Tagged: Yankees

6/19/12 Braves at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

Question: What do you do when you have a baseball awards dinner in the Bronx and a ticket to the Orioles-Mets game?

Answer: You sell the Mets ticket on stubhub and buy a ticket to the Yankee game.

Also, look at the crew who assembled outside the gate:

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From left to right, that would be:

1. Myself
2.Greg Barasch– Frequent catch partner and fellow ballhawk.
3. Zack Hample– Oh, you know, just your average guy who’s caught more than 6,000 major league baseballs.
4. Matt Latimer– An MLB.com reporter, who was going to cover Zack during B.P. for a story.
5. Ross Finkelstein– Another fellow ballhawk, who I occasionally run into at games. This may be the first time we’ve gone to the same Yankee, though. Whatever, I’m too lazy to look it up.

Also at the gate, was this sign on a barricade:

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All of us pretty much made fun of all the ridiculous things on there, but after the fact, I thought, “You know what that’s actually not a bad idea to have all the prohibited stuff on a sign. It’s way better than playing that along with a song on a continuous loop 30 minutes before the gates open.” Are you listening, Mets?

Since there were so many of us, we actually spoke about who was going where during batting practice, as to divvy up the sections between us. I opted to go to left field. It would have been a great choice had a) the Yankees hit one ball into those seats during their portion of B.P. or b) Cody Eppley actually acknowledged any one over the age of 5.

Then, when most of the ballhawks came over to right field, here were the views to my left and to my right:

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Yes, there were a bunch of empty seats, but how the people were configured,the furthest I could run for a ball was 10 feet, so the ball would essentially have to be hit *right* at me. As for getting a Brave to toss me a ball, forget about it. There were tons of people in Braves gear and most were in the front row.

The closest I came to getting a ball was one hit directly over my head. I moved as close as I could to the landing spot, turned around and jumped, but it sailed what must have been a few inches into another guy’s glove.

Soon after this, I decided it was better to go back over to left field and deal with the other ballhawks than to deal with that mess of a section.

There it was emptier, but it started off with the same frustration. NOTHING was coming even close to me. Then it evolved into a different kind of frustration. A Braves hitter hit a ground-rule double. I lined myself up with the ball, and it was coming right towards my glove… until a hand in front of me deflected it over my right shoulder. Words cannot described how frustrated/nervous I was at this point. My goal is to get to 100 consecutive games with at least 1 ball. After that, the plan is I go to whatever games I please, regardless of whether I can make batting practice.

Throughout nearly all of Braves B.P., I was thinking about how much longer it would take me of I got shutout this game. I wasn’t as worried as I was in right field, though. Left field was much less congested, and I could actually run around for a ball that was hit. Here are the views to my right and my left:

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I didn’t feel confident, however, in my ability to get a Braves player to throw me a ball. Ironically, this is how my only ball of the day would come.

When I got to left field, I ran into Mark McConville, who had just arrived with, I believe, a few of his co-workers. He obviously didn’t have a ball yet either, so we were both pretty desperate. Actually, on that ball I missed that I mentioned earlier, Mark also almost came up with it, but another fan beat him to the ball.

Anyway, Mark and I had been giving Craig Kimbrel an earful for quite a few minutes. Finally, Kimbrel turned around and lofted a ball right at Mark, but those pesky hands are always up at Yankee Stadium. Even though the ball was very clearly intended for Mark, a hand deflected the ball. The deflection sent the ball right towards my stomach, and almost as if I had Alien Hand Syndrome, I grabbed the ball with my bare hand right before it had a chance to hit the seat in front of me. Here is the ball with Kimbrel and Chad Gaudin in the background:

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I then (deservedly) got a few lines (delivered jokingly) along the general lines of: “You’re killin’ me, Mateo.” from Mark. As relieved as I was to not get shutout, I felt really bad for him, since I was in a similar situation just moments earlier.

Then batting practice ended, and I spent a few minutes seeing Zack sign a couple of baseballs:

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as I talked with the reporter, Matt, and gave him all my contact information for… well who knows what it could turn into.

Then I conceded to the fact I that I had to go to the awards dinner I mentioned earlier.

It was my first game ever leaving right after batting practice, and I must say, I thought it would feel weirder than it did to be leaving as everyone else was entering the stadium:

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I guess I’m already accustomed to the notion from reading it on other ballhawks’ blog entries.

As for the dinner, I received this even though I have never played an inning of baseball for Fordham Prep:

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    Stats:

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• 1 Ball at this game

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Number 269 for my life:

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• 46 Balls in 11 Games= 4,18 Balls Per Game
• 20 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 1 Ball x 41,219 Fans= 41,219 Competition Factor
• 53 Balls in 15 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.53 Balls Per Game
• 15 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1Ball
• Time at Game 4:26-6:17= 1 Hour 51 Minute

5/22/12 Royals at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

I like to commemorate events with baseball. I was graduating the day after, so what better way to spend the night before than to go to a baseball game, right? Look who I ran into at the gate:

That would be fellow ballhawk, Greg Barasch, on the left and myself on the right. I was pretty surprised he showed up since I offered him an extra ticket I had to the game the night prior and he denied it. Apparently, what had happened was he needed two tickets; one for himself and one for his dad. Oh and the picture was taken by a kid from Canada I met at the gate, who I explained to why Yankee Stadium is about the worst place in baseball to get autographs.

The sky didn’t look “that” bad, as you can see in this next picture:

That said, when I got out of my underground subway station, (which can be seen below and slightly to the right of McDonald’s) I could feel the softest touch of rain ever. It lead me to this train of thought: “I know this won’t be enough to cancel bp, but it is really cloudy, so this might just be the beginning of the rain before it starts pouring, or the grounds crew might have the same thought as me and tarp the field prematurely even though there is no serious rain yet. Whatever it is, can you help me out, rain gods, and take the day off?”

When I ran in through the gates, look who I got my picture taken with:

That would be the Yankees’ amazing set-up man, David Robertson. He was right inside Gate 6 for fans to take pictures with him. Obviously I wasn’t going to pass up the possibilty of taking a picture with him. Now I can say I’ve taken a picture with a former Yankee closer. How many people can say that? If you’re wondering about the weird look I have in the picture, it was because I was looking at the screen on my iPhone to make sure we were both in the frame, and I usually don’t take pictures of myself with my iPhone so it didn’t even occur to me that I had to look at the lens before taking the picture. Oh well, it’s still pretty cool.

Once I got in and settled myself in right field, it wasn’t very long before I got my first ball. Clay Rapada went over closer to center field to retrieve a ball, so I ran up to the first row and asked him for the ball. He then tossed it right to me and I headed back to my usual spot where I took this picture with Rapada on the right side of my glove:

Something would happen to me on the way back to that spot, though, that would come to define my day.

I was still in the first row and had the Rapada ball in my glove. Suddenly, I saw a ball coming towards me. The ball bounced off the top of the wall, and although it was going pretty fast it wouldn’t have been a difficult catch for me. The only problem was, I already had a baseball in my glove, so I tried to drop that ball and catch the new one all in one motion, but the ball bounced off my glove and past me, where Greg picked it up. If you’re wondering what the theme of my day was, it was missing hit balls because I was trying to get balls thrown to me.

My next ball was similar to the last one in that it bounced off the top of the wall. If you are having a hard time visualizing this, here is the wall:

As you can kind of see, it is made of some hard rock, so balls skip pretty quickly off of it. My second ball was hit at a high enough arc that it bounced off the wall and into the bleachers right above the “L”s in “Modell’s” sign:

Right before this ball was hit, a person came up to me and said he read this blog. Right now I want to apologize to this person for never catching his name when he said that, so: if you’re reading this, sorry I never caught your name. I thought I’d run into you later on, but it never happened, so don’t hesitate to re-introduce yourself next time.

Anyway, everyone else besides me and this person gave up on the ball. He bolted out of the section, presumably to try to get it by going up to the bleachers. I, meanwhile, jumped up to see if I could locate the ball and try to pull it close enough to the fencing on the side with my glove trick to where I could reach through it and pull the ball through the gap between the metal. While I was jumping to see if this was possible, a security guard at the top of the section must have seen me, so she came down the steps. As she came down, I asked her, “could you possibly toss me that ball please?” She responded, “Yeah that’s what I’m looking for.” She located the ball and the tossed it to me. An interesting factor in this was that I still had the Rapada ball in my glove, so I had to transfer that discreetly enough to my right (non-gloved) hand as to a) be able to catch the ball she was going to toss me with my glove and b) not let her see I already had a ball.

I then moved over to left field where this was my view:

I was there for pretty much one reason. The ball boy magnified in this next picture goes to my high school (or I guess I should say “went” since we have now both formally graduated since this game):

As you can see, he was in the outfield shagging baseballs like the players. However, although I did not formally ask him for a baseball, I picked up though his interaction with other fans that he couldn’t throw balls into the stands.

Although the reason I came to left field didn’t come to fruition (get a ball from the ballboy who went to my school), I did get my third and final ball of the day when a Royals righty hit a ball to my right. The ball rattled around in the seats and I grabbed it before two other fans who were trying to could. Here’s the ball with the person who hit it waaaay in the background:

After that came a slew of missed opportunities on my part. I’m not going to complain, I’m just listing them for everyone to see. The numeration starts at “2”, though, because I missed the ball that bounced off the wall earlier, remember?

2. A Royals player went over to retrieve a ball in LCF and was walking back when he spotted a kid. I could tell from how he changed the direction he was walking in that he was going to toss the ball to the kid, pictured here:

so I lined up right behind the kid in case the Royals player over-threw him, but I didn’t have my glove up because I thought that would make the player more careful to not over-throw the kid. What d’ya know, the player over-threw the kid. The ball deflected off the kids glove and was headed straight at me. It changed direction ever so slightly that it bounced off my glove and back towards the kid, so had I *not* been right behind him I could have easily picked up the ball and handed it to him, but I was just “heads-up” enough to line up with the kid but then botch the ball that came right at me.

3-7. Remember when I mentioned the theme of this game was missing hit balls because I was trying to get balls thrown to me? Well for the better portion of batting practice, I was in right field because Greg was in left field and I didn’t want us to get in each other’s way. Over there, I went down the steps numerous times to ask a Royals player for a ball. Five of those times, a ball sailed over my head to a spot where I almost definitely would have caught it had I been in my regular spot at that time.

8. Again I was down the steps calling out to a Royals player (none of which actually threw me anything). This time a player hit a ball close to where I was, but because I didn’t have sunglasses (because I thought it was going to be a cloudy day since there was a forecasted 60% chance of rain) I lost the ball in the sun and had to hope I could pick it up in the seat but someone else beat me to it.

9. A ball was hit to my right but I picked a row that wasn’t empty and I couldn’t run all the way to the spot where the ball landed without running into anyone- which isn’t an option for me.

I don’t usually write all the missed opportunities for me in a game, and I’m sure I left out at least one, but it was just that this game was SO frustrating because I may have been able to get into double digits had I capitalized on these missed opportunities.

Speaking of double digits, did anyone read my tweet after the game? Well, if I haven’t mentioned, Greg is that neighbor alluded to in the tweet. Yes, there are two ballhawks on the same floor of an apartment building in Manhattan. Serendipitous, isn’t it. If you want to egg us next Halloween, our address is 478 Broadway New York, NY 10013. I’m apartment 5A and he’s 5F. Anyway, since I snagged 3 balls, you can tell from the tweet that he managed to snag 10 balls at this game.

During the game, I went up and sat with a bunch of family and friend who were (most of them anyway) in town for my graduation the next day. I won’t go through the process of naming them, but here they are:

I was actually the second person who had taken (after various attempts) a picture of the group, so if some of them looked less than enthused, that’s why.

Being that it was a special occasion, I gave up my usual seat in the bleachers for this view:

Tragic, isn’t it? Instead of being 500 feet from the plate on the second level, I had to sit on the second level in foul territory. Oh poor me. The only downside was nothing came within 20 feet of me, but I knew that coming in and was willing to give up my chances of catching something for being with my family for a night.

As for the game itself, the Royals won 3-2.

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game

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numbers 356-358 for my lifetime:

  • 36 Balls in 8 Games this year= 4.5 Balls Per Game
  • 17 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 8 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 8 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 3 Balls x 37,674 Fans= 113,022 Competition Factor
  • 46 Balls in 13 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.54 Balls Per Game
  • 13 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 Ball
  • 5 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
  • 5 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 3 Balls
  • Time at Game 4:27- 10:21= 5 Hours 56 Minutes

5/2/12 Orioles at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

As I had told a bunch of people who had asked me prior, I was 99% sure I was not going to this game. My high school baseball team had a game planned for Staten Island at 7:00 that night, but our game had been cancelled at 2:00. You may be thinking that I would be bent on attending the game the instant I got the call telling me our game was cancelled. I wasn’t. It was raining most of the day leading up to that point and the thought of going to the Yankee game never crossed my mind, probably because I had so vehemently denied to so many people who I was going to this game.

To give you some context as to my arrival at Yankee Stadium, the gates open at 5:00, which means I usually arrive at the stadium at 4:30, and it takes me approximately 30 minutes to get to Yankee Stadium. Now that I’ve told you all of this, it was not until 4:08 that it hit me I was now available to go to the game. I knew I was already late for my usual arrival time, so I had to make a quick decision as to whether it was worth my time. It was indeed a quick debate, and the winning argument was, “There’s baseball being played and you’re going to stay at home and do work? Go to the game, you idiot! The worst that can happen, you get shutout? You only have a 14 game streak, so it wouldn’t be that tragic if you did.” I bought my ticket and got ready the quickest I ever have for a game, getting out the door by 4:20.

I hopped on the “D” train and was at Gate 6 of Yankee Stadium by 4:50. I thought that another ballhawk would be there, given all that had planned to be there, so I would be able to go with them at the front of the line, but apparently a rainy Yankee Stadium was too scary for everyone but me. Actually, that’s not true, even I was worried that it would start raining any minute:

Although I had checked the forecast and it called for a 30% chance of rain at this time, the clouds were rather ominous which made me rather anxious. A bright spot, though, was that the threat of rain had scared off a bunch of regular fans and the line wasn’t that long; as you can see from the picture. Normally the line ten minutes before the gate opening time would be at least three times the length it was when I got there.

It had been an absolute downpour in the afternoon, so I was skeptical there would be batting practice, and when I got in the stadium, there wasn’t. There was, however, a cage set up:

That meant that either the Yankees had taken bp before we had entered or the Orioles were going to. I asked a camera man nearby if the Yankees had taken bp. When he said, “no” I was ecstatic, because that meant the weather had worked out perfectly so the ballhawks and other fans were driven away, but I would still get batting practice.

That said, the Orioles were still not hitting just yet, so I headed over to foul territory in an attempt to get a ball from one of the position players warming up:

Why do I have an arrow pointing to one of players? That would be Robert Andino. When he finished throwing and started walking to the dugout, I called out and said, “Robert, can you throw me that ball please?” He responded by stopping and saying, “Put down a sign.” I signaled back two fingers, and he made sure he was seeing it right by saying, “Is that curveball?” When I confirmed, he started his motion he had been practicing in his session of catch, pumping his leg once more than normal pitchers do and threw me a ball that spun downwards and into my glove.

I then went over closer to the foul pole to try to get a pitcher to toss me a ball:

However, I didn’t wait for them to finish their game of catch to ask them for a ball. The Orioles had already started hitting, and I saw Kevin Gregg was picking up baseballs on the warning track; so I ran over to where he was walking and asked him by name to throw me a baseball. Here is the result:

I then situated myself in LF since I figured the other pitchers had seen me get the ball and probably wouldn’t toss one of theirs to me.

My next ball came when I saw some righty hit a ball to my right. I ran over to the spot where I thought the ball was going to land and caught it all while pretty much everyone else in the section was frozen still. The following picture displays my route to the ball:

The arrow emanating from the bottom of the picture is my path and the other arrow is the path of the ball. I realize that it is hard to judge depth in a 2D image, but I caught the ball at about stomach height.

This was my third ball of the day, so I immediately looked to give it away:

The boy walking up the stairs was my first candidate since he had a glove on. I asked him if he had gotten a ball already, but surprisingly, he responded “yeah”. His father then added, “But we’ll take another.” I then thought, “Yeaaah, that’s not going to happen.” Right then, the man leaning over the wall towards the right of the picture asked, “Can I have that ball for my daughter?’ Normally I don’t give away balls to older people who don’t have gloves, but I also didn’t want to look like a bad guy for offering a ball to one person and then not giving it to another.

My next ball came off of the bat of Adam Jones. He hit a ball to my left that I could tell right away was going to fall short, but I judged it to be high enough to line up with the ball since it might bounce over the wall off the warning track. That’s exactly what happened, and although I didn’t catch the ball right off the warning track, it hit in a seat close enough to me where I could pick it up. The following picture shows only the path of the ball:

My next ball was almost exactly like ball #3 (the one I caught on the fly) except I believe I was a row deeper or shallower in the seats. This ball was also caught on the fly, and because I was feeling guilty for giving ball #3 away to a person who both asked me for it and didn’t have a glove, I waited until I was on the concourse and made sure to give this ball away to a kid with a glove when I moved over to RF.

Why did I move over to RF, you ask? Right after Adam Jones’ group, security cleared out everyone without a ticket for that section. I managed to get one ball while I was there. Chris Davis had been putting on a show in the batting practice of the first game of the series by repeatedly hitting balls into the second deck, so I was more on my toes than usually and was very vocal to the people surrounding me that he would be hitting balls in our direction. As a result, when he hit a ball to my left, I started moving right after it came off his bat. I then realized it was going into the second deck, so I slowed down. I did not, however, give up on the ball. I positioned myself so I would be ready if the ball caromed off the seats and down into the lower level where I was standing. When this happened, I was right next to where the ball fell to and picked it up. Like I mentioned in the previous game’s entry, ballhawking is both skill and luck in cases like this. That ball could have easily not have fallen to the lower level and another ball could have been hit back to my right that I would have missed because I was waiting for this ball, but I also could have given up on this ball and someone else could have picked it up instead of me. Anyway, here is the view of the second deck from where I picked up the ball:

Right after I grabbed this ball, I saw a kid running behind me for the ball, and I believe he had a glove on, so I gave him the ball.

That was it for batting practice. I headed up to my ticketed seat in the LF bleachers and talked for a while with an usher who I had been talking to the previous two games as well as a fellow ball-snagger, named Tak, that I’ve now seen a few times this season, but never saw before. I’ll just clarify something, I was in the bleachers while both of them were in the lower level seating. I then abruptly left these two, saying, ” I’m going to try to get a ball from the groundskeeper.” I then moved over to the bullpen where the groundskeeper was taking down the netting the Yankees install during bp to protect any relievers pitching in the bullpen. When he saw me, the groundskeeper looked up and held up one finger as to say, “Just give me a minute.” Right after that, I saw Tak approach the bullpen from the lower level also trying to get a ball. When the groundskeeper was done storing the netting and poles that held it up, he picked up a ball in the bullpen and tossed it to me. Here is my view right as he was about to toss me the ball:

I believe Tak also got a ball from him, but I’m not sure.

After that, the relievers filed in and finally the starting pitcher, Jake Arrieta, came into the bullpen and started preparing for the game. As I was waiting for him to finish up throwing, a fan right next to me started calling out to the coach in the bullpen standing next to Arrieta, saying, “Bill. Mr. Castro. Can you throw me that ball.” Upon which I asked him, “Are you asking that guy for the ball?” He then responded, “Yeah, his name is Bill Castro; I looked it up online.” If you don’t know, Bill Castro is the Orioles bullpen coach, so I can understand why this man would think that the coach in the bullpen would be the bullpen coach. However, as I’ll explain in a few seconds, that was incorrect.

Very soon after he said this, Arrieta finished throwing and t was my turn to call out to the coach, so I said, “Rick, can you toss me the ball please?” He then threw me the ball. Why did my request work? Well I’m glad you asked. You see when the starting pitcher goes into the bullpen to warm-up, the pitching coach goes out with him to look at his warm-up pitches. I mean it makes sense, doesn’t it? The starting pitchers are completely under the jurisdiction of the pitching coach, so why would the bullpen coach analyze a starting pitchers warm-up. I knew because of this and my recognition of the Orioles’ coaching staff that the coach in the bullpen was Rick Adair, the Orioles’ pitching coach. Here is the ball with Adair and Arrieta walking in the background:

If you lost track, that was my eighth and final ball of the game.

As for the game, it was a pretty interesting game. The Yankees lost 5-0. Jake Arrieta managed to shut-out the Yankees for five innings and the loss snapped a streak of 15 consecutive wins for Ivan Nova. This is very significant because if he would have won this game, it would have tied him for the Yankees’ franchise record.

STATS:

  • 8 Balls at this game (5 pictured because I gave 3 away)

Numbers 244-251 all time for me:

  • 29 Balls in 6 games= 4.83 Balls Per Game
  • 15 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 6 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 6 straight games with at least 3 balls
  • 3 straight games with at least 4 balls
  • 8 balls x 39,360 fans= 314,880 Competition Factor
  • 43 balls at the New Yankee Stadium in 12 games= 3.58 balls per game
  • 12 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 ball
  • 4 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 balls
  • 4 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 3 balls
  • 3 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 4 balls
  • Time at game 4:49- 10:19= 5 hours 30 minutes
  • I thought this would go well with the stats, but I have gone to 6 games this season, seen 3 series’, have gone to 2 stadiums, all while only seeing three teams play. I thought it was just kind of interesting.

5/1/12 Orioles at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

I was very optimistic coming into this game. I had just done very well in the previous day’s game, and that was with me basically only going for hit balls all game. I assumed no other ballhawks would be in attendance since the ones I had talked to during the previous day’s game said they would not be coming to the game. According to the aforementioned ballhawks, the forecast called for rain, but I was going to the game anyway since my school was taking a trip to the game. More on the field-trippers later. The reality, though, was that bp was dead. Here is a picture that I took once I settled into my spot in RF:

As you can see, there was one ballhawk in the section, Erik, a regular at Yankee Stadium, who you may recognize from when I pointed him out in yesterday’s entry.

Things looked pretty good. I had the back spot in the section right behind Erik, who had the middle spot. This was the view to my left:

This was the view to my right:

Unfortunately, the Yankees weren’t hitting anything deep and I missed two opportunities, shown in this next picture:

Both times I was close to the field coaxing players to throw me a ball. The numbers that are floating by themselves show where the balls landed, while the numbers by the arrows show where I ended after chasing that specific ball.

1. I was asking Boone Logan or someone for a ball when a lefty launched a ball clear over my head. I ran into the row where I could line up with the ball, but the ball was still several feet over my head despite being hit on a line, and I missed it when I jumped for the ball.

2. Again I saw a ball hit over my head, so I recalled what good ballhawks do and ran to where I thought the ball was going to land. Unfortunately, though, this was hit by a righty to RF and so it didn’t act like a typical fly ball in that it was curving back to where I had been. Had I not put my head down to run for the ball, it probably would have been an easy catch for me.

When the Yankees headed off the field, I realized, “There are two of us ballhawks and we are both in RF. That doesn’t seem right. Why don’t I just go to LF and make it easier for both of us?”

Once I got there, I saw Adam Jones shagging fly balls in CF, so when a ball came close to my section in LCF, I ran as close as I could get to him and called out to him, upon which he tossed me Ball #1 on the day. Here is the ball with Jones on the right side of my glove:

Soon after, I went over to foul territory in order to ask a pitcher for a ball. When Tommy Hunter finished throwing, I waved my arms like a madman, and when he noticed the bright orange brim of my hat, he tossed the ball to me a few rows back.

I then got my third ball in what we ballhawks call a “scramble”. A scramble is when a ball hits in the seats and people converge on the ball to pick it up.  A ball hit about four rows behind the wall, and since I was tracking the ball, I managed to pick it up before a man could get to it. I gave this ball away to a kid on the concourse after batting practice.

Soon after, I had to leave the LF seats since they were checking tickets and headed over to RF. I am about to post a picture that has two bp events linked to it:

The first is that it was yet another ball I missed out on. While I was in RF on my first “go around” this game, a righty hit a ball above the right part of the Modell’s sign. I was about to use my glove trick to knock the ball closer to me and reach through the bars to pull the ball out, but another guy decided to climb over the gate. As you may suspect, his action is completely against the Yankee Stadium rule, but he was just told not to do it again. The second ball involving this section hit in basically the same place (this time in my second stay in RF), but a few rows deeper. I had been following the ball the whole way, even though it was clearly over my head, in case there was a ricochet back to me. What do you know, that’s exactly what happened.

This is the perfect example of how ballhawking is a combination of luck and skill. To most observers, I just got lucky, but I put myself in a situation where that could happen. Had I stayed put where I was, because I probably wasn’t going to snag the ball, I would have missed out on this opportunity.

However, I wasn’t done with my missed opportunities.  I should have caught a ball whose landing spot is depicted in the picture below:

As you can see, even the people wearing sunglasses were shielding their eyes. A ball was hit to my left and as I was tracking it, the ball passed right in front of the sun and I lost it. It then proceeded to hit right where the red arrow is in the picture. Normally, that would have been an easy catch for me since it touched down in the exact same row I was running in. Instead, I was left covering my head from the ball like everyone else.

That was it for batting practice. My ticketed seat was for the bleachers, but I knew that nothing was going to be hit where I was sitting, and so I headed up to the seats furthest away from Home Plate to be with my classmates. This was the view:

Wouldn’t you know it, I actually came closer to catching a HR in this section than I would have in the bleachers. In the bottom of the first inning, Curtis Granderson absolutely launched a ball. He hit it so hard that the initial trajectory was actually RIGHT at us… before, you know, gravity kicked in. Regardless, the ball managed to land in the Upper Deck. This is a very rare feat in the New Yankee Stadium, because the third deck is actually further back than it was in the Old Yankee Stadium.

While I was up there, the coaches started asking me about how my batting practice went and I ended up giving both of the bus drivers for this event a baseball, including one who was attending a baseball game for the first time.

Two other things of note happened in this game.

1. Let’s play “What’s wrong with this picture?” You have to guess what had just happened for the first time by looking at the following picture. So, what *is* wrong with this picture?:

If you guessed Nick Johnson standing on second, you were correct. I took this picture after Nick Johnson got his first hit of the season, raising his batting average to an incredible .033. At the time, it was ruled an error on left fielder Eduardo Nuñez, but Major League Baseball retrospectively changed the ruling citing he never touched the ball.

2. The Orioles managed to hold on and win the game 7-1, which gave Buck Showalter his 1,000th win as a manager. I knew this because Avi Miller asked me to pick up some ticket stubs for him.

STATS:

  • 4 Balls at this game (1 pictured because I gave 3 away)They are numbers 240-243 for my “career”.
  • 21 Baseballs in 5 games= 4.20 Balls Per Game
  • 14 straight games with at least 1 baseball
  • 5 straight games with at least 3 balls
  • 2 straight games with at least 4 balls
  • 4 balls x 37, 790 fans= 151,160 Competition Factor
  • 35 ball at the New Yankee Stadium in 11 games = 3.18 Balls Per Game
  • 11 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 ball
  • Time at game 4:27- 10:17= 5 hours 50 minutes

4/30/12 Orioles at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

The whole time I spent before the gates actually opened was shaped by two things: 1. my home printer wasn’t working and 2. Avi Miller wanted a ticket stub from Buck Showalter’s 1000th win (he was sitting on 999 at the time). Due to these two things, I actually bought a physical ticket *at* Yankee Stadium for the first time in… a while:

Usually, the tickets for the bleachers are priced at $15. This day, however, they were $7.50 for whatever reason, so I lucked out and actually spent less than I would have had I bought the ticket at home. This is because I would have bought it from Stubhub and the *charges* on the ticket would have exceeded $10.

Right after I bought the ticket, I checked my phone only to find out it was only 3:45. Since the gates at Yankees Stadium open at 5:00 for a 7:00 game, I took a little tour of Yankee Stadium going around it clockwise. It started in the Babe Ruth Plaza:

then I went to Gate 6, probably Yankee Stadium’s most popular gate because of its proximity to the B, D, and 4 subway lines. It is also the gate I have been using this year. Last year I thought, for whatever reason, that this gate was behind Home Plate when in reality, it is by RF:

Soon after, I passed by the Press Gate -which, little known fact, I have actually been cleared by. If you ever see me with my red backpack, I still have the tag they put on as of May 1st, 2011. Here we have the Press Gate with the “welcoming commitee”:

Following which, I saw Gate 2, which is connected to the entrance to the Yankee offices, which I have also entered:

and took a picture of the side of the main parking garage connected to the stadium, which I have also entered once in what I believe is the first year of the stadium:

passed Gate 8, the CF gate that I used to use before I started using Gate 6:

then I took the sidewalk picture next to arrive back at Gate 6:

To pass the time until I “had” to get in line to be the first one in said line, I just sat on a bench, because I was simply exhausted from going to 8 games for my high school in 7 days and all the work that they produced. There, I sent a more or less cryptic tweet with this picture:

Soon after I arrived back at the gate, there was a whole crew of ballhawk related people. This time I actually asked them if they would mind posing for a picture since I rarely document the other ballhawks who go to the ballpark through posed photographs. Most times if I document the other ballhawks who are there, it’s a candid picture while we are out in the seats. Here are the people just outside Gate 6:

That would be:

1. Ben Weil– A New York based ballhawk that I run into a lot and occasionally exchange texts with whenever he needs to know where an umpire tunnel is, wearing the Garfield hat and Green Day t-shirt.

2. Billy- A friend Ben brought to this game.

3. Zack Hample– Most of the audience reading this will probably know who he is, but for those who don’t, he is best categorized as “that guy who catches all those baseballs”. He also has already written a blog entry about this game.

After I took this picture, Zack wanted a picture taken for his blog. Billy took Zack’s camera for two takes and here was the result:

I can understand if you don’t know what I look like since I don’t post THAT many pictures of myself in entries, but I’m the one on the right in this picture.

Once the gates opened, Zack, Ben and I hastily descended upon the RF seats. It was just us for a couple of minutes. In those couple of minutes, Zack managed to get on the board with two quick snags. I mention this because one of them was an opposite-field shot by Alex Rodriguez that was hit to our right. All three of us moved over to our right, but the ball was slicing back to our right. We kind of moved in step with each other from our individual spots. Ben had the spot furthest from the field and was closest to the landing spot of the ball, but missed it; I was in the spot closest to the field and knew I would have no shot at catching it on the fly, so I turned around and awaited the ricochet; and Zack was in between us two. I think he misjudged the ball, or it was hit too hard for him to react; as the ball was hitting the seats behind him, his momentum was carrying him towards CF, but he jumped and reached back with his bare hand and caught it. I can say with almost 100% certainty that I would have snagged that ball had he not been there, because my glove was directly in line with the path of the ball.

After our two minutes of solitude, this is what the seats to our left looked like:

As you can see, I’ve noted Billy walking over to us. As you can also see, I’ve pointed out another fan by the name of Erik. He is a regular at Yankee Stadium and is of the breed of ballhawk that only goes for hit baseballs. As he put it for me the following day, “If I get a thrown ball, it’s by accident.” He usually stands in the spot that I was taking the picture from, but I suspect he thought it would be better to stand over there because all three of us were in the RCF sections.

Also of note is that after a few balls were hit and Zack managed to snag another ball, we switched spots. Here is a picture that he took from his new spot at the front of the section:

I have included four annotations to the picture. Two are to point out myself and Ben awaiting a hit ball. The other two are pointing out two seemingly random people.

Guy 1- I went out to Yankees Stadium for all three games of their series with the Orioles (this was the first). He was there every game as well and we chatted about various things along with the usher for this section -not pictured. From what I can tell, Guy 1 goes to a bunch of games in different stadiums as well. Admittedly this isn’t that exciting, but I figured I would point him out while I was pointing out things from this pictures. Guy 2, however, was pretty exciting in my opinion.

Guy 2-  If you read my last entry, you know that I was running back and forth for foul balls all game long. Given that the crowd was under 100 people for the game, I got to see most of the people in the stadium that night; Guy 2 was one of them. I know because he was wearing the same exact sweater as the previous night. As I mentioned, this is Zack’s picture that he sent to me in an e-mail, but until I opened the picture, I had no idea this guy was at the Yankee game, probably because I was so focused on the batter that I never looked up to the bleachers. Serendipitous, isn’t it?

My first ball of the day came when some Yankee lefty hit a ball to my right. I went through my row, tracking the ball, and managed to catch it on the fly despite stubbing my toe on the way over and almost falling over. Here is the view of the field from where I caught the ball:

and here is the spot of how much I had run to get to the ball. It isn’t much, but I just wanted to show you for reference. The spot I started from is about where the guy in the blue jacket is standing, but in case you can’t find that, I provided an arrow as well:

After Zack got his third ball of the day, I realized it was time to go, so after taking a picture of Zack reenacting his double-milestone snag (it was both his 5,900th career ball and 200th snagged at the New Yankee Stadium) and saying namaste to Ben, I left for left, field that is. There I quickly missed my first ball that I just misplayed. However, I also quickly got a second chance and capitalized on it:

The solid arrow shows my path to the ball and the dotted arrow shows the path of the ball. Obviously, those people now in the path of my solid arrow weren’t there when I ran, but I took the picture after the snag itself. What happened was that I sprinted to around where I thought the ball was going to land. Meanwhile, the ball hit a seat and bounced in the air where I caught it mid-air.

My next ball was hit by Wilson Betemit, batting right-handed, about ten feet to my right. I drifted to it and caught the ball right in the row I had set up in. Here is the view of the field from the spot where I caught it:

The notable thing about this ball came after the snag, though. I thought it was about time for me to give away a baseball, so I quickly found a kid and tossed it to him. He initially accepted it, but then said, “No, you take it.” Obviously I’m more than fine with giving balls away to deserving kids, but I am always proud of them when they don’t accept a ball and try to get a ball on their own. I actually got a picture of him handing it back to me:

This was my third ball of the day, by the way.

My fourth ball of the game came after Zack came over and all three of us were together once again, as Ben had already been there for the last snag. It was also once again the same order: Zack on the bottom, myself in the middle, and Ben behind me. Some other righty hit a ball a little to our left. I thought the ball was headed pretty much to me, but Zack for some reason bolted to his right. Since I never trust my judgment on fly balls, I moved with him a little, but then realized my judgment was correct. At that point, I had moved down the steps just enough to be slightly out of position for the ball. I had to jump and came up with the ball. Right then, Zack yelled “Oh, robbed!” I turned around and saw that Ben had been right behind me with his glove up in the air.

Around this time, there was a drought of hit balls for quite some time. So far this season, I have tried to not ask for balls as much as I can. No, I’m not turning into one of those ballhawks that only catches balls hit off the bat, but sometimes my thought process when going for toss-ups affects my overall mentality more than it should and I wanted to just work on catching hit balls and then add asking players for balls after I have confidenc in my ability to snag batted balls. Long story short, all of the Orioles either ignored me, couldn’t hear me, or both. The main target of my verbal barrage was this guy right here:

Wei-Yin Chen is a reliever for the Orioles who happens to be from Taiwan. Once I suspected that he was Taiwanese, I started dropping my Chinese translation of “Can you toss me the ball, please?” I think he heard me because he turned around twice when he was beginning his motion to throw the ball back into the field, but he then went on to toss the ball to other fans both times. I’m a naturally quiet person, so yelling out to players has never been a strong suit. As Ben described me calling out to Chen, “I heard the first part, then the rest was like a whisper.”

Also in this lull, I made sure to take a picture of Ben behind me and it went very well despite my unintentionality in doing so:

I love it because it perfectly describes the situation for the second half of this batting practice in that we were both smiling… Time out: okay, I can’t prove that I’m smiling, but trust me when I say that I had an equally goofy smile to cause Ben to strike the pose. Time in… and then you have Zack up in the bleachers with what seems to be a slightly less happy face, because he wasn’t getting anything up in his bleachers. This was pretty nice since it is usually the opposite during games because Ben and Zack both get field level tickets while I get bleacher seats. I’m pretty sure I then caught my fifth ball of the day soon after.

I take pictures of the seats to remind myself of the baseballs I have caught, but sometimes I confuse the spots of the baseballs a little. However, I’m pretty sure that I caught it in the following spot, designated by the orange arrow:

Again, I caught it on the fly off of some righty, who I could not identify’s bat. Soonishly after that, ushers started checking tickets and I moved over to RF. From what I could tell, it is a new feature they added in about RF still being open until the end of bp. The reason I only went thrice to Yankee Stadium is that I was constantly in fear of getting shutout, but with this set-up, I can still try for balls in RF until the end of bp.

Here’s the view from my spot in RF:

There I would come close two a couple of balls, but I didn’t come up with any because of the two guys in the following picture:

Before I start explaining t he situations, I want to clarify that both weren’t mean about the balls they cost me; I’m pretty sure they don’t even know that they cost me baseballs. The first ball was to my left. I ran towards the spot where I thought the ball would land, but the guy with a rectangle surrounding his head ran after every ball full speed blindly and this ball was no exception. As I was slowing down to catch the ball, he was still running and his momentum pushed me out of position for the ball and he caught the ball. I would have normally stopped, but he was about to run into me and so I kept going as to not have a big collision with him. I did make contact with him, but had I not kept going it might have been a bigger hit than it was.

The second ball was hit to my right and I ran in the row between the guy in the circle and the guy in the rectangle. I was camped under the ball, but then suddenly the guy in the circle’s glove reached up and in the process nudged my glove out of position and he caught the ball.

That was it for batting practice. As for the game, I was in the bleachers. This was my view of the field:

Sadly, though, the better via TV was probably better in this scenario:

The game actually went pretty quickly. The Yankees won 2-1 on an Eric Chavez HR and the game only lasted 2 hours 22 minutes.

Since I was approximately 5 miles from Home Plate, I decided to wander for a chunk of the game and found something interesting:

I feel like an old person reminiscing, but it’s interesting because I can clearly remember when the prices for this exact item were $4.50 and $5.50 instead of $6.00 and $7.00 respectively. Is that just a product of inflation, or is it the Yankees jacking up the prices once they got into the new stadium? I don’t know, but it makes me that much more glad to be leaving New York for college. I will be going to the University of Minnesota this next fall.

STATS:

  • 5 Balls at this game

  • Numbers 235- 239 for my career
  • 17 Balls in 4 games= 4.25 Balls Per Game
  • 13 games with at least 1 ball
  • 4 straight games with at least 3 balls
  • 5 Balls* 36, 890 fans= 184,450 Competition Factor
  • 31 Balls in 10 games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.10 Balls Per Game
  • 10 straight games with at least 1 ball at the New Yankee Stadium
  • Time at Game 3: 27- 9:38= 6 hours 1 minute

4/19/12 Twins at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

There are truly not many match-ups that I am more excited to see, except for maybe the teams ordered vice-versa in their presentation, i.e. the Twins being the home team:

Who cares what I do in bp? The game itself is great because my two favorite teams are playing. [Let me just clarify that Twins-Yankees is my favorite match-up that I have *attended*. There are other match-ups that in my head seem better to watch, but I haven’t seen those teams play live before.] That said, lettuce explore what happened in bp, shall we?

Like I usually do, I started in RF.  Here is a map of the four balls I had a reasonable shot at snagging while in those seats:

1. Some lefty hit a ball to my left (right in the picture). It landed and I beat out a guy for the ball. I felt like I kind of squeezed by him into the row where the ball landed and he would  have gotten the ball had I not, so I ended up giving him the ball. Here is a picture with an arrow showing where the ball hit from where I was standing when I was in RF:

2. I believe I was on my way back to my usual spot from chasing a ball close to the “1” spot in the picture…anyway, I ran to my right (left in the picture) and was tracking a HR ball. (When I say HR ball, that does not mean it was during the game. A HR, when refered to on this blog just means a ball that clears the fence on the fly, batting practice or otherwise. I wanted to clarify this since I know I was confused by it when I started reading ballhawk blogs.) I was tracking and drifting towards the ball. Suddenly, I saw a person coming from my right corner of my eye. I slowed down as to not reach in front of this person, hoping he/she dropped the ball. Since I was wearing peripheral vision impairing sunglasses, I couldn’t identify the person without taking my eye off the baseball mid-flight. The person caught the ball, and I looked over to see the glove belonged to Zack Hample.

3. Once again a lefty hit a ball to my right and over my head a bit. I ran over, and as everyone was converging, the ball plopped down into the seats. The Field Level seats at Yankees Stadium are all padded, so the ball often sticks there. Such was the case in this situation. After everyone in pursuit realized it wasn’t bouncing anywhere, we all started searching for it in and beneath the seats. For some reason, everyone else was just looking for it. I myself, meanwhile, was smacking the seats down to reveal the baseball if it had indeed stuck within one of the seats. After about the third seat that I hit, I saw the baseball wedged perfectly in between two parts of the seat’s metal skeleton and picked it up. Here is a picture from where I started running after the ball with an arrow showing where it landed:

4. A ball was hit to the wall in RF and Liam Hendricks went to retrieve it. I went down to try to convince him to toss me the ball. This request worked as he looked right at me and underhanded the ball. It was headed right to me, but just as the ball was arriving, a kid reached in front of me and caught the ball. Here is a picture of the kid and location. I was standing immediately to the right of where he is in the picture:

5. The same beginning as chance #4, but this time Jeff Gray went to retrieve it. As was my ritual in these situations, I went down to the wall and asked him nicely for the ball. When I do these things, I’m sure to look right at the player I’m trying to convince. Just as he tossed the ball to another fan, I heard a “ping” right behind me. I had been hearing from al the people in the RF seats how Denard Span had only hit 5 balls out of the infield in the last batting practice-or something like that-, and as a result, I didn’t think he would hit anything out, but evidently, he got hold of one ball and it hit literally RIGHT behind me. Here are two pictures. The first is where I was standing, the second is where the ball hit (both taken from the same location):

That’s it for my adventures in RF. I did, however, take an excursion to LF between chances 3 and 4. While there, I only had one “real” chance at a ball and capitalized on it. Here is where this occurred:

The larger arrow is where the ball landed and I snagged the ball. The smaller arrow to the left of that is the lady (occluded by her husband) who I gave the ball away to since she was hot in pursuit as well.

That would prove to be the last ball of the day for me. The biggest reason was: I couldn’t tell who anyone was on the Twins. As a product of this, I couldn’t call them by their first names and it was less likely that they would throw me any given ball. You may be thinking “But Mateo, you have a roster of the players, how can you not tell who is who?” To this I offer the response, can *you* name two of the players in this next picture? I had a roster with the pictures of the players and could only name one.:

I realize that the question I ask was semi-rhetorical, but if you did take it as a challenge, I don’t know the name of the player walking in the top right part of the picture, but the names of the other three (going left to right) are:

1. Matt Maloney

2. Jared Burton

3. Nick Blackburn

After batting practice was over, I headed up to my assigned seat in the LF bleachers. There I eyed the five balls that were just laying in the Twins’ bullpen. At this point, I was thinking, “I’m the only one with Twins gear in the entire region surrounding the bullpen, if more than one Twin picks up all the balls.” Silly Mateo, ideas like this are for stadiums that aren’t in New York. What happened instead was that this guy picked up all the balls and threw them all to people with Yankee gear on:

I then had nothing else to do, so I watched Anthony Swajgagjsioetioak (Swarzak), the Twins starting pitcher, warm up from the bleachers:

Then I realized where I was standing. I was pretty much in THE spot where Derek Jeter hit his 3,000th career hit. Due to this, I felt the obligation to take a picture of the field from there:

As for the game, it started VERY well, with the Twins scoring four runs before the Yankees even got to bat. That was more than I had seen them score in TWO GAMES in Baltimore! I was pretty comfortable thinking that the Twins would win the first game against the Yankees that I was in attendance for since Johan Santana was pitching for them. Not only this, but a win in this game would also give the Twins a win in a four game series against the Yankees. I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened for at least a decade, if not more.  After the first inning was over, though, the Twins only lead the game by one run:

The Yankees would go on two win the game 7-6. The story of the day, however, was Curtis Granderson. Just look at what the scoreboard said when he came up in the sixth inning:

That’s right. He had three HRs in his first three at-bats, and would go on to go five for five on the day, tacking on two singles.

What was I doing during the game? At school I made a little sign for the game. Here is what I looked like for most of the game:

For those who don’t know, Bert Blyleven is the one of the Twins announcers and  it is common for him to circle fans in the stands. I don’t know when it began, but since he started, it is customary that Twins fans bring “Circle Me Bert” signs to the ballpark in hopes of having him circle them using his telestrator. The phenomenon has grown big enough that it has its own website. Here is a semi-clearer picture of the sign while it was off my head:

I have no idea if I was circled or not, but it was fun looking like an idiot for a game and explaining to half of the people in the LF bleachers what “Circle Me Bert” meant and who “Bert” was. Oh, and as I was writing this entry Zack (as in the Hample one I mention earlier) published his entry about this game, so here is the link to it.

STATS:

  • 3 balls this game (1 here in a picture that I took in Homeroom, because I would later give that away to my baseball coach)

which put me up to 234 career baseballs (this particular ball is #233, but you can’t see my writing on the ball due to the lighting):

  • 12 balls this year in 3 games= 4 Balls Per Game.
  • 12 straight games with at least 1 ball.
  • 3 straight games with at least 3 baseballs.
  • 3 balls* 40,237 fans= 120,981 Competition Factor
  • 26 Balls obtained in 9 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 2.89 Balls Per Game
  • Time at Game 4: 21- 10:33= 6 hours 12 minutes

New York Yankees 2012 Offseason Recap and Preview

The Yankees season was really a culmination of surprise seasons from players. Including, but not limited to, the guys in this next picture:

Grade: B

Notable Additions:

Michael Pineda, Russell Branyan, Bill Hall, Hiroki Kuroda, Hideki Okajima, and Dewayne Wise.

Notable Subtractions:

Jesus Montero, Andrew Brackman, Bartolo Colon, Hector Noesi, Jorge Posada, and Scott Proctor.

 

Why?: Ok, I know that everyone wants to know how the Yankees and Mariners could possibly both end up being better. I *do* think that the Mariners got the better talent. However, I think the Yankees did what was best for the team. The Yankees have long been an offensive powerhouse, but they needed cheap pitching. The Yankees may have been able to effectively use Montero, but what we know they needed is to get more pitchers in their rotation. That is what all the Yankees fans were complaining about. I realize that being a GM is mostly about winning and not pleasing people, but when you operate your own network like the Yankees do, it has an elelment of pleasing the crowd to it, because hype surrounding the team going into a season boosts the rating early on in the year.

 

While this may be a short-term benefit, there is also a long-term one to this trade. As you may or may not have heard, the Yankees are trying to get under the luxury tax threshold within the next two years, as MLB is hiking up the penalties for being over it. The goal being to try and save about $100 million over the three years after that with the raised penalties. Pineda satisfies this goal, because he will cost about $7 million a year for what appears to be a number 2 starter. Starting Pitching usually cost more on the open market than hitting. So the Yankees will be both trading a surplus category for a stregnthening of a weakness and will be getting a pitcher for less than a pitcher of his talent would have cost on the open market. So if they had to sacrifice some talent and take on some risk, so be it. This is my take on it, anyway.

 

As for the other players, I really don’t feel much like analyzing EVERY one of the players added and subtracted. I mean like “Hiroki Kuroda is better than Bartolo Colon, but is he given the fact that Scott Proctor went to Japan?” Yeah, that stuff, I don’t see as that important when looking at the Yankees’ offseason this year. I just looked at the aggragates and thought it seemed like they a B/B+ job this offseason. The aformentioned, Montero, Pineda trade seemed like a C+/B- trade so I averaged.

 

Predicted Record Range: 94-99 wins Yeah they did win 100 games last season, but I also think that a bunch of players over performed what they usually do and the Yankees will come back to earth this year.

 

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