One way to increase your chances of catching a foul ball is to pick a section and stick with it all day, all week, all month, all season, all decade. As long as you’re not trapped in some ridiculously bad spot like the last row of the bleachers or a seat underneath the protective netting, someone will eventually hit a ball there.
Of course, I don’t want a spot that simply isn’t bad. I want to sit in THE best seat to catch one, but the problem with Yankee Stadium is that there isn’t a prime spot (not counting the luxury suites behind home plate where old men in suits scoop foul tips off the screen with gigantic fishnets). So I end up wandering around, ignoring logic and probability and my own advice.
I’m leaving for Yankee Stadium in half an hour, and I have no idea where I’m going to sit. Since tonight’s starting pitchers–John Lackey and Kevin Brown–are both right-handed and have a combined ERA of 14.89, my first choice is the first row behind the right field wall. With all the powerful lefties and switch-hitters batting lefty in both lineups (Darin Erstad, Garret Anderson, Steve Finley, Dallas McPherson, Bernie Williams, Hideki Matsui, Juicin’ Giambi, Jorge Posada, Tino Martinez), there’s a good chance that there will be a few homers in that direction. In addition, the porch is so shallow (314 feet down the line) that righties can easily poke the ball there, too.
If I can’t find a spot in RF, I’ll probably sit in the first row behind the main aisle between home plate and 3rd base. I’ll have to deal with fans and vendors and security guards walking in front of me and blocking my view all night, but it’s worth it to have a chance at a few pop fouls.
And if I can’t sit there, I’ll head out to left field and look for some room. That’s where I’ll be for BP, and I’m really looking forward to it because Yankee Stadium is now opening TWO hours early on week nights for the first time. This means I’ll get 80 minutes of BP instead of 50, and I’ll see the Yankees on the field for a substantial chunk of time. I hope Matsui will be out there. I’d love to get a ball from him. And when the Angels take the field, I’m going to try hard to get one from Jarrod Washburn. In 1995, he played for the Boise Hawks when I was there as a groundskeeper/ticket-seller between high school and college, and I got to know him a little bit. I’ve wanted a ball from him ever since. Other than that, I don’t care where tonight’s balls come from, but I’d like to get at least four. That’s one more than I’ve averaged over the years in the Bronx…but with the extra half hour, maybe I can go crazy and get six.
Normally, I refuse to go to games with people because they get bored during batting practice and aren’t willing to move around during the game–and even if they are willing to move, it’s harder to find two empty seats than one. But I’m meeting a friend there tonight. His name is Ben. I met him two years ago when I placed an ad on craigslist to find a baseball friend. He doesn’t collect balls. He probably thinks I’m a nutjob. But he gets it. (And he hits good fungoes, too.)