair section they all bounced into. All of them were going right in my direction, but all fell short in front of me where other people got them since I couldn’t go into the section. No, I didn’t get a ball from Storen, but when the position players came out to warm-up, you can bet I was waiting for them to finish and toss me a ball:
Actually, though, none of the position players tossed me the ball. See the guy in the Red? My guess is he’s a Strength and Conditioning guy. Anyway, after all of the players had gone into the dugout, he tossed me one of the balls they had left on the field. Here is a diagram of what happened:
The horizontal arrow starts from where the guy was standing and ends where I was standing when he threw the ball. The vertical arrow points to the kid I gave the ball away to right after I caught the ball. It was a perfectly good ball, but I was in essence making a sacrifice to the baseball gods for not shutting me out. Don’t you just love my religion? All of same practices and rationale but no dying is involved. Also, you can see Chris at the far left of the picture. He’s the one standing up in the red. The reason being, he was trying to get a ball from the Nationals dugout. He was constantly coaxing them into throwing him a ball, but got dissed each time.
The game wasn’t particularly interesting during the middle innings, this was all I snagged through six innings:
Something else was happening at this time. Can you spot it in this picture? (you can click on the picture to get a closer look):
By the time I saw the Star Wars people in the concourse, it had already been raining for a while. I liked it. When it rains, less people are in the stands. That’s just one example, but you can read a lot more reasons to attend a game where there is rain in my most recent mygameballs.com column, The Rainy Day Gambit.
Then, in the latter innings, it started to pour. Ian Desmond decided to be a little more generous to the fans that stuck around:
Also in the latter innings, the seats were empty enough for me to walk around without getting in anyone’s way, so I did:
Do you see how empty it was? I mean this kind of emptiness is nothing new to me just because I’m insane and brave ridiculous weather in the name of baseball, but why does it take a rain storm for either New York stadium to be this empty? The game went into extra innings (for the second time in four games between these two teams- all of which I attended), and the combination of that, the Mets giving up six runs in the top of the tenth, and the rain made foul ground ballhawking heaven. It was like batting practice but during the game. What do I mean by that? People were actually standing up with their gloves on:
I’m not kidding you, if the Nationals sent a righty to pitch instead of Tom Gorzelanny, I might have caught three foul balls. I had a reasonable shot at catching anything hit within four sections of me. I was sitting close to the dugouts, so here’s a better look at how empty it was there:
Also, I should probably mention that part of the reason I say I could have gotten maybe three foul balls is I actually *did* get a foul ball in the top of the tenth that landed one and a half sections away:
Danny Espinosa fouled a ball off that went pretty high, so I raced from the section to the left of where I took this picture from and just as the ball landed, I was on the first staircase you see in this picture. The ball then bounced off the seat and whizzed right by my ear. It then hit the first “elevated” row and bounced into the row under that. I had changed direction and was the only one within twenty feet of the ball, so I picked it up. Here is the ball with the spot I picked it up in the background:
It was fun, and just like that, I had my first hit “game” ball of the year.
After the game, I headed over to the umpire tunnel, but the folks at MLB.com mistakenly had David Rackley as the home plate umpire in the box score. I had gotten a ball from David Rackley earlier in the year, so I knew it wasn’t him. During the bottom of the tenth, I figured out the umpire was Alan Porter, with the help of Greg Barasch, who was at home watching the game. When the game ended, I headed to the first row of the section and yelled out to Porter before anyone else had access to him and he tossed me the ball:
At the umpire tunnel, I ran into Mark McConville, who you may remember from me mentioning a few times in entries last month. We really hadn’t said hi to each other yet, so we walked out of the stadium after none of the Nationals pitchers (the ones that were left anyway) didn’t toss any balls into the crowd.
- 3 Balls at this game ( I gave one away)
Numbers 355-357 for my lifetime (I’m showing the logos because they were both commemorative):
- 135 Balls in 30 Games= 4.50 Balls Per Game (16 balls under 500)
- 3 Balls x 26,735 Fans= 80,205 Competition Factor
- 39 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 15 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 3 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
- 82 Balls in 31 Games at Citi Field= 2.65 Balls Per Game
- 31 straight Games at Citi Field with at least 1 Ball
- 3 straight Games at Citi Field with at least 2 Balls
- 3 straight Games at Citi Field with at least 3 Balls
- Time Spent On Game 3:32- 11:24= 7 Hours 52 Minutes
- 1 Hit Game Ball this season
- 5 Pieces of bubblegum snagged and chewed at this game
I thought I’d start off this entry a little differently. Basically, I want to give you guys an opportunity to have a look at what my day is like before I even enter the gates. I will do such a video for each stadium I visit from here on out (Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, and Target Field) Anyway, here is the video for Nationals Park:
Once we left the Red Seats in center field, Rick and I both headed over to the right field, only to realize it was Camp Day and those seats would be crowded come game time. While Rick checked a variety of things on his iPhone, I watched Ross Detweiler throw a bullpen session:
If you didn’t know, most starting pitchers throw at least one bullpen session between starts; some even throw two. Detweiler had started the opening opening game of the series, so I’m guessing he throws two, since he only took a day off from throwing. At the end of his session, Detweiler launched the ball he was throwing with into the seats in foul territory. Both Rick and I saw it and thought it went on our side of the tunnel- indicated by the glass panels- in the next picture:
Soon after that, Nationals hitters started hitting. All of which can be seen in the following picture:
That’s right, a grand total of two Nationals hitters hit. That was the extent of batting practice. They didn’t even have any players go into the outfield; just the coaches came out to shag the balls. The two players were: a healthy Bryce Harper and a rehabbing Jayson Werth. You would probably guess that the super-prospect would hit more balls into the stands than the old, injured, failed multi-million dollar contract, right? Well I did too. Unfortunately, both of us were wrong and Werth hit many more homers to left as I watched in helpless despair from right. The one ball I had perfectly tracked, a barehanded fan reached right in front of me and deflected the ball away.
Then, right after they stopped hitting, I headed over closer to the foul pole very discreetly, as so Rick wouldn’t notice me:
Not to get a ball from the pitchers you see warming up, but remember that ball Detweiler threw into the stands earlier? That portion of the stands was about to open in two minutes when I took that last picture, and I wanted to be the first one in them to get the ball.
I was indeed the first person there, but when I got to the spot I thought the ball was, it was vacant. As Rick arrived on the scene, I went up to the top of the section and asked an usher where the ball had gone. He told me it had gone on the other side of the tunnel I mentioned earlier. I went down there, and he guided me as I motioned to where I thought the ball was. This was actually the same usher who gave me my first usher toss-up at Nationals Park ever. If you can find a picture him, you win………bragging rights. (Hint: the easies way to find the entry is through mygameballs.com.)
Thanks to this ushers arsenal of saving gestures, I found the ball right under a seat:
I then moved back over to the pitchers warming up. I figured Strasburg, since he doesn’t shag balls in the outfield, would probably not recognize me. So, I lined up behind Jim and his throwing partner, Jordan Zimmerman:
Unfortunately, Zimmerman ended up with the ball, which usually means I am not getting the ball (I had never gotten a ball from him, and he has never been fan-friendly per se). Fortunately, I was the only non-Mets fan, so after he scanned the stands, he threw me the ball:
Then, to my surprise, the complementary ticket I mentioned in the opening video, was right behind the umpire tunnel. So until the game began, I talked mostly with the two people in the next picture, and a person slightly out of the frame to the right:
I had been talking to the ushers a little the previous two games when I came down to get umpire balls, but in talking to them this day, both parties (myself and the ushers) learned that the other knew of “Zack”. The “Zack” in question being one with the surname Hample.We then had a discussion about the specifics of baseball collecting and my experience beginning in the hobby.
The guy in the red is Gio Gonzalez’s dad. He actually is the one who brought up the subject (kind of). I guess he saw me by Gio while I was trying to get a ball and said, “Are you a collector?” To which I responded, “Yes ” not knowing who he was. It turns out Gio’s father is an autograph collector and thought I was the same. It was a slightly frustrating process, but when the male usher jumped in with: “Oh. You know Zack?” Gio’s father faded out of the conversation and went to his seat. Sadly, his son would get knocked around by the Mets en route to a 9-5 loss.
During the game, this was my view of the action:
For some reason, I have horrible luck with third-out balls (whichever end of the dugout I go to, the ball goes to the other). Well, my luck continued for this game. I didn’t get a single third-out ball.
I’d just like to take a little time out to point out one of the members of the “Nat Pack”, Terrence. I mentioned a couple of entries ago that I believed he was the most energetic team employee I had ever seen at a baseball game (maybe I didn’t phrase it like that, but that’s what I meant). The ushers I had been talking to described this as the hottest game of the year. I don’t know about that, but it was in the 105 degree range. Well Terrence wasn’t slowing up at all. He inhabits the wheelchair section by the third base dugout. One of the things he does is whenever there’s a wave, he runs from one end of the section to the other “pushing” it along. There were more than a couple waves this game. Another example, of which I have photographic evidence, is what Terrence was doing when “Old Time Rock and Roll” started playing:
That’s right. He picked up one of the fold-able chairs and started jumping around the section, pretending the chair was a guitar as he strummed it.
After the game, I was already by the umpire tunnel, so I asked the umpire, Chris Conroy for a ball. He gave it to me saying, “Here, because you took the time to look up my name.” Conroy, if my memory serves me right is number 99. I don’t know for certain, but I would bet that means he is one of the newer umpires, so I’m guessing not many people know his name:
- 3 Balls at this game (no picture because I forgot to take it). They were numbers 352-354 for my career
- 132 Balls in 29 Games= 4.55 Balls Per Game (14 Balls under 500)
- 3 Balls x 36,389 Fans (no way were there that many people)= 109,167 Competition Factor
- 38 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 14 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
- 105 Balls at Nationals Park in 23 Games= 4.57 Balls Per Game
- 16 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
- 16 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
- 2 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
- Time Spent One Game 9:34- 4:07= 6 Hours 33 Minutes
- This game will have been my 100th ever I have recorded on mygameballs.com. I have gone to more games than that, but I obviously didn’t keep a record of them before mygameballs.com, so this is the only milestone I can celebrate.
Oh, another frustrating day at Nationals Park. Except this time, I knew it was going to be frustrating before I even entered the gates. Thus, this was me waiting for the gates to open:
Rick Gold, who had been with me at the prior game, alerted me to the fact that Jayson Werth had already taken batting practice, which meant the Nationals as a whole had probably taken batting practice. With the impending thunderstorms, I could see from the gate that the cage wasn’t even up (one of the reasons Nationals Park is better than either of the New York Parks). I also didn’t know it at the time, but this was the 100th ball I had ever snagged at Nationals Park, which also marks the first time I’ve ever snagged 100 balls at any given stadium.
When the gates opened, Rick tried to go to right field to use his retriever on a home run ball that had landed behind the scoreboard. I, meanwhile took advantage of the information Rick had half-knowingly given to me. I went to the Red Seats and found a ball Jayson Werth had hit there earlier:
For the record, Rick couldn’t find the ball. It was a mystery to both of us where it had gone, though, since we thought if anyone picked it up, it would be a person cleaning behind the scoreboard, but it was still filthy.
After I got my ball, the Nationals kept everyone under cover, because of the lightning storm passing through. NO one was allowed into the seats that weren’t covered. See for yourself:
That last picture was the spot I was when Jon Rauch and his throwing partner warmed up. I had to watch in despair as they finished throwing, because I know I could have easily gotten him to toss me a ball had I been allowed to go down there.
Eventually, the Nationals did let everyone down into the seats. Pretty much everyone rushed to the Mets’ dugout:
The only difference is: I wasn’t a zombie about it. I figured I would have a better shot at getting a ball from the Mets, but when Jayson Werth came out to throw with a trainer, I ran over to the other side of the stadium, changed into my Nationals shirt as I went over there, and got this from him:
Weird way to get two balls from the same player in one day, huh? Also, this was a minor milestone in that it was my 350th ball ever. It’s a pretty obscure milestone, so I’ll leave my elaboration at that.
During the game, this was my view of the action:
There were two righties pitching, so I figured I would camp out there. I had a pretty good amount of room to work with, even with Rick in right field too, but I forgot to get a picture of it. Sadly, the only home run in those seats came when I had already gone over to the Mets’ dugout. Rick told me I might have gotten it had I stayed. Oh well, I got this instead from a Mets ball boy:
• 3 Balls at this game
•129 Balls in 28 Games= 4.61 Balls Per Game (12 Balls under 500)
• 3 Bals x 31,660 Fans= 94,980 Competition Factor
• 37 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 13 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 102 Balls in 22 Games at Nationals Park= 4.64 Balls Per Game
• 15 Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
• 15 Games with at least 2 Balls at Nationals Park
• Time Spent On Game 3:40- 11:22= 7 Hours 42 Minutes (exactly one minute more than I had the previous day)
After two games at Yankee Stadium, it was off to the magical land of Nationals Park…where the home team doesn’t hit for whatever weird reason:
Obviously, I tried to get a ball from the Nationals warming up:
but given I go to a bunch of Nationals games, I thought it would be in my best interest to maybe not draw as much attention to myself as I could, so the Nationals wouldn’ty recognize me or potentially recognize me at a later game. Therefore, I didn’t get a ball from them.
I waited and waited. Finally, after what felt like hours, the Mets started hitting. You would think that meant I would get a bunch of baseballs, right? Nope. The Mets aren’t exactly the most powerful lineup. They really didn’t hit anything within fourty feet of me. The only ball I got from Mets batting practice was tossed to me by Chris Young in the Red Seats:
That was it. After Young tossed me the ball, I wanted to just catch a few home runs before I started asking the Mets for more balls. I wanted to set up myself for success the next day. I was thinking, “Hey, if I don’t ask that many Mets today for a ball, I can maybe hit double digits tomorrow.” Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, the Mets are power-hitter deficient, so I would end batting practice with one baseball.
With two lefty pitchers- Ross Detweiler and Jonathan Niese- this game, I just sat out in left field pretty much the whole game. I had ushers on both the right field and left field sides who were letting me into their sections, so I made it to right field a few times (or maybe I’m getting this mixed up and I stayed mostly in the right field seats and made it occasionally to the left field seats), but in the dead space between the end of batting practice and the first pitch (usually about 50 minutes from 6:20 to 7:10) I didn’t know this, so I had some time to kill sitting in the left field seats. I filled such time by yelling out the correct answers to people playing trivia games, shown on the jumbotron, since the place they were getting filmed from was only a few feet from me in real life:
If you’re wondering, I got all of the answers right. I can’t remember what the questions were about, but I have also learned a pattern in the correct answers of the Nationals no matter the question being asked.
During the game itself, I saw no action at all. At the end of the game, though, I made my way over to the Mets’ dugout. I asked the umpire for a ball, but got rejected. By the time I got back over to the dugout itself, all of the Mets had entered the dugout from a way-too-drramatic loss. What had happened was: the Nationals had been leading 2-0 pretty much the whole game. Then, in the top of the ninth, Jordan Valdespin hit a three-run home run. It looked like the Mets had just won the game, but the Nationals tied the game in the bottom of the ninth at 3-3. As we headed to extra innings, the Mets scored again, but the Nationals came right back in the bottom of the tenth and scored two runs to win the game 5-4. It was the most back-and -forth game I have ever been to. I ran down the stairs three times to get an umpire ball, since I was convinced the game was over.
Anyway, my last hope was the people coming from the bullpen. When they arrived, I asked bullpen coach, Ricky Bones, for the lineup card. He said no, but reappeared from the dugout right after he went down and tossed me a ball before then proceeding into the clubhouse:
That was it. A long, full day of boringness that I didn’t think was noteworthy enough to include in this entry. That’s why this entry is so short.
- 2 Balls at this game
- 126 Balls in 27 Games= 4.67 Balls Per Game (9 Balls under 500)
- 2 Balls x 26, 342 Fans= 52, 684 Competition Factor
- 36 Games with at least 1 Ball
- 12 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 99 Balls in 21 Games at Nationals Park= 4.71 Balls Per Game
- 14 Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
- 14 Games with at least 2 Balls at Nationals Park
- Time Spent On Game 3:37- 11:18= 7 Hours 41 Minutes
Since this was my first game of 2012 at Citi Field, let’s count all the things the Mets changed from 2011 that I thought would make Citi Field awesome, but ended up angering me.
1. They advertised people being able to buy a six game plan for as low as $9 a ticket.
I was ecstatic to see this because I usually buy my tickets from Stubhub, and Stubhub’s fees on each ticket are $11 plus whatever the ticket itself costs. However, when I bought the tickets, the fees the Mets added to the tickets bumped up the price of the plan from $54 to $89, so around $15 a ticket.
Now this wouldn’t have been a big deal on its own, but check out the ticket I bought at this game:
That’s right, I bought this ticket for only $10. Nowadays, the Mets sell tickets to people with valid student IDs for only $10, but they made sure to wait until AFTER the beginning of the season to publicize this fact. So in essence, what I did in buying the plan was waste $30 and make it so I *had* to attend those games or sell them on Stubhub if any plans got in the way, whereas I could choose not to go if I were constantly buying tickets the day of the game as I did here. For the record, I will probably not be able to attend four of those games that I bought, so in all likelihood, I wasted a lot more than $30 on the Mets.
2. They put up a section in Left Field that was closer to the field:
It should be obvious why I thought this was going to make Citi Field a much better place to snag baseballs. Closer to the field= more baseballs that make it into the seats. In addition, I didn’t account for how this would improve the ballhawking in the regular seating above the new section. As fellow ballhawk and neighbor Greg Barasch put it, “We would be in the place we normally are now, but it would be completely empty.” It makes sense, doesn’t it? Other fans see a section closer to the field than they are and they crowd it. In response to Greg’s comment, I jokingly said, “Yeah, but you know the Mets are going to find a way to mess this up, right?” Well, the Mets did.
Unlike my fantasized LF, there were ushers checking tickets, even during batting practice. So all the section does is act as like a perpetual season ticket holder section the Mets had last year. If you don’t remember what that was or have started reading this blog since then, it was a section on the field where season ticket holders could experience batting practice from the field. What this did was keep most toss ups from being thrown to the people in the upper part of the bleachers. So if there are any people in that section, they are a lot more likely to get a ball thrown to them simply because of their proximity to the field and thus any player who would throw a ball into the stands.
That ball, as I later discovered, is lopsided. If you hold the ball in the center, the right side of the ball has more mass than the left does. I don’t know if this will show up well in a photo, but do you see how the following picture has the ball slanted? That is because this particular ball cannot possibly sit on its middle due to the size differential between the sides. Weird, right?:
I stayed in the LF seats for a couple of minutes after that, but all the Mets in the cage were lefties, so I knew nothing was coming my way on the fly.
That brought me to the CF section, which also brings us to:
4. The Mets were going to move the fences in CF.
I thought this was going to mean they would also put in some extra seats as to make it possible for us ballhawks to catch baseballs that otherwise we would not have been able to reach. Instead this was the result:
The bottom concrete part is where the seating area ends and the orange is the top of the new wall. That means the Mets moved the fence closer, but the seats stayed the same. What did this create? A gap, and a rather large one too:
This is GREAT for using the glove trick or another retrieval device, but as it is well-documented, such devices are absolutely NOT allowed at Citi Field. That means myself and other people with devices are forced to drool over balls like the one in the picture above.
I was however, the only person in the section, so I was bound to get at least one ball there, right? Well, the Mets’ bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello went to throw a ball against the wall and I thought he was going to throw it to me, so I made a motion to catch it. As he released the ball he spotted me and tossed me a second ball he had with him. However, this was a half-hearted throw and landed a few feet short, making me lean into the gap for a catch:
I then moved over to RF, but I quickly left because R. A. Dickey was manning that portion of the outfield. He was an absolute jerk last year after being so nice in his first year with the Mets, and it was clearly the “2011 R. A.” rather than the “2010 R. A.” In addition, RF brings up… drumroll:
5. The Mets moved in the fences in RF.
Again, I thought they would add some general seating there and this would mean RF would actually be a feasible place to catch a baseball. Instead, this is what they did:
Similar to CF, the Mets added no new seating open to the public. Instead, they added a picnic-like area. The reason I say “a feasbible place to catch a baseball” is because as it is now, only the juts at the sides of the section can have a Home Run hit to them due to the overhang of the second deck. If the seating were to extend to the orange line, though, there would be a few rows of running room and some mild hope of catching a ball there. In addition to not living up to my child-like fantasy, the addition actually made that section worse. As it was last year, any ball that hit the angular wall would ricochet to the ground under the red “Modell’s” sign. This allowed experienced ballhawks to stay right above said sign and just ask whichever player picked up the ball from right above their head.
I *was* behind Zack Hample, but that’s not why I didn’t get a ball until the Reds started throwing. No, the reason for my drought was the Mets seem to not be physically able to hit a ball past the Party Deck if unless they pull it right down the foul line.
This was about the most interesting part of the rest of the Mets’ batting practice:
Has anyone ever seen a dot like that on the batting cage for the pitcher to aim at? Is this done all the time and I am just that oblivious to such details? What’s up with it? Should I stop asking so many rhetorical questions?
Anyway, I then moved over to foul ground when the Reds pitchers started throwing and lined up behind this throwing pair:
However, I had no idea what either of their names were, so when Johnny Cueto finished his throwing, I didn’t hesitate at all to wave my arms in the air and ask for a ball. I figured he would walk a little closer and throw me the ball, but he stopped right where he was and threw it a long way to me. The next picture shows how far away he was when he released the ball. The arrow on the left is where Cueto is now and the arrow on the right is where he was when he threw me the ball:
Not surprisingly, Cueto overthrew me, but the only fan behind me was on his phone and didn’t even notice the ball until it clanged off a seat right in front of him and caromed back closer to me.
Here is a picture of the ball with Cueto in the background once I got back to the LF seats:
After that, myself and the other ballhawk in attendance, Mark McConville had the treat of getting completely humiliated while Zack caught baseballs while on his cellphone:
He was getting interviewed by a Sirius XM radio station and they wanted to get him on the air live while he was snagging baseballs. That was one of two or three baseballs he managed to get players to toss him without using words.
I, on the other hand, got this:
It wasn’t all happy, though. That was the second ball that landed in that row. The first one was a ball hit to my left. I had a fancyish camera at this game and wanted to make use of it, so me, being the idiot that I am, tried to get a picture of the ball as I caught it. The action of holding the camera threw me off-balance and caused me to not only miss what would have been an easy catch, but also hit the metal armrest of a seat. This left what is a bruise that is half an inch deep, an inch tall, and three inches wide. I won’t show it for the more sqeamish people, but here is a link to the picture for those who want to see it, or you can read Zack’s account of the game, within which he details the bruise/cut (Oh, and before I get too side-tracked, that is the other ballhawk, Mark, going up to the front of the section in Reds gear.)
After I hit the armrest, my head was slowly lowering, so all I could see was some glove in the row behind me catch the ball. On the very next pitch or the pitch right after that, the same hitter hit a ball in the same row but even further to my left and I hobbled over there and picked up the ball. I guess Karma was feeling bad for me. This injury esentially fudged up my plan of going over to RF and asking a Reds player over there for a ball, because it was painful to put any significant pressure on the leg, and that was it for batting practice. The Reds hitters hit very little into the stands and their pitchers were throwing very little as well.
Oh well, at least it was a beautiful afternoon:
Also, see the usher in green, who I have further emphasized by putting an arrow over his head, in that last picture? Towards the end of batting practice, I gave him a ball that I told him to give to a kid of his choice.
One thing I do like about the Mets is that they have the lineups on the scoreboard even before the game begins. Here they are:
If you can’t tell, the Reds had 7 righties and the Mets had 6 lefties. Considering the Reds hadn’t faced a left-handed pitcher in almost a month at this point and were unlikely to hit a Home Run against one of the best left-handed pitchers in the National League, I sat in, you guessed it. Left Field.
My plan *was* to sit in the foul territory along the third base line, but with the limp I had, ushers were already checking tickets by the time I got to those seats and I decided to play Home Run balls in Left Field. I felt pretty good about that when, a few inning into the game, this was the view to my left:
That said, you may or may not have noticed in that last picture, but this was what the section I was planning to sit in looked like:
Thankfully nothing was hit there, but it was absolute torture watching the section be that empty.
Long story short, neither the Reds nor the Mets hit anything close to my section. I’m pretty sure I spent more time studying for an AP Macroeconomics test I had the next morning than I did paying attention to the game. This is saying a lot considering I wasn’t really invested in the test given it was going to be on the one year anniversary of my dad’s death, on which day I attempted to go to a Mets game. Then again, I guess I can’t complain about anything that happened this game considering most of fellow seniors were at prom right as I took that last picture. The one bright spot in the game is what I believe to be one of the few things the Mets managed to get right, and it is this:
I like that they have the spray chart for the hitters. Then again, it’s something that I, as a high school senior, can and have done on a daily basis, so it’s not that impressive. I’m sorry, am I being too negative? I just really don’t like that the Mets have messed up almost every “improvement” they have tried to make. I thoroughly enjoyed watching not one, but two Home Runs be hit by the Reds that would not have been Home Runs with the old dimensions.
Remember I mention I had a fancyish camera this game? Well one of the things said camera can do is take panoramic photographs, so I took one towards the beginning of the game and one towards the end of the game:
After the game, I headed out to the bullpens in CF and asked Reds bullpen catcher, Mike Stefanski, and even though not only the only fan wearing Reds gear, but the only fan there period, he completely ignore my request. I then got to think about how big of an idiot I was for banging my thigh against seat while I hopped/limped all the way from CF to the train station behind Home Plate.
- 4 Balls at this game (3 in this picture because I gave that one away to the usher)
Numbers 252-255 in my “collection”:
- 33 Balls in 7 Games= 4.71 Balls Per Game
- 16 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 7 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 7 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
- 4 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
- 4 Balls x 22,659 Fans= 90,636 Competition Factor (or an example of why this statistic is flawed)
- 76 balls obtained in 29 games = 2.62 Balls Per Game
- 29 straight Games at Citi Field with at least 1 Ball
- Time at Game 4: 13- 10:16= 6 hours 3 minutes