4/10/12 at Citi Field

When the stadium opened for batting practice at 5:10pm, I ran to the right field seats and promptly got Manny Acosta to throw me a ball. In the following photo, the red arrow shows him holding it and looking at me:

That was it for the Mets’ portion of BP. Pretty lame, huh?

When the Nationals started hitting, I moved to straight-away right field and snagged this:

It was thrown by a player that I couldn’t identify.

Ten minutes later, this was my view:

Pretty lame, huh?

With the wind blowing in and the Nats using cheap-ass training balls, there was virtually no chance of catching a home run out there, so I focused on getting more toss-ups. I moved closer to the corner spot near the Home Run Apple . . .

. . . and got two baseballs thrown to me within the next five minutes. I’m not sure who the players were, but if I had to guess, I’d say Jesus Flores and Brett Carroll.

My 5th ball of the day was tossed in the same vicinity by bullpen coach Jim Lett. He’d been roaming the outfield with his fungo bat.

After that, I headed to left-center field. This was my view . . .

. . . and surprise-surprise! Not a single ball reached the seats.

In the photo above, the fan looking at the camera — an 18-year-old named Griffin — has recently become a regular at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. Last year (if I’m remembering the number correctly) he went to 63 games. This year he might attend even more, so if you see him around, go say hi. We chatted quite a bit later in the day, and I was surprised (and honored) that he knew so much about my collection.

Toward the end of BP, I ran back to right field and positioned myself in the little patch of seats between the Mo’s Zone and the bullpens. (It’s just above the ‘375’ sign.) The reason I went there was to try to get a ball from Stephen Strasburg, who was shagging in right-center. I ended up catching a home run instead. I don’t know who hit it — possibly Chad Tracy — but I can tell you two things:

1) It pretty much came right to me; all I had to do was move down one step and reach a foot or two over the wall.

2) The people around me freaked out with excitement and congratulated me as if I were the second coming of Willie Mays.

It was bizarre, but hey, I suppose that Mets fans have come to expect baseballs to be dropped.

After BP, when the Nationals were clearing the field, I made it down to the 3rd base dugout and got a ball from the guy pictured here on the left:

I used to know his name. Nilson Robledo? Or am I thinking of someone else? Aww hell.

For the game itself, my plan was to sit in straight-away left field — and as a result, I cost myself a chance at catching Ian Desmond’s leadoff homer in the top of the 1st. Not only did the ball land ON the staircase that went down to my actual seat, but it landed at the exact instant that I should’ve been walking down there. Where was I, you ask? In the concourse near the back of the section, showing my ticket to the usher at the next staircase over in an effort to inch closer to straight-away left field. GAH!!! As soon as the ball was hit, I scampered down into the seats and cut through an empty row, but I was two seconds too late.

I should mention that I attended this game with my friend Andrew. Here we are:

Andrew, you may recall, was with me in Toronto last year and filmed me catching my 5,000th ball. (Still no luck getting Alex Rios to sign it, BTW.) He also filmed this fun video of me snagging a ball in my hotel room at the Rogers Centre.

As for the rest of the night at Citi Field, I can sum it up as follows: the Mets were sloppy, and the fans were annoying. But forget the inflated pitch counts and sloppy defense. I’m talking about the four flirty/underage girls who showed up in the bottom of the 6th inning, sat in our row, babbled incessantly, and never stopped playing with their iPhones — except when one of them wandered to the next section and suddenly began making out with a decidedly OVERage man. )(Seriously, WTF.) Then, one inning later, there was a fan who wouldn’t stop screaming “EX!!!” at Nationals left fielder Xavier Nady. He was so annoying that another fan in the next section started screaming at him to shut up. Words were exchanged between the men. Middle fingers were exchanged between their girlfriends. There was cursing. There was talk of anatomy. Stadium security eventually intervened.

It’s going to be a loooooong season at Citi Field.

Here’s a Mets fan who had it right:

Since it’s hard to tell from the photo above, that’s an inch-thick styrofoam cutout velcro’ed to a Mets construction helmet.

The Mets didn’t have any right-handed power hitters due to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning (or in any inning, really, since David Wright was out of the lineup with a fractured pinkie), so Andrew and I moved to the 3rd base side. Look how empty it was:

The game ended soon after. Final score: Nationals 6, Mets 2.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

• 7 balls at this game (six pictured here because I gave one to a little boy before leaving the stadium)

• 33 balls in 4 games this season = 8.25 balls per game.

• 796 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 543 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball

• 386 consecutive Mets home games with at least one ball

• 48 consecutive games at Citi Field with at least two balls

• 5,852 total balls

CHARITY STATS:

(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.)

• 12 donors

• 79 cents pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $5.53 raised at this game

• $26.07 raised this season

• $19,183.07 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

18 comments

  1. Chris H (@ch1088)

    How did today go, you ask? Well, it looks like Citi is gonna be tough all year. I talked with Gio Gonzalez for a solid 10 minutes while he was having catch with Ross Detweiler (No Nats BP today)… awesome guy. So naturally I asked him for his ball and he said sure when I finish. Then Detweiler somehow cuts his GLOVE HAND and chucks the ball to the party deck so he can get attended to. Then, I go down by the tarp and get Tyler Clippards attention and he gave me a wave when I asked for his ball. So of course Sean Burnett had the ball when it finished and threw to a Met fan instead. I got Edwin Jackson’s attention in the dugout pregame and long story short he woulda threw me a ball but was too lazy to grab one from the box in the dugout. Ian Desmond said he’d throw me one and then ignored me and threw it to a Met fan. I HAD NATS GEAR ON!!! >.< And lastly, I got umpire Larry Vanovers attention at the end of the game and people swarmed him and he ran out of balls by the time he got to me. So, 0-5 haha. I don't know how you do it, I really don't. You make it look so easy. Oh well. Better luck on the 19th for Yankees/Twins. Who woulda thought Yankee Stadium was better than someplace else for snagging. Yeesh.

  2. Paaoool123

    That was a pretty cool mets hat that kid was wearing. too bad you didnt get the homerun ball

  3. Zack Hample

    CHRIS H-
    Sounds miserable.

    TEEN REDS FAN-
    For Citi Field, it’s pretty damn awesome. Anywhere else and it’s a below-average day.

    TIMOTHY DAUBE-
    Nope. I don’t sell my baseballs.

    PAAOOOL123-
    Yep.

  4. Double T

    At a recent Triple-A game, me and my friend got 8 baseballs combined, 4 apiece, i got to play catch with a player, and my friend got a bat. good game. The Omaha Stormchasers use Pacific Coast League baseballs, the feel like they have a good grip and nice leather at first when you get them but the grip then wears away. Shame on cheap baseballs.

  5. connor

    Sounds a bit better than 4/09. I ventured over to Oakland today and sat in the section you recommended in for foul balls. I came pretty close 3 or 4 times but left empty handed. I’m going to try to get to more games at the Coliseum this year so maybe I’ll see you there sometime Nick Badders. Zack, quick typo: “I ended up catch a home run instead.”

  6. Andy

    Where’s that Gregory Barash kid been? He ususally goes to tons and tons of Mets games…..

  7. Brian

    I’m sure you noticed, but check out the 2 bottom balls in the photos. The commish wording is waaay off centered on both… You usually point it out, but not this time… felt like someone needed to! :-)

  8. Ben Weil

    As awful as BP indeed was, I somehow managed 6. And could it have been Jose Martinez? I always confuse those two.

  9. Nats

    Hey,
    Is it true that teams (more specifically the Nats) take BP before afternoon games early in the season? Thanks!

  10. Nats

    Hey,
    Do teams (More specifically, the Nats) have BP before afternoon games? I know the answer is probably no, but I heard some teams do it early in the season.

  11. fatherpuck

    Your description of the goings on the stands and fighting made me laugh. Earlier in the day at the Nats opener I was commenting how our crowd has all the enthusiam of those ordering lattes and they should come to New York to see how fans get into it. Now your folks the other night may have been over the top–but it surely captures the flavor of a New York crowd.

  12. Zack Hample

    DOUBLE T-
    Cheap baseballs make me feel sad and angry.

    LEIGH BARRATT-
    What’re you trying to say there, buddy?

    CONNOR-
    Better luck next time, but hey, at least you caught my typo. :-)

    ANDY-
    Greg was at the game on April 9th. I was surprised he didn’t attend this one.

    BRIAN-
    I did notice, but thanks for pointing it out. I guess I just forgot.

    BEN WEIL-
    Six for you?! That’s really good. And yes, it might’ve been Martinez.

    PHILADELPHIA45-
    Saturday? That’s tomorrow. You mean, in Philly? Good luck.

    FATHER PUCK-
    Glad to have brightened your day. Miss seeing you here in NYC.

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