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.
• 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
(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