First of all, here is a Before The Gates Open video detailing my journey to and subsequent time at Citi Field’s Jackie Robinson Rotunda:
Oh, how there are some things that I did not miss at all about New York:
At the top of my baseball portion of this list was probably Citi Field. That said, I planned to attend five games there this week starting with this game. Why would I put myself through this madness? I was at 86 career baseballs snagged at Citi Field and wanted to get to 100 baseballs there so I would never have feel the obligation to go to Citi Field ever again. That way if I ever returned to Citi Field, it would more-or-less be on my own terms and not because I felt obligated to go there. So let’s get right into the entry, shall we?
For the first few groups of BP, I stood out here:
If you can’t tell, the guy in the white shirt and blue hat is Zack Hample. Normally I would like to be on the staircase he is on in that picture, but he took that spot, and to stand behind him is just asking to get robbed. Plus it wouldn’t make sense to bunch up if we had space to spread out. However, the reason I took this picture is Zack somehow managed to rob me from there. More specifically, I managed to absolutely botch a ball. As I explained in a Before The Gates Open video–which I’ll put up on this entry later on next week when I have access to the footage and time to edit it. (I’ll announce when I’ve put it up on Twitter)–this was my first time bringing my 14-or-so-inch lefty glove to a game, so by the time the the gates opened, it was still a little new to me. Anyway, I got Tom Goodwin to toss me a ball, but I somehow had the ball tip off the top of my glove and into the seats behind me. I ran back to where the ball landed, but it wasn’t there. Just then I saw Zack running in my peripheral vision and a ball hit in the seats all at the same time. What had happened was the ball had bounced off a seat and fallen a couple of rows down, where I couldn’t see it but Zack could. He ran over to pick it up and while he was over on my side of the section, a Mets righty hit a ball right next to him, which he also picked up. So had I not completely botched the ball, I probably would have had two quick baseballs. Those would be the only two baseballs I would see anywhere near me in left field. Although, those were Zack’s first two baseballs of the game, and this was the 900th consecutive game in a row that he had snagged a baseball at. So I can kind of say that I was responsible for a 900 games in a row with at least 1 ball.
Center field, though, was another story. I decided at the beginning of a new BP group that I would head over there and try my luck with getting toss-ups. I quickly got Dillon Gee to toss me my first ball of the day:
I then headed back to left field for the beginning of Reds BP. This time on the other side of Zack:
(I realize this picture is during Mets BP, but you get the picture–literally–here.) But when I realized most of the Reds power hitters were lefties and Mat Latos was not going to toss anything up any time soon, I headed back out to the center field.
In center field I moved down to the corner spot at the bottom left of the section (bottom right if you’re looking at it from home plate). And while I was trying to get a ball from whoever the player was ( I remember he was a 6-foot-6 lefty or something like that, but I don’t feel like looking up the actual name of the player.) I heard the people next to me moving around and the player look up in the sky. As it was already on its descent, I looked up and saw the ball everyone was looking at, and saw that it was coming essentially right at me. I then quickly got my glove up, hopped a bit, and caught the ball:
I found out later from the people behind me that it was Jay Bruce who hit the ball. This was nice in that it had a redemptive quality to it for messing up the easy Goodwin catch. It also assured me that there was indeed hope for this giant lefty glove. However, I must say that two annoying things about the glove are when I have to label the baseball, because I still do write right-handed, and when I’m taking a picture of the baseball, because I still feel the need to have the ball on the left side of the frame and that requires that I cross my arms while taking the picture.
Anyway, this ball would be my last of batting practice. Since the Reds good hitters are pretty much–besides Brandon Phillips and Todd Frazier–are left-handed, I headed up to a place I hadn’t been in a while, the Pepsi Porch in right field:
Here’s the view of the field from where I was standing:
And now of the scoreboard:
The reason I took so many pictures from up there that didn’t really have to do with ballhawking is that I didn’t know when the next time I was going to be on the Pepsi Porch was. Maybe never. Like I said, I hadn’t been up there in a long time. And there’s a reason for that. To get up onto the Pepsi Porch, you have to go into foul ground, take and escalator up two or three stories, go across a bridge, go down some steps, and then you’re at the *back* of the section. Simply put: you better have a very good reason to go up there if you’re wasting that much time in just getting there.
After batting practice I headed down to the Reds dugout to try to get a ball from the person packing up the BP balls up, but the funniest thing happened. Instead of heading into the dugout when he pack the baseballs up, he went into the area right behind home plate and dumped the whole bag of baseballs on him:
I don’t know the exact story, but that guy in the stands managed to snag I’d say between 10 and 15 baseballs in the span of a second. It was something pretty ridiculous that I’ve never seen before.
As for the rest of the game, I snagged a ball after the game at the umpire’s tunnel which I then gave away to a Vietnam Veteran I saw with a glove, but that wasn’t the story of the game. All of us ballhawk-type people met up at the dugout after the game, and posed with the prize of the game:
Left to right that would be:
4. Aaron (Who also goes by the nickname Howie)
And sorry for the picture being out of focus. Whoever took the picture didn’t understand that the iPhone needs a second to focus the picture. But anyway, what we are all pointing to is the Marlon Byrd home run Mark had snagged earlier in the game. Mark has snagged one more home run than I have (so two). And both have come when I was in attendance and the ball got pulled to a section in left field. I’d say it is one or two sections from the foul pole. Congratulations, Mark, on that. Both were nice plays. The only negative thing about the home run is that had Mark snagged one more ball in BP, the home run would have been his 100th ball snagged ever. I think he’ll take the home run snag, though. Although, it is a personal observation of mine that one’s 100th ball likes to be the first ball of a game. Myself and a bunch of other ballhawks it seems leave a game stuck on 99 baseballs and can’t get that 100th ball until the next game.
Our family had just moved to Washington–I stayed for an extra week to say goodbye to people in New York–so I headed back on the train with Zack to sleep one last night in a pretty vacant apartment with my step-brother who had a flight that he had to leave for at 3 o’clock in the morning. Suffice to say I didn’t get much sleep in preparation for the game the following day.
- 3 Balls at this Game (2 pictured because I gave 1 away)
- 69 Balls in 15 Games= 4.60 Balls Per Game
- 3 Balls x 23,038 Fans= 69,114 Competition Factor
- 77 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 4 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
- 89 Balls in 34 Games at Citi Field= 2.62 Balls Per Game
- 34 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Citi Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:13-12:02= 8 Hours 49 Minutes
There are truly not many match-ups that I am more excited to see, except for maybe the teams ordered vice-versa in their presentation, i.e. the Twins being the home team:
Who cares what I do in bp? The game itself is great because my two favorite teams are playing. [Let me just clarify that Twins-Yankees is my favorite match-up that I have *attended*. There are other match-ups that in my head seem better to watch, but I haven’t seen those teams play live before.] That said, lettuce explore what happened in bp, shall we?
Like I usually do, I started in RF. Here is a map of the four balls I had a reasonable shot at snagging while in those seats:
1. Some lefty hit a ball to my left (right in the picture). It landed and I beat out a guy for the ball. I felt like I kind of squeezed by him into the row where the ball landed and he would have gotten the ball had I not, so I ended up giving him the ball. Here is a picture with an arrow showing where the ball hit from where I was standing when I was in RF:
2. I believe I was on my way back to my usual spot from chasing a ball close to the “1” spot in the picture…anyway, I ran to my right (left in the picture) and was tracking a HR ball. (When I say HR ball, that does not mean it was during the game. A HR, when refered to on this blog just means a ball that clears the fence on the fly, batting practice or otherwise. I wanted to clarify this since I know I was confused by it when I started reading ballhawk blogs.) I was tracking and drifting towards the ball. Suddenly, I saw a person coming from my right corner of my eye. I slowed down as to not reach in front of this person, hoping he/she dropped the ball. Since I was wearing peripheral vision impairing sunglasses, I couldn’t identify the person without taking my eye off the baseball mid-flight. The person caught the ball, and I looked over to see the glove belonged to Zack Hample.
3. Once again a lefty hit a ball to my right and over my head a bit. I ran over, and as everyone was converging, the ball plopped down into the seats. The Field Level seats at Yankees Stadium are all padded, so the ball often sticks there. Such was the case in this situation. After everyone in pursuit realized it wasn’t bouncing anywhere, we all started searching for it in and beneath the seats. For some reason, everyone else was just looking for it. I myself, meanwhile, was smacking the seats down to reveal the baseball if it had indeed stuck within one of the seats. After about the third seat that I hit, I saw the baseball wedged perfectly in between two parts of the seat’s metal skeleton and picked it up. Here is a picture from where I started running after the ball with an arrow showing where it landed:
4. A ball was hit to the wall in RF and Liam Hendricks went to retrieve it. I went down to try to convince him to toss me the ball. This request worked as he looked right at me and underhanded the ball. It was headed right to me, but just as the ball was arriving, a kid reached in front of me and caught the ball. Here is a picture of the kid and location. I was standing immediately to the right of where he is in the picture:
5. The same beginning as chance #4, but this time Jeff Gray went to retrieve it. As was my ritual in these situations, I went down to the wall and asked him nicely for the ball. When I do these things, I’m sure to look right at the player I’m trying to convince. Just as he tossed the ball to another fan, I heard a “ping” right behind me. I had been hearing from al the people in the RF seats how Denard Span had only hit 5 balls out of the infield in the last batting practice-or something like that-, and as a result, I didn’t think he would hit anything out, but evidently, he got hold of one ball and it hit literally RIGHT behind me. Here are two pictures. The first is where I was standing, the second is where the ball hit (both taken from the same location):
That’s it for my adventures in RF. I did, however, take an excursion to LF between chances 3 and 4. While there, I only had one “real” chance at a ball and capitalized on it. Here is where this occurred:
The larger arrow is where the ball landed and I snagged the ball. The smaller arrow to the left of that is the lady (occluded by her husband) who I gave the ball away to since she was hot in pursuit as well.
That would prove to be the last ball of the day for me. The biggest reason was: I couldn’t tell who anyone was on the Twins. As a product of this, I couldn’t call them by their first names and it was less likely that they would throw me any given ball. You may be thinking “But Mateo, you have a roster of the players, how can you not tell who is who?” To this I offer the response, can *you* name two of the players in this next picture? I had a roster with the pictures of the players and could only name one.:
I realize that the question I ask was semi-rhetorical, but if you did take it as a challenge, I don’t know the name of the player walking in the top right part of the picture, but the names of the other three (going left to right) are:
1. Matt Maloney
2. Jared Burton
3. Nick Blackburn
After batting practice was over, I headed up to my assigned seat in the LF bleachers. There I eyed the five balls that were just laying in the Twins’ bullpen. At this point, I was thinking, “I’m the only one with Twins gear in the entire region surrounding the bullpen, if more than one Twin picks up all the balls.” Silly Mateo, ideas like this are for stadiums that aren’t in New York. What happened instead was that this guy picked up all the balls and threw them all to people with Yankee gear on:
I then had nothing else to do, so I watched Anthony Swajgagjsioetioak (Swarzak), the Twins starting pitcher, warm up from the bleachers:
Then I realized where I was standing. I was pretty much in THE spot where Derek Jeter hit his 3,000th career hit. Due to this, I felt the obligation to take a picture of the field from there:
As for the game, it started VERY well, with the Twins scoring four runs before the Yankees even got to bat. That was more than I had seen them score in TWO GAMES in Baltimore! I was pretty comfortable thinking that the Twins would win the first game against the Yankees that I was in attendance for since Johan Santana was pitching for them. Not only this, but a win in this game would also give the Twins a win in a four game series against the Yankees. I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened for at least a decade, if not more. After the first inning was over, though, the Twins only lead the game by one run:
The Yankees would go on two win the game 7-6. The story of the day, however, was Curtis Granderson. Just look at what the scoreboard said when he came up in the sixth inning:
That’s right. He had three HRs in his first three at-bats, and would go on to go five for five on the day, tacking on two singles.
What was I doing during the game? At school I made a little sign for the game. Here is what I looked like for most of the game:
For those who don’t know, Bert Blyleven is the one of the Twins announcers and it is common for him to circle fans in the stands. I don’t know when it began, but since he started, it is customary that Twins fans bring “Circle Me Bert” signs to the ballpark in hopes of having him circle them using his telestrator. The phenomenon has grown big enough that it has its own website. Here is a semi-clearer picture of the sign while it was off my head:
I have no idea if I was circled or not, but it was fun looking like an idiot for a game and explaining to half of the people in the LF bleachers what “Circle Me Bert” meant and who “Bert” was. Oh, and as I was writing this entry Zack (as in the Hample one I mention earlier) published his entry about this game, so here is the link to it.
- 3 balls this game (1 here in a picture that I took in Homeroom, because I would later give that away to my baseball coach)
which put me up to 234 career baseballs (this particular ball is #233, but you can’t see my writing on the ball due to the lighting):
- 12 balls this year in 3 games= 4 Balls Per Game.
- 12 straight games with at least 1 ball.
- 3 straight games with at least 3 baseballs.
- 3 balls* 40,237 fans= 120,981 Competition Factor
- 26 Balls obtained in 9 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 2.89 Balls Per Game
- Time at Game 4: 21- 10:33= 6 hours 12 minutes