Tagged: New York Mets

9/11/13 at Citi Field (WSH @ NYM)

A week had passed, and I was back at Citi Field: Image I had bought tickets for this game before the Phillies game, as a backup in case I didn’t snag any commemoratives in Philadelphia. I saw Zack was at the gates a few minutes after me, so we did the usual hanging out before the gates opened. I already knew he was going to left field, so I tried my luck in right field (which was a wise choice because a group of lefties was hitting) and headed down here: Image …and got Tim Byrdak to toss me my first ball of the day. In usual Mets fashion, nobody hit any homers, so I didn’t overuse my toss up requests in right field. I hung out there for a little more and moved into center field and feasted my eyes on this: Image I was so tempted to use my cup trick to move it closer towards me, but I didn’t want to piss off the security guards. So I kept my eye on it for the time being, and focused on the field. A few Mets tossed balls up into my section, but I didn’t grab one. And… that was about it for Mets BP. I got a Mets groundskeeper/security guard to toss me the aforementioned ball to me for my 2nd ball of the day after the Mets jogged off.

It was the moment of truth, as the Nationals came out: Image They do this routine where one relief pitcher runs out as if he’s going on a football route, and another relief pitcher tosses them a ball, and so on. They ignored me for the most part, so I headed into the seats to try and snag some homers. For some reason, I made a ton of mistakes tonight. I misjudged two balls, and on a third, I could see Zack running towards me in my peripheral vision. So my natural instincts made me look over, and in that half second, I misjudged the homer and it tipped off my glove into the aisle. That one sucked. A couple of pitches later, I caught an Anthony Rendon homer on the fly in the 1st row in front of the Party City Deck. So I redeemed myself. For the record, the Nationals were NOT using commemorative balls, so I was glad I decided to go last second to Philadelphia the week before. I headed over by the dugouts, where I saw Jeff Kobernus talking to someone I’m assuming he knew: Image I asked him if he could toss me a ball when he got the chance, and he said he would. After he disappeared, I screwed around on my phone until I saw these guys come out: Image If you hadn’t noticed, it was 9/11. I was at the Mets game in 2012 on 9/11, coincidentally against the Nationals, and coincidentally because they were using old commemoratives. It was time to pay respects and view the ceremonies: Image I also failed to snag any of the pregame balls. Kobernus never came out, either (LIAR!). If you’re a kid (or look like one), hang back a bit and get Ian Desmond’s attention. You’ll probably get a ball. I sat out here for the game: Image Normally I sit by the dugouts, so why was I out here you ask? Take a look: Image The way the Nats were hitting this series, I couldn’t pass the opportunity up. Of course, nothing came my way, except a Ryan Zimmerman home run that landed in the party deck.

My day will come.

At the end of the game, I took a shot of the Shake Shack sign in center field, because it has the same piece of the scoreboard from Shea Stadium that shows the NYC skyline, so I felt it was my duty as a New Yorker to take this photo: Image and then I made the 1 hour drive home. Final score: Image

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  • 3 balls at this game
  • 173 career balls
  • 38 straight MLB games with a ball
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8/21/13 at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium (ATL @ NYM, TOR @ NYY)

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to sit down and catch up on posts. School, work, and life have been busy lately. But enough about that. On August 20, I noticed that the Mets played the next day at 1:10, and the Yankees played at 7:05. So, the gears started to turn and I decided I’d attempt to pull off the day/night split stadium NYC doubleheader. At the time, silly me thought I was the only one clever enough to think of that. Not quite the case…

I started the day early by taking the Metro-North down to Grand Central: Image Normally I drive to Citi, but I wasn’t about to deal with rush hour traffic heading to the Bronx and having to pay $40 to park. I’m not exaggerating either. So mass transit it was. I got to Citi field around the same time as all the workers were arriving, so I was early. After a while, I ran into a familiar person: Image That’s me, Rick Gold, Zack Hample, and Garrett Meyer, a ballhawk in town from Kansas City. We just hung out in the heat for a while, and eventually, the gates opened. I took a picture of my tickets:  Image I knew since it was a day after a night game, there’d be little to no chance of BP going on. So when I ran inside, I headed over here: Image Just for the hell of it, I decided to look over to my left in the little alcove where the foul pole is, and I was greeted by this: Image …and strolled over and picked it up for ball  No. 1 on the day. After a while, the Mets were done tossing, and I got Scott Rice to toss me my 2nd ball of the day: Image Now this snag was special. Right after I made the snag, Scott flapped his glove for me to throw it back. So I did. He pretended to put it away in his pocket, then threw it to me again. So I caught it. He then asked for the ball back, and to make a long story short, we had a catch for about 5 minutes. Now, at any other time, Zack would’ve had a ball by now. But at the moment, i had 2 and he had 0, so he was fiercely trying to snag in foul territory, especially since he had a reporter following him around. So, of course, since nobody else was in my section, I had no one to *officially* record me having a catch. But, right after, I asked Scott to autograph the ball, and he did: Image  Awesome. I will now be a Scott Rice fan for life. If you don’t believe that I had a catch with Rice, ask Zack, he’ll vouch for me. i figured I’d exhausted my resources in this area of the ballpark, so I headed over by the bullpens and came up empty. A little later, two players were tossing by the 1st base area: Image I came up empty there, as well. Then, the field was desolate for the next 40 minutes. I decided to switch into my Braves gear and hung out here for a little while: Image Then some Braves emerged and threw out in the outfield: Image I decided to stay where I was instead of run over there, and I’m glad I did. Here’s what I think happened: Zack was out in the left center field seats, because he was trying to figure out how to get a coverless ball out of the bullpen gutter. The Braves came out to toss near him, and since he’s had a bit of a history with Craig Kimbrel, I honestly think they decided to move over towards me: 100_0397 …so he couldn’t bother them. If so, thanks, Zack. I was waiting for David Carpenter to finish tossing with Kimbrel, when Luis Avilan came over. When he noticed that he was the odd man out with no throwing partner, he saw my Braves shirt and threw me – and I mean threw me – my 3rd ball of the day: 100_0399 (That’s Avilan in the background, #43.) I was excited to get a ball from him, since he’s 5-0 this season with a 1.43 ERA as I write this. A couple of minutes later, I got Craig Kimbrel’s autograph: 100_0400 He was nice. As for the game, I headed to my usual pre-game spot for a toss-up: 100_0404 but came up empty. As for the game, I sat here: 20130821_145203 Nice. When I spoke to Zack earlier, we figured that the game would be in around the 8th inning or so when it was time to leave. At the very latest, I had to leave at 3:15 if I wanted to walk to the 7 train, take it the 45 minutes into Manhattan, and then grab the 4 up to Yankee Stadium in time to be on line at 4:30 for gate opening. And that’s exactly what happened. Although I forgot to mention Jason Heyward got hit in the face with a Jon Niese fastball and had to leave the game. It was a scary moment. I grabbed the 4 with Zack, Rick, and the reporter, and we got in line at Yankee Stadium. I was hungry, so I went up the block to a deli for a sandwich, and grabbed one for Zack, as well (with about 15 requests). Here we all are: 17_jeff_chris_zack_andy_george The guy on the left is George (I think), one of Zack’s friends, me, Zack, Andy (you remember him from my last post) and George’s son.Rick took the picture. I decided to head up to the 2nd deck in right when the gates opened, since the bottom was already crowded thanks to the same security guard who  made me empty my entire bag before entering: 100_0408 It was severely dead. I quickly realized my mistake in going up there, and ran back downstairs to lower right. And it was crowded. And nothing got hit out. I decided to run over to left field: 100_0410 where it was pretty dead too.  A few minutes later, Chris Stewart hit a homer into the walkway closest to the bullpen, where I ran over and grabbed it: 100_0412 I was relieved to snag that one. I wanted to get a ball at both games to keep my streak up, which I knew would be hard to do given the circumstances (no BP, crowded) and I was surprised that up to this point, I’d snagged more at Citi Field. The Yanks were done and the Jays were on, and they threw nothing into the crowd. Not one ball. And they hit hardly anything out, as well which was hard to believe. Not to mention the crowds: 100_0416 There was no room to run. I was getting frustrated, and nothing was getting hit out. I remembered why I hated coming here. I couldn’t believe it! 20130821_190930

I headed out to the Yankees bullpen for a Harkey ball and watched Adam Warren warm up for his 1st career start: 100_0419 I didn’t get Warren’s ball. Or Harkey’s. I had a teenage kid right on top of me and had no space. On a lighter note, during the game, I was privileged to be in attendance for this: 100_0422 Congrats. It was awesome to be there for it. And in true Yankees fashion, they had t-shirts and souvenirs for sale the next inning. Any way to make a buck, sheesh. And stupidly enough people were buying it. And, in the top of the 9th, I didn’t really think of it at the time, but I saw Mariano Rivera pitch in person for what could very well be the last time ever: 100_0426 He picked someone off of 2nd base (for the 1st time in his career) and got the save. Final scores: metsnyy

 

final total

  • 4 balls on the day (3 at Citi, 1 at Yankee)
  • 36 straight MLB games with a ball
  • 165 career balls

7/19/13 at Citi Field (PHI @ NYM)

It was the beginning of the 2nd half of the season, and I was here: Image I’ve realized that I’ve been to Yankee Stadium ONCE so far this season. Maybe it’s for the better. They suck, and are still expensive to see. The lines were also crazy, but I was early: Image

The sole purpose of this game was for All-Star Game leftovers. It was a long shot, but if there was any game the Mets would be using them, it’d be the 1st night back from All-Star break. For starters, it was a Friday. Second, Nas was performing a post game show after the game. So it was going to be crowded. I made sure to get inside early, and hopefully you can keep up, because the snagging game quick and often early.

I ran inside and decided for some reason to go to right field. Now that I think of it, Ben was there and we agreed that I’d go to right, and he’d go to left. I went to right, like I said, and checked foul territory for easter eggs. I found one quickly near the foul line: Image I scooped that up and headed over to straightaway right, under the Modell’s sign. A minute later, a Mets player I couldn’t identify hit a ground rule double into foul territory, but nobody was there. Usually I’m like “eh, someone’ll get it before me,” but today there was nobody there so I ran quick back to where I was and picked it up for ball No. 2 on the day. Then, I headed back to right field: Image A few minutes later, I got Josh Edgin to toss me my 3rd ball of the day. I decided I had just about milked all Citi Field was good for in right, so I went over to deep left, and at the end of Mets BP, I asked the ballboy to chuck one up to me just to see if he’d acknowledge me. They usually don’t, but he did and tossed me No. 4 on the night: Image Isn’t that a great pic? I was happy about all the snagging, but a little disappointed thet they were regular BP balls. I talked to Ben for a while, and we noticed that the Phillies weren’t coming out for BP: Image Not cool. I wonder what the excuse was. They just had 4 days off. It was too hot? Boo hoo. Anyway, Ben was about to head home, but I decided to stay because why the hell not. I was there. It was then that I decided to look down for some reason, and I couldn’t believe what I saw: Image How could nobody have seen that? Oh well. Ben couldn’t believe it either. Since the Phillies weren’t hitting, I headed over here: Image …and just kind of hung out. My friends were at the game, but they were drinking outside so I couldn’t really leave and join them if I wanted to get back in. Eventually, Darin Ruf came out: Image …and promptly signed one autograph and disappeared. Eventually, it was time for pregame warmups, where Chase Utley was riding a imaginary horse: Image Just kidding, he was stretching. And he also threw me my 6th ball of the game. For some reason, I wanted that ball from him. Maybe because he’s a big name player, I don’t know, but it felt good to get that one. That was about it snagging wise. As for the game:

Image Yeah.

I left before the Nas concert started. I was wiped, and personally, could’ve cared less.

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  • 6 balls at this game (Imagine if Philly took BP?!?!? THE POSSIBILITIES.)
  • 139 career balls
  • 29 straight MLB games with a ball.

7/3/13 at Citi Field (AZ @ NYM)

Today’s game was a pretty spur of the moment decision. I was celebrating my anniversary with my girlfriend in the city, and decided to take her to the DBacks/Mets game at night. The day started off with a nice picnic at Croton Gorge Park: Image …followed by some ice cream (sidebar: if you’re ever in the city, go to Big Gay Ice Cream on E 7th St. Nevermind the name, the ice cream was fantastic.), some walking around and hanging at Bryant Park. I also came across this: Image

They should make one of those for Citi Field. And then it was game time: Image

The security at Citi does the same thing every time I’m there: They line everyone up in two very long lines even though there eventually are 8 tables you can line up in to get checked. And when you try to start a new line, they tell you that there’s no line there even though there will be. So I stayed where I was, and wound up being one of the first people inside.  I ran over to left field, where I saw fellow NY ballhawks Greg Barasch and Ben Weil. We all separated into different sections, and right away, a player I didn’t think to identify hit a homer into the seats. Greg and I ran for it, and it slammed off a seat and… disappeared for lack of a better word. We looked and looked and couldn’t find it for a good minute or so. Then, I went back down to the front row of the section in case the ball rolled down there. When I got there, a security guard had picked it up, saw that I was actively looking for it, and tossed it to me for my 1st ball of the day. Here’s a visual in case the story was confusing: Image So, as you can see:

1) Ball enters the seats
2) Ball slams seats
3) Ball rolls down
4) Ball gets snagged

And then, at 5:18, eight minutes after the gates opened… Image The Mets ran off the field. EXCITING!

I headed over to the Diamondbacks dugout to try to get a toss up before BP. But, I forgot the stupid rule that the Mets have where you can’t go behind the dugout before the game in case you don’t have a ticket. So instead, I hung out over here – Image …and watched Greg snag his 3rd ball of the day. I initially wasn’t going to go to this game like I said for a few reasons:

The next day was July 4th, so everyone was off from work.
This game was a fireworks game.
Matt Harvey was pitching.

Since that was the case, the left field seats were already mobbed. I decided to head to center field first. Nothing happened there, just kids screaming at Heath Bell for 10 minutes to give them a ball. Instead, I went over to right field: Image and after a few minutes, I *politely* asked him to toss me up a ball, and he did. He’s a cool dude. A few minutes later, I was still there. Either Miguel Montero or Jason Kubel came up to hit. I was in the section closest to the Mets bullpen, under the Pepsi Porch. This section isn’t completely covered, which will be important. A liner came right at me, and I tried to backtrack up the stairs. The steps out here are higher than the average stair, so I tripped going up. I leaned my glove out and narrowly missed the ball. By an inch at the most. That one pissed me off. But as luck would have it, he hit another one right at me the very next pitch. So I quickly set myself, put up my glove, and snagged my 3rd ball of the day. My 2nd homer of the day. It felt good. Natalie was on the other side of the park and intently watches every pitch ever since David Ortiz hit her back in Minnesota, and saw the catch. She even congratulated me through text: Image

I figured I’d outlasted my welcome in right,  so I headed back to left. Too crowded. The DBacks ran off shortly after. I went to my usual spot when this happened: Image Not cool. My main concern was the length of the delay. We had taken the train to this game, and the train I wanted to take the absolute latest left at 12:50. It takes about a half hour to get to Grand Central from Citi, so I needed to leave around 12 in order to make it. To make matters worse, the rain got heavier: Image So there was that. Eventually, the tarp came off the field: Image The players then came out to warm up: Image …and eventually got Cliff Pennington to toss me his warm up ball. I was excited: Image I tried to get a  ball the rest of the game and was positioned here: Image but nothing came of it. There were too many people there and it was nice to just relax. The game ended around 12:30 a.m. afer a 2 hour rain delay, so my initial plan was out the window. Also, the entire stadium was still packed for fireworks. Then to make matters worse, the 7 train rode past the Willets Point station twice without picking anyone up, thus making us two minutes late for our Metro North train, making us wait at Grand Central for almost an hour, thus getting me home at 4:00 am. Thank you, MTA. Thank you.

Final score:

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  • 4 balls at this game
  • 117 career balls
  • 27 Straight MLB games with a ball.

One of the balls had an interesting smudge on it. Check it out: Image

5/26/13 at Citi Field (ATL @ NYM)

I initially wasn’t going to go to this game, since I had just gotten back from a very long and tiring baseball trip. The game was an 8:05 ESPN game though, so I had time to hang out during the day beforehand. I was going to the game with my friend Bryan, who if you recall, came with me to Citi last year when I attempted to snag a Shea/Nats Park commemorative. I didn’t, he did. I’m still pissed about it.  😐

Anyway, we were going tonight, and waiting in line outside, I noticed that I didn’t see any N.Y. area ballhawks around. Which is weird, since there’s always usually one. We technically *cut* the line and made our own line at a table where they check your bags, but in a sense, we didn’t. I asked the guard and he said it was ok. Then, a few minutes later, I saw Mateo Fischer come by and we chatted a bit before the gates opened. What I didn’t know was that on Sunday games, season ticket holders can enter a half hour earlier than everyone else. This would explain how Zack Hample caught 9 balls in the 1st half hour of BP. I gotta get on that Sunday ticket thing.

Anyway, we ran inside, and when I got to the left field seats, someone on the Mets hit one to the gap, and Jeremy Hefner fielded it, looked up at me, and tossed me ball No. 1 on the day and I wasn’t inside for more than 30 seconds. Check it out: Image Sweet deal, no?

A few minutes later, the Mets were done and jogged off the field. How anti-climactic. When the Braves came out, I went to right field: Image

That got nowhere quick. There was a group of guys who were drunk and acting stupid so any attempts at anything would just be ignored by the players. I figured I’d try my luck on the Pepsi Porch. The Pepsi Porch can be a risky, yet rewarding move. It takes forever to get there. You have to go around to the right field concourse area, go up an escalator/staircase 2 floors, walk down a ramp/corridor all the way around the back of the stadium, up another staircase, and down a smaller set of stairs to the seats. However, nobody is up there during BP usually, so if a guy reaches there, it’s all yours. I also figured Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, and Juan Francisco could tag a few up there: Image And, so you can see what I mean, here was my competition: Image Now I just played the waiting game. A lot of home runs were going exactly where I just was standing on the field level, but hey, that’s gonna happen. Eventually, I got Jonny Venters’ attention down below: Image (he’s the player on the bottom right) And got him to toss me a ball wayyyyyy up to the Pepsi Porch for my second ball of the day. Things were slowing down and a lot of righties were coming up to hit, so I headed back over to left center field: Image …but it was so incredibly loud and crowded that I kinda just hung out there and hoped for a home run to come my way. One didn’t, though, and it was almost game time. I headed over to my usual spot by third base: ImageIt was Memorial Day, so the players came out and lined up in between the armed forces on the field. It was pretty cool to see. After that there was warmups: ImageI came up empty there. Our seats had access to the Caesar’s Club, which I had yet to see since Citi Field opened. It was a pretty chilly night, so we figured that tonight was a good opportunity to check it out: Image That’s the view you get after you enter once you get off the escalator. Once you go through another hallway where someone checks your ticket, you walk into a big lobby: ImageHere you can find an assortment of places to eat, couches, bars, and the likes for your choosing. Here’s another look: Image

This is a great place to go if it’s very cold or there is a rain delay. Otherwise, you are too detached from the game. It just doesn’t feel like you’re at a baseball stadium. We got a quick bite to eat here then headed back to our seats in hopes of a home run: Image But, of course, came up empty.

Final score:

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  • 2 balls at this game
  • 106 career balls
  • 26 straight MLB games with a ball

5/19/13 at Wrigley Field (NYM @ CHC)

Day 2 of my trip continued in Chicago, Illinois. It was a Saturday, but there was no game planned for today. We were just going to sight see and hang out. Our day started with some travel troubles thanks to the literal zero availability of hotels thanks to college graduations and half marathons being run. After that though, we were off for a bike tour of Chicago.

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It was very nice, and I highly recommend it. You get to see stuff you don’t normally see in the city. Here’s a shameless plug: it was through Bobby’s Bike Hike, and it was great. Here was our tour guide:

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His name was Eddy, and he was very knowledgeable and funny. And here’s a pretty decent look at the Chicago skyline that you get on the tour:

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(For the record, they made us wear that stuff.)

We did some more sightseeing, and subsequently passed out early that night. Now, to the main point, it was now Sunday, and it was game time. I started the day by taking the “El” up to Wrigley:

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And here I am at the ticket booth:

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Just a heads up – if you plan to go to Wrigley and do BP, you need a ticket for the bleachers. I, however, had a ticket for the area behind third base. So, I figured since I was on vacation, I’d splurge and buy a bleacher seat so I could take in BP. I didn’t want to risk my streak (22 games, now) on something silly like that:

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We took our spot by Gate D, this way when I ran inside I could get over to the bleachers before the bleacher crowd:

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You see, if you have a bleacher ticket, you *must* enter by the bleacher gate, in center field. Those seats are first come first serve, so people start lining up there as early as 8 am, depending on who they play. I however, had a seating bowl ticket. So I simply would scan that, walk in run in (who are we kidding), go towards the bleacher entrance inside the park, show them my bleacher seat, and be on my own before the crowd came. Make sense? Good.

Across the street, I had a good view of the “Rooftop” seating you can buy:

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It’d be awesome to sit there for a game, but I’d hate to miss batting practice.

That is, unless, I spent it here:

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Given that Wrigley is quite small in the outfield seating area, home runs can land out on the street. After reading other blogs, this area usually seemed crowded. But as you can see in the picture above, I was pretty much the only one waiting for a homer. Just to double check, I made sure the Cubs were actually hitting:

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And they were. I tried calling to players to chuck one over the seats onto the street (how awesome would that be), but whoever was in right field was being a crab-ass. Here’s another view of this area to give you a better visual:

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I think the gate to look in is a really cool idea. I loved Wrigley already. The neighborhood surrounding it is great as well; it really has a “baseball-town” type feel to it. I didn’t want to keep Natalie waiting at the gate long, so I went back on line and eventually, I ran inside. When I got to the bleacher entrance, the way they were talking made it seem like I couldn’t enter there. There were 2 guys in front of me, and they got stopped by a security guard:

“Are you guys in that Captain Morgan party?”

“Yea we just got separated.”

“Ok, go ahead.”

The guard looked at me and said, “You too, sir?”

I played dumb and said “Yup, I’m sorry sir.” And that was that. I was in.

I ran through the back hallway/alley behind the right field wall, and passed a batting cage that was under the seats:

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David Wright was right in front of me, but he kept moving so I couldn’t grab a good shot. Eventually, I emerged from the tunnels and this was my view:

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Baseball heaven.

Here was the view to my right:

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Seriously, I loved it.

I moved down to the front row and my view to the left looked like this:

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See that ball on the cage? I was figuring out how to grab that. The section directly above that is part of the Budweiser Patio, which is similar to the Party City Deck at Citi Field. It’s for parties only. Phooey.

I also liked that the park had all sorts of interesting angles and curves, such as this:

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I moved over to right center, and tried my luck here:

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Anthony Rizzo hit two shots that came right towards me, but they landed higher than I was, and since the bleachers are all concrete and metal seats, the ball bounced right back onto the field. The players weren’t tossing up either; even though I was the only one who was calling their names.

I headed over to left for the remaining five minutes of Cubs BP:

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And then they ran off the field. Not the best start to the game, but I threw on my R.A. Dickey Mets jersey, making me literally the ONLY Met fan in the bleachers. I wasn’t worried.

About five minutes (if that) into Mets BP, I walked over towards coach Tom Goodwin, and he noticed my Mets jersey, and sailed a long toss all the way to me in the back row, and it fell short a bit… but I caught it. Not only was it my first ball of the day, it was the 100th of my life! Here she is in all its glory:

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And a special thanks to Mr. Goodwin. I figured now that they recognized me, any chance of a toss-up there was over. So I slowly made my way around to the other foul pole, and anything that was hit to me was fair game. One thing I will say though, Cubs fans were probably the nicest fans I’ve encountered so far. All of them were friendly, asked me why I was out in Chicago, commented on my trip, and half of them were trying to get me a ball! They kept remarking how I was the only Met fan out there, yet they ignored me. I told them simply, “What do you expect?”

I gave up on left field and headed to right center. The Mets there definitely heard me, but they hooked up younger kids instead (which is fine):

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One funny thing I can remember was these two kids on the railing. They kept yelling to Jeremy Hefner, like, non-stop. Eventually, he turned around and yelled “WHAT!!!!!” and the kids just laughed. Kinda funny, but annoying. I tried my luck over here:

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…and got Scott Rice to toss me my second ball of the day.

Here’s a view of the famous Wrigley Ivy:

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Don’t tell anyone, but shhhhh: I took a piece:

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BP was over, and I was satisfied. I missed out on a bunch of homers, but that was mainly part to inexperience at Wrigley. Bad bounces. The usual. I continued my stadium tour, and figured I’d start in the left field bleachers, wrap around, and start inside the seating bowl since my seats were in left/third base. Here’s the view looking out onto Waveland Avenue:

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There’s a staircase that goes down into the seating bowl:

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…but you need to show your ticket. Later, when I went this way, the guard was all set to shoo me away, but I shut her up pretty quick with my other ticket (God, that feeling is great, isn’t it?). I continued around left to center via this passageway:

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How cool is that? Plus, if a homer ever lands here (which happened in BP a bunch), you have plenty of room to run for it. I got to the area by the center field scoreboard and made my way through the little passageway they had built:

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…and continued up the stairs:

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…past the TV camera station…

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Until I reached the scoreboard area:

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One of the most historic places in sports. One thing I did like about this area was these:

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See those ledges without fencing? You’re allowed to stand/sit there during the game. Imagine doing that at Yankee Stadium? Haha. No, you can’t. Because you need permission to breathe there.

I made my way back to the seating bowl, and tried for a warm-up ball, but the ushers wouldn’t let me down even though I had a 100-level ticket. Whatever. I kept walking through the unusual staircase/ramp up to the higher levers:

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To the second deck, which is built much differently than newer stadiums:

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I love that simple scoreboard there.

We continued up another ramp to the “500 level”:

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Here’s another example of the different architecture: you won’t see anything built like this anymore:

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Eventually, I reached the top:

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And like usual, my panorama photo:

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Wrigley verdict: A++. Awesome.

Here I am with Natalie:

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Lovely. On the way down, we stopped at a patio-type area in the back of the stadium. Here it is:

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Kind of nice, I guess. It also overlooks the street below, which was still buzzing. There was definitely a great stadium atmosphere going on. I headed to right field in the upper deck to get a better shot of the rooftop seating:

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Finally, it was time for the game. Our seats were pretty good, but came for a pretty penny:

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I figured I’ll never know when I’ll be back, so go big or go home. Here’s another thing you may notice in the next photo:

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See the pitchers towards the bottom? That’s where the bullpen is. There are only a few ballparks that are left that have foul area bullpens. Off the top of my head, Wrigley, O.co coliseum, Tropicana Field, and AT & T Park come to mind to name a few. The visitor’s bullpen is even tighter than the Cubs ones.

Later, it was the 7th inning, and I got a picture of the unique Wrigley scoreboard:

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Wrigley is one of the last parks to have an original hand-turned scoreboard. Unlike Fenway Park, the scoreboard at Wrigley is mounted above the center field bleachers, rather than at ground level. Then, it was time for the famous 7th inning stretch:

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They have a long time tradition of singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Apparently, this began when Hall of Fame announcer Harry Caray arrived in 1982 and it has remained a Wrigley Field tradition (hence his silhouette above the broadcast booth). Usually, former players, Chicago athletes, and celebrities come to sing the well honored tradition. Today there was a former Cub singing, but I don’t remember who. It was a good time.

The game was entertaining. Cubs pitcher Travis Wood hit a home run, but the Mets came back late to win.

Final score:

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I headed down to the field after the game for an attempt at ball #3:

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…but all the players walked off without acknowledging anyone. I took my usual “stadium picture”:

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This was #10. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, Camden Yards, Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Nationals Park, Target Field, Marlins Park, Tropicana Field, and now Wrigley. I took another shot with Natalie:

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…and began to brave the mass crowds in the concourse:

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I couldn’t write about Wrigley Field without mentioning the bathroom troughs, but… I’ll save you the picture. Unique experience. I didn’t take a picture. Whipping out a camera in a bathroom full of guys peeing can get…well… combative.

Once I got outside, I realized it wouldn’t be a trip to Wrigley without a picture of the famous marquee:

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I had a picture of me in front of it, but the sun was in my eyes and I looked ridiculous.

I also realized I never saw one entire side pre-game, so we exited that way. Here’s a statue of Ernie Banks:

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And the corner of left field:

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…and eventually made it to the most famous intersection in baseball, Waveland and Sheffield:

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And here I am in front:

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Would have been an awesome picture, if not for the garbage can in the way. Also, the Cubs but up a white flag with a W for a win, and blue flag with an L for a loss, a tradition that has been around since P.K. Wrigley himself was around in 1937.

I also saw this marquee at a bar next door:

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Wood was the Cub who started the game. How clever. And that was that. Awesome, awesome, AWESOME day at Wrigley. US Cellular next!

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  • 2 balls at this game
  • 101 career balls
  • 23 straight MLB games with a ball

5/12/13 at Citi Field (PIT @ NYM)

It was Mother’s Day, and I was going to Citi Field. Don’t worry though; I made sure my mom was cool with it before I went, and I had a good reason for going, as you’ll see.

I hit some traffic on the way down, and I was worried I wasn’t going to get a good spot on line. The gates opened at 11:10, and I was there around 11:50. However, people are either too dumb to realize, or too lazy (which is probably the case) to walk the extra 15 feet to a line with 2 people on it, so that’s what I did and I was sixth in line.

Now, I’ve had this game circled on my calendar for a few months now. The whole reason I was going to this game was a secret. A month or two prior, bigleaguebaseballs.com posted a photo of a special ball that was being used on Mother’s Day, and I hadn’t seen or heard much about it since. I wanted to keep the competition down. While I was in line, I didn’t see too many ballhawks around. Which was good.

The gates opened, and instead of going out to left field like I usually do, I headed out to right:

Image A Mets player sliced one into the seats in foul territory, smacked off some concrete, bounced back onto the field, and I quickly got Dillon Gee (pictured) to toss me my first ball of the day about 2 minutes in. There were a lot of lefties hitting, so I took my spot in this area here and hung out for a bit and listened to a kid get yelled at by his mom:

ImageAfter a few minutes, I noticed Zack Hample and some other ballhawks below the Pepsi Porch snagging balls. Today would be a challenge for Mother’s Day balls, for sure. I walked up a section and hung out near this awkward area near the right field foul pole:

Image …and eventually got Jeremy Hefner to toss me my second ball of the day. His toss was weird – he kind of just underhand floated it to me. It was my oddest snag I’ve ever had so far. It’s hard to explain. I moved around to the area under the Pepsi Porch in right, and got denied by Ricky Bones. Later though, a few balls made it to the warning track, and I got bench coach Bob Geren to hook me up with ball number 3 on the day: 

ImageI then figured I’d exhausted all my resources getting three balls in the tough right field at Citi, so moved over to left center:

Image …and after a few minutes, a homer was coming right at me. I positioned myself, but the ball was dropping quick, and slammed off the railing in the Party City Deck and went straight up into the air. I stuck my glove out, and if I weren’t incredibly short, my arm length probably would’ve reeled it in. I barely missed it, and it bounced back onto the field. Here’s an idea if you’re a visual person: 

Image Ricky Bones (who had moved to left to talk to Scott Rice) must have saw how I just missed and tossed me the ball for No. 4 on the day. I had previously asked Scott, but he probably remembered me from five days prior when I was there against the White Sox.

That was it for the Mets portion of BP, so when some Pirates came out to toss, I headed over here:

Image …and it was then I found out that the Pirates would not be taking BP today. I really thought I had a chance at double digits. It was only 11:45, but they weren’t coming out. Bummer. I tried for a toss-up after long tosses, but they all went up to the left field area. I did, however, get Mark Melancon’s autograph: 

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ImageI asked him if he missed playing in New York, and he said yes. Then I told him he was having an awesome year (which he is, check his stats) and to keep up the good work. I always think it’s cool when athletes approach fans instead of thinking they are better than everyone else. 

I headed to my usual spot to try and get a pregame ball:

Image And there was only one. I tried to get it from Jordy Mercer or Clint Barmes, but they gave it to Pedro Alvarez. Fun tip about him: Every pregame he autographs a ball and tosses it into the crowd (at least the games I’ve been to, anyway). And that’s what he did. So I didn’t get it. 

During the game, I was behind the Pirates dugout:

Image To give you another idea of where I was sitting, here is a screenshot of the SNY broadcast right before Clint Barmes homered in the 3rd inning:

screenshotBen Weil was to my right, and Zack Hample was to his right. Greg Barasch was going for 3rd out balls on the Mets side, so I had a *moderate* chance at a Mother’s Day ball. As soon as the 1st inning ended, David Wright grounded out to third, and it was then that Garrett Jones tossed the ball into the crowd, and I stuck my glove out. There were about 5 hands up in the way, and I wasn’t even sure I had gotten the ball. When I moved my glove back, took a deep breath, opened it up with anxiety, and…. 

Image…HELLLLLLZ YEAHHH!!!!! (Sorry.)

Here are some more pictures of the ball:

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Image…and the pink stitching… 

Image Look how gorgeous that is. The writing on the sweet spot was a bit missing, and the Rawlings logo was buffed a bit, but you know what? I didn’t care. It made it unique, and mine. The ribbon was intact, so it was all good. I was just thrilled to have one. Nice job by MLB to make the ball. It happened so fast. I was thinking of different strategies for getting the ball… 3rd out balls, foul territory, umpires tunnel, and just like that, I had one. It was NOT expected at all, given my competition. I had seen Zack get one on a Travis Snider foul ball about 5 minutes earlier, so we were trying to make sure all the ballhawks got one.  I laid back for the rest of the time until Ben finally got one in the 7th inning. Here’s a look at his ball which was in a little better shape than mine:

ImageNice.

I also took a panorama of the game:

ImageYou can click to make it larger. And a picture of David Wright hitting, because I think he’s awesome: 

ImageAt the end of the game, we found out that Greg had gotten one at the end of the 8th inning, so now that we all had a pink ball, it was fair game for another. So, I headed to the umpires tunnel at the end of the game:

Image …and Home Plate ump Andy Fletcher said he didn’t have any left, even though I saw his pouch full of 4 of them. He probably wanted some for himself, and who could blame him?

A few minutes later, I got Jose Contreras to throw me a ball on his way into the dugout for my 6th ball of the day. My personal Citi record is 6, and I would’ve broken it easily if the Pirates took BP. Oh well. I love that I’m getting on a hot streak right before my baseball trip. If you don’t know about it, stay tuned.

Final score:

Image After the game, we all met up and took a celebratory picture of our snags:

Image… as you can see. Greg, Ben, and I got 1 each, and Zack wound up with 3. Then, we parted ways, and I sat in traffic for an hour listening to the Rangers playoff game 6 until I got home another hour later. 

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  •  6 balls at this game (Ties my Citi Field record)
  • 97 career balls (closing in on 100!)
  • 21 straight MLB games with a ball

I also checked my snags for invisible stamping. Only a few had them, check it out:

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ImageI may be going to Yankee Stadium Thursday, but if I don’t, I’ll be saying hello from a surprise location Friday night!