8/31/12 at Yankee Stadium
Despite snagging a bunch of baseballs, this was a day that I’d like to forget. Things started well when I ran into a young fan named Mike, who’d brought his copy of “The Baseball” for me to sign . . .
. . . but then it all started turning to crap. When the stadium opened at 5pm, I headed to the second deck in right field and didn’t snag anything. No Easter eggs. No home runs. No toss-ups. Never had a section of seats been so dead . . .
. . . and to make matters worse, I stood there watching helplessly as several home runs landed near my regular spot down below. Had I stuck with my normal strategy and gone to the lower deck in right field, I would’ve snagged at least one ball during the first group of Yankee hitters — probably two and quite possibly three.
I moved to left field for the next/final group of Yankee hitters, and although I did manage to snag several balls during that short amount of time, I also managed to piss away two or three opportunities by misjudging home runs that ended up sailing over my head or falling a bit too short. I don’t know why. I just wasn’t on my game. I simply didn’t HAVE IT.
As for the balls that I actually got . . . my first was thrown by David Phelps. My second was a home run that landed in the seats; I think it was hit by Steve Pearce, and as soon as I grabbed it, I handed it to the nearest kid. My third was a home run — possibly hit by Chris Stewart — that I caught on the fly, and my fourth was thrown by Phelps. I had to run 20 feet to my left and jump for that one, and when I looked behind me, I realized that he’d been aiming for a kid, so I handed it over. So yeah, I had four baseballs at that point but easily could’ve had eight or nine. Poor me, right? Yeah, I know, but just wait. This is nothing compared to what happened later.
When the Orioles came out, I headed near their dugout . . .
. . . and got completely ignored. Normally I would’ve gotten one or two balls tossed to me there, so my hypothetical total for the day was pushing double digits.
The highlight during BP was seeing Adam Jones hanging out ON the center field wall (for like 30 seconds) and talking to fans in Monument Park:
Of course, getting this commemorative ball . . .
. . . thrown to me by Luis Ayala wasn’t the worst thing ever.
Here’s what the crowd looked like toward the end of BP:
As you can see, there wasn’t exactly a whole lot of competition — just a lot of . . . obstacles.
While I was standing in left field, hoping for one or two homers to fly in my direction, Nick Markakis and the other left-handed hitters put on a SHOW and hit dozens of homers to right field. At one point, Markakis hit seven consecutive pitches into the seats, and there I was, standing in left field like a jackass. The Orioles must’ve hit 30 or 40 home runs to right field during BP. That’s not an exaggeration. They might’ve even hit 50. I’ve never seen anything like it. I mean, even Omar Quintanilla was going yard with shocking regularity. At least a third of all these homers landed in the second deck. I’ve lost count of my hypothetical number, but whatever. You get the point. No matter where I was, the action seemed to be taking place elsewhere, and yet this isn’t even CLOSE to the worst thing that happened.
I caught one final homer at the end of BP — a line-drive off the bat of (I think) Lew Ford. As it was descending, I drifted down several rows of seats and then climbed into the vacant camera well. That’s where I was when I caught it. At the time, it felt great, but right now, it feels worthless.
Now before I continue, I must warn my friend Todd Cook that I’m going to share two photos of Ichiro. You see, Todd is a diehard Mariners fan and . . . well, just read the following quote. It’s a comment that Todd (aka “Cook & Son Bats”) posted in the comments section of my previous entry):
“In the future, please give about a two-paragraph pre-warning that you’re about to include pictures of Ichiro in a Yankees uniform. I’m trying my hardest to never really see that . . . Many thanks. Sincerely, The Society of Mariners Fans Who Wish To Preserve Their Memories of Ichiro Only In A Mariners Uniform.”
Now that I’ve given the warning (and explained it for everyone else), I think it’s safe for me to show you what my view looked like in the bottom of the 1st inning:
Here’s what it looked like during a late-game inning break:
Asian women really love Ichiro, and you know what? I do too. I just don’t wear short shorts and scream and wave at him, and we can all be thankful for that.
Now, as for the terrible thing that happened . . . quite simply, I botched my chance to catch Curtis Granderson’s 9th-inning home run. I refuse to link to the highlight, so go look for it if you want, but I’d rather that you don’t. All you need to know is that the ball was a line drive that initially appeared to be heading RIGHT to me. At the last second, though, it hooked nearly 10 feet to my left, and I reacted a split-second too late. I had empty room on my left. I simply got caught flat-footed and then moved too slowly. I lunged for the ball, missed it by less than a foot, and had that awful/sinking feeling in my gut as it slammed off the back wall. The ball ricocheted into the folded-up portion of a seat in the second-to-last row, and as I began to lunge for it, another fan reached down and grabbed it. The end. I suck.
• 490 balls in 62 games this season = 7.9 balls per game.
• 854 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 6,309 total balls
(I’m raising money again this season for Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. Click here to learn more about my fundraiser, and click here to see the prizes that I’ll be giving away to donors.)
• 43 donors
• $2.36 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $14.16 raised at this game
• $1,156.40 raised this season
• $20,313.40 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009