Tagged: pitchers

9/12/12 Royals at Twins: Target Field

It started raining in Minneapolis at 11:00 AM. That was okay, though because according to my phone, the rain would end by 4:00 PM (before batting practice was set to start). Well, my phone was right:

Did that mean there’d be batting practice?

Nope:

Yeah, when I entered this was the most exciting thing happening:

Actually, that’s not hyperbole at all. See that fan in the bright orange going down the steps? That would be my guest to this game, Sean. I had been eyeing some cheap seats on Stubhub, but they were only being sold in pairs. Sean here is in my “History of Science” class. I forget how, but somehow, we revealed to each other that we were both baseball super-fans. When he said he was going to the Twins game Friday, and said he would want to catch a game with me some time, I jokingly said something like: “How about this Wednesday?” Shockingly, he accepted the offer.

Fast-foward to today: He and I- after some confusion- met up at the Washington Ave Bridge and walked to Target Field. Fast-forward to pre-game warm-ups: The Twins pitchers you saw started throwing. I played it completely wrong, so I didn’t get a single ball from them while they were throwing. However, I went behind the dugout to try to get a ball from Alex Burnett, but when I got there, and usher started telling me something just as I was about to ask Burnett for the ball, so I couldn’t do as I had planned. Fortunately, the usher was telling me there was a ball right by where I was standing. He suspected Burnett had thrown it just seconds before I arrived. Here is where it was in the first row:

I’m glad the usher told me, but it would have been nice to start a game with no BP with two balls right out of the gate. At this time, Sean was getting food, and although I had told him that I snag baseballs at games, he couldn’t believe I had already gotten a ball when he came back.

I then changed into my Royals gear:

Yes, my actual Royals shirt hadn’t showed up yet, so I taped a paper cut-out of the logo to ma blue shirt as I have done a few times previously. Anyway, there were two pitchers warming up, Kelvin Herrera and Bruce Chen. Apparently, someway, somehow, Bruce Chen learned Spanish, because he was talking to Herrera in Spanish. Anyway, Chen went off to run, and Herrera started throwing with someone else. When they finished, I asked Herrera to toss me the ball in Spanish, and he did:

That was it for pre-game activities. Normally, that would be it for the game, but did I mention where the cheapish seats were? Yeah, well let me just say I was able to try to get a ball during the pre-game position player throwing. When they came out, though, there was a problem:

You can’t really tell from the picture, but everyone brought their glove, yet no one thought to bring a ball. Eventually, someone *did* bring a ball, and that ball got tossed to me by David Lough:

But let’s take another look at that ball:

Yep. The Royals somehow had Oriole Park commemorative baseballs.

As for the game, this was my view:

That’s a pretty nice view for $20.

I also saw something I had never seen before at Target Field. It had rained, so that combined with the natural cold to make it cold enough for the Twins to turn on the heat lamps in the concourse:

I’ve got to say, that’s a really nice touch to have for a ballpark in Minnesota. I know the shorts-clad Sean really appreciated the Twins having them.

As you can guess, I was playing the dugout for third-out balls. Well for whatever reason, whenever Eric Hosmer recorded a third out at first base, he tossed the ball to Alcides Escobar who ALWAYS tossed the ball to a kid. I could have reached for a ball in the first inning that was meant for one of said kids, but it didn’t feel right. However, in about the fifth inning, the inning ended with Mike Moustakas catching a line drive. When he got back to the dugout, he tossed the ball just to my right:

Right after I got the ball, I opened my glove up for a kid right next to me to take the ball. That was my fourth ball of the game.

Like I said before, this was a cold, rainy game to begin with, so when the Royals had Sean and I singing, “The runners on base go round and round…” it was pretty empty at Target Field:

I almost caught a Justin Morneau foul ball, but I couldn’t get my glove over one of the railings in my section, and the ball took a huge bounce off the concrete after that into the seats outside of the “moat” above me.

After the game ended, I went down to the umpire tunnel and got a all from the home plate umpire, Dan Bellino:

At the time, I thought the ball was clearly intended for me, but after I jumped to catch it, I looked right behind me to see Sean staring right at me. It may have indeed been intended for him. Don’t worry, though, I would give him the ball two days later when we once again went to the same game. Anyway, this was the second highest total I had ever recorded at a game with no batting practice. Even though I don’t like playing third-out balls for the exact reason that they are so easy to get, it was nice to be able to get three baseballs during or after the game. Normally I would be stuck at two balls on a day like this. Also, according to mygameballs.com, this was the first ball he has ever thrown up to a member.

After the game, Sean and I got a parting picture together before heading back to the University of Minnesota:

Yeah, he’s a White Sox fan as he’s from Chicago, but in all fairness, he was rooting for the Twins this game, so he’s forgiven for one game.

STATS:

  • 5 Balls at this game (4 pictured because I gave 1 away)

Numbers 412-415 for my life:

  • 194 Balls in 46 Games= 4.22 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 28,139 Fans = 140, 695 Competition Factor
  • 55 Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 5 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 4 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 26 Balls in 7 Games at Target Field= 3.71 Balls Per Game
  • 6 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 5 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • 4 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:45- 11:39= 7 Hours 54 Minutes

8/21/12 Braves at Nationals: Nationals Park

Less than fifteen hours after saying goodbye to him in the morning, Rick Gold and I met up at the gates of Nationals Park for our 10th and final game together in 2012:

20120830-171724.jpgIf you haven’t read the entry, Rick and I were on a bus together close to 2 o’clock that same morning. It was one of those times for a sarcastic “Long time no see”, since both of us had woken up pretty soon before that.

Speaking of people sleeping, that’s what the Nationals players were apparently doing, because they didn’t take batting practice:

20120831-083010.jpgSince it was my last day at Nationals Park for this year, I I used this time to say goodbye to most of the ushers I knew.

Eventually, the Nationals pitchers came out to throw, so I headed over there. Here is where a season full of pretty much not asking pitchers for baseballs came in handy (in that they probably would have recognized me if I had). I yelled out to Ryan Mattheus as he finished throwing and he tossed me the ball:

20120831-083450.jpgI was on the board!

I then just hung around until the Braves started hitting. When Juan Francisco’s group came up first, both Rick and I moved up to the second deck in right field:

20120831-103749.jpgAs I said about Francisco in the last entry, dude hits BOMBS. I mean look how far I look how far away from home plate I was:

20120831-202719.jpgUnfortunately, he took probably less than twenty swings before finishing for the day.

I headed down to the lower level for the Braves group of lefties and Dan Uggla. There, two other ballhawks (Rick and a guy whose name I don’t know) took the two best spots in right, so I was forced to just stand in a middle spot and hope I could judge the ball better than them/ jump in front of them. When Jason Heyward hit a ball to my right, the ballhawk I didn’t know ran straight to his right. Meanwhile, I knew the ball was falling short of that. I ran into the row and made the running, backhanded catch:

20120901-131345.jpgAs soon as I caught it, I searched for a kid and gave it away. I soon there after got Jonny Venters to toss me a ball and gave that too away.

That would be it for snagging. As for the game, I headed out to left field:

20120901-160836.jpgStephen Strasburg was pitching, so I figured the righty-dominant Nationals would be more likely to go yard. I was right, but it was an inning *before* I got to my seat there. Oh, and there was a rain delay where it absolutely poured. It was my third rain delay in as many days. So it really was no big deal. The most notable part of it was before the delay started, it was raining at least three times harder than it was during the rain delay the game before.

During the rain delay, I got soaked, walked through the seats looking for tickets, got soaked, said goodbye to the ushers in the ballpark, got soaked, tried to get a ball from Alan Butts, got soaked, talked to Eddie Perez. Oh, and did I mention I got soaked? I don’t think I did. It was raining pretty hard. Do you remember when I said it was raining three times harder than the previous game DURING the game? Well during the rain delay, it rained about ten times harder. The rain would step up to “next level”, and then when you thought it couldn’t rain any harder, a burst of even harder rain.

 

Anyway, for the game, Stephen Strasburg and Paul Maholm managed to survive the rain delay to pitch again afterwards (the rain delay was in the second inning). Maholm went seven innings while Strasburg went six. Unfortunately for Maholm, it’s not how long you last, it’s how many runs you give up. Strasburg allowed just one run while Maholm allowed four.

 

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game (1 pictured because I gave 2 away)

 

Numbers 384-386 for my “career”:

 

  • 164 Balls in 39 Games= 4.21 Balls Per Game
  • 3 Balls x 33,888 Fans= 101,664 Competition Factor
  • 48 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 4 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 124 Balls in 28 Games= 4.43 Balls Per Game at Nationals Park
  • 20 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
  • 4 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
  • 2 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
  • Time Spent On Game 3:32- 11:22= 7 Hours 50 Minutes

8/20/12 Braves at Nationals: Nationals Park

After a series of waiting endlessly for David Wright’s 200th home run, it was time to go back to Nationals Park for my fourth game there in as many days:

20120826-125154.jpgUsually I’m not that excited of attending four games in a row at ANY stadium, but I had come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be getting a ball tossed to me by the Nationals (intentionally, anyway) anytime soon, so I was excited for the arrival of the not-offensively-anemic Braves, who also didn’t know me.

My first ball of the day came when Gio Gonzalez hit a ball to my right. I chased after it, but someone else managed to pick it up before I could get there. He then hit a ball back to where I had previously been standing. Thankfully, no one judged it correctly, and I was able to run right to the spot and gobble it up :

20120826-130215.jpgAfter the pitchers- all of whom are righties- stopped hitting, I headed over to the right field seats for Bryce Harper’s group. I still haven’t seen one of Harper’s legendary batting practices, but I did manage to snag a ball from his bat.

I was on the middle staircase of the right field seats when Harper launched a ball to the section closest to center field. I saw this right away and raced there to scoop up the ball before anyone else could:

20120826-133446.jpgAnd yes, both of my first two balls were Shea Stadium commemorative balls.

The group then changed again and I headed over to the Red Seats for the group of Morse, Zimmerman, and Werth. During that group, I caught three balls on the fly.

The first was an extremely easy catch right smack-dab in the middle of the section where I had been standing:

20120826-134032.jpgThis was also a Shea Stadium commemorative, and was off the bat of Jayson Werth.

Speaking of Shea Stadium commemorative balls off the bat of Jayson Werth, that’s what my next (and fifth) ball of the day was. I won’t bore you with another picture of the ball in my glove, but the ball was traveling to my left, so I ran in this row and made the forehand catch over a row of seats:

20120826-135300.jpgI then asked all of the kids in the section with gloves if the hadn’t gotten a ball. When I finally got to the one who didn’t, I gave him the ball:

20120826-135543.jpg(His dad is blocking him, but you can still kind of see him in the white shirt.)

My next ball came when Ryan Zimmerman hit a high fly ball to my right. I ran as far as I could, reach over the glass that separates the Red Seats and the bullpen, and made the grab:

20120826-140110.jpgIt felt pretty awesome in that the ball would have fallen into the bullpen had it not been for me; kind of like a home run rob. For those of you keeping score at home, that was my fifth snag of the day; all of which were hit, Shea Stadium commemorative balls.

Soon after that, the Braves started throwing, so even though the Nationals were still hitting, I headed into foul ground to try to get a ball from one of them. After waiting for a while, I finally got a ball from Erik Hinske:

20120826-233310.jpgDo you see the coach crossing the field in the left part of the picture? That’s where Hinske was. He tossed the ball to me while I was right behind the wheelchair section. Unfortunately, he tossed it over my head, so it rattled around in the seats before I could secure ball #6 and thank Hinske.

I then headed over to right field for a group stacked with the Braves’ lefties. Ironically, though, my only ball from this group came when Dan Uggla hit an opposite-field home run and I played the ball off a deflection:

20120826-234426.jpgThe guy by my glove almost had it, but he botched the play, so I swooped in.

The right field seats were getting pretty crowded at this point, so I headed back over to the Red Seats. I didn’t snag a hit ball, but a fan dropped a ball into the gap, so I knew it was time to deploy the Glove Trick. However, as I lowered it down, a member of the groundscrew walked through the gap and inserted the ball in my glove. I had already promised the people next to me I would give the ball away to the kid who it was intended for, so I did when I reeled it up:

20120826-235439.jpgOkay, you’ve got three planes at work here. We’ll start closest and move back:
1. The Glove Trick- Complete with rubber band and pen to hold it open.
2. Kid- You can see the kid I gave it away to just past the glove in the red hat. He’s holding the ball between his hand and glove.
3. Groundskeeper- You can see him ducking at the very end of the gap.

Then for the end of batting practice-when Juan Francisco, who hits BOMBS, was hitting- I decided to try my luck and head up to the second deck in right field. I wasn’t the only one up there as fellow ballhawk, Rick Gold, had the same idea:

20120827-000752.jpgRick had already snagged a Francisco bomb, but there wasn’t another hit there, so I ended BP at 8 Balls.

I then headed down to the lower level in right field where, to my delight, the tarp was being pulled on the field. I may have mentioned this before, but I absolutely love when it starts raining right *after* batting practice ends. There is truly nothing more beautiful:

20120827-001251.jpgOf course, the baseball gods had to have their fun with me, so the groundscrew didn’t actually put the tarp on for at least half an hour. They just stood there with the tarp as you see it in the picture. Waiting to make sure the rain was sufficient to put the tarp on the field.

As for the game, the Nationals jumped out to an early 4-1 lead. The Braves then picked away at the lead to tie the game 4-4. What happens when a game is tied after the ninth inning? FREE BASEBALL!!

The game had already been delayed an hour by the rain. So when it came time for extra innings, most of the fans left the stadium. When this happened, I stood up the rest of the game and waited for any ball to come my way:

20120827-113708.jpgActually, since most of the ushers had left, I ran back and forth between right and left field depending on the hitter; just like old times at Nationals Park. If you’re newish to the blog, I used to buy two tickets on either side of the outfield on Nationals Park and would run back and forth during the game depending on whether a righty or a lefty was hitting. I rationalized it by saying that I was spending about the same on two outfield tickets as I would have on one ticket at Citi Field. (Last year, I was. The cheapest ticket at Citi Field was $23. With my student discount, the outfield tickets at Nationals Park were/are $13 each.)

Anyway, check out the emptiness that allowed me to stand up- and not block anyone’s view:

20120827-122407.jpg

20120827-122431.jpg

20120827-122453.jpgIf I’ve never mentioned it before I absolutely LOVE when a game feels like batting practice. Even if nothing comes my way, I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else in the world at that moment.

Long story short: nothing reached the seats for the rest of the game. Eventually, the Nationals won on a Dan Uggla bobble. Also during the game, I gave away five, count ’em, FIVE baseballs away to the usher who’s let me sit in the right field seats since last year. Usually he’s pretty reasonable with his requests (usually one or two balls), but apparently there was a family in from Chicago, so in addition to the two I usually give him, he asked for three others. Also, I should mention this isn’t just an usher being greedy. He gives all the balls I give him away to kids, elders, or other people in the section. That said, I gave away two on my own, the usher took five, so of the eight balls I snagged, I only kept the best Shea Stadium ball. That’s right, I gave away SEVEN of my eight baseballs. (Actually, I technically gave away eight. The usher offered me an exchange where he have me one of Rick Gold’s balls for one of my Shea balls, but he then asked for THAT ball to give to someone.

After the game, a security guard threw a bunch of balls at fans in the stands, but he had THE worst aim I’ve ever seen and about five of them bounced back onto the field. I just stood on top of one of the balls and asked each person that passed it if they could toss the ball up to me. Security Guard? “I’m on duty. I have to stand in this exact spot.” Police Officer? “No, I can’t.” Groundscrew? “No, we’re not allowed to.” It was just sitting there on the warning track:

20120827-140726.jpg(The other two shadows you see are of an Asian couple who was also waiting for the ball to be tossed up. Eventually, a guy in a dress shirt walked by, so I asked him point blank, “Can you toss me that ball, please?” He bent down, grabbed the ball, and kept walking to the dugout. Here he is on his way over there:

20120827-141148.jpgThat’s a clown move, bro.

At this point, it was about 12:35, so I figured, ” I don’t have anywhere to be any time soon; I’m going to see if there’s a ball left in the bullpen.” Turns out there was- in the bottom right quadrant of the picture, against the black background:

20120827-142114.jpgI asked the bullpen attendant in the upper left corner if he could toss me the ball, but he kind of shrugged and said something I couldn’t hear.

I was just about to leave, when the security guard came in from the warning track by the Nationals dugout. The bullpen motioned for me to stop, and asked the security guard something. He then picked up the ball and tossed it to me:

20120827-163549.jpgMany thanks, Mr. Bullpen Attendant. At 12:45 AM, that was the latest I had ever snagged a baseball. Actually, forget snag a baseball; that was the latest I had ever been in a baseball stadium period.

Not surprisingly, by the time I got out of the stadium, the Metro was closed:

20120827-170534.jpgThat meant I had to figure out the Washington bus system. Let me just show you a map of the Washington bus map:

20120827-171200.jpgCan you imagine navigating that for the first time without ever doing it previously?

Once I got out of the stadium, I must have walked back and forth a mile before I finally got to the right bus stop. After taking the bus a stop, I ran into a familiar face in Rick (as in Gold). Turns out, we were both going the same direction. We took the bus until the end of the line. We then got off by Washington’s Archives building. Our next bus wasn’t due for another half hour. We discussed things from the renovation in Oakland’s coliseum to what the heck I was supposed to use an iPad for.

Once we got on the second bus, we ran into someone we both knew. It was the usher I mentioned earlier, Benny. I must say, Benny is one of the more entertaining ushers I have ever seen. Probably the most energetic. He is one of the most meticulous ushers about his duty before the game, but once the game begins, he is a dancer. Anyway, here is my view at 1:45 in the morning on the second bus:

20120827-214331.jpgI can now say that my whole midnight adventure was fun, but at the time it was more like a “what am I doing?” feeling.

STATS:
• 9 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 7 away)

20120827-214532.jpgNumbers 375-381 for my life:

20120827-214629.jpg• 161 Balls (as many as I had last year in 46 Games) in 38 Games= 4.24 Balls Per Game
• 9 Balls x 21,298 Fans= 191,682 Competition Factor
• 47 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 3 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 121 Balls in 27 Games at Nationals Park= 4.48 Balls Per Game
• 19 straight Games in Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
• 3 straight Games in Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:42- 1:52= 10 Hours 10 Minutes
• With my first “9” game, I have now snagged in a game every total from 0 to 11 baseballs at a game.

8/15/12 Rangers at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

What happens when you’re having an incredibly frustrating series and there’s almost a guarantee of rain, but you “have” to get to at least 17 more games in a month-and-a-half? You end up going to games you otherwise wouldn’t have. I knew going in there was not going to be batting practice, but then I saw how big the line was and let out a sigh:

20120819-135236.jpgOy. It’s tough enough to deal with that kind of crowd when there’s ball after ball being hit; never mind when it would be all of us competing for a couple pitchers warm-up balls.

When I entered the ballpark, I was forced to submit to the inevitable truth that there was no batting practice. On a completely unrelated note: Great day for a beach mat giveaway, eh?

20120819-135807.jpgActually, for some practically-thinking people, it was. They used it to separate themselves from their wet seats.

From the time I got into the seating bowl to the time the players started throwing, there was a lull of about half-an-hour, which I filled up by talking to the ballhawks in attendance, Zack Hample and Takyi Chan (I have mentioned him as “Tak” in past entries).

When the players did start throwing, I got a ball. But it wasn’t a player at all who threw it; it was a coach:

20120819-143828.jpgMore specifically, Andy Hawkins, the bullpen coach. He was throwing with the pitching coach Mike Maddux, so when he finished, I waved my arms, said some words, and he tossed me the ball.

Then it was time for this:

20120819-232617.jpgAfter about an hour of delay, this was the view of the field:

20120819-232832.jpgThere was one thing that caught my eye, though. Can you spot it?

20120819-232958.jpgThat’s right; there was a ball on the warning track. One of the Rangers players overthrew the ball while warming up and the ball sat there for almost the entirety of the nearly two hour rain delay.

Do you see the guy taking down the pole in the bullpen? By the time he was done taking down the poles, I was right next to the bullpen. When he was taking down the last pole, I said, “Excuse me, when you’re done…” he glanced at me, but looked away and never came back. Thankfully, another groundskeeper was walking right by the ball. So I got his attention and showed him where the balls was through hand signals. He picked up the ball, and walked over to toss me the ball:

20120820-002110.jpgThat was it for the game snagging-wise. The game itself was really Josh Hamilton vs. The Yankees. Hamilton finally hit his first and second home runs ever at Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately for the Rangers, that’s all they got out of their offense. It was a pretty bad series for an offensive powerhouse like themselves if you ask me.

Anyway, by the time the game finally ended, I was one of the proud few fans leaving at nearly 12:30:

20120820-134330.jpgYeah, that’s what Yankee Stadium’s exiting crowd looks like when it’s NOT crowded. Getting to the train is often one of the worst parts of each trip to a Yankees game.

STATS:
• 2 Balls at this game

20120820-144541.jpgNumbers 366-367:

20120820-144601.jpg• 145 Balls in 34 Games= 4.26 Balls Per Game
• 43 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 19 straight Games with at least 2Balls
• 88 Balls in 24 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.67 Balls Per Game
• 24 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 Ball
• 9 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:29-12:45= 9 Hours 16 Minutes

7/23/12 Nationals at Mets: Citi Field

Look where I was on the one-year anniversary of the first BallhawkFest:

20120802-125606.jpgWhen 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:

20120803-163712.jpgSuccess!

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:

20120803-214503.jpgTurns out, even though it was perfectly sunny for half-an-hour before the gates open, it didn’t matter where I was in line, when I raced in, this was what I saw:

20120803-232727.jpgDo 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:

20120804-002653.jpgActually, 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:

20120804-135728.jpgIan Desmond was throwing gum into the stands, so I used my Nationals gear to get a piece.

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):

20120804-143957.jpgIf you spotted it, kudos to you. Here’s a better picture of the wackiness I

20120804-144216.jpgApparently, it was Star Wars night. Whatever that means. I’m actually kind of disappointed. I wonder if that means fans could dress up. It looked like it was only special people that were dressed up.

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:

20120804-232503.jpgI should note the guard in the background was smiling at the fact I was taking pictures of gum.

Also in the latter innings, the seats were empty enough for me to walk around without getting in anyone’s way, so I did:

20120804-232930.jpgEven though the Mets are a sub-.500 team, the left field seats always seemed to be packed, so take my word for it that it’s pretty empty in that picture, in the spot that’s exposed to rain anyway.

20120804-233156.jpgI just wanted to take a picture right down the line…so there.

20120804-235332.jpgDo 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:

20120805-000614.jpgI’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:

20120805-001346.jpgAlso, 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:

20120805-002313.jpgI’ll show you how it happened via diagram:

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.

STATS:

  • 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

7/8/12 Rockies at Nationals: Nationals Park

I was back at Nationals Park for my fourth game there in as many days:
If you’re wondering, that’s a look of: “Sure, four games in a row here is nice and all, but am I really doing this?” As I took this picture, the time was approximately 10:00. I saw the schedule and saw a 1:00 game, so I got there half-an-hour before I thought the gates would open (10:30). All I saw when I got to the gates, though, was this:
After looking at the Nationals schedule on my phone, I found out it was actually a 1:35 game. This meant the gates wouldn’t open for another hour. To pass the time, I wrote and published one of my entries, while sitting inside the air-conditioned ticket office.

It was a day game after a 4:00 game, so I thought there might be batting practice, but once I finally DID get in the stadium, this was all the action on the field:
That would be bullpen coach Jim Wright throwing with one of the pitchers. Eventually the pitcher went into the bullpen and so did Wright. When the pitcher finished said session, Wright tossed me a ball out of nowhere. I didn’t even have my glove on when I caught it:
Then everyone exited the bullpen. Everyone except Wright. When he finally did, I had already numbered my ball, so I was worried he would see that, but regardless, I asked Wright if he wanted to play catch. He said he had to go, but that he would play for a couple of minutes. Wright is obviously in the distance, but here’s where each of us were when we threw together:
I was the only one in the seating area at this point, so it was an amazing experience to throw curveballs, among other pitches, to a person on a major league team; albeit not a player, what was seemingly all alone in the stadium (I am 100% sure there were other fans in the stadium, but they were taking shelter from the heat.). Finally, Wright said he had to go, so we stopped playing catch. The reason he “had” to go was the pitchers had come out to stop warming up. Here is Wright with the pitchers:
None of the pitchers had seen me get the ball form Wright, so it would be easy to get a ball from them, but I was nervous about asking them for a ball while Wright was around. After a few minutes, though, Wright headed into the dugout and I got Rex Brothers to toss me a ball by running deep into the section and having him “toss it to me long”:
After this, Rockies and Nationals catch partners alternated coming out. So I ran back and forth trying to get a ball from them. When Brothers and his partner finished up, the Nationals pitchers went through their warm up and were just finishing their throwing session. When they finished, a pair of Rockies had come out and were nearing the end of their throwing. I didn’t get a ball from this, but it was fun doing it. I also wasn’t the only one. After I headed to right field to try to get a ball from the Nationals relievers, I noticed this guy had also come over and had changed gear on his way as well:
I would eventually find out this was Leiming Tang, a Kansas City ballhawk, who was making his rounds of the east coast cities. I believe he had been in Philadelphia the night prior. We would have plenty of time to talk about things as there was no batting practice.

My next ball (number three if you’re keeping track) would come when Wilin Rosario came out to do some catching drills:
20120717-102402.jpg(Notice Leiming was already on the scene. We were both waiting in the shade, but I waited a little longer than he did to stay cool.)He obviously needed a few balls to do the drills, so when he was done, the catching coach, Jerry Weinstein, tossed Leiming and I both a ball:
20120717-102637.jpg My next snag would be at the dugout right before the game. I still don’t know the formal name the Nationals call them, but there were”hype people” on the roof of the dugout with T-Shirts, so I figured I might as well try to snag one. I moved into the emptiest row I could find, but turns out, the shirt came RIGHT to me. All I had to do was lower my glove a little and I caught it:
20120717-103557.jpg It’s actually the shirt I am wearing right as I type this sentence.

As for the game, I spent most of my time out in left field, but I came to the dugout for the end of the game to try to get an umpire ball:
20120717-104202.jpgDid you notice something else about that picture? It was pretty empty at the stadium. In addition to having been high-90s heat, it had started raining. Here’s a look to the seats to my left:
20120717-104525.jpg Leiming had been down by the dugout the whole game and was also going for an umpire ball. Except, unlike me, he was dedicated and prepared for the task:
20120717-104735.jpgLet me remind you it was humid from just having rained, and it was still freakin’ hot, so it wasn’t for the faint of heart to put on an umpire jacket. Not surprisingly, Leiming got a ball and I didn’t.

After pretty much everyone had left our section (lightning and the subsequent thunder had just struck, so it wasn’t that long after the game ended), Leiming and I got an usher to take a picture of us:
20120717-105231.jpgLeiming’s flight back to Kansas City had already been delayed, so we were going to have lunch together at Union Station, but we decided it might not be a good idea given how late the DC trains were running.

So we said our goodbyes, and I headed to Union Station, while he went to the airport to catch his plane to the Home Run Derby.

STATS:
• 3 Balls at this game (pictures taken in my room for freshman orientation in Minnesota)

20120717-110355.jpgNumbers 338-340 for my lifetime:

20120717-110724.jpg• 118 Balls in 24 Games= 4.92 Balls Per Game
• 3 Balls x 25,125 Fans= 75,375 Competition Factor
• 33 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 9 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 8 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 97 Balls in 20 Games at Nationals Park= 4.85 Balls Per Game
• 11 straight Games with 1 Ball at Nationals Park
• 11 straight Games with 2 Balls at Nationals Park
• 9 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 9:13 AM- 10:26 PM= 13 Hours 13 Minutes [/spooky]

7/5/12 Giants at Nationals: Nationals Park

Yay for free tickets!

Boo W.B. Mason trucks:
Let me explain myself a little further. The man holding water in the first picture is friend and ballhawk, Rick Gold. Rick works for mlb.com, so he gets into games for free. Not only that, but he can get an extra ticket. Instead of paying my usual $13, Rick hooked me up with a free ticket. Like I’ve mentioned before, there is an usher in right field who lets me sit there every game, so it doesn’t really matter where my ticketed seat is, just as long as I can get in the gates. My thumbs-down to the W.B. Mason truck is because that was the giveaway. Not the actual, giant truck, but here’s the first picture once I got in the gates:
I actually got two of these since Rick’s bag was stuffed and he didn’t want carry it around with him.

I was in left field for this picture and all of pitchers batting practice, but I didn’t get anything until the third group of hitters in right field. The third group is that which contains Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper. One ball, LaRoche hit a bit over my head and to my right. I moved right into the exact spot where the ball was going to land, but for some reason, even though it was going straight towards my glove, the ball tipped off it and I picked it off the ground. I know it may sound shallow and stupid, but I was pretty mad with myself for dropping such an easy ball. Sure I still got it, but I also realize that the ball would have probably been someone else’s had I been in New York. Here is the spot where I dropped/snagged the ball:
I then almost caught what would have been a pretty cool ball. I believe it was LaRoche again, but it might have been Harper. Anyways, one of the two lefties hit a ball I could tell was maybe going to barely make it to the seats. I went all the way down the steps, reached out as far as I could and felt the ball hit my glove. I then had my glove pressed against the wall. I couldn’t tell, but people to my side cheered like I had caught it, so I carefully lifted my glove as to not drop a ball if it was in there, but the ball had probably dropped onto the warning track since it wasn’t in my glove as I dragged it up the wall. Here is the spot I almost caught it in:
I was leaning over the raised part of the glass, so I actually would have probably caught the ball had I went over to the railing and reached over that instead.

After that, there wasn’t much action in right field. The most interesting thing that went on was I got to see Rick using his device in the Red Seats:
I don’t have a picture of it, but it’s a cup trick of sorts. Like one you would see in either Atlanta or in San Francisco.

When I say it wasn’t interesting, that doesn’t mean the players weren’t hitting home runs. It just means those home runs weren’t near me. There were a bunch going into the second and third decks in right field. Those seats were closed until 5:30. So at 5:27, I lined up here expecting a big “payday”:
There were so many balls hit up there in fact, I spent my time waiting trying to figure out how I could keep track of what order I snagged the balls in, expecting to need to use four of my backpack’s pockets. When I got up there, though, there was nothing. The ushers had cleared out all the balls they could find in the seats. That’s the only explanation I have. No one I saw found a ball and there were at least 5 hit in the second deck and two in the third deck. Of course, one in the upper deck had been hit far enough to evade the usher’s sweep of the section. The problem was, myself and the two other fans searching the section had not seen where that ball landed, so it was Rick, after batting practice who found it and kindly (read: cruelly) took a picture for me:
Let’s get back to batting practice, though, shall we? Dejected, I walked over to third base foul ground to try to get a ball from the Giants pitchers warming up:
Like the last game I went to, they didn’t even throw a ball into the crowd while I was there. I then headed over to left field to try to catch a home run from the Giants hitters. I failed at doing this, but I got a ball from Santiago Casilla by the bullpen. At least I think that’s who it was. It was a pitcher, and he’s the person that looks most like the person who tossed me the ball on the Giants roster.

I then went over to the Red Seats where I got Shane Loux to toss me ball. Here’s a diagram of it from a picture I took in right field right after I got the Loux ball:
The black arrow shows where Loux had to move to field the ball, and the orangey arrow is the path of the ball. I then asked who hadn’t gotten a ball. A kid raised his hand, but he didn’t have a glove, so I kept on searching. Usually when this happens and I say why I didn’t give him the ball, the parent(s) react negatively. In this case, though; when I said, “Well, where’s your glove?” the father said, “I told you, you need to have your glove on all the time.” After I gave the ball away to another kid, I talked to the father briefly about experiences sitting in the upper deck with a glove on at all times as a kid.

I then moved over to foul ground to try to get a ball from Barry Zito, since I wasn’t having any luck with hit baseballs:
Of course when I got there, batting practice ended with me at three balls on the game.

I started off the game in right field, where this was my view:
20120708-100045.jpgFor those wondering: yes, that is Rick’s head in front of me in that picture.

Tonight’s game was turn back the clock night. That meant both team’s would have their 1924 uniforms on. It would be the New York Giants versus the Washington Senators:
20120708-100602.jpgIt also meant the stadium’s employees dressed up like it were 1924. Take this picture from the end of batting practice. Can you spot the three different employee outfits?
20120708-100817.jpgI didn’t like my chances of getting anything in right field with Matt Cain on the mound, though. My mom grew up in the bay area, so she was raised a Giant fan. Normally she doesn’t go to games much, but with the Giants in town, she and my step-dad decided to go to the game. I used one of their tickets to move over here:
20120708-101339.jpgWhile I was there, I saw the second coolest sky I’ve ever seen at Nationals Park:
20120708-101550.jpgBy the way, did you notice the “1924” scoreboard they had going?

Anyway, the Giants got beat by the “Senators” 5-6 in a thriller. The Giants were winning 5-1 in as late as the seventh, I believe, but once Matt Cain came out, the Nationals came back to make the score 5-4. Then they scored 2 runs in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. The game ended on a tailor-made double play ball that just got botched. After the game, I went to the umpire tunnel, and got Gary Darling to toss me a ball:
20120708-102034.jpg

STATS:
• 4 Balls at this Game (3 pictured because I gave 1 away)
20120708-103745.jpgNumbers 323-326 for my life:
20120708-103827.jpg• 104 Balls in 21 Games= 4.95 Balls Per Game
• 30 straight Games with at least 1Ball
• 6 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 5 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 5 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 83 Balls in 17 Games at Nationals Park= 4.88 Balls Per Game
• 8 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
• 8 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
• 6 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
• 4 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 4 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:24- 10:27= 7 Hours 3 Minutes