Seventh and final game of the baseball trip and third and final at Sun Life Stadium:
I mean I did feel a bit like I show in the picture but that specific face came from the fact it took twenty seconds of my mom/photographer looking through the lens to take that one picture. Besides that, can anyone tell a difference in that picture. The good news is that I had my step-father’s high quality camera at my disposal for the game and because it was Saturday, all gates were opening at the same time. This means that I didn’t have to run all the way from home plate to get to the right field seats. Instead I could actually go to the right field gate and get extra Marlins bp. The right field gate at Sun Life stadium is gate F:
The bad news is that I don’t have any pictures from the baseballs that I snagged. However here is a cropped picture I took later on in the game that I edited to show where I snagged all my bp balls:
1- I knew the Marlins would be off the field in a heart beat so I ran down the steps and called out to Leo Nunez that had just fielded a ball by the wall and got him to throw me the ball. I then moved over to the other side of the tunnel to try and get a ball from the group of pitchers shagging in right-center but just as I got there the pitchers ran in as Marlins bp had ended. Since I was still the only person in right field I looked for Easter eggs down the first row.
2- I found one sitting in a puddle of water right in the first row. Just an interesting ball because of what the water did to it. Check it out:
The water actually dyed the baseball the color of the pavement (that greenish hue you see).
3- I went up the aisle and found another ball in about the fifth row tucked inside a seat I then kept going up even though it would have taken a bomb to get a ball that high…
4- …but still finding a ball in a cup holder almost in the last row (like second to last row or something). Wow. It must have been crushed. Mind you that this was right-center field we are talking about.
I then saw some Astros pitchers warming up where I had gotten Enerio Del Rosario to toss me a ball the day before. I hustled over there and set myself up to ask one of them for their ball once they finished throwing but at that same time the guy who caught the Mike Stanton Home Run the first day, flagged me down and motioned for me to meet up with him. He was in the section above me so I sacrificed my chance at a ball from the pitchers in order to talk to him for about twenty minutes. His name is Joe and let me just show a picture to give you an idea of how this conversation went:
You see Joe has season tickets in the club level seats and so he was up in the blue seats which were separated from the orange seats I was in by a wall. After the game in which he caught the Stanton Home Run I ran after him and talked to him briefly before letting him go because I could see he was in a rush to get Mike Stanton’s autograph (well I didn’t see he was in a rush for that specific reason but rather just saw he was in a rush). I just let him know about mygameballs.com amongst this blog and other things.
During this talk, he told me that he ballhawks regularly and has caught various historic Home Runs: Ken Griffey Jr.’s 600th and Dan Uggla’s 30th Home Run from the season where he became the first Second Baseman to hit 30 Home Runs 4 years straight. He then went on to tell me how differently the situations had gone. Basically, the Marlins/Uggla handled it well while the Reds/Griffey… not so much. After I told him that I lived in New York he asked me if I knew a guy there that went to a lot of games and caught baseballs. You know, this guy. I told him that he was actually the one that taught me how to do this etc and found out that they knew each other because when he caught the Griffey Home Run, Zack gave him his business card just as he was being whisked away by security. In all, it was a fun conversation and I got to know a new ballhawk.
…Now to the not so fun part. After I finished talking to Joe I realized something: it was an hour before game time and the cages were being pulled off the field. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It wasn’t like it was too early even for the poor rich MLB players as it was 6:00 pm but I guess there bus came late or something because I was really disappointed because I had 4 balls in less than half my predicted bp time (so I was only half an hour into what I predicted to be an hour of bp) and because it was my last day I could be as loud to the players as I wanted because I wouldn’t have to worry about them recognizing me the next day. The view at 6:10:
It was depressing, boring, and weird as I expect that any night game with perfect weather to have batting practice until about 45 minutes to half an hour before the game. Although, notice where I am sitting. Oh yeah right on the staircase that is at the perfect angle for right handed hitters. The advantage:the two teams were heavily right handed dominant. The disadvantage: the net was in the way. Let me give you a better look out:
In the first game of the series I thought it would be a disappointment if I didn’t catch a game ball but I didn’t realize that a lot of people showed up for the different promotions. Today was Super Saturday (autograph sessions as the gates opened, a Cirque Du Sole performance after the game, and probably some other things. I am fine with missing the autograph sessions as long as it wasn’t Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton because keep in mind that if I would have stopped for that I might not have gotten one ball until the game.) and it got pretty crowded:
Trust me when I tell you that this is *VERY* crowded for a Marlins game.
That picture was taken during the game but before the game I had some time so I finally took my Sun Life Stadium bonus picture for the mygameballs.com scavenger hunt:
Why was I not trying to get a ball at the dugout for third out balls? Well let me start with a picture of blue seats:
Do you see it? In the eighth row as one is going down the steps the seats turn from Orange to blue. The blue seats are off limits to anyone who does not have a ticket in those seats. They’re sort of like the moat of Sun Life Stadium.
During the game, I was optimistic because I had all this room to run:
Actually this isn’t much room to run at Sun Life, as crazy as it may sound. It was however, in a place where balls could just barely clear the protective screen and fall down to. I didn’t catch anything but check out how another fan caught a ball:
It wasn’t on the fly but it is still impressive when you can get a foul ball with baby in arm. His wife is holding the ball in this picture but I can assure you he caught it.
I don’t know what was happening in this picture but I just wanted to share because it was the last with the high quality camera and it was a beaut:
I think that right after that picture was taken I left to get a ball from home plate umpire Jerry Meals. I succeeded. There was that Cirque Du Sole dreams performance but it had been a long trip for my mom so we got out right after the game.
STATS FOR GAME:
- 5 balls at this game
- 73 balls in 21 games= 3.48 balls per game
- 46 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 11 straight games with at least 2 balls
- 16 straight on the road with at least 1
- 3 straight with at least five (I give this half a day in New York)
- 5 balls*20,402 fans= 102,010 competition factor
- Time at game 4:57- 10:13= 6 hours 15 minutes.
- 35 balls on this trip (29 pictured because I kept 28 and brought #99 on the trip), which are #s 100-134 on my career
- 35 balls in 7 games= 5.0 balls per game
- 6/7 games with at least five baseballs
- 159,275 fans total= 22,754 fans per game
- 115, 365 average competition factor
- 2 rubbed up balls
- 0 wins for the away team in games
- 1 patient and improving (somewhat) photographer.
- 1 fun trip
Today I used my mom’s iPhone as the camera I had been using is now missing its upload cable. I apologize for the lack of pictures as it (the iPhone) was mostly used for other tasks for the duration of bp. If no one knows, the Marlins are big on promoting their weekends naming the days with exciting, alliterating names. Today was, Fiesta Friday:
It consisted of autograph sessions for kids 12 and under (oh how I miss those subtle benefits), live music at the stadium (train wreck because they also play the electronic music and they just make each other sound awful, and a party after the game. In addition, all the PAs were done bilingually in English y Espanol.
My mom trailed behind me with our mini bag of food and such (I would advise against trying to bring in food because the Marlins do have a policy against it but she hid it at the bottom of the bag and thus got it in the stadium) so she failed to capture the first two easter eggs of my career. Why my first two? Well, the Mets used to open two and a half hours early and so they didn’t have bp prior to the fans entering and the (field level) outfield sections in Yankee Stadium are rather cramped and so not many hit balls are that far away from the, rather thorough, ushers. Both of the Easter Eggs were in the corner formed by the tarped center field seats:
The first was all the way in the corner formed by the staircase and tarp. I saw it as I moved to the very front row and peered down it. Seeing the impatient baseball I decided to grab it. As I was starting to walk back, I saw another baseball on the ground about three rows up and decided to rescue him too.
For the second striaght game, I did not get a single ball (from the Marlins) in the Marlins sliver of bp. This is important because: 1. I had absolutely no competition and 2. I couldn’t get a ball from the players in left center field becausei was not allowed into left field because those seats are club level. This means that my only hopes for putting up big numbers were that either two of the worst and most righty dominant line-ups to put on a power show to right field or that the pitchers would keep rotating and I would be able to ask pitchers un-familiar with me.
Guess what? Neither happened. My first thrown ball came in almost exact same spot I had found my first Easter Egg. Many outfielders were practicing and a ball was hit right in my “gap”. Literally right under me. I would have glove tricked the ball had Michael Bourn not come to pick it up. I asked him if he could toss the ball up where he said no but he did have a ball for me. He pulled a ball out of his back pocket that was even pearl-ier than the one that had rolled to the wall.
After trying and trying to pry a ball from the pitchers in right field I gave up and moved to my more dominant field: the group of hispanic pitchers in left field. I was in foul ground and didn’t expect for a hit ball to get there. I’m a little photo strapped as I only have 7 pictures for this whole game so here is a picture from last game’s entry edited to show you where I was:
If you can see the big red arrow towards the right of the screen that’s were I was standing just hoping that a player would pull a ball down the line because I was the only person within a country mile of whoever retrieved it. That lucky person was Enerio Del Rosario. Some righty pulled a ball right down the line, he picked it up, and I used my awesome Spanish skills to get him to toss me the ball up right. Well not really. He first told me that he couldn’t toss balls up. I told him that I understood because of the strict Astros blah blah blah. I then found out he was kidding and got the ball. Tee-hee.
I moved back to right field and things slowed way down. I kept calling out to the two people in right field that hadn’t thrown me a ball yet: Mark Melancon and Fernando Rodriguez. They just straight up didn’t react to my requests and since the Astros only two good hitters were righties. Translation: one Home Run through all of batting practice. I was going to straight away right for lefties and right-center for righties:
Why was I running up stairs? Remember that giant tunnel in the middle of the sections? No? Here is last entry. Anyway, to get from one to the other the route was up and over. My running and pleading was finally rewarded at almost the end of bp when Mark Melancon tossed me a ball. I then gave a ball to the security guard next to the tunnel to give to a kid of his choice.
As for the game, when I saw the empty seats yesterday, I thought that if I didn’t get a gameball this series it would be a disappointment but today was much more crowded:
There were no empty aisles to be found on the first base side of foul ground. I think that the rain of the day before coupled with the weekend promotions got more people to come to the last two games of the series (one of which I haven’t blogged about yet). Yet I should have caught a ball but a copule arrived at their seats which I was in. Had I been in those seats I would have most surely caught the ball.
Another thing of note is this unique peanut salesman:
If you can’t see he has a twirly hat and the glasses that come with big nose and moustache. He also had a unique form of paying. He threw a tennis ball at the person paying after he had thrown the peanuts and the person put the money they owed him on the ball by a rubber band it had on it. Though I do now wonder how he gave them back their change in coins?
That was it nothing for the game.
- 68 balls in 20 games=3.4 Balls Per Game
- 45 games straight with at least 1 ball
- 10 straight with at least 2 balls
- 15 straight games on the road with at least 1 ball
- 30 balls in 6 games=5.0 Balls Per Game on this roadtrip
- 5 balls*17,044 fans= 85,220 competition factor
- Time at Game 4:53-9:57= 5 hours and 4 minutes
First game at Sun Life Stadium but there was a bit of a problem:
Up until 3-ish it was really raining. The picture was taken at around 4:30 but I was worried by the overcast that the rain would return. Oh and the sweats are because I had just come in from Atlanta via plane that morning and those things are freezing inside. I kept them on because the rain made it so it didn’t warm up until after the time I got in line to get into the stadium.
That said, I had heard that no backpacks were allowed inside the stadium and heard this reinforced (sort of) when the loud speakers said no bags larger than 14x14x8. A back pack in all reality is smaller than that but I still asked a guard setting up if the bag I was carrying was allowed into the stadium. He told me that it shouldn’t be but because I asked nicely, if I got in the line with his partner that I would be allowed in. So I sacrificed a few spots in line to see where the partner would set up. It felt great being in the back of a line and only seeing this in front of me:
and then to run into the seating bowl and see this:
That’s right four people. Want to know what the sad part of that image is: ten minutes of batting practice had already passed. Sun Life only opens up an hour and a half early so knowing that there were two lefties pitching, I (err… my mom) splurged for the club level seats that make up left field and span the length of the stadium. This meant that I would be able to go up there for batting practice as well because people without tickets for that section can’t go in. I also left because maneuvering that giant tunnel in the middle of the seats is a pain (seen in last picture). If you thought the last picture was sad take a look at my competition:
The experience in left field turned out to be a good one for me not in the number of balls that I caught but rather learning what I was capable of. I have always regarded myself as a rather quiet person but found that I could actually get players to respond when I called out to them, even though I was thirty feet above them. The first person I got to toss a ball up was Wandy Rodriguez way in left center. I then got J.A. Happ to toss me a ball that I just barely got because he was starting that night and I guess didn’t want to injure his arm. Don’t worry folks, I was grabbing onto the railing with my non-catching hand and the fall would have only been five feet. Here I am with the two baseballs:
Sorry if I seem shiny-faced but the humidity is already high in Miami and that’s without rain on the concrete to evaporate. I then stayed between left and left center. Then Hunter Pence hit a Home Run to my right and I could literally walk to pick it up even though it was twenty feet away. I would have caught more hit balls but the Astros only real power threats were Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence and there were also seats in front of us that were swallowing more than half the Home Runs hit:
They are not the tarp-ed seats but in front of our section were seats used for football games that were folded up and thus had a twenty five foot gap with no rail or anything that make them off limits to the public. I was tempted to glove trick a few balls that were trapped in those seats (3) but decided against it because there was constantly security watching this area and I didn’t want to stir ill feelings in my first day at a new stadium. There was also a bit of an over hang from the upper deck and a few went up there but since the Marlins closed that for the rest of the season they were untouchable. Instead, I moved back over to right field when a few lefties came up.
Quickly I got a Home Run by an Astros lefty when he hit the a ball just above the tunnel I mentioned towards the beginning of the entry. I was on the right side of the tunnel so I ran up and over before anyone got it. I think Brett Wallace hit the ball but am not entirely sure. I had been pestering both Bud Norris and some other pitcher whose name I cannot recall now for a solid twenty minutes. They probably couldn’t toss that many balls into the stands as the Astros management is stricter than average in instructing players on this. I mean how else are you going to turn a profit while thirty games below .500. Yes, that is the worst in the majors. The point in digressing this much being, when the last ball of batting practice got hit into the tunnel just out of my reach, Bud Norris tossed a ball up to me without me even saying anything because I had, um, made my presence known shall we say. After bp ended, I looked around for a kid because I knew I hadn’t given a ball away my last game. The kid I think had a Marlins shirt on but I couldn’t tell because he didn’t turn around all the way. I had recently gotten my ball from Bud Norris but according to my labeling system I still have that ball, so I don’t know which ball I gave away.
I had some time to kill after bp So I took a quick tour of the club level. Behind our seats was a big food court:
Though, I should mention that the club level was clearly more geared towards football than baseball as many of the facilities were closed, including the food court. Something interesting that I learned when on a tour with the University of Miami’s summer program is that the Marlins really only rent the place out so any food profit actually goes to the Dolphins. Ready for some more football stuff. Here is there display case dedicated to the NCAA national championship that took place here around two years ago:
Enough football. To prove the concourse goes all the way around, here is a picture of our ticketed seats from the councourse:
The sections within the dotted Orange box are the left field ones. Here is the only non blurry picture of course of the most boring hallway in the concourse:
Guess what else was on this level:
I then got back to my seat in time for the national anthem. Get ready for more sad. The view to my right:
To my left:
Now I know that those numbers are skewed because of the cost of the ticket but how about a look around the rest of the stadium:
I saw on various occasions people walking two sections to pick up a foul ball. I later learned that the paid attendance was 17,000 but I would say the people who should up were >5,000. I was going to move over to the upper blue seats behind the visitors (right in the picture) dugout for any extended string of lefties but there were none . I was convinced that if there was a Home Run I would have a 50-50 chance at it because I had so much potential ranging room. Then a man showed up. The two first things he said concerning me were “Oh look a real Astros fan” and “we’ve got to get you a ball”. He showed up in the second inning. No later than two minutes after he arrived, Mike Stanton hit a mammoth Home Run that according to now, ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, formerly, Hit Tracker Online, the ball went 431 feet.
Here is the link to watch it. I am the one in the black shirt that starts off a section behind the two guys about five rows apart racing each other. As you can see I was pretty far behind them when the camera loses me because I had to move up a row to avoid the railing but had the ball been a row lower I can almost guarantee it would have been mine as I only got there half a second too late. Here is the guy that eventually got the ball:
The ball landed about two full sections away and actually bounced two rows behind him before going back into the row in front of him.
That was it no more Home Runs. I should have been on the field level.
- 5 balls at this game ( four in this picture because I gave the Pence ball away)
- 63 balls in 19 games= 3.32 Balls Per Game
- 44 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 9 straight with at least 2 balls
- 14 straight games on the road with at least 1 ball
- 25 balls in 5 games= 5.0 balls per game on this raodtrip
- 5 balls * 17,806 fans= 89,030 competition factor
- Time at game 4:38- 10:17= 5 hours 39 minutes.
First, Happy New Years to every one.
Second, I was thinking of my new year’s resolutions and realized that they were all ballhawking related. So, I thought I should share them with anyone who cares. Hey! I heard that thought. You don’t hear me thinking mean thoughts like that about your hopes and aspirations. Then again, you don’t have my powers of super awesome mind reading.
Anywho, here are my goals for the following season in ballhawking. Not necessarily in this order.
1. Go to AT LEAST 40 baseball games.- I went to 20 games last year and started about half way through the season so this should be do-able.
2. Average 4.0 balls per game.- I was hovering around 3.5 in the last two months. So, I think this could be achieved. Note: at this point I am still a pitcher. Ergo, I am absolutely horrid at tracking balls in the air and catching them. For example, my only game ball was a ball that I overran and then scrambled to get. This can obviously be improved by pure experience.
3. Go to 10 stadiums.- I am definitely going to the 3 South-East stadiums. There are 8 stadiums that I can get to otherwise. That is eleven by my count. This definitely depends on how my dad is feeling in the summer (whether or not he is in the mood to schlep me or not) . However, the 3 South- East are a definite as this is the Marlins’ last year in Dolphins… no Land Shark…. whatever that Stadium is called now, and I want to get me a commemorative baseball.
4. Get 100 baseballs.- This is dependent on how many games I go to, but if I go to 40 and keep my pace for last season. I would… finish… just… shy… of 100. Wow, that was deflating.
5. Catch a game homer at Citi field (preferably, before anyone else does it).- It has never been done before by a mygameballs.com member because of the ballhawk’s death valley that is right field and the left field furthest from home plate in the major leagues, but Citi Field ballhawks tend to lie closer to the dugouts and therefore there is no professional competition in left field. However, there is an over hang that prevent a home run from going more than ten rows back. So, I can see why they are by the dugout but, I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
6. Get five game-balls total.- Now this one, I’m not too sure of. If I sit in a spot to do it, t’will be a piece of caketh. But if I don’t, then it will be near impossible because only 7 people achieved this feat last year. And that, is why you never start a sentence with a conjunction.
7. Lead the mygameballs.com community in Umpire balls for my first full month of ballhawking.- The only reason this would be difficult is if I am going for Home Runs in Citi Field there is an evil gate that prevents fans from going to the dugout seats (umpire tunnel) from the outfield. Therefore, I would have to get to the dugout seats by getting tickets from exiting fans, a fickle source. Besides that, I have a secret weapon to get umpire balls. This is why I only expect to lead for my first month because I know Citi Field ballhawks will want to know where I got it and then have just as good of a chance to get an umpire ball as I do.
8. Be in the Top 10 for mygameballs.com at some point in the season (preferably after the last game of the world series).- Now if I average 4.0 balls per game. I would only have to go to… 35 games to be in the 2010 top 10. Like I said, many of these (if not all) are dependent on the degree to which the first goal is accomplished.
9. Post entries regularly. This is the hardest goal yet. This goal depends not on whether I know Spanish or can catch a baseball. It is a matter of pure sit-down-and-write-itness. I was previously known as the “if only he applied himself he could do well” kid. This might shine through if I am tired from running around and blogging on back-to-back-to-back-to-back games which will probably happen if I want to go to forty games (considering I will lose most of April, May, and September to Fordham P Baseball).
10. Aaand a Paaartriiidge iiin a peaaar treee.- I like round numbers and nine doesn’t really accomplish this goal. So, I wanted to have a tenth goal but had no actual tenth goal and so this is just to fill up space and satisfy my round number goal and… Why am I still writing?
Anyway, I hope your New year’s resolutions are accomplished as well (unless they make mine even a degree harder ’cause like I said, I don’t feel like applying myself that much more.) and I’ve said it a million times to other people but what ever you never, ever, exaggerate anything, especially your goals.