Tagged: Rockies

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]

7/7/12 Rockies at Nationals: Nationals Park

On-field photo day, and 100+ degree heat meant one thing: no batting practice:

20120711-084225.jpgFortunately for me, though, even 3.5 hours before game time(which is when the gates opened), players still warm up:

20120711-114717.jpgIn that last picture, Ryan Zimmerman was taking ground balls. It was approximately 10 minutes since the gates had opened, and I had already gotten two balls. I had been watching Zimmerman warm up from the third base side of the field when he threw a ball away, into the stands. I was on the phone with Todd Cook when I saw it. It took me a second, but then I realized no one was over on the first base side, and I could run over and find it. So I ran over, and someone had beat me to the seats, but he walked right past the ball, so here’s what I found:

20120711-115530.jpgYay, but wait, there’s more. It seemed as though there’s a reason Ryan Zimmerman was practicing so early: he can’t aim. Once I picked up the first ball, Zimmerman threw a second ball into the stands, and I had two balls within the first fifteen minutes of the gate being open:

20120711-235245.jpgI could have had three balls at that point, but the guy I mentioned previously had found a ball down the line before I could get there.

I then headed over to Ryan Mattheus and Tom Gorzelanny further down the line (the guy/kid I mentioned in the last paragraph also in the picture):

20120712-000739.jpgThere, another kid came up to me and asked me, “Are you Mateo?” It was Danny, one of the bloggers on the MLBlog, NYBisons. Since I try to avoid asking Nationals for baseballs, so I don’t wear out my sources because I go to so many games, and they will probably recognize me at a certain point, I helped out both Danny and the other guy to get a ball from the two players. When Ryan Mattheus came back, though, he tossed all three of us a ball. Awesome:

20120712-003601.jpgAfter that, no other players were warming up ,so I waited for the field to open and goofed around on it when it did:

However, it wasn’t all fun and games. After I took that picture, I saw something just past the camera that prompted me to take a more somber picture:

During the season, I really can’t keep up with the baseball world that well, so this was where I learned the Twins were still in last place in the AL Central. Booo!

I then took a lap around the field and took pictures of the stands from the perspective of the field, just because that was the awesomest part of this whole experience: seeing where I am normally trapped from the perspective of the field, from which I am usually trying to coax balls out of players. I figured me explaining this would get old after about two pictures, so here are a couple of the pictures I took with a 1-2 sentence caption following it:

A guy had stayed in the right field seats to take pictures of his family members. That’s when it actually dawned to me the implications of being on the field versus being in the stands.

The view of the Red Seats from the warning track.

The spot of both Greg Barasch and the 20th ball he had snagged the previous night’s game. I think you can figure out which is which.

The view of the left field seats from in front of the bullpen.

The seats in third base foul ground. Those are the seats I was most fascinated by when I was on the field, but I don’t know why. I think it is because that is usually the spot closest to the field I can ever get while actively pursuing baseballs (when the opposing pitchers are warming up). When I’m there, I’m so close, but I feel so far away from the field at the same time, so to actually BE on the field on the other side of the fence is a minor victory of sorts.

The main reason I didn’t want to drag out those caption is, because although I have a bunch of pictures of that sort; after I got to the end of the line by the visitors’ dugout, I turned around and took a video of my journey all the way around the field. So, here it is:

After that, I know I’m a loser for doing so, but I headed back to the other side of the field. There just wasn’t ANYTHING to do. I was pretty sure both Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard (the players throwing in the video) would recognize me, and I thought I saw some Rockies players coming out to throw on the other side of the field.

Look who was just done taking a picture as I got to the other side of the field:

I’ll name the individuals in two pictures from now, but all you have to know is these are the Cooks of Cook & Son Bats. Here is the picture Todd has just taken as I took my last picture:

Here they are right after taking the picture:

1. Todd Cook- The Father of the Cook and Son group. Who has already published his entry of this game, which you can check out by clicking…here.

2. Tim Cook- The elder of the two Cook sons. As I took this picture, no one had yet noticed I was there, but shortly after, Tim was the one to spot and identify me.

3. Kellan Cook- The younger of the two Cook Sons.

4. Greg- Not technically a “Cook”, but he was a friend of Todd’s from their town in Pennsylvania, so he accompanied them on their journey to Washington.

After I met up with the Cooks, I watched Jeremy Guthrie play catch:

20120713-132335.jpgWe then all headed to a “cooling station” in center field:

The “cooling” coming from the fact that it was in the shade and there were fans blowing out water. There, I took a few pictures of things I found interesting. First, do you see the door that is open? I took a picture of what is right inside that room:

I don’t know the exact function of everything in there, but it’s interesting, isn’t it?

I had seen this patch of grass, but I finally found out that it is used as extra grass if they need to patch up anything on the field.

There was obviously no batting practice, so the “L Screen” was in this gap in center field. I wish it were on the field, but it was nice to be able to see and touch one.

I also took a picture of the seats in right field, because I’m usually up there asking a groundskeeper down in the gap I was now standing in for a ball. It was another one of those “Oh, how many times I wished I could be down here” moments.

We didn’t spend all of our time in the cooling station though. It *was* On-Field Photo day after all. So I’m now going to go through all of the pictures I took of people while on the field. Just keep in mind I both couldn’t see what I was taking a picture of because of the intense sun, and I was shaking the hand of the person as I was taking their picture, so some of the pictures came out pretty bad:

(right to left) Rick Eckstein and Trent Jewett. Hitting and First Base Coaches.

Jim Lett, bullpen coach.

(left to right) Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, and Michael Morse. They’re all laughing because as they passed, a Mariners fan yelled out “Michael!” to Morse. When Morse acknowledged him, he then yelled out, “Worst trade ever.” He was of course referring to the fact that Morse had been with the Mariners, but was traded for Ryan Langerhans, who is no longer even with the team. Meanwhile, Morse had hit 31 home runs for the Nationals the previous season along with a .303 average and 95 RBIs.

I don’t know exactly who this is (I may have if i just took the half-second to look at his ID), but if I had to guess I’d say he is some sort of broadcaster for the Nationals.

Randy Knorr, bench coach.

Steve McCatty, pitching coach.

(left to right) Danny Espinosa and Stephen Strasburg

Bryce Harper

Ryan Mattheus, who had tossed me a ball earlier and gave me one of the ice pops you see him holding in this picture:

I brought it up to the Cooks, sitting in the shade, to give to Tim, but apparently, if he eats anything colored red, he gets a little crazy, so I ate it instead.

An occluded Tyler Moore.

Edwin Jackson ft. Mateo Fischer’s fingers.

Mike Gonzalez, guest starring my fingers.

Roger Bernadina

(left to right) Craig Stammen and Jordan Zimmerman.

Ross Detweiler

Jayson Werth

Henry Rodriguez (giving Tim a high-five).

Rick Ankiel. If you look closely, you can the reflection of me shaking his hand in his sunglasses.

Adam LaRoche. He was actually the only player who allowed Tim to squirt him twice with Tim’s squirt bottle he had been carrying around all day. Tim ended up squirting three different Nationals players a total of four times. Tim squirted LaRoche, Stammen, and I believe Rodriguez, but I’m not sure.

Davey Johnson, the Nationals’ manager.

Sean Burnett

Jesus Flores? I really have no clue who it is, but his photo day picture looks the closest of anyone on the Nationals roster.

Ray Knight, whose fame came from winning the World Series with the Mets in 1986, but for some reason is a broadcaster for the Nationals; more specifically, MASN.

After we decided as a group it was time to leave the field, Tim and Todd made a brief stop to take a picture with the person Todd and I both agree is the best “crowd hype person” (I don’t want to call them cheerleaders, since baseball doesn’t have that, but that’s essentially what they’re there for in baseball) in all of baseball, Terrence:

He’s there every day, and I’d say he probably uses the most energy of anyone in the stadium each of those days. Todd said it jokingly, but he may not be as far off as you might think, that he burns 20,000 calories a game.

Now I’d just like to go over a few things of note I found while walking before I get too far away in the events of the day for them to be relevant anymore. First: When we passed the standings on the wall in right field, Tim wanted to try to touch the standings, or something like that. So he reached through the fence. After he did it Kellan did as well, mimicking his older brother, so I turned back and got a picture of it:

That’s when I noticed something very interesting about the video board. From afar, the letters of the standings look white. However, from up close, one can see there is no white at all at work in the board:

Each “pixel” of white is actually three red, green, and blue dots at work together. I guess this makes sense since you hear that TVs are “RGB”s sometimes, but I had never actually seen this phenomenon at work. I’m just curious how you would create a color such as yellow with this set-up, or if you even could.

Second: If you saw the video I embedded earlier in the entry, you may have seen me stop at around the 33 second mark and point my camera towards the dirt, where you saw what looked like a piece of paper on the ground. Well, that piece of paper was a ticket, and when I was on the first base side of the field with the Cooks, I identified exactly which section the ticket was for:

Yep, it was a club level ticket. That meant I could finally access the club level at Nationals Park. Other than being a mildly good spot for foul balls, I really never have a reason to buy a club level ticket, given the cost (this one was $55). This ticket meant I would finally be able to explore up there.

Also while I was on the first base side, all of the Cooks were usually up in the shade, but Tim joined me down on the field when some of the players passed by. On one of those excursions, a Nationals “fan” photographer took a picture of the two of us together:

Sorry for the watermark. It would have cost me $29 to get the picture without it.

Fast-forwarding to when we were exiting the field…We all decided the place to be was the Red Porch’s indoor restaurant. On the way there, though. The Cooks saw the pig at Nationals Park. (Apparently, there’s a sculpture of a pig at EVERY ballpark in the major leagues.) When we went over there, I saw the Danny that I mentioned earlier in the entry. I then got a picture of him with his two baseballs so far (both of which I have mentioned already):

For the record, that is his “Rockies” shirt, and Tim is waiting for me to finish taking the picture so we could head over to the Red Porch.

When we got over there, it was as packed as could be, so we took a seat on some couches outside it. Here is a picture Todd took of me and his two sons:

Eventually, Todd left to get some food. Meanwhile, Tim “killed” me with his squirt bottle approximately 12,735 times. I then got a message on my phone that looked like such:

I had no idea anyone was even throwing, since I couldn’t see the field from our spot. So I raced down to the Red Seats to see how this had happened, but by the time I got down there, Todd had already returned to the couches.

I returned momentarily to have get an explanation from Todd and pick up my things, but I quickly headed off to try to get a ball from the Rockies. On my way, I saw this and had half a mind to see if I could glove trick one of the balls:

I actually didn’t get any baseballs from the Rockies, but I did get two players to sign two of my baseballs (Josh Roenicke and Adam Ottavino). Here is Ottavino signing my ball:

While I was trying to get a ball from the Rockies, Todd got one from Drew Pomeranz. He then went up into the shade with Kellan and took a picture of those who stayed out in the sun:

Myself (Mateo, if you haven’t picked up on that already) and Danny were both trying to get a ball from the last reliever, but Tim was just there pretty much to tag along. If you can see it, Danny was on the phone. The person he was on the phone with was on the phone with was Quinn Imiola, a fellow Buffalo-based ballhawk, who, if you’ve been reading this blog long enough, I met at a minor league game in Myrtle Beach. Neither of us got the ball, but here was the view when the reliever was still throwing:

After that, I parted ways with the Cooks and headed up to the club level. First, I went up to my “ticketed section”:

I entered the section, but it was pretty crowded, so I made the decision I was going to stay in the outfield during the game after I toured the club level. You know the drill. I’m going to post the pictures rapid-fire.

The left field entrance to the club level.

The “tunnel” emanating from the left field entrance. The doors to the suites were on the left hand side of this tunnel.

The tunnel then lead to a (I imagine) usually very open area, but people were crowding it to escape the heat.

A bar area from which there was also a field view.

Opposite the bar was this gigantic window, offering a view of the neighborhood outside of Nationals Park. The window went all the way across the “open area”, which was rather large.

This was just one of the food options in the “open area”.

The first reason I include this picture is that the area is approximately a fourth of the total “open area”, just to give you an idea of how large it was. The second reason is: Do you see the staircase in this picture? That leads up to an all-suite level. I got up there and started exploring, but before I could start taking pictures, an usher/guard type person asked me for my ticket and told me I couldn’t be up there.

During the game, I sat in two main spots. Here is the view from my usual seat in left field:

Pretty much everyone in the lineup was right handed, so I moved between this spot and the spot I have pointed out with the orange arrow. It was a long run in intense heat, so I pretty much only did it between innings when I could take it slowly.

From the spot in foul ground, I got what almost could have been Teddy’s first win in the Geico Presidents Race. Well he’s had a bunch of those, but this one was particularly entertaining, since I was so close to the action. If you don’t know the history, Teddy has NEVER won the presidents race in however many years it has been done. The presidential mascots that run in it are those symbolizing the four presidents on Mount Rushmore.

Teddy came down the stretch way in front of the other three presidents:

but he veered at the sight of the grounds crew waving popsicles in front of him:

Eventually, the other three presidents passed right by him:

…and as they passed the finish line, Teddy fell into the wheelchair section after his beloved popsicles:

I didn’t get anything during the game, but I had fun running around. In addition, I met Alan Schuster in this section during the game. He got there late because he was already on his way to the game when he realized he forgot his tickets at home. He lives in Virginia, so it was a pretty big set-back. Alan, if you don’t know, is the webmaster of  mygameballs.com, the ultimate site for ballhawk statistics. If you haven’t already, go check it out. Also, if you have ever caught a ball at a major league baseball game, make an account. It is super easy and even if you’re not a hardcore ballhawk, it is a great way to keep track of all of the baseballs and autographs you get at games. It’s better than forgetting from whom and how you got them, I’ll tell you that much.

Nearing the end of the game, this was my view:

I then tried to get a ball from whoever the home plate umpire was for that game:

but do you see all of those kids waiting? He gave a ball away to each of them, so he only had one ball left. As he passed me, I called out to the umpire by his last name, but when he looked back, he thought the guy next to me had been the one who called out to him, so he tossed him his final ball instead of me.

I then headed over to the Rockies dugout, and although all of the Rockies players dissed me, I saw a ball come out of the corner of my eye, so I caught it:

The person who threw the ball then reappeared, so I saw it was one of the Rockies ball boys or something along those lines:

Actually, though, I was only one of the people he threw a ball to. He must have thrown 10 balls into the stands. I’ve never seen anything like it from someone who wasn’t on the team.

Of course, even when someone like that throws 10 balls into the crowd, there is usually at least a kid that doesn’t get one. It’s just impossible to have EVERYone get a ball. I thought I didn’t see a kid next to me get a ball, so I asked him if he had gotten a ball at this game. He said he didn’t, so I pulled the ball out of my glove and put it into his. Here he is with it:

I then headed out to the center field plaza, fully expecting to just get on the Metro and leave. However, when I got there, the Cooks (and Greg, but I have filed him under this for the entry for the sake of brevity) were taking their final picture of the day:

So I got to formally say “goodbye” to them before I rode my way back to my apartment in Washington. If you made it to this point in the entry: Congratulations, you have more patience than I do. Not bad for a game I initially wasn’t going to go to, right?

STATS:

  • 4 Balls at this Game (3 pictured because I gave one away)

Numbers 334-337 for my life:

  • 115 Balls in 23 Games= 5 Balls Per Game
  • 4 Balls x 28,032 Fans= 112,128 Competition Factor
  • 32 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 8 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 7 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 7 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 94 Balls at Nationals Park in 19 Games= 4.95 Balls Per Game
  • 10 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
  • 10 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Nationals Park
  • 8 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Nationals Park
  • 6 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Nationals Park
  • Time Spent On Game 11:38- 7:57= 8 Hours 19 Minutes

7/6/12 Rockies at Nationals: Nationals Park

My third game at Nationals Park in the same week, and look who was at the gates waiting with me:

20120709-002957.jpgLeft to right, that would be:
1. Me.
2. Rick Gold– A ballhawk originally from the Oakland area, but who now operates from New Jersey. As of this game, he had snagged 1,354 balls, which is impressive considering he doesn’t try to get players to toss him baseballs. Of those, 45 have been game home runs.
3. Greg Barasch– In addition to being a friend and fellow ballhawk, Greg also happens to be my next-door neighbor. As of this game, he had snagged a total of 1,216 baseballs.

While we awaited the gates opening, Greg and I played a little catch. Here are a couple of pictures of it, courtesy of Rick:

20120709-154007.jpgThere I’m just winding up. Neither of us threw anywhere close to as hard as we could, since there were other people around us.

20120709-154419.jpgIt’s pretty much the same time in a different throw, from a different angle.

20120709-160303.jpgThis picture was taken on a very awkward looking follow through. From this angle, you can see Greg further down the sidewalk.

Eventually, there were enough people walking by that we just stopped and took the picture you saw at the beginning of the entry.

Once I got in the stadium, I almost immediately got my first ball of the day:

20120709-161823.jpgIt was a ground-rule double that the kid in blue hat and shirt reached up to grab, but in doing so, he only deflected the ball into my glove. Also, if you zoom-in on that last picture, you can see Rick (in red) patrolling the Red Seats, and Greg (in black) working the Nationals players in right field.

I then headed over to the Red Seats, where it was cup trick day. First, here is Rick pulling up a ball with his ball retrieval device:

20120709-201653.jpgNotice the groundskeeper laughing behind the Direct TV satellite dish. Then I got to see Greg pull a ball out of the bullpen (two pictures):

20120709-202110.jpg

20120709-202155.jpgAs Greg reeled in his ball, I headed over to the right field seats for Bryce Harper’s group. I didn’t get anything for Harper or the rest of his group, but Craig Stammen (the guy on the left of the group of three Nationals in the outfield):

20120709-203600.jpgThrew a ball to a kid, but missed him, so I caught the ball and then gave it to the kid (in the orange).

I believe that was it for Nationals B.P. At that point, the ballhawk scoreboard was Greg: 8 Rick: 4 Mateo: 2. It was a pretty frustrating day at that point, because two of the balls Rick snagged would have easily had been mine had he not been there. Even Greg’s dad, who showed up just before the gates opened because he had to park, had more baseballs than me at five. Also, at this point, Greg told me he wanted to get 15 on the day (his record for one game).

Then a bunch of righties came up, so I headed over to the Red Seats, but both Rick Gold and a latecomer, Steve Miller, were there. Steve is in the blue shirt at the back of the section, and Rick is in the red in the front. So after “checking in” on Rick and saying, “Hi” to Steve, I made my way back to right field. It should be noted, Steve writes a Marlins blog, and has already published an entry about the game, which you can check out here. After my “hello”s, I headed back to the right field seats.

There, a ball was hit into the seats right in my row. I ran towards it and grabbed the ball:

20120709-232330.jpgAs I grabbed the ball, the kid in the orange in the row behind me in the picture (looking at the camera with a ball in his hand), grabbed the ball. I had it first, so I could have easily yanked it away from him, but I decided to let go of the ball. For the record, I do count these balls, because if I don’t, I’ve created a scoring system that incentives taking balls away from other people: For my sake, I just have to have possession, and the ball counts. As I see it, I’m giving this ball away to the person by not making things get ugly, and competing with that person.

My next ball was also hit. It bounced off the lady partially occluded by the string dangling from my glove, where it went right into my row, and I picked it up:

20120709-233042.jpgTowards the end of Rockies batting practice, I headed over to third base foul ground. My rationale for this was things had been going SO slowly that I wasn’t missing much by getting a head start to the dugout when Rockies did end their batting practice. The first of the balls I got in foul ground was hit by a Rockies lefty:

20120709-233511.jpgIt bounced off the guy in red in the right part of the picture and landed a couple of rows below him, where I picked it up.

Just as batting practice ended, I was planning to go to the dugout, but someone I can’t describe as anything other than “a random Rockies guy” was holding up a ball, and gesturing as if he were going to toss it into the crowd. I started waving my arms in the air like crazy to try to get him to toss it to me. He didn’t, but he *did* throw it over me. It was the a semi-foot race to the spot the ball landed between myself and the other kids who had seen where the ball landed. I say “semi”, because to them it was simply a foot race, but I knew they were going to beat me to that spot, so I stopped a few rows under the spot, since balls usually roll down a few rows. I then saw the ball rolling down the steps, so I ran over and picked it up, much to the chagrin of the kids who realized what had just happened:

20120710-000449.jpgThe place where I snagged the ball is the section just to the right of the glove, and the guy who threw it was on the field by the right-most part of the picture.

I then sat by the dugout for a few minutes after batting practice to catch up on notes and such. There, I noticed a weird defect on one of the balls:

20120710-002634.jpgI’ve seen plenty of balls with the “practice” stamped upside-down, but this was the first one I’ve seen completely miss the sweet spot of the ball. Also while I was there, I rendezvoused with Steve. The last time we had met at a game, I think we both thought we should have gotten a picture together, so this time we gave my phone/camera to a random fan, but all of the pictures turned out like this:

20120710-003303.jpgSo when I saw Greg’s dad a few seats from us, I asked him to take a picture of us, which came out a lot better (unless you’re into the artsier silhouettes):

20120710-003604.jpgAt the end of batting practice, the full ballhawk scoreboard was as follows:
Greg- 13
Rick- 6
Mateo- 6
Shelly (Greg’s dad)- 6
Steve- 4

35 balls isn’t bad for 5 people at a game.

Here is a picture Rick took of me in the right field seats with the balls I had kept:

20120710-004311.jpgIn reality, I had only kept 4 baseballs, but I had my 80th career ball to play catch with Greg with, so I included that in the picture for “effect”.

I think I stayed in those seats for maybe three innings, but I didn’t like my chances with Stephen Strasburg on the mound. Even if he had just given up two home runs, I believe they were only his fifth and sixth of the year.. So I headed over to the Rockies dugout, where this was my view. *I* didn’t snag anything, but I was able to watch Greg put on a dugout clinic.

By the time I had gotten there, Greg had already snagged a third out ball from Tyler Colvin, and a Will Nieves foul ball, which tied him for his personal record. While the game was still in session, I managed to see him snag a third out ball from Nieves, and then a Jonathan Herrera foul ball.

At the end of the game, I, along with Greg, headed over to the umpire tunnel to try to get a ball from Jim Joyce:

20120710-090338.jpgHe was sitting at 17 balls at that point, so we were going through scenarios in our minds with which he could get twenty baseballs. Unfortunately, all of these involved a ball from Jim Joyce, the home plate umpire, and Joyce didn’t give either of us a ball. The Rockies had won the game, though. So their players and coaches were still coming back to the dugout by the time we moved over there. It was then that both of us got a ball from Glenallen Hill. Then I believe a ball boy tossed Greg another ball (I know SOMEone tossed Greg another ball, but I’m not sure who it was). Joyce had handed a ball to a kid just to the right of Greg, so I thought the second ball he got had been his twentieth ball of the game, so I took a picture of Greg with it:

20120710-091158.jpgWhen in reality, that had been Greg’s nineteenth, which Greg explained to me right after he got the ball. Greg also had a plan to get his twentieth of the game. Earlier in batting practice, there had been a ball that landed in the flowers o the left field bullpen. Greg’s plan was to go over there and either cup trick it, or have someone toss it up to him. I left the dugout soon after him, so I could see him waiting by the bullpen, and I was going to try to get a picture of him, but by the time I got over there, he was gone. I called him to see where he was, and if I could get a picture of him with his baseballs. I learned two things on that phone call: 1. He was in a car already on his way back to New York. (His dad wanted to leave. I don’t blame him; it was nearing 11:00 PM, and it’s a 4-5 hour drive back to New York.) 2. He had gotten a member of the grounds crew to toss him the ball. Oh. My. Goodness. I had just witnessed a “twenty” game!

I headed back to my apartment, and although the Metro was more jam-packed than ever:

20120710-092329.jpgI couldn’t care less. I had a small grin on my face the whole time, and it wasn’t even I that had done anything special.

-Keep reading past the stats to see a few pictures I took of Greg with his baseballs (in a couple of minutes)-

STATS:
• 7 Balls at this game (5 pictured because I gave 2 away)

20120710-092753.jpgNumbers 327-333 for my career:

20120710-093225.jpg• 111 Balls in 22 Games= 5.05 Balls Per Game
• 7 Balls x 28,951 Fans= 202,657Competition Factor
• 31 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 7 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 6 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 6 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
• 90 Balls in 18 Games at Nationals Park= 5 Balls Per Game
• 9 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
• 9 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Nationals Park
• 7 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Nationals Park
• 5 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Nationals Park
• Time Spent On Game 3:13- 11:17= 8 Hours 4 Minutes

So, as promised, here are the pictures of Greg at his apartment the next week. This first one are the “only” 13 balls he kept broken up into groups. The biggest group is just the “rest” of the baseballs.The top two are his two foul balls (a personal best). The middle two are his 18th and 19th balls of the game. The one to the right of those two is his 20th ball of the game:

20120710-103137.jpgOne of said balls had an interesting mark on it:

20120710-103638.jpgIf you can’t tell, it is the logo of another baseball that probably got there from that other baseball being squished against it.

I then combined the five balls I kept with his, and we re-took the picture:

20120710-144755.jpgFor the record, us five ballhawks ended up combining for 43 baseballs on the day. Not bad, eh?

I then got a picture of Greg with some “balligraphy”:

20120710-145653.jpgThe final picture I took was of Greg with his two foul balls against the background of his baseball “stuff”:

20120710-153108.jpg

Colorado Rockies 2012 Offseason Recap and Preview

Last year was not a good one for the health of the Rockies:

 

Grade: C

 

Notable Additions:

Michale Cuddyer, Casey Blake, Tyler Chatwood, Tyler Colvin, Jeremy Guthrie, D.J. Le Mahieu, Guillermo Moscoso, Josh Outman, Zach Putnam, and Marco Scutaro.

 

Notable Subtractions:

Kevin Slowey, Mark Ellis, Jason Hammel, Chris Ianetta, Matt Lindstrom, Kevin Millwood, Clayton Mortensen, J.C. Romero, Seth Smith, Ian Stewart, Huston Street, and Ty Wigginton.

 

Why?: The Rockies were one of those teams that quitely made a lot of additions that really benefitted the team. None of the trades were dealbreakers in themselves, but together they added a lot to the team of last year. So why did I give them a “C”? Well, even though they added a whole lot, they lost just as much.

 

Actually, they added and lost a lot just by looking at the lists. I’m probably mistaken, but I think this entry may contain the first “three liners” in both categories. As in, both the notable additions and subtractions take up three lines of the page.

 

As for the 2012 season, it’s tough to say how it will go for them. First of all, they were bad last season, only winning 73 games. However, that is understandable with the teams they were fielding on a nightly basis. I alluded to this in the opening paragraph, but let me give you some numbers to allow you to get a better idea of how much they were missed. Their huge re-signing in Jorge De La Rosa only started 10 games, their MVP candidate of a year prior, Carlos Gonzalez, played only 127 games. Since Ubaldo Jimenez was never really the Ace of the rotation last season, it was Jorge De La Rosa that probably would have taken that role had he not been injured. So the Rockies were without their biggest contributors on both sides of the ball injured for a big chunk of the year.

 

Predicted Record Range: 73-78 wins

 

Next Up:  San Francisco Giants (Last Team!!!!!!)

7/6/11 Rockies at Braves: Turner Field

Third and final day at Turner Field and I was very optimistic:

The first game was packed and the second game was slow HR wise in bp so why shouldn’t I have been. For those of you who don’t know, Turner Field opens 2 1/2 hours early. That means the gates were opened at 4:30 this day. I had been moving back and forth. When my mom caught up to me in a section and rightfully ask how many I had caught in forty minutes of batting practice I had to give her the second worst one-handed gesture I could have:

About five minutes later, I moved over closer to straight away left field in order to get a ball from the Rockies warming-up and en route caught  a Brooks Conrad Home Run:

but let me tell you right now that I could have easily had five baseballs. I moved back to my spot where I had been standing for ten minutes now and had moved from to catch the Conrad homer when a 14-ish year old kid came down the aisle. I moved aside and he slid right in to the row in front of me. Thirty seconds later, he called out to his dad asking if the Braves had been taking bp before then. When his dad answered yes, he pulled a ball out from under a seat and said he might have found one. Oh my goodness. How could I have not spotted that earlier. Oh yeah I’ll tell you, I figured since the stadium opened 2 1/2 hours early and most teams start hitting that early that there wouldn’t be any thing there. Still, let me show you how close I was:

The lower arrow shows where the ball had been. The upper left arrow shows where I had been standing. So this seat being an aisle seat in row 21 I was in the aisle adjacent to row 22. Gaaaah! As I explained before, I did not think at all to look for easter eggs so I have reason not to be disappointed but it was right in the row in front of me. On a lighter note, notice how the seat is designed so it cannot go completely up like the seat next to it. Whoever designed the seat forgot about the curvature of the stadium and so the armrest prevents the seat from going up.

That was it for bp the Braves weren’t really stingy and it wasn’t really crowded but people were in spots so that there wasn’t a full empty row except at the back of the left field bleachers or a ways away from home plate in deep left center. I stupidly stayed in this section of left field because, as I said, it wasn’t that crowded. The draw back was that the Home Runs that were hit always took some crazy bounce or were deflected by other people. One specific example when I came oh so close was a ball that bounced off of a person’s hands came back to me and I extended as far as I could over a seat but only managed to stop the ball’s momentum as someone picked it off the ground. I extended at chest level but did not think the scenario through as I would have gotten the ball had I extended for the ball at  a lower height (the ball was still going back towards me so if I would have given it more time to fall it would have come closer to me and thus right into my glove).  The toss-ups I normally get were also at a low as Jim Wright ignored me for half an hour and I am always afraid that if I call out to payers from too far away they will see me as impatient and not throw me a baseball when they come close to the wall. So I kept quiet but they kept away from the wall as Wright retrieved the majority of the balls. Here is a picture that describes the last sentence perfectly:

Jim Wright is the one in the middle with the ball in his hand he is standing to Houston Street I believe. Had he stayed longer (Street) I might have gotten a baseball out of him but he left soon afterwards.  I am the one in the stands with my hand and glove cupped around my mouth asking him if he could spare a baseball. You can also see the two groups of three pitchers on either side of the the picture that just stayed there. I don’t know that much about Wright but he also seemed like one of those coaches that keeps an eye out for how much the players are tossing balls into the stands and thus they don’t do it as often. Any ballhawks out there know what I am talking about? He was like a lesser Randy St.Claire this day. Kapish?

…I would also, in light of the Shannon Stone incident, like to tell any one that Turner Field, although with high walls and a gap like Ranger Ballpark, is a very safe place. In addition to the signs, like that which I am standing in front of in the previous picture, there are chains that prevent one from getting within two feet of the wall of places like bullpens. Anybody skeptical of Turner’s safety because of the gap can be assured that you would have to almost try and fall into the gap…

I then went  to the Rockies dugout in hopes of an early third out ball before going back to my ticketed seat in hopes of snagging foul balls in consecutive days. I first got Mark Ellis to toss me his pre-game warm-up ball but then a guy  reached right in front of me and grabbed the ball. I could have reached in front of him but I didn’t want to step on any toes, even if it was my last day (keep this in mind later). Thankfully, Ellis had another ball in his back pocket and threw it, this time OVER the grabby man:

Remember how I said I would get an early third out ball and run back to my section. I spent nine innings behind the dugout and did not get a single ball because of a variety of circumstances.

After the game, I went over to the umpire tunnel. At Turner Field, it is to the right side of the visitors’ dugout:

I went over there and waited for Home Plate Umpire, Cory Blaser, to walk over before asking him for a ball. He was about to walk right into the tunnel until he heard his name. At which point he back up out of the tunnel and rolled a ball across the dugout in my direction but then a teenager, younger than I , reached out in front of me  and grabbed the ball. He said the reason he did it was that he had been at the dugout the whole game and hadn’t gotten a third out ball “Wow, what do you think I’ve been doing all game”. He didn’t say sorry or offer me the ball (I wouldn’t have taken it and already had two baseballs but still that doesn’t justify his actions because he didn’t know either of those facts). Pretty disappointing considering how the game had gone to that point.

STATS:

  • 2 balls at this game
Numbers 118+119 for the career:
  • 58 balls in 18 game= 3.22 balls per game
  • 43 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 8 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 13 straight games away from NYC with at least 1 ball
  • 20 balls in 4 games= 5.0 balls per game on this trip
  • 2 balls*26,271 fans= 52,542 competition factor
  • Time at Game 3:57-9:54= 5 hours 57 minutes

7/4/11 Rockies at Braves: Turner Field

Oh Fourth of July. The proud day where Americana reigns supreme and the gates open… THREE HOURS EARLY?! Thank goodness my mom had taken a tour at 3:00 because had she not gone I would have showed up a little late for the gates as she warned me via phone of this scheduling change. As I arrived I saw this:

Nothing horrible but then I got the priviledge of sitting for half an hour doing nothing:

My first “ball” of the day was sort of a weird situation as Bullpen coach Eddie Perez threw a ball to a person. That person rejoiced because he thought he had gotten a ball. Eddie then flapped his glove like he wanted it to be thrown back. The man threw it back and Eddie continued this process with several other people. Eventually, I convinced Eddie to throw me the ball but then had to throw it back. I have had this situation happen to me before where I have caught a ball and the player asked for it back but the number of people that actually touched this ball makes me wonder if I should count it. For the moment, I am counting it but let me use the handy dandy poll daddy widget to find out the readers’ reaction/opinion

When the Braves pitchers began to warm-up along the 1st base foul line. You can expect I made my way over there (I was in left field). My mother however, thought I was coming back to left field right after the pitchers ended their warm-up. So before I go into detail on a miny snagging rampage here is a picture of a group of pitchers in left-center field (if you’re a little lost my mom had the camera so I don’t have any pictures of said rampage):

Now to the rampage. Although I didn’t get any balls from the pitchers warming up, a ball got hit to the wall in the right field corner where George Sherrill picked it up. Since I was in foul ground I was the closest to him because of a tunnel leading back into the depths of stadium where there were obviously no seats. So I called out and he promptly tossed me the ball. I then moved into the actual right field seats and caught a Home Run from a lefty I didn’t recognize at the time, but later identified as Freddie Freeman. This due to the fact that it was the exact same swing as Home Run he hit during the actual game (to be seen later). I stayed put in left field because a) there were a lot of lefties up and b) this was the crowd in left field at almost that exact same time:

You can see in the background how much less crowded the right field seats were. Anyway, a ball got hit into the Braves bullpen in right center field and no one went after it but me. Scott Proctor was in the bullpen and as he picked up the ball I got him to throw it to me . While I was coming back down the steps, a ball got hit and a kid around seven years old managed to stop it but it dropped into the gap between the walls and so I swooped in with my glove trick and after a bunch of tangling brought it up and handed it to him.

While in right, I noticed a fair amount of balls going into the center field bleachers (or Pavillion as the Braves so graciously renamed it). Like just as many as in left and right. Since it was 400+ feet from home plate to glove so there weren’t that many people there  but in all actuality the rightmost section (looking from home plate) is really right center and isn’t that out of the question when it comes to Home Runs.  Anyway, five minutes after I got there, Brian McCann hit a Home Run to that rightmost section I ran  and set up right behind the (barehanded) person camped under it but he deflected it forward and a third person out-scrambled him for it. This turned out to blessing in disguise as a the next pitch McCann launched a ball back to my right  and all I had to do was run ten steps and catch it. For those keeping score at home that is now six balls on the day, five sans Perez ball.

I met back with my mom in Left Field and stayed there for the remainder of Braves bp because I wanted to wait until the Rockies pitchers finished throwing:

I got nothing from them and returned to right field, this time with a photographer. The closest I came to a ball in left field because of the crowd was a ball that landed in the gap. I had my glove trick and got to the point quickest but gave way to a person with a cup trick type thing a few moments afterward. I add on the “type thing” because it was a cup trick but I am used to something other than a roll of duct tape being used as a weight:

Anyway, Rockies batting practice was pretty slow. Not necessarily in terms of balls hit into the stands but it seemed like there were never balls hit close enough to the stands to shout to the players for toss-ups. It was also pretty crowded in right field on the aisles so of course let me give you a picture of the middle of the row:

Towards the middle of Rockies batting practice, a lefty hit a Home Run to my right. I was two sections so I came a little late to the party but managed to win the scramble when the barehanded person inevitably dropped the ball and I scooped it up.  I then proceeded to give the ball to a kid also chasing it. I probably should have given it to a kid with a glove but it was more of a reactionary move to endear myself to the section as they had seen me snag a few balls. I just kept trying the players from close up using words and from far away using gestures:

but it was hopeless as I forgot my attention grabbing Rockies shirt in a rush to get to the stadium and just had my hat add that to the fact it was the Fourth of July and the stadium was packed, even in bp. So batting practice ended:

and I was happy as I had set my season high and tied my career high for balls in a game. I didn’t try to go for third out balls and set a new career high just yet. If it were to come, it would be a Home Run or a bullpen ball that sent me to #8 as this was the view from my seat:

Guess what. A Home Run did come within twenty feet of me and guess who caught it. Not me. This was my view right after the catch as I had to watch helplessly because of the crowd:

I mean he caught it on the fly so there was nothing I could really do about it but still I go in my mind to thinking how that would have played out on a day that was not the fourth of July. That of course, the Freddie Freeman Home Run that I referenced earlier that helped me identify him as the one that hit the ball that I caught.

There were mostly lefties hitting so I just watched the spectacle that was a family trying to land more peanut shells on the first wall than each other:

In the eighth inning it started to rain and the section really emptied out but it was too late:

as there were only six hitters after that point.

Still the Braves commemorated my six/seven ball performance with some nice fireworks:

a

Can you spot my hotel? I am staying at the Holiday Inn. I stayed for the entire fireworks ceremony and ended up drenched:

The funny part about that picture is the camera didn’t move that much it was the water on the lens that made it look so blurry.

Oh and remember how I said my glove trick got tangled on the first ball. Here is a picture of it after I got home:

Just keep that in mind when I write my next entry today/tomorrow.

STATS  

  • Seven balls at this game ( four pictured because I kept that many)
Which would be numbers 105-111 on the career:
  • 50 balls in 16 games= 3.13 balls per game
  • 41 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 11 straight outside of New York
  • 7 balls*36,137 fans= 252,959 competition factor
  • Time at game 3:38- 11:27=7 hours 49 minutes A record I do not think I will break any time soon.