While I’ve always kind of known which teams I like and which I don’t–although even those have changed throughout the years–I truly have never ranked the teams 1-30 as to which I like better than others. So that’s what I’m going to do right now. (Disclaimer: This is a list of how I order the teams in the offseason of 2013-14. While most of my decision in where to put a team in the rankings is based off of the franchise itself, some of it is based on who is on the team right now, so these rankings are subject to change over time.)
1. Minnesota Twins-
My story with the Twins is that I grew up a Yankees fan being from New York, but being that I look at things from a GM’s perspective, I thought that being Brian Cashman and having a $200-million payroll would be a pretty boring job creatively since he could essentially buy any player he wanted to. In thinking this, I thought of a team who had success but doing so with a reduced payroll that required teams to build their team in an innovative way on a much smaller budget. Being as it was the mid-2000s, the Twins was a natural choice seeing as they were a constant playoff team with one of the lowest budgets in baseball. Now don’t get me wrong; there’s a different challenge in being the GM of the Yankees: you’re never allowed to take a year off having success to rebuild your core/farm system, but I was entranced by the building of a successful major league team from a solid minor league core.
2. Washington Nationals-
In going to a ton of games at Nationals Park in 2011 I fell in love with the core of players that went 80-81 as well as the people who inhabited it. Ever since then, I have been a really big fan of the players that made up the core of the teams in the next two years. And because of me falling in love with the Nationals Park environment for whatever reason as well as the people who made it such a special place, I became a fan of the franchise as a whole.
3. Tampa Bay Rays-
Much like the Twins, the Rays endeared themselves to me by being a team that built their team intelligently–allowing them to achieve repeated success on a payroll that can’t compare to that of a larger market team.
4. San Francisco Giants-
The Giants is an interesting case because it started as simply a liking of a specific player: Tim Lincecum. However, as I kept up with Lincecum more and more as he began to turn from the Washington kid who could pitch insanely fast for his size to a household name, I grew to have a liking fro the other players on the Giants as well. I think having shared a hotel with the players in Milwaukee and having a mini-conversation with a couple of them as well as having a personal memory of what Brian Wilson was like pre-beard may have contributed to this connection to the team, though.
5. Texas Rangers-
I truly have no idea how the Rangers managed to climb my list so high. I used to not really be a fan of them in their team with the two Rodriguezes, but as they turned towards a team that relied more on pitching *in addition to* the offense the Rangers always seemed to have, I really liked the teams that they constructed around 2009-10.
6. New York Yankees-
While they have fallen down my list and I hate the franchise past the team itself, they still are my childhood team that I can’t help to root for.
7. Philadelphia Phillies-
While it was not the beginning of my fandom of them, this certainly sealed it for me. They’d be higher on the list for me, but Phillies fans.
8. Toronto Blue Jays-
Part of me always sympathized with our neighbors to the north. Even when the Expos were still a team, I liked the Blue Jays a lot and always secretly as a Yankee fan hoped they would surge up and break the norm of the AL East standings for a while in the early 2000s–which was:
2. Red Sox
3. Blue Jays
5. Devil Rays
I just really always wanted them to have success, and this translated to a fandom of the team when they played teams that weren’t my top-of-the-line favorite teams.
9. Milwaukee Brewers-
My liking of the Brewers began in around 2008 when CC Sabathia joined the team for half a season and did amazing with being in attendance for what should have been a no-hitter, (I might write about this/do a video for a “Blast From the Baseball Past” entry) but then I just had a fandom for the Fielder and Braun teams. My fandom for the team, though, has lessened the past couple of years for obvious reasons regarding one or more of the aforementioned players.
10. Oakland Athletics-
(See Tampa Rays.)
11. Cincinnati Reds-
I think this is kind of a fusion of many of the various teams I have talked about to this point. So in part it’s like the Rays where I liked that a solid major league team was built from the pooling of major league talent, but it is also a lot like the Giants since I really like Joey Votto as a player.
12. Atlanta Braves-
I think this is Nationals-esque in that I loved Turner Field and its atmosphere. I also liked the core and became much more of a fan because of people I have met that are passionate about the Braves. And I can say that the fact that Julio Teheran plays for them doesn’t hurt them at all.
13. Arizona Diamondbacks-
This is one of the teams that I honestly don’t know why I like more than most teams. I’ve just always liked Diamondbacks teams (after the 2001 season, that is.) Yeah, I don’t know.
14. Seattle Mariners-
This has been mostly the product of running into very nice baseball people who are fans of the Mariners. I’m also a fan of how good of a pitching team they have been despite being offensively anemic the past seasons.
15. Baltimore Orioles-
Similarly to the Mariners, I just know a ton of awesome baseball people that are Orioles fans. In addition to that, their stadium is my favorite in baseball. I would say that really the only reason they’re this far down the list is that some Orioles fans became obnoxious as they began to climb out of the AL East cellar.
16. Detroit Tigers-
I know that I’m supposed to hate the Tigers as a Twins fan, but the fact that we beat them in the game 163 we played them helps and I always admired the teams that had success more than most of the teams I am supposed to dislike.
17. Pittsburgh Pirater-
I can pretty safely say that if I weren’t a ballhawk, this team would be lower on the list, but because of the big ballhawk following in Pittsburgh, I have kept up and liked the Pirates and it was incredibly fun watching them have success for the first time in over two decades last season.
18. Miami Marlins-
Ah the Marlins. Those poor souls. I always had an affinity for them especially teams with the 30+ homer infields of Uggla, Ramirez, Cantu, and Jacobs. That said, Jeffrey Loria has made this a team that I can’t root for over half of the other teams. They remain a team that I’m intrigued by and want to root for, and they would skyrocket up this list if Loria ever sold them and kept them in Miami, but right now they’re just not a team I can really get behind.
19. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim-
I don’t know about this team. I want to like them in many respects, but they lost me when they started spending a bajillion dollars on free agents, trading for Vernon Wells, and then having success with not with their big free agent acquisitions but with the farm talent they had beforehand.
20. Colorado Rockies-
The Rockies are one of those teams I have a preference towards, but still in a kind of “eh” way. I’ve never disliked them really, but I’ve never really had any passion behind my support of them.
21. San Diego Padres-
I used to like them a lot more in the Trevor Hoffman era, but they’ve dropped a bit since then not necessarily because their lack of success but the players behind these teams. They just haven’t been groups of guys that I’d like to get behind.
22. Cleveland Indians-
Again, never disliked them but never really liked them.
23. Houston Astros-
I actually like the group of people in this team and could see myself liking a lot in the years to come. That said, they have made some pretty bad decisions in the past and it was not a shock that they were as bad of a team as they have been.
24. Kansas City Royals-
I actually like this franchise in terms of their ballpark and look, but then there are the people behind the scenes that ruin this team for me. At the ballpark, I have not heard many positive things about their ushers, and behind the franchise, I disagree on many things with the GM of the team, Dayton Moore. I think that the team could have been competing a long time ago had it not been for his guidance.
25. St. Louis Cardinals-
The main reason for them being this far down the list is the fact that their fans claim incorrectly that they are definitely the “best fans in baseball.” While I don’t think there is a no-doubt group of the best fans in baseball, if my experience with Cardinals fans in baseball has taught me anything, it is that while the Cardinals fan base may be in the top-10, they are definitely not the no-doubt best fans in baseball they claim to be.
26. Chicago White Sox-
I was a fan of the 2005 Astros and 2008 Twins. Enough said.
27. New York Mets-
They’re the Mets. I don’t know how many things I have admired about the Mets the past five years. If it’s any indication, the rendition of “Meet the Mets” that I have adopted begins:
Beat the Mets,
Beat the Mets,
Step right up and,
Sweep the Mets
28. Los Angeles Dodgers-
While I have kind of liked the players on the Dodgers for stretches, their recent acquisition by the Kasten-Johnson group and metamorphosis into baseball’s new Yankees has really turned me off to them. I have disliked them sans Vin Scully for a much longer time than just that, but that’s the most recent thing that provides a rational reason for disliking them.
29. Chicago Cubs-
I have never had any appeal to the Cubs, and I’m not particularly found of how Cubs fans overreact to prospects as well as how in-your-face Cubs fans I have interacted with have been about the most minor successes. Granted, it’s a conditioning that has come with being the fan of a team who last won a World Series when one’s great-grandparents were your age.
30. Boston Red Sox-
This is partially because I grew up a fan of the Yankees, but I also do like their stadium and the atmosphere of it. However, I can’t get over the attitude of their owner John Henry that many fans have adopted without realizing the absurdity of it of that the Yankees have a ridiculous advantage in terms of having a humongous payroll. The reason this argument infuriates me is because for the longest time, there was a gigantic gap in payroll between the Red Sox and the third largest payroll. Thus it was the rich crying poor in order to gain sympathy. The second reason is because the Steinbrenner family is actually a middle-of-the-pack ownership group in terms of wealth. The reason they invest so much money into the team is because they value winning. Therefore, if John Henry truly wanted to win, he could spend the extra money and win. The problem is that if he didn’t win with this extra money invested, he would be losing money. However, George Steinbrenner was taking the same risk when he invested his extra money; it was just that Steinbrenner’s Yankees did win every season and could thus keep spending. So what Henry did by calling out Steinbrenner and the Yankees was criticized him/them for doing what he didn’t have the guts to do with the Red Sox in order to give his fans the winning such a great fan base deserved. However, being the fans that they were, many Red Sox fans backed their owner without truly understanding what was behind these claims.
So those were my favorite teams. I am by no means “right” in any of my judgements. Picking a favorite team–or in my case *teams*–is something of complete subjectivity and can be done for any number of reasons. Also, the next entry is me making a new Observing Baseball Logo. I would actually like to make a clarification. So it’s actually not the logo itself–this:
But it would actually be me remaking the icon itself, which is this:
But besides that, keep voting for your favorite entries. I should mention that I’ll be doing various entries for Twinsfest, but you can vote for the stuff you want to see besides this on the poll below:
First of all, before I get started, I forgot to tell all of you that the BallhawkFest video I did a while ago came with it’s fair share of bloopers, so here’s that video:
It’s unlisted, so you can see it here, but the only other place to see it is I’ll have an annotation for it in the main BallhawkFest video.
Now that we have that out of the way, here’s your semi-regularly-scheduled entry. Well actually, while we’re posting videos up here, I made a Before The Gates Open video for here. Yes, I coming back with this video series in 2013, re-doing all the stadiums I did last year and any new ones I visit this year. (Except for the Cell because those two games I went to the weekend prior to this game were probably the last I’ll be there this season.) But anyway, without further ado, here is the 2013 version of Before The Gates Open- Target Field:
Click here to go to that video, since it’s being stupid and doesn’t want to embed on this page.
After that, Sean and I stood in line and waited for the gates to finally open:
Once we got in the gates, it was Sean and not I who snagged the first baseball. See Sean had been in contact with either Hector Santiago or Brian Omogrosso—I can’t remember which— on Twitter and had gotten whoever it was to follow him. He had also asked the player if the player could toss Sean a ball at the game later on. When Sean asked him for a ball, the player recognized him and obliged his request:
He then rubbed the fact that he had snagged infinitely more baseballs at this game than I had for the next five to ten minutes. But, being Sean, that was his day of ballhawking as he went and got food soon after that.
While he was gone eating, I was snagging. The first ball I got was in right-center field. When a ball rolled to the wall, I got Matt Thorton to toss me my first ball of the game:
After I got this ball, I headed to the back of the section I was in and gave the ball to the usher instructing him to give the ball away to the next kid with a glove he saw.
I then headed out to the standing room for one reason: Adam Dunn was hitting. Just as I got there Dunn put a ball right in the middle of the triangle created by Gate 34, the program vendor, and the beer stand in the following picture:
(Normally I would draw an arrow for you, but I’m writing this entry on my phone.) I chased after this ball, but it bounced outside of the gate, so I couldn’t pursue it any further. After I gave up on the chase, I went back to the flag pole of the American flag. A few pitches later, Dunn launched a ball almost directly at me. I took a couple steps forward before I saw a man in front of me in the wheelchair section reaching up for the ball with his hand. Since I’ve narrowly missed getting clocked by a couple deflections, so I simply put my glove where the ball would go with no deflection and turned my face away from the ball. Thankfully the guy completely whiffed and the ball landed in my glove:
Given that I’m one of—if not THE worst ballhawks I’ve seen in the outfield at judging fly balls, this was a nice proud moment for me. Unfortunately it would be my last ball of batting practice. I would head off to left field after that, and had an open row to run:
But everything that cleared the wall was going in the first two rows. There was also room deeper in the section:
But of course it pretty much takes a line drive to reach back there, so it’s not a great place in general. Fast-forward to after batting practice, Sean and I met up with one of his dorm room floor friends, Mikey in left field. Mikey—like most sane people—got to the game after batting practice given the fact that it was 99 degrees. We then decided that all three of us needed to document our group with each of us taking a different form of social media. Sean took Vine, Mikey took Snapchat, and I picked putting the picture of this blog:
When the White Sox coaches came to the bullpen, I headed over there to try to get a ball from them as they cleared the balls that had gone in there during batting practice. Then, I got a ball from the back-up bullpen catcher, whose name I don’t know, tossed me one of the the baseballs in the bullpen:
We then stayed in left field for a couple innings until the seats got crowded. Sean and Mikey then went to seats in third base foul ground, and I headed out to the standing room in right field:
I don’t need to sit when I have a view like that. Of course no one hit a ball anywhere near me, but it was a nice game to watch.
At the end of the game I headed down to the umpire tunnel and got a ball from home plate umpire Jordan Baker for my fourth and final ball of the game:
So yeah. Overall a fun day at the ballpark. I would then meet Mikey and Sean, and we would head out of the stadium and back to campus where Sean and I would say goodbye until probably September as I would spend the next two days preparing for my final on Friday, which I would still find a way to not do that well on.
- 4 Baseballs at this Game (3 shown because I gave 1 away)
Numbers 509-512 for my career:
- 66 Balls in 14 Games= 4.71 Balls Per Game
- 4 Balls x 32,023 Fans(Nice palindromic attendance number)= 128,092 Competition Factor
- 76 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 3 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
- 117 Balls in 26 Games at Target Field= 4.5 Balls Per Game
- 24 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 4 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:32-10:47= 7 Hours 15 Minutes
A normal person would come back from a weekend trip to Chicago where he had attended baseball games each day of the trip and relax for the rest of the day. I am not a normal person. No; when Sean dropped me off at my dorm from Chicago at 2:30, I immediately started readying myself to go see the White Sox in action for the third straight day. This time against the Twins at Target Field:
I’m holding up four fingers because this was now my fourth game in a row despite the fact that I had traveled about 800 miles by car in those four days. The look is because I had no idea how this was going to pan-out for me. I’m glad to say now that it went well.
The day started off on a great note when a program vendor came down the steps to hand a ball to a kid. I had gotten to know this kid and his dad pretty well over this year since they also try snagging baseballs and I had given the son a couple tips during the Angels series. Anyway, right after she handed him a ball, I noticed she had another ball in her hand. I then asked her if she could give me that ball, which she then did for my first ball of the game before I even entered the gate:
With that snag, I had now snagged as many baseballs outside of Gate 3 as I have outside of Gate 34, which is ironically held as the far-superior gate for snagging baseballs before it opens.
Once I got in, I made a beeline for the left field seats and managed to misplay the only ball that I possibly could have gotten. I actually didn’t end up getting any baseballs until the White Sox started hitting and I headed out to right-center field. There, I got Matt Lindstrom to toss me what was probably the hardest thrown toss-up I’ve ever received despite the fact that he was about twenty feet below me:
Somewhere prior to this game, I messed up my ball count, so I thought that the ball I had gotten outside the gate was my 500th career ball (which I kind of regretted at the time), but after the fact, I realized that this ball Lindstrom had just tossed me was my 500th. Anyway, the point is that even though I got
I then headed back over to left field. The reason was because a new group came up who consisted of White Sox lefties who I didn’t think could hit anything over the wall was coming up, and since groups usually spend the first round or two of BP hitting the ball to the opposite field, I thought I should head over there and play for toss-ups. Ironically, though, my next ball was hit. See I was playing almost all the way down the line by the left field foul pole to try to get Jose Quintana to toss me a ball using our Colombian connection when Dewayne Wise hit a ball that I could tell was going to both fall short and to the right of where I was standing. However I knew that with its trajectory, the ball was headed for the warning track, where it could then hop up over the wall. My first instinct was to catch it directly on the bounce, but I reached as far to my right over a railing and still came up short. The ball then landed in the camera well right by the foul pole. I knew I probably wasn’t allowed there, so I hesitated for a good ten seconds before opening the latch up, quickly grabbing the ball and getting out with my third ball of the day:
I then headed over to right field because I knew that a couple of the White Sox players had seen me get the ball, and got Nate Jones to toss me a ball. I didn’t know his name, so I just went with the generic “Can you toss me the ball, please?” At which point he looked up, saw my White Sox hat, and tossed me the ball:
I turned to my right and gave the ball to the first kid I spotted with a glove on. I then headed back to left field, because I figured I could get a ball from a pitcher who was patrolling left-center field.
Turns out I was right and got a ball from Jesse Crain pretty quickly after I got down there:
That would be it for batting practice itself, but as I was in left field foul ground just as batting practice ended, I ran to the White Sox dugout just as the ball basket was being brought to the dugout. As he was doing so, Mark Salas tossed a ball randomly into the seats behind the dugout, and I managed to be the first one to run and get it:
As you can maybe tell from the picture, the White Sox then took fielding practice. I believe they are one of two teams I have ever seen do it after BP, but I have seen them do it multiple times.
After they went through fielding practice, the coaches returned to the dugout. I had assumed Salas had seen me get the ball, so I didn’t ask him for one of the baseballs he was carrying, but when I made eye contact with him, he tossed me a baseball without me even asking for my seventh on the day:
As for the game, I started out behind the dugout:
But that only lasted two innings when I realized Alexei Ramirez wasn’t going to toss me a baseball and that it would be cool to snag a game home run at Target Field before I headed back to New York. Long story short: I didn’t snag anything during the game and was at 7 baseballs for the day when the game ended. That said, when it ended, I first got a ball from home plate umpire, Manny Gonzalez because I was the only one who even had a clue what his name was at the dugout (he didn’t even toss any of his other baseballs up, but said “Here you go,” when I asked him for a ball by name:
If you wonder why I never have the umpire in the pictures with the balls I snag from them, it’s because by the time I snag the baseball and pull out my phone to take the picture, the umpire has already walked through the tunnel. The same goes with any player/coach headed who tosses me a baseball on his way to the dugout. Such was the case with my next ball. Let me just preface it with a bit of back-story from the game. Aaron Hicks, who was touted as a super-prospect at the beginning of the year but had been doing absolutely dismal up until this game, (And by dismal, I mean that he was hitting below .100 a majority of the season leading up to this game and was still below .150 at the beginning of this game) had the game of his young career. First Mr. Hicks hit a home run into the batter’s eye in center field. He then proceeded to rob Adam Dunn of a home run en route to hitting a second home run. Despite the fact that he had been getting booed constantly by Twins fans–who are not prone at all to booing players–he was called out for the first standing ovation at Target Field since Jim Thome. An ovation, which I can imagine I looked very strange giving since I was wearing a White Sox hat. Why am I telling you all this? (Besides the fact that I can now brag about being at Aaron Hicks’ first truly great game.) It’s because both of Hicks’ home runs made their way into the White Sox bullpen, where I didn’t see either get tossed up into the crowd. My ninth ball of the day came from Addison Reed, a reliever, who had obviously come from the bullpen. He rolled the ball to me over the dugout roof:
And without even considering the possibility that the ball could have been one of Hicks’ home runs, I gave the ball away to a kid on my right:
So yeah. There’s a chance I gave away a home run ball. Granted it wouldn’t have counted in my “stats” as a game home run ball even if I were certain it was the ball, but it would have been so awesome to say that I owned one of Aaron Hicks’ home runs from his first two-home run game. Actually, I take that back, this was Aaron Hick’s first two-hit game ever, so it would have been even cooler. But as is the case with how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.
However, I didn’t stumble onto that possibility until after the game, at this point I was focused on one thing: snag my tenth baseball of the game. Only one person ever (Zack Hample) had snagged over ten baseballs at Target Field ever (12). And with him having snagged half of those before the public was even allowed into the stadium, with a tenth ball, I could say that I had snagged the most baseballs at Target Field ever after the gates of the stadium opened. Well I guess I could already have said that, but there’s something special about going double-digits. I had only ever done it at Nationals Park and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, so doing it at a much tougher stadium would have been an affirmation of sorts after doing terribly over the weekend at U.S. Cellular. There was just one problem: all of the players and coaches had left the field and were already in the clubhouse. That’s where what I most appreciate in Minnesota away from New York comes into play: I would have been kicked out of the section the second the White Sox bullpen people went into the dugout. Actually, there’s a chance I would have been even earlier. Here in Minnesota, you can stay behind the dugout pretty much until the ushers themselves have to leave. In staying there, I managed to see the dugout/clubhouse attendant, Mario, pop his head out of the dugout. He recognized me by this point in the season and obviously was looking for kids to give a baseball to and not me, but given the fact that pretty much all other fans had left the section, I asked him if he had an extra baseball, and he then tossed me my tenth ball of the day:
It felt so good I immediately felt the need to brag about it to someone and told an usher in the section that I have come to know. She knows I snag baseballs regularly, but even she was impressed when I told her how many baseballs I snagged that night. That night I went home happy and full of thoughts of what I could do if I went to a stadium where I wouldn’t have to get 9 baseballs tossed to me to make double-digits.
- 10 Baseballs at this Game:
- 62 Balls in 13 Games= 4.77 Balls Per Game
- 10 Balls x 25,605 Fans= 256,050 Competition Factor
- 75 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
- 113 Balls in 25 Games at Target Field= 4.52 Balls Per Game
- 23 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 3 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:26-11:52= 8 Hours 26 Minutes
Another day, another day arriving late at U.S. Cellular Field. And again, I have myself to blame for it. First of all, whenever I’m going to the game with other people–in this case Sean and his mom–I get nervous about telling people how early we actually need to be at the game, because I know that my obsession with being the first one in the stadium may seem absurd to some people. So what ends up almost always happening is I take whatever time I would usually leave and shave off 15 minutes, which usually ends with me getting to the gate before it opens but way after I wanted to be there. This isn’t the worst flub I have to blame myself for, though. Since it’s all I’ve ever heard, I always assumed U.S. Cellular, and I was more-or-less correct. Here’s a screenshot directly from the White Sox’ A-to-Z guide:
Well apparently Kids Days are every Sunday game, even when it’s a night game. So when I arrived to the gate 15 minutes before I thought it was scheduled to open instead of my usual 30+ rule, I saw that people were already entering, and this was my view of the field once I got inside:
Oy. Other people’s mistakes I can live with because they’re not preventable. But I don’t know how many baseballs I cost myself in my two games at “the Cell” because two stupid mistakes. While it doesn’t seem like it’s in the upper echelon of ballhawking stadiums, I had still cost myself a ton of time at the best ballpark I would be at for probably my first two months of ballhawking.
As I made my way through the right field bleachers to try to get out from behind the White Sox bullpen, I saw the heads of most of the people I was facing to my left start turning up and to their right. I knew that meant a ball was coming my way. Good news: I had my glove on already despite having just put on my Angels attire. Bad news: I hadn’t even thought of putting on sunglasses. So as I looked up into the sky to see where this baseball was going, I couldn’t pick it up through the sun until it was too late and the ball was on its way down, and thus another fan beat me to it when the ball landed. I got mad at myself for a second about that before realizing that I still had way more batting practice to go and that I could make myself forget about that ball with one quick snag.
The next couple of minutes would be very weird for me because of the people in the bleachers. As I kept going towards right-center field, I saw a person that as I passed, I immediately thought, “I’ve seen his face before. Where have I seen his face before?” We had passed each other going in opposite directions at that point, but it drove me nuts for the next few minutes thinking of where I recognized him from. I would later learn/remember that it was John Witt (a.k.a. The Major League Ballhawk) who had at that point recently snagged his 3,000th ball from a major league stadium (just four days prior). We failed to meet up much during this game, but here’s the link to his account of the game, so go give that some love by reading it. While I was being driven nuts by where I recognized John from, I saw a fan bring out a ball-retreiving device and use it on a ball in the gap that lies in front of the left field wall. He also had a giant-sized glove as well as a regular-sized one, so I knew he must be a ballhawk. Oddly enough, though, I had no clue who he was because I had never seen his face before. I would later learn that he was Dave Davison (a.k.a Ballhawk Dave), who has snagged plenty of baseballs himself. As I moved even further into the section, I saw yet another face I thought I recognized. This time I was pretty sure I knew who it was but couldn’t tell because he had a winter hat on. I would later be confirmed of my suspicion that it was Nick Yohanek (a.k.a. the Happy Youngster) who is yet another ballhawk with 1,000 baseballs snagged.
How did I get all of this information after the fact? Once I parked myself in a spot in left field and completely misjudged a couple Trumbombs (it was an awful day for me judging fly balls), a person came up to me and asked, “Mateo Fischer?” (Or something along those lines.) This face I needed no hesitation in recognizing. It was that of Shawn Bosman (a.k.a. Ballhawk Shawn (side note: I think you need to have at least 1,000 baseballs snagged to merit a nickname)(side note to the side note: He was the one who ran me through who all of the other ballhawks were)(side note to the side note’s side note: I’m an idiot for not getting a picture with these guys when I had the chance, but I figured we would meet up either after BP or after the game, which I did with Shawn, but it would have been nice to get a group picture)(side note to the side note of the side note’s side note: parentheses inside parentheses are fun and all, but I’m going to get back to actually putting pictures up in just a second.)
Shawn and I talked a little in left field, but since I was having a bad day judging fly balls and would have been the worst ballhawk in the section by far regardless, I headed out to right field as soon as possible. There I managed to get Garrett Richards to toss me a ball by whadda ya know, actually calling him by his correct name unlike the other twenty people calling him “Jered”:
That ball would be it for me during batting practice itself. In order for me to get in line earlier, Sean had dropped me off while he and his mom parked the car and went in the stadium. Once batting practice started, I saw them a couple more times, but I wanted to give them their mother-son time on Mother’s Day, so once batting practice ended, I camped out in foul territory waiting for the Angels infielders to warm up. When they did I got a ball from the player who had ironically been the bane of my existence the game prior in Alberto Callaspo. I was the first one to yell his name when he was finished throwing, so he looked up and flipped me the ball:
After I took that picture, a person behind me offered to take a picture of me with the ball. So here’s that:
After that I filled my time until the game by playing with my phone and calling my mom to wish her a happy Mother’s Day in New York. My plan was to stay behind the dugout for the game until I got a Mother’s Day ball, and then go to sit with Sean and his mom in right field for the rest of the game. One problem: I never got a third-out ball the whole game. Albert Pujols got one ground out to end the inning all game and he kept that ball. With the Angels, if the third out of the inning isn’t a ground out to the first baseman or a strike out, the ball ends up in the hands of the third baseman, which in this case was Alberto Callaspo. I was sure he would recognize me from the ball earlier, so I didn’t even try. I just kept waiting for Pujols to get the ball, but he never did. Which brings me to a lesson for all of you people out there: don’t make judgments based on assumptions you make on a topic you know nothing about. Okay, so this was my view for the game:
Do you see the woman looking to her right? Well every inning for most teams, the first baseman throws the infield warm-up ball into some coach who then throws the ball back to him as he leaves the field after the third out. While it’s one of the dumber traditions in baseball in my opinion (Why doesn’t the coach just hand the ball to the first baseman when he enters the dugout?) she absolutely trashed Pujols every single inning just because he wasn’t throwing that ball up.
Anyway, the whole game passed and I still didn’t have a Mother’s Day ball. So in the ninth inning I set myself up to where I could hurry down and get as close as I possibly could to home plate umpire Ed Hicox without jumping on the field or in the seats behind home plate. (Although I was prepared to jump the fence and go in those seats if he didn’t hear me.) My main concern was him hearing me, though. At the point in the game when I got closer to home plate, Chris Sale was throwing a shutout since his no-hitter had gotten broken up a couple innings earlier. I knew that once the game ended the crowd would erupt into applause, so being so far away from the umpire, I was worried he wouldn’t be able to hear me. And I was right. Sort of. See Hicox had to wait for the rest of his umpiring crew, so I yelled at him twice at the top of my lungs, so as to pierce through the roar of the crowd, but he still didn’t hear me. Then on the third time I yelled his name, he turned, spotted me, and after I made my polite request, tossed me a Mother’s Day ball before heading off the field:
And what a beauty it was. While some of the ink smudged off, here are the pictures I took of it when I got back to Minnesota:
I wasn’t the only one who snagged a Mother’s Day Ball, though. Shawn had gotten one before the game from Robin Ventura at the White Sox’ dugout. After the game we both found ourselves at the Angels dugout, so we took a picture of both of us with our Mother’s Day balls:
Shawn’s mom was nice enough to take that picture of us. We were going to try to get a picture of all three of us together, but even as we were taking that last picture, we were being kicked out of the section to prepare the lower level for Kids Run The Bases. So I said goodbye to Shawn and said hello to Sean. (See what I did there?) I met Sean at guest services where we found out that his mom ad indeed not won the 50-50 raffle, before we headed back to Sean’s house and fell asleep before waking up early in the morning to head back to Minnesota.
- 3 Baseballs at this Game
Numbers 496-498 for my “lifetime”:
- 52 Balls in 12 Games= 4.33 Balls Per Game
- 3 Balls x 22,088 Fans= 66,264 Competition Factor
- 74 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 6 Balls in 3 Games at U.S. Cellular Field= 2 Balls Per Game
- 3 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at U.S. Cellular Field
- Time Spent On Game 4:03-10:39= 6 Hours 36 Minutes
As you read in the last entry, my friend Sean dropped me off at my dorm at about midnight with the plan to for him to pick me up at 9:00 in the morning and head off to Chicago right away. Well because of a failed prank, I was up until after 1:00, when I finally fell asleep from exhaustion without setting my alarm. Thankfully through some miracle, I woke up at around 8:00 in the morning where I packed the quickest I ever have and met Sean outside where we headed off Chicago-bound.
I believe we only stopped twice on our way to Chicago. Once to eat breakfast at Denny’s–since we had both missed the dining hall breakfast by leaving so early–and once to get gas close around Madison, WI. There was a little mix-up that would define this game for me, though. Actually I guess you could call it two. I thought based the fact that a 9:00 departure time would be fine on my presumption that the White Sox game was starting at 7:00. About half-way through crossing Wisconsin, I thought, “You know what, I should probably make sure the game is starting at 7:00 Central time and not Eastern.” Turns out the game was 7:00 EST. That meant that it was starting at 6:00 our time. And another mistake I had made related to the fact that I thought the game started at 7 was that in my rush to pack everything up, I still hadn’t printed our tickets. That meant we would first have to stop by Sean’s house 40 minutes away from the ballpark before actually heading to the game.
All of this lead up to the first picture I took that day:
Batting practice was already half done and I was still in the car on my way to the game. Or course I didn’t have either my Angels or White Sox rosters printed, so I knew my streak of over 70 consecutive games with at least 1 ball snagged was in serious jeopardy. When I finally got into the stadium and got my way down to the 100 level despite not actually having a ticket for there, there was a little over 15 minutes of batting practice remaining, and this was my view of the field:
I didn’t think it was going to be an easy batting practice to begin with, though. That was because for the second day in a row, it was a bobblehead day. This game’s bobblehead was of Chicago’s beloved Paul Konerko:
That, Twins, is how you package a bobblehead.
A couple minutes in to me having entered the gates, I was sure my shutout would be ending soon:
I still can’t identify him for certain, but whoever the player under the arrow is fielded a ball near the wall by where I was, and when I asked for the ball, he threw the ball in and then looked up at me. Right then I motioned to him as I was saying “Can you throw me the next one?” To this he gave me a thumbs-up. A couple minutes after that, though, batting practice ended and I still sat at zero balls for the day. It was at this point that I made the decision and told Sean that we were going to be spending the game at the dugout:
And in the first inning, I saw a stat from that seat that caught my attention as someone who was born in Colombia:
It wasn’t until a few days prior to this game that even knew Quintana was Colombian, but I guess it’s cool. However, he’s the only one of the top-3 who hasn’t thrown me a baseball. So if you want me to root for you in this race, Jose, it’s your move.
The game for snagging was absolutely brutal. I want to say over half the baseballs ended up in the hands of Alberto Callaspo, who made eye contact with me several times throughout the night, but always ended up looking away and throwing the ball elsewhere despite the fact that I was asking him in Spanish while being decked-out in Angels attire. As miserable as I was with the whole situation that was unfolding, Sean was loving every second of it:
If you’ll remember, he and my friend Tony had made a goal of shutting me out for a game when they joined me a couple games ago. And after I caused them to fail miserably by snagging nine baseballs, I may have been a little in-your-face about it (jokingly of course) about it, so to see me struggling to get even a single baseball without him being responsible for it delighted Sean to no end.
Finally the end of the game approached us, and I formulated my plan to get a ball from home plate umpire, Jeff Nelson. Since the umpire tunnel at U.S. Cellular is directly behind home plate, there were two options. One option was to try to get into the “scout seats” right as the final out of the game was being recorded and hurry down to the tunnel before the umpires made their way back there, which would almost guarantee me a ball. The problem would be if the ushers don’t allow people into those seats even after the game is over, or if I got slowed down by the people exiting the section, I might not even be able to ask Nelson for a ball. My other option was to go to the edge of the home plate netting and yell out to the umpire as he walked off the field to the tunnel. I went the second route. Luckily, the last play of the game was a pop-up to the infield, which pulled Nelson towards the field. This gave me more time to get in position and be ready to yell once he walked my way. So I did and Nelson looked my way and rolled the ball to the wall right in front of me as he walked off the field, and I then leaned way over the wall and picked the ball up to extend my streak with at least 1 ball:
Little did I know it, but Sean was taking his first ever Vine of me at that same exact moment I took that picture that reflected my feeling on the situation perfectly. So here’s the link to that if you want to see it. But anyway, I went back to Sean’s house semi-satisfied with the outcome of the day knowing that my streak would live to see another day. We then headed out at to 7-11 with his younger brother and I want to say watched “For the Love of the Game”. It was either that or “Little Big League”. (Since I haven’t watched most baseball movies, it has been Sean’s goal to get me to watch as many as he can.) We would then get up the next day for another fun day of Chicago baseball, with a Mother’s Day twist.
- 1 Ball at this game
Number 495 for my career:
- 49 Balls in 11 Games= 4.45 Balls Per Game
- 1 Balls x 28,774 Fans=28,774 Competition Factor
- 73 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 3 Balls in 2 Games at U.S. Cellular Field= 1.5 Balls Per Game
- 2 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at U.S. Cellular Field
- Time Spent On Game 9:23-10:47= 13 Hours 24 Minutes
How do I spend my Sundays? I go to Twins games when there is no batting practice?
Apparently, the Twins *never* take batting practice on Sundays. I learned this from various ushers. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Anyway, I was pretty much the first one at the gate, expecting there to be potential baseballs to catch, but I just had to stand outside for half-an-hour doing nothing.
When I got in, I saw that no Twins were doing anything. However, two White Sox were throwing, so I headed over there to the third base side of the field while changing my gear. Minutes later, I was the first person in the ballpark to snag a ball by getting Dylan Axelrod to toss me a ball:
Here’s a cruddy diagram of the throw- with a poorly chosen color choice for the arrow:
Then, because nothing else was going on at the time, I headed over to watch Axelrod and some other White Sox pitchers throw bullpen sessions:
I did this for about ten minutes, but I then saw there were Twins pitchers warming up across the field:
So I went over there to try to get a ball from them:
There was only one problem: after about ten minutes of them stretching, there were signs of life on the White Sox’s side of the field:
So I had the decision to make: go over there, or stay where I was.
For the “pro”s of staying, I had:
1. I wouldn’t have to move and regret it if I didn’t get anything from the group.
For the “con”s, I had:
1. I would be pretty much the only one with White Sox gear on.
2. There weren’t that many people period on that side. (As opposed to this side where this was the crowd):
3. I wouldn’t have to comet with a bunch of kids.
4. Since I haven’t seen them that much in batting practice, I essentially knew the Twins as well as I did the White Sox.
Anyway, even though all common sense pointed to going to the White Sox’s side, I stayed on the Twins side because I figured the Twins would finish first, and I could maybe get over to the White Sox side just as they were finishing.
Well, after he finished catching baseballs by running in football-esque running patterns, I yelled out to Tyler Robertson, and he tossed me a ball. Then, in the same motions I caught the ball, I handed it to the kid next to me. Here is Robertson walking away with the kid also in the shot:
Right after I took the picture, I ran over to the White Sox side. Much to my surprise, only one throwing pair had finished and headed in to the clubhouse by the time I got over there. Also to my surprise, despite this fact, I didn’t get a single ball from them. They just waited to toss the balls up until when they were closer to the dugout and I wasn’t by the dugout, so I missed out on all opportunities.
Although, it was fun to see Chris Sale talk for half-an-hour with some fans:
I like it when athletes don’t feel so above people to for even a little time when they have nothing else to do. I don’t think I worded that last sentence as well as I could have.
That was it for pre-game warm-ups snagging-wise, but there was something else interesting brewing in Target Field:
But since I had no clue what it was, I asked the teacher in charge of the operation. What I found out was they were a group of University of Minnesota students preparing to launch a weather balloon with a baseball attached to it signed by Justin Morneau. The balloon you saw in the last picture was the test balloon. This is what happened when they launched it:
Yeah, it went high.
Oh, and in between the practice balloon and the real one, I marveled at the work of art that is the Target Field visitors dugout roof:
That might not seem like much, but most dugout roofs are just slabs of concrete with paint on it. Heck, if you’re at Citi Field, they didn’t even put in the effort to paint it; they just put slabs of pre-made dugout designs on it:
In the pre-game ceremonies, I got to see the students inflating the balloon:
And here is the ball attached to the balloon on the Jumbotron:
As I mentioned on Twitter, I had half a mind to try to shoot down the balloon and try to snag the ball. Anyway, here is the balloon going up-up-and -away:
Anyway, this was my view for the game:
I didn’t get a third-out ball, because for whatever reason, Adam Dunn and whoever tossed the ball to Alexi Ramirez, who always tossed the ball away to a section that wasn’t the one I was in. When Gordon Beckham caught a line drive for the third out of the inning, I was sure I had a ball awaiting me. You see, before the game, I had yelled out happy birthday to him, and he acknowledged me by saying thank you. Unfortunately, he too threw the ball to Ramirez. As a result, the only ball I got at the dugout was a ball after he game from umpire, Gary Cederstrom:
That made three balls on the day for me. I then got to see Dan Johnson say hi to his wife and kids:
And then I got him to give me the whole bag of ball in the dugout. Well, no, but I got him to shake my hand.
- 3 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 1 away)
Numbers 425-427 for my career:
- 205 Balls in 49 Games= 4.18 Balls Per Game
- 58 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 8 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
- 37 Balls in 10 Games at Target Field= 3.70 Balls Per Game
- 9 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
- 8 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 9:31- 5:06= 7 Hours 35 Minutes
Again it was back to Target Field for the fourth time in five weekdays and the sixth time in a week. The funny thing is, I really didn’t feel worn out by going to all of these games along with classes at all.
Once I got in, my initial plan was to run directly to the left field, but since Denard Span and Ben Revere were the first two hitters, I thought, “What the hey, I can run over to left field in a couple pitches if Josh Willingham comes up.” In waiting to head over to left field, I managed to snag a Ben Revere home run:
I then went to left field, and much to my dismay, Revere and Span put on a show (for them) while Willingham failed to hit a ball to the field level bleachers.
After this, I headed to the White Sox’s dugout, where too was Tony Voda:
Tony is the guy in the white shirt, by the way. I didn’t get anything by the dugout, but that was because I got impatient and headed back out to left field when I saw the White Sox were hitting mostly righties for the first group. Once again, I didn’t get anything there, but I did get pretty close to balls that ended up bouncing back towards the field after they hit in the bleachers. I just wasn’t judging the ball well, and since it wasn’t staying in place when it touched down, it was costing me.
Eventually, I ran into the seats in right-center field to try and get a ball there. While I was there, my friend Sean—who you may remember from two entries ago. As you may also remember, he’s a huge White Sox fan, so he was able to identify all of the White Sox in the outfield for me. But when he identified a guy in the outfield for me as Francisco Liriano, my first was, “No, that’s him?” Just because his haircut looked ever so slightly different from when he was with the Twins. Anyway, long story short, I asked Liriano for a ball, and he tossed it to me. Unfortunately, his throw was way short, so it took a second try to get it up to me:
I didn’t know it at the time, but this was a very special ball for me, because it marked the first ever time I had snagged 200 Balls in a season, as it was my 200th ball of 2012.
It was then that I headed over to the standing room section in right field. There were several balls hit there by Adam Dunn, but I just failed to judge any of them well enough to catch one. The highlight (or lowlight if you’re FSN/the Twins) was that Dunn hit a ball into Fox Sports North’s TV set-up in the standing room and the ball hit the TV there, breaking the screen:
The guy in the blue is the security supervisor for right field. If you ever go through Gate 34 at Target Field, you’ll see him.
After the group containing Adam Dunn and A.J. Pierzynski, I headed BACK to left field. The only problem was there wasn’t a way to have more than ten feet of mobility in the front few rows:
And if I wanted to go to left-center field to play for toss-ups, there were three problems all kind of shown in this picture:
1. There were a ton of kids crowding the front row.
2. Tony was playing the corner spot all the way in left-center field.
3. It wasn’t the White Sox, but rather their kids who were shagging balls in the outfield. Usually, the kids tend to throw way less baseballs into the crowd than their dads do, so that cut down on the opportunities.
The White Sox actually ended batting practice a little early. Why? They took fielding practice afterwards:
While this is an anomaly nowadays, I’ve seen it a couple of times. It’s still a strange surprise.
Anyway, while I probably would have gotten that in the extra BP time, I did manage to get a ball during this. The fielders went off in waves, so when A. J. Pierzynski came off the field, I called out to him as he was approaching the dugout. Unfortunately, he was right in the process of throwing the ball he had to a kid just as he made eye contact with me. I thought when he disappeared into the dugout that it was the end of that, but second later, a ball was rolled right across the dugout roof to me:
I’m assuming it was Pierzynski, but it could have been someone he told to toss me a ball. All I saw was a hand and a ball.
During the game I sat over where my view was this for the game:
What s that arrow you ask? In the third inning, Justing Morneau hit a foul ball waaaay over my head, which followed the path of the arrow I have drawn (okay so it’s not technically an arrow since there’s no head but trust me, I actually used the “arrow” tool; I just drew the head off the page). Anyway, as is always my custom, I turned around in case there was a deflection. What happened was the ball bounced off of the facing of the upper deck and bounced RIGHT to me. I didn’t even have to move an inch:
Oh my goodness. It was a bit surreal to me. I’ve never snagged two game balls in the same month, and here I had snagged a home run and a foul ball in consecutive games. Wow.
Unfortunately, that was it for the game, but I really didn’t care. I mean seriously, I can never be disappointed by a game in which I snag a game ball…unless of course I miss another game ball.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the giveaway that had attracted an excess of fans to Target Field this game. Yeah, since the Twins had just lost 6-0, I’m pretty sure I was the only one reppin’ my team this late after the game had ended:
(Special thanks to Tony for taking that picture of me).
- 4 Balls at this game (3 pictured because I gave 1 away)
Numbers 421-424 for my “lifetime”:
- 202 Balls in 48 Games= 4.21 Balls Per Game
- 57 straight Games with at least 1 Ball (My highest streak of this sort ever. The next highest streak was ironically broken in my first ever visit to Target Field.)
- 7 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
- 6 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
- 34 Balls in 9 Games at Target Field= 3.78 Balls Per Game
- 8 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
- 7 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
- 6 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:41-11:14= 7 Hours 27 Minutes