February 2008

February 29th

Could there be a better day than February 29th to talk about the calendar?

Usually I don’t buy tickets or make plans too far ahead of time, but I’ve already finalized six games for the 2008 season. Three will be at Disney World. I just got my tickets in the mail, and damn they’re ugly.


I also have three Watch With Zack clients lined up for:

1) April 8th at Fenway Park (Sox home opener & ring ceremony)
2) May 15th at Shea Stadium (taking a seven-year-old to his first game ever)
3) August 1st at Fenway (fourth row seats along the right field foul line)


Citi Field — 13 months to go

I went to Citi Field yesterday, and here’s what I saw, starting with the view from the #7 train as it pulled into the station:


One of the main ramps from the elevated station had been removed–a ramp that once provided an excellent view–but I still got a good look from a familiar staircase:


Let’s go Mets, indeed.


Citi Field was surrounded by a chain-link fence. Sometimes I stuck my camera through or held it high above for a clear shot, but not here:


Behold Citi Field’s main entrance–the Jackie Robinson Rotunda:


The clockwise trek around Shea/Citi was underway…


Shea never looked so old and tired:


Light at the end of the tunnel:


Another look at both stadiums:


There were flatbed trailers ALL over the place, loaded with pre-assembled brick arches and beams (and there wasn’t anyone telling me not to walk right up to them and take pics):


Fun in the Flushing sun:


North side of Citi Field:


The upper deck still needs some work:


East edge of the Citi Field complex:


I have no idea what this is going to be, but I think it’s in deeeeeeep right-center field:


The surrounding neighborhood welcomes Citi Field to its thriving community:


Yo, dat’s brite!


Future parking lot:


View from underneath the elevated subway tracks:


Thirteen months until I get to snag there:


By the way, if you want to see how fast the construction has been moving, here’s what Citi Field looked like 11 months ago.

Disney World!

I’m going to Disney World…literally.

Remember when the (Devil) Rays played three regular season games last year against the Rangers at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex? Somehow, I didn’t find out it was happening until it was too late, and I’ve always regretted it.

Well, the Rays recently announced that they’ll be playing another series there this season, and I jumped at the chance to go. I bought tickets to all three games, booked a roundtrip flight, and got myself a room in a non-Disney hotel, thank you very much. No way I was gonna stay at a place like this. I’m not interested in Cinderellabration. This trip is about seeing real Major League Baseball games at a Spring Training facility. How cool is that? I mean, just LOOK at the place…


…and yes, the balls I snag there will definitely count in my major league collection. Last year, when Sammy Sosa hit his 597th career home run at Disney, everyone made a big deal about the fact that it was the 45th stadium in which he’d gone yard. Guess what. If it counts for Sosa, it counts for me. Assuming I somehow manage to avoid returning to New York City empty-handed, it’ll be my 43rd stadium in which I’ve snagged at least one ball.

Gustavo Watch, Part 15

You_are_jinxed_5Spring Training is just getting started, but the Hample Jinx is already in mid-season form.
Gustavo Chacin, the “man” who stole a ball from me on 8/1/06 at Yankee Stadium, arrived at Blue Jays camp yesterday and struggled right from the start. Basically, he’s still suffering from last year’s shoulder injury (which was also a result of the Jinx), and he’s way behind schedule–so far behind that he’s not just a long shot to earn a spot in the starting rotation, but there’s a chance he might not even earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.

This is what the news panel looked like on the Blue Jays web site…


…and here’s the article itself.

If Chacin ever gives me a replacement ball AND APOLOGIZES for the one he stole, I will rescind the Jinx. Until that happens, however, Misfortune will be his mistress.

Vintage catalog

Two months ago, I posted an entry about updating my book, Watching Baseball Smarter, for the 2008 season.


The update is now complete. All the changes and additions (including 22 new glossary terms, hoo-haaa!!) have been incorporated. Vintage (my publisher) re-catalogued the book for 2008, which is great news.

Basically, all publishers put out their own catalogs that list their new books. The catalogs then get sent to book stores, where sales managers flip through them and decide which titles are worthy of being ordered and kept in stock. Obviously, if a book doesn’t even make it into the catalog, it won’t get seen, but if it IS in the catalog, there’s a much better chance that it’ll end up on the shelves of major book stores.

Anyway, I’ve been told that very few books get re-catalogued–in other words, put into the catalog for a second time. Watching Baseball Smarter was catalogued when it first came out last year, and because it sold well (thanks to MANY of you who read this blog), Vintage is putting it back into the mix. Therefore, a whole new crop of sales managers will be seeing it.

This is how Vintage is presenting it in the catalog:


LA Times follow-up

I mentioned in a comment late last night that I hadn’t heard from the LA Times writer for a while. Well, that just changed. He called. We talked for a bit. He said he’s working on a how-to piece about snagging baseballs, with a focus on Dodger & Angel Stadiums. He asked me a whole lot of stuff about general ball-snagging strategies and etiquette, and then, based on what I’d told him, he wanted to know a couple specific things. I wasn’t sure what to say because I haven’t been to those ballparks for a number of years, so I’m hoping YOU guys in California can help.

Basically, what I need to know is:

1) Does security let people stand on the staircases between the outfield wall and the bleachers? You know when you see home runs barely clear the wall and then people race down the steps and disappear from sight? Those are the steps I’m talking about. Can you stand there during batting practice? How about during the game itself?

2) What’s the best place(s) to go during games at Angel Stadium? Is security very strict there? Or can you get away with standing up and sneaking around?

In my last entry, I mentioned that this piece is going to run in the LA Times. Let me be more specific: it’s going to be in the LA Times Magazine. March 2nd. Look for it…

The writer got back in touch and told me that the piece is getting pushed back to April.

Adios, football.

I haven’t been blogging much lately because:

a) There aren’t many baseball-related things to talk about this time of year.
b) I’ve been pretty busy with other stuff.

I recently finished reading all 284,000 words I’ve written on this blog since my very first entry in April of 2005. Why? Simple. I’ve been gathering ideas for my next book, which is going to focus on snagging. But before I write the book, I want to make sure that someone will publish it. And in order to do that, I need to write a proposal so my agent can shop it around. But before I write a proposal, I have to make an outline…lots of work, yes, but hopefully it’ll pay off within the next few years.

I’m also hard at work on a story about Barry Bonds’ final home run ball. Can’t really say anything more about it at this point, except that I’ve been interviewing people and doing some investigative research.

I’ve been in touch with a writer from the LA Times who’s writing something about snagging baseballs. I’m not sure exactly what his angle is going to be, but he seems to be combining the “how to” element with Dodger Stadium itself.

I’m going to be interviewed tomorrow night on an internet radio show.

Two days ago, I co-hosted a potluck for my writing group that drew 73 people. You would not be-LIEVE how much time it took to organize it, but damn it was fun.

Last month I booked my first Watch With Zack client for 2008, and I’m now in the process of setting up plans for two others.

So yeah, lots of stuff.

And now, back to that outline…


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