Oh how good it felt to be back at Target Field. And look who joined me for the game:
If you’re semi-new to the blog, that’s me on the right and my friend Jonathan on the left. Jonathan, if you don’t know, accompanied me for the first time ever the game I snagged my first ever game home run. And today, we had my “fancy camera”, so he was going to be my designated photographer.
You also may have noticed that we were standing at Gate 3 instead of my usual Gate 34. I was trying something semi-new. Usually the only reason I ever went to Gate 3 was if I got to Target Field late, but here I just wanted to see how it would be like to be the first person in the left field seats, since this is usually where I bolt to anyways when the gates open.
So when we got in, I headed straight for the middle spot of the left field bleachers, and when he got there, Jonathan took a picture of me there:
And he didn’t get my first ball on camera, because he saw the ball falling short of the wall and didn’t bother to have the camera pointed that way. But anyway, it was a ground rule double some Twins hitter (I think Wilkin Ramirez, but am not certain) hit that bounced up, off a guy’s chest, and back to me. There was a second ground rule double later on, but a guy caught it two rows in front of me as it was headed straight towards me.
After I got this ball, the Twins ended BP ridiculously early. I’d say at 5:10. Usually during weekdays, we get a solid 5-10 minutes of Twins BP despite the gates opening at 5:30. As a result, Jonathan and I then headed over to foul territory to get a ball from the Blue Jays:
And I do mean WE. See the guy in the following picture that I’ve put an arrow over was playing catch with Rajai Davis:
Well when he was done throwing, I asked if he could toss me the ball. So as he was running off, he kind of submarined the ball and launched it over my head. And guess who got the ball:
I was happy for Jonathan, but I would have rather the player–whoever he was–been on target with his throw.
After that, I rushed out to right field for the Blue Jays first group. Since Jonathan was both in much less of a hurry to get there than I and was carrying the camera bag, I snagged two baseballs before he even got there and then two within a few seconds of him getting there. So here are the spots of the four baseballs labeled by their numbers on the day for me:
2. Adam Lind hit a ball straight over my head. Except by the time I looked at the ball, it was already halfway towards me, so I wasn’t able to get out my row. All I could do was see it go over my head and wait for it to bounce back into a row where I could pick it up.
3. Some Blue Jays righty hit an opposite-field home run into the flower pots. I was in the right field seats when it landed, but when I saw the people struggling to find/reach for it, I ran over to the flower bed in the right-center field seats, and offered to pick the ball up for them and hand it to them. So when I saw where it was, I leaned way down into the flower pots, picked the ball up, and handed it to the couple who was right above it.
4. There was another Blue Jays lefty homer–maybe Lind again. As it flew toward the corner of the rose bush, I moved over to the side of the section that juts out in right field just in case the ball stopped there. Well it hit the corner and as I got to the wall, it bounced up the side of the wall, I stopped the ball from bouncing any further with my glove, and picked it up.
5. Right before I got ball 4, Jonathan had arrived on the scene. So after I got it, I went towards him and into the aisle to see if he had gotten a shot of me getting the ball. Right as I turned away from him, I heard a clank to my right. A ball had hit just in the right-center field seats. This one Jonathan did get a shot of as I jumped the mini-wall separating the two sections and grabbed the ball:
I was nervous I was going to get yelled at for jumping over the wall, so I immediately turned to my left after getting the ball and tossed it to a kid who was fifteen feet away after making sure that he had not yet gotten a ball. But of course Jonathan didn’t get that on camera. (No, but seriously, taking pictures for a ballhawking entry is tough. It’s tough to realize what is going to happen next and what should have a picture taken of it if you’re not familiar with ballhawking. And if one is familiar with ballhawking, that usually means he/she is usually going to be ballhawking his/herself and can’t take pictures.)
After that, a group of mostly Blue Jays righties came up. Since righties usually try to hit opposite-field, I went into the right-center field section and tried to get toss-ups from the players who were shagging baseballs below me. Instead, though, one of those righties (Edwin Encarnacion?) hit an opposite-field home run into the flower bushes, and while the pictures I will show you were from a scenario later on almost exactly the same where I didn’t get the ball, they serve the purpose of visual aids. So when I first saw the ball hit, I ran towards the spot where it was landing:
And then when the ball went in the flower pots, I leaned down to the side of the woman it landed in front of (same woman as in this following picture, interestingly enough), picked it up:
And handed her the ball. I then realized that Edwin Encarnacion was starting to hit baseballs into the second deck in left field, so I went up there, since I suspected there would be many more to come. I was right.
Encarnacion and the rest of the people hit about 8 or 9 baseballs up there in their time at the plate. And I should preface the pictures you’re about to see and the fact that I only got 1 of those by saying that being in the seats in the second of Target Field is one of the worst places in fair territory to run for a baseball through the seats. But there was one ball I had tracked:
And I could tell the ball was going to be landing in the row below me, but unlike most places where there is barely a difference in height between rows, here the row in front of me was about two feet below me–despite how it may seem in the picture:
So I couldn’t get down fast enough and dropped the ball. But thankfully, I was able to trap the ball with my glove:
And when this group ended, I headed back to the seats in right-center in hopes of a toss-up. Well I didn’t get any player to toss *me* a ball, but when Jeremy Jeffress went to the wall to retrieve a ball:
And there were two kids who were asking him by name for the ball, I knew I had no chance competing with them for the ball directly. So instead, I used the ridiculous steepness of Target Field and went in the row behind them. I knew that unless Jeffress went out about twenty feet from the wall, he would have to toss the ball over the kids’ heads to get it to them. So like clockwork, this happened:
But of course I then immediately gave the ball to the kid, since I had still caught it over his head. (Well that and the fact that the ball was intended for him.) That was my last ball of batting practice.
Now stuck at 8 baseballs, I went to the bullpen(s) after batting practice with Jonathan:
And because there were a ton of baseballs in the Blue Jays bullpen, that’s whose team gear I was in while I was there. But when a familiar-but-unexpected face started tossing them up, I quickly took of my hat, covered my shirt, and got him to toss me one for my ninth on the day:
Can you tell who it is? No? It was TC Bear, the Twins mascot, who tossed it to me. He went through both bullpens and tossed up every single ball that was in both of them.
As for the game, both Jonathan and I headed out to the standing room in right in hopes of a game home run:
Of course, though, I knew both teams, minus maybe a select few members from either team, had any chance of putting a ball up there. What I did instead with my time was take a bunch of pictures, since I had my “good” camera at my disposal–like these:
And I did take more, but they’ll be in the Facebook gallery that I’ll put up some time after this entry gets up. In the meantime, though, here’s the link to the Facebook Page for this blog if you have a Facebook and want to “like” it.
After the game, both Jonathan and I headed to the dugout for an umpire ball. But since the game ended on a double play, I was caught off guard and had to quickly change the camera lens to the smaller one, gave it to Jonathan, and told him to take a continuous series of pictures if I managed to get the ball from home plate umpire, Mark Wegner. Wegner thankfully waited for the other members of his crew to get to the tunnel, so I was able to get down there in time:
And then I asked him for a ball as he approached:
And when Wegner tossed me the ball, I caught it in front of the hand of the man sitting next to me, who snatched at it not realizing that the ball was intended for me:
I then got a more proper picture with my tenth ball of the day as Jonathan and I awaited the bus to get back to campus:
And so concluded only my sixth double-digit game ever, but interestingly enough the fourth this season.
- 10 Balls at this game (6 pictured because I gave 3 away, and I think I lost one when my backpack fell open as I was running through the seats at one point during BP)
Numbers 680-689 for my lifetime:
- 243 Balls in 53 Games= 4.58 Balls Per Game
- 10 Balls x 27,044 Fans=270,440 Competition Factor
- 115 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 20 straight Games with 2 Balls
- 17 straight Games with 3 Balls
- 9 straight Games with 4 Balls
- 3 straight games with 5 Balls
- 127 Balls in 27 Games at Target Field= 4.70 Balls Per Game
- 25 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 5 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:42-2:00= 10 Hours 18 Minutes
The Blue Jays lose possibly the best pitcher in the league and what do they do:
Oh, nothing much. Just hit the most home runs of any team in the major leagues.
Frank Fancisco, Rajai Davis, Carlos Villanueva, Sean Henn, Corey Patterson, Octavio Dotel, Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch, and Juan Rivera.
Vernon Wells, Jeremy Accardo, Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, John Buck, Shawn Marcum, and Lyle Overbay.
Why?: I know that they lost three really good bullpen guys, but look. They also gained four former closers. I know that they lost two middle of the line-up hitters but got a bonafide lead off hitter and whatever you consider Juan Rivera and Corey Patterson to be.
The only thing that suffered in the offseason was the rotation. Not only because of what you might think in Marucm leaving for Milwaukee but also John Buck leaving. With Buck leaving the pretty consistent Blue Jay rotation has had three catchers in three years (or more?) and it is tough. I would make the analogy to Quarter Backs in football playing in different systems every year. It is tough to have to keep adjusting. Just when you get comfortable pitching to a certain catcher he leaves town.
Will the Blue Jays continue to hit home runs? I have no idea. All I know is that even though there were more homeruns, there was also a way lower team AVG. Takee Aaron HIll for example, normally he hits around 15 HRs and bats .280 but last year he hit 24 HRs (or something like that) and had an AVG of around the Mendoza line.
One thing I would tell people is to watch out for Blue Jay prospects in the future. With the new GM, Alex Anthopoulos, the Blue Jays invested a whole lot into scouting, which may pay dividends down the road.
Predicted Record Range: 77-82 wins I see them declining a bit even though they have people like Kyle Drabek coming up because I don’t think they can keep the home run production up in 2011.