October 2006

FINAL STATS — 2006

Now that the World Series is over (and the American League has proven itself inferior), I’ve tallied up my final ball-snagging stats. No flowery descriptions–just a bunch of categories and lists.

Ready to get your geek on?
Here goes…

2006 TOTALS:
• 28 games attended (including two without batting practice)
• 5 stadiums
• 209 balls
• 7.46 balls per game
• Most balls at one game: 14 (twice)
• Fewest balls at one game: 1
• 9 games with at least 10 balls
• 9 game balls
• 3.1 games per game ball

BALLS BY MONTH:
• April — 33
• May — 40
• June — 26
• July — 16
• August — 43
• September — 51

BALLS BY SOURCE:
• Thrown — 146
• Hit — 33
Glove trick — 28
• Found — 2

BALLS BY PORTION OF THE DAY:
• Batting practice — 146
• Pregame (not during BP) — 33
• During games (not to be confused with “game balls”) — 13
• After games — 17

BALLS BY STADIUM:
• Shea — 116
• Camden — 29
• Citizens Bank — 27
• PETCO — 19
• Yankee — 18

SHEA STADIUM:
• 17 games attended
• 116 balls
• 6.8 balls per game

CAMDEN YARDS:
• 4 games attended
• 29 balls
• 7.3 balls per game

CITIZENS BANK PARK:
• 2 games attended
• 27 balls
• 13.5 balls per game

PETCO PARK:
• 3 games attended
• 19 balls
• 6.3 balls per game

YANKEE STADIUM:
• 2 games attended
• 18 balls
• 9 balls per game

NYC STADIUMS:
• 19 games attended
• 134 balls
• 7.1 balls per game

STADIUMS OUTSIDE OF NYC:
• 9 games attended
• 75 balls
• 8.3 balls per game

RECORDS:
• 4 consecutive games with a game ball (tie)
• 55 consecutive games with at least three balls (streak over…thanks a lot, Shea)
• Most balls in one game at Yankee Stadium: 14
• Most balls in one game at Citizens Bank Park: 14
• Highest one-day Competition Factor: 600,171 on 8/8/06 at Shea Stadium

MILESTONES:
• 90th lifetime game ball — foul tip by Robinson Cano on 4/26/06 at Yankee Stadium
• 2,800th ball — thrown by Mike Gonzalez on 5/3/06 at Shea Stadium
• 100th ball of the season — thrown by Kurt Birkins on 7/17/06 at Camden Yards
• 300th consecutive game at Shea Stadium with at least one ball — 7/24/06
• 2,900th ball — tossed by Joe Lefebvre on 8/16/06 at PETCO Park
• 60th lifetime game with 10 or more balls — 8/16/06 at PETCO Park
• 450th consecutive game with at least one ball — 9/4/06 at Shea Stadium
• 200th ball of the season — hit during BP by an Orioles lefty on 9/22/06 at Camden Yards

OTHER ITEMS COLLECTED:
lineup_cards_front.jpg• Cliff Floyd’s bat on 4/6/06 at Shea Stadium
• 32 ticket stubs the night Jose Reyes hit for the cycle
• Giants/Padres lineup cards on 8/14/06 at PETCO Park
• A cricket ball on 8/15/06 at PETCO Park
• Chris Woodward’s cap on 9/18/06 at Shea Stadium
• Cubs/Phillies lineup cards on 9/20/06 at Citizens Bank Park
• Ramon Hernandez’s broken bat on 9/22/06 at Camden Yards
• 39 autographs (not counting the managers’ signatures on the lineup cards) for an average of 1.4 autographs per game): Kurt Birkins, Chris Britton, Matt Cain, Jose Castillo, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Scott Eyre, Jeff Francoeur, Nomar Garciaparra, Joey Gathright, Jonny Gomes, Nick Green, Jose Guillen, Ramon Hernandez, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Howard, Matt Kemp, Aquilino Lopez, Jeffrey Loria (Marlins owner), Rodrigo Lopez, Paul Maholm, Nick Markakis, Melvin Mora, Matt Morris, Jake Peavy, Brandon Phillips, Boog Powell, Todd Pratt, Jose Reyes (thrice, all on stubs from his cycle, baby!), Duaner Sanchez, Freddy Sanchez, Jason Schmidt, Frank Thomas (twice), Omar Vizquel, Ty Wigginton, David Wright

ULTIMATE HIGHLIGHT:
• Catching Barry Bonds’ 724th career home run on 8/16/06 at PETCO Park

zack_new_york_times.jpg

LIFETIME TOTALS:
• 2,961 balls
• 98 game balls
• 582 balls outside of NYC
• 15 game balls outside of NYC
• 41 major league stadiums with at least one ball
• 799 players and coaches who’ve thrown balls to me (including 53 new ones this year)
• 634 games attended (approximation)
• 63 games with 10 or more balls

CURRENT STREAKS:
• 455 total consecutive games with at least one ball
• 307 consecutive games at Shea Stadium with at least one ball
• 99 consecutive games at Yankee Stadium with at least one ball
• 32 consecutive games at Yankee Stadium with at least two balls
• 89 consecutive games outside of NYC with at least one ball
• 84 consecutive games outside of NYC with at least two balls
• 9 consecutive seasons with at least 100 balls
• 8 consecutive seasons with at least one game ball
• 8 consecutive seasons with at least one game in which I caught two game balls
• 7 consecutive post-season games with at least one ball
• 3 consecutive seasons with at least 200 balls

TYPES OF BALLS:
trainingball2.jpg• 1,276 major league
• 1,060 National League
• 523 American League
• 40 no-logo balls
• 26 from the 2005 All-Star Game
• 13 from the 2000 World Series
• 8 of those hideous “Training” balls
• 5 from the 2000 All-Star Game
• 4 from “Serie de los Expos de Montreal”
• 3 from the 2001 World Series
• 3 from the 2002 All-Star Game

NOTE: I caught the World Series and All-Star Game balls in subsequent years during BP.

BALLS BY YEAR (GAME BALLS IN PARENTHESES):
• 1990 —- 4
• 1991 —- 14
• 1992 —- 128 (9)
1993 —- 218 (14)
1994 —- 201 (6)
1995 —- 273 (8)
1996 —- 177 (5)
1997 —- 59
1998 —- 192
1999 —- 251 (7)
2000 —- 163 (6)
2001 —- 134 (5)
2002 —- 149 (5)
2003 —- 168 (4)
2004 —- 300 (10)
2005 —- 321 (10)
2006 —- 209 (9)

• Average season: 174 balls including 5.8 gamers

AVERAGE ATTENDANCE FOR GAMES I ATTENDED:
• 1990 —- n/a
• 1991 —- n/a
• 1992 —- n/a
• 1993 —- 25,061
• 1994 —- 25,044
• 1995 —- 21,111
• 1996 —- 19,675
• 1997 —- 21,409
• 1998 —- 26,949
• 1999 —- 30,116
• 2000 —- 29,524
• 2001 —- 26,678
• 2002 —- 34,421
• 2003 —- 28,407
• 2004 —- 28,094
• 2005 —- 34,075
• 2006 —- 36,885

• Average number of fans I have to deal with every game: 27,674

The End.

CURRENT THOUGHTS:
• Phew!
• Another glorious off-season is now underway…

Two great balls

The World Series is almost over. I had to break these out…

fabulous_balls.jpg


…or IS it almost over? Verlander vs. Weaver? Detroit has the pitching edge tonight. Is a Tigers win out of the question? No. And if they win, the series goes back to Detroit. Who knows what could happen then? I think we might have a seven-game extravaganza on our hands.

(Someone just alerted me that I’ve been written up in England. Baseball matches. I love it.)

“single and girlfriendless”

Dear Steve Hartman,

It’s true that I’m “single and girlfriendless,” as you so eloquently pointed out to all of North America, but I’d just like to inform you that I have three dates lined up with three different hotties in the next five days.

Ta-ta,
Zack

Go Tigers! I mean Cardinals!

CBS now has two versions of the segment online:

1) the standard one that aired last night on the news
2) the longer, web-only video that makes me hate my voice even more

I don’t know who to root for in the World Series. On one hand, I like Jim Leyland and Jason Grilli. On the other hand, I like it when the National League kicks heinie. And on the other hand, I’m planning to visit the New Busch Stadium in 2007…so I’ve been rooting against the Cardinals all season…because the more they win now, the more crowded it’ll be when I’m there. Oh dear.

Outcomes aside, I’m glad the sports world’s focus turned back to baseball and away from DirtGate. Did Kenny Rogers cheat? No doubt. And I hate cheaters. But just about everyone cheats in baseball. Does Moldy_strawberryanyone complain when Albert Pujols digs his right foot into the dirt two inches beyond the back edge of the batter’s box? No. And therefore, I’m not mad at Rogers for using pine tar. (I’m mad at him for the way he lied about it, and I’m disappointed at MLB for trying to cover it up.) It was 30-something degrees. His poor little berry-pickin’ fingers were cold. Perhaps numb. He wanted a better grip, and he tried to get away with something naughty. The sport is full of people being naughty: steroid users, sign stealers…even catchers who frame pitches to influence the home plate umpire. Where do we draw the line? I don’t know. I don’t care. It a beautiful game regardless.

CBS Evening News

I’ve been informed that my segment on the (national) CBS Evening News will air on Tuesday, October 24.
Cbs_evening_news

It’s not a live interview. I won’t be in the studio. I can’t say “hello” to Katie for you or give her a kiss, so stop asking. (Actually, only two people have asked.) This segment was filmed last month in several installments–first at a game in Philadelphia, then in Baltimore, and finally in my old childhood bedroom at my parents’ place.

CBS must’ve gotten at least 10 hours of footage. It’ll be interesting (and painful) to see how they shrink it down to a two-minute piece.

The news starts at 6:30pm on Channel 2 in New York City–I don’t know about the rest of North America–and lasts half an hour. My segment will probably run during the last few minutes, but you might want to tune in earlier to be safe.

Hope you get to see it.

World Series at Shea?!

So much for that…

World Series tickets?

Another online drawing.
Same story…

poor_poor_me.jpg

I feel completely defeated. I have no connections…at least no definite ones. It’s pathetic. I’m so pissed off that I’m not famous. If I were, I wouldn’t have had to call a ticket broker. That’s what I did yesterday. And guess what. THEY don’t even have World Series tickets. They “might” get some, and if they do, the prices will probably range from $350 to $3,000 per seat.

This uncertainty is killing me, so I have to ask: Does ANYONE have a Mets World Series ticket that they’d be willing to sell me for a reasonable price? Triple the face value? Is that reasonable? If you can hook me up, I will personally give you (or your son or daughter or whoever) a snagging lesson at the game of your choice next season.

Six things

1) I’m still in shock about Cory Lidle and will be for quite some time. I never said more than a few words to him, but I could always tell that he was a nice guy (and NOT just because he happened to toss me two balls last year…5/3/05 at Shea and 6/21/05 in Philly). He seemed to relate to people in a straightforward way. He was pleasant. And friendly. And sincere. Damn.

2) It’s clear that I know nothing about the American League. I said the A’s would beat the Tigers in seven games, and they’re already down, 2-0. Moneyball is letting me down. And so is the CashBig Hurt.

3) At least the Mets came through in Game 1. One step closer to the World Series. I’ve been searching craigslist, and I still haven’t seen a ticket for under $800. Not good. (Watch the Mets manhandle Carp in Game 2.)

4) I haven’t seen many close-ups of the balls being used in the League Championship Series, but it looks as if they’re just regular balls. Can anyone confirm this? No commemorative logos? That didn’t used to be the case. Even the Divisional Series used to have special balls. Is MLB trying to cut costs after setting an all-time attendance record?

seams.jpg

5) For the people who never read the comments: You can find my “TIME for Kids” article here.

6) Remember my friend Sean from all those trips to Camden Yards? He’s just had his own baseball book published! It’s a novel called SEAMS. He’s read parts of it at my writing group, and it’s always been entertaining. Basically it’s about a kid on a college baseball team who meets a mysterious man and goes off on a life-changing path of self-discovery. There’s lots of baseball action, just as much crazy/wacky/funny stuff that takes place between members of the team, and plenty of thought-provoking scenes that border on the supernatural. It’s a cool book. I just ordered my copy from Amazon, and I encourage everyone to check it out.

Updated playoff predictions

read_this_book.jpg

Apparently, I know nothing about the American League. Last week I predicted that the Twins and Yankees would advance to the ALCS, and we’ve ended up with the A’s and Tigers instead…so let’s see…I’m going with the A’s in seven. I know the Tigers were the best team in baseball for most of the season, and I know they have all kinds of momentum right now, but I think Moneyball will trump the old-school grit. I really hope so, anyway. I admire people who think outside the box, and A’s GM Billy Beane has done it.

the_best_team.gif

As for the NLCS, I’m going with the Mets in six. The Mets need to win because I need to go to the World Series–and I don’t plan on getting on a plane.

World Series prediction: Mets over A’s in five.

In other news…
I’ve been told that there’s a little blurb about me in the current issue of TIME Magazine for Kids. I haven’t seen it yet. Have you?

Adios. Sayonara. Au revoir.

Bye_bye_1
(And the Mets win!)

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